Introduction to Industrial Engineering

By Jane M. Fraser

Chapter 8

IE Careers

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8.2 Education and life long learning

As I mentioned in Chapter 2, many students have read and have recommended very strongly The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. Those seven habits are:

  1. Be proactive.
  2. Begin with the end in mind.
  3. Put first things first.
  4. Think win/win.
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  6. Synergize.
  7. Sharpen the saw.

"Sharpen the say" reminds you to continually refresh and add to your knowledge and skills."

To practice as a physician in the United States, a person must earn an undergraduate degree, earn a graduate medical degree, pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination, and be approved by the state licensing board where the physician will practice. In most states and for most specialities, physicians are required to complete a minimum number of credits in continuing medical education each year to maintain a license. To practice as an attorney in the United States, a person must earn an undergraduate degree, earn a graduate law degree, pass a bar exam, and be licensed by the jurisdiction in which the lawyer will practice. In most states, attorneys are required to complete a minimum number of credits in continuing legal education each year to maintain a license.

Engineering, like medicine and the law, is considered a profession, but to practice as an engineer in the United States a person needs only to earn an undergraduate degree and need not be licensed. However, to be a principal in an engineering firm (for example, if you want to open your own firm as an engineer) or to approve engineering plans and drawings, you must be a licensed professional engineer (PE). Among all the types of engineering, licensure is most important for civil engineers, and probably least important for industrial engineers. As with physicians and attorneys, becoming licensed requires passing exams and being licensed by a state. Thirty states require continuing engineering education to remain licensed; Colorado does not. If you become a licensed PE in one state, most other states will have a process by which you can also be licensed in that state.

In Colorado, the Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors controls the licensure of engineers. In most states (including Colorado) the steps to becoming a licensed Professional Engineer are:

  1. While a senior in an ABET accredited engineering program, pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. You are then an Engineer in Training (EIT).
  2. Graduate from an ABET accredited engineering program.
  3. Have 8 years of "progressive engineering experience of which education is a part."
  4. Pass the Principles and Practice exam.

The FE and PE exams are administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The FE exam is an 8 hour exam, given on a Saturday, in Denver. The morning session is 4 hours long, has 120 multiple choice questions in 12 topic areas, is the same for everyone, and has the following content (with approximate percent of the questions):

  1. Mathematics – 10%: Analytic geometry, Integral calculus, Matrix operations, Roots of equations, Vector analysis, Differential equations, Differential calculus
  2. Engineering Probability and Statistics – 7%: Measures of central tendencies and dispersions (e.g., mean, mode, standard deviation), Probability distributions (e.g., discrete, continuous, normal, binomial), Conditional probabilities, Estimation (e.g.., point, confidence intervals) for a single mean, Regression and curve fitting, Expected value (weighted average) in decision-making, Hypothesis testing
  3. Chemistry – 9%: Nomenclature, oxidation and reduction, periodic table, states of matter, acids and bases, equations (e.g., stoichiometry), equilibrium, metals and nonmetals,
  4. Computers – 7%: terminology (e.g., memory types, CPU, baud rates, Internet), spreadsheets (e.g., addresses, interpretation, “what if,” copying formulas), structured programming (e.g., assignment statements, loops and branches, function calls),
  5. Ethics and Business Practices – 7%: code of ethics (professional and technical societies), agreements and contracts, ethical versus legal, professional liability, public protection issues (e.g., licensing boards)
  6. Engineering Economics – 8%: discounted cash flow (e.g., equivalence, PW, equivalent annual FW,
  7. rate of return), cost (e.g., incremental, average, sunk, estimating), analyses (e.g., breakeven, benefit-cost), uncertainty (e.g., expected value and risk).
  8. Engineering Mechanics (Statics and Dynamics) – 10%: resultants of force systems, centroid of area, concurrent force systems, equilibrium of rigid bodies, frames and trusses, area moments of inertia, linear motion (e.g., force, mass, acceleration, momentum), angular motion (e.g., torque, inertia, acceleration, momentum), friction, mass moments of inertia, impulse and momentum applied to particles and to rigid bodies, work, energy, and power as applied to particles and to rigid bodies.
  9. Strength of Materials – 7%; shear and moment diagrams, stress types (e.g., normal, shear, bending, torsion), stress strain caused by axial loads, bending loads, torsion, and shear, deformations (e.g., axial, bending, torsion), combined stresses, columns, indeterminant analysis, plastic versus elastic deformation.
  10. Material Properties – 7%; properties including chemical, electrical, mechanical, and physical properties, corrosion mechanisms and control, materials including engineered materials, ferrous metals, and nonferrous metals.
  11. Fluid Mechanics – 7%; flow measurement, fluid properties, fluid statics, energy, impulse, and momentum equations, pipe and other internal flow.
  12. Electricity and Magnetism – 9%; charge, energy, current, voltage, and power, work done in moving a charge in an electric field (relationship between voltage and work), force between charges, current and voltage laws (Kirchhoff, Ohm), equivalent circuits (series, parallel), capacitance and inductance, reactance and impedance, susceptance and admittance, AC circuits, basic complex algebra.
  13. Thermodynamics – 7%; thermodynamic laws (e.g., 1st Law, 2nd Law), energy, heat, and work, availability and reversibility, cycles, ideal gases, mixture of gases, phase changes, heat transfer, and properties of enthalpy and entropy.

In the afternoon, each student takes a test on the student's engineering major. The afternoon session is 4 hours long; the industrial engineering section has 60 multiple choice questions in 8 topic areas (with approximate percent of the questions):

  1. Engineering Economics – 15%; discounted cash flows (equivalence, PW, EAC, FW, IRR, loan amortization), types and breakdown of costs (e.g., fixed, variable, direct and indirect labor, material, capitalized), analyses (e.g., benefit-cost, breakeven, minimum cost, overhead, risk, incremental, life cycle), Accounting (financial statements and overhead cost allocation), cost estimating, depreciation and taxes, capital budgeting,
  2. Probability and Statistics – 15%; combinatorics (e.g., combinations, permutations), probability distributions (e.g., normal, binomial, empirical), conditional probabilities, sampling distributions, sample sizes, and statistics (e.g., central tendency, dispersion), estimation (point estimates, confidence intervals), hypothesis testing, regression (linear, multiple), system reliability (single components, parallel and series systems), and design of experiments (e.g., ANOVA, factorial designs).
  3. Modeling and Computation – 12%; algorithm and logic development (e.g., flow charts, pseudo-code), spreadsheets, databases (e.g., types, information content, relational), decision theory (e.g., uncertainty, risk, utility, decision trees), optimization modeling (decision variables, objective functions, and constraints), linear programming (e.g., formulation, primal, dual, graphical solution), math programming (network, integer, dynamic, transportation, assignment), stochastic models (e.g., queuing, Markov, reliability), and simulation (e.g., event, process, Monte Carlo sampling, random number generation, steady-state vs. transient).
  4. Industrial Management – 10%; principles (e.g., planning, organizing) and tools of management (e.g., MBO, re-engineering), organizational structure (e.g., functional, matrix, line/staff), motivation theories (e.g., Maslow, Theory X, Theory Y), job evaluation and compensation, and project management (scheduling, PERT, CPM).
  5. Manufacturing and Production Systems – 13%; manufacturing systems (e.g., cellular, group technology, flexible, lean), process design (e.g., number of machines/people, equipment selection, and line balancing), inventory analysis (e.g., EOQ, safety stock), forecasting, scheduling (e.g., sequencing, cycle time, material control), aggregate planning (e.g., JIT, MRP, MRPII, ERP), concurrent engineering and design for manufacturing, automation concepts (e.g., robotics, CIM), and economics (e.g., profits and costs under various demand rates, machine selection).
  6. Facilities and Logistics – 12%; flow measurements and analysis (e.g., from/to charts, flow planning), layouts (e.g., types, distance metrics, planning, evaluation), location analysis (e.g., single facility location, multiple facility location, storage location within a facility), process capacity analysis (e.g., number of machines/people, trade-offs), material handling capacity analysis (storage & transport), and supply chain design (e.g., warehousing, transportation, inventories).
  7. Human Factors, Productivity, Ergonomics, and Work Design – 12%; methods analysis (e.g., improvement, charting) and task analysis (e.g., MTM, MOST), time study (e.g., time standards, allowances), workstation design, work sampling, learning curves, productivity measures, risk factor identification, safety, toxicology, material safety data sheets (MSDS), environmental stress assessment (e.g., noise, vibrations, heat, computer-related), design of tasks, tools, displays, controls, user interfaces, etc., and anthropometry, biomechanics, and lifting.
  8. Quality – 11%; total quality management theory (e.g., Deming, Juran) and application, management and planning tools (e.g., fishbone, Pareto, quality function deployment, scatter diagrams), control charts, process capability and specifications, sampling plans, design of experiments for quality improvement, and auditing, ISO certification, and the Baldridge award.

The exam is hard because a great deal of material is covered and you have a limited time to answer a lot of questions. If you can answer more than half the questions correctly, you have a good chance of passing, so use your time wisely to focus first on the questions you know you can answer and then on the ones that you think you can answer; in the unlikely situation that you have extra time, then try the questions you don't think you can answer. Also, since the exam starts at 8 am and you must be in the room by 7:30 am, most CSU-Pueblo students stay overnight in the Denver area on the Friday before the exam. The exam is closed book, but you are allowed to use the Supplied Reference Handbook. You should become familiar with this Handbook before the exam because you may be able to answer quite a few questions by knowing where to find the necessary formulas in the Handbook. In fact, the Handbook is a good summary for you to use while you take many engineering courses.

You are allowed to bring into the room and use only a calculator from a very limited list of calculators.

The Department of Engineering at CSU-Pueblo requires all seniors to take the FE as a requirement for graduation; we do not require you to pass the exam, but we reimburse you for the cost (which is close to $200) if you pass. As long as we are making you take the exam, you should take the time to study by reviewing your courses and reviewing the Supplied Reference Handbook, make sure you are well rested on the day of the exam, and give it your best effort. Some of our graduates have obtained jobs because they were able to list “Engineer in Training” on their resumes. Many employers respect the accomplishment represented by that label and want to hire people with the knowledge, drive, and concentration required to pass the FE.

The Principles and Practice Exam in Industrial Engineering is also an all day exam, with two 4-hour sessions. The test is open book and the examinee is responsible for bringing any material that will be needed. There are forty multiple choice sections in each half of the exam.

Joining and participating in professional organizations can help you stay current in industrial engineering. You can join these organizations as a student at a much reduced rate. For IEs, the following organizations are helpful:

While the organizations listed above are open and helpful to students, our students and graduates often join and participate in the following organizations, which are open to all students and are very oriented to students:

Each of the organizations in these two lists has a useful web site, publishes a magazine or other publications, holds an annual conference, and has groups, based on interest or geography, where you can interact with other members.