Industrial Engineering
Location: Sexton Campus
5269 Morris Street
Room 108
P.O. Box 15000
Halifax, NS
B3H 4R2
Telephone: (902) 494-3281


Industrial Engineers design systems to enable people and society to improve productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and quality. All engineers work at planning, designing, implementing and controlling the systems that enable people to use technology. The systems that industrial engineers design are broad and are characterized by a need to integrate both the physical and decision making capabilities of humans with all other aspects of the system design.  Problems range from the design of a work method and work station, to the design of a factory layout and methods of controlling the flow of materials on the factory floor, to the design of an overall corporate plan involving materials procurement, production, inventory and distribution.  The idea of a factory is also extended to include communications, systems, energy systems, health care systems, municipal systems, transportation systems; in fact all systems that are essential to the functioning of modern society. To facilitate effective decision-making and achieve high performance in areas such as scheduling, inventory and quality control, industrial engineers are often required to design and implement computer based information systems.

Human behaviour and capabilities are key elements in the systems industrial engineers work with. In designing the layout of a production line for an automobile manufacturer, the checkout counter for a supermarket, the organization of work flow for a bank or the materials handling system for a steel plant, the engineer must consider both physical requirements and cost parameters, and the physiological and behavioural performance of the human operators. The industrial engineer has a dual role, both to extend human capability to operate, manage and control the overall production system, and to ensure the safety and well being of those working in the system.

Design and development of these systems requires the unique background of the industrial engineer. The process of engineering always starts with measurement. Where other engineers might measure temperatures, pressures, or loads, the industrial engineer measures the time of a work cycle, dollar value of expenditures, rates of machine failures, and demand for finished goods. Usually the mathematical analysis must take into account risk and uncertainty to a larger extent than in other engineering fields. Computer simulation and optimization are often required. The concepts and techniques found in the Industrial Engineering curriculum have been selected to assist the student to develop the skills that meet the specific challenges of systems which involve managerial activities.

Students begin the Industrial Engineering program with a background in engineering fundamentals studied during their initial two years. In the latter portion of the IE program, they are introduced to the fundamental approaches of work place design and operations research, while at the same time enhancing their mathematical and computer background. Later, more advanced modelling approaches are examined together with courses more directly related to the management process. Production scheduling, inventory control, quality management and plant layout are studied, as are the factors which influence human performance. Students are provided with the opportunity to study such areas as manufacturing, service systems, or maintenance through the Department’s elective course offerings.

In their final year, all students undertake a major design project. Projects are drawn from companies or institutions outside the University and are treated as a consulting assignment. Students are evaluated on their ability to achieve an innovative solution by drawing upon the analytical skills developed throughout their program of studies. They must also, of course, satisfy the practical requirements of the client.

Job opportunities for industrial engineers are both plentiful and widely based. Former graduates are currently practicing industrial engineering in areas ranging from semi-conductor manufacturing and airlines, to utilities and hospitals. Invariably, the work assigned is original in its nature, demanding that the industrial engineer be creative in applying his or her many abilities to achieve the best solution. Managers require such results if they are to keep their costs under control in an increasingly competitive world. This requirement will sustain the high demand for industrial engineers well into the future.

Program Guide

Years 1 and 2 follow the core program outlined in the Engineering section of this calendar.