Industrial Engineering and Operations Research is a relatively new engineering master at the University of Ghent. This lesser known master is often confused with the Dutch discipline "industrieel ingenieur", but it is an engineering discipline like civil, electromechanical, chemical... engineering. This page aims to clarify what IEOR entails and how it can be put into practice professionally.

Industrial Engineering

Industrial Engineering (IE) is an engineering discipline that deals with analysing, designing and optimising complex operational systems, with the aim of
improving their effectiveness and efficiency, and thus increasing their productivity.

Operational systems support the core activities of companies and organisations for the production and supply of goods and/or services. These core activities are for the most part executed by people trained in work methods and procedures, and in the use of machines, equipment and information systems. However, people with this profile are not only found in industry, but also in many organisational systems of society, such as government, health care and hospitals, public service, law enforcement, transport and traffic systems, et cetera. It is also a core discipline in less traditional engineering environments: amusement parks like Disneyland, consumer-directed service companies, supermarket chains, retail companies, health services, consulting. The list is truly endless.

IE engineers are involved in the definition and design of new products and services, in the design and continuous improvement of the way in which the products are manufactured, and in training the people that will use them. A unique feature of IE that distinguishes it from other engineering disciplines, is the explicit consideration of the human element as an essential and determining factor of these systems. It is acknowledged that complex systems contain not only technical components (like machines, computers, transportation means), but also organisational components (team structures, planning methods, work regulations, ergonomics,… ). Engineers with IE knowledge are often responsible for the operational aspects of organisations in functions like production manager, head of development, logistics manager, … and are found in all levels of the management. They also function as specialists (“methods engineer”) in supporting departments of large companies and international corporations. Notable examples of what IE has to offer in today’s society can be found on, the web site of the Institute of Industrial Engineering (IIE): the international professional organisation of engineers in this discipline. The organisation of European students of Industrial Engineering and Managements (STIEM) is found on

The international term “Industrial Engineering” was translated in Dutch as “Bedrijfskundige Systeemtechnieken”. So it may be important to note that the term refers to a specific technical engineering domain, rather than to the Flemish generic professional title of “industrieel ingenieur”.

Operations Research

For designing operational systems, an IE engineer often relies on mathematical models, both of deterministic and stochastic nature, that are then subjected to simulation and optimisation techniques. The whole of these mathematical tools is known under the term Operations Research or “OR” (in Dutch: ”Operationeel Onderzoek”). They comprise: mathematical programming, simulation, search algorithms and heuristics, dynamic programming, queueing theory, decision techniques, statistics, stochastic modelling, network analysis, etc.

Methods in Operations Research are undeniably part of the basic knowledge of any IE engineer. For example, these techniques are used in satellite navigation systems (GPS) in order to find the fastest route between a given origin and destination. In digital telecommunication systems too, OR methods are used to convey massive amounts of data traffic through the Internet in increasingly faster ways. Simulation is an important evaluation technique for the design and layout of factories, distribution centers, hospitals, airports and maritime ports. A profound understanding of statistical methods is paramount for the development of quality assurance systems and of planning systems for the production of consumer goods.

These methods and their application domains are systematically being refined and extended through scientific research, also at Ghent University. IE and OR together form an engineering discipline with strong mathematical underpinnings, but also with a clear focus on society. Examples of the role of OR models in society can be found on, a web site of the Institute of Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS).


The following list contains the core courses of this master. Detailed course specifications and elective courses can be found on the official site.

1st year

Supply Chain Engineering
Description Whereas the course ‘Manufacturing Planning & Control’ of MaIEOR mainly considers the internal logistics of a production environment, this
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Quality Engineering and Industrial Statistics
Description Place of this course in the curriculum: this course is an advanced course in applied industrial statistics. A primary
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Operations Research Models and Methods
Description Operations Research is the engineering discipline that deals with application of advanced analytical methods to help make informed decisions.
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Methods Engineering and Work Measurement
  Description This course aims to teach basic concepts and techniques to analyze and optimize the shop floor in production
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Manufacturing Planning and Control
Description The most important manufacturing planning and control methods are discussed in detail . The course contains mainly lectures, supplemented
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Information Technology and Data Processing
Description The aim of this course is to provide students with a general overview of the ICT domain, data communications and
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Engineering Economy
Description This course in an introductory course in the master’s programme in engineering. The aim of the course is to
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2nd year

Simulation of Manufacturing and Service Systems
Description Theoretical aspects concerning the performance evaluation of a system by means of Monte Carlo estimation / stochastic simulation. To
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Industrial Systems Modeling and Optimization
Description This course provides students with a broad range of advanced methods and techniques, enabling them to model and solve
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Heuristics and Search Methods
Description This course discusses the most recent developments in the area of non-exhaustive search methods for large and complex search
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Design of Manufacturing and Service Operations
Description In-depth study of the techniques to design operational systems and to evaluate them. Both manufacturing and service organisations are
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