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Studying Industrial Engineering

Industrial engineers are concerned with business administration and engineering.
An article by Lisa Srikiow in collaboration with Johanna Ritter

Studying Industrial Engineering
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Industrial Engineering

That is what it’s about

Industrial engineers are as familiar with business administration tasks as they are with engineering. A combination that is no longer only sought after at the interface between the two fields, but also increasingly in other company departments: "Today, procurement is directly linked to product development. And an understanding of engineering is also needed in marketing and controlling," says Uwe Dittmann, professor of Industrial Engineering at the Hochschule Pforzheim. In the first semesters, students learn the basic principles of business administration from investment accounting to marketing. At the same time, they study engineering subjects such as electrical and electronic engineering, manufacturing engineering and materials engineering. Macroeconomic relations are also taught, along with mathematics, physics and computer science. Technical English or business English is also sometimes on the agenda. The weighting between the two sub-areas of business and engineering varies from institution to institution. Which is why it is important to get precise information beforehand! A special feature of degree courses in Industrial Engineering are what are known as integration subjects that combine technical and business content. These include, for example, project and business process management as well as the manufacturing industry. From about the third semester, students work on case studies in smaller seminar groups. They think about how machines can be set up to minimise waiting times, for example, or determine whether a central warehouse or many decentralised warehouses would be better suited to a company. Around three-quarters of the content is compulsory; students can set their own areas of focus for the rest depending on what the university offers and specialise, for example, in international management, sustainable product development or business process management. There are also industry-oriented courses, for example, that focus on the automotive industry or food production.

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suitability, obstacles, misconceptions

The workload is heavy. "According to one saying: the Industrial Engineering degree course consists of 60 per cent engineering and 60 per cent business," says Uwe Dittmann. Apart from perseverance, students must be able to work in teams and take an interdisciplinary approach. You shouldn't be afraid of mathematics. In their working lives, industrial engineers have to identify problems in technical and business fields or their interfaces and to help resolve these problems – often across country borders. This requires sensitivity, ingenuity and persuasiveness. The degree course has course entrance restrictions at around half the institutions, often requiring grades in the two range. Sometimes compulsory work placements are required before starting academic studies, but they can often be made up during the first few semesters. There are some selection procedures with tests or interviews.

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