MACON – Mercer University School of Engineering graduate Harrison M. Verhine was awarded second place for research he conducted as an undergraduate in the Operations Research Division at the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) Annual Virtual Conference and Exposition, held virtually May 22-25.

Verhine represented Mercer among fellow finalists from Cornell, Virginia Tech, Purdue, Texas State and Bucknell.

His research, titled “A heuristic to reduce the maximum work-in-process and average wait time for aircraft maintenance,” was supervised by Dr. Scott Schultz, senior associate dean and professor of industrial engineering, and Dr. Pablo Biswas, assistant professor of industrial engineering.

Verhine’s research sought to improve schedules for Air Logistics Complexes providing depot maintenance for United States Air Force fleets.

He utilized a tool called RAMP to simulate maintenance and produce results about the utilization, queue lengths and other performance metrics. With this data, he developed an algorithm that can be used to alter induction schedules in order to smooth work-in-process curves and reduce queue times. He found that by keeping most of the induction schedule unaltered and manipulating induction dates for a relative few aircraft around important times in the simulation, the algorithm was successful in reducing the maximum work-in-process and the average time in the queue.

“Harrison is an exceptional student. We presented him with a real-world scheduling problem in which we were using human intuition to improve workflow and schedules. He was able to create and then automate an original algorithm that mimics this human intuition,” said Dr. Schultz. “His outstanding work has now been validated in a national competition of his peers. I congratulate him on his success.”

“I loved the process of using an existing tool and building a novel algorithm on top of it,” added Verhine. “This research has further fueled my interest in optimization and scheduling problems. I really value this opportunity that Dr. Schultz and Dr. Biswas offered me. I could not have done this without their help and guidance. The other finalists for the award had amazing projects, and it was an honor be among them.”

Verhine, from Acworth, earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and master’s degree in engineering management from Mercer’s School of Engineering in May 2020 and May 2021, respectively.

He is currently working full-time at Mercer Engineering Research Center in Warner Robins as an industrial engineer and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in operations research.

IISE is the world’s largest professional society dedicated solely to the support of industrial and systems engineers. As an international, nonprofit association, it provides leadership for the application, education, training, research, and development of industrial and systems engineering.

About the School of Engineering

Mercer University’s School of Engineering, founded in 1985, offers innovative and academically challenging programs that provide students with a comprehensive education, featuring a solid foundation in mathematics and sciences, a core engineering curriculum, a range of courses in engineering specialties and a strong emphasis on communication technologies. The School is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top three master’s-degree-level engineering schools in the Southeast. Known for its breadth of instruction in its undergraduate program and its five-year joint bachelor’s and master’s degree program, the School combines technical education with hands-on laboratory experience. Mercer engineers can look forward to joining fellow alumni in companies such as Robins Air Force Base, Mercer Engineering Research Center, Northrop Grumman, Georgia Power, Manhattan Associates and Gulfstream Aerospace.