Industrial engineering success stories
A series of blogs presented by IISE President Michael Foss
ATTN: Business and company leaders whom aspire to excel
Meet David Olszewski, Senior Director of Industrial Engineering, Children’s Health System of Texas
B.S., M.S., industrial and systems engineering, University of Michigan-Dearborn
“I remember reading years ago that the acronym IE stood for ‘Involved in Everything,’ having worked 17 years as an industrial engineer I couldn’t agree more with that statement. I’ve not only been a student, practitioner, and teacher of industrial engineering, but I have also worked in several great industries such as manufacturing, defense, logistics and now, healthcare. Currently, I serve as the senior director of industrial engineering at the Children’s Health System of Texas (CHST). My team of industrial engineers provides industrial engineering support to the entire healthcare system by incorporating ‘systemness’ across our healthcare facilities and clinics. CHST was formerly known as Children’s Medical Center, and like IIE, saw the need to incorporate the word ‘system’ into our name to better reflect the new healthcare environment that we are working in.
Formerly, I was an industrial engineering manager at FedEx Office in Dallas where I collaborated on numerous manufacturing and logistics projects. FedEx truly values industrial engineering and has numerous IEs working there; every project that I worked on was fascinating. Prior to joining FedEx Office, I was a senior industrial engineer with General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) for eight years, serving locations in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and Ft. Hood in Killeen, Texas. It was really exciting to work in the defense industry because we always knew the importance of everything we did, keeping our soldiers safe and protected as they defended our freedom. I also completed my black belt certification in design for Six Sigma at GDLS and this credential has been extremely valuable over the years for completing numerous process improvement projects by finding new methods to improve operations.
Out of college, I began my IE career at Ford Motor Company at the Dearborn Stamping Plant and the Wayne Assembly Plant. The IE experience that I acquired through my interactions with the UAW was priceless, for those working in this environment you know what I’m talking about! I learned to be a better communicator, more transparent in my actions, and know when to push and when to stand down.
I earned my BSE and MSE in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and an MBA and DM from Walsh College in Troy, Michigan. The dissertation for my doctorate degree is ‘The Use of Systems Thinking by The Industrial Engineer as Organizational Leader.’ It examines the use of systems thinking and traditional industrial engineering skills that IEs use to rank up within organizations. I was able to publish two papers in the conference proceedings at the Cancun and Nashville IIE annual conferences based on my research, the presentations were truly a memorable experience and one that every IE should get the chance to do.
Currently, I’m also an adjunct professor in the college of industrial, manufacturing and systems engineering at the University of Texas-Arlington. Teaching is extremely rewarding; I continue to work on my lecturing skillset but my students have really appreciated my ‘real world’ stories and experiences in IE. I have had some great hallway discussions with many of my students on the value of an IE degree and the opportunities that it affords us. The students always seem very excited to begin their careers and start applying the IE knowledge that they’ve acquired through their studies.
Industrial engineering in healthcare is red hot right now with more and more IEs filling positions in numerous healthcare organizations. I recently posted a job opening for my IE team and in three weeks had over 425 applications for review! I asked one of the candidates during their interview why they were interested in transitioning to healthcare, and they answered that healthcare is the ‘next frontier.’ I agree with that statement because many of the IE tools and techniques we use at CHST are being seen for the first time by the staff and there has been a nice buzz around the results we have been able to deliver. The physicians and nurses are the real heroes in healthcare, but it’s the IEs behind the scenes that are able to reduce process bottlenecks and redundancies to improve patient throughput so more patients can be seen while allowing physicians to spend more time with the patients already scheduled. We are also planning to host the August 2016 Dallas-Fort Worth IISE chapter meeting with a focus on ‘IEs in Healthcare’ to highlight some of the interesting projects being done in healthcare and provide time for networking which is so valuable to many IEs.
Industrial engineers do a great deal of important work and there continue to be a growing number of opportunities for IEs to be involved in anything and everything. I love being an industrial engineer, it has been one of the most fulfilling decisions I have made in my life and is also a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our great profession.”
David Olszewski, DM
Senior Director of Industrial Engineering
Children’s Health System of Texas
Industrial and system engineers provide incredible value to any organization in any industry and I am really excited to share these stories and inspire you and your company to hire ISEs.
Blessings to you all!
President, Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers