Welcome to the website of Rensselaer’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), home to the Bachelor of Science degree program in Industrial and Management Engineering (IME). The IME undergraduate program reflects the unique foci of the ISE department. It is among the most dynamic and exciting undergraduate engineering programs in the nation. On the job, graduates of the IME program figure out how to do things better. They engineer products, services, processes and systems to improve quality and productivity. Government agencies and almost all industries employ IME’s. Designing and analyzing “human centered” systems is at the core of IME. This requires the ability to recognize and model the variability introduced by the human element in all types of systems, and to view other real-world phenomena in terms of models that can then be exercised and optimized prior to system deployment. Since these models are used as tools to aid in the process of making technical and managerial decisions, the IME's position in an organization is often that of a management advisor; a technical resource person knowledgeable about every facet of the organization and system. One common role of the IME is to drive change in organizations by leading initiatives aimed at enhancing productivity, improving leadership, or adopting new technologies. This aspect of the profession emphasizes entrepreneurship and interpersonal as well as technical skills. Due to their broad technical background, IME graduates are well prepared for positions of leadership in a wide variety of organizations; many of our alumni were or are CEOs and/or hold other senior management positions in major corporations. Graduates from the IME program find career opportunities in almost every industry: consulting, manufacturing and supply chain management, health systems, transportation, financial services, insurance, entertainment, material flow logistics, distribution systems, and government. Starting salaries and lifetime earnings for IME graduates compare very favorably with other disciplines and industrial engineering represents about 14% of all engineering employment in the United States. Most IME graduates transition into managerial and other leadership roles over their careers.
The ISE department boasts a truly distinguished faculty of world class educator/scholars with core intellectual strengths in applied and computational statistics, operations research and decision sciences. In addition to the IME bachelor’s program, the ISE faculty support a distinguished doctoral program whose graduates hold senior academic and industry appointments throughout the world. The ISE core intellectual strengths involve the application of mathematical, computational, statistical and information science methods to model, analyze and solve complex decision problems in engineering, business and social systems. Our discipline employs methods of mathematical programming, queuing theory, computational optimization, decision analysis, applied statistics, database systems, soft computing, and discrete event simulation for solving problems related to the design, planning, and operation of complex systems where intelligent coordination and collaboration is necessary to achieve optimal performance. It applies results from operations research, statistics and decision sciences to design, rationalize, and control large-scale enterprise systems. It is distinctive from management and economics in the use of an engineering approach to design and analyze enterprise processes to optimize performance. It is distinctive from computer science in its focus on the design of data and knowledge systems as the organizational center where operations and enterprise systems are integrated.
The two priority research themes in ISE are Social and Cognitive Networks and Adaptive Supply Chains. The ISE research thrust in Social and Cognitive Networks relates to the development of decision technologies focused on the application of artificial intelligence, soft computing, data fusion, information systems, and data mining. Key applications include threat detection in social networks, issues of trust and ethical decision making, emergent and improvisational organizational responses to natural and unnatural disasters, and group and individual behavior in dynamic social systems. Much of our work in this area lies at the intersection of operations research, systems engineering, management and psychology. The unifying thread is the enhancement of the information value chain from data, to information, to knowledge to decision making. An illustrative example is provided in ISE research using data fusion and computational intelligence to build automated diagnostic systems to enhance security-related detection, increase specificity and minimize false positives. This research has yielded practical techniques and algorithms to model decision maker behavior for automated mining of media files and social network communications leading to the detection of interesting and unusual events. Additional applications in computer-aided drug design, bioinformatics, and the detection of improvised explosive devices have proven to be remarkably successful in practice. Recent ISE awards under this research theme deal with organizational responses to natural disasters in coastal areas, modeling the dependencies of infrastructural systems in urban areas, assessment of the role of information systems to enhance the effectiveness of maritime safety for tankers and containerized freight, and others. Please see our recent newsletters for further details.
The department’s research in Adaptive Supply Chains deals with the logistics of deploying finite resources to assemble, transport, sustain and distribute people, goods and information to facilitate the fulfillment of demand associated with economic commerce, national defense, disaster response, and/or humanitarian aid. The focus of this research is on efficient and integrated coupling of supply with distribution network resources from a total integrated systems perspective. The functional scope of Adaptive Supply Chains spans production/procurement, materials management, storage, transport, routing, warehousing, dispatching, delivery, and service. Its contextual scope spans production, transportation, military, health, maritime, and communications systems. Recent ISE awards under this theme have focused on self-reconfigurable power grids with cyber-infrastructure and distributed sensors using agent-based methodologies, Bayesian inventory and replacement models using real-time condition monitoring information, and mass customization of on-demand, cyber-enabled services coupling embedded intelligence with telecommunications infrastructure. As these most recent projects emphasize, ISE research initiatives in Adaptive Supply Chains address complex interdependencies where methodologies of our discipline can address major challenges in the ability of supply chains to adapt to evolutionary change and respond to planned and unplanned disruptive events.
We are physically located on the fifth floor of the Center for Industrial Innovation on the Rensselaer campus and would be pleased to help you plan a visit to meet with us directly. If you are a current Rensselaer undergraduate considering a major in the IME program or a prospective graduate student, please contact me directly at malmbc @ rpi.edu. Thank you for your interest in Rensselaer and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.
Charles J. Malmborg