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Oklahoma State University

What Do Industrial Engineers Do?

Industrial engineers (IEs) figure out how to do things better. They engineer processes and systems that improve quality and productivity. IEs make significant contributions to their employers by saving money while making the workplace better for fellow workers. In addition to manufacturing, industrial engineers apply their skills in a variety of settings. Here are a few examples:

As a management engineer in a hospital, you may help doctors and nurses make the best use of their time in treating patients. You may also design procedures for optimum use of medical facilities to help bring the cost of healthcare down.

As an ergonomist in a television manufacturing plant, you may change the tools workers use to assemble televisions to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries.

As an operations analyst for an airline, you may design a bar coding system for identifying and transporting passengers’ luggage to ensure that it does not get lost.

As a quality engineer for a public gas and electric company, you may improve customer satisfaction by designing a process to schedule service calls around the availability of the customer.

Sample Projects of IEs

  • Designing the admissions procedure at a hospital
  • Discovering a new way to assemble a product that will prevent worker injury
  • Converting a major production line to JIT and kanban system
  • Representing a company in the design and construction of a new manufacturing plant
  • Performing motion and time studies
  • Developing prototype units for the cellular phone car adapter market
  • Simulation modeling
  • Developing a hardware protection program for spacecraft
  • Developing a supplier quality program
  • Implementing lean manufacturing concepts
  • Developing and launching a complete material handling system for a new automobile
  • Developing the conceptual layout of a dockyard and ship repair maintenance facility
  • Working on a design project to make a medical device to treat sleep apnea
  • Representing manufacturing and purchasing issues on a design team
  • Teaching industrial engineering courses