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Antoinette "Tony" Derjani-Bayeh (16K JPG)

Tireless. Champion for all students. Brilliant. Crusader for social justice. Exceptional teacher. Compassionate. Selfless.

Time and again, Antoinette "Tony" Derjani-Bayeh's friends and colleagues use phrases like these to describe her exuberance for life and dedication to helping others. Tragically, the IE graduate's own life ended April 27, 1999, when a car struck and killed her on the Purdue University campus, where she was completing her first semester as an assistant professor. To honor Derjani-Bayeh's memory and encourage others to continue their education in human factors engineering, the University of Wisconsin Foundation recently established a scholarship fund in her name.

Born in Venezuala of Lebanese immigrant parents, Derjani-Bayeh came to UW-Madison in 1986 as an undergraduate electrical and computer engineering student. She returned to Venezuala to work for Procter and Gamble, but her love for Madison drew her back. Derjani-Bayeh completed master's and PhD degrees, the latter in winter 1998, in industrial engineering.

As a graduate student, she studied "community ergonomics," a discipline that applies engineering principles to solving problems in inner cities, and conducted much of her PhD work in downtown Milwaukee. "She was devoted to making the world a better place, and was actively involved in accomplishing this goal," says Professor Michael Smith, who was Derjani-Bayeh's advisor. "She believed in freedom, justice and equality for the poor of the world, especially those in developing countries. She was involved in many local, national and international groups and activities to this end."

IE graduate student Carla Alvarado met Derjani-Bayeh in one of Smith's courses. "I found myself seated next to a kid from Venezuela who took her class notes in Arabic and had an answer for every question Professor Smith asked the class — and for some he hadn't asked," she says.

For the now-55-year-old Alvarado, then a special student, meeting Derjani-Bayeh was a life-changing experience. "She loved the fact that I had an epidemiology degree and was not an engineer," says Alvarado. "I was 'fresh clay' to her, to form into a human factors engineer, and in turn, she wanted to learn an epidemiological perspective on the world."

The two became fast friends and often met for discussions about everything from international policy to pizza. "Always she would return to how engineers could apply their training to help societal needs," she says. Although Alvarado insisted she'd never become an engineer, soon Derjani-Bayeh had convinced her to pursue a PhD in human factors. "I filled out the application to re-enter the graduate school," she says.

Derjani-Bayeh had a similar effect on others. "Whenever I was around Tony, I always felt special," says friend Leah Newman. "She just had this unique way of making sure that you felt important when she spoke with you. She treated everyone the same — she was never too busy to spend time helping someone."

To contribute to the Antoinette Derjani-Bayeh Scholarship Fund, send donations to University of Wisconsin Foundation, attention Deb Holt, 1848 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53705, or E-mail for more information. When sending gifts, please specify the Antoinette Derjani-Bayeh Scholarship Fund.


IE NEWS is published twice a year for alumni and other friends of the UW-Madison Department of Industrial Engineering. This publication is paid for with private funds.

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Date last modified: Tuesday, 04-Dec-2001 08:40:00 CST
Date created: 29-Nov-2001 14:09:00