Mark Lewis elected the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Engineering

The Cornell University Board of Trustees has elected Mark E. Lewis, Director and Professor in the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Engineering effective July 1, 2021, succeeding Paul Steen who passed away in September 2020.

Professor Lewis received undergraduate degrees in mathematics and political science from Eckerd College in 1992, his master's degree in theoretical statistics from Florida State University in 1995, and a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1998. After receiving his doctorate, Lewis spent a year at the University of British Columbia as a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Operations Excellence. He joined Cornell as an Associate Professor in 2005 after teaching industrial and operations engineering at the University of Michigan.

“It is both privilege and an honor to hold this chair,” Lewis said. “Everything I have learned about the Upson family is that they embody what Cornell Engineering is about; dedicated to discovery and service. I hope to live up to the high standard of this distinction.”

Broadly speaking Professor Lewis is interested in dynamic control of service systems. Most often, he uses the methodology of stochastic dynamic programming or Markov decision processes to analyze these problems. Along the way, he has done fundamental research on the theory of MDPs. In terms of applications, Professor Lewis has considered routing in transportation systems, control of inventory systems and allocation of inter-switch handoffs in wireless communications. Despite his versatility in the analysis of such systems, his passion is for resource allocation in controlled queueing networks. In doing so, he has considered non-stationary networks, networks with limited capacity and those with varying service capabilities.

Professor Lewis is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the National Science Foundation in 2002, the College of Engineering’s Zellman Warhaft Commitment to Diversity Faculty Award in 2012, and was the featured Black History Month honoree of Mathematically Gifted & Black in 2019. Before becoming Director of the School of ORIE, he served as the college’s Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Faculty Development from 2015-19.

The Maxwell M. Upson Professorship in Engineering was established in 1966, through the bequest to the University from the late Mary Shepard B. Upson. In her will, Mrs. Upson, the wife of the Cornell Trustee Emeritus, directed that the majority of her estate be used to further the goals of Cornell’s College of Engineering.

After graduating from the University of North Dakota in 1896, Upson enrolled at Cornell and received a mechanical engineering degree in 1899. He was a mechanic with Westinghouse, Church, Kerr & Co. after his campus years and soon became a managing engineer. In 1907 with money he received from George Westinghouse for rights to an automatic gas producer he had invented, Upson bought a controlling interest in the Raymond Concrete Pile Company. In 1958, the company's corporate name was changed to Raymond International to emphasize the growing importance of its overseas operations. Upson served on Cornell’s Board of Trustees from 1925-1960.

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