Skip to main content

How I Found Industrial Engineering

When I was filling out college applications during my senior year of high school, I knew that I was good at math and science and was advised to apply to schools for engineering. Without questioning it much, I began to research engineering schools and write “Why XXX” essays with an engineering emphasis in mind, all the while not stopping to consider what it was that I actually wanted to get out of an engineering degree. I applied to the majority of my schools as a mechanical engineering major, as I had been told that it was the most general form of engineering, and I never really stopped to consider if I would like my program.

I remember the moment I started to panic. I was feeling great because I had been accepted into a few schools I was excited about and was beginning to compare them by looking at the mechanical engineering programs, professor ratings, and course lists. Upon a quick glance, I realized that there were very few classes in the general mechanical engineering curriculum that thought I would enjoy… fluid hydraulics? Thermodynamics? I wasn’t interested in learning how machines worked, and I got seriously concerned that I had applied to college for a degree I had no interest in pursuing. 

After some research, I stumbled upon the subject of Industrial engineering. At first, I didn’t fully understand it… it wasn’t engineering in the typical sense of building something, and it wasn’t as coding-based as computer science. What I found in Industrial Engineering was the perfect match for my skills and interests.


What is Industrial & Systems Engineering?

Industrial & Systems Engineering involves the application of basic engineering principles to solve real world problems in areas such as organization or efficiency, and classic examples of real-world applications for the degree are in supply-chain, facility layout and design, and process management. 

I like industrial engineering because it focuses on the application of knowledge in a real-world context without the need to build up specific knowledge of more niche systems. The systems we learn about and discuss in classes all center around humans and their tendencies, and as such what we learn will likely never become obsolete. 

Another aspect that drew me to Industrial & Systems Engineering is  the diversity in job prospects for students graduating with a degree in the field. IE grads can go into traditional IE roles such as an Operations Engineer or Supply Chain Analyst, but they can also go into fields such as Consulting, Banking, and Tech. This diversity was perfect for me, as coming into college I had no idea what I wanted to do for my career. 

Today, I have had experience interning as an analyst in venture capital and an industrial engineer for the Disneyland Resort (as seen in the cover picture), and I will spend next summer interning as a tech consultant for PWC before returning to USC for one last semester to finish my Master’s degree. I really am trying to take advantage of the flexibility Industrial Engineering affords!

Lucas Mortenson

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering Major, Songwriting Minor YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Golf, Illinois PRONOUNS: he/him/his INSTA: @ l.mortenson11 At USC, I am involved in a number of different academic associations including being a part of IISE, Scholars Leading Scholars, and The Freshman Engineering Academy coaching team. Outside of academics, I am involved in Greek Life, I am on the club Water Polo team, and I actively participate in the arts scene, both through my songwriting minor and other events such as open mic nights.