‘Inviteful’ Engineering: Student Perceptions of Industrial Engineering

Interviews of twenty-six Industrial Engineering students and graduates were conducted during the first year of a three year study of the unexpected attainment of gender parity in the School of Industrial Engineering at the University of Oklahoma (OU). An analysis of the pattern of participant responses gives insight into industrial engineering (IE) student perceptions of IE. The perceptions were grouped into three broad themes: Career Profile, Discipline Profile, and Discipline Meta-Profile. The Career Profile includes the availability of multiple career paths and flexible careers in this discipline in addition to the potential for the attainment of status through entry into management. People-oriented, broad, and systems-oriented are terms that were used to describe the Discipline Profile. Discipline Meta-Profile is used to describe the participant’s perception of other people’s perceptions of industrial engineering (i.e. what IE students think other people think). These participants felt that other engineers think of IE as easy, or “imaginary” engineering. The participants also thought that the discipline is invisible, even to other engineers. While the meta-perception of IE might seem to be problematic for the discipline, many of the participants reject the meta-perception. Some participants recognized that IE’s focus on people and systems is simply different than other engineering disciplines, not necessarily easier. Other participants felt the potential to enter into management outweighed the discipline meta-perception. One student summarized the response particularly well when he noted that IE is “inviteful” engineering.

Available from: ASEE Archive

Trytten, D. A., R. L. Shehab, T. R. Rhoads, M. J. Fleener, B. J. Harris, A. Reynolds, S. E. Walden, S. K. Moore-Ferneaux, E. Kvach, K. R. Warram and T. J. Murphy (2004). ‘Inviteful’ Engineering: Student Perceptions of Industrial Engineering. Proceedings of 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Salt Lake City, UT.

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