Dr. Itzick Cohen to Launch the Industrial Engineering and Information Systems Program

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Dr. Itzick Cohen

The program was approved by the University and was submitted for approval of the CHE. In addition, a new modeling and process mining lab is already accepting grad students

Dr. Itzick Cohen’s specialty in complex process analysis can be applied to the COVID-19 reality: “The world we live in is one of the processes, a series of interconnected actions performed in order to achieve a certain goal. Caring for a hospital patient, a business process, a complex development project, and even food prep in a restaurant kitchen - they’re all processes. Take the restaurant: If we can automatically identify the state of the situation based on information received from various sensors such as cameras or motion trackers, we can send diners automatic notifications when their dishes are about to arrive, handle possible delays, and even check and see whether or not the dish was prepared according to the recipe,” he explains. “This model can be applied to a variety of complex processes and is also relevant to pandemics. Information received from location sensors, medical inspections, complaints about symptoms, questionnaires filled in by the general public - all can help to analyze the pandemic’s progress, identify actions that lead to elevated infection rates, the conditions in which infection occurs and where the next outbreak would be. For example, a certain activity might only lead to infection under certain conditions of duration, environment, etc. If we could identify specific infection conditions, we could keep doing the activities but avoid one of the infection conditions, thereby decreasing it.”

Dr. Cohen, married and father of five – two boys (12 and 18) and three girls (12, 14 and 17), member of Kibbutz Yassur – is currently establishing the Industrial Engineering and Information Systems program. The program is destined to start in the upcoming academic year, subject to the approval of the CHE. In his free time, he likes to ride his KTM 990 motorcycle with his wife and jog around the fields of the kibbutz, where he occasionally meets his oldest son driving a tractor. Before coming to the Faculty of Engineering, Cohen taught at the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management at the Technion. Prior to that, he was in the military. “I had numerous roles in various technical fields. I got my BSc in Chemical Engineering, my MSc in Material Science, and my PhD in Industrial Engineering and Management at the Technion, during my service.”

After leaving the military and while still involved in academia, he worked in project management (“Project management is also a process made up of actions designed to create a new product”). The new program, he says, is a project in and of itself: “Industrial Engineering and Information Systems is a relatively established field, and we wanted to offer something new and up to date. In the process, we consulted many experts in academia, formed a steering committee of industry leaders, and after countless meetings, formed the program. We planned the courses to span over four years, starting with deep scientific training in math, computers and data science, courses in economics and psychology, and many other advanced professions and specializations, including operations research, information and data, project management and product development, information systems, and advanced industry. The program went through strict and intensive approval processes by the faculty and the university. We are now in the final stages, awaiting review and approval by the CHE. It was nice to see the wall-to-wall support and cooperation at the faculty, with the dean, and the academic and administrative teams.”

Itzick believes that human capital is a crucial factor to success: “Recruiting top-tier faculty members is an important part of the process, and we are happy to be able to attract the very best. One of them is Dr. Gonen Singer, who offers a unique combination of academic experience and the successful establishment of a company involved in machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

Cohen and Singer are also working on opening a modeling and process mining lab. “The lab will allow us to model processes using sensors such as cameras, location sensors, and data from information systems (such as barcode scanning), and we will be able to develop and examine our innovative models,” he explains. “I’m calling out for candidates interested in research graduate degrees, who are curious and have a strong background in quantitative fields, to talk to me and hear about our research fields.”