Students in the new Industrial Engineering major at Penn State Behrend will take a wider view. Their studies, which can lead to jobs in health care, manufacturing, transportation and inventory control, teach them to pinpoint inefficiencies in workflow and other interconnected business and manufacturing systems.
The work is challenging. It requires a foundation in science, mathematics, economics and engineering principles, plus an understanding of the human factor, including work habits and customer expectations.
“Industrial engineers need to have a high level of people skills,” said Russ Warley, chairman of the mechanical and industrial engineering program at Penn State Behrend. “They’re not just going to be sitting at a desk, crunching numbers and analyzing components. They’re going to be leading teams and designing systems.”
Students in the new major, which will open in the fall of 2013, will have classes in calculus, ergonomics, linear programming and statistical methods. Senior-level design projects will give them hands-on experience with industry partners.
The students will be much in demand after graduation. The need for industrial engineers is expected to increase by 14 percent by 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The jobs pay well: The mean annual wage for an industrial engineer is $80,000, and those in the petroleum, oil and gas and mining sectors often earn far more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.