After receiving her B.S. in mathematics from East Tennessee State University, Marilyn Smith worked in the area of statistical quality control for Holston Defense Corporation, then as an inventory control supervisor for Burroughs Corporation. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in industrial engineering at Virginia Tech. She received the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award for 1987. She served for three years as a Senior Examiner for the S.C. Governor's Quality Award, and served as a Judge for the award 1998-2002. In addition, she served six years as an Examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA). In addition to being an active researcher, in 1995, her contributions to the community, state and profession were recognized with a Winthrop University Community Service Award. In 2000, she returned to the business sector on a sabbatical, working for Solectron Technology in the areas of quality and process improvement. Dr. Smith was named Winthrop University's Distinguished Professor for 2013.