William H. Woodall, both an alumnus and professor of statistics at Virginia Tech, recently received the 2002 Shewhart Medal from the American Society for Quality (ASQ).
The ASQ is a professional association with more than 100,000 members that advances individual, organizational, and community excellence worldwide through quality improvement, learning, and knowledge exchange. The ASQ awards the Shewhart Medal to the person who has made the most outstanding contribution to the science and techniques of quality control or who has demonstrated leadership in the field of modern quality control.
Woodall received the award during the ASQ's 57th Annual Quality Congress for "the advancement of the science of quality control, including the development of new methodology for statistical process techniques through excellence in university teaching, extensive publications, presentations at scientific meetings, and personal consulting activities in different industrial environments."
Geoffrey Vining, head of the Department of Statistics, said "the Shewhart Medal is the American Society for Quality's highest award for technical contributions to the field of quality over the span of a career."
Woodall, in his acceptance speech, said that several past winners of the Shewhart Medal, including Virginia Tech Statistics Professor Emeritus Ray Myers, the winner in 1998, had mentored and encouraged him over the years. His parents, he said, taught his twin brother and him "the value of education and hard work."
Shewhart is considered to be the Father of Statistical Quality Control. Most of Woodall's work over the past 20 years has been in the area of statistical process control and improvement. He has been fascinated, he said, by the conflicting views between quality leaders, but all have made valuable contributions because "different gurus and experts reach different audiences and the subject of quality deserves a large audience."
Woodall's research includes all aspects of control charting and the study of fuzzy logic from a statistical point of view. His control-chart methods are widely used in semiconductor manufacturing, among other industries. His publications include those about Shewhart's work and also about the controversies and contradictions in statistical process control. His work has been funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Alcoa Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and others.
Woodall has received the Brumbaugh Award given by the ASQ for the paper that has made the largest single contribution to the development of industrial application of quality control. Quality Progress of ASQ also selected him as one of 21 "Voices of Quality" for the 21st Century, and Woodall has been a Fellow of the ASQ since 2000.
He also is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and has won several other awards, including the Certificate of Teaching Excellence from Virginia Tech. He is editor of The Journal of Quality Technology.
Woodall earned a bachelor's in mathematics from Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., and his master's and doctorate in statistics from Virginia Tech.