Aykut Bulut, Ph.D. was shocked to win the ISE department’s Ph.D. candidate of the year award. “I was surprised because I found out like everybody else when my name was announced at the ceremony. It felt great being recognized for my effort and hard work.”
A native from Turkey, Aykut studied Industrial Engineering (BS and MS) at Middle East Technical University (in Turkey). Three years ago, Aykut decided to attend Lehigh because of “its strong ISE department. The research focus of the department matches with my research interests,” admits Aykut.
When asked about his research, Aykut is eager to explain: “My research is about computational optimization (mostly discrete optimization problems). I work on theory and also implement algorithms to develop software that solves these problems.” Aykut did some work on the complexity of inverse optimization problem that determines the complexity class of the inverse problem. He further explains: “We are starting a new project about discrete second order conic optimization problems that produces open source software to solve the problem. It will be fine-tuned for most of the problems a practitioner will encounter and flexible enough for researchers to explore their own ideas.”
Aykut has found the environment at Lehigh to be fruitful with many opportunities that enhance the pursuit of his goals. Through his research, Aykut, along with his advisor Professor Ted Ralphs, have developed some software that visualizes the well-known graph theory algorithms. “Our purpose was using it as a teaching guide in two of the courses offered in ISE, Algorithms in System Engineering and Graphs and Network Flows,” explains Aykut.
As for future plans, Aykut would like to eventually get a job that will have a similar environment as Lehigh’s ISE department. “I want to have a job where I can see the benefits of my work in the community or in an organization, balancing the theory and practice.
Along with his research, Aykut has been a teaching assistant for several ISE classes. He also volunteers as a system administrator in COR@L (Computational Optimization Research At Lehigh) Lab.