With plenty of job opportunities out there, it’s tough for anyone to decide what to major in. However, if you’re looking for a profession with a broad scope, Industrial Engineering is something made for you. Industrial engineers are in almost every industry today trying to improve the efficiency of any given project or organization.
Industrial engineering is essential for the smooth running of an organization and focuses on getting the work done efficiently. Industrial engineers are crucial for an organization to design and change how things are done to improve quality, safety, and productivity. However, what makes industrial engineering stand out from the rest is the scope to work in both managerial and technical positions.
Before getting into the scope of Industrial engineering let’s answer one of the most frequently asked questions among aspiring engineers, the difference between mechanical engineering and industrial engineering.
Industrial Engineering vs Mechanical Engineering
While mechanical engineers design machines and supervise their maintenance, industrial engineers are more concerned about how people and tools work together. Even though both the branches are coherent to some extent, the significant difference lies in the part that an IE graduate can make far better and diverse choices compared to a mechanical engineering graduate. A mechanical engineer fits better in an engineering department whereas an industrial engineer is best for production department. Even though both the degrees are flexible and broad, if you’re looking to build your career in product design, mechanical engineering is the right choice. However, one great thing about engineering, in general, is that you’re not tied down to your discipline.
Just like industrial engineering, industrial design is another profession that is involved with manufacturing. While industrial designing is a creative profession focusing more on designing the products, industrial engineers deal with manufacturing these products. While one does creative designing, the other is more analytical engineering.
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Now that we have learned about industrial engineering and it’s importance, the question arises, how does one become an industrial engineer?
Prerequisites for Industrial Engineering
Industrial engineers require a bachelor’s degree, typically in industrial engineering as this is one of those fields where a student can advance in the field with a bachelor’s degree alone. However, the flexibility of the profession allows others to pursue this career with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical, electrical and other engineering disciplines. A four-year bachelor’s program in industrial engineering would be ideal for excelling in this field. However, several colleges and universities provide a five-year degree program in industrial engineering that lead to bachelor’s and master’s degree upon completion. Students interested in industrial engineering should take high school courses in mathematics, computer science, physics, and chemistry.
A typical industrial engineering curriculum includes chemistry, physics, mechanics, material science, computer science, electronics, engineering design, and engineering mathematics.
Just like any other profession, an ideal industrial engineer should possess specific skills to excel in this field. Some of the skills required are:
- Good math skills
- Mechanical aptitude
- Excellent communication
- Time management
- Technical competency
- Quality control
- Excellent communication/salesmanship
- Quantitative skills
- Management of material resources
Where to start?
However, to build your career in industrial engineering, it is essential to choose the best university for your field of study. Many factors like cost, scholarships, education quality, average earnings of graduates and setting should be considered before choosing the university. Here are some of the top universities for industrial engineering:
- Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
- The University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, USA
- Virginia Tech, USA
- Purdue University-Main Campus, USA
- Lehigh University, USA
- The University of Greenwich, UK
- The University of Dundee, UK
- The University of Nottingham, UK
- The University of Bayreuth, Germany
- Ryerson University, Canada
- Dalhousie University, Canada
- The University of Windsor, Canada
- The University of Toronto, Canada
- Concordia University, Canada
- Saint Mary’s University, Canada
- RWTH Aachen University, Germany
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
- The University of Stuttgart, Germany
- The University of Wollongong, Australia
- Curtin University, Australia
- Northcentral University, USA
- Stanford University, USA
- Cornell University, USA
- University of Miami, USA
- The University of Louisville, USA
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Now that we have shortlisted the top universities, let’s talk about the role of an industrial engineer in an organization. An industrial engineer:
focuses more on improving production through better management and quality control.
studies how workers perform their jobs with a goal to reduce the time it takes to perform a certain job.
is responsible for quality control, statistical process control and increasing productivity through the management of people.
develops reliable and quality management systems.
designs the machine layout plan in a factory.
figures out how to manufacture parts/products, or deliver services, with maximum efficiency.
performs quality control procedures to resolve production problems.
Industrial Engineering as a Career
As discussed earlier, one of the most significant advantages of pursuing your career in industrial engineering is the broad scope which allows the students to work in many more settings than just factories. There are indeed some jobs which can only be filled by an industrial engineer, but there are also some jobs where an industrial engineer works closely with other engineering fields. Given below are some of the jobs you can get with an industrial engineering degree:
- Quality Control Engineer
- Sales Engineer
- Project Manager
- Architectural and Engineering Managers
- Health and Safety Engineers
- Industrial Production Managers
- Management Analysts
- Industrial Engineering Technicians
- Cost Estimators
- Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
Even though most of the IEs are employed in areas like sales and marketing, finance and information systems, other industries like hospitals, airlines, banks, railroads, and social services also employ industrial engineers. Industrial engineers can make significant improvements within their companies. The benefits that are directly linked to the work of industrial engineers include:
- Making work safe, faster, easier and more rewarding.
- The idea of setting time or labor standards.
- Increased ability to do more with less.
- Reduced costs associated with new technologies.
- Showing ways to improve the work environment, improving efficiency and teaching people about ergonomics.
- Good organization and improved productivity.
Even though some of their time is spent in offices, Industrial engineers spend some time visiting work sites as well. Traveling is a part of the job since Industrial engineers need to study workplaces and diagnose problems in many different locations. An industrial engineer typically works 40 hours a week. Here are some of the companies who hire industrial engineers:
- Abbott Laboratories
- ActiView Group
- Bain & Company
- JP Morgan Chase
- The Walt Disney Company
- Rockwell Automation
- PepsiCo- Frito-Lay
- Infosys Public Services
- Fiat Chrysler
- Pinnacle Foods
- Aon Inpoint
- Mercedes Benz
- Reebok International Ltd.
Now let’s talk about the pay. If you’re wondering how much money an industrial engineer makes after graduation, here it is:
The average starting salary of an industrial engineer is between $55,000 to $65,000. While the lowest 10% of engineers make $50,000, the highest 10% make more than $112,000.
Future Of Industrial Engineering
Industrial engineers are very versatile and can make significant improvements within their company. For anyone who enjoys learning every aspect of how something works and analyzing the process, industrial engineering would be a perfect choice. It’s estimated that the job prospects for industrial engineers will grow by 6% in the next decade. Industrial engineers are very valuable to the organization, because of their knowledge on how to improve efficiency and save the employers money. It’s often a misconception that industrial engineers are restricted to manufacturing, cause, their demand has increased in the service industry as well. Industrial engineering would be the best choice for any student who aspires to be a part of not only the manufacturing and production processes in the industry, but also in the challenges that the company faces.
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