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Circuit Troubleshooting Based on Applying Lean Six Sigma Techniques

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

EET Papers 2

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Elaine M. Cooney Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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Elaine Cooney is the Chair of the Department of Engineering Technology and the Program Director for Electrical Engineering Technology at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. She is also a Senior IDEAL Scholar with ABET, which means that she presents assessment workshops with other Senior IDEAL Scholars.

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Paul Yearling P.E. Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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Paul Yearling
Education: PhD. Major: Mechanical Engineering, Minor: Applied Mathematics
Professional Engineer License
Certifications: Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
Current Position: Associate Chair Engineering Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology Program Director

Industrial Experience

Over 20 years of industrial experience initially as a Royal Naval Dockyard indentured craftsman machinist and Design Draftsman and project manager on Leander class Steam Turbine Naval frigates and diesel electric submarines. Most recently includes 12 years in Research and Development and Lean Six Sigma process improvement experience troubleshooting process issues in the Paper, Chemical, and Converting Industries.

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Karl J. Huehne Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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Mr. Huehne has been an adjunct instructor in the Electrical Engineering Technology department at Indiana University Purdue University - Indianapolis for over ten years, teaching basic electronic circuits courses to undergraduates.

He has an additional forty years of experience in the electronics industry in design, applications, and product engineering for transistor level circuits, integrated circuit level designs, and design of custom integrated circuits, including analog, digital and mixed signal. .

He has been granted four US patents, authored and presented several technical papers and served as technical editor for publications including textbooks covering basic ac and dc electrical circuit analysis.

He earned a BSEE from the University of Illinois and and an MSEE from Arizona State University.

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This paper presents Lean Six Sigma techniques and methods that Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) students have found useful in their in-class circuit troubleshooting activities. When students are first learning circuit analysis and fabrication, they often lack the skills to troubleshoot failed circuits based on a specification. In addition to presenting the tools used in the instruction of the test student group this paper also describes how the Lean Six Sigma method were used to arrive at the optimal course content.

For this paper, two student groups, in an EET laboratory experience, are compared based on the primary metric, number of failed attempts to meet circuit board test specifications. The student test body was divided into two groups. A control course section group, where no troubleshooting instruction was given and designated the “As Is” state. The second section group, “Improved State,” was given extensive troubleshooting methodology as part of their initial training. The primary metric, number of failed attempts to meet specification, was chosen as it is easy to measure by student Teaching Assistants (TA) and was also used to assess the Sigma process capability for each group. The Sigma capability of each group provided a further measure of the overall success of the project.

The authors quickly realized that students in the control group were making two classic types of error. Many students were making a rule or knowledge-based error, where students were not following the instructions for the specific circuit fabrication and test. This type of error was addressed by improving instructional material and adding root-cause analysis checklists to the course content. The second type of observed error, where a student is incorrectly applying a base skill to the fabrication protocol, is classified as event-based and is more difficult to resolve. Theoretically, there can be many possible solutions to an event based error. Perhaps there may even be no optimal solution to the error, or “right answer,” just a work around that students must find. To address this type of error students were instructed how to apply Lean Six Sigma tools such as root-cause analysis and Failure Modes and Effects (FMEA) matrices in their problem-solving sessions. Also, Sneak Analysis was included to address typical design flaws.

Cooney, E. M., & Yearling, P., & Huehne, K. J. (2017, June), Circuit Troubleshooting Based on Applying Lean Six Sigma Techniques Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28032

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