Almost 90% of the time I tell people I am studying Industrial & Systems Engineering they ask me with a puzzled expression, “What exactly is that?” I don’t blame them for their confusion; after all, the name of my major conjures up images of antiquated machinery in some grimy Industrial Revolution-era factory. Industrial & Systems Engineering combines engineering and business concepts to solve efficiency, logistical, financial, and safety problems in the real world. We study statistics, economics, and simulation in addition to more technical fields courses such as manufacturing and computer programming, so that we can understand the full picture of how a company produces and sells products/services.

Starting Freshmen year I started research in the safety area of Industrial & Systems Engineering. I joined a joint research team from the Industrial & Systems Engineering department and the Keck School of Medicine working on the Human Factors of Pediatric Patient Safety. Through our research, we carefully analyzed case studies on how different devices, labeling, training programs, and hospital protocol led to error in pediatric patients–especially newborn babies. The research was fascinating, and I especially enjoyed how I could apply my Industrial & Systems Engineering knowledge to the field of medicine.

This summer I will be expanding my Industrial & Systems Engineering knowledge in a more financial sense. I will be interning with ConocoPhillips in the Commercial Group, where I will be learning about commodity trading in the oil industry.

Clearly a degree in Industrial & Systems Engineering can take you in many different directions, which is just one of the reasons I love my major. The Seniors I know in Industrial & Systems Engineering have gotten job offers in so many different industries. I like that my degree will give me options when I graduate to pursue whatever interests I have.