DEVELOPING A FRAMEWORK TO MAP AND COMPARE IEM PROGRAMMES WORLDWIDE
In Portugal, Industrial Engineering and Management (IEM) has not been a glamorous area in the past. It was translated in relatively few study programmes available at higher education level. Nevertheless, in recent years it is possible to notice a positive development of the area, with an increase in the number of programmes and more candidates applying for them, which has significantly increased the average grades students have when entering higher education. These are now in line with other traditionally very attractive areas, such as medical or other engineering programmes, turning IEM in one ‘fashionable’ field in recent years.
The IEM is a scientific area in constant process of change and development, characterized as a dynamic and flexible engineering area (Du Preez & Pintelon, 1997; Lima, Mesquita, Amorim, Jonker, & Flores, 2012). According to the IISE’s (Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, 2016) official definition, IEM is “concerned with the design, improvement and installation of integrated systems of people, materials, information, equipment and energy”. Until recently, IEM activities were essentially related with manufacturing. However, currently, its intervention has been also linked with hospital institutions, education systems, transport systems, financial institutions, public organizations, non-governmental organizations, etc. (Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, 2016). In this way, possessing the right knowledge and skills is a factor of extreme importance, both due to the rapid and growing technological development and the consequent transformation of the industrial engineers’ activities. As a result, higher education institutions (HEIs) increasingly seek to equip their students with key, relevant and up-to-date knowledge and skills needed to perform well in the labour market.
However, the lack of a common framework on what IEM should be in terms of knowledge and skills leads to differences in IEM degree programmes offered at higher education institutions (Elrod, Daughton, Murray, & Flachsbart, 2010), which can cause some misunderstanding regarding what IEM is as a discipline.
With the objective of continuing and extending the project “The industrial engineers’ essential knowledge and transversal skills” (Chedid, Teixeira, & Rosa, 2018), this study aims to reach two goals. Firstly, to develop a framework based on the IISE’s “The Industrial Engineering body of knowledge and definition” (Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers, 2016), but taking also into consideration the Portuguese reality, able to serve as a reference to map IEM programmes. Secondly, the goal is to test and validate this framework in order to compare and analyse the eleven IEM programmes currently offered at Portuguese public HEIs.
The paper provides a contribution for knowledge development around IEM by providing a validated common framework for mapping and comparing different IEM programmes around the world.