The School of Engineering’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering is preparing to bid a bittersweet farewell to a longstanding faculty member who has been with the department from the very beginning. Professor Thomas Boucher joined the ISE faculty upon the department’s inception in 1981. Throughout the past 36 years, he has contributed to the success of the department which is now regularly listed among U.S. News and World Report’s top ranked graduate engineering programs.
Over the span of his career, Boucher has published over 40 research articles in the areas of automation sciences and engineering economics. In addition, he has authored or co-authored several books—Analysis and Control of Production Systems, Computer Automation in Manufacturing, and Design of Industrial Information Systems.
Boucher also served as editor-in-chief for The Engineering Economist, which he credits as one of the highlights of his career.
“By the time my tenure was over this past December, we had raised the profile of the journal significantly,” Boucher said. He will continue to hold an associate editor position for the journal which is published jointly by the Engineering Economy Division of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) and the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE).
Leaving the School of Engineering, Boucher said he will greatly miss the daily interactions he has with students.
“They’re thinking about things, and they’re presenting you with challenges. You’re trying to give them the best education you can, and so it keeps your mind young,” he said.
One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching, he said, is preparing students to be life-long learners.
“In engineering, technology is constantly changing,” Boucher said. “The most important thing you can teach a student besides the fundamentals is to have confidence in learning and going beyond the classroom.”
Once he retires, Boucher will devote more time to his love for hiking. He and his wife Unn own a home in Acadia National Park where they have spent their summers during his time off from teaching.
“We go there and hike most of the mountains in the region and try to get ourselves back into shape,” Boucher said.
In addition to spending more time outdoors, Boucher says it is time to “do some volunteering—paying back.” He is considering working for the National Park and plans to pursue other community service opportunities.
Even though he is retiring, Boucher said he will continue his association with his profession and exploring the problems that interest him. Though he has spent the past 36 years working for the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, it was always much more than an occupation to him.
“What professors do in our research and in our work can be almost described as a hobby,” Boucher said. “It’s what we do because we like to do it. It certainty is not a job.” n