Ann Bisantz

Ann Bisantz

Professor and Chair
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY
Ann Bisantz
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Ann Bisantz earned a PhD at the Georgia Institute of Technology in industrial and systems engineering in human-machine systems with a minor in cognitive science. Her MS and BS are from UB, both in industrial engineering. Her research involves cognitive engineering for complex systems such as health care and command and control, and includes projects addressing communicating uncertainty to decision makers using visual and multi-modal displays, methods in cognitive engineering, and modeling dynamic decision-making.

PhD, 1997, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology MS, 1991, Industrial Engineering, University at Buffalo, SUNY BS, 1989, Industrial Engineering, Unversity at Buffalo, SUNY
  • I am willing to host a field trip to my place of employment.
Answers by Dr. Ann Bisantz

Dear Charlotte,

I am not completely familiar with the engineering science major in New Zealand but it appears you are taking some of the same courses that students in Industrial and Systems engineering take. our students work in many different courses - from typical manufacturing, to health care systems (like hospitals) to service systems like banking or airlines.

You aren’t stuck in heavy manufacturing. Have a look at this video -

Regarding fashion - I don’t know exactly what you are looking at but certainly companies that manufacture and ship clothing to retailers around the world hire industrial engineers to manage inventory control, transportation, and logistics.

hope this helps!

Ann Bisantz

Dear Ally,

You ask a great question about what engineers really do, in school and on the job. The fact is that most engineers do not spend their time drawing and drafting - but that all engineers spend time coming up with innovative ideas to solve all kinds of problems. However, these problems are NOT all related to bridges and roads. If you like designing bridges and roads, you can certainly do that. But if you are interested in transportation, you can also figure ways to make cars drive themselves and signal to each other. Chemical and biomedical engineers are coming up with new materials and devices which can be used in place of human organs or to deliver drugs to exactly the right cells. Electrical engineers are designing methods to transmit greater and greater amounts of data through cell phones. Industrial engineers are designing more efficient layouts for hospital emergency rooms. The list is endless - because engineers help design pretty much everything!

So - I’d recommend sticking with engineering, beyond what you are getting to see in middle and high school. Have a look at other parts of this web site as well as  sites like to see more about all the difference aspects of engineering.



Industrial Engineering could support manufacturing of cosmetics and potentially textiles; also IEs might work in the logistics of clothing inventory & shipping (e.g., how many jeans of each type should be made and shipped to stores around the world). The development of cosmetics may be related to a career in chemical engineering - I would recommend you contact a chemical engineer to see if they work in that industry.

You could also investigate textile engineering - they develop methods for creating textiles and also work in research on aspects such as "smart" fabrics that can sense medical conditions, for instance. I believe there is a textile engineering program at Georgia Tech.

Hope this helps.  

Hello I'm glad you are interested in industrial engineering. Industrial Engineers work in many industries to design better systems of people, machines, information, and energy - from helping design systems which make different kinds of products (such as makeup, cars, even breakfast cereal!) to helping organize transportation systems (such as airline schedules and truck routes) to making health care systems work more effectively (so it takes less time to be seen by a doctor in an emergency room).

There is a new video out about IE careers - have a look at 

No matter what kind of engineering you want to be, you should take a solid math and science curriculum in high school - in math, take math every year up through pre-calculus or even calculus if it is offered. You should also take science every year - chemistry, physics, earth science - whatever the complete, college-prep science sequence is in your state. All engineering colleges will expect you to have taken math and science throughout high school. If a computer programming course is offered, that can be good experience as well. At 4 year colleges or universities you would choose to be an engineering major (generally) or a specific kind of engineering major (for instance, industrial engineering or electrical engineering). At community or 2 year colleges there is usually an engineering science or engineering prep curriculum that allows you to transfer to 4 year colleges for engineering. (Engineering technology is usually not the same thing). Your high school guidance counselors or the admissions counselors at the colleges can help you pick. It is also easy to find information about majors on college web sites.

You ask if there is a big difference between different kinds of engineering - there are differences in the types of things people work on day to day between different kinds of engineers (say, chemical compared to electrical) - but there are also differences WITHIN the types of engineering. Some civil engineers might design structures such as bridges, while others work to make waste water treatment safer. Some industrial engineers use math to design airline schedules, while others measure the quality of automotive products. The good news is the you do not have to make up your mind about what kind of engineer you want to be right now. Math and science courses are the right preparation for all engineering majors. At most colleges, you can become an engineering student even if you are not sure of what kind of engineering you want to take. The freshman and sometimes sophomore year courses are similar and flexible so you can switch from one engineering major to another easily. Colleges usually offer courses to help introduce freshmen to all kinds of engineering careers - even some you haven't ever heard of - to help students make that decision. If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Sincerely, Ann Bisantz

At least in the US, engineering schools differentiate between degrees in industrial engineering and mechanical engineering - they are not the same degree. Some people who are manufacturing engineers may have degrees in IE, or in ME, however. The Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) produces a monthly magazine (Industrial Engineer) which is a good resource to find case studies. There may be an Australia specific chapter or affiliate of IIE which would be a place to look for case studies that took place in Australia.