Industrial Engineering

Industrial engineering is an inter-disciplinary profession that is concerned with the optimization of complex processes, systems, or organizations by developing, improving and implementing integrated systems of people, money, knowledge, information, equipment, energy and materials

Industrial engineers use specialized knowledge and skills in business administration, management, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences and methods of engineering analysis and design to specify, predict, and evaluate the results obtained from systems or processes[1]. From these results, they are able to create new systems, processes or situations for the useful coordination of man, materials and machines and improve the quality and productivity of systems, physical or social[2][3]. Depending on the sub-specialties involved, industrial engineering may also overlap with, operations researchsystems engineeringmanufacturing engineeringproduction engineeringmanagement sciencemanagement engineeringfinancial engineeringergonomics or human factors engineeringsafety engineering, or others, depending on the viewpoint or motives of the user.

Even though its underlying concepts overlap considerably with certain business-oriented disciplines, such as operations management, industrial engineering is a longstanding engineering discipline subject to (and eligible for) professional engineering licensure in most jurisdictions.

Compared to other engineering disciplines[edit]

Engineering is traditionally decompositional. To understand the whole, it is first broken into its parts. One then masters the parts and puts them back together, becoming the master of the whole. Industrial and systems engineering’s (ISE) approach is the opposite; any one part cannot be understood without the context of the whole. Changes in one part affect the whole, and the role of a part is a projection into the whole. In traditional engineering, people understand the parts first, then they can understand the whole. In ISE, they understand the whole first, and then they can understand the role of each part.

Also, Industrial engineering considers the human factor and its relation to the technical aspect of the situation and the all of the other factors that influence the entire situation[3], while other engineering disciplines focuses on the design of inanimate objects

“Industrial Engineers integrate combinations of people, information, materials, and equipment that produce innovative and efficient organizations. In addition to manufacturing, Industrial Engineers work and consult in every industry, including hospitals, communications, e-commerce, entertainment, government, finance, food, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, sports, insurance, sales, accounting, banking, travel, and transportation.”[8]

” Industrial Engineering is the branch of Engineering most closely related to human resources in that we apply social skills to work with all types of employees, from engineers to salespeople to top management. One of the main focuses of an Industrial Engineer is to improve the working environments of people – not to change the worker, but to change the workplace.”[8]

“All engineers, including Industrial Engineers, take mathematics through calculus and differential equations. Industrial Engineering is different in that it is based on discrete variable math, whereas all other engineering is based on continuous variable math. We emphasize the use of linear algebra and difference equations, as opposed to the use of differential equations which are so prevalent in other engineering disciplines. This emphasis becomes evident in optimization of production systems in which we are sequencing orders, scheduling batches, determining the number of materials handling units, arranging factory layouts, finding sequences of motions, etc. As, Industrial Engineers, we deal almost exclusively with systems of discrete components.”[8]


Industrial engineering has many sub-disciplines, the most common of which are listed below. Although there are industrial engineers who focus exclusively on one of these sub-disciplines, many deal with a combination of them such as Supply Chain and Logistics, and Facilities and Energy Management.[10][11]

Facilities Engineering & Energy Management

Financial Engineering

Human Factors & Safety Engineering

Information Systems Engineering & Management

Manufacturing Engineering

Operations Engineering & Management

Operations Research & Optimization

Policy Planning

Production Engineering

Quality & Reliability Engineering

Supply Chain Management & Logistics

System Analysis

Systems Engineering

Systems Simulation

The usual graduate degree earned is the master of science (MS) or master of science and engineering (MSE) in industrial engineering or various alternative related concentration titles.

Typical MS curricula may cover: