Introducing the WVU Industrial Engineering Capstone Program: Enhancing Business Productivity through Student-Driven Solutions

The West Virginia University (WVU) Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering is excited to announce the launch of the WVU Industrial Engineering Capstone Program (IECP). In a nutshell, the WVU IECP aims to provide students with unparalleled experiences and to serve the land-grant mission of the University by supporting productivity improvement needs/initiatives of local businesses at no cost to them.

Industrial engineering deals with identifying opportunities for productivity improvement by assessing various engineering alternatives and recommending the best possible solution. Typically, industrial engineering appears in manufacturing, warehousing, and transportation businesses. However, industrial engineering can be applied to a wide range of processes, including in-house communications, healthcare, service operations, and so much more.

Defining a typical industrial engineering project is difficult, given the broad applicability of the discipline. Some general examples of project areas that we specialize in include production planning and control, productivity performance improvements, inventory optimization, industrial quality control, project scheduling, human factors (safety and ergonomics), plant layout and material handling, elimination of wastes, customer service improvements, optimization with linear programming, and so much more.

As a prime example of our program, one of our students, Anthony Garber, won third place at the Industrial and Systems Engineers’ Outstanding Capstone Design Project in 2022 for his productivity improvements which supported increased respirator production during the pandemic. You can read more about his story here: IMSE student earns third place…(

The WVU IECP fulfills its mission by offering teams of 3-6 students to address an improvement-based project for companies within no more than a 2-hour driving distance of the University. Students involved in the WVU IECP are senior-level students in their final semester, preparing for graduation. Majority of students at this level will have completed at least one full-time 10-week internship experience in an industrial engineering role.

The faculty-lead for the WVU IECP, Makenzie Dolly, PhD, coordinates the program by communicating with companies to identify projects and providing mentorship to students throughout the duration of the project. Dr. Dolly communicates regularly with students to ensure they remain on-track with the project scope and timeline, as well as to encourage the use of advanced and complex problem-solving practices.

The outcome of projects will vary based on the specifics of individual projects. In a general sense, student teams will provide companies with implementable recommendation(s) with detailed engineering analysis, a formal written report including all analyses, findings, and recommendations, and a presentation of the project from start to finish, including the recommendations.

To participate as an industry partner with the WVU IECP, we must have a i) complex engineering improvement problem (we can help you identify a project if you aren’t quite sure), ii) the ability to attend one or more site visits, iii) commitment to our students in the form of time and energy, and iv) willingness and ability to support the data and information needs of the students to fully assess the problem(s).

Although we can work with many companies and we would love to talk with you about your interest in supporting our program, the companies that tend to partner well with our program generally have the following characteristics: i) within less than a two hour drive of the University, preferably closer (less than one hour), ii) in the manufacturing, warehousing, or transportation industries, iii) are well-established with years of business, and iv) are open and willing to change and creative problem solving.

If you are interested in learning more about the WVU IECP, please visit our webpage at and/or complete the form at After completing the form, Dr. Dolly will reach out to you soon to answer questions and/or schedule a call!

Dr. Makenzie Dolly’s first and foremost passion is teaching and learning, which she discovered during her first peer tutoring role at the age of 12. She started her academic journey in the IMSE department as a BSIE student in January 2017. She received her BSIE in 2019, and subsequently started her PhD in Industrial Engineering as the department’s first-ever direct-admit PhD IE student. Her PhD research focused on the gamification of assembly operations for manufacturing, where she explored how the addition of game-like elements to non-game contexts may affect production and the workers. Some of her preliminary research has been published in the Journal of Manufacturing Systems [IF: 9.498] and various conference proceedings including those from Advances in Production Management Systems
(APMS) and CIRPe.

In her current role, she primarily focuses her work on supporting the students in and out of the IMSE department with their courses and work-life balance. She is dedicated to exploring new teaching styles to provide her students with the most valuable learning experience possible and believes strongly in providing real-life applications of course materials. Dr. Dolly finds immense value in working closely with alumni to ensure relevant and timely course materials, as well as partnering with companies in the community to provide unique learning experiences for students and to uphold the land-grant mission of the University.

In addition to her primary role, she is the coordinator for the Industrial Engineering Capstone Program (IECP), which she launched in 2023. The IECP aims to develop mutually beneficial relationships with businesses in the community and senior-level Industrial Engineering students, by providing free-of-cost industrial engineering support. Using her industrial experiences which lend more towards manufacturing, she leads the IECP student teams and enthusiastically explores the challenges often associated with unique applications of industrial engineering in less common settings, such as healthcare, service operations, and operational excellence.