When I was looking at colleges in high school I knew I wanted to study engineering, I just didn’t know what kind of engineering. I knew I didn’t want to make robots like mechanical engineers or circuit boards like electrical engineers, but I still wanted to learn how to think analytically like an engineer. While researching the different engineering programs at all the colleges I was applying to I came across Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE). It was perfect for me because ISE focuses more on the business side of engineering, which complimented my future plans of obtaining my masters degree in business.
The first couple of semester of ISE are pretty much the math and science prerequisites like physics, chemistry, and calculus. Some of the intro classes for ISE include Probability and Engineering Statistics. Work, Technology, and Organization is a team based class where you research the impact of technology on work and organizational design. Another class you will take is Production Planning and Scheduling where you will get to work on production forecasting and inventory, and computer integrated decision systems in analysis. Like most engineering majors you get to take a semester completely focused on your senior design project where you work with a group on a real industrial engineering design problem in an outside organization. Here is a link to a list of all the ISE courses offered at USC with short descriptions of each class: http://www.usc.edu/dept/publications/cat2005/schools/engineering/industrial/courses.html .
There are several clubs that you can be involved in that are related to ISE including Information Systems Association ( http://www.theuscisa.com/ ), Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers ( http://www.iienet2.org/Default.aspx ) , Operations Management Club ( http://classic.marshall.usc.edu/clubs/omc/ ), and more. Some of these ISE related clubs are actually a part of the Marshal School of Business since ISE has more of a business approach to engineering.
Like I have mentioned before, I’m interested in a career in consulting when I graduate, but as an ISE you are not limited to just consulting. The great thing about ISE is that you aren’t really limited to any one career path. You can improve efficiency and systems in any industry that you’re interested in. For example, you can work on shortening a roller-coaster line, streamlining an operating room, distributing products worldwide, or manufacturing superior automobiles. All these have the same goal of saving money and increasing efficiency.