What is Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE)?

One of the nation's earliest systems engineering programs, the department explores and teaches analytics, optimization, and high-performance computing to give students the tools to solve a number of complex industrial challenges in areas such as manufacturing, production, healthcare and financial services.

The field has expanded from its roots in the design of manufacturing systems to leverage its tools and expertise across a spectrum of industry sectors; Lehigh's ISE department, one of the most highly regarded in the U.S., has led much of this transformation.

In a competitive global marketplace where continuous improvement and cost containment are key consideration, ISE faculty and graduates play an extremely critical role in the design, improvement and optimization of processes and systems. They use problem-solving and analytical skills to find ways to make processes better, easier, cheaper or safer, and devise new ways to address issues such as minimizing financial risk, supporting next generation electricity distribution, and optimizing operating room procedures.

Here are just a few of the challenges an ISE may have to face:

  • Justify spending $3 billion on a next-generation semiconductor fabrication (wafer fab) facility.
  • Predict how many copies of the new Harry Potter book will be needed in the local bookstore.
  • Build a portfolio of stocks, bonds, and options to minimize the downside risk caused by rising oil prices.
  • Shorten the wait lines at Disney World Design a transportation system, including warehouse locations and truck routes, in order to improve on-time deliveries at lower cost.
  • Lead a project team to develop the next Presidential helicopter.
  • Shape the future growth of a company by allocating funding to research and development projects.
  • Improve the quality of healthcare by studying and re-designing the flow of patients through a hospital and the scheduling of nurses.
  • Automate a production line to improve capacity and throughput while reducing worker injuries.

Take a look at a video about what Industrial Engineers do. Video courtesy of the Institute of Industrial Engineering.