Rupy Sawhney is the Heath Fellow in Business and Engineering, director of the Center for Advanced Systems Research and Education, and professor of industrial and systems engineering. He came to UT in 1976 as a student in industrial engineering.
He went on to earn his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate here.
“UT has helped shape who I am. The Volunteer spirit isn’t just a slogan for me but something that comes out in everything I try to do. My time here has really driven me to help others and has allowed my growth to do just that.”
Why this field
Sawhney teaches a number of industrial engineering courses but is best known for his expertise in lean manufacturing—the process of helping businesses improve workflow—which has led to his working with several prominent companies.
“A lot in our society and our security and way of life comes back to jobs and opportunities. I wanted to be able to help businesses here compete even when faced with certain disadvantages, such as tighter regulations and higher wages than in other countries. I help businesses learn better means of production and delivery, which helps them be more efficient, better serve our communities, and provide opportunities for workers.”
“As an immigrant, I appreciate this country and this community and what it has done for us. As an Indian who was born in Tehran, Iran, and moved here in 1976, it has been very accepting.”
Advice to his college-age self
“Have a vision in mind for what you want to do, and work to achieve it. Be flexible and adaptable when pursuing it. Do everything to the best of your abilities, knowing that what you do impacts things larger than just yourself.”
“I’d like to have a food truck and be able to serve underprivileged and homeless populations fresh, warm food. To take it into situations where recovery is ongoing, like with Gatlinburg this time last year, and open it up as a place for people to come cook meals.
“I also like Manchester United soccer and have followed them since George Best played for them in the 1960s. He was phenomenal.”
Movies, music, books
“Favorite book is Train to Pakistan, a historical novel about the partition of India by Khushwant Singh.
“Favorite movie is Gladiator. I love the line ‘On my signal, unleash hell.’
“Favorite music varies. I like a lot of things, from jazz and Spanish music to Indian music to Algerian-French music to Frank Sinatra.”
Dream dinner companions
Pope Francis and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—and they’d enjoy a meal of medium-well hamburgers with cheese, tomatoes, mustard, onion, and jalapeños.
To unwind from the day
Scotch on the rocks, surrounded by family and friends.
If he didn’t do this
“Develop property, part for profit, part for social use. I love designing.”
Still on his bucket list
“To become a better listener, to improve myself, to not use ‘I’ as much, and to visit Greece.”