June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.868.1 - 11.868.13
Lean Throughout the IE Curriculum
In recent years, the principles of Lean Manufacturing have received a great deal of attention in industry and in the popular press. Companies seeking a workforce trained in the principles of lean often send their employees through lean certification programs. While some IE programs now offer undergraduate courses devoted to lean, some working IEs and faculty in Industrial Engineering programs have dismissed lean citing that lean principles are “just traditional industrial engineering”. Lean is seen to be a new buzzword that may be expected to lose favor as did quality circles or reengineering.
In this paper we consider the lean phenomenon and summarize how it is similar to and different from “traditional” IE. We then suggest how the essential elements of lean thinking can be integrated throughout the core of an IE curriculum so that students are introduced to the essential lean principles without the need for additional courses specifically devoted to lean. We also suggest how it may be possible for undergraduates enrolled in an IE program to obtain lean certification before graduation making them more desirable to companies who are pursuing lean initiatives. Besides providing graduates with skills that are in high demand, certification can serve to emphasize the natural connection between industrial engineering and lean thinking increasing the awareness of the value of IE to an organization.
Since the mid-90’s, lean has been a hot topic among practitioners of industrial engineering. The annual IIE Solutions Conference features many sessions promoting lean and helping attendees learn to apply lean concepts in their jobs. IIE has held focused Lean Conferences. In San Diego, the IIE Chapter meetings featuring lean are the best attended events. Other organizations including AME, APICS, ASQ, INCOSE, and SME offer lean meeting programs. Professional organizations and for-profit groups have developed lean certificate programs. Universities also offer lean programs, but these are often offered by Schools of Business Administration, or through extension programs.
And yet few industrial engineering programs appear to formally offer training in lean principles as a part of their undergraduate programs. There are many reasons that may explain why programs eschew lean, but one common outlook was expressed by an industrial engineering faculty member who asked, “Isn’t it true the ‘lean manufacturing’ is nothing but good old IE/OR cloaked by a new name?” 1
These authors agree with most IE faculty that, more than graduates of any other discipline, our graduates are well-prepared to apply most lean concepts (by any name) and that the industrial engineering profession should be looked at as the natural resource for organizations who are looking to adopt lean ideas. However, while aspects of lean are “good old IE”, some important lean concepts and tools are not a part of the core IE curriculum. Furthermore, we realize that many of the people who are making the decisions that their organizations should embark on the
Chase, B., & Olson, R., & Perry, L. (2006, June), Lean Throughout The Ie Curriculum Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/1230
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