The Industrial Engineer of Tomorrow

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The Industrial Engineer of Tomorrow

Elizabethtown College
Miles Wheelersburg
May 2012

Abstract
In order to maintain a curriculum that has value and is viewed by professionals as relevant, industrial engineering programs have to develop students into engineers with the right skill sets. Although the opinions held by academic faculty and industry professionals do not always agree, an undergraduate curriculum is an area where they should at least be able to be synchronized. This paper examines the current standards held for undergraduate industrial engineering students with emphasis placed on how they might be changing.

Chapter I: Introduction
Problem Statement
The gap between the opinions of academia and industry on the correct curricula for an undergraduate industrial engineering program prevents students from obtaining a degree with relevant and valuable deliverables. Purpose of the Study

The introduction to modeling & simulation methods during the EGR 492 course sparked an interest in what appeared to be a highly technical yet valuable skillset. I began to research the relevance of data modeling and simulation in academia and industry. My research uncovered an already present debate on what industry needs out of an industrial engineer, as well as, what an undergraduate IE curriculum should prepare them to do. Research Questions

* Is there value in making modeling & simulation a required skill to teach undergraduate I.E. students? * What challenges do undergraduate students have when applying theories from academia to challenging problems in the real world?

Chapter II: Review of Related Literature
This chapter explores a variety of literature from academic and industry sources on the skills and characteristics of industrial engineers and industrial engineering students. Specifically, this review highlights the different opinions on traditional methods currently taught in academia and implemented in industry, as well as, speculation on future trends and predictions on where an I.E. graduate will be utilized in the future. Past and Future

Industrial Engineering programs are at a crossroads; deciding whether to continue to structure curricula based on traditional methods for manufacturing environments or to focus on new opportunities in other sectors (Balasubramanian, 2010). In his article, “The 21st century IE”, Balasubramanian provides a brief history of the Industrial Engineering profession; crediting Fredrick Taylor as the founder with his “relentless focus on cutting factory waste and improving productivity” during the early 1900’s (p. 35). He quickly fast forwards to World War II; manufacturing companies are now focused on efficient resources allocation, and the discipline referred to as Operations Research is born (p. 36). Operations Research is generally defined as, “The application of scientific methods and techniques to decision-making problems” (Lesso, 2008, p. 1). By the 1970’s more than 90% of the Fortune 500 companies had an Operations Research team. Thus, Operations Research became a critical part of industrial engineering and the later became a prestigious discipline in all major universities (Balasubramanian, 2010, p. 36). However, the trend did not continue. Industrial engineering programs began to lose students to “allied disciplines of computer and management sciences” (Balasubramanian, 2010, p. 34). And Fredrick Taylor’s methods of observational research began to be pushed aside to make way for data modeling and simulation. “The dawn of the information age has brought unprecedented changes in our need to foresee and forecast. The I.E. of today must master this medium” (Balasubramanian, 2010, p. 36). Potential to Change

With the theory that Industrial Engineers of the future will need to cross disciplines in order to survive, the question arises: what specific skills will the I.E. of the future need? The science of Analytics, according to Balasubramanian (2010):...
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