By Emilie Gerhart
As a student studying or who has studied industrial engineering, how many times have you been asked to explain what industrial engineering is? And how many of those times have you felt that you responded accurately?
Whether or not you felt your response was completely accurate, you were most likely correct in your explanation. This fact stands true because of the many tools and skills that an industrial engineer is able to utilize. In making use of our diverse tool box, to the outside world we appear as though we are wearing many hats. This is a wonderful thing.
As wonderful as it is, it is also a confusing thing. It makes industrial engineers hard to spot. Not only can we be found in many types of hats, we are also established in many different types of industries. From healthcare, to ergonomics, to oil and gas, we are innovating and implementing process improvements that set the standard for engineers worldwide. If you have ever felt that you have failed to share with someone the qualities that make an industrial engineer unique, you can now rest assured that in giving a unique answer you must have been correct.
Does it make us less valuable that we are able to accomplish a large amount of tasks? From an economics point of view, one could argue yes. But to company management, the more skills that a worker has, the more valuable that worker is. This is due largely to an engineer’s potential.
Potential can be calculated to indicate the amount of work needed to get from point A to point B. By using industrial engineering principles, the distance between point A and point B becomes smaller at a faster rate, and the amount of resources is reduced as well. This is precisely what makes industrial engineers so valuable to business management and engineering sectors alike.
Another reason why some might not be familiar with industrial engineering, is that it could be traced back to the fact that many industrial engineers do not keep the title of "industrial engineer" at a company. IEs are assigned titles like process engineer, quality engineer and manufacturing engineer among many other titles.
As an industrial engineer, it is your responsibility to internally be proud and confident in your abilities, and in turn you will externally display to the world your value and importance in industries worldwide.