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Bachelor of Science in Engineering: Industrial and Systems Engineering

Industrial and Systems Engineering

B.S.E. in Industrial and Systems Engineering

The profession of Industrial and Systems Engineering is about choices. Other engineering disciplines apply skills to very specific areas. ISE gives you the opportunity to work in a variety of businesses. Whether it's distributing products worldwide, manufacturing superior automobiles, or streamlining the procedures in an operating room, all of these situations share the common goal of increasing efficiencies and saving companies money.

The most distinctive aspect of Industrial and Systems Engineering is the career and job flexibility it offers. Industrial and Systems Engineers are the "engineers for the 21st century."

Students in the ISE bachelor's program take a variety of courses to prepare for their career. They include:

  • General education courses such as writing, formal reasoning and global perspectives.
  • Math and sciences courses in calculus and physics.
  • Engineering core courses such as Introduction to Industrial and Systems Engineering, CAD and computer problem solving.
  • ISE professional courses in simulation, ergonomics, quality control, operations research, PLM, lean, ERP, robotics and production systems.
  • A team-based senior design experience that can be conducted at a local company.  Companies that hosted senior design projects include General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Rayconnect, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital, Comerica Bank, DTE Energy, Beaumont Troy Hospital and Crittenton Hospital Medical Center.

ISE jobs by the numbers

  • What's the average starting salary for an Industrial and Systems Engineer?
  • How many ISE jobs are in Michigan and the U.S.?
  • How do ISE job numbers compare with other engineering specialties?
is ise

Industrial and Systems Engineers focus on solving problems from a system-level perspective, which includes people, machines, materials, energy, technology, information and software. Industrial and Systems Engineers must design solutions that consider all of a system’s components so that everything works together to improve overall system performance.

As companies adopt management philosophies of continuous productivity and quality improvement to survive in the increasingly competitive world market, the need for Industrial and Systems Engineers is growing. Why? Industrial and Systems Engineers are the only engineering professionals who are trained as productivity and quality improvement specialists. They are leaders in six sigma and lean systems initiatives. The Industrial and Systems Engineer is synonymous with systems integrator – a big-picture thinker who takes what exists today and conceptualizes what should exist in the future.

A lot of engineers become disillusioned with the engineering profession because they get involved in minutiae or they end up on a CAD machine all the time and they never get out in the operating environment. ISE provides an opportunity for a challenging career working with people where you can have a direct impact on the success of an organization.
What others are saying about ISE
& outcomes

The ISE B.S.E. Program Educational Objectives are a set of skills that are necessary to function successfully in modern engineering practice. It is expected that ISE graduates have been prepared in each of these areas and will exhibit each of these characteristics as they pursue their professional careers:

The objectives of the Industrial and Systems Engineering program are to produce graduates who will:
  • design, develop, and implement systems which integrate people, materials, equipment, information and energy
  • operate effectively in dynamic and diverse organizations
  • demonstrate a professional attitude, integrity and commitment to life-long learning in their work
Student Outcomes are a set of skills that assure the achievement of the ISE program educational objectives. Before graduating, ISE students will demonstrate their skills in the following key areas:
  1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
  2. an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
  3. an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
  4. an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
  5. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
  6. an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
  7. an ability to communicate effectively
  8. the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
  9. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
  10. a knowledge of contemporary issues
  11. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

The ISE Department works with OU's Career Services to identify internship opportunities for our students. This is what some of our ISE students did during their paid internships.

Emily - Disney
I work with the World Wide Safety Team at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Being one of the most visited places in the world, the Disney Company makes safety for guests and cast members a top priority. Using my Industrial and Systems Engineering knowledge, I am involved in multiple projects across property, all aiming to make the Disney Parks as safe as possible.

You can learn more about Disney Internships here.

Viki - Faurecia
I spent the last three years assisting in plant launches, designing plant layouts, workstation analysis and solving ergonomic issues. I traveled to several states and internationally to support various plants. I also participated on the SAP Implementation Team and was responsible for training all North American employees. My internship has been very fulfilling and has allowed me to utilize the ISE knowledge I gained through OU.

Daniel - MB Aerospace
My internship with MB Aerospace has been a great experience so far. I've gotten the opportunity to update the quality control process, and am beginning to assist with analyzing machine processes so that the company can cut costs on the shop floor. I've learned how far a part can travel throughout a plant- between being checked and going from machine to machine. I was definitely able to apply things I've learned in class to this internship, like lean manufacturing and identifying factors that would slow down the process of completing parts. I'm excited to continue to work at MB Aerospace through the Fall.

Russell - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
My internship with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) enabled me to experience and apply my ISE knowledge in a world class environment. I was able to work with motion capture and virtual reality technology, integrating both technologies with PLM human simulation tools like Classic Jack and Process Simulate. I worked first hand with industrial engineers and line team leaders to verify launch processes and make sure issues are caught and resolved before they become physical and costly. I also got to network with hundreds of students, present to Vice Presidents of the company, and go 150+ MPH in a Dodge Charger. It was a fun summer.

Jenna - General Motors
I've spent the past two years working at General Motors Orion Assembly Plant, and have accepting a full-time position from them. I've used a lot of knowledge from my lean classes in the ISE program, like proper utilization of Yamazumi charts to plan and implement efficient line balances. Other core engineering classes given me strong foundational skills that I couldn't do my job without. The team projects assigned throughout my time at OU helped to develop the team building skills needed for me to be successful in my work assignments.

Anthony - National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
I assisted the reliability engineering department at Johnson Space Center in analyzing failure rate updating methodologies. I utilized the statistical knowledge gained throughout the ISE curriculum to compare the positives and negatives when assuming various density distributions.

Nathan - Complete Data Products
I work at Complete Data Products (CDP) which offers paperless solutions and office equipment to credit unions and banks as well as offering technical support. The company is in the middle of an initiative to push itself to the next level as a small company. This involves working to advance and modernize company software, procedures, workflow and structure. I help to integrate web-based help-desk software with CDP’s existing business processes. In the coming months, I will be working on integration of the data that we collect from our clients with CDP’s software.

David - Crittenton Hospital Medical Center
I spent four months working with the Central Distribution Department and performed time studies, data analysis and process flow mapping. With my findings, I proposed a new scheduling system, documents for work standardization, and a new process flow from the time supplies arrive at the hospital to when the patient uses them.

Matt - Argonne National Laboratory
I spent my summer performing powertrain vehicle testing. My goal was to collect an assortment of vehicles with different engine sizes and run several certified tests to determine the overall performance of each vehicle. Using this baseline study data, comparisons between the conventional vehicles of today and the advanced technology vehicles of the future can be established.

Dave - Rayconnect
I spent four months working for both the Quality and the Product Development Departments. I performed test validations on new products and metal quick connectors used by the automotive industry for fuel line connectors. These tests were to ensure quality and included assembly effort, pull-apart effort, leak, burst and lifecycle testing.

The ISE Department works with OU's Career Services to identify career opportunities for our students. This is what some of our recent graduates are doing with their ISE degrees.

Amanda Gojcaj, 2017
I am a Program Ergonomist for General Motors. I was able to start this position a year ago while still an ISE student. Part of my job is to assist plants with identifying and developing ergonomic solutions on specific requests and issues. I also analyze and evaluate operations in regards to ergonomic issues. 

The best part of my job is that I get to work with a variety of people throughout the company. The people I team with have not only helped me have a better understanding of ergonomics, but also the quality, manufacturing, and engineering sides of the company. 

When I graduated high school, I knew I was either going to pursue my degree in engineering or go to law school. After attempting to get a bachelors in political science, I chose to change my major to ISE. I am extremely happy with choosing this program because I have learned so much and have been able to apply the knowledge I've gained throughout the ISE program to my job in industry. 

The professors and friends I've made are what made me enjoy going through Oakland’s ISE program. Most of the professors are not only good at what they do, but they also truly care to help you learn about the courses so you can apply them in the real world. As well, once a month they host a lunch for all ISE students, faculty and staff. The lunches are hosted by local companies. It’s a great way to interact with all types of people with different backgrounds.

Nathan McClain, 2017
Nathan works at Emerson, his story will appear soon.

Katie Folk, 2016
I am a Product Engineer at Carcoustics, a global tier-one automotive parts supplier. I worked as an intern for three years, and then was hired full-time upon graduation. Right now I am learning the process for generating quotations for customers, and eventually my responsibilities will be expanded to include material development, supporting product launches, and writing work instructions.

Since I was hired into Carcoustics after interning, the transition from student to full-time engineer was particularly smooth. Even though my new position came with completely different responsibilities as well as new and interesting challenges, I already had a network of contacts (and friends!) within the company and a strong knowledge base of the products and processes.

One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to travel. This summer I am going to spend three months working at the Carcoustics headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany. There, I will receive more training as well as observing and learning from their die-cutting experts, so that I can apply their concepts and methods when I come back to Michigan.

I chose Industrial and Systems Engineering because I like puzzles. To me, it seems like ISE is all about learning how to balance several factors in order to optimize a process, and that appeals to me. My classes at Oakland cultivated a deeper understanding of industry and gave me the tools to solve the complex puzzles that interest me the most. Having an internship to supplement my classes enhanced the learning process, and I saw the same concepts in both settings. If I had the chance to do everything over, I wouldn’t change a thing!

Jordan Dunseth, 2016
I work as a Software Product Consultant for Siemens PLM Software. I was fortunate enough to participate in the Siemens Genesis program, which was a three-month program in which I received training on how to install, administer, configure, and customize Teamcenter, NX and other Siemens software. My peers and I also had the opportunity to apply our skills to several real world projects during the program in order to demonstrate what we learned. The Genesis program made my transition into my current position a seamless experience, and gave me a firm knowledge base for my future projects.

Currently, I support the Siemens team at Pratt & Whitney in Hartford, Connecticut. During my time here, I’ve been closely involved with the installation and configuration of Siemens’ newest addition to its PLM software family, Active Workspace.

There are a few things that I love about my position - first, it is extremely flexible. Right now I’m traveling to support Pratt & Whitney, but in a few months I will be stationed at another project, all while I’m living in Florida. Not only does this give me the opportunity to travel, but also to experience a wide variety of customers in diverse industries. Each customer’s needs and environment is completely different, which means I don’t see my job getting stagnant any time soon.

My advice to students just getting into Industrial and Systems Engineering, or even those graduating soon, is to be open to wherever your career may take you. An ISE degree can be applied in so many ways, and often what you actually enjoy doing may not even be on your radar. My current position is more software oriented than I ever expected, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much it appeals to me.

Kayla Owens, 2015
I’m an Associate Process Engineer in the College Graduate in Training (CGIT) Program for the IE Lean Material Strategies Group at General Motors. Currently, I support various engine launches.

The best parts of my job are the people I work with because everyone is so helpful as well as my ability to rotate through different assignments. In the CGIT Program, I complete 3 month rotations for one year and then perform a full year assignment. My full year assignment will be in Springhill, TN in the Powertrain facility with a couple months in the Vehicle facility. This experience in different facilities and different facets of Powertrain/Vehicle will help my career path by giving me more experience as well as meeting people in different areas/sites.

I knew I wanted to work with people and improve efficiency or processes, and that is the overall vision of Industrial and Systems Engineering. In addition to that, ISE is a major that fits into just about any industry because it’s about improving efficiencies, so there are many different options where you can go after graduation.

My advice for students in ISE is to get to know your professors. Oakland’s ISE professors helped so much whether it was on concepts and projects, or getting internships from different companies every summer. OU’s ISE professors have been in industry so they have many connections that can help with networking and getting internships to set you up for success.

Jeff Yott, 2015
I am a Motor Control Engineer at Nexteer Automotive. I do a wide variety of tasks to improve processes and update work instructions.  I have been part of a team that is currently updating our procedure documents to be ASPICE compliant.  I have begun international training to transfer some testing to various locations around the world in order to save the company money and time. And I am currently working on a Six Sigma greenbelt project.

Before enrolling at Oakland University, I had two Associates degrees and was unable to find work beyond that of a technician.  While at OU, I worked full-time and attended classes.  When I first started, my intention was to finish off my Mechanic Engineering degree.  However, after taking the Introduction to Industrial and Systems Engineering course, I changed my major.  In all my jobs I had always tried to improve processes and procedures to make work more efficient and the ISE program gave me to tools to implement improvements and quantify the benefits of the changes.

While working and attending school, I utilized my education to improve my work flow.  I documented and standardized several testing processes utilized by the company as well as created many Excel macros to more accurately and quickly process data.  As I approached my graduation date, I was offered multiple positions within the company, and I selected to remain in the same team at Nexteer.

The skills I learned in OU’s Industrial and Systems Engineering program has helped my career greatly and surely will continue allowing me to pursue my goals.

Kimberly Romstad, 2014
I am part of the Inventory Planning team at Disney, which is the team responsible for ordering and maintaining the entire inventory of costumes for both the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL and the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA, as well as the four Disney Cruise Line ships.

In my role, I travel weekly to the 5 different costuming issue locations for which I am responsible to work with operational Cast Members to understand their current inventory challenges and how our team can help them to better forecast their costuming needs.  I use the skills I learned during my ISE education and internships to improve the way our team does business.  While working with both operational and analytical Cast Members on a daily basis, I am using the interpersonal skills I developed during my ISE work experience.

As I learn more about the costuming business at Walt Disney World, I am finding more and more opportunities to exercise the problem solving techniques I learned during my ISE education at OU.  I truly feel that a role like this is a testament to the variety of jobs available for those who choose to pursue Industrial and Systems Engineering as a career.

Nicholas Karoumy, 2014
I am in the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Manufacturing Leadership Development Program.  Throughout the four year program I will rotate within Material Logistics Management, Environmental Health and Safety, Manufacturing Engineering, Powertrain, Stamping, and Assembly Operations; while simultaneously earning a master’s degree.

My Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) degree from Oakland University gave me the tools to understand and analyze difficult problems in the real-world.  The most rewarding part of ISE is being able to see the savings in money and lead time through eliminating waste.  One of the best parts about a career in ISE is being able to interact with a vast variety of people, from hourly line operators to Vice Presidents of Manufacturing.

My favorite thing about my job is being able to make improvements to processes that significantly improve hourly line operators’ working conditions and contentment.  There is no doubt in my mind that obtaining my B.S.E. in ISE from Oakland University was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Matt Toter, 2013
I am currently at Williams International, where my responsibilities involve everything that an ISE would do to design and develop a production line. My role does not involve actually being on the line, but rather using software to help make the entire production process efficient and to minimize waste.

I use simulation software to model the production line and run several what-if analysis situations. I also developed several macros to help our upper management see where waste can be reduced, and where bottlenecks could occur in our production lines. I would say the best part of my job is possessing ISE skills that help the company save money, lessen lead times and meet production deadlines.

I knew growing up I wanted to be an engineer, but I was never sure what field of engineering I wanted. I started working in a packaging and warehouse facility when I was young and fell in love with process improvement. When I was determining what college to attend, it was suggested to me that I consider Industrial and Systems Engineering. Once I learned what that was, I knew I found my field of engineering. If you enjoy all fields of engineering and enjoy problem solving, ISE is the place for you. There is so much variety in this field, no two projects will be the same. It is constantly new and challenging.

Jon Essenmacher, 2013
I work for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in the Manufacturing Leadership Development Program.  During this four year program, I will rotate within Material Logistics Management, Environmental Health and Safety, Manufacturing Engineering, Powertrain, Stamping and Assembly Operations; while simultaneously earning an master’s degree.

If I had to attribute one thing that helped me obtain this position, it would be my Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) degree from Oakland University.  ISE appealed to me because it is a unique hybrid between business and engineering. ISE is not a typical brand of engineering, which fit well with my personality.  If a prospective student has a strong desire to become a part of upper management, and is not afraid to incorporate engineering analysis into making tough business decisions; then ISE is the way to go.

The best part of my job is being able to carry over what I learned from the classroom and implement it on a shop floor. I have been a part of 7 different projects to-date, and have implemented what I learned in my ISE courses in each one. My ISE degree helped me develop a passion for implementing lean concepts in industry, and I cannot speak highly enough of the ISE Department's students, faculty and staff.

Jacqueline Sinishtaj, 2012
I work at DTE Energy in Business Analytics and Continuous Improvement. I help solve problems and identify areas for improvement. The best part is I am continually learning, from corporate operations to advanced statistical analysis methods.

I get to apply the ISE techniques and methods I learned at Oakland to real world problems, which forces one to think outside the box. Currently I am working on projects involving Business Analytics and Continuous Improvement. Business analytics uses statistical methods for understanding and developing new insights into business performance. I also verify the Gas Dispatch forecast model, and test model performance compared to real time data.

I chose a career in Industrial and Systems Engineering because it is a very diverse field of engineering. ISE's can work in any industry doing a variety of jobs from statistical analysis to line balancing to designing safer and more human-friendly products.

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Join ISE@OU on Linkedin
  • All ISE students are invited to join our ISE@OU Networking & Mentoring group on Linkedin. This private, by invitation only group, provides a platform for our alumni to e-mentor ISE students on issues such as internships, finding a full-time job, and professional networking. Please contact Professor Robert Van Til ( if you are interested in joining.