Industrial Engineering


The Early Years

Edwin J. Freeman, a Clemson Mechanical Engineering graduate and faculty member since 1922, was appointed the first Department Head of Industrial Engineering following his earning a master's degree in industrial engineering at Virginia Tech in 1942. He held this position until 1958; in addition to his talents in education, he directed the band and glee club, and is credited with the surveying and design of the Boscobel Country Club near Clemson. The Department, like others of that period, had a well-equipped machine shop and foundry in what is now Freeman Hall.

Professor Freeman was succeeded by J. H. Couch. The Department in the 1960's retained its manufacturing orientation, and also contained components of what are now programs in Engineering Graphics and Industrial Education. In the late 1960's, the baccalaureate degree in industrial engineering was discontinued, with the faculty joining other departments. At about this time the graduate program in Systems Engineering was initiated within the Department of Electrical Engineering, and a Department of Engineering Technology was started, with an option in industrial technology.

A decision was made in the early 1980's to discontinue the engineering technology programs. Faculty from industrial technology and systems engineering became part of the nucleus of faculty for a new beginning in industrial engineering at Clemson.

(This description of the early years is noticeably sketchy. Some of our history has been temporarily lost, and alumni or others who can fill in some gaps are encouraged to contact the Department.)

1983 to 1993

In 1981, as South Carolina was in transition from its historical agricultural basis to a greater emphasis on a diversified economy, a group of engineers at Clemson foresaw a need for an industrial engineering department in the state. In their proposal to the Commission on Higher Education, they presented the justification for this program as "... greatly needed by present and potential industrial development within South Carolina" and "... particularly relevant to state needs." Since its inception, the Department of Industrial Engineering has been focused on fulfilling those needs and exceeding the expectations at its founding. The Department began operation in the 1983-84 academic year with 25 baccalaureate students and 15 graduate students, three pursuing the doctorate. Dr. Robert P. Davis, P.E., left his position as assistant department head at Virginia Tech to guide this department through its formative years. The five faculty members provided the strengths cited in the initial proposal: design of work methods and measurement, production control systems, and analysis of industrial projects. The Department began to function and grow, in its faculty capability and especially in its students. After ten years of operation, the Department had a faculty of nine, with a student body of approximately 200. The original areas of strength were complemented by development of programs in human factors and quality engineering. Bob Davis returned to teaching and research, and Dr. Michael S. Leonard, P.E. was appointed Department Head, bringing his experience as Head of IE at University of Missouri. A lot happened in these ten years, and it is useful to reflect on what the Department has achieved. One measure of a Department is its faculty, and by this measure the IE Department at Clemson has done very well indeed. Three of our faculty members have been elected by their peers to the rank of Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. The professionalism of the faculty is shown by the number holding Professional Engineer registration, as well as their professional activities at a national level. Two faculty members have served as presidents of IIE societies, and one was appointed to a committee advising the National Academy of Engineers on design issues in manufacturing. More recently, a faculty member has been involved in the establishment of the W. Edwards Deming Institute, and another has taken the lead on planning an annual statewide symposium on quality. Another measure of a Department is the accomplishment of the department as a whole. The IE Department was examined for accreditation in 1987 and 1993, and was granted accreditation both times. The Department has been productive in this ten years, graduating 361 BSIE students, 82 MS, and 18 PhD through the 1993-94 academic year. While its productivity in MS degrees per faculty member ranks near the middle of the Clemson engineering departments, its BS degree per faculty member has been the highest in the College, and it ranks second among Clemson engineering departments in doctoral degree productivity. The best measure of a Department, though, is in the performance of its students. It was the potential impact of graduates on the state economy that was part of the original justification for the Department, and this contribution has been strong. Two of our MS graduates have received the IIE Graduate Research Award for their thesis work, and several undergraduates have earned their way into Who's Who in America's Universities and Colleges. Outside South Carolina, you might meet Clemson IE graduates at American Airlines, EDS, GM, or Ford. Among South Carolina regional companies, you will find them at Milliken, Sonoco Products, Mohawk Carpet, Eastman Chemical, Sun Health, and BMW, to name just a few. Some have received advanced degrees, some are teaching at other universities, and at least one is in law school. The Department of Industrial Engineering was established to serve the State and region, to help fulfill the Clemson University mission, and it has done so. In ten short years, the Department has proven its worth through the accomplishments of its faculty and, most important, through its students. As it starts its second decade, the Department is preparing to move to new levels of performance in support of economic expansion and growth in South Carolina.


1994 to 1999

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Department more recently is its concentration in the areas of quality engineering, ergonomics and system design. These themes guide our teaching, service to our profession and community, and research. Enrollment of undergraduates remained stable while engineering enrollments in general were in decline, and a trend of growth in the graduate programs started.

Mike Leonard returned to teaching, research and service from his leadership of the Department in fall of 1995, and Dr. D. L. Kimbler, P.E. assumed duties as Department Chair. (The campus-wide reorganization in 1995 resulted in this change of title, but Department operations continued much as before.) Department facilities were modernized to include a 20-station computer teaching laboratory and a design studio for student projects. Carl Lindenmeyer and Jim Chisman retired and moved to professor emeritus status. After five years as Department Chair, Kimbler returned to his faculty position and Mike Leonard again assumed our leadership position.


Since 2000

This period began with a review of mission and vision under Mike Leonard's leadership, resulting in a focus on information oriented production and service systems, in both applied operations research and human factors and ergonomics. Laboratory facilities in industrial ergonomics were added, and research in human factors and ergonomics expanded. Research in supply chain modeling began with projects sponsored by the SC Commission on Higher Education and industrial sponsors.

Dr. Robert P. Davis, P.E., founding Department Head, left the Department to become Industrial Engineering Department Head at University of Alabama; Dr. William J. Kennedy, P.E., retired in 2002. Dr. Mary E. Kurz joined the faculty following her graduate study at University of Arizona.

As the Department continues to maintain quality of instruction in our baccalaureate program, it also pursues new opportunities to broaden its scope in service, research and graduate studies. As the only Industrial Engineering program in South Carolina, it continues to fulfill its mission for the state and its role in education for the profession of industrial engineering.



Maintained by:
Industrial Engineering Department, College of Engineering and Science
110 Freeman Hall, Clemson, S.C. 29634 | IE Webmaster | (864) 656-4716