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Industrial Engineering is cutting edge

Updated on August 24, 2011

Industrial engineering

The many facets of Industrial engineering

Did you ever want to find an area of study that would complement your skill set and provide you a wide array of challenges and opportunities as you progress in your studies and eventually into a career choice? We all spend a good part of our lives trying to find out exactly what it is we should be doing and for most of us that choice basically comes down to what we are good at and what we like. We usually develop our skills at a young age and if we are encouraged and nurtured we will develop a confidence and a positive self esteem.

If I could provide advice and insight to a young student I would suggest they gain a deep appreciation of the powers and beauty of mathematics because that is the basis for everything. A knowledge of mathematics can open doors for anyone who posesses the skill, the capability, the interest and the dedication. With a foundation in mathematics you can expand your knowledge to areas in engineering, physics, the sciences, teaching, business and the actuarial fields. There are so many choices and the opportunities are endless.

If you were to embark in a field of engineering a very exciting area of study would be the dynamic field of Industrial and systems engineering. When we think of our daily lives and the everyday things we do we certainly can see that our lives are filled with daily processes that seem to be second hand to us and we are even unaware of such processes but they exist and those modern day conveniences that we have grown accustomed to are the result of the dedication and hard work of engineers. Industrial engineers are versatile and combine many disciplines in their field. They integrate engineering applications and designs to business models that are are an everyday part of our busy lives.

The car we drive was manufactured on an assembly line in a step by step process that was designed by industrial engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, materials engineers and automotive engineers. The industrial engineer would design the processes or steps in the manufacturing process from beginning to end and the final result is a reliable car that we will hopefully own for several years and drive upwards of 100,000 miles on.

When we shop at a Target in our neighborhood and we want to buy a flat screen tv we are disappointed that it is out of stock but we suddenly realize we can get that same set at the Target 5 miles away so we ask for that location to hold it for us. The logistics in setting up locations where a Target will open is also something that an industrial engineer would be involved in.

We have come to expect the modern convenience of overnight delivery with Fedex, UPS or the USPS and seem to take it for granted. However Industrial engineers have developed sophisticated modeling and mathematical design concepts to develop these distribution centers that get our package from the east coast to the west coast overnight.

Hospitals employ industrial engineers to design efficient processes for their physicians, nurses and medical personnel in addressing the needs of their patients.

When we take a train to the city we rely on a schedule which most certainly was coordinated by an industrial engineer.

Our favorite baseball team's schedule and assigned flights to various cities are coordinated by management and developed by industrial engineers.

The amusement parks we visit each summer with our families hire many types of personnel including industrial engineers. It is the industrial engineers that prepare analysis and models on the attractions and evaluate how to make the rides more efficient to help in eliminating such long waits on lines. They utilize linear programming, operations research and queing theory in many of the modeling methods in addition to probability and statistics.

An industrial engineer can also design pricing models and work in a business or financial organization where they would utilize their engineering skills and their business knowledge.

In times of crisis and in the aftermath of a disaster there is a need for meeting the demands imposed on relief agencies like the Red Cross who utilize the skills and knowledge of industrial engineers to help coordinate the relief efforts with the help of other trained professionals. 

The course of study for an Industrial engineer in their first two years of school is essentially the same as it is for any engineering student. It is their junior year that they design their curriculum suitable for a discipline and if Industrial engineering is their choice then they would integrate junior and senior level engineering courses with business, accounting and mathematics.

I believe the future is bright for those students who pursue a career in Industrial engineering and they will find they have many options which is certainly in their favor. The one reality an engineering student must face is their need to understand and appreciate mathematics which is the thread that ties it all together. Without mathematics there is no engineering.

Explore, Challenge yourself, Learn, Devote yourself, Find your passion, Make your parents proud! Live your dream! Become an Engineer! Become an Industrial Engineer!

Edward D. Iannielli III

What is Industrial Engineering?

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Northwestern University

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