Intro to Industrial Eng

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Date Submitted: 05/22/2013 12:51 AM

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What is industrial engineering? 

The field of industrial engineering has had many definitions given to it. Most of the definitions include all of the same elements stated in slightly different ways. For example the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) defines industrial engineering as

the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained by study, experience and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize economically, the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind. [1]

The American Institute of Industrial Engineers (AIIE) defines industrial engineering as

concerned with the design, improvement and installation of integrated systems of people, materials, 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. [1]

Both definitions describe industrial engineering as a broad field concerned with integrating all the different aspects in a service or production environment. Part of being an industrial engineer is learning how to balance changes.


The origins of industrial engineering can be traced back to many different sources. Fredrick Winslow Taylor is most often considered as the father of industrial engineering even though all his ideas where not original. Some of the preceding influences may have been Adam Smith's treatise The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, Thomas Malthus’s  Essay on Population, published in 1798, David Ricardo’s Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, published in 1817, and John Stuart Mill’s Principles of Political Economy, published in 1848. [1] All of these works provided Classical Liberal explanations for the successes and limitations of the Industrial Revolution. Adam Smith was an economist as were...