Wright State graduate student Kara Combs receives top national award from Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers

Wright State University industrial and systems engineering student Kara Combs

Wright State University industrial and systems engineering student Kara Combs received a top national honor from the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) for her scholarship and leadership.

Combs, of Englewood, was recognized with the James W. Barany Student Award for Excellence, a first-place honor. The award recognizes undergraduate students who have brought distinction to industrial engineering at their universities.

Combs graduated May 1 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering, a minor in supply chain management and a business analytics certificate from Wright State and software developer SAS.

She has completed half the classes she needs to earn a master’s degree in industrial and human factors engineering.

Subhashini Ganapathy, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical, Industrial and Human Factors Engineering, says Combs is an emerging leader.

“She is a self-motivated, intelligent and responsible student with strong time management skills,” said Ganapathy, who is the IISE chapter faculty adviser and Combs’ thesis adviser.

A University Honors Scholar, Combs is a member and officer of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, and the Dean’s Student Advisory Board of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. She is also involved in the college’s Student Ambassador and Mentor programs and the Quiz Bowl Team.

Combs interned with defense contractor Applied Research Solutions as a research engineer, working on a project that involved sensing autonomy in motion. She also created a software program to ease award tracking at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Combs was on a team of three Wright State students who recently received top honors in the 2021 IISE Great Lakes Regional Conference’s Undergraduate Technical Paper Competition, which was hosted virtually by Purdue University.

Combs has been active in the Wright State chapter of IISE, serving as vice president, media master and undergraduate liaison. She has taken part in industry tours, coordinated logistics for attending the Great Lakes Regional Conference, and made preparations for the annual IISE Six Sigma Green Belt Certification.

She also assisted the Dayton-Phoenix Group after the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes struck the company’s facility. This past year she has assisted in planning a systems-thinking webinar, volunteering for events with middle school and high school students and a meet and greet the professionals.

Industrial and systems engineers have their hand in virtually every kind of business, from designing products to getting them to market through the creative application of mathematics, science, business and human factors skills. They analyze, improve and make more efficient complex systems in manufacturing, health care, supply chain and other areas, keeping in mind the role humans play in such systems.

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