ASA Newsroom > Which Industries Employ Statisticians?

Engineering

Engineers work in a range of industries, such as electronics, chemicals, aerospace, pollution abatement, and construction. They may be responsible for leading large projects with significant costs, technical complexity, and responsibility. Statistical methods are 'power tools' for engineers.

  • Make a consistent product when raw material quality varies: Engineers in the electronics industry needed to modify a process to make a new polishing pad product. They had to get to market rapidly, but raw material quality was not consistent. Statistical robust process design techniques allowed them to optimize the new process in just four weeks. The modified process yields high-quality pads despite variations in the raw materials.
  • Detect problems early and avoid false alarms: Engineers working with high-risk processes needed highly sensitive decisionmaking tools to tell them when conditions were significantly different from the normal operating state. Statistical process control techniques provide them with early warning fault detection of equipment failure or process disturbances. Identifying impending failures early prevents safety problems and system damage.
  • Minimize a chemical waste stream: Engineers in a chemical plant needed to minimize the amount of waste solvent from a biocide production line. Statistically designed experiments, completed in just two weeks, led them to discover that the process could be run with 100% recycled solvent. The environment near the plant is much improved, and the process is considerably less expensive to run.
  • Predict product life: Engineers in the semiconductor industry needed to predict the failure times of printed circuit boards. Statistical reliability methods enabled them to predict the product life in actual use, based on experiments lasting for fewer than five weeks, with acceleration factors such as temperature and humidity.

As the pace of product development and quality improvement accelerates, statistical techniques become essential to the practicing engineer.

Statisticians who enjoy collaborating to design products, fix problems, and improve quality play an important role in industry today.