Rensselaer Introduces the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

January 26, 2010

Rensselaer Introduces the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

New identity, vision for former Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced today its Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems (DSES) will be renamed the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE). The change, effective immediately, was approved recently by the Board of Trustees upon recommendation of the department and the dean, and with the support of the provost and the president.

“This transition represents a shift in strategic focus, and sets the department on a trajectory for future growth,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “The new departmental identity reinforces the position of Rensselaer as a global pioneer in engineering research and education, and places the Institute among a small, top-tier core of nationally ranked Industrial and Systems Engineering programs. I believe the Institute will realize dividends for many years from this forward-looking and strategic move.”

“Transitioning DSES into ISE places the department within the traditional engineering discipline where its revised core strengths will be best recognized and appreciated,” said Provost Robert E. Palazzo. “The change also sharpens the focus and centrality of the role of the department within the School of Engineering. This action will strengthen and leverage the intellectual core of the school through a systems perspective in problem conceptualization, analysis, and design, enabled through the use of engineering methodologies.”

“Renaming and refocusing DSES into ISE will help us continue attracting the best graduate students and faculty, driving undergraduate admissions to our unique Industrial and Management Engineering program, and boosting the national departmental and school rankings,” said Rensselaer Dean of Engineering David Rosowsky.

The renaming and refocusing of ISE is supported by the faculty. In October 2009, faculty members in the department voted overwhelmingly to support a proposal to rename DSES as ISE. The name change will result in no immediate changes to degree programs or course offerings for current or future Rensselaer students.

DSES was established at Rensselaer in 1988 as a multidisciplinary, interschool department with five degree programs organized around the broad concept of decision making in business, science, and engineering. As part of The Rensselaer Plan , the department underwent a rigorous external review by a panel of National Academy of Engineering (NAE) members in February 2007, which resulted in the development of a five-year plan to reinvent the department and refocus its research and academic programs within the field of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

In response, DSES consolidated its academic programs, redirected its scholarship and research activities, and recruited new faculty members to reinforce core intellectual strengths in Industrial and Systems Engineering. Key successes include:

  • A significant spike in research expenditures in 2008 and 2009, with faculty members participating as the principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on more than $20 million in new research proposal submissions;
  • Increased enrollments in the undergraduate program in Industrial and Management Engineering, with the number of students growing from a low of 71 in 2005 to an all-time high of 140 in 2010;
  • Revised graduate programs, now streamlined around a single core concentration in Industrial and Systems Engineering, which replaced 15 named concentration areas available as recently as 2008;
  • Improved US News and World Report graduate rankings, up to 21 in 2009 and;
  • An overhaul of courses — replacing, revising, or deleting 40 of the department’s courses within the past two years.

For more information, visit the Rensselaer School of Engineering Web site at:

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161


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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, over 30 research centers, more than 140 academic programs including 25 new programs, and a dynamic community made up of over 6,800 students and 104,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include upwards of 155 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. To learn more, please visit