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Industrial engineering differs from other engineering fields by applying this knowledge in a wide variety of fields: information technology (IT), health care, aerospace, power generation, finance and business consulting, just to name a few. There are industrial engineers in banks, hospitals, government, factories, universities, warehouses and airports. Industrial engineers see "the big picture" of the system and understand issues that effect the entire organization.

The tools of industrial engineering have changed over the years. Systems can be made more efficient and productive using mathematical models. Courses in operational research and management science are devoted to the application of mathematical analysis of systems to determine the best way to operate. A system can also be improved using computers and information engineering. Finally, one can make people more productive by properly designing their work place, the machines and the display systems. This area is called human factors/ergonomics.

An industrial engineer may be employed in almost any type of industry, business or institution, from retail establishments to manufacturing plants to government offices to hospitals. The demand for IEs has grown dramatically over the past two decades for one important reason: the need for organizations to raise their levels of productivity through thoughtful, systematic applications.

The profit-making organization must have high productivity in order to compete in the domestic and world marketplace. The non-profit organization also mustraise its productivity in order to sustain its position as a useful service unit.

The demand for industrial engineers makes this profession particularly attractive from a financial standpoint.