Dr. Bill Fortney
Dr. Fortney was trained in traditional industrial engineering at Tennessee Technological University and advanced manufacturing at Purdue University. He received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. At UT, Fortney’s research focused on systems approaches to organizational improvement, and after graduation, he utilized the systems perspective to design and install automated manufacturing systems for MasterBrand Cabinets. Fortney’s work at the Crossville, TN plant resulted in a system referred to as “the rough mill of the future” in the November 1996 issue of Wood & Wood Products. His other roles at MasterBrand included Corporate Industrial Engineering Manager and General Manager. As General Manager, Fortney led the design, startup, and operation of a new 600,000 square foot cabinet facility in Kinston, NC. Fortney managed numerous projects at MasterBrand with a combined cost of approximately thirty million dollars. Each project was completed on-time, within budget, and met or exceeded performance expectations.
After MasterBrand, Fortney returned to his first love – teaching. He utilized the systems perspective at North Carolina State University to design and create a new site-based engineering program in rural eastern North Carolina. His ABET accredited Mechanical Engineering Systems program was developed in partnership with the local Department of Defense Research and Engineering Group and has brought to life their vision of growing local engineers. Since 2012, the program has grown from four to approximately fifteen graduates a year. The total job placement rate is 98%, with 90% of the students employed locally. In the classroom, Fortney uses his industry experience to relate academic knowledge to real-life situations. He continually looks for innovative ways to engage students in the learning process. Fortney’s driving passion is helping students develop the character and personal traits necessary for success in business and life.