Industrial engineering (IE) is all about choices - it is the engineering discipline that offers the most wide-ranging array of opportunities in terms of employment, and it is distinguished by its flexibility. While other engineering disciplines tend to apply skills to very specific areas, industrial engineers may be found working everywhere: from traditional manufacturing companies to airlines, from distribution companies to financial institutions, from major medical establishments to consulting companies, from high-tech corporations to companies in the food industry.
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Industrial engineering is the only engineering discipline with close links to management - many industrial engineers (IEs) move on to successful careers in management. Also, if you think that one day you will start and run your own company, an industrial engineering program will provide you with the best training for this - regardless of what the company will actually do!
So what do IEs do? In very simple terms, while engineers typically make things, IEs figure out how to make or do things better. This is what gives IEs so much flexibility - as you can imagine, everyone would like to do things better! IEs are primarily concerned with two closely related issues: productivity and quality. They address these two issues by looking at integrated systems of machines, human beings, information, computers, and other resources. A variety of skills and techniques are used to design and operate such systems in the most productive way possible, while continuously improving them and maintaining the highest levels of quality. IEs make significant contributions to their employers by making money for them while, at the same time, making the workplace better for fellow workers.