Engineering Department Wins Curriculum Excellence Award for Teaching Lean Concepts
Graduates find hands-on learning experience provides an edge in the workplace
May 25, 2010
by Michelle Cometa
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The industrial and systems engineering department at Rochester Institute of Technology received the Institute of Industrial Engineers Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Lean Concepts. This is the second curriculum recognition the department has received in the past year for its emphasis on experiential learning of some of the industry’s foremost manufacturing and engineering design principles.
The institute’s award committee recognized RIT for lean-teaching excellence, leadership, curriculum content and quality, its clear aspects of applied learning, student satisfaction and outstanding contributions to the field of lean systems modeling and design. The award will be given at the IIE Annual Conference June 5–9 in Cancun, Mexico.
The award-winning curriculum is a reflection of the growth of the industrial and systems engineering department and its focus on experiential learning around lean concepts, says Jacquie Mozrall, department chair. “The award confirms that our programs integrate relevant, experiential learning for our students. In the last four years, the Toyota Production Systems Lab has been integrated within the curriculum to support several courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level.”
Led by faculty Andres Carrano and John Kaemmerlen, along with Mozrall, the curriculum has been developed as they expanded capabilities in the Toyota Production Lab. The lab is a state-of-the-art, reconfigurable production line facility located in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
The curriculum, designed for multiple audiences, is steeped in lean concepts and aspects of the Toyota production method that has permeated many industries, not just the automotive industry, Mozrall explains. It provides a means for students to better understand careers in industrial and systems engineering, and the hands-on applications in the lab setting give co-op students and new graduates an edge in the workplace.
“For those that come for just a few minutes, you want to show them just an observation activity, maybe with students in the lab demonstrating and faculty explaining what they are watching,” says Kaemmerlen, who joined the industrial and systems engineering faculty in 2007 after more than 30 years of industrial experience at Kodak.
Carrano and Kaemmerlen believe that students working in the lab will have something they can use anywhere—a background in problem-solving, continuous improvement, teamwork. “This is the framework of the Toyota system, but it can be applied to banking, a hospital, anywhere they might work,” says Carrano.
The Toyota Lab prepared 2008 RIT graduate Carlos Briceno for his job in the Toyota Technical Center in Michigan. “It gave me the basis to understand the principal concepts of the Toyota way. So when I started working at Toyota, I was familiar with most of the concepts,” he says.
As the lab’s audience changes and becomes more varied in the future, the true value of a manufacturing system can still be easily demonstrated, says Kyle Mininni, a 2009 RIT graduate and manufacturing engineer with Boeing Co. “It will be comprehended differently by each person, but that is where the depth of the learning potential really comes to life.”