William Grant Ireson was known by his middle name, Grant. He was born in Tazewell, Virginia. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Industrial Engineering. There he rose from Assistant Professor to Acting Professor and Chairman of the Industrial Engineering Department. From 1948 to 1951,he was Professor of Industrial Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He came to Stanford in 1951. Soon thereafter, he and Eugene L. Grant co-founded the Department of Industrial Engineering. Grant Ireson held the position of chairman from 1954 to 1975. He has been credited with being one of the founding fathers of industrial engineering in the United States.
Ireson built a reputation in the fields of quality control, engineering economics, industrial development and engineering education. In the latter field, he emphasized the application to developing countries. He had particularly strong activities in Mexico, Taiwan, Singapore, Bangladesh, and the People’s Republic of China. Between the years 1971 and 1981, Ireson spent the equivalent of three years helping the government of South Korea set up the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). In 1978, he was awarded the Order of Civil Merit by the president of South Korea, Park Chung Hee.