Welcome from the DEO

Welcome to the new Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Iowa, newly established on July 1, 2018! After more than a decade sharing a department with Mechanical Engineering, our committed, world class faculty is excited to stand independently once again to help shape the future of industrial engineering in the state and across the world. Industrial engineers thrive in a climate of change, and this year, we are fortunate enough to be able to offer prospects that will be both challenging and rewarding: new courses, new focus areas, and new directions.

Many people simply do not appreciate the breadth of the impact industrial engineers have on our world. Did you know, for example, that the Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes 15% of all engineering employment in the US as Industrial Engineering, compared to, for example, Civil at 18%, Mechanical at 18%, and Biomedical at 1%? Yet in the United States, the American Society of Engineering Educators reports that only 3% of all new undergraduate engineering degrees are in Industrial Engineering. Perhaps this supply and demand relationship is one of the reasons that our graduates enjoy a 97% placement rate and a median salary of $64,000, the second highest in the college.

But our graduates enjoy more than just a kickstart to their first job. Most engineering careers quickly move from pure technical application to a position in management. Our students are often more outgoing and interested in working with people than the stereotypical engineer, traits which propel them quickly toward upper management. Less than a third of all engineering graduates actually hold a job with “engineering” in the title. By emphasizing group projects, real world applications, and a flexible, customizable curriculum, our program emphasizes training that goes beyond the types of problems where the correct answer is in the back of the book, developing individuals who can overcome the messy challenges that regularly confront people outside academia. Most of our students complete minors in business, which also helps prepare them for the broad career possibilities they are likely to face

Our approach to education has enjoyed decades of success. We are the second oldest, continuously accredited Industrial Engineering program in the Midwest. Although we are currently one of the smaller undergraduate IE programs in the US, we are ranked in the top 20, a remarkable fact given that rankings in the popular press are driven by program size and visibility. Similarly, at the graduate level, we are consistently ranked among programs five times our size. The more quantitative and analytic rankings of the National Research Council ranked our graduate program at levels most comparable to the programs at Penn State and Purdue, which are ranked 7 and 6 in the popular press. In a race focused on size, we are winning with quality and agility.


Geb Thomas
Professor and Chair, Industrial and Systems Engineering