What is Industrial Engineering (IE)?

"Industrial and systems engineering is concerned with the design, improvement and installation of integrated systems of people, materials, information, equipment and energy. It draws upon specialized knowledge and skill in the mathematical, physical, and social sciences together with the principles and methods of engineering analysis and design, to specify, predict, and evaluate the results to be obtained from such systems." - Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE)

An industrial engineering degree will give you choices. Other engineering disciplines apply skills to very specific areas. IE gives practitioners the opportunity to work in a variety of businesses. Industrial engineering offers the best of both worlds: an education in both engineering and business.

Industrial engineering is about more than manufacturing – it also encompasses service industries, with many IEs employed in entertainment industries, shipping and logistics businesses, and healthcare organizations.

Industrial engineers are the only engineering professionals trained specifically to be productivity and quality improvement specialists.

Look at this list of Senior Capstone Design Projects for examples of what our seniors accomplish each year.

IEs make processes better in the following ways:

  • More efficient and more profitable business practices
  • Better customer service and product quality
  • Improved efficiency
  • Increased ability to do more with less
  • Making work safer, faster, easier, and more rewarding
  • Helping companies produce more products quickly
  • Making the world safer through better designed products
  • Reducing costs associated with new technologies

But don’t just take our word for it! Here's what Purdue IE students say:

Purdue IE students describe industrial engineering in various media:


From a professor:

Purdue IE Professor, Shimon Nof, talks about what Industrial Engineering is, why he chose it and advancements in IE during and through his career on the Purdue Engineering Podcast.


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