If you major in industrial engineering, you'll come out of it with more
than just technical know-how. You'll also have top-notch planning and organizational
Industrial engineers are essentially problem solvers. Their job is to find
ways to increase productivity and save the organization money.
"This is a very flexible degree," says Bruce Ankenman of the industrial
engineering department at Northwestern University in Illinois. "We have graduates
that are working as engineers in industry, on Wall Street as investment analysts
and in major consulting firms. Others are entrepreneurs or managers. No one
will pigeonhole you with an industrial engineering degree."
Most engineering programs include co-op work terms, where students
spend a semester working in the field. They receive a salary and academic
credit, as well as work experience. Co-ops can vary a lot between schools,
so ask about a school's program -- where students work, how many work terms
they do and what the pay is like.
Industrial engineering programs are highly competitive. "We expect
our students be of the highest quality," says professor Jim Dai of the Georgia
Institute of Technology. "Students should be strong in math and thinking skills.
Computer programming is good experience to have."
Extracurricular activities may be as important as academics. Jennifer Tapley
is the high school liaison coordinator for a mechanical and industrial engineering
department. She says her school looks for a well-rounded applicant. Along
with their academic requirements, applicants are asked to fill out a form
listing their non-academic interests and activities.
She says anything that shows leadership, such as involvement in student
government, sports teams or school clubs, is good. But she stresses they
are mostly looking for people who also have interests outside of the academic
All programs require a solid background in math and sciences, which may
include geometry, trigonometry, algebra, physics and chemistry. Strong
English skills are also recommended.
Textbooks are usually the biggest expense after tuition.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Industrial
World of Engineering
Fantastic pre-college site from the American Society for Engineering
FIRST Robotics Competition
Enter an engineering competition just for high school students