Purdue IE positions school on leading edge of discipline

Author: Linda Thomas Terhune

More than 200 years ago, technological innovations sparked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain, which spread quickly and fueled massive changes in the way society works and lives.

“Industrial engineering permeates the opportunities and challenges we have. We’re in the golden age of industrial engineering. If you look at the list of global challenges, all of them involve complex systems challenges. We measure, understand, act, and repeat. IE is a nexus discipline. We’re at the crossroads.“
– Joe Pekny
Interim head of the School of Industrial Engineering, speaking at the inaugural Gavriel Salvendy International Symposium on Frontiers in Industrial Engineering

Today, the pace of change is greater than ever. Industrial engineers have been and will continue to be at the forefront of change, with a leadership role in designing, developing, applying and integrating industrial technologies. To maintain its leadership role in the 21st century, the industrial engineering profession must continue to evolve as a leader in developing new systems, capabilities and organization.

Purdue’s School of Industrial Engineering is committed to playing a leading role in shaping the IE discipline, and it explores the ways this can be done in a document titled “Evolution and Frontiers.” The document, authored by members of both Purdue IE’s faculty and its alumni advisory council, examines the evolution of the profession and identifies the key frontiers of the future.

IE’s leadership in the 21st century, the document states, will depend on collaboration across areas of specialization within the discipline. It will also require collaboration with partners beyond IE to create a greater whole for solving global grand challenges.

This topic was among those considered in April during the school’s inaugural Gavriel Salvendy International Symposium on Frontiers in Industrial Engineering. The biannual event, endowed by Professor Emeritus Gavriel Salvendy, showcases current and emerging topics within industrial engineering and related to disciplines.

The 2010 symposium, “Cultural Factors in Decision Making and Action,” included sessions devoted to managerial decision making, contemporary perspectives on decision making and culture, cross-cultural decision making and collaboration, decision making in health care, decision making in energy use, development and conservation, and decisions and risk taking. Presenters came from a variety of disciplines, including psychological sciences, medicine, and anthropology.