World Coming to UT for College of Engineering’s Lean Program

 

Students from universities and institutes around the world will soon begin arriving at UT as part of the International Lean Summer Program in the College of Engineering.

Sponsored by the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, the program will bring almost 120 students to campus for a chance to study ways of reducing waste and increasing efficiency while partnering with students from countries around the world, beginning with an opening ceremony at the Foundry at World’s Fair Park on July 7.

“Studying the manufacturing process is one of the components, but the bigger opportunity is to have students from China, Brazil, Ghana, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, and the US getting together, learning to work together, and sharing ideas,” said program founder Rupy Sawhney, the Heath Fellow in Business and Engineering and a professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

“It teaches them critical thinking in the real world—how to resolve serious societal problems, consider alternate ideas that someone else’s background might give them—to learn how to function as a team like you have to when you’re in the workforce, all well before finishing college.”

While students get the benefit of the experience of the camp both scholastically and interpersonally, Sawhney said UT also gets a world of good out of the exposure.

“You have all of these students coming from a diverse array of places, and they all get to see UT, get to experience what UT has to offer, get to talk about UT when they get back home,” said Sawhney. “You really can’t undersell how much of an impact it makes. People at Monterrey University in Mexico had no idea what UT was when we started this. Now, if you go to their campus and ask ‘What do you know about the University of Tennessee?’ they will tell you that is where they learned Lean.

“From a university perspective, you can’t put a price on that kind of exposure.”

The future for the Lean Summer Program looks brighter still, with UT’s Enrique Macías de Anda laying the groundwork for future partnerships with universities in France, Russia, and Italy.

If at least one of those European universities joins before next summer, it will mean the program will draw upon students from five of the six inhabited continents, with only Australia not represented.

“More reach and increased visibility, that’s what it means for UT,” said Sawhney. “Not only that, but a lot of these same students wind up coming here for their graduate studies. We’ve even had faculty from the various universities visit and see what UT is about after they’ve heard the stories from their students.”

Students will begin the studies online at their home university before flying to UT for the remainder of the courses. While at UT, students have access to facilities, laboratories, and research in addition to faculty input during their progress through four distinct phases:

  • Introduction to lean enterprise systems and the concept of implementing improvements
  • Designing and modeling systems, and how to focus on the most critical areas of concern
  • Analysis of the systems, and the study of how their proposals fared in reality
  • Reliability of their system, and how practical it is in terms of long-term sustainability

“We change the way students look at process and systems,” said Sawhney. “Much like the opportunity to work with a diverse mix of students, they will see a diverse mix of ideas. Hopefully, working together, they will all be able to go home with the best parts of each way of doing things that they’ve seen.”

As part of the process, students will have the chance to take the systems that they have developed and travel with faculty to sponsoring companies to see how their ideas translate into a real-world scenario, which in the past has included such diverse sponsors as East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Boeing Corporation, Aqua Chem, Pharma Packing, Monterey Mushrooms, Techmer PM, and the Brunswick Boat Group.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu

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