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A New Flock: Industrial and Systems Engineering Fusion

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Remember the feeling of being a kid in a candy shop? That’s what it’s like to be an Industrial Systems Engineer, ISE, working in Complex Systems or Digital Transformation. It’s a path less traveled and a unique opportunity to solve problems for the first time by applying traditional ISE training and tools to systems development. What’s most exciting is that you are often the only person with your skill set integrated into an interdisciplinary team with the chance to become educated on varying domains by your colleagues. It’s a highly innovative and creative space to work in, usually resulting in your novel solution transforming an organization or product at industry scale. Often, you’re the only bird of a feather and without a flock, there are sometimes many challenges to overcome. However, ISEs are well suited to not only orchestrate across a fusion of people, processes, and technology, but to lead toward the desired result.

In my first job out of school at Intel Corporation, I was fortunate to be asked to solve a problem that required bleeding edge hardware, fusion of disparate data streams, and a need for distributed software computation. It pushed not only known technology boundaries at that time, but my personal boundaries to learn new technology plus project management skills. I still have war wounds from flying off the gerbil wheel, but it pointed me in an amazing career direction. To this day, I also feel very proud that our young team built a bleeding edge solution that was proliferated company wide and still runs as designed from the 90s. Nevertheless, I began to ask myself over the years, where are all my birds of a feather on my career journey? Where are all the ISEs solving systems problems? I’m not alone in this observation. It’s a common question for those of us who are working at the edge of our field.


“I'm an ISE (Industrial and Systems Engineer) with 25 years experience who designs large complex systems and solutions...mostly in a systems engineering and solution architect context, across a variety of industries and disciplines. I am working on the frontier of ISE and systems engineering. It’s a perfect space for ISEs, but I don’t meet a lot of them. I am often asked "how are you achieving these results?” or, "What's your x-factor to success?" My answer is "I could not do this without ISE education and training as my foundation."

-Mike Stewart

Partner and Consultant for Systems Engineering and Performance Improvement

Radically Simple Consulting


The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) has a flock of experts in Complex Systems and Digital Transformation. Industry experts are members of IISE’s communities such as the Council of Industrial and Systems Engineering (CISE), the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB), and the Council of Fellows. Intel has a long standing relationship with IISE industry committees including Intel’s Mindy Holmes previously chairing the IAB. Today, Intel has representation across CISE, IAB, and the Council of Fellows. It’s a real privilege to engage in rich conversations across different IISE domains and organizational approaches by interacting with dozens of companies across multiple business verticals.


"As the landscape of energy continues to evolve, the progression of increased use of renewable energy from sun, water, wind, and other natural sources is essential. Optimization of these resources rely in organizations undergoing a digital transformation, driven by the interdependence of people, process, and technology. To make this transformation attainable, perhaps the most challenging of feats will be building the framework around the cultural shift required for successful execution. With success entailing execution of a vision inclusive, adapted, and executed by all areas of the organization."

Angelique Turner

Industrial and Systems Engineering Manager

Consumers Energy


"Many people don’t think about data centers or how they are central to an online digital world. Data centers have become so reliable and ubiquitous, hardly anyone thinks of what is required to make it possible to find nearly any piece of information or communicate with anyone in the world. To make a data center run efficiently and reliability takes the intentional orchestration of people, process, and technology. The technology is the symbiotic relationship between hardware and software. It involves millions of servers distributed across the globe, instructed by the software to synchronize the work, resulting in a seemingly instantaneous experience to the user. Behind the technology is the people. The software developer needs to build code that supports the business value while ensuring that the full capabilities of the hardware are exploited. Technicians and infrastructure engineers in the data center need to attend to the many servers, ensuring that failed parts are replaced, hardware is configured to optimize for power and space, and facilities such as cooling, fiber, and power are always available. Finally, the flows of work, whether digital work or physical work need to continually be refined and adjusted to the changing user preferences and environmental considerations. The skills and expertise of industrial and system engineering is needed throughout the data center life cycle. When the effective orchestration of people, process and technology are all come together, your online digital world is possible."

Joan Tafoya

Director of Data Center Global Operations



Four common challenges central to the hybrid Industrial and Systems Engineering Flock, ISEF, are:

  1. the growing surface area for complex problem solutions
  2. the interconnectivity of systems
  3. the movement from human glue to automation
  4. the accelerating pace of technology implementations


"Our digital world will be built on best practices discovered during the industrial revolution and the age of space exploration where industrial, systems, and software engineering converged to bring innovation to benefit the public's security, health, safety, welfare, and environment. More collaboration will take place on leading platforms to bring industry, government, and academia together. Professional organizations and communities will provide venues to share and reuse content with improved physical infrastructure with software as the invisible thread of process innovation and sustainability. Cybersecurity has risen as a priority for data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and internet of things (IoT) as delivery mechanisms for initiatives such as Industry 4.0, Smarter Factories, Data Warehousing, and Agile approaches. Being able to understand processes and respond to the business, organizational, algorithmic, and technology changes will separate the leaders and laggards in the immediate future."

Dr. Ben Amaba

Federal Business Development Executive



I am always eager to hear ISEF recipes for success and emerging challenges. Today, technology breakthroughs are not only driving new solution outcomes but modernizing the systems development approach itself. Given the technology rate of change, key attributes such as modularity, flexibility, extensibility, and interoperability have become key system design tenets. These become intertwined into the process and overlay onto operations opening opportunities for ISEF expertise and leadership.


"The term “systems of systems” represents a mindset, a disciplined approach to optimizing people, processes, products and places towards a desired outcome. This mindset drives and defines the unique impact and value of the discipline of Industrial and Systems Engineering."

Rick Echevarria

Vice President of Security Sales

Intel Corporation


“An adaptive strategy for transformational change starts with being self-reflective and systemic in influencing the needed mindset, skillset and toolset…A digital transformation roadmap is bolstered by a systemic execution framework focused on people: strategic clarity, stakeholder engagement and sustained communications”

Eleke Ukpabi

Vice President, Solution Engineering & Strategy

Ruan Transportation Management Systems


Deming, Shewhart, Lean, Kanban are terms that are close to the hearts of Industrial Systems Engineers. They are also part of the fundamental backbone for Dev Ops. Dev Ops is the epitome of a modern hybrid ISEF example as efficiency and business value is unlocked through managing complex interdisciplinary relationships.


 “DevOps is a cross-disciplinary practice where application development (Dev) works together with IT operations (Ops) to improve product quality and accelerate time to market.

In a DevOps framework, developers and IT managers collaborate with experts in quality control, security, and support. The goal of this cooperative effort it to deliver code rapidly, in a seamless loop of continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD.) 

That process integration, in turn, depends on the ongoing collaboration among teams, including business unit management, developers, quality assurance, and IT operations. A DevOps approach replaces silos, rigid job descriptions, and bottlenecks with a flexible, cross-disciplinary model that enables innovation and continuous improvement.”

Source: DevOps: Integrating Development and Operations


In today’s environment, Cloud computing is a significant impetus for the adoption of Dev Ops.   Demand for Dev Ops skillsets is expected to grow.  As adoption grows, the complexity and diverse participants in the Dev Ops community will not only be interdisciplinary within a company but extend across the entire ecosystem.  Multiple companies will play a role in asset creation through the execution of Dev Ops.   Dev Ops will continue to evolve as technology advances leading to new areas of innovation in cross-cutting areas such as tools, automation, program management, and operations. 


“No system stands by itself. You must account for not only the system itself, but the users/developers of the system, as well as ecosystem they all live in. The ecosystem is made up of the technology stack(s) that are leveraged by the solution, the economics of the solution (i.e. does it make money or does it save money?), and ultimately the people that either produce it or consume it. We have seen far too many instance of great technology that don’t survive by not dealing with the economics and/or the realities of it’s use. We have also seen the mirrors of this where some amazing technology was used either in a profligate wasteful manner (think exploding cloud costs) or used to make a poor process faster and thus making it worse. The trick, the art, and the science of developing a viable solution is the careful balancing of what we call the people, the process, and the platform.”

Juan Orlandini

CTO, North America



At Intel, we have created a white paper to both define Dev Ops and discuss how technology is engaged in the Dev Ops journey.


"Dev Ops will drive efficiency. What makes a good team is the ability to rapidly move together as a squad. To adapt quickly to changes in the technology and the squad must apply the best practices available. DevOps brings that to light. Dev Ops brings a mindset around transparency, knowledge transfer and utilizes automation in a way to decrease errors in human involvement. Predictability in infrastructure is critical, having a DevOps mindset brings this to fruition, along with the sharing of code and technology innovations. Why should you care about DevOps? DevOps is the future proofing of the AI engines making most of your infrastructure decisions, it will prepare and ready your teams, which brings together the people, the process and the technology."

Josh Hilliker

Director of Cloud-Native Solutions & Tools Innovation, Principal Engineer

Intel Corporation


What does the “S” in IISE mean to you? How can the hybrid Industrial and System Engineer find their fellow birds of a feather? Through IISE, I have found a flock of individuals who have shared similar career journeys and grown from it. For the 2023 IISE Annual Conference, the Systems Track will host Practitioner Panels from Industry, including one focused specifically on Dev Ops. Attending the Systems Track will also be an opportunity to meet part of the “Flock”, or in IISE vernacular the Integrated Systems Technical Interest Group (TIG). Our keynote conference speaker this year is Intel’s Rick Echevarria, who will take us on his systems transformation journey. There will also be sessions on this topic from academia as well. To stay connected, join our LinkedIn Group: Integrated Systems Engineering.

I am anxiously awaiting our IISE annual conference in May, 2023 and hope to see many of you there. I also look forward to hearing from you as well through our LinkedIN group. In my next blog, I look forward to sharing a systems framework on how to approach complex integrated engineering design.

About the Author
Tiffany A. Sargent is the Chief Technologist for Cloud and Enterprise Sales and is a Senior Principal Engineer at Intel Corporation. Tiffany collaborates with her ecosystem partners to develop blended and multi-disciplinary solutions that drive value and advance their business objectives. These solutions include the full spectrum of Complex Systems across Internet of Things, Machine to Machine (M2M), Cloud, Enterprise, and Distributed Analytics. Tiffany holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University. She also has a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Her engineering education has enabled her to span technical and business roles at Intel Corporation for the past 28 years, both nationally and internationally. Tiffany began as a manufacturing systems engineer where she built her first distributed IoT computation solution in 1996. Prior to working in Sales and Marketing, she rotated through different engineering business groups taking on various leadership and management roles. During that time, she led multiple technical endeavors across different fields most notability in software, enterprise, information technology, security, chipset platforms, and IoT. Tiffany has received Intel's highest award, the Intel Achievement Award, for innovative cyber-security solutions. Her previous roles in Sales and Marketing focused on IoT where she was the Chief Architect for US Channel and Director for US Federal. Tiffany has three decades of experience volunteering her technical and business expertise with non-profits, academia, and government. She was a two-year American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation and today serves on several advisory boards including AAAS and IISE. She also served as the Washington Exec IoT Council Chair. In Arizona, she served on the Board of Directors for Valley Leadership (member of Class XXVI), was recognized by the Junior League both as a 75th Phoenix Anniversary Outstanding Women Honoree and with the Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award, and was inducted by the Phoenix Business Journal as a member of the Forty under 40 Class. She has been recognized by Connected World Magazine as one of the “Women of M2M” and by CRN’s in the “Power 100: Most Powerful Women of the Channel” and in the “100 People You Don’t Know But Should”. North Carolina State University awarded Tiffany the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award. In 2022, Tiffany was awarded a Fellow from Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering.