What is industrial and systems engineering?

Industrial engineers (IEs) discover innovative ways to design, develop and operate systems that deliver products and services efficiently. To do this, industrial engineers apply science, mathematics and engineering methods for system integration and operation. While other engineering disciplines often focus more on the development of a specific device or material, industrial engineers focus on the entire system that allows the firm to design, produce and distribute the product or service effectively. The system could be a manufacturing plant, a healthcare facility, a distribution center, an airport or even a theme park. 

Because of the complexity of these systems, industrial engineers need knowledge and skills in a wide variety of disciplines, the ability to work well with people and a broad systems perspective. They use their skill set to improve systematic processes through the effective use of data through data science; interpersonal communicationdesign, including leveraging robotics and automation; planningquality controloperations managementcomputer simulation; and creative problem solving.

Edited with permission from Dr. Jennifer Pazour, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


Why industrial engineering?

Clearly, no industry can function effectively without industrial engineers, whether it be the service sector, manufacturing, e-commerce, consulting, defense, distribution, utilities or the government. The industrial engineering undergraduate program at Wayne State University provides students with a multifaceted skill-set that can be utilized by companies big and small today and in the future.


High growth discipline

The demand for industrial engineers is rapidly increasing, especially in the age of technology innovation and rapid market evolution. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects industrial engineers to be a high-growth field for the next decade 2021-2031, with greater than 10% growth per year!  Another study conducted by the Bureau revealed that over 25,000 industrial engineers were employed in the state of Michigan as of May 2021, with a large percentage of jobs concentrated in the metro Detroit area alone.


Michigan needs industrial engineers

Industrial engineering is one of the leading engineering disciplines in the nation and a top engineering practice in Michigan — more than Texas, California or New York.


Career outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the projected employment of industrial engineers will rise 10% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the national average in all occupations. The median salary per year was $95,300 as of May 2021.

A study conducted by the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department (ISE) at Wayne State University found that over 80% of students were offered jobs soon after graduation and over 85% with a starting salary between $60,000 and $80,000.

Our Wayne State ISE alumni have moved on to work for a range of world-renowned companies, including but not limited to:

Industrial engineering students develop skills extending far beyond the realm of industrial and systems engineering. ISE graduates have held roles as manufacturing engineers, plant managers, quality improvement consultants, data analysts, patent examiner, consultant, process engineers, intelligence analysts and more.