The beauty of an industrial engineering degree lies in its versatility. Industrial engineers are taught to determine the most effective ways for an organization to use the basic factors of production – people, machines, materials, information and energy – in order to make a product or produce a service. Industrial engineering skills can be applied across a wide range of areas, and these engineers can be found working in nearly every type of industry you can imagine, perfecting systems and processes wherever they go.
Because so many industrial engineers end up in management and leadership positions within industry or even start up their own businesses, they often decide to return to school to pursue additional degrees in business to garner the types of skillsets they may not have honed in on during their engineering education. But now, these multi-talented industrial engineering students won’t need to obtain a separate degree in business to get the skills they need to succeed as managers, business administrators and entrepreneurs.
For the first time ever, the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering and the C.T. Bauer College of Business are teaming up to create an interdisciplinary master’s degree in industrial engineering (IE) and business administration, called the IE/M.B.A. Program. The program will be offered to students beginning in the fall semester of 2014.
According to Gino Lim, Hari and Anjali Agrawal Faculty Fellow and department chair of the industrial engineering department at the Cullen College, the curriculum for a master’s degree in industrial engineering and an M.B.A. are not only closely aligned, but complement one another in a way that sets students up for future success in their careers. Industrial engineers often work in fields such as energy, healthcare, finance, transportation and logistics, manufacturing, information technology, government organizations, and address topics such as data analytics, optimization, statistical analysis, simulation, systems engineering, quality control, project management, reliability, facility location and layout design, and safety, – all of which require skills that can be further sharpened with an additional business education.
“Many of our industrial engineering students end up coming back to UH to obtain their M.B.A.,” Lim explained. “An industrial engineering degree gives you analytical background, and an M.B.A. gives you entrepreneurial background. It’s really the perfect combination, and I’m ecstatic to be able to offer the best of both worlds to our students.”
In addition, students will actually save money by pursuing the IE/M.B.A. degree rather than obtaining the two degrees separately at different times. Currently, an M.B.A. at UH requires 48 course hours be completed; as of fall 2014, the IE master’s requires 33. However, the interdisciplinary program requires only a combined total of 57 completed course hours (36 business hours, 21 industrial engineering hours and 12 core curriculum hours). This adds up to a savings of 24 course hours compared to obtaining the M.B.A. and the MIE separately. Graduate credit hours can cost upwards of $400 per hour, so the combined degree plan will literally save students thousands.
Lim hopes the combined degree plan will not only maintain the current level of IE graduate students but also bring in more students with a business background. “The mix will be good for the college and the students. Our industries are so closely aligned, so the more they learn about one another during the graduate courses, the more they will be able to carry that understanding into the real world and succeed in their careers as well as their business relationships.”