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Well worth striving for

Statesman News Service |

Creating products that benefit market economy is no easy ask and one definitely needs to consider the pros and cons very carefully before investing time, labour, resources, etc, in this innovative business. But here&’s where industrial engineers shine.

This is a branch of engineering that deals with optimising complex processes or systems; in other words, a combination of efficiency, reducing production costs and improving the quality of products and services. The term “industrial engineering” often confuses students and parents and leads to visions of the manufacturing industry — which is not so. Industrial engineers use principles of engineering, mass production and technology to help companies find ways to offer services or create efficient products, relying on their knowledge of requirements, business and safety methods to increase output.

A career in this branch began in the early 20th century when the first engineers began to apply scientific theory to manufacture. Factory owners labelled their new specialists “industrial” or “management” engineers, defining the business as an integration of machines, staff, production materials, money and scientific methods. While many current industrial engineers still deal in these areas, the scope of their work has become more general. They work in many more settings and recently fields like energy and Information Technology have become particularly reliant on their skills. These flexible professionals may also be employed in hospitals and other healthcare operations, transportation, food processing, media, banking, local, regional and national governments.

For typical industrial engineering positions, a Bachelor’s degree is required, which is usually of four years’ duration. A Master&’s degree qualifies for positions in advanced research, management or consulting. The requirements for a college degree are very diverse and, compared to other engineering disciplines, it is people-oriented. Budding industrial engineers learn to plan, design and implement complex systems for any given industry, which they do by taking into account every conceivable variable, from budgets to machine capabilities to human imagination and error. Online degree programmes are increasingly available for working engineers who want to advance their careers without sacrificing valuable income and work experience by attending school full-time.

These personnel may also work with supply chains and even overlook production factors, safety and budgetary concerns. Depending on the sub-specialties involved, industrial engineering could also be known as, or overlap with, operations management, management science, operations research, systems engineering, management engineering, manufacturing engineering, ergonomics or human factors engineering and safety engineering, depending on the viewpoint or the motives of the user. This occupation can be termed versatile given the kind of work and the industries in which such expertise can be put to use. 

These engineers work both in offices and on-site locations, overseeing the location of machines in a factory and engaging in computer-aided planning systems that flexibly vary the sequence of operations, not to forget ensuring the safety of workers. They also deal with designing workstations, automation and robotics for systems all along the supply chain. Often highly involved in many managerial aspects of modern business, their duties range from floor managers all the way up to chief executive officers.

In today&’s marketplace, industrial engineering is fast acquiring international proportions. With boundaries diminishing, industrial engineers need to be fluent in foreign languages and customs and international travel could very well be the norm, what with companies expanding and conducting more and more business with governments abroad. There is a growing need for these professionals as India is developing and the engineering sector is witnessing remarkable growth going by increased investments in infrastructure and industrial production. Thus the road ahead may be a long tiring, backbreaking one, but the success that waits at the end is worth striving for.

The top industrial engineering colleges in India include the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and the Mukesh Patel School Of Technology Management and Engineering, Mumbai; Jawaharlal Nehru University of Engineering, Hyderabad; JSS Academy of Technical Education, Bengaluru;, RV College of Engeering, Bengaluru; and the Kakatiya Institute of Technology and Science, Warangal. The top industrial institutions abroad are Northcentral University, Stanford University, Cornell University, University of Miami and the University of Louisville.