Accelerated master’s programs prepare industrial engineering students for the job market

graphic of industrial engineering tools

Madeline Ford felt confident in her skills as an industrial engineer as she perused job listings heading into her senior year at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. But the positions she had her eye on—in health systems engineering and hospital process improvement—required either master’s degrees or nearly a decade of work experience.

“All the jobs that I knew I wanted, that I felt like I had the skills for, I didn’t have the qualifications for in the education department,” Ford says.

Luckily, the UW–Madison Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering had just launched an accelerated one-year master’s program that was an ideal fit for her.

Madeline Ford
Madeline Ford got a job in the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab after completing the Human Factors and Health Systems Engineering program.

This spring, Ford is among the first batch of graduates of the department’s two new specialized master’s options in industrial engineering: Human Factors and Health Systems Engineering and Systems Engineering and Analytics.

“These programs build on our current areas of strength and what we are really known for, both in the state of Wisconsin and nationwide,” says Prof. Jeffrey Linderoth, chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. “We also identified a significant need for training students with a deeper technical background and knowledge in those areas.”

Picking up advanced skills

The programs offer considerable flexibility. Among the 30 required credits, students work with their advisors to find the right blend of classes to suit their career interests—whether that’s working in human-centered design for Apple or in analytics for a manufacturer.

That approach allowed John Sandgren to hone the coding, data analysis, and data visualization skills he craved, while also taking health care courses. Sandgren, who is graduating from the Systems Engineering and Analytics program, will work in health care consulting for Baker Tilly.

“I thought I could get the best of both worlds,” he says.

For Ford, the Human Factors and Health Systems Engineering program enabled her to dive deeper into health care coursework and learn from the likes of Pascale Carayon, a nationally recognized expert in patient safety.

“I was a good industrial engineer from undergrad; we have a great program for that. I was just going deeper,” says Ford, who will join the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab as a health systems engineer after graduation. “It showed me how I can use all I’ve learned in a practical way while picking up more advanced skills.”

For more information, see the program webpages for the Master of Science in Industrial Engineering: Systems Engineering and Analytics and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering: Human Factors and Health Systems Engineering; or email iegradadmission@engr.wisc.edu.

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