ISAT professor brings engineering experience

ISAT professor, Hao Zhang, brings engineering experience

SUMMARY: One of ISAT's newest faculty members, Hao Zhang, brings knowledge and a research background in the fields of industrial engineering, energy systems, manufacturing and systems thinking to the BSISAT program

By Daniel Vieth, Creative Services

JMU’s Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) department focuses on interdisciplinary learning; bringing together concepts from fields ranging from computer science, to technology, engineering and social science. This is accomplished by a faculty with diverse fields of expertise. One of ISAT’s newest faculty members, Hao Zhang, is no exception. Zhang brings knowledge and a research background in the fields of industrial engineering, energy systems, manufacturing and systems thinking. “I especially like the ISAT program because I can work with faculty and students from a variety of studies,” said Zhang. “It’s all about interconnections.” 

Zhang studied industrial engineering, earning a bachelor’s from Beijing Information Science & Technology University, and a M.S and Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Within industrial engineering, Zhang focuses on sustainable manufacturing and systems thinking. “Within manufacturing, I look to improve the economic, environmental and social performances of processes and systems. For example, how a company can take social responsibilities for employee safety and health,” said Zhang. “I’m looking at a manufacturing company from a system’s perspective.” Zhang received a best paper award from CIRP Life Cycle Engineering conference in 2012 for his research on sustainability assessment of production.

For renewable energy, Zhang’s research focuses on the technical, economic and environmental impacts of renewable energy systems, such as wind energy and biofuel production. “One area I’m working on right now is converting municipal solid waste into renewable energy and biofuel, such as by collecting gas from organic compost piles, and finding the best ways to make the process economically and environmentally sound,” said Zhang. “Generating renewable energy and hopefully saving the environment is what I do!”

After learning about ISAT, Zhang realized he could apply his knowledge to the program. “I saw an opportunity in the ISAT Production Systems sector, which is very related to the engineering background that I already have,” Zhang explained. “It also has some challenging aspects, such as integrating more environmental and social responsibilities in engineering. That’s what made it so interesting.”

In the 2016 Fall semester, Zhang taught ISAT 330: Manufacturing Systems, which introduces students to components, structure, production planning and control, and quality and sustainability of manufacturing systems. He is now teaching ISAT 341: Modeling and Simulation. “JMU is very special among the universities I have experienced because the people here take very good care of students,” said Zhang. “Developing myself to be more student-focused is something I like to do, and something I am going to do.” In addition, Zhang has established a research team of seven students. Their research ranges from sustainable product design with biomimicry structures and additive manufacturing, to sustainability assessment of Shenandoah municipal solid waste.

Outside of academics, Zhang is an avid hiker and traveler. Zhang left his hometown of Shangqiu at 18 years old, and has since lived in Beijing, Oregon, and Edmonton Canada. He has traveled over most of the western half of America, and is now looking forward to exploring the east coast. “Another reason I like JMU is because of its location in the Shenandoah Valley,” Zhang added. “I really like mountains!” 

Published: Friday, February 10, 2017

Last Updated: Monday, January 29, 2018

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