Where as most engineering disciplines apply skills to very specific areas, industrial engineering is applied in virtually every industry. Examples of where industrial engineering might be used include shortening lines (or queues) at a theme park, streamlining an operating room, distributing products worldwide (also referred to as Supply Chain Management), and manufacturing cheaper and more reliable automobiles. Industrial engineers typically use computer simulation, especially discrete event simulation, for system analysis and evaluation.
The name "industrial engineer" can be misleading. While the term originally applied to manufacturing, it has grown to encompass services and other industries as well. Similar fields include Operations Research, Management Science, Financial Engineering, Supply Chain, Manufacturing Engineering, Engineering Management, Overall Equipment Effectiveness, Systems Engineering, Ergonomics, Process Engineering, Value Engineering and Quality Engineering.
There are a number of things industrial engineers do in their work to make processes more efficient, to make products more manufacturable and consistent in their quality, and to increase productivity.
US News and World Report's article on "America's Best Colleges 2009" listing schools offering Undergraduate engineering specialties: Industrial / Manufacturing whose highest degree is a doctorate are Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California at Berkeley, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Purdue University at West Lafayette, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Stanford University.
Industrial engineering courses had been taught by multiple universities in the late 1800s along Europe, especially in very developed countries such as Germany, France and United Kingdom, but also in Spain in the Technical University of Madrid. In the United States,the first department of industrial engineering was established in 1908 at the Pennsylvania State University by Alex Kaserman.
The first doctoral degree in industrial engineering was awarded in the 1930s by Cornell University.
In the United States, the usual undergraduate degree earned is the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering (BSIE). The typical BSIE curriculum includes introductory chemistry, physics, economics, mathematics, statistics, properties of materials, intermediate coursework in mechanical engineering, computer science, and sometimes electrical engineering, and specialized courses such as the following: