In our previous posts[1][2], we observed that the occupational requirements and job content profiles shown in O*NET for Industrial Engineering Technologists indicate that higher entry qualification levels may be required than for Mechanical Engineering Technologists.  We further found that Industrial Engineering Technologists, Industrial Engineering Technicians and Mechanical Engineers tend to have relatively higher innovation-related competences than Industrial Engineers.

To investigate this further, the figure shows the O*NET Intermediate Work Activities (IWAs) and related lower-level tasks for IWAs that we judge could be related to innovation-related activities.  Using O*NET’s task-writing guidelines[3] for structuring expressions starting with the action/behaviour, we have filtered the IWAs for the five occupations by the following action verbs:

  • Design
  • Develop
  • Identify
  • Implement
  • Research


Whilst not conclusive, we see indications that Industrial Engineering Technologists and Mechanical Engineers tend to be proactively involved in innovation-related activities where they may be directly responsible for process or product development and improvement.  Industrial Engineers, on the other hand, seem to be somewhat limited in these activities (at least, according to O*NET’s survey results).  As for Industrial Engineering Technicians and Mechanical Engineering Technologists, there appears to be some innovative activity around design, although more limited activity in other areas.

An analysis of this type can only give us indications of where to look further, but it does provide useful pointers to research into real life examples, notably through job postings.  Do Industrial Engineering Technologist jobs tend to carry more responsibility for resource management than Mechanical Engineering Technologist jobs?  Are they more involved in innovation (or a different aspect of innovation)?  Are they better paid as a result?  And, does our current education system recognise and train our future technologists appropriately?

We’ll look at these – and other – questions in future posts.