Fantahun M. Defersha

Education and Employment Background

Dr. Fantahun M. Defersha received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Concordia University in 2006. Between 2006 and 2009, he was a Research Associate and part-time faculty member in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Concordia University. Defersha joined the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph in 2010, where he is now an Associate Professor.

Research Themes

Defersha seeks to apply analytical and computational skills and experience in modeling, meta-heuristics, parallel computing, computer simulation in the areas of manufacturing systems design, production planning and scheduling, logistics, quality management, productivity and cost analysis. Key areas of focus include:

  1. Integrated production and manpower scheduling. A key manufacturing challenge for Toronto industry relates to the scheduling of large numbers of orders. Defersha and his team have applied the event-scheduling/time-advance algorithm from the theory of discrete event systems simulation to streamline Toronto manufacturing.
  2. Plastic mold station scheduling in automotive parts pain facility. In collaboration with local industry and funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Engage, Defersha explored how to optimize the placement of different vehicle exterior components with varying styles and colour in a complex painting and assembly facility. The goal was to identify the most efficient schedule to meet customer demand and flow part styles to the appropriate warehouse spaces.
  3. Integrated approach in design and operation of non-conventional manufacturing systems. There is an emerging consensus that traditional layout configurations do not meet the needs of multi-product enterprises working in volatile environment. For these types of enterprises, there is a need for new generation of factory layouts that are more flexible, modular, and easy to reconfigure. Defersha and his team explore changes in product mix and volume; relocation, addition and deletion of machine tools; reconfiguration of material handling system; operator assignment, shift-scheduling and capacity adjustment; and product lot sizing and scheduling.
  4. Manufacturing systems design based on distributed layout. The design and operation of production systems in the current era of global competition is becoming a difficult task. Defersha developed a new mathematical model that integrates layout configuration and production planning in the design of dynamic distributed layouts. 
  5. Linear programming assisted genetic algorithm for job shop scheduling with lot streaming. The hybridization of metaheuristics with other techniques for optimization has been one of the most interesting trends in recent years. Defersha developed a linear programming assisted genetic algorithm for solving a flexible job-shop scheduling problem with lot streaming.
  6. Product cost estimation. In collaboration with Dr. Nadia Bhuiyan (Concordia University) and Dr. Addis Salam (a senior cost engineer at Bombardier Aerospace), Defersha developed a new cost estimation technique based on Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA).


  • NSERC Discovery grant, 2011, 2017
  • NSERC Research Tools and Instruments grant, 2012
  • NSERC Engage grant, 2013, 2016, 2017

Media Coverage

Mechanical Engineering degree program at U of G