The Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Pretoria is the oldest and biggest Industrial Engineering department in South Africa. The first Industrial Engineers graduated from the University of Pretoria in 1963. Up to 1974 Industrial Engineering was offered as a program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. In 1975 the Department of Industrial Engineering was established as an independent academic department.
Industrial Engineering is an extensive field of study since it consists of many diverse scientific disciplines with interfaces to various fields of study from the sciences, engineering and management. It encompass, for example, mathematical models and computer programmes, manufacturing and production problems and financial and management systems or marketing or negotiation with a labour union. If one characteristic of Industrial Engineering has to be isolated then it may be the capability of the Industrial Engineer to integrate the contributions of all the other engineering disciplines into a final, functional and marketable product, at the lowest possible cost, by using system knowledge and understanding. This "product" may be a factory, or a part of a factory, or a logistic supply chain, or a computer programme, or a quality management system, or even a procedure or a plan of action.
In general, Industrial Engineers are responsible for the Analysis, Design, Planning, Implementation, Operation, Management and Maintenance of Integrated Systems consisting of People, Money, Material, Equipment, Information and Energy.
It is difficult to define Industrial Engineering in a few well-chosen words since the boundaries of the field of study are certainly fuzzy. This however implies a very definite advantage since a person with a degree in Industrial Engineering has a very wide choice in terms of work environment, type of employer or self-employment.