Greg Placencia joins College of Engineering

By Tevin Voong

Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering welcomed a new full tenure track faculty member for the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.

Greg Placencia, who previously taught classes in the industrial and manufacturing engineering department as a part-time lecturer, will become a full-time faculty member in the fall.

In addition to teaching at CPP, Placencia will be a research adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.

“I really like the atmosphere here,” said Placencia. “I like the students. I think they’re excellent students.”

Placencia’s educational background consists of a bachelor’s degree in computer science, a master’s degree in computational linguistics and a doctorate in industrial and systems engineering. His current research focuses on system safety.

“Some of my research projects right now are looking into how families and caregivers take care of kids that are [undergoing] what we call invasive therapies,” said Placencia.

Some of his other work involves working with a nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles to improve stroller designs, working with Metrolink on Positive Train Control and working on a project at CPP to discover if improving classroom designs can improve student outcomes.

Placencia’s background and work emphasizes human factors engineering.

“Human factors engineering is the application of physiological and psychological principles that take advantage of the limitations and abilities of humans to perform a task,” said Placencia.

Stemming from his strong background in computers and technology, motivation for Placencia’s chosen field involves helping individuals.

“In general, what interests me was how to make people more productive,” said Placencia. “Many people, unfortunately, focus on machines. I focus on processes and what their limitations and abilities are. That’s why I’m so interested in it and that’s why I do what I do.”

Placencia chose CPP for a variety of reasons, but a big reason was due to his previous experiences with the students.

“When I did the lecturing, I noticed that the students I was teaching were good quality,” said Placencia. “They were comparable to what you see at USC and that impressed me immediately. What really got me was the fact that a lot of these students also work. Either full time or close to full time, and yet they still have the drive to keep going.”

Placencia’s ability to work efficiently with students has already made an impact on the way students pursue education at the industrial and manufacturing engineering department.

Yasmin Serrano, a third-year industrial engineering student, discussed her experience with Placencia.

“When I was starting to doubt industrial engineering, and I took human factors with Dr. Placencia, he was honestly a huge reason [why I stayed in industrial engineering],” Serrano said. “He pushed me to continue. He was a huge support system.”

As an experienced engineer, Placencia’s background in computer science also enables him to work closely with other colleges on campus.

Kamran Abedini, the chair of the industrial and manufacturing engineering department, explained that Placencia’s knowledge in multiple fields is a valuable asset to both the department and the university as a whole.

“His background also included computer science, and for that reason, we believe that he can not only concentrate on computer science applications to engineering, but also do work outside the department and outside the department of engineering with the college of science, for example, and do projects with other groups,” Abedini said.

Placencia hopes to inspire students and the department during his time at CPP.

“I see myself working a lot with research students here because I know they focus on a lot of research in Pomona,” said Placencia. “I see myself trying to make, not a factory, but a production model of having students do research with me. It would start in classes and get them interested in classes and then I’ll say, ‘I have research money. Do you want to work with me?'”

Greg Placencia new to College of Engineering

Tevin Voong / The Poly Post

Greg Placencia new to College of Engineering

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