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Study Industrial Engineering in South Africa

Department of Industrial Engineering University of Stellenbosch

Industrial engineers (IEs) are responsible for the optimal design, implementation, integration, operation, improvement and management of high level systems.  Such systems typically consist of chemical, electrical, electronic, mechanical or civil components.  These high level systems are not available as off-the-shelf items and cannot be imported or bought from a supplier.  They normally consist within organisations as a mixture of equipment, information, people, capital, policies, processes, etc.  IEs figure out how to do things better and engineer processes and systems that improve quality, productivity and save money. Industrial Engineering therefore is a broad professional engineering discipline applied to designing effective systems and procedures for using the basic resources of any transformation system (people, machines, material,  IT-systems, capital and entrepreneurial spirit) in organizations in which human and physical resources are combined and integrated to achieve specific objectives.

An industrial engineer draws upon knowledge of mathematics, physical and engineering sciences, and management and behavioural sciences to function as a problem-solver, innovator, coordinator and change agent.  IEs understand the language of: other engineers, scientists, financial people, industrial psychologists, business analysts, environmentalists and information technologists.  They have a special sensitivity for terms such as: optimality, effectiveness, efficiency, safety, productivity, profitability, reliability, quality, maintainability, availability and manufacturability. They practice in all the different manufacturing industries, service industries and government agencies. Today, more and more businesses also hire IEs in areas like sales and marketing, finance, information systems, and personnel. Other industries employing IEs are hospitals, airlines, banks, transport, and social services.

Because South Africa is a net importer of technology, local engineers are less involved with product development and more involved with process development.  For this reason the majority of local engineers, regardless of which branch of engineering they come from, end up effectively performing the functions of an IE.

To summarise, industrial engineers:

  • Integrate all the parts of a problem or proposed solution into one final working entity

  • Often have the responsibility to try and balance the ambitions of the technology driven engineer on the one hand and the profit obsessed manager on the other hand.

  • Think globally and see the overall picture of any problem situation.

  • Always attempt to optimise (new) or improve (existing) systems or processes.

What IEs do

Almost any organisation in the industrial-, business- and service sectors can benefit from the skills of industrial engineers and therefore graduate industrial engineers find themselves working for a wide variety of employers, including those in:

Banking services, Health Services, Electricity Supply Services, Distribution and Transportation services, Telecommunication services, Mining and Forestry, Production and Manufacturing, Chemical Industry, Retail and Wholesale Sectors, Consulting Engineering and Education and Training.

Industrial engineers (IEs) figure out how to do things better.  They engineer processes and systems that improve quality and productivity. IEs make significant contributions to their employers by saving money while making the workplace better for fellow workers. In addition to manufacturing, industrial engineers apply their skills in a variety of settings.

For more information on 'What IEs do?' please click here: PowerPoint presentation

Undergraduate Program

Students enrol for the program in industrial engineering which upon successful completion, leads to the degree B.Eng (Industrial). This 4-year program consists of diverse subjects, yet they all contribute to forming industrial engineers who can respond to the challenges of industry. The first year is common to all engineering disciplines in the Faculty of Engineering. The program is accredited with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).

The first 2 years of the program mainly consist of pure sciences (e.g. Engineering Mathematics) and basic sciences (e.g. Electrotechnology). From the third year onwards the focus is on specific Industrial Engineering topics, e.g. Engineering Economy, Operations Research, Quality Management, Project Management and Enterprise Design.

Click here for program details on Undergraduate Studies


Click here for information on Postgraduate Programmes
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Department of Industrial Engineering

University of Stellenbosch

Private Bag X1


Stellenbosch , South Africa

Tel: +27 (21) 808 4234

Fax: +27 (21) 808 4245