Not bored; still have pants

By Michael Hughes

Honestly, I figured you folks and your industrial engineering would bore the pants off me.

When this refugee from the ink-stained recesses of newspaperdom walked through these doors nine years ago, I knew nothing about industrial and systems engineering. (I think the scientific term is "zilch.")

Coming from a world rich in politicians, election dust-ups, cops and robbers and murderers (literally, when hanging out at the sheriff's office and courthouse), battle royales over land use, zoning, water and sewer issues (at one point some wag dubbed me the "fecal reporter"), skepticism runs rich in my bones. So all these claims about doing more with less struck me as marketing, not reality.

But an article in one of my first issues as managing editor (February 2010's "Building Results with Legos" by Merwan Mehta, to be exact, or visit, showed how ISE tools could improve processes to the point that a 22-week order could be finished – without sacrificing quality – in 10 weeks. No added workers or shifts needed, thank you.

The stories, anecdotes and data kept pouring in. Save 2 percent here, increase revenue 3 percent there, eliminate 4 percent of emissions – and then keep doing it, year after year – and you have real progress toward saving the world.

That's not fake news.

These days, color me convinced as to the power of ISE thinking. So convinced that I'm moving on to a marketing and sales spot here at IISE. After all, who better than a former doubting Thomas turned evangelist to market IISE to the great unwashed.

And thankfully, I don't have to leave the world of industrial engineering. Go back to the previous century at N.C. State and introduce yourself to me, and perhaps life is different.

Most appropriately, my last issue is the international edition, one of my favorites each year. So enjoy my last cover story, where Pascal Pollet and Ben Proesmans tell how ISE principles help Belgians compete with "low-cost" countries.

Treat my successor kindly and train him well. You will be rewarded. Maybe he'll walk away with his pants, too.

Michael Hughes is managing editor of IISE. Reach him at or (770) 349-1110.