Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) is a wonderful field to get into for anyone who wants to pursue a technical degree while getting their hands on a range of inter-disciplinary courses. In a single degree, an ISE major gets a solid foundation in engineering principles, maths and sciences, optimization techniques, accounting, and database structures, just to name a few.

An ISE major trains to be an efficiency engineer. In any mechanical system, organization, or information technology portal, an ISE major focuses on eliminating wasteful activities and optimizing value in the performance of these systems. We use mathematical models and algorithms to reach an optimal solution. Studying ISE at Viterbi gives you a few options, including the following tracks:

  • ISE (regular track) – focuses on manufacturing technologies and issues, includes optimization classes, statistics classes, human factors classes (with the exciting and renowned Prof. Meshkati), and gives you a background in accounting (important for anyone who may want to branch out into the business of engineering more than the technicalities of it)
  • ISE Information Systems Track (ISIS), Emphasis in Information and Operations Management – same ISE curriculum with the exception of 3-4 classes, requires that you take specific classes in Information and Operations Management (IOM) under the Marshall School of Business that focus on the business side of information systems
  • ISE Information Systems Track (ISIS), Emphasis in Computer Science – same ISE curriculum with the exception of 3-4 classes that provide in-depth experience in computer programming

I’m currently in the ISIS program with an emphasis in Information and Operations Management. It is a great track that fits my interests perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for more diversity and depth in a curriculum. Many of my friends are in the traditional ISE track, which has its own benefits. I personally have been interested in the business models behind information technology, and the ISIS IOM track helped me cultivate that interest.

To read more about my thoughts on ISE, check out my previous blog post on “ISE In My Own Words”. I encourage you to take a look at the classes being offered to ISE majors and see if they interest you. That’s how I discovered ISIS and found that the unique combination of classes would give me a solid foundation in the business and technical aspects of information systems.

If the ideas of (a) exploring optimization algorithms to determine the most cost-efficient route to a location, (b) simulating traffic lights to enhance traffic flow in congested urban areas, (c) designing a user interface for a fully automated un-manned restaurant, or (d) improving any system (you name it!) sound interesting to you, definitely consider exploring ISE. Mathematic algorithms are the backbone of ISE methods, but human interaction and efficient performance are the front-end goals.