When you think of industrial and robotic engineering, you probably picture factories and huge manufacturing machines. And while that plays a part, industrial engineering is so much more than that.
It is literally about making the world a better place.
Industrial engineers “see what needs to be improved in an existing product or process that every other person thinks is already perfect,” says Dr. Ikechukwu Ohu, the programme chair for Gannon University’s Industrial and Robotic Engineering department.
And the scope of the programme goes far beyond just robotics and industrial applications. Students can concentrate in multiple areas, including healthcare systems, financial systems, and supply chain and logistical systems.
It is “[the] best programme at Gannon,” says Norman Stark, a recent Industrial Engineering graduate. Here are five reasons why he might be right, and why you should consider majoring in Industrial and Robotic Engineering at Gannon University.
Let’s be honest, most classes take place in a classroom, and you can rarely tell one classroom from the other.
However, when you walk into the Industrial and Robotics Engineering labs at Gannon, you know you’re in a place where exciting things happen. Students get hands-on experience with virtual reality simulators, facial recognition and eye-tracking software as well as autonomous vehicles and, of course, robots.
The students’ access does not stop when the class ends either. “It’s actually unfettered access,” Dr. Ohu says. “If students have their own individual projects to work on, they have complete freedom to use the equipment.”
“My favourite aspect . . . was the lab,” says Andrew Livingston, another recent graduate. “The lab served as a private study room, particularly during finals or most nights.”
“Holistic” is how Dr. Ohu describes the field of industrial engineering. Students learn the technical engineering skills they need to create solutions to real-world problems, but they also take business and statistics classes.
The idea is to give industrial engineering students a wide variety of experiences to help them make decisions later when they are in a business setting where they will need to work with limited time and resources. And most importantly, they need to be creative.
“We don’t necessarily teach creativity as a course, but we intentionally create opportunities for students to bring their innate creative instinct to the fore,” Dr. Ohu says.
If you are the kind of student that wants to sit in a lecture hall and take notes, then Industrial and Robotic Engineering is probably not right for you. Students are working together to create real, practical devices right from their first year. “We make it a point of duty that all classes have end of semester projects,” Dr Ohu says, “[with] real world problems that students have to solve.”
An example is a device that scans for shipwrecks that one class built for the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, an educational facility at Erie’s Presque Isle State Park.
Another class created a new type of ergonomic surgical grasper. The problem they identified was that surgeons with large hands had trouble using the smaller tools, so they designed and built a version that could be adapted for any hand size.
“I think for me personally I learned so much more in the labs where we were doing real-life case studies and solving real-world problems,” Norman Stark says. “An example of this was in my design of experiments class . . . We conducted research on the effect virtual reality (VR) has on game immersion and enjoyment.”
The teachers are really what make or break any programme and the professors consistently get high praise from the students in the Industrial and Robotics Engineering programme.
The classes are small and students can always come to the professors for help, even outside of normal classes and office hours.
All of the professors are active in cutting edge research and scholarship. What makes this special for the students is that the professors publish papers with the students as co-authors. Students can graduate having published multiple papers in respected journals, such as a sophomore who recently published his first paper in a Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Not only does that look great on a resume or a job application, but it gives students the experience and confidence to excel.
As much fun as university is, eventually everyone has to graduate and get a job. In Gannon University’s Industrial and Robotics Engineering programme, besides the ones that go on to grad school, everyone really does.
The programme has had a perfect 100% job placement rate for its students for as long as it has existed. In fact, it is common for half the students to have jobs lined up by the middle of their final semester.
These aren’t minimum wage jobs either. The median income for industrial engineers in 2019 was over $90,000, welcome news for your parents who are preparing to put you through four years of higher education.
And since engineering is a STEM field, you can work for three years in the United States on just your student visa.
Gannon University will train you to be an industrial and robotics engineer, but what can you do to prepare before you start?
Be well-grounded in maths and sciences, Dr. Ohu advises, but also make a practice of looking at the world in a different way. “If there is something that nobody thinks about, practice thinking about it. You must be very curious about what everyone thinks is okay. Always think: “What can I do to make what I am seeing better?”