Distinguished alumni panelists tout benefits of industrial engineering degree

October 30, 2023

Industrial engineering alumni
ISE Hall of Fame members, from left, Andre Logan, Mike Salerno, Nicole Birdwell, Tamara Harris and Don Flora.

Students interested in business or technical leadership who want to keep career options open should consider a degree in industrial engineering, a group of distinguished Mizzou alumni agreed last week.

Members of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Hall of Fame shared with students how an industrial engineering background paved the way for success in a variety of industries during a panel discussion at Lafferre Hall.

“Industrial and systems engineers can be found in every sector, from finance and manufacturing to health care and higher education,” ISE Chair Jim Noble said. “These alumni exemplify how the program prepares graduates to not only work across industries but to advance in their respective fields.”

Industrial engineering and related occupations are among the fastest-growing careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for industrial engineers is expected to grow 12% over the next decade. And related careers are growing even faster—operations research analysts at 25% and data scientists at 35%. Additionally, a college salary report from Payscale last month found that industrial engineering is the second highest-paying bachelor’s degree, earning $191,800 a year with just 10 years of experience.

“The median starting salary for Mizzou ISE graduates in 2022 was $71,200, and we know our alumni rise quickly in the ranks,” Noble said. “Opportunities are vast.” 

Andre Logan, B.S. IE ’01, director of strategic initiatives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, moderated the event, “Dynamic Careers in ISE — Lessons in Leadership.”

Panelists included ISE Hall of Fame members:

  • Natalie Birdwell, B.S. IE ’04, Vice President of Jacobs Advisory;
  • Don Flora, B.S. IE ’66, M.S. IE ’68, President of Flora & Associates;
  • Tamara Harris, B.S. IE ’97, Associate Director of Strategic Process Engineering at UnitedHealth Group; and
  • Mike Salerno, B.S. IE ’84, Chief Financial Officer at Boeing Phantom Works.

“It’s always great to connect Mizzou students, including those currently outside of ISE, to incredible alumni and leaders,” Noble said. “I appreciate them taking time to meet with students and share their experiences and advice.”

Want to reap the benefits of an industrial engineering degree? Apply today!