This year, as I make my way into the upper-div ISE requirements, I’m taking a few super interesting courses. As a whole, I look at ISE as the perfect intersection of business and engineering; many of our courses teach us the concepts and tools that are essential to modern enterprise operations. These include designing and working with databases, as well as learning to optimize business functions through a number of methods, in a data-driven way. As someone who loves working with data and seeing how statistical analyses apply and can change strategies, it’s all fascinating to me. Here’s a list of the ISE courses I’m currently taking, with my synopses!


ISE 435—Discrete System Simulation. In this class, we learn to use a piece of software called Arena to simulate discrete systems (as the title suggests). A good example of this, and the one we spend the most time on, is a food court. The software is perhaps most useful for simulating people (or anything) waiting in lines, using random variables. By defining certain ranges of possible service times and the number of people arriving to the food court per time period, we can get insights on bottlenecks in the system and how to improve the customer experience in terms of wait times.

ISE 382—Database Design and Implementation. Here, we learn how databases (specifically MySQL databases, which Facebook uses) are structured and how to efficiently pull data from them. I’ve always been somewhat mystified by the concept of a database, but now it’s all clear, and really interesting.

ISE 330—Intro to Operations Research: Deterministic Models. In this course, we learn the methods to optimize systems of linear equations, both by hand and using programming languages like Python, Julia, or Matlab. For example, given an equation for a company’s revenue, we maximize that revenue given a number of constraints like employee work times, limited resource use, etc. It’s awesome!


Given these last two classes, for any Stardew Valley fans out there, I’m actually thinking about building my own database of crops and running analyses to figure out my optimal crop output to maximize profit. So excited that my knowledge is finally going to good use—my video game addiction! Looking forward to the rest of this semester.

Derek Jones

Derek Jones

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Los Gatos, California PRONOUNS: he/him/his INSTA: @dmannjones On campus I have conducted environmental engineering research on water distillation methods, and you can currently find me serving as Vice President of my social fraternity and playing on the club volleyball team.