In the Media

 

June 2015

Avishai Menu Item

Welcome to the website of the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management at theTechnion—Israel Institute of Technology. Here you will find a wealth of information about the faculty – past, present, and future – and we hope that exploring it will be both useful and interesting.

Industrial Engineering and Management (IE&M) was first conceived, as an academic program and a profession, here in our faculty in the mid-1950s. Our founders, themselves industrial engineers and operations researchers, identified the need to train engineers who would also have a foundational education in management, this in addition to engineering skills and knowhow. The resulting new breed of engineers has become a great success story in Israel, and similar programs have since opened at many of the country’s universities and colleges. Indeed, the demand for IE&M graduates is constantly high, and their impact is felt across all industrial and service sectors.

Like other engineering disciplines, IE&M is a dynamic profession: new areas of interest and importance are born, while others become less significant or even obsolete. Thus in the 1960s, our faculty was the first to introduce behavioral sciences into the IE&M curricula, in order to underscore the human aspects of any work environment. Then, in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, we were the first to introduce a heavy dose of economics courses into our programs, so as to ensure that our graduates would be able to evaluate the economic implications of their engineering designs.

In the 1980s, the faculty was the first to acknowledge and integrate information systems as a major component in IE&M education, and in parallel it became an innovation center for the interface between economics and computer science (for example, in the context of electronic commerce). Next, during the 1990s, we were the first to add a focus on service enterprises, thus developing service engineering and science as a complement to the traditional emphasis on production and manufacturing. Finally, at the outset of the 21st century, we began to incorporate entrepreneurship and innovation into the Technion’s engineering education.

So much for the faculty’s history. Where are we heading next?

In answering this question, one should note the following facts:

  • The world around us is changing, fast and dramatically, mainly due to technological advances, but no less so because of the data that are both used by and produced by these novel technologies – data in unprecedented quantity, granularity and quality.
  • IE&M at the Technion has always had a “data culture”: data used in research and integrated into teaching, and data collected from real world events or via controlled scientific experiments.
  • The profession of industrial engineering has become greatly in demand – there are now about 20 programs in Israel that teach the profession. This is a clear testimony to the success of our IE&M model, but it also calls for perhaps reinvention or at least invigoration of the profession.  
  • The Technion and its IE&M faculty, being  among world-class research institutions, advance the boundaries of knowledge. We also take responsibility for disseminating the knowledge we create, through our teaching and our alumni .

All of the above, in addition to clear market demands, have led us to recognize the need for a new kind of program – one that can train students in extracting useful information from vast amounts of data via computerized technologies. We call this profession “Data Science and Engineering” (DS&E), and we readily admit that we are not the first to identify this need. For example, in October 2012, the Harvard Business Review published an article entitled “Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century”, which described “… a high-ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of big data. Thousands of data scientists are already working at both start-ups and well-established companies. Their sudden appearance on the business scene reflects the fact that companies are now wrestling with information that comes in varieties and volumes never encountered before. ... Much of the current enthusiasm for big data focuses on technologies that make taming it possible…. While those are important breakthroughs, at least as important are the people with the skill set (and the mind-set) to put them to good use. On this front, demand has raced ahead of supply.”

The Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management is thus certainly not the first to discover DS&E, but we are going to be the first to offer an undergraduate degree program in Data Science and Engineering, producing graduates who will be professional data scientists. The Technion has already approved this innovative degree program, and we are now waiting for a formal approval from Israel’s Council for Higher Education.

This new program will require new faculty members, new courses, and an improved infrastructure. All these will also help us reinvigorate the existing IE&M programs, allowing all our graduates to become comfortable with the use of data, in support of conceptualizing, designing, planning, implementing, operating and analyzing complex systems. These efforts will also leave our faculty well-prepared for the challenge of continuing our tradition of leading the academic community in Israel, and beyond, toward a future that is at least as bright as our past and present.

Iinvite the visitors of our website to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge it contains. You may be considering where to study; if so, you are invited to apply to become a student in one of our programs. You may be a student or a faculty member at some other institution around the world; in this case, you are invited to come and visit us as an exchange student or a scholar. And each and every one of you, no matter what brought you to our website, is invited to comment or express an opinion on our site’s content and, especially, on any of the above.

Yours,



Avishai Mandelbaum

Dean of Faculty

iedean@ie.technion.ac.il