Professor delivers keynote address to IEEE Midwest Industry Conference

Published: Aug 7, 2020 4:30 PM

By Cassie Montgomery

Alice Smith, the Joe W. Forehand/Accenture Professor of industrial and systems engineering, discussed designing engineering systems inspired by nature in the keynote address of the 2020 Midwest Industry Conference hosted by IEEE. The two-day virtual conference is attended by researchers, academicians, professionals and students from various engineering fields and with cross-disciplinary interests in industrial 4.0, intelligence system and communication technology.

Smith’s keynote address focused on the challenges in engineering system design and harnessing the power of natural systems. She presented three examples of general purpose and high-profile paradigms from her research and professional experience: neural networks, fuzzy logic and swarm intelligence. These paradigms, she explained, are each derived from natural systems in that they are robust and adaptive, diverse and have no dependence on mathematics, structural forms or explicit direction. 

“It was an honor to speak at this conference about my research in computational intelligence. It is not often as academics that we get the chance to speak to a diverse group of industry people,” Smith, an IEEE fellow and IEEE Distinguished Lecturer, said after the address. “It was especially valuable to me because this group is in the Midwest rather than our home region of the Southeast. Thus, this exposure could open up new opportunities for interaction and collaboration in the future. Because of the pandemic, the conference was held virtually, but that did not stop the interesting comments and questions I received after the talk. All in all, it was a gratifying experience.”

IEEE is the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology for the benefit of humanity. Through its global membership, IEEE is a leading authority on areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics, according to the organization’s website.

Media Contact: Cassie Montgomery,, 334.844.3668

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