New Faculty Member: Alexander Estes

Alexander Estes will be joining the ISyE Department as an Assistant Professor in the Fall 2020 semester. Estes earned his PhD from the University of Maryland in 2018. Over the summer before his official start, Estes sat down to discuss what excites him about joining the ISyE Department.

Why did you become a professor of industrial engineering?
When I graduated high school I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted to do. It’s really hard to get an idea of what any field is like. I chose math because it was something I did well at in high school. I figured I’d do well with it in college and it’d be pretty useful. After some research experiences as an undergrad, I knew I wanted something that was a little more tied to the real world and with industry connections. I came across operations research and became especially interested in combinatorial optimization. I did a combinatorics sequence in my undergrad and that had been one of my favorite sequences. It seemed like that could be a good way to go. That’s how I got the idea of doing industrial engineering or operations research.

What are your research interests and how do you hope to leverage them at the University of Minnesota?
In my work as a PhD student, I talked with people from the Federal Aviation Association and the airlines, so I have some perspective on the industry side. I know what people have published and what people like to see published from that community. At the same time, having my industry insight from working with Target is also valuable. The Fortune 500 companies and the healthcare connection in the Twin Cities offers a lot of opportunities for collaboration. In our field of industrial and systems engineering, those collaborations are important. You can do good work without having collaboration, but if you can get data or insight—or just talk to an industry person and understand what problems they’re facing—that’s really valuable for the field.

Do you see opportunities to collaborate with ISyE faculty?
I’m definitely excited to continue collaborating with Jean-Phillipe Richard. There are a lot of people in ISyE who I’d be excited to work with. The recent hires, Ying Cui and Yiling Zhang, are doing optimization stuff that’s very exciting to me. Then there is Kris Iyer, who was talking about infinite dimensional optimization, which I think sounds really cool. Bill Cooper has done a lot of work in airline revenue management. If I’m looking to keep doing some air traffic management work with revenue management in there, that would be great. There are a lot of great opportunities and talent within the ISyE department.

For more information about Alexander Estes, visit his faculty profile.