My Major: Industrial & Systems Engineering

katherine Viterbi Class Leave a Comment

Hi everyone!

So, my major is Industrial & Systems Engineering, or ISE. What exactly is ISE? A lot of people characterize ISE as “the engineering field for the business type”. But in general, many seem to have different perceptions of what this field actually is. My definition of ISE is:

A branch of engineering that seeks to optimize efficiency, profit, or whatever else one may be interested in a system by evaluating all of the different components of the system and reducing the system’s waste.

In industry, ISEs are the ones who oversee and manage manufacturing processes. They collaborate with all of the other engineers. Therefore, as   an undergraduate ISE major, I get to take classes from several of the engineering departments. My curriculum includes classes from electrical engineering, computer science, and mechanical engineering. I really like this because I can people from the different engineering departments. I also really like the idea of viewing things as systems. The more ISE classes I take, the more I realize how applicable this concept is to all sorts of industries. While ISE is classically applied to manufacturing processes, I have found that this field is increasingly relevant in other industries, such as healthcare, finance, food, and transportation.

Some of the topics I’ve studied in ISE and really enjoyed are:

1) Production: This is actually divided into two classes, 310 and 410. They address different parts of running a business. I’ve learned how to find optimal distribution networks and facility layouts, forecast demand, and figure out how much inventory to carry in order to reduce cost. This is definitely going to be really useful if I ever want to start my own business making something.

2) Operations Research: Essentially, operations research is using mathematical models to help with decision making. I’ve really enjoyed both of my operations research classes.

3) Human Factors: An approach to ISE that considers all of the different factors associated with humans. A big part of this topic is safety. For example, I learned about different ways to design machines that will be safe for their operators. This class isn’t as mathematical as some of my other ones, but it’s really interesting and relevant!

So what do ISE’s do when they graduate? All kinds of stuff! My freshman year, I took an Introduction to Industrial Engineering class. One of the things that my professor said that stuck with me was, “ISEs are needed for everything. Everything you touch had to have been manufactured somewhere, which means an ISE was probably involved.” This was a really cool idea to me. And a lot of ISEs do go into manufacturing and supply chain management for all sorts of companies. But, there are a lot who also go into consulting, healthcare, transportation, and other engineering fields! Since we have knowledge on such a wide range of fields, it’s seriously possible to go into almost anything! Personally, I’m really hoping to go into finance. One of the classes I took was called Engineering Economics, and I loved it. I also really like my probability courses, which I think would be very useful for finance.

Anyway, I really love my major. My professors in ISE have been great. I can honestly say I have liked every one of them. They’re all super friendly and approachable, and always willing to help! ISE has definitely been perfect for me. And, every class I take makes me love it even more. I can’t wait to take the rest of my classes to see what else I can learn. 

Systems Engineering

Want to learn more? Here's the best place to ask: