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Industrial Engineering Overview - Preparation - Day In The Life -
Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations

Day in the Life
Beginning engineering graduates usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers and, in large companies, also may receive formal classroom or seminar-type training. As new engineers gain knowledge and experience, they are assigned more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions. Engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a staff or team of engineers and technicians. Some may eventually become engineering managers or enter other managerial or sales jobs.

Teams and Coworkers
Almost all jobs in engineering require some sort of interaction with coworkers. Whether they are working in a team situation, or just asking for advice, most engineers have to have the ability to communicate and work with other people. Engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail-oriented. They should be able to work as part of a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing. Communication abilities are important because engineers often interact with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.

Industrial engineers determine the most effective ways to use the basic factors of production -- people, machines, materials, information, and energy -- to make a product or to provide a service. They are the bridge between management goals and operational performance. They are more concerned with increasing productivity through the management of people, methods of business organization, and technology than are engineers in other specialties, who generally work more with products or processes. Although most industrial engineers work in manufacturing industries, they may also work in consulting services, healthcare, and communications.

To solve organizational, production, and related problems most efficiently, industrial engineers carefully study the product and its requirements, use mathematical methods such as operations research to meet those requirements, and design manufacturing and information systems. They develop management control systems to aid in financial planning and cost analysis and design production planning and control systems to coordinate activities and ensure product quality. They also design or improve systems for the physical distribution of goods and services. Industrial engineers determine which plant location has the best combination of raw materials availability, transportation facilities, and costs. Industrial engineers use computers for simulations and to control various activities and devices, such as assembly lines and robots. They also develop wage and salary administration systems and job evaluation programs. Many industrial engineers move into management positions because the work is closely related.

The work of health and safety engineers is similar to that of industrial engineers in that it deals with the entire production process. Health and safety engineers promote worksite or product safety and health by applying knowledge of industrial processes, as well as mechanical, chemical, and psychological principles. They must be able to anticipate, recognize, and evaluate hazardous conditions as well as develop hazard control methods. They also must be familiar with the application of health and safety regulations.

The Workplace
Six in 10 industrial engineers are employed in manufacturing industries, and an additional 1 in 10 worked in professional, scientific, and technical services firms, many of whom provide consulting services to manufacturing firms. Because their skills can be used in almost any type of organization, industrial engineers are more widely distributed among industries than are other engineers.

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.



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