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We received a letter from longtime IIE blogger Tamara Wilhite adding to the ideas for attracting great workforce talent described in two June articles. And from our social networks, we're sharing many of the LinkedIn comments responding to the question of the IIE name change, finishing with IIE President James E. Moore's thanks to those who attended the name change town hall meeting May 31 at the IIE Annual Conference. 

Mail

Missing solutions to STEM employee crisis

In response to the June 2015 articles on attracting talented and technical workers ("Hunting for Multiskilled Employees" and "Winning the War for Talent"), several solutions were missed.

First, around 50 percent to 60 percent of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates no longer work there. Bringing business managers back to engineering will fill many positions.

Second, too many companies lay off staffers who are older than 40 in favor of workers who are younger than 30. Employers base this purely on price. Therefore, anyone not biased by age discrimination (and the modern belief that newer is better) can tap into highly experienced talent desperate to be hired.

Many people older than 40 try management, but not all succeed. Let them move back into STEM instead of forcing them into early retirement as a mediocre manager.

And last, find a path for those who try engineering and fail to move toward a two-year manufacturing or engineering degree, rather than pursuing a four-year degree that has little value in the job market, such as business, social sciences or ethnic studies.

If students are having trouble in computer science, perhaps they can be trained as a CNC programmer. If mechanical engineering isn't their thing, they can earn good money by becoming a mechanic on a production line. If biochemistry doesn't work, aim for a two-year degree as a lab technician.

Tamara Wilhite
Euless, Texas
 

LinkedIn

Should we be the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers?

"Count me in!"

Lizzette Perez Lespier
Ph.D. candidate
Missouri University of Science and Technology
 

"NO! Longer names are ever-more difficult for the clients and general public to understand, remember and resonate with. We risk the problem of diluting our impact. Anyone who gets close enough to the IIE organization knows that systems is indeed a related/integrated part of what we do, so a name change for this group is not required."

Kristen Spanza
Food and beverage section leader
Stantec
 

"I see this change as being extremely positive by communicating our organization's scope more clearly to those that are not familiar with the depth of skill and capability that our membership brings to the table. This is needed to ensure that we stay true to our core principles and mission as the lexicon of our generation shapes perceptions quicker than at any time in history."

Larron Fritz
Owner and principal engineer
Design-FAB & Machine
 

"YES – so many of the undergraduate programs are already moving in that direction with the curriculum."

Mike Loquercio
Area director of manufacturing
D&W Fine Pack
 

"No. I agree with Kristen in that our professional title becomes too lengthy. As we know, industrial engineers determine the most effective ways to use the basic factors of production – people, machines, materials, information and energy – to make a product or provide a service. They are concerned primarily with increasing productivity through the management of people, methods of business organization and technology. It seems unnecessary to add the [word] 'System.'

Robert Stafford
Lead environmental specialist
Duke Energy Corp.
 

"I am in favor of adding 'Systems' to our IIE acronym. However, actions will speak louder than name changes (from IIE to IISE). We need to actively engage more members to transform from [an] academic to a more 'real world' application type organization to integrate 'systems thinking solutions' into our culture!"

Brian P. McCarthy
Senior business improvement consultant
BMAC Business Improvement Consulting Services
 

"I think current IIE nomenclature is descriptive and inclusive as is. Engineering encompasses more than systems so why pointing out only one aspect of the industrial engineering?"

Mirella Vlasov
Business analyst
BMO Financial Group
 

"I am polarized by the name's inherent [ambiguity]; however I agree that we are indeed systems thinkers. So whether we work with tactile, service or simulation processes – call us what you will – there's truly no label that best describes what our community has the capacity to produce!"

Donna Millette
Director, lean operations
Concord Hospital
 

"Over 30 years ago the university where I earned my [B.S.] had the prefix 'SYS' on every IE class. Complaints from graduates were universal ... nobody knew what that meant. After a period of time, it was changed back to IE. I think IE is universal enough that most people understand the professional implications and that 'systems' is too often associated with DP operations. I feel we should stay with IIE."

Bob Sarver
Senior director/general manager – logistics
Walmart Stores Inc.
 

"Wouldn't 'Operations Engineers' be more flexible and recognizable than either of those? Think about it: we were taught a variety of statistical and stochastic modeling methods for identifying and improving operational efficiency. We optimize resource usage, worker utilization, critical path flow, throughput, reorder buffer levels, MRP/ERP system usage, inventory holding size, minimum order size, etc. Basically, things no other engineer can make claim to have in their core training. Very few people recognize us for our extremely intimate knowledge of operations, and that really sets us apart from all else. Sure, you know thermodynamics, materials science, circuits, quality assurance and DOE, but that's not what is unique about us. The core knowledge is great to have and, wrapped with our process improvement techniques, we have the ability to solve the problems we discover with great ease. I'm glad we're thinking about changing the name. It will help with our PR tremendously. I'm tired of IE being associated with just time studies and making BOMs and RTGs. Such thinking has led me to a particularly strong theory that we are in lower demand because other engineers think we went to school where we drank beer in our stopwatch labs."

Jordan Myers
Industrial engineer
L&L Products
 

"Yes, definitely. We probably need to maintain the word 'Industrial' (although we are certainly working in areas far outside mainstream 'industry'). But we are definitely 'systems' engineers for the true meaning of the word. As an IE (actually IE&OR) graduate from the early '70s and a PE in IE, I have no qualms at all about [changing] the name of our professional society. Let's do it!"

Bennett Foster
Senior consultant
DuPont
 

"YES, we [definitely] should have done this the last time the question came up. Every other year we bemoan the fact of the poor image of IEs in general. Changing the name to IISE will help promote the profession overall. Having 4 letters in the acronym has not hurt ASABE, IEEE, NSBE, SAME and SHPE to name a few."

Helmut Welke
Manager, material flow design
John Deere
 

"Maybe a good name would be: 'Industrial, Systems, Management, Process, Operations & Efficiency Engineering.' How does that sound? … I do not think the word 'industrial' is the problem or partially accurate in describing what an IE does. The entire contrary, it accurately [reflects] that we, IEs, can literally be found in any industry (health, finance, banking, education, military, mining, construction, transportation, energy and so on) Why? Simply because IEs work to make things better, be they processes, products (tangible or intangible) or systems."

Javier Yanez
Wellness coach
YMCA of Oakville
 

"Since system is part of definition & field of industrial engineering, I do not see any reason to change it."

Cina Jabbari
Deputy directing manager and director of Engineering Department
Kaviankaran Co.
 

"I think industrial engineers are being recognized with the same name since industrial engineering emerged. It is valued as a role, which definitely touches upon systems. But 'industrial engineer' still remains a brand, and we should hold on with it without changing it. So in my opinion, the name need not be changed."

Revathi J
Simulation engineer
Production Modeling India
 

"I got my degree in Industrial AND Systems Engineering from USC. I am definitely in favor of the name change to IISE."

Sid H. Poonawala
Supplier performance engineer
Verify
 

"I want to thank everyone who participated in the town hall meeting at the IIE conference in Nashville. We discussed the board's name change proposal at considerable length. It was a great chance for us to talk to each other and compare ideas in depth. The IIE President-elect Michael Foss, the IIE Executive Director Don Greene, and I all found the comments constructive and enlightening. My impression was that the majority of the views aired at the meeting strongly favored the change, but we examined both sides of the question. I could detect two core themes among the members concerned about the board's recommendation: (1) 'Is the change worth the out-of-pocket cost of rebranding?' and (2) 'How deep is the change? Does it reflect a genuine commitment to systems?'

"First, the IIE board fully expects the name change to be worth it to the organization in terms of future opportunities and revenues. If the board believed the costs and benefits of the change had a negative present value for the Institute, the board would have been very reluctant to proceed with this proposal. Resources put toward the expenditures necessary to implement a name change are resources that cannot be dedicated to competing purposes, and there is no shortage of competing purposes. A trade-off is involved, but the board believes that accepting this trade-off provides a net advantage to the institute. Costs would be allocated over two fiscal years, are very small relative to the institute budget, and are in every way manageable.

"Second, the board believes that the name change reflects an existing commitment to integrated systems that pervades many and perhaps most of the contexts in which industrial and systems engineers pursue their work. In truth, this adjustment in the institute's name is a bid for accuracy, an effort to catch up with the realities of the profession.

"It is also good marketing, which is to say, it is a careful and deliberate attempt to position the institute in the understanding of members, current and future, by calling attention to a larger set of attributes that members and other clients understand and value. 'Marketing' has a pejorative connotation for some, but this change is an attempt to communicate greater meaning, not manipulate perceptions. The board believes the name change provides us with a label that more accurately reflects what we currently do and what we aspire to do as a profession.

"Again, our thanks to everyone who participated on our well-attended town hall."

James E. Moore II
IIE president
Professor and vice dean for academic programs
University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering
 

WE WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS
Send letters to Michael Hughes at mhughes@iienet.org or to IIE, 3577 Parkway Lane, Suite 200, Norcross, GA 30092. Correspondence to the editorial staff is treated as a letter to the editor unless otherwise indicated. We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style and clarity. Include your city and state of residence or employment. Letters from anonymous authors will not be published, but we will consider requests to publish letters with the author's name withheld.

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