sdps2The 2017 SDPS Conference was held at the DoubleTree by Hilton on the UAB campus. The conference is an invitation only event that is dedicated to the study, understanding, and use of design and process science for the benefit of all people throughout the world.Scientists and researchers from around the world converged on Birmingham in November to attend the 2017 Society for Design and Process Science annual conference. The conference was the 22nd annual event for SDPS and marked the first time the group had ever met in Birmingham.

The SDPS was created in the mid-1990s “as a forum for ideas, a center for knowledge, and an exchange for information by extending the benefits of design and process science to all who seek to understand and apply it in accordance with the defining principles.”

Murat Tanik, Ph.D., chair of the UAB Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is a founding member of SDPS and was instrumental in bringing the conference to Birmingham. “It took a major effort to bring the conference here he said,” he said, adding that sites in Japan and Germany were also considered. “The focus of this year’s event was on convergence, which is something that UAB does very well with regard to medicine. By bringing so many top researchers to Birmingham, I believe this conference can be an important step in elevating the visibility of Birmingham and UAB on an international stage.”

The conference included three panels on convergence: local, national, and international. Tanik says the topic of convergence is one that has been on his mind for some time, ever since School of Engineering Dean Iwan Alexander, Ph.D., challenged faculty to come up with ideas for how the school could be a catalyst for convergence. “Today, research can be so specialized that one person may know a lot about a very narrow area, but that person may not know much at all about other areas of complementary knowledge,” Tanik said. “At UAB, convergence happens naturally with regard to medicine, because our medical school is a world leader in medical research. But there are other areas where there are opportunities for convergence, both within the School of Engineering between disciplines and within the UAB community and the Birmingham business community.”

sdps4With that in mind, the conference featured one panel that focused on the role convergence could play in Birmingham’s future. The panel included SOE professor Lee Moradi, Ph.D., director of the school’s Engineering and Innnovative Technology Developemnt research group, as well as UAB’s Kathy Nugent and Lori McMahon, among others.

Moradi noted that steel and telecommunications have been replaced by medicine and hopsitals as the basis for Birmingham’s economy. This creates opportunity, he says for other fields—such as technology, physics, and engineering—to work more closely with hospitals and the medical world to drive innovation and create superior technologies.