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Typically, an honors thesis in Industrial Engineering involves defining a clear problem and identifying data and appropriate models to develop a solution. Industrial Engineering students are trained to use a large spectrum of analytics tools, ranging from descriptive analytics tools that aim to assess current system characteristics and performance (statistical models, data mining, etc.) to predictive tools that allow us to make what-if type analysis (simulation models, forecasting tools, etc.) to prescriptive tools that identify optimal decisions to take in various settings (mathematical modelling, other optimization and control approaches, stochastic modeling, etc.). Thesis directors provide guidance on the methodology to be used, but generally the development of the thesis as a comprehensive and novel study of a well-defined problem is the student's responsibility, and is the source of the true professional development that results from the honors thesis experience. Our goal is to create the best environment where that development can take place, through mentoring and guidance offered by thesis directors, unit FHA and advisors.
In accordance with Barrett's requirements, our unit requires a two-person thesis committee. The thesis director must be a continuing faculty member at ASU with a terminal degree; the second committee member can be anyone with sufficient expertise in the thesis topic.
IEE 492 is generally taken before the semester that students take IEE 493, and is counted as a technical elective toward the student's major in Industrial Engineering. During the course, the student conducts literature review and compiles a clear definition of the problem that he/she intends to address in the thesis. Typically, student and the thesis director plans a series of activities that will lead to the successful completion of the student's thesis by the end of the semester that the student takes IEE 493.
Students typically take the IEE 492-IEE 493 sequence in Fall and Spring semesters of their senior year. In preparation to the 492-493 sequence, students start forming ideas for their theses during their junior year, if not earlier. Sometimes, they are familiar with a professor whose expertise lies clearly in the domain of research that the student is interested in; in those cases students contact the faculty member and start formalizing ideas with the faculty member. There are, however, many situations in which the student is not sure about which faculty member to talk to. It is a good idea to schedule an appointment with the unit FHA and discuss potential thesis ideas and direction, so that the unit FHA can connect the student to a faculty member whose expertise and interests are lined up with the student's thesis idea. It is better to identify a topic and thesis director as soon as possible; sometimes students make use of summer internships to deepen their knowledge of an area and the problem that they want to solve.
Typically, honors enrichment contracts are created on a case-by-case basis; it is useful to check with your professors to see if he/she offers such opportunities. A large portion of students in Industrial Engineering take summer internship opportunities, which many times result in permanent employment. Summer internships can also be a wonderful opportunity to come up with ideas for a thesis topic; you can also have external committee member(s) from the company that you worked for during the summer to ensure the practicality of your thesis results.