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Plenary - The Flight of the Phoenix, Douglas Montgomery

Douglas Montgomery, PhD, is a leader in the fields of engineering and statistics, specializing in design and analysis of experiments, statistical methods for process monitoring and optimization, and the analysis of time-oriented data. Montgomery has consulted with more than 200 businesses, including Motorola, AT&T, Boeing, IBM, The Coca-Cola Company, Lucent Technologies, Dial Corporation, Dow Chemical, Amoco, Georgia-Pacific, Monsanto Chemicals, Alcoa and Eli Lilly. His work on major projects has led organizational efforts to design experiments and response surface methods; implement statistical process control; develop, characterize and optimize processes; apply time series analysis and design forecasting systems; and design and analyze physical distribution systems.


Montgomery holds a doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where he received both his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in industrial engineering as well. He is a prolific writer who has authored 16 books and more than 180 technical papers on the application of statistics to industrial problems.


His honors and awards include the Shewhart Medal, the Brumbaugh Award, the Hunter Award, the Shewell Award and the Ellis R. Ott Award. He is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, the American Society for Quality Control, the Royal Statistical Society and the Institute of Industrial Engineers. He is an Elected Member of the International Statistical Institute.


Abstract: The 1965 movie The Flight of the Phoenix is a story about a plane crash in the Sahara desert following World War II. One of the survivors says he's an airplane designer and that they can make a flyable plane from the wreckage of the demolished “flying boxcar.” The movie is all about the hard work and effort required to do this, and the all-star cast makes for a tremendously enjoyable adventure flick. There’s an interesting parallel between this movie and design of experiments. In the late 1980s, many academic statisticians declared design of experiments dead; an area in which all of the important, relevant research had already been done, and it was unnecessary to invest any further effort in serious study and research. This was while applications were expanding at an exponential rate. It turns out that the field was far from dead, and the period from the early 1990s to the present has been one of the most productive in terms of new design of experiments methodology and applications environments. This talk focuses on some of the reasons that some felt design of experiments was no longer of interest and some of the new developments and applications that have made this one of the most active and important fields of applied statistics. A true “Flight of the Phoenix.”



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