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Overview of Industrial Engineering

According to The Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), Industrial Engineering is "...concerned with the design, improvement, and installation of integrated systems of people, materials, equipment and energy. It draws upon specialized knowledge and skill in the mathematical, physical and the social science together with the principles and methods of engineering analysis and design to specify, predict, and evaluate the results to be obtained from such systems."

In general, engineering has to do with the design and implementation of technology. While other branches of engineering emphasize design aspects of physical systems, industrial engineering places equal weight on people, economics, and systems aspects of technology often neglected by other fields. In addition to the design of industrial engineering hardware and industrial environments, the industrial engineer is trained to design the administrative systems needed for the effective implementation of physical technology and to design the interface between the hardware and people.

In summary, industrial engineering has two particularly exciting attributes:

  • It applies to all types of industrial, commercial, and government activities.
  • It is concerned with people as well as with material things.

Industrial engineers are prime sources of management talent because they combine the aptitude of the engineer, applied mathematician, accountant, and business executive. A prospective IE/OR student should be interested in people and in the machines of industry, but above all, have an interest in creatively solving problems. This ability to solve problems includes defining the problem, gathering data, selecting and implementing the best solution, and evaluating. Industrial engineers must be able to express ideas in a clear, concise manner, both orally and in writing.


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