Engineering Experts

Camilo Olaya

Associate Professor
Industrial Engineering
University of Los Andes


Camilo Olaya has a PhD, in Economy (2009) from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland; He has a master’s in Industrial Engineering (1998), University of Los Andes and a B.Sc. in Systems and Computing Engineering (1996), University of Los Andes.

Research Interest

My research area is the engineering of social systems. The term 'engineering' denotes the operational design and redesign of complex artifacts (policies, rules, programs, plans, whole organizations, etc.) aimed at specific situations wanted to be improved by someone. In this sense, engineering is a design and task oriented activity, different from science since instead of searching for explanations of phenomena, it aims at transforming problematic situations through the design and creation of purpose-oriented, value-laden artifacts. Engineering can deal with the most complex type of system: social systems (e.g. firms, organizations, public and private systems in general), that is, pluralistic arrangements of free, unpredictable, innovative decision-makers that, therefore can be addressed neither by law-like statements nor from induction from past data. I consider that the Humean problem of induction cannot be ignored in any knowledge inquiry that intends to transform non-uniform systems. Thus, I use Donald Campbell and Karl Popper's selection theory as a framework to design, redesign and transform social systems. Selection theory demarcates abstract, designing processes of fit through continuous combinations of Variation (random, blind, biased) and Selection (external, internal, artificial, natural). This selectionism can be instantiated in any domain, social systems in particular. I understand selection theory as a type of distinctive, anti-physicalist (Mayr's sense), naturalistic explanation that delivers a proper recognition of change and diversity---quintessential characteristics of social systems. As a result, I use computer modeling and simulation as drivers of knowledge through series of Popperian blind conjectures and refutations. Social systems adapt and evolve through such selectionist trial-and-error processes that produce adaptive designs (policies, organizations, plans, etc.). Such evolutionary processes can be engineered for developing self-organizing, adaptive designs for achieving specific goals. I call this designing process 'engineering of social systems'. Engineering of Social Systems Systemic Modeling and Simulation Engineering Epistemology and Ethics Evolutionary Thought Model-based engineering of justice administration systems Public management, public policy design

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