July 3, 2019
Shabbir Ahmed, Anderson-Interface Chair and Professor of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, passed away on June 19th, 2019 after a hard-fought battle with cancer. He was 49. He leaves behind his wife, Rasha, and daughters, Raeeva and Umana. Shabbir was born in Bangladesh, received a B.Eng. in mechanical engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in industrial engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined the Industrial and Systems Engineering faculty at Georgia Tech in 2000.
To all his colleagues, Shabbir was well-known for always finding time for everyone, for his kindness, for his integrity, honesty and wisdom. His energy was phenomenal. He put in a great deal of time and enthusiasm to create special mentor-mentee relationships with several junior faculty members and was always available for “taking a short walk”. He had a great collaborative attitude and was a visionary – he was quick to see connections to related and emerging areas and forge productive partnerships in many different settings, at Georgia Tech, academia, and beyond. Shabbir was a skilled manager of his time and a goal-oriented person, which is evident from his myriad achievements in a relatively short research career. Nevertheless, he prioritized students’ and junior colleagues’ needs over his personal interests and was always available to them as a mentor, friend, and colleague. Over the course of his career, he advised over twenty-five PhD students. He was also an extremely popular classroom teacher.
Shabbir made deep and foundational contributions to the areas of stochastic and discrete optimization. His innovative approach to problem solving led to beautiful new theory, algorithms and solutions for challenges in various application areas, such as logistics and supply chain, chemical engineering, and power system design and operations. He served as Chair of the Stochastic Programming Society, and on the editorial board of several leading journals, including Operations Research, Mathematical Programming and the INFORMS Journal on Optimization. His honors include the Farkas Prize from the INFORMS Optimization Society, the INFORMS Computing Society Prize, the National Science Foundation CAREER award, two IBM Faculty Awards, and the INFORMS Dantzig Dissertation award. He was a Senior Member of IEEE and a Fellow of INFORMS.
Shabbir led a very rich life. He cherished interests beyond his professional career including music (heavy metal guitar music was one of his favorites), and running. In all his roles, he was extremely special – a caring and loving family man, a very accomplished researcher and a very good friend and mentor to many. He will continue to live in the memories of those whose lives he touched.