Institute of Technology establishes independent Program in Industrial and Systems Engineering

Program changes respond to need for new kind of engineer

In response to the growing industry need for engineers who can design large-scale systems and processes to save time and money, the University of Minnesota has established an independent Program in Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Today's business world demands a new kind of engineer with both technical and management skills who can design and assess complex systems in fields ranging from supply chains and logistics to healthcare delivery to energy production and distribution," said Professor Saif Benjaafar, the program's founding director. "Graduates of the program are uniquely qualified to rethink how these systems must be designed and managed to respond to the changing needs of our global economy."

In the past, the University offered master's and doctoral degrees in industrial and systems engineering within the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The Program in Industrial and Systems Engineering is now an independent program within the Institute of Technology, the University of Minnesota's college of engineering, physical sciences and mathematics. This new status will enhance the visibility of the program, locally, nationally, and internationally and will boost the University's ability to recruit the best students and faculty.

"We have ambitious plans for the Program in Industrial and Systems Engineering," said Steven Crouch, dean of the Institute of Technology. "This program is another way for us to align our engineering education programs to meet the future needs of industry."

The University of Minnesota is the only higher education institution in the state to offer graduate and professional degrees in industrial and systems engineering. In recent years, demand for these courses and degrees has grown dramatically. The demand from employers for students with skills in industrial and systems engineering has also been very strong. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota companies employ industrial engineers in numbers third only to mechanical and electrical engineers.

The new Program in Industrial and Systems Engineering features core faculty who are at the forefront of the field. The research profile and funding for the program have seen tremendous growth in recent years. Faculty members in the program are engaged in federally funded research on projects such as global supply chains, revenue management for the airline industry, advanced healthcare delivery systems, sustainable logistics, and many others.

To strengthen its interdisciplinary emphasis, future faculty affiliated with the program will also be affiliated with another department in the college. The program is expected to continue expanding its degree and course offerings with an additional emphasis on undergraduate education.

For more information about the Program in Industrial and Systems Engineering, visit or contact the program director at

February 19, 2009