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Industrial Engineering

Program Description

Just the Facts

Industrial Engineering. A program that prepares individuals to apply scientific and mathematical principles to the design, improvement, and installation of integrated systems of people, material, information, and energy. Includes instruction in applied mathematics, physical sciences, the social sciences, engineering analysis, systems design, computer applications, and forecasting and evaluation methodology.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this career cluster:

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Additional Information

If you major in industrial engineering, you'll come out of it with more than just technical know-how. You'll also have top-notch planning and organizational skills.

Industrial engineers are essentially problem solvers. Their job is to find ways to increase productivity and save the organization money.

"This is a very flexible degree," says Bruce Ankenman of the industrial engineering department at Northwestern University in Illinois. "We have graduates that are working as engineers in industry, on Wall Street as investment analysts and in major consulting firms. Others are entrepreneurs or managers. No one will pigeonhole you with an industrial engineering degree."

Most engineering programs include co-op work terms, where students spend a semester working in the field. They receive a salary and academic credit, as well as work experience. Co-ops can vary a lot between schools, so ask about a school's program -- where students work, how many work terms they do and what the pay is like.

Industrial engineering programs are highly competitive. "We expect our students be of the highest quality," says professor Jim Dai of the Georgia Institute of Technology. "Students should be strong in math and thinking skills. Computer programming is good experience to have."

Extracurricular activities may be as important as academics. Jennifer Tapley is the high school liaison coordinator for a mechanical and industrial engineering department. She says her school looks for a well-rounded applicant. Along with their academic requirements, applicants are asked to fill out a form listing their non-academic interests and activities.

She says anything that shows leadership, such as involvement in student government, sports teams or school clubs, is good. But she stresses they are mostly looking for people who also have interests outside of the academic world.

All programs require a solid background in math and sciences, which may include geometry, trigonometry, algebra, physics and chemistry. Strong English skills are also recommended.

Textbooks are usually the biggest expense after tuition.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Industrial Engineers

World of Engineering
Fantastic pre-college site from the American Society for Engineering Education

FIRST Robotics Competition
Enter an engineering competition just for high school students


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