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Professor Houshang Darabi was named the head of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) in the summer of 2022. He obtained his PhD in industrial engineering in 2000 – he joined UIC in the same year – from Rutgers University, his master’s degrees from Sharif University of Technology, and his bachelor’s from Iran University of Technology & Science. Previously, Darabi served as MIE’s director of undergraduate studies for 12 years.
Darabi’s research interests are in process mining, time series classification, healthcare engineering, safety engineering, and engineering education. He has served as principal or co-principal investigator on more than $25 million external grants. He has been funded by many private sponsors, and several federal agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Among Darabi’s many notable accomplishments are his highly cited articles in the area of time series classification. In two papers in 2017 and 2019, he and his students introduced a special neural network architecture for solving single and multi-channel time series classification problems, which are among the most cited in the area of time series classification. Other achievements include the development of artificial intelligence frameworks/tools for automating and improving occupational safety and health systems. His research accomplishments in this area have been recognized by NIOSH through multiple grants, and have been widely published and presented nationally and internationally.
His significant teaching and service contributions includes receiving the 2017 UIC Award of Excellence for Teaching, the most prestigious teaching award at UIC, and leading the successful ABET accreditation of MIE in 2014 and 2020.
Darabi was featured in the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) magazine for his contribution in developing a course that prepares senior undergraduate students for their life after graduation. He was the recipient of the ASEE’s Minorities in Engineering Division Best Paper Award for his research on improving admission practices and advising underrepresented minorities in their first three semesters.
He also led a college-wide student success project, serving as the principal investigator on a $1.2 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, with collaborating professors from every engineering department to develop methods for the retention and graduation of at-risk engineering students. The project has developed a number of evidence-based intervention programs – such as an industry mentorship program, summer bridge program, service learning project, and engineering success initiative – to help these students succeed in their engineering education. As a result, the two-year retention rate for students supported by this program is 94%.