School of Engineering and Computer Science

OU professor among 20 most influential academics in smart manufacturing

Dr. Robert Van Til selected by SME’s Smart Manufacturing magazine

icon of a calendarJune 3, 2021

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OU professor among 20 most influential academics in smart manufacturing
Robert Van Til
Dr. Robert Van Til

Dr. Robert Van Til, Pawley Professor of Lean Studies and chair of the Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department at Oakland University, has been selected by SME’s Smart Manufacturing magazine as one of the 20 most influential academics shaping smart manufacturing.

He will be recognized for his accomplishments in the June issue of the magazine.

“I’m honored to be selected as an innovative academic in smart manufacturing,” Van Til said. “This is really a result of all the efforts of our OU ISE community — our students, alumni, faculty, staff and supporters in industry.”

SME, the professional association committed to advancing manufacturing and developing a skilled workforce, identified 20 academics who are educating and shaping the next generation of engineers and smart manufacturing technologists across a diverse range of disciples. All were selected with the help of industry peers and manufacturing experts by SME Media’s Smart Manufacturing magazine.

“One of the best ways to develop the up-and-coming generation of manufacturing professionals is by exposing them to — as one of our honorees puts it — the pioneers and dreamers who are improving existing technologies and creating new ones,” said Robert Willig, executive director and CEO of SME. “Almost all of the 20 achievement-focused honorees number among their top accomplishments educating and shaping the next wave of pioneers and dreamers.”

The article notes that Van Til “helped recession-proof the careers of some of his graduates” and credits his “foresight to create a program in Industrial and Systems Engineering.” It also highlights a 2020 article by U.S. News & World Report indicating that an ISE degree is one of only eight degrees “projected to be great ones to target in the current economic climate.”

As evidence of the program’s success, SME notes that a Southeast Michigan-based automotive OEM hired an ISE graduate as its first “digital manufacturing engineer,” and a German Tier One supplier hired an ISE graduate to work in its Detroit-area engineering center as the first “digital industrial engineer” in the company’s global operations.

To learn more about ISE at OU, visit To watch a video of Van Til, go to

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