What exactly is Industrial Engineering?

<p>Do all IEs work for manufacturing companies? Is their job mainly comprised of looking at machines and data all day? Is an IE degree a good path into Business?</p>

<p>The biggest problem you're going to have with IE is that it varies from school to school. So at the end of the day, what you're going to do as an IE and who hires you will depend on where you went to college (and this should be a deciding factor on where you go to college). </p>

<p>At the end of the day, IE is about optimizing business processes. At some schools, this is entirely manufacturing processes: improving quality control, improving manufacturing flow, decreasing the cycle time of equipment, monitoring for machine failures, and/or managing warehouses. At other schools, this is more of a supply chain role: managing inventory, managing logistics and transportation, and forecasting demand. At other schools this can be more of a higher level economic role: designing and managing the contract mechanisms with suppliers, selecting the number and types of suppliers, using pricing to control demand and optimize profit, risk hedging, etc. And what can really get confusing is that at other schools, IE can be basically an applied math program (operations research, stochastic optimization, time series analysis, and statistics). Finally, some schools emphasize Ergonomics and other health-related disciplines which can help workers avoid injury. This really isn't IE - it's just that some schools didn't know where to put Industrial Hygiene (which is not engineering) so uninformed administrators lumped into that program.</p>

<p>For a more detailed answer, take a look at Georgia Tech's program. They have tracks into a variety of IE areas from which students can choose. Those tracks (and the associated classes) give you a good idea into how varied the field is: <a href="http://www.isye.gatech.edu/academics/undergraduate/courses/NewISyE2010Tracks.pdf%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.isye.gatech.edu/academics/undergraduate/courses/NewISyE2010Tracks.pdf&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>