Systems and infrastructure engineering expert William “Al” Wallace ’61 has been named the Yamada Corporation Professor at Rensselaer. The endowed professorship is one of the highest honors bestowed on a Rensselaer faculty member.
“The breadth, quality, and inventiveness of Professor Wallace’s work has helped perpetuate the international stature of Rensselaer as a world-leading research university,” said Rensselaer Provost Robert Palazzo. “In addition to his talent as an educator and professor, Al is a global thought leader for research in the critically important field of emergency management modeling and simulation. I congratulate him on being named the Yamada Corporation Professor.”
Wallace has a rich history with Rensselaer, going back to his days as a student. He earned his master’s degree in 1961 and doctorate in 1965, after which he joined the Institute as a faculty member in the School of Management. He held the position for nearly 30 years, and then in 1995 joined the faculty of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering. He is currently a professor in Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems, with joint appointments in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Cognitive Science. Throughout his career at Rensselaer, he has also served as director of the Urban-Environmental Studies Program, Chair of the Department of Statistical, Management, and Information Sciences, and acting chair of DSES.
Wallace’s primary research interests are in the development of decision technologies focused on the application of artificial intelligence to problems in incident management and emergency response, issues in trust and ethical decision making, emergent and improvisational organizational behavior in disaster management and dynamic social systems. Most of his investigations lie at the intersection of operations research, systems engineering, management and cognitive science.
Much of Wallace’s recent work involves helping policymakers grapple with complex contemporary issues including disaster relief, terrorism, and the physical and social logistics of humanitarian aid. Over the few years, his work has contributed to the response of the United States to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, as well as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
In his four decades at Rensselaer, Wallace has advised more than 40 doctoral students. Among them are National Science Foundation CAREER Award winners, provosts, deans, department heads and distinguished faculty members at the University of Delaware, Indiana University, the University of Southern California, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, LeMoyne College, West Point, and leading national laboratories.
Since 1998, Wallace has served as director of Rensselaer’s Center for Infrastructure and Transportation Studies. He has also served on several national boards and panels, including his present position on the National Research Council’s Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment.
Wallace has won many awards for his contributions, including the School of Engineering Excellence in Research Award in 2004 and the DSES Faculty Award for Excellence. He received the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) President’s Award in 2004, as well as the Third Millennium Medal from IEEE Engineering Management Society. He also won the Horwood Critique Prize from the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association and Project of the Year Awards from ITS America and ITS New York for his work on the Advanced Traveler’s Information and Solar Electronic Tag and Traffic Management Systems. He is a fellow of IEEE.
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