Industrial Engineering and Operations Research

The four-year structured PhD programme in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research is an internationally oriented programme. A PhD programme at the University of Twente can be started throughout the year. Read more about the related Master's programmes in Applied Mathematics, or Industrial Engineering and Management if you have yet to start a Master of Science programme. 

Programme overview

Prof. dr. Richard Boucherie
2 years
4 years

Operations Research and Management Science

In our modern urbanized society, work, leisure and the environment become more and more intertwined. Electric cars are not only a means of transportation, but are also considered as batteries for storage of excess power - e.g. generated during the night - so that large power equipment can produce at a constant rate (grid storage). Micro power plants in houses will be actively controlled and steered by power companies, as a result of which the comfort of living can be balanced with the power requirements of the entire power grid. Households are increasingly making use of the internet to do their shopping, thereby changing the entire supply chain from localized to distributed chains, which in turn affects our mobility patterns. In an ageing society, communication devices and systems like e-Health will become more and more important in healthcare. At the same time, a patient’s choice for a hospital will be increasingly determined by on-line status information of waiting times, quality of care, etc. To respond to these challenges, we need an integrated perspective, based on a variety of disciplines. Such an integrated, systemic approach is exactly what lies at the heart of the Operations Research and Management Science disciplines. In this respect, a key role is played by current and future IT infrastructures development. The Industrial Engineering and Operations Research programme at the Twente Graduate School focuses on methods and models for the design of algorithms and information systems that support the self-organised urbanized networked systems.

Mathematical Methods and Models

The mathematical part of the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research programme on the one hand focuses on developing methods and models that sustain the better functioning of crucial components of modern society, and, on the other, on conducting high-quality, fundamental research that optimally supports the first-named function - also in the long run. An indispensable part of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research is therefore made up of developing and analyzing models and methods for the day after tomorrow. This task includes:

  • the development of algorithmic methods for large-scale mathematical optimization problems, including the development of new means to analyze these methods,
  • the development of methods for analysis and control in large-scale stochastic networks, including methods for handling and analyzing big data,
  • the development and analysis of methods for decentralized settings in which private information and economic actions of individuals need to be taken into account.

Logistics and supply chain management

In today’s global economy, the efficient and timely management of materials and product flows all over the world is vital to foster prosperity. At the same time, we can also observe a downside to the still growing supply chains, to wit, their environmental impact: carbon and fine particle emission, congestion, noise, etc. The rapid development of new technologies (remote sensing, internet of things, but also new materials and 3D printing) offer fascinating opportunities, not only regarding improving supply chain planning and management but also to alter their very nature. Social developments (urbanization, new labour conditions) increase the need to drastically review mobility and logistics networks.

The Industrial Engineering and Operations Research programme focuses on these developments, in line with national and international research agenda’s. In particular, we focus on information systems to enable synchromodal logistics, the development of cross-chain control centres that aim at both vertical (along chains) and horizontal (across chains) coordination in supply chains, service logistics to optimize lifetime exploitation of capital equipment, and urban logistics with particular emphasis on retail and web-based logistics. All projects are driven by the search to both maximize revenues and improve sustainability. The development of new business models, proper incentive schemes and smart contracts, requires development on both Information Systems and Operations Analysis.

Energy Networks

Over the last few decades, a lot of attention has been given to the topics of the energy supply and its infrastructure. Energy consumption increased significantly and displayed highly fluctuating patterns. But on another note, the reduction in CO2 emissions and the introduction of power generation based on renewable resources have become important topics for the present day. These renewable resources have proven to often have a fluctuating output and to be largely uncontrollable. Moreover, a significant amount of power thus generated is provided by small decentralized generators. As a consequence, the energy supply chain is expected to witness a drastic change in the near future.

To cope with these changes, the concept of Smart Grids has been introduced, meaning that more communication and intelligent control have to be added to the utility grid. To realize this concept in practice, research on planning and control as well as on economic aspects is needed.

The programme concentrates on optimization methods to estimate the amount of assets needed to supply the energy and control methods to reduce these needs. Furthermore, we investigate how decentralized planning and control concepts can be used to match production and consumption of energy and develop concepts to deal with the fluctuating nature of supply and demand in the grid. Finally, new financial models covering the changing structure of the grid and new market mechanisms to integrate customers playing an active role in the supply chain are needed.

Healthcare logistics

As is the case for many countries, the healthcare sector in the Netherlands faces major challenges. Healthcare expenditure is increasing year on year, citizens demand higher quality care, the population is ageing, and the range of treatments is greater than ever before and still growing. Taken together, these factors contribute to an increasing healthcare demand and to considerably more complex care processes. Healthcare institutions witness a continuing increase in work pressure.

The Center for Healthcare Operations Improvement & Research (CHOIR) develops Operations Research and Operations Management methods that support healthcare institutions in their efforts to increase the quality of services while decreasing costs. New business process technologies help healthcare institutions to provide high-quality care and to continuously innovate, at minimal cost. Examples are the development and application of information technology and the optimization of logistical processes through state-of-the-art mathematical modelling and computer simulation.

Profile of industrial engineering and operations research students and scientists

The research groups participating in the Industrial Engineering and Operations Research programme are in a perfect position to join forces and work on projects that combine fundamental and applied research. Such combined efforts result in contributions that address both urgent issues in contemporary modern society and the long-term challenge of maintaining a strong knowledge society position.

The programme draws upon specialized knowledge and (analytical) skills in the mathematical, physical, and social sciences, and combines such expertise with the principles and methods of engineering analysis and design. Unlike traditional disciplines in engineering, Industrial Engineering and Operations Research addresses the role of human decision-makers and other stakeholders as key contributors to the inherent complexity of systems.

IEOR specialists are problem solvers. They work on real-world problems, combine disciplines, and develop project and process-management expertise and communication skills. Industrial engineers may come from various undergraduate backgrounds in engineering and other quantitative fields. Required key skills and qualities include:

  • Resourcefulness and creative problem solving
  • Keen analytic mind-set and modelling aptitude
  • Good mathematics skills
  • A fascination for technology and technological innovation
  • Inquisitive mind and continuous desire to learn and improve
  • Good common sense
  • A strong desire for organization and efficiency
  • Excellent communication, listing, and negotiation skills
  • Ability to adapt to many environments, wear many hats, and interact with a diverse group of individuals

Professional Doctorate of Engineering in Healthcare Logistics

The Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) trainee follows a two-year post-Master’s designer programme at the University of Twente. In consultation with the organisation, this tailor made programme will be designed to educate trainees who are able to design high level, creative and renewing designs for complex issues with a multidisciplinary character.

The PDEng programme in Healthcare Logistics educates trainees to create high-end and innovative designs for complex multidisciplinary logistics problems in healthcare. After successful completion of the programme, the trainee is capable of creating designs for complex healthcare logistics interventions, capable to contribute to larger interventions independently or in a multidisciplinary team, and is capable to direct the realization of interventions in a team. The programme in Healthcare Logistics trains professionals to bridge theory to actual implementation of Operations Research and Operations Management in healthcare, so as to increase the efficiency of logistics.