The North-West University's (NWU's) School for Industrial Engineering now shines with new light alongside nearby departments at the University of Pretoria, Stellenbosch University and Wits University.
Located strategically within various industrial activities (ranging from mining to farming), the NWU IE department aims to have strong ties with local partners in developing projects. Yet, with the multi-campus nature of the NWU the department will have access to a wide variety of settings, environments and industries to promote, develop and grow the field of Industrial Engineering.
The Industrial Engineering department acknowledges that such initiative requires solid planning, talented staff, motivated students and a keen eye for research. Rather than drive the visionaries away, this created a motivation to work smart and shine bright. Under the leadership of Prof Liezl van Dyk the discipline was registered under the Mechanical Engineering department as a programme; initial student and growth targets were set and the skeleton of the programme was developed. To the pleasant surprise of the programme, several current students who had already completed degrees or were enrolled in other degrees switched over to Industrial to form the official brave batch of second-year students.
Concurrently, initial targets for registrations were exceeded year on year showing that the initial visionaries had something to present. The department now sits with just over 50 students being confirmed and likely to form part of this disruptive and bright new star for the upcoming academic year (2017).
The undergraduate curriculum attracting the students is at the heart of this disruption. The curriculum builds on existing curricula [incorporating optimisation, facilities planning, supply chain design, business engineering, systems thinking and engineering, business analytics and operational excellence] of its fellow departments at other universities with the core differentiating factor being an increased focus cross cutting assignments between courses, advanced business analytics and software training, and active student lecturer interaction that develops leadership and motivation.
Lecturers of these subjects maintain rigorous dialogue on how to develop the student into holistic industrial engineers. The NWU School for Industrial Engineering will also offer as from 2017 a PhD in Industrial Engineering and from 2018 an MEng in Industrial Engineering.
With this quality attitude towards its role and responsibility it should come with no surprise that the department has a growing research footprint. With four out of seven staff members registered for PhDs and five publications in the past academic year, it is clear that the NWU IE department is dedicated to becoming a quality research, academic and industry hub. The staff also comprises extra-ordinary professors Chris van Schoor and Hannelie Nel and joint lecturers from other departments Mr Philip Venter and Mrs Kgmotso Simango.