Industrial engineering is a branch of engineering concerned with the development, improvement, implementation and evaluation of integrated systems of people, money, knowledge, information, equipment, energy, material and process. It also deals with designing new prototypes to help save money and make the prototype better. Industrial engineering draws upon the principles and methods of engineering analysis and synthesis, as well as mathematical, physical and social sciences 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 lean manufacturing systems, industrial engineers work to eliminate wastes of time, money, materials, energy, and other resources.
Industrial engineering is also known as operations management, management science, systems engineering, or manufacturing engineering, usually depending on the viewpoint or motives of the user. Recruiters or educational establishments use the names to differentiate themselves from others. In healthcare, for example, industrial engineers are more commonly known as management engineers or health systems engineers.
The term "industrial" in industrial engineering can be misleading. While the term originally applied to manufacturing, it has grown to encompass virtually all other industries and services as well. The various topics of concern to industrial engineers include management science, financial engineering, engineering management, supply chain management, process engineering, operations research, systems engineering, ergonomics, value engineering and quality engineering.
Examples of where industrial engineering might be used include designing a new loan system for a bank, streamlining operation and emergency rooms in a hospital, distributing products worldwide (referred to as Supply Chain Management), and shortening lines (or queues) at a bank, hospital, or a theme park. Industrial engineers typically use computer simulation, especially discrete event simulation, for system analysis and evaluation.
Examples of famous Industrial Engineers include Susan Story, CEO of Gulf Power , American businessman Lee Iacocca and Mohammad Barghash, a Jordanian Industrial Engineer well known in the United Arab Emirates and Australia for his revolutionary business ideas and skills in Activity Based Costing.
US News and World Report's article on "America's Best Colleges 2010" lists schools offering Undergraduate engineering specialties in Industrial or Manufacturing whose highest degree is a doctorate as Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan, Purdue University, Pennsylvania State University-University Park, University of California at Berkeley, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M University, Stanford University, Northwestern University, Cornell University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Arizona State University, Texas Tech University,Southern Polytechnic State University and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Industrial Engineering faculties are well established at South African Universities and include the University of Pretoria, the University of Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch University. The largest Industrial Engineering faculty in South Africa is the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering based at the University of Pretoria.
Industrial engineering courses had been taught by multiple universities in the late 1800s along Europe, especially in developed countries such as Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain. In the United States, the first department of industrial engineering was established in 1908 as the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State.
The first doctoral degree in industrial engineering was awarded in the 1930s by Cornell University.
The usual postgraduate degree earned is the Master of Science in Industrial Engineering/Industrial Engineering & Management/Industrial Engineering & Operations Research. The typical MS in IE/IE&M/IE & OR/Management Sciences curriculum includes:
In the United States, the usual undergraduate degree earned is the Bachelor of Science or B.E. in Industrial Engineering (BSIE). The typical BSIE curriculum includes introductory chemistry, physics, economics, mathematics, statistics, properties of materials, intermediate coursework in mechanical engineering, computer science, sometimes electrical engineering, and additional specialized courses in management, systems theory, and computer science.
The total number of engineers employed in the U.S. in 2006 was roughly 1.5 million. Of these, 201,000 were industrial engineers (13.3%), the third most popular engineering specialty. The average starting salaries being $55,067 with a bachelor's degree, $64,759 with a master's degree, and $77,364 with a doctorate degree. This places industrial engineering at 7th of 15 among engineering bachelors degrees, 3rd of 10 among masters degrees, and 2nd of 7 among doctorate degrees in average annual salary. The median annual income of industrial engineers in the U.S. workforce is $68,620.
Typically, within a few years after graduation, industrial engineers move to management positions because their work is closely related to management.
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Industrial and systems engineering is one of the fastest growing areas of engineering. It looks at the "big picture" of what makes organizations work best—the right combination of human and natural resources, technology and equipment, and information and finance. Industrial and systems engineering is vital to solving today's critical and complex problems in manufacturing, distribution of goods and services, health care, utilities, transportation, entertainment, and the environment. Industrial and systems engineers design and refine processes and systems to improve quality, safety and productivity.