Mission & Strategic Plan
The Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research educates students to become highly skilled in:
- Quantitative modeling and analysis of a broad array of systems-level decision problems concerned with economic efficiency, productivity and quality,
- Development and creative use of analytical and computational methods for solving these problems,
- Collection of data and analysis of data using database and decision-support tools,
- Comprehension and modeling of uncertainty,
- and to obtain the broader skills, background and knowledge necessary to be an effective professional in a rapidly changing global economy.
The Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research represents a rapidly growing field with increasing numbers of opportunities and applications in nearly every industry. To be successful today, companies must optimize processes and understand how to leverage data to gain insight and make better decisions. Demand for our students is set to increase as more companies compete for scarce talent. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for related fields such as mathematicians and statisticians, computer and information research scientists, and industrial engineers are set to increase much faster than than the rest of the economy, growing 33%, 19%, and 10% respectively over the next ten years.
Ranking as a top four program for nearly forty years, the Berkeley IEOR department has led much research in the field. Starting as a division of the Department of Berkeley Mechanical Engineering in 1954, IEOR became its own department in 1956 and grew rapidly in the fifties and sixties as operations research rose in prominence. The Berkeley IEOR department has been home to some of the most prominent researchers in the field including David Gale, George Dantzig, Richard Karp, and Christos Papadimitriou.
Today, the department is serving more students than ever before (Figure 1), largely due to a relatively new one-year master of engineering professional program that now serves nearly 100 students annually. The program equips students with the skills needed to secure lucrative positions in large companies where there is high demand for workers with technical and leadership skills.
Also contributing to rising enrollment, is the incorporation of the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology (SCET), which became part of the IEOR department in 2013. SCET currently offers fourteen IEOR courses with a focus on teaching students entrepreneurship skills and educating them about the latest technology trends and opportunities.
Despite its relatively small size, the IEOR faculty are making significant contributions to research in several areas including theory, logistics, automation, manufacturing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, energy systems, finance, security, natural resources, and healthcare. With new faculty focusing on stochastics and data science, the department will be better equipped to make new discoveries in these important areas and meet the growing demands from students and industry.
Though the department has a top-ranked program that is leading prominent research and consistently producing good outcomes for students, there are still many challenges that the department must strategize around in order to succeed in the future. One of the biggest issues for the department is that IEOR has a smaller faculty size than many of its peer institutions. This is a problem as demand for our courses and programs are growing and in the current fiscal environment it will be difficult grow faculty lines quickly. To compound issues, a few faculty are retiring or near retirement. Besides increasing demands on teaching loads to meet growth, there is also a challenge for research as IEOR works to capture new sub-fields and teach the most relevant topics in our field.
Diversity is another issue that needs to be addressed. Efforts need to be made to recruit diverse faculty and students to expand the perspective of the department and enhance culture.
One long-term challenge is raising awareness around the department’s identity both on campus and off. Many students, faculty, and staff on campus do not know what industrial engineering and operations research is. Further, there is overlap between IEOR programs and other departments such as EECS, statistics, math, and the new data science initiatives. In order to best communicate what IEOR is to future students, the department must position itself among these departments to help students understand how we are different and important.
Lastly, the department must continue to improve its M.S. and Ph.D. programs in order to attract the best students. Recent renovations and communications initiatives have enhanced the experience for graduate students, but there are still challenges around heavy teaching loads, funding, and preparing graduate students for careers in academia and industry by allowing them to spend more time on research and exploring job markets.
Through this strategic plan document, we hope to better understand the current state of the department and develop goals to address upcoming issues and continue to improve our world-class academic program.
Our mission is to continue to be among the world leaders in the development of, training in, and application of industrial engineering and operations research tools and techniques for design and decision-making in complex systems, and to apply these approaches in a core set of traditional and emerging areas.
Building on our current strengths, our goal will be to continue to focus research on optimization and stochastic processes. We also wish to be recognized as leaders in a subset of tools including machine learning, artificial intelligence, internet of things, robotics, logistics, and the future of work. Finally, we will focus on building our expertise in specific industry areas including energy, healthcare, supply chains, operations research, finance, and entrepreneurship.
To help educate the next generation of students, we plan to continue to build courses that equip students with the pillars of our field in optimization and stochastic processes, with new development focused on increasing our capacity with new data science tools such as machine learning.
We will continue to work to make our student community diverse and inclusive, and give students the resources and platforms necessary to help us shape the future of the department. We will develop new initiatives to recruit more diverse students, and better engage students while they are here by supporting student-led initiatives such as the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers student group, the IEOR communications council, IEOR graduate student group and other student groups and events to give students a voice and help build an inclusive, open, and collaborative culture necessary for students to thrive. Additionally, we will work to fundraise to enhance and expand our facilities to ensure students have the resources they need.
Current State of the Department
Industrial Engineering & Operations Research (IEOR) started as a division of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1954, and became its own department in 1956. The field of Industrial Engineering dates back to the Industrial Revolution with contributions from Adam Smith, Charles Babbage, and Eli Whitney. In 1911, Frederick Taylor launched industrial engineering with The Principles of Scientific Management which emphasized quantification and detailed time measurements of workers assigned to production tasks. The time studies were complemented and extended by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth who conducted motion studies for improving work methods; this ultimately led to “Time and Motion” experiments and analyses as a distinct measure for business efficiency and improvement of industrial systems.
The field of Operations research (OR) was first used in World War II as a broadly-based scientific analysis using diverse disciplines to solve operational problems that required the organization of workers and machines and the design of tactical and strategic policies to improve the war effort. Although OR was originally applied to military operations, it grew significantly after WWII, drawing on academics and industry professionals in pure and applied mathematics, probability, physics, electrical engineering, and economics to make early applications of computers to problem-solving and decision-making.
The IEOR department at Berkeley grew from the professional interests of four staff and faculty, E. Paul DeGarmo, James Lapsley, Raymond Grassi, and Edward C. Keachie, who used models and experiments to promote efficiency in repetitive work cycles and the organization and integration of tasks in manufacturing, as well as the organization of men and machines in plant layout and production systems
Throughout its history, research in the department has varied widely reflecting the breadth of industries and research areas where IEOR is relevant. Examples of research topics include: modeling nuclear fallout, human-computer interaction, queuing theory, robotics, machine-learning, artificial intelligence, energy systems, probability, quantitative finance, computer vision, simulation, supply-chain, reliability, scheduling, decision-making, entrepreneurship, network flows, and many other areas.
Besides considerable contributions in research, the IEOR faculty have founded and helped develop many campus institutions and programs including the Operations Research Center, the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, the Management, Entrepreneurship & Technology program and many more.
IEOR alumni have done and continue to do considerably well. Due to the broadly useful skillset that IEOR students are equipped with, they’ve gone on to lead in many fields including finance, consulting, innovation, and technology. Industrial engineering consistently has one of the highest paying starting salaries for graduates.
Organization and Leadership
The Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research is led by a department chair, with support from a head graduate advisor and head undergraduate advisor. Faculty meet bi-weekly during the school year and work closely to solve problems and meet program goals.
The staff is led by a department manager with support from an external relations officer, communications specialist, systems administrator, and two student services officers. The staff works closely with the department chair to run department operations and communications.
The Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology is led by a lead director, managing director, and faculty director with staff to support operations, communications, marketing, and academic programs.
The IEOR department currently maintains an advisory board of twenty-four members, mostly alums who have been successful in academia or industry. These members are led by a chair and advise the department with strategy and decision-making.
The department currently offers several academic programs including a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in industrial engineering and operations research, a Bachelor of Arts in operations research and management science, a Certificate in Entrepreneurship & Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Management, Entrepreneurship, & Technology, as well as professional and continuing education programs. In total, the department maintains a course catalog with more than sixty courses.
The department ranks very well according to U.S. News. Our graduate program is ranked #3 and undergraduate program #4. The department is also part of the #3 overall ranked college of engineering, and #1 ranked public university.
Research Productivity and Leadership
The sixteen core IEOR faculty produced 67 publications this fiscal year and currently have an average H-index of 19.
As of spring 2018, the department has a core faculty of sixteen people accounting for fifteen total FTEs (two faculty members are appointed at 50% with appointments in civil & environmental engineering and the Haas School of Business). While the department expects to hire at least one new faculty member for the coming year, two core faculty members are on the path to retirement. There are also four faculty with significant administrative responsibilities outside of the department as deans and leading campus committees.
The department also has five joint appointments (at 0% FTE) from the departments of electrical engineering & computer sciences and statistics, two adjunct faculty members, and nine non-senate lecturers (two for IEOR and seven for SCET).
With a total student population of 302, the department is at a historical high point (and is expected to continue growing). Currently, there are 152 undergraduate students (132 B.S. and 20 B.A.) and 150 graduate students (87 M.Eng., 53 Ph.D. and 10 M.S.).
Students that graduate from our programs continue on to rich and diverse careers in industry and academia. With Berkeley’s location in the Bay Area, perhaps the leading center of technology in the world, many students stay in the area to work in a variety of roles such as industrial engineers, supply chain engineers, analysts, management, software engineers, entrepreneurs, and business consultants.
A sampling of where our alumni currently work:
Academia: Arizona State University, Eastern Michigan University, London Business School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University, Purdue University, San Francisco State University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M, Tsinghua University, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, The University of Pittsburgh
Biotechnology, Healthcare, and Pharmaceutical: Amgen, Bayer, Edwards LifeSciences, Genentech, Moffitt Cancer Center, Roche Molecular systems,
Consultancy companies: Beghou Consulting, Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, Ersnt & Young, McKinsey & Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers, ZS Associates
Energy, utilities, and government: AT&T, The California Endowment, City of Alameda, East Bay MUD, Pacific Gas & Electric, Partnership HealthPlan of California, Schneider Electric, So. Cal Gas,
Finance and insurance companies: Accenture, American Express, Asurion, Bain & Company, Barclays, BlackRock, Bridgewater Associates, Credit Suisse, Farmers Insurance, FICO, FutureAdvisor, Goldman Sachs, IDG Capital, LiveRamp, MasterCard, Prosper, State Farm, Square, UBS, VISA, Wells Fargo
Logistics, Retail, Transportation, Supply Chain: Adidas, American Airlines, FedEx, Forever 21 Inc., Gap, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss & Co., Lockheed Martin, Nestle Inc., Nordstrom, The Walt Disney Company, Washington Mutual, Williams-Sonoma
Startup companies: Ava, Mixbook
Technology: Adobe, Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Applied Materials, Cisco, Gap, Google, Ebay, Facebook, Gap, GitHub, Houzz, IBM, Instagram, Intel, Juniper Networks, LinkedIn, Lyft, Microsoft, Netflix, Oculus VR, Oracle, Pandora, PayPal, Priceline, Qualcomm, Salesforce, SanDisk, SAP, SpaceX, Tesla Inc. Uber, VMware, WeWork
The department collaborates widely, both with academic colleagues to produce research, and with industry to ensure that theory is put into to practice to solve business problems, which is one of the key characteristics of our field.
Academically, the faculty maintain relationships with peer institutions around the world. The department has a lively weekly seminar series in the fall and spring where researchers visit the department to present their research, which typically helps strengthen relationships to produce research projects. One collaboration of note, is IEOR faculty participation in the Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute, where five faculty play a leading role.
Collaboration with industry is an area where the department works on many levels, such as through partnership on undergraduate and master of engineering capstone projects where industry problems play a vital role. Additionally, at the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, industry collaboration is the norm by which interesting problems are discovered for students to work on.
Response to Previous Review
Recommendations from last Academic Program Review, 2016
In 2016, a committee of professors from peer institutions visited the department to help us assess our current state. Overall, the committee found the department in very good standing, commending the accomplishments of the department’s faculty, students and staff. The main recommendation of the committee was that the department develop a strategic plan to make our vision and mission clear to help us deal with current threats and opportunities that we face.
After receiving the recommendations from the external review committee, the department agreed that developing a strategic plan would be an important step in helping us to continue to lead by developing world-class research and educating future leaders in our field. The department gathered feedback from faculty, students, and staff to develop a response to the recommendations by the external review committee (summarized below). Additionally, the department organized a retreat attended by the majority of faculty and staff in order to dedicate time to the process and gain feedback and consensus on how to move forward. Further, staff and faculty have attended strategic planning workshops and met with campus consultants in order to be prepared to develop this plan.
On Sept. 12, 2016 the department developed a response to the external review committees report and recommendations. The department was gratified that the committee recognized the department’s outstanding faculty, staff, and students. Specifically, it was proud that the committee recognized recent improvements in supporting PhD students through building renovations, increased staff support, and helping to foster collaboration among PhD students through an improved office environment and new institutions such as social events and the department supporting seminars organized by PhD students.
The response also agreed with the committees core recommendations to sharpen the mission and make it clear to other campus stakeholders in order to make our position clear among faculty and students on campus. Additionally, the response agreed with the committee’s specific recommendation that the department develop a 5-10 year strategic plan to help guide the evolution of the department, deal with faculty shortages, and reduce legacy programs that do not meet strategic goals. Other issues identified by the committee including high faculty workload, the need to increase visibility on campus, developing a diversity plan, and the need to engage with data science efforts on campus had broad support from the department’s faculty, students, and staff.
Faculty strategic directions, research subgroups, and hiring priorities
The department faculty strongly believe that an effective IEOR department must focus both on technical depth in core methodological areas (most significantly, optimization and stochastic modeling), and on the development of critical mass in application areas where these methodologies are applied. Indeed, it is the joint focus on technical depth and applicability that is the hallmark of our department and field – we strongly believe that the value of our kind of data science lies in the iterative feedback between technical tools and applications, which serves to both enhance the applicability of tools and approaches, and increase the impact of these applications on practice. To achieve this, we need to both hire broad, strong researchers who move freely between theory and application, and we need to maintain a research presence (both faculty and doctoral students) in both theory and application.
Due to the fact that the department currently has roughly half the faculty size as compared to current peer institutions, and most likely this will continue for at least the near future, the department must be strategic in how we hire the next generation of faculty and pursue research.
Our departmental strategy is built around the following:
A focus on a subset of the areas found in larger departments: development of the tools of operations research (e.g. artificial intelligence, machine learning), and the use of these to model systems in order to improve design, analysis, understanding, decision-making, etc. in these systems. The department will not focus on certain areas, such as human factors and ergonomics, and manufacturing technology, which play a role in some of our larger peer departments.
A domain-specific focus on a set of these systems that evolves as dictated by faculty and student interest, campus priorities, and available funding. Current domains include operations management, energy, healthcare, and financial systems engineering.
The hiring of strong, flexible researchers who are interested and able to make contributions in a variety of areas, both applied and theoretical, with the goal of maximizing our impact on the field given our small size.
Leveraging the incredible strength and depth of the Berkeley campus to augment the limited number of courses we are able to offer given our small size.
Leveraging College resources available through the Fung Institute (including engineering leadership classes and interdisciplinary projects) to build a strong professional master’s program that places relatively limited demands on our resources and that is used to fund the first year of our PhD program.
It is currently expected that the student population will continue to grow while faculty FTEs will stay roughly the same for this strategic planning period. With this, the department must determine how to continue to deliver world-class education to our students which is at the center of our mission. In the external review response, most faculty were not overly concerned with teaching loads, but with imminent retirements, and other faculty being recruited for leadership positions in the college and campus, teaching demands are expected to quickly rise.
To meet future teaching needs, the department plans to:
leverage offerings elsewhere on campus, such as in statistics, computer science, data science initiatives, math, and other departments that can help our students gain fundamental skills to prepare them for our advanced courses; use a hiring slot on a lecturer, to gain a faculty members with broad knowledge in theory and application to teach to help meet demand in, for example, master of engineering courses; find funding for postdocs who agree to teach, which may not only help meet teaching demands but enable more research collaboration;
increase class sizes, where possible; reduce the number of offerings, perhaps by offering PhD courses less frequently or leveraging similar offerings elsewhere on campus; and possibly eliminating legacy programs, such as the ORMS program to help faculty focus on a core set of courses.
The department recognizes that having a diverse population of students, faculty, and staff is both important and beneficial. The State of California and the U.S. are becoming increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity, and we believe the department’s population should reflect this. In terms of gender equity, our department has traditionally served more women than most other engineering departments, but we believe that we can improve in this respect as there are still relatively few women who work as engineers in industry as compared to men. Further, it is beneficial to increase diversity in faculty and students, as more diverse populations tend to create richer culture and community, and there is also much research showing that diverse teams perform better.
The department proposes these strategies to increase diversity:
- targeted recruitment campaigns for graduate programs:
- by creating campaigns to increase awareness of our graduate programs among traditionally underserved and diverse communities through ad buys, mail campaigns, and on-campus outreach;
- through faculty efforts to directly recruit qualified applicants with underserved backgrounds;
- by recruiting from Berkeley undergraduate student population, specifically by raising awareness with groups that focus on serving diverse groups
- work with and support existing initiatives in the College of Engineering and on campus:
- by connecting corporate affiliates to diversity programs at Engineering Student Services;
- and through organizing events with the Office of Equity & Inclusion to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion issues on campus;
- public relations campaigns to highlight the role diversity has played in developing our field:
- by creating a written history of the department that pays special attention to the roles that women and minority groups have played in research and educating students in our department;
- through creative social media and content campaigns that highlight the role that our diverse students and alums have played;
- and by carefully considered digital and print collateral that includes diverse sets of individuals in order to in turn attract more diverse students, faculty, and staff.
Increasing on-campus visibility
One of the most important issues facing the department has to do with recognition and understanding of what the Department of Industrial Engineering & Operations Research does and how it compares with similar departments such as statistics, electrical engineering & computer sciences, data science and mathematics. If the department increases brand recognition and stakeholders better understood the value of IEOR research and activities, we believe that we will be better positioned to attract the best students, pursue fruitful research collaborations, and in turn ask for the necessary resources to expand our activities.
Below are strategies that the department will pursue to increase brand recognition and on-campus visibility:
- through marketing campaigns, emphasizing storytelling of discoveries, curriculum, people, and history through social media, digital content, newsletters, and a written history of the department;
- by enabling students to tell our brand story, through volunteer communications committees and the IEOR student group that can create content to help build a community that can publicize IEOR activities through digital media and events;
- through increased alumni engagement, as IEOR alumni are as a whole extremely accomplished and highlighting their successes, gaining their advice, and inviting them to campus for events, to teach students, and participate in our activities can highlight for the community tangible examples of what IEORs do.
How to engage with data science initiatives on campus
Skills in data science and its associated tools including machine learning, artificial intelligence, and others are currently in high-demand as companies struggle to recruit the talent that they need to compete in today’s data-driven economy. Everyday more data is becoming available to analyze, while computers are faster than ever before, and storage is relatively cheap.
Reflecting the need and importance of data science, the campus has created a new Division of Data Science that will soon offer a major and minor in data science starting in Fall 2018. The aim of the new major is to help more students gain these valuable skills and solidify Berkeley’s leadership in this field. As part of this process, departments that offer courses related to data science must work with this new division to see how they can be part of these new majors.
The IEOR department has decided to offer courses that will count as part of the data science requirements. This will help us reinforce that our tools are a valuable part of the suite of skills needed to be a well-rounded data scientist, while still maintaining our identity as engineers as part of the College of Engineering.
Graduate Student Issues
New Opportunities and Challenges
Over the next five to ten years, the department will face both significant challenges and opportunities, which makes strategy and planning all the more important. As reiterated here, one of the main challenges we face will be our faculty size. Related to this, will be having enough faculty to educate our growing student population. Additionally, the campus continues to face budget issues, and the Bay Area is becoming so expensive that it is becoming difficult for students, especially those from underserved backgrounds, to live here. Further, the macro-political climate is currently hostile toward science and engineering education, and future government funding for research is unpredictable.
Though, there are significant challenges ahead, the department has much to be optimistic about. The tools and approaches taught in our department are in high demand both in industry and academia, attracting many students to study with us. As evidenced by our successful alums, the unique set of skills taught in our classes are being applied in a multitude of ways.
- Data Science initiative
- MET / SCET
- MEng / FinTech
- Inclusive campus, cohesive faculty, experienced staff, great culture / bay area
- Industry / corporate affiliates and alumni relations
- More faculty / student participation
- Concurrent enrollment
- Not enough faculty
- Impacted classes
- Bay Area prices / cost of living
- Space constraints
- Political / funding climate
- Online courses / certificates / bootcamps
- Campus budget
Department Strategic Plan
- Develop Strategic Hiring Plan for Faculty - Because we have a limited amount of new faculty hires, these new recruits must be flexible researchers whose domain expertise reinforces our current strengths and research directions.
- Develop plan to reduce faculty workload - Due to our limited faculty resources, efforts must be made to reduce faculty workload by leveraging offerings elsehwere on campus, hiring lecturers and increasing class sizes where appropriate, and reducing some offerings and programs that don’t fit strategically.
- Create public relations plan to increase visibility and better communicate identity - While our department produces students and researchers with some of the most marketable skills imaginable, most people on and off campus have not heard of industrial engineering and operations research and/or have misconceptions about what it is.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan
- Create targeted recruitment campaigns for graduate programs - By sending direct mail, advertising, and recruiting students from geographically diverse regions, we hope to receive more diverse applicants for our graduate programs.
- Create a plan to work with and support existing initiatives in the College of Engineering and on campus - The College of Engineering and Engineering Student Services already have well-established diversity programs. The department will work to support these programs by connecting them to corporate partners and promoting them to our own students.
- Include diversity into the public relations campaign - Highlight the role that diverse students and alumni have played in our community.