This student essay, written by ISyE undergraduate student Yassin Watson, was first published in the 2020 ISyE alumni magazine.

My name is Yassin, and I will be graduating in May 2021. As a first-generation college student, I ensured that my course of study would both provide support for my family and unite my passions. I seriously considered a variety of fields, but there has always been something especially captivating about the way STEM tickles my brain. To me, these disciplines strike the perfect balance between objective rigidity and creative expression, because even though the goal of STEM work usually involves the use of quantitative benchmarks, the methodologies and tools created to achieve those targets are as diverse as any traditionally artistic endeavor. 

I chose to study industrial engineering at Georgia Tech because the applicability of systems analysis offers a limitless array of work opportunities, and it has always been my preference to open doors of possibility rather than take a narrower approach. My confidence in this choice was confirmed during my Senior Design semester in which my fellow students’ teams engaged with a plethora of industries. My own team’s project focused on the manufacturing and warehousing processes of LW Scientific, a medical device company. Our efforts to improve the efficiency with which laboratories and hospitals receive lifesaving equipment affirmed that my greatest passion is to serve people in medical need. Because of this, I chose to pursue an additional degree in biology to better understand medicine from a scientific perspective.

I am passionate about all aspects of healthcare, but I am most excited by the role of physician. And although the health professions are not a typical path for an industrial engineering student, many aspects of industrial engineering directly parallel medical care.

Both disciplines necessitate evidence-based decision-making. In industrial engineering, we begin work by collecting data that is then repeatedly analyzed using statistical methods until a reasonable conclusion can be reached. Similarly, a physician’s treatment decisions are backed by medical literature, which is itself a vast collection of numerous individual instances of strikingly similar procedures. Researchers collect information before and after introducing a change to a physiological system in order to understand how the body is affected by a stimulus.  

In addition, a systems-level perspective is essential in both fields. A core tenet of industrial engineering is that any change made to a subprocess will invariably affect every other part of its larger process. Likewise in medicine, the body functions as one complete anatomical structure, and even though a patient may have multiple conditions that seem disparate, each directly contributes to overall well-being.

Healthcare is a vitally essential field at the continually expanding forefront of scientific understanding and technological advancement. In combining both of my undergraduate majors, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in health systems before applying to medical school. With a strong background in the analysis of health systems and the science that underlies medicine, I aspire to be a physician who carries a holistic view of the industry I serve. 

Yassin Watson completed his ISyE degree and social justice minor with high honors in 2019 and will finish his biology coursework and anatomy and physiology minor in May 2021. The recipient of numerous awards, Yassin has participated in several research projects that include studying Alzheimer’s disease, experimental design in biology education, and facility planning in the wake of Covid-19. He serves as a Healthy Jackets peer educator, diversity ambassador, and president of TriBeta Biology Honor Society, among many other activities. Yassin will begin his master’s degree in health systems at ISyE in August 2021.


Yassin Watson

For More Information Contact

Shelley Wunder-Smith

H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering