Lean Education Academic Network Announced
Lean Education Academic Network (new website)
The Lean Enterprise Institute has announced a lean academic network for professors and universities that are teaching lean principles. There is certainly room to teach lean princples within engineering disciplines (particular Industrial Engineering and Mechanical Engineering) and also in business school. I know most of my business school classmates view the world as finance people or marketing people. Operations was something you took one required course in and maybe learned “Toyota is good” (unless you were part of the manufacturing-specific program).
Good luck with the “LEAN” network. It's a noble purpose and I hope it does well.
The full press release can be read at the LEI website, but it requires a free registration.
A question for blog readers: What colleges and universities are doing a good job of teaching lean, whether it's in undergrad, grad school, or certificate programs? Click “Comments” to add your thoughts.
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When I was an undergrad at Northwestern (Industrial Engineering), the core IE curriculum included an excellent operations class led by Prof. Mark Spearman, of Factory Physics fame. The class taught what was wrong with MRP and how/why lean (JIT) was better.
In grad school, at MIT, there was an entire Manufacturing Engineering course, led by David Cochran, that covered lean for an entire semester, including a real-world project. The business school, particularly the Leaders for Manufacturing Program, made sure students were exposed to core lean concepts. The LFM program now has a summer course that goes in-depth about lean and six sigma.
This network has been going for a little while now and has some good and broad participation, although for now it appears mostly limited to curriculum-sharing versus bigger solutions. One problem with lean being taught in schools today is that in most cases it reinforces that one person is an engineer and should do lean engineering, and another is a supply person and should do lean supply chain work. We need to cut across these boundaries and pull people to work together, both in industry but this can START in our universities.
I have been very impressed with the ME grads from CalPoly San Luis Obispo. Their mantra is “learning by doing”, and they’re consistently ranked in the top public 4-year universities in the west. They definitely have the lean background and have seen some “real world”. And no I’m not plugging my own alma mater!
One downside I’ve seen with recent grads from pretty much any school is that they are very quick to jump to computerized solutions. Databases, e-kanbans, barcodes to track every conceivable thing. In my view this is dangerous. There is a place for computerized systems, however simple manual visual controls are often far more efficient.
And don’t forget simulation. Recent grads are taught simulation and they would often simulate a line than stand and observe it. Sorry for plugging my own alma maters :-)