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If you’re anything like me in 2019 as a high school senior, you probably relate to this title.

I mean what the HECK even is industrial and systems engineering?!

Chances are, it’s not something you’ve heard of before. There are no high school courses on the subject, and there are few jobs with the clear title “Industrial Engineering”. 

Don’t worry though, you aren’t alone in your confusion. Even a large number of students coming into Viterbi as engineers don’t know what industrial engineering is. But now you will! As a very simple summary:

Industrial and systems engineering is a field to make things better. 

Now let me elaborate on that. “Things” encompasses processes, systems, and organizations. In industrial engineering, we have another word for “making better” as well. We like to say we optimize. Revisiting the summary:

Industrial and systems engineers optimize processes, systems, and organizations. 

Now how do we do that?

Industrial engineers at Viterbi learn business principles like economics, management, how to organize a team, and how humans are motivated. There is also a large emphasis on quantitative skills and technology such as ERP systems, coding, SQL, modeling, forecasting, and simulations. Oh — and you’ll be putting your AP Stats skills to good use! No worries if you haven’t taken statistics though, there are more than enough statistics and probability courses in ISE to bring you up to speed. 

With the wide range of skills and the general theme of creating great things and making things better, ISE majors go off into any different field. I know people in various engineering and business roles in aerospace, technology companies, start-ups, consulting firms, medical device companies, government agencies, and even professional sports teams.

It’s a major for people who like business, mathematics, being thoughtful, and ultimately solving problems to create and improve systems. 

So there you have it, a crash course on industrial and systems engineering at USC! For a deeper dive into the major, faculty, programs, and classes, check out the ISE webpage here

Thanks for reading, and I hope I helped you understand a bit more about my favorite major. Not that I’m biased or anything!

Fight on!

Maya Neuenschwander

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Hudson, Wisconsin PRONOUNS: she/her/hers I host the Viterbi Voices podcast, and I am involved in Lava Lab, a student-run start-up incubator at USC. Outside of school, I have my own photography business and enjoy hiking and the outdoors.