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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
A Teachable Moment in Good Works
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April 26, 2013 5:35 p.m.

put a fresh wind in my sails!

Give me a job teaching rebels your ways… <>
(Psalm 51:12-13)<>


One of my favorite movies opens with the question: So when did you first fall in love with hip-hop? It’s a brilliant question for a thinker that allows you to contemplate the cause and effect of so many of life’s events. For example, if I were to ponder when I first considered pursuing engineering, I can point to another movie that had an impact on my life: the original Cheaper by the Dozen. The old black and white was the story of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, their family, and their work in time and motion studies.<>
<> 

No one really explained to me what an industrial engineer (IE) did. The summer between my junior and senior year of high school, I attended an introduction to engineering session at the University of Arkansas. A group of us spent a week touring the campus and visiting with the various disciplines. During the IE session, someone identified Fredrick Taylor (my family name) as the father of scientific management and mentioned therblig (Gilbreth spelled backwards) as the basic unit of measure in time and motion studies, and I became intrigued to learn more. By the end of the week, I knew I would major in industrial engineering. I remember going back home, to work at Mr. B’s, telling my manager that I was going to be an IE. When he asked me what they did, my best example was still the Cheaper by the Dozen reference. He asked if I planned to become an efficiency expert. I told him not exactly, but that I would come up with a better use of our time in response to him constantly saying if you have time to lean, you have time to clean!


Today, if I had to explain what an industrial engineer does, I would say that we focus on improving productivity and quality in any work process. Although I have a passion for manufacturing processes, I have gained a lot of experience in non-manufacturing environments. Throughout the years, I have had assignments that ranged from getting the right dietary meals to patients in relatively large hospitals, to understanding how cash payments are processed and credited from retailers to banks, to performing job-cost analysis for material handling in warehouses, to developing a supply-chain study of components and assemblies required to operate wind turbine farms for renewable energy. I like to think of my work as the proper balance of processes and people that produces sustained profitability!<>


That’s my experience, based on the cause/effect/exposure in my life. For students entering the profession today, the global possibilities are endless. The Institute of Industrial Engineers recently released the following video to illustrate some of the career opportunities that may be attractive in the 21st century graduates:


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