Asee peer logo

Using Hands On Simulation To Teach Lean Principles: A Comparison And Assessment Across Settings

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Focus on IE Principles and Techniques

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1340.1 - 13.1340.13



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Sharon Johnson Worcester Polytechnic Institute

author page

Bryan Norman University of Pittsburgh

author page

Jean Fullerton Elizabethtown College

author page

Susan Pariseau Merrimack College

Download Paper |

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

Using Hands-On Simulation to Teach Lean Principles: A Comparison and Assessment across Settings


Lean thinking has transformed the way that processes are designed and managed, significantly improving lead times, quality and cost for many organizations. These ideas are being applied to more complex processes, involving supply chain partners, services, and product development processes. Undergraduate students in industrial and other engineering programs often encounter lean ideas in a fragmented and theoretical way, with particular tactics taught in existing courses, rather than from a holistic and applied perspective. We are using a hands-on approach to teaching lean principles based on a physical simulation called Time WiseTM, developed by Time Wise Management Systems, where participants assemble clocks using a multi-stage process to get hands-on practice applying lean principles.

In this paper, we describe the use of this hands-on approach in three settings: in two different introductory courses in Industrial Engineering (IE), at different schools, and in one Introduction to Engineering course at a third school. We describe and contrast the implementation experience at each school, including specifics about how the materials were included in the courses, the support needed, and faculty preparation and observations. In addition, we present some of our assessment tools, and provide a preliminary analysis of student learning across two settings. Our assessment addresses the extent to which students are able to apply lean principles and use data to support decision-making.


Good process design can be a cornerstone of competitive advantage, and provide an opportunity to significantly improve operational performance6. The techniques and issues associated with process design are a significant part of the Industrial Engineering (IE) discipline10, yet as in other engineering fields, good design is difficult to teach. Design is a creative process that must address the complexity of real-world processes with unique constraints and competitive drivers.

In the past 20 years, diverse organizations have used lean principles to design processes that deliver significantly improved lead times, quality and cost15. Lean principles provide systematic guidelines for designing effective processes, focusing on eliminating waste by specifying value, simplifying flow, and pulling from customer demand18. Specific tactics, such as cellular layouts, are employed by designers to translate principles into practice. Because many IE courses focus on detailed design related to specific tactics, which fit naturally as subtopics within existing courses, students often encounter lean tactics in a piecemeal fashion, making it difficult for students develop an integrated understanding of the underlying philosophies. Courses dedicated to lean are generally aimed at senior-level students. Opportunities to practice process design are often the domain of senior-level capstone projects as well.

Johnson, S., & Norman, B., & Fullerton, J., & Pariseau, S. (2008, June), Using Hands On Simulation To Teach Lean Principles: A Comparison And Assessment Across Settings Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3896

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: © 2008 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