William Meeker earns top prize from the American Society
William Meeker, Distinguished Professor of liberal arts and sciences
and professor of statistics, considers himself to be a statistician first
So why is the American Society for Quality honoring him?
"I'm a statistician who just happens to have an interest in reliability
and quality," he said. "I've had exposure to these areas for
a number of years."
So it should come as no surprise to those familiar with his work that
Meeker is the latest recipient of the Shewhart Medal from the American
Society for Quality. At the same time he has also been named a Fellow
by that organization.
The Shewhart Medal is awarded for technical leadership to an individual
"who is deemed to have demonstrated the most outstanding technical
leadership in the field of modern quality control, especially through
the development of its theory, principles and techniques."
"This is one of the important awards in the field of quality,"
Meeker said. "I believe it's an acknowledgement by my peers of the
work I've done in this area."
Meeker has long been a leader in the fields of quality and product reliability.
In addition to his faculty responsibilities at Iowa State, he spent his
summers at Bell Laboratories from 1978-92. He has also worked with General
Electric, Hewlett-Packard, 3M and other companies on developing statistical
models and methods for reliability.
The long-time Iowa State faculty member feels there are several reasons
why he was named the recipient of the Shewhart Medal. He is continually
collaborating with his colleagues and students on a series of technical
papers that have appeared in quality engineering and statistical journals.
For a time, he served as the editor of the journal Technometrics,
which is published jointly by the American Society of Quality and the
American Statistical Association.
He is also the co-author of two books related to product reliability including
Statistical Intervals: A Guide for Practitioners (1991) and Statistical
Methods for Reliability Data (1998).
"These books have several topics with lots of applications that can be
used by engineers and quality professionals, as well as statisticians,"
Throughout his career, Meeker says he and his colleagues have continually
developed new ideas and technology, often building on past work. He parlayed
that into software that is used for planning and analyzing data from reliability
Many of the statistical methods and software Meeker has developed were
motivated by his summers spent at Bell Laboratories and his work with
"My experience in industry was extremely valuable," he said.
"All the things I've done since wouldn't have happened without that
experience. It gave me exposure to real problems important to the areas
that I worked in."
While at Bell Laboratories, Meeker had access to the latest graphics hardware
and software. When he returned to campus, he was forced to look at statistics
the way statisticians had for centuries - glancing at the numbers. By
developing software, he was able to present the information into a more
useful graphical form.
"For most of us (statisticians), statistics has changed dramatically,"
he said, "not only with computer power but how we are able to take
information and display it in a graphical way.
"We developed our own software because it takes years for what industry
is using to become available on the commercial market. It has been interesting
to see the type of programs we've developed eventually be integrated into
April 23 to May 6, 2007