What is ISE?
Industrial and Systems Engineerings, like other engineers, solve problems. So what kind of problems do they solve? The following helps answer that question!
The Industrial and Systems Engineer can solve a variety of problems in a variety of settings. Here are just a few questions and ISE answers, divided by application area:
Manufacturing Systems · How can output be increased · When should a facility be expanded and how much capacity should be added · What size workforce is needed and when should shifts be scheduled · Which automated system should be purchased and implemented · When should the equipment be replaced and which models purchased
Supply Chain Management · Where should a facility be located · How much inventory should be maintained and where should it be kept · How should information be shared between customers, suppliers and manufacturers · Which supplier should be a partner
Transportation and Logistics · Which loads should be placed on which trucks for transport · How should the trucks be routed through town or across country · How large a fleet of trucks is needed and which size of truck · Should the shipment be sent by truck, rail or aircraft · How should the aircraft be loaded to assure balance
Information/Communications Systems · Which technology should be implemented · Where should a hub be located · How much capacity should be routed through the network · How should the network be designed (locations and routes)
Energy/Water Distribution Systems · Which generation technologies should be utilized · What information must be gathered for efficient utilization · How should a distribution network be designed · When should a network be upgraded
Financial Engineering · How can the risk of an investment be reduced · How can we build a robust investment portfolio · What price and length should a service or warranty contract be · Which capital projects should be funded (capacity expansion, equipment replacement)
Pharmaceutical and Biomedical · What pattern of test identifies a disorder · Which potential drugs should continue the testing (R&D) process · What algorithm will help identify the DNA sequence
Healthcare Systems · How many beds are needed in the ER · When should doctors and nurses be scheduled · How can patient wait time be reduced
What is common to all of these questions? Efficiency. In all systems and application areas, Industrial and Systems Engineers answer questions in order to improve efficiency.
What is Different About ISE?
Industrial and Systems Engineers are different because of a systems perspective. For example, a Mechanical Engineer may be tasked with designing a machine to make it faster or more energy efficient. However, the Industrial and Systems Engineer will be tasked with designing the production line that integrates all machinery in order to produce a product. Furthermore, the Industrial and Systems Engineer will oversee all operations of the plant to make sure that the system, not just an individual machine, is running efficiently.
Industrial and Systems Engineers are also concerned with designing and implementing solutions. Whereas a Computer Engineering or a Computer Science Engineer is concerned with making a computer run fast and database software to execute commands quickly, it is the Industrial and Systems Engineer that devises a solution to a problem and implements it with the computer often with a decision support system that ties the solution algorithm tied to the data in a database with a manageable user interface.