Industrial engineering (IE), operations research (OR), and systems engineering (SE) are fields of study intended for individuals who are interested in analyzing and formulating abstract models of complex systems with the intention of improving system performance. Unlike traditional disciplines in engineering and the mathematical sciences, the fields address the role of the human decision-maker as key contributor to the inherent complexity of systems and primary benefactor of the analyses.
In short, as practitioners and researchers in IE/OR/SE, we consider ourselves to be technical problem solvers. We are typically motivated by problems arising in virtually any setting where outcomes are influenced by often complicated and uncertain interactions, involving a variety of attributes that affect system performance. Against this backdrop, students have historically been attracted to our academic programs with a variety of career objectives and from a host of disciplines and academic interests.
At the undergraduate level, many find the fields’ characteristic flexibility appealing. Not only does our BSIE curriculum provide the technical expertise that one would certainly expect in an engineering major, but it also provides excellent preparation to function in a great breadth of professional settings such as manufacturing, logistics, economic and financial modeling, transportation, consulting, etc.
At the graduate level this same appeal withstands, but in particular at the Ph.D. level, students are just as likely to be attracted by the inherent complexity of our problem domains and the sophistication and variety of our problem-solving methodologies. In addition to representation by engineering disciplines, many graduate students in ISyE earned prior degrees in other fields such as mathematics, statistics, and computer science.