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Questions & Answers about Industrial Engineering

Frequently Asked Questions
What is Industrial Engineering? What is a Production System? What is meant by improving? Why emphasize the system? Is Industrial Engineering strictly "industrial"? Are Industrial Engineers directly concerned with manufacturing? ow is Industrial Engineering considered Engineering? ow is Industrial Engineering li!e other engineering disciplines? What ma!es Industrial Engineering different from other engineering disciplines? • What are the basic sciences for Industrial Engineering? • "on#t all engineers use the same math? • Why is statistics important in Industrial Engineering? • ow does computing influence Industrial Engineering? • What are the specialties of Industrial Engineering?
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What is Industrial Engineering?
Industrial Engineering is concerned with the design of production systems$ %he Industrial Engineer analyzes and specifies integrated components of people& machines& and facilities to create efficient and effective systems that produce goods and services beneficial to man!ind$

What is a Production System?
Anywhere there is a "value'added" enterprise& there is a production process$ %he IE focuses on "how" a product is made or "how" a service is rendered$ %he goal of Industrial Engineering is improving the "how$"

What is meant by im ro!ing?
(enerally& the criteria for )udging improvement are productivity and *uality$ Productivity means getting more from the resources being e+pended& namely being efficient$ ,uality )udges the value or effectiveness of the output$

Why em hasi"e the system? Industrial Engineering focuses on systems design$ Production processes are composed of many interacting parts& all of whom wor! together$ E+perience has taught that changes to one portion may not result in improvements to the whole$ %hus Industrial Engineers generally wor! with tools that emphasize systems analysis and design$ Is Industrial Engineering strictly #industrial#? Since production systems are found anywhere there is an attempt to provide a service& as well as produce a part& the methodologies of Industrial Engineering are applicable$ In that sense& the ad)ective "industrial" should be interpreted as "industrious"& referring to the process of being s!illful and careful$ In many departments& Industrial Engineering is called "Industrial and Systems Engineering" in an attempt to ma!e it clear that the industrial ad)ective is intended to be generic$ Are Industrial Engineers directly concerned with manu$acturing? All IE#s ta!e at least one manufacturing course& which deals with manufacturing processes& and other courses closely associated with manufacturing$ Every IE is therefore !nowledgeable about metal wor!ing machinery and processes$ -urther& related courses address manufacturing as a system$ At ./ State the IE department also includes furniture manufacturing& which ma!es students aware of wood wor!ing machinery and processes$ %he manufacturing industry has and remains a manifest concern of Industrial Engineering$ %ow is Industrial Engineering considered Engineering? In general engineers are concerned with the analysis and design of systems$ Electrical Engineers are concerned with electrical systems& 0echanical Engineers are concerned with mechanical systems& /hemical Engineers are concerned with chemical systems& and so forth$ Industrial Engineers are concerned with production systems$ In general& engineering is the application of science and mathematics to the development of products and services useful to man!ind$ Industrial Engineering focuses on the "way" those products and services are made& using the same approaches that other engineers apply in the development of the product or service& and for the same purpose$ %ow is Industrial Engineering like other engineering disci lines? %he Industrial Engineer is trained in the same basic way as other engineers$ %hey ta!e the same foundation courses in mathematics& physics& chemistry& humanities& and social sciences$ %hy also ta!e some of the basic physical engineering sciences li!e thermodynamic& circuits& statics& and solids$ %hey ta!e Industrial Engineering specialty courses in their later years$ 1i!e other engineering courses& the industrial engineering courses employ .

mathematical models as a central device for understanding their systems$ What &akes Industrial Engineering di$$erent $rom other engineering disci lines? -undamentally& Industrial Engineering has no basic physical science li!e mechanics& chemistry& or electricity$ Also because a ma)or component in any production system is people& Industrial Engineering has a person portion$ At ./ State& the human aspect is called ergonomics& although elsewhere it is called human factors$ A more subtle difference between Industrial Engineering than other engineering disciplines is the concentration on discrete mathematics$ IE#s deal with systems that are measured discretely& rather than metrics which are continuous$ What are the basic sciences $or Industrial Engineering? 2ecause Industrial Engineering deals with the "way" something is done& IE tools emphasize "methods" of understanding systems$ %he fundamental sciences that deal with methodology are mathematical sciences& namely mathematics& statistics& and computer science$ System characterization thus employ mathematical& statistical& and computer models and methods and give direct rise to Industrial Engineering tools such as optimization& stochastic processes& and simulation$ Industrial Engineering specialty courses therefore use these "basic sciences" and the IE tools to understand traditional production elements as economic analysis& production planning& facilities design& materials handling& manufacturing systems and processes& )ob analysis& and so forth$ 'on(t all engineers use the same math? All engineers& including IE#s& ta!e mathematics through calculus and differential e*uations$ Industrial Engineering is different in that it is based on "discrete variable" math& whereas all other engineering is based on "continuous variable" math$ %hus IE#s emphasize the use of linear algebra and difference e*uations& as opposed to the use of differential e*uations which are so prevalent in other engineering disciplines$ %his emphasis becomes evident in optimization of production systems in that we are se*uencing orders& scheduling batches& determining the number of materials handling units& arranging factory layouts& finding se*uences of motions& etc$ Industrial Engineers deal almost e+clusively with systems of discrete components$ %hus IE#s have a different mathematical culture$ Why is statistics im ortant in Industrial Engineering? All IE#s ta!e at least one course in probability and one course in statistics$ Industrial Engineering speciality courses that follow these include *uality control& simulation& and stochastic processes$ -urther the traditional courses in production planning& economic ris! assessment& and facilities planning employ statistical models for understanding these systems$ Some of the other engineering disciplines ta!e some probability and statistics& but none have integrated these topics more into their study of systems$ .

%ow does com uting in$luence Industrial Engineering? Probably no other aspect of technology has greater potential impact on Industrial Engineering than computing$ 1i!e all other engineers& IE#s ta!e computer programming$ Specific Industrial Engineering specialty courses li!e real'time control and simulation e+panding the role of computer science principles within Industrial Engineering$ -urther& most all Industrial Engineering tools are now computer based& with growing recognition that computer assisted analysis and design of production systems hold new untapped potential$ 3f special note is that computer simulation involves using specialized computer languages for modeling production systems and analyzing their behavior on the computer& before e+perimentation with real systems begin$ In addition& both computer science and Industrial Engineering share a common interest in discrete mathematical structures$ What are the s ecialties o$ Industrial Engineering? Industrial Engineering at the undergraduate level is generally seen as a composition of four areas$ -irst is operations research& which provides methods for the general analysis and design of systems$ 3perations 4esearch 5346 includes optimization& decision analysis& stochastic processes& and simulation$ Production generally includes such aspects as economic analysis& production planning and control& *uality control& facilities design& and other aspects of world'class manufacturing$ %hird is manufacturing processes and systems$ 0anufacturing process deals directly with materials forming& cutting& shaping& planning& etc$ 0anufacturing systems focus on the integration of manufacturing process& usually through computer control and communications$ -inally ergonomics deals with the human e*uation$ Physical ergonomics view the human as a biomechanical device while informational ergonomics e+amines the cognitive aspects of humans$ .