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Lean Throughout The Ie Curriculum

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Reforming the Industrial Engineering Curriculum

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.868.1 - 11.868.13



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Paper Authors


Bradley Chase University of San Diego

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Bradley Chase, PhD, MPH, CPE is Associate Professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering at the University of San Diego, San Diego, California, USA. Dr. Chase is the author of several journal articles and book chapters on ergonomics and human factors. Dr. Chase also serves as a research scientist at the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego and conducts research in work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), cognitive ergonomics, attention, and electrophysiological measures of stress and performance.

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Rick Olson University of San Diego

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Rick T. Olson is an Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of San Diego where he teaches courses from the freshman year through senior design. His teaching and research emphasis is in applied operations research.

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Leonard Perry University of San Diego

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Leonard A. Perry, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering at the University of San Diego. His research interests are in the area of system improvement via quality improvement methods especially in the area of applied statistics, statistical process control, and design of experiments. He is an instructor at the Six-Sigma Institute and is a Certified Six-Sigma Master Black-Belt and ASQ Certified Quality Engineer.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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.

1 Introduction

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. 10.18260/1-2--1230

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015