Current News

July 16th, 2021

It was exciting to have CHEPS alum Ryan Chen visit on Friday, July 16th for a virtual Lunch and Learn. Ryan graduated from The University of Michigan in 2014 with a dual bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Operations Engineering and Euphonium Performance. He went on to earn a Master’s in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford, then spent several years as a Basketball Data Scientist for the Orlando Magic. His next venture is pursuing a law degree at Harvard starting in Fall 2021.

As an undergraduate, Ryan knew research experience would be important to his future career so he pursued the opportunity to work on airline research with Professor Amy Cohn. As his work with Professor Cohn continued he got the opportunity to be involved with CHEPS right at the beginning. “That was a wild west of a time,” he said. “Seeing all of that take shape over time was pretty cool.” He said that experience gave him a sense of what research life was like, made him a competitive applicant, and allowed him to build several strong relationships that are still important to him today.

Ryan originally thought he might want to pursue a Ph.D. but, while at Stanford, he realized he had developed the technical capabilities to do interesting work in sports analytics. That and the realization that he wanted to leave grad school, led to him getting a job with his favorite hometown team, the Orlando Magic. In his position, he focused mostly on machine learning models for the NBA draft.

Basketball and healthcare engineering might not seem too similar but Ryan talked to CHEPS students about a thread that was important in both: the ability to communicate technical information to a non-technical audience. He said, “In a basketball context most people don’t have a technical background and it’s similar to CHEPS in that way. Tech com is super valuable but there’s a lot of perspective in doing it in a real scenario.”

He mentioned some principles he’s found useful. The first was “relationships come first.” He recommended starting a collaboration by identifying a small easy problem to fix to you’re your collaborator you can work together well. Over time you can work up to bigger projects and will have developed trust with your collaborators. Additionally, he emphasized “the power of iteration,” recommending talking with collaborators regularly throughout developing a solution. This gives more insight on all sides and develops a sense of security in how projects are progressing. He also stressed, that while you may have the technical know-how, your collaborators will have so much domain-specific knowledge that is key to solving the problem.

Thanks to Ryan for a great talk and for answering a wide variety of questions in our Q&A. He had some particularly insightful thoughts on weighing big life and career decisions.

-Written by Liz Fisher, CHEPS Staff

bassel and lauren with skeleton

July 2nd, 2021

On July 2nd, 2021, UM medical school students and CHEPS alumni Lauren Hirth (BME ’19) and Bassel Salka (IOE ’19) shared their experiences as engineers pursuing medicine in a virtual Lunch & Learn with CHEPS students. Lauren and Bassel both joined CHEPS in 2016 and remained with the Center until their graduation in 2019, after which they both pursued research outside of Michigan for one year before starting as students at UM’s medical school in 2020. Lauren described her decision to pursue BME as her undergraduate major as a way to marry her fascination with engineering with her interest in medicine. Having a degree in engineering left the door open for her to find a career in engineering if she ultimately chose that route. However, her experiences with patient-oriented work tilted her decision in favor of studying medicine. She feels that the University of Michigan is a great place for someone with interdisciplinary interests to study medicine because of how strong so many departments here are.

When asked about how to get into medical school as an engineering student, Bassel leaned into the passion, skills, and network that engineering students have. Students who pursue engineering degrees but are interested in medicine tend to love engineering for a reason, as he does, which shines brightly when bringing the two fields together in applications. Bassel also felt that engineering gives students substantial technical skills through both coursework and unique work opportunities. Such engineering-centered activities stand out in a large pool of applicants. As such, engineering students tend to find themselves compared to many other pre-med students less frequently than they might otherwise, both during their education, when interactions with other pre-meds are more limited as engineers, and during the application process.

Bassel explained that exciting opportunities can often be obtained through good connections. Indeed, he found that his connections through CHEPS helped him to land several work and research positions before he enrolled in medical school. Finally, Bassel rounded out this part of the discussion by explaining that medical school is not inherently more challenging for past engineering students, despite the differences in material and pedagogy. What matters most in his eyes is how effectively one works, not necessarily how hard one works.

Lauren and Bassel both described how their experiences in undergrad helped them decide on medicine as a career and how their experiences have translated to medical school. Lauren felt that the hands-on and experiential components of her education and extracurricular involvements were key in her decision. At CHEPS, she spoke to dental school faculty and did hands-on work in clinical settings; through BME, she took a Clinical Observation and Needs Finding course and worked on a senior design project that designed a mobility device for a toddler. Bassel found that his experience in a challenging engineering curriculum and on-the-fly learning in engineering jobs made him resourceful and “comfortable with being uncomfortable,” both qualities that translate beautifully to medical school.

Ultimately, both Lauren and Bassel are grateful for the experiences and mindset that having an engineering background instilled in them, and they feel that they have been able to succeed in medical school because of them, not in spite of them. Bassel sees engineering playing a key role in his career as a physician, while Lauren is keeping an open mind and will continue to explore during her time at UM’s medical school. Both emphasized that individuals who particularly enjoy working directly with patients consider patient care professions, regardless of background.

— Written by Dipra Debnath, BME Master’s Student

colleen mcnamee talk

June 25, 2021

On June 25th, Colleen McNamee, Career Services Manager at the CoE Career Resources Center, presented during the CHEPS Lunch and Learn. In her talk, Colleen shared her knowledge on how engineering students should evaluate job offers and provided many great tips along the way that apply to all students as well. First, Colleen acknowledged that the job search process is a situationally based topic and offered her help to any student that reached out through her email then broke down the topic into four sections.

Job Offer: Offers are typically extended from an employer through the phone or via email. It is important to first express appreciation for the offer and ask for an official offer letter regardless of the situation. Do not feel pressured to respond to the offer immediately and avoid accepting the offer on the spot. It is critical that students fully review the offer because there are often components of an offer that students do not think to evaluate. Make sure that the decision deadline is clearly stated by the employer and in writing. Usually, students receive 1 to 3 weeks to accept or decline an offer depending on the circumstance.

Evaluating the Offer: Factors to consider when evaluating a job offer include work experience (is this job what you want to do?), salary and benefits (is this a competitive salary?), geography (what is the cost of living here?), work culture (are your values in line with the company’s values/mission?), advancement opportunities (is this industry favorable long term?), and various personal factors. Do some introspection to decide what factors are the most important to you as an individual while trying to avoid overvaluing a single part of the job offer.

Vital to making a well-informed choice on a job offer is an understanding of total compensation and employee benefits. Your total compensation in a job offer is essentially the total amount of money you as an employee cost the company. This includes your salary, potential bonuses, and the value of your benefits. A word from the wise, make sure to read the fine print when it comes to sign-on bonuses. They are often paid at the start of the job, are taxable, and must be repaid if you leave the company too quickly after being hired. Additionally, it is important to understand the health plans, life insurance, stock options, wellness options, tuition reimbursement, and 401K/403B plans potentially offered to you as well.

Meeting the Deadline: The most difficult part about meeting an offer deadline is potential conflicts between other job offers or prescheduled interviews with different companies. It is good practice to learn how to respectfully request an extension on your offer deadline when you are in a pinch. Reach out to the employer before the deadline via phone or email and graciously request and extension while providing legitimate reasons for the extension. In addition, after accepting the job offer make sure to discontinue campus interviews in accordance with the cancellation policy stated in the ECRC Job Search Code of Ethics and to avoid reneging your commitment.

Negotiation: Knowing how to negotiate an offer and advocate for yourself as a professional is an important skill for both your first job and the rest of your career. Some items you might consider negotiating are salary, start date, time off, relocation, and professional development. Make sure to negotiate in person or over the phone and know all your requests at once with a rationale for each. Research information from at least three different sources such as the ECRC Salary Report,, Glassdoor, O*NET, or the Salary Calculator Center to gain a holistic understanding of the typical salary in your field and what you should expect in a job offer.

With this information you are geared up and ready to accept your first job offer! Make sure to consider all aspects of the offer and opportunity, do your research, and maintain a positive tone throughout the process to keep a good relationship with the company in the future. Many thanks to Colleen for sharing this helpful advice with us!

— Written by Nathan Smith, Kinesiology Undergraduate Student


June 18, 2021
CHEPS alums Nina Scheinberg and Mark Grum are engaged! Nina said, “I proposed to Mark in the Diag with a photo album of all of the pictures we had taken over the last three-and-some years, and the last page said, ‘Mark, will you marry me?’ And he said yes! Our sisters were hiding nearby to snap photos, and we all celebrated afterward at Ashley’s.”

Nina’s busy scheduling her school’s classes for next year and is looking forward to a relaxing summer break after a challenging year of teaching 6th grade. Mark is traveling quite a bit as a Manager of Analytics at GE Healthcare. Congrats to both of them on the engagement and their professional accomplishments! It’s nice to see CHEPSters and CHEPS romances thrive.

— Written by Liz Fisher, CHEPS Staff

Person Headshot

May 28, 2021
Alexander Hallway joined CHEPS students for a Lunch and Learn on Friday, May 28th. Alex is the Michigan Pain-control Optimization Pathway Lead at Michigan Medicine.

Alex started by sharing some facts about the opioid epidemic. Michigan has concerning levels of opioid deaths and those levels have risen in the past ten years. Synthetic opioids are a rising problem in the US and Michigan. Most opioids prescribed after outpatient surgery go unused. Medication disposal can be challenging in the U.S. so many opioids end up sitting in medicine cabinets at home. People who misuse opioids often get them from friends or relatives.

The Michigan Pain Optimization Pathway (POP) utilizes three steps to address the over-prescription of opioids. First, pre-surgery patients are educated about the risks of opioids and also told about alternatives to pain relief including holistic approaches. Secondly, they have worked to standardize best practices for the prescription of opioids after surgery, and post-op they’ve worked to increase evidence-based prescribing of opioid alternatives.

In 2018 POP was tested at Michigan Medicine. Patients received a survey after their surgery and results showed that patient satisfaction was high, pain levels were low, and patients’ needs were met with far fewer opioids prescribed. In short, conservative prescribing of opioids meets patient needs and results in many fewer pills left over after surgery. The team is now working to have a greater impact by expanding efforts to different specialties and providers. They are also expanding beyond Michigan Medicine to the whole state of Michigan.

Thank you to Alex for taking the time to share his work with us!
— Written by Liz Fisher, CHEPS Staff

Adam VanDeusen

May 17, 2021
Congratulations are in order! CHEPSter Adam VanDeusen had his Industrial and Operations Engineering Ph.D. defense on May 17th, 2021. He presented his work on “An Industrial Engineering-Based Approach to Designing and Evaluating Healthcare Systems to Improve Veteran Access to Care” and officially became Dr. VanDeusen.

Access is a big challenge for rural veterans especially and veterans report greater delays in seeking care than non-veterans. As part of his Ph.D. research, Adam developed facility location models that assist VA leaders in understanding which clinic locations should offer eye disease screening, what provider type(s) should staff each location, and which patients should be screened each location. The models developed utilize mixed-integer programming and consider several objectives, including screening the most patients possible or minimizing cost, subject to a set of constraints. These models can help the VA understand how to organize eye care providers throughout a region, allowing more veterans to access preventive eye care.

CHEPSters past and present attended Adam’s virtual defense as well as many of his IOE colleagues and, of course, CHEPS Faculty Director Amy Cohn who was also his thesis chair. His committee was Professor Seth Guikema, Professor Lisa Prosser, and Dr. Sameer Saini. At the end of his presentation, Adam thanked many people who supported him and contributed to his work including his committee, all of the CHEPS students who have worked on his projects through the years, CHEPS staff and faculty, and his family and friends. Congratulations on your successful defense, Dr. VanDeusen!
— Written by Liz Fisher, CHEPS Staff

Ziqi Wang

May 4, 2021
Fall 2020 IOE and HEPS Masters graduate Ziqi Wang is now working as a data scientist at the Institute for Hospital Management at Tsinghua University in Beijing where she has the opportunity to work with one of her undergraduate professors, Prof. Xie. They work with Chinese hospitals to help them deliver high-quality and patient-centered care. Ziqi said that, in the first months of her job, “I found what I learned in CHEPS is really meaningful.” Congrats on the new job, Ziqi!
— Written by Liz Fisher, CHEPS Staff

Junhong Guo

April 8, 2021
We have a new doctor of the Ph.D. variety in the house! Junhong Guo successfully defended his Industrial and Operations Engineering Ph.D. dissertation on April 8, 2021. According to Junhong’s abstract, “Personnel scheduling is one of the most critical components in logistical planning for many practical areas, particularly in transportation, public services, and clinical operations. Because manpower is both an expensive and scarce resource, even a tiny improvement in utilization can provide huge expense savings for businesses. Additionally, a slightly better assignment schedule of the involved professionals can significantly increase their work satisfaction, which can in return greatly improve the quality of the services customers or patients receive.”

His dissertation titled “Optimization Approaches for Solving Large-Scale Personnel Scheduling Problems” looked at three real-world personnel scheduling problems in aviation and healthcare and proposed new models and solution approaches to address challenges in each instance. In addition to his committee and several current colleagues, a few CHEPS alums who had worked with Junhong attended the virtual defense to support their fellow CHEPSter. Congratulations, Dr. Guo!
— Written by Liz Fisher, CHEPS Staff

paige mollison engagement

April 5, 2021

CHEPS alum and current Senior Manager at HealthRise Solutions Paige Mollison is engaged! Paige’s fiancé Max proposed on a recent ski trip to Vail. Paige said, “We were walking between Lionshead and Vail Village on a little path by a creek, and next thing I knew Max was on one knee and my best friend (who is also a photographer) pops out of the bushes. It was wonderful!” Congrats to Paige and Max!
— Written by Liz Fisher, CHEPS Staff
anna m match day

March 25, 2021

CHEPS alum Anna (Munaco) Rujan got some great news on Match Day! Anna, who worked with CHEPS while pursuing her undergraduate degree and is now a fourth-year medical student at the University of Michigan, has matched to Northwestern Obstetrics and Gynecology for her residency. Congratulations, Dr. Rujan! Northwestern is lucky to have you.
— Written by Liz Fisher, CHEPS Staff
cohn ioe lunch and learn zoom

March 12, 2021
On Friday, March 12, CHEPS Faculty Director Amy Cohn gave a virtual Lunch and Learn for the Industrial and Operations Engineering Department. She touched on seven different COVID-related problems she’s worked on over the past year, what it was like to be a part of a team solving these problems, and how Industrial Engineering can be an effective way to solve these problems. From these experiences, she found reinforcement of the importance of multidisciplinary work and the strength of multidisciplinary teams in solving complex problems. While there were almost always disagreements in these teams, not surprising given the variety of perspectives “at the table”, Prof. Cohn offered some tips for dealing with differences of opinions. These include starting with common values, a clear agenda/plan for meetings, ensuring that everyone feels comfortable sharing their perspectives, and establishing who, at the end of the day, has the authority to make final decisions. Prof. Cohn also reflected on how generous the people she has been working with on these various projects have been, both in terms of time and in terms of welcoming crazy/wild ideas without judgment. Additionally, Prof. Cohn emphasized the importance of not losing what we’ve learned during the pandemic as things “go back to normal”. The following are a few of the projects, Prof. Cohn discussed:

Aerosolization: In March, a major question was “Does the use of heated high-flow nasal cannula increase aerosolization of COVID-19 and what are the implications of this?”. Using a high-flow nasal cannula is an alternative to putting a patient on a ventilator, which should really be a last resort since being on a ventilator is not the most healthy thing for the patient. In the short-term, the question was if this was even a problem and how we would measure it. The team found that we have ways of measuring things regarding aerosolization that we didn’t think we could measure.

N95 Reprocessing: Given the shortage of N-95 masks, could we find a way of reprocessing them? This was a prominent question in April, as the supply chain of N-95 masks was strained. In the short-term, a multidisciplinary team figured out the best way to treat masks to deactivate the virus, evaluate structural integrity, and established logistics of collecting, reprocessing, and redistributing masks. In the long-term, this work sparks conversations about the supply of PPE, the risks in the supply chain, and alternatives to new acquisition

Field Hospital Staffing: At the peak volume last summer, we needed to prepare for the demand for COVID care exceeding hospital capacity. In the short-term, this entailed building staffing models for a 1000-bed field hospital. In the long-term, this work can be related to and build upon other complex combinatorial optimization problems, such as staffing levels, shift scheduling, and stochasticity. Prof. Cohn gave some valuable advice to those going into industry or service environments for their careers: Do what you have to do to get the job done! You won’t have the luxury to explore the problem as deeply as you want or spend as much time as you want, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still do quality work on the timeline necessary!

In addition to the projects discussed, Prof. Cohn imparted some advice for us students. Firstly, it’s really important to build professional and personal relationships. Relating to that, step out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to participate in things that don’t fit neatly into your educational or career plan because you never know what you could get out of that experience! You may make a connection with someone that becomes very valuable later or has a more profound impact on you than you may initially realize. Of course, there is an obvious need for balance here. Being able to say “no” to things is really important and make sure that what you do with your time and energy aligns with your values. Finally, be willing to pivot and adjust “the plan”. Whether this is your own academic/career plan or a plan on a project, it’s important to be flexible and change directions when necessary!
— Written by Emmett Springer, BME Undergraduate Student

Joe East

March 2, 2021
CHEPS alum Joe East is back in Michigan! Joe is now Director of Strategic Integration at Beaumont Urgent Care. Joe graduated from the University of Michigan in 2014 with a dual master’s in Industrial and Operations Engineering and Health Care Administration. After graduation, he spent nearly six years working at Maine Medical Center, most recently as Director of Patient Flow. Joe’s wife Nicole has also started a dental practice in Grand Ledge, Michigan. Joe says he’s excited to be back in Michigan closer to family and advancing his career. And, of course, we here at CHEPS are happy to have him back in the state! Congrats, Joe and Nicole!
— Written by Liz Fisher, CHEPS Staff

van sumeren w21 lunch and learn

February 17, 2021
On February 17th, U of M IOE alumni and longtime friend of CHEPS, Mark Van Sumeren, presented at a CHEPS Lunch and Learn. In his talk, Mark discussed many important topics related to our future with COVID-19. The projection models he has been developing can help to answer questions of how to reach herd immunity in the US and when can we get back to normal.

One of the first questions Mark had to address in his models was how we define “normal.” Normalcy amidst COVID-19 can be measured by the percentage of the population that is immune, or by other standards such as the reproduction rate of the virus. Mark described the term “herd immunity” to be a certain level of immunity against COVID-19 across a population such that the virus will become more of a nuisance, rather than a crisis, somewhat like the flu. The percentage of a population that needs to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity is typically thought to be in the range of 60% to 80%.

Mark went on to discuss the inputs, assumptions, and variables that go into his projection models. Model inputs include the vaccines that have Emergency Use Authorization through the FDA, the quantity of those vaccines that have been given, and the effectiveness of the vaccines. So far, only two vaccinations have been authorized (Moderna and Pfizer), but Mark anticipates Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine to be authorized in early March and Novavax’s in late spring or early summer. The assumptions made in Mark’s models include the amount of natural immunity for those who have previously contracted the virus, and there are a number of decision variables that incorporate the new COVID-19 variations which are emerging around the world and vaccine hesitancy within the US, accounting for the people who are resistant to receiving a vaccine. Mark believes that vaccine hesitancy will decrease in the coming months because many Americans have a “wait and see” mentality, which will shift once more people around them begin to receive vaccines.

In Mark’s modeling, he began with a baseline which starts in early 2021 and is projected out to December 2021. The baseline simply projects immunity levels if 1 million doses are administered every day in the US, there’s a 65% vaccine willingness, and no outside factors such as natural immunity or other vaccines getting authorized are taken into consideration. This baseline alone would be inadequate in reaching 60% immunity in the US by the end of 2021. Mark then went on to model the Biden administration’s plan for accelerated vaccination rates, which would get us to 60% immunity by the end of the year. He also modeled the current US projection where natural immunity and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are added in, further increasing the immunity levels. However, when emerging variants are taken into consideration, immunity levels are set back by four to six weeks from the model without these variants. Finally, Mark modeled the projection if vaccine willingness dropped to 50%. This change would cause more long-term effects as vaccine supply catches up to demand.

From his projections, Mark predicts that non-priority groups can begin to expect vaccinations by late April or early May of 2021, and the US will reach a more “normal” state with herd immunity of 60% by June or July of 2021. However, he also warned that we will need to be cautious in the fall as more emerging variants from the developing world may spread to the US. To end the presentation on a positive note, Mark also shared that he is optimistic about being able to watch Michigan football play in the Big House this fall.
— Written by Caroline Hirth, IOE Undergraduate Student

ers21 prenatal

February 5, 2021
Four CHEPS teams presented their work at the Engineering Graduate Research Symposium on Friday, February 5th, 2021. The event, held virtually this year, included sessions for both undergraduate and graduate presenters. CHEPS students presented the following posters:

Each CHEPS team did an impressive job and got positive feedback from the event judges. Advaidh Venkat and the GI Clinical Recovery team, which also includes Adam VanDeusen, Che-Yi Liao, CHEPS Faculty Director Amy M. Cohn, Dr. Jacob Kurlander, and Dr. Sameer Saini were recognized with 3rd place in the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

— Written by Liz Fisher, CHEPS Staff