What does an industrial engineer do?

Your goal as an industrial engineer is to optimize technical operating processes to ensure maximum productivity and profitability. As an interdisciplinary science, industrial engineering combines economics with classical engineering. As an industrial engineer, you focus on mechanical, electrical or civil engineering. You combine technical and scientific, economic and legal aspects and are the company’s interface specialist.

What are your tasks?

You come up with strategies, implement concepts and try to stay one step ahead of the competition. To do this, you combine your technical expertise with your understanding of the underlying economic considerations. In your daily work, you deal with operational processes and their theories, methods, tools and results. You use these to optimally combine economic and engineering disciplines and thus increase efficiency.

The field of activity for you as an industrial engineer is very varied. You will not only work in a wide variety of industries, but also in companies. A practical example is the production of a kitchen machine: as an industrial engineer, you are given the task of changing the previous production process so that the production of the machine is 5% cheaper.

To do this, you must identify where you can save costs without compromising the quality of the machine. For example, you need to think about what material can be changed. Your engineering knowledge will help you do this. So you always have to have a dual perspective: what is technically feasible, what can be developed further, and what is economical and profitable for the company?

Of course, you are not alone; you work closely with your colleagues from other areas of expertise, such as materials technology or mechatronics. But you also have many points of contact with a wide variety of professional areas in your company, such as production or quality management.

Your duties depend on both the industry in which you work and your employer. In industrial engineering, you are usually involved in production development, execution, financing concept planning, concept implementation, optimization and the design of technical marketing and sales strategies, taking into account legal and regulatory requirements.

Where can you work after graduating in industrial engineering?

As an industrial engineer, you can start in all industrial and technological companies. This means working, for example, in industrial, commercial and service companies, or even in consulting companies and authorities in the following fields:

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Vehicle technology
  • Energy and environmental technology
  • Robotics
  • Information technology
  • Chemical and pharmaceutical engineering
  • Construction

You can also become self-employed, so that you are an independent industrial engineer in an engineering company that performs consulting, planning and projecting tasks for its customers. Especially in technical production, business and technology specialists are needed. As an industrial engineer, you are an expert in both, can act as an interface between these business departments and in the future take over management tasks. Many industrial engineers become consultants when they start their careers.

Companies that hire industrial engineers can be found in mechanical engineering, the electrical industry, construction, energy and environmental management, the chemical industry, the ICT sector and the aerospace industry. But you can also start your career as an industrial engineer in consulting, insurance companies and credit institutions, retail or IT.

How do you know you are an industrial engineer?

There are some things you can verify to know if you have the perfects skills to be an industrial engineer. You are creative and curious. You always have two different perspectives on things: an economic one and a technical one. If you are capable of multi-tasking, have a broad knowledge base and are an expert in the interaction between technology and business. Also you want to break new ground and develop new methods. Do you have international communication skills and sensitivity to cross-cultural differences?

Are you also fluent in “foreign languages”, such as the special technical jargon of business administration, economics and law? You are a generalist and likes to be up to date. You understands scientific processes and has a great facility with numbers. In addition, you are said to have a high sense of responsibility and good coordination skills. You are a team player and communicative; after all, you work as an “interpreter” between two very different worlds. You are always solution-oriented.

Albert

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