Mary Grace Stachnik, a junior in the Industrial Engineering department at Clemson University, placed first in the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference technical paper competition. The conference was held on the Virginia Tech campus from February 7–9, 2020. Students were required to submit a technical paper and present the results of their research at the conference, and a panel of industrial engineering faculty members evaluated both.
Stachnik’s paper, co-authored with senior IE student Marisa Shehan, titled, “Investigating Microbial Load in the Operating Room.” The objective of the work was to examine the impacts of different factors, such as staff movement and door openings, on bacterial and fungal load in operating rooms. Stachnik’s team members observed and documented real operating room procedures in local healthcare facilities. The team also simulated surgical procedures by acting as the doctor, nurses, and the patient. When asked about the research, Stachnik said, “Being a part of this project has been an eye-opening experience and allowed me to gain insight into not only IE techniques for quality improvement but also the healthcare system.” The paper stemmed from a Creative Inquiry project led by Dr. Kevin Taaffe, Dempsey Professor of Industrial Engineering. In addition to her involvement with IISE, Mary Grace is also active in Alpha Pi Mu, the national Industrial Engineering Honor Society.