Category Archives: News

Welcome Blake!

Joining the team in the Office of Continuous Improvement is a new Process Improvement Coordinator (PIC), Blake Patterson. Blake is a first year student pursuing a degree in Sports Management. Although Blake is only a first year he was actively involved in many clubs and organizations in high school. Blake is fun spirit, full of excitement for each day and shares the office wide enthusiasm for lean. We are very excited to formally introduce Blake. We will now let him take over and tell you more about himself!

Hey everyone!
I am Blake Patterson and I am a first year majoring in Sports and Fitness Management. I was hired in early August as the new Student Process Improvement Coordinator, and I’ll be working with Rylie and Ari in the Lean and Continuous Improvement activities here at Michigan Tech. I’m very excited for the future, as my training comes to an end, and to see what I’ll be able to do with Lean, not just in work, but in my everyday life.
I was born and raised in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan, but my all-time favorite thing to do is to travel. I love traveling to different places, and seeing new things, which is why I’m thinking I eventually want to study abroad at some point during my college career. I have been lucky to travel to some really cool places already during my lifetime, but probably my two most memorable trips would be going to New York City, and watching President Trump’s inauguration in Washington D.C. this past January.
I graduated from Hancock Central High School this past May (2017). During high school I was a member of the Aurora Battalion JROTC, the Hancock band, while I wasalso dual enrolled at Gogebic Community College. I ran cross country for three years and ran track for two years, this may sound weird to the average person, but I enjoyed the long distance of cross country so much more than track. If you couldn’t tell from my major, I’m an avid sports fan. My absolute favorite team, ever since I was little, is the Seattle Seahawks football team. Another hobby of mine is that I really enjoy keeping statistics for sports, hence why I have a job in the Athletic Department as an Athletic Communications Assistant, where I keep statistics for different athletic teams for Michigan Tech.
I am very excited for my time in the Office of Continuous Improvement, because every day is an adventure, and it validates the saying “you learn something new every day.” I can’t wait to see what I can contribute to the university, as I embark on my adventure in the world of Lean.

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Farewell Post – Elizabeth Wohlford

It has been a great journey over the past two years as a process improvement coordinator (PIC) and as graduation is just two weeks away this will be my last post. I have really enjoyed working with so many different people and being a part of real changes across campus.

Since starting in July 2014, I have helped out by being a Lean facilitator for 3 on-campus events and a PIC for 14 campus improvement events across 5 departments at Michigan Tech. These events have helped campus save over 400 hours of time for Michigan Tech’s staff, and over $4,000.00 in waste, along with alleviating countless amounts of stress all around. The projects have ranged from helping employees 5S their workstation, to aiding the Van Pelt and Opie Library staff in standardizing the archive binder process, to helping student organizations like the MTU FilmBoard come up with standardized processes for their equipment set up. I have also been able to assist in 5 office projects ranging from informational wall posters which can now be seen outside our office, to marketing videos that including a cameo appearance by Michigan Tech’s President Glenn Mroz!

I first learned about Lean from my co-op with Kimberly-Clark in one of their manufacturing mills located in Ogden, Utah, and I have been able to take it with me as far as Boston when I met up with John O’Donnell for the second time at the Lean Enterprise Institute headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A selfie of that visit can be seen below (I have blogged about it before). I love Lean because it not only promotes order and information transparency, but also underlines having respect for people.

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I would like to thank the entire Office of Continuous Improvement for the time and patience they poured into me upon my arrival, as I was becoming more fluent in my understanding of a what a Lean culture really is. After graduation I will be trading Houghton, Michigan for Seattle, Washington, all the while spreading the Lean spirit that I have learned to love over these past two years. Best of luck to the newly hired PICs–I have full trust that you’ll continue down the great pathway this office is on and fall in love with Lean as much as I have.


Meet the PIC- Aspen Holmes

Hey everyone!
My name is Aspen Holmes and I am a first year Communications major here at Michigan Tech. Over break I was hired as the new Student Process Improvement Coordinator and will be joining Elizabeth and Nate in Lean and Continuous Improvement activities around campus. I’m still finishing up my training, but find I have already caught the improvement bug. I’m enthusiastic about Lean philosophy!

I grew up in the Keweenaw and with that I carry a hefty amount of Yooper pride. I can’t imagine a better place to live and hope to raise my own kids here. Along with this Yooper pride comes a sense of exploration, a willingness to be pushed out of my comfort zone, an insurmountable appreciation for the outdoors, and a tough-as-nails attitude towards everything I do. I grew up in a household that tried to continuously improve the community around us. As a result of this I see the world through a humanitarian-based perspective, trying to find ways to help in any situation that crosses my path.

Graduating a year early from Hancock Central High School in 2014 I spent the following year abroad in Blumenau, Santa Catarina, Brazil as an ambassador of the Rotary Youth Exchange program. While there I integrated myself into the culture and the community- I went to school, adapted Brazilian habits, learned the language, and volunteered. I am conversationally fluent in Brazilian Portuguese and am in the process of learning German through Michigan Tech. It is my goal to eventually speak a language from every continent. I am an avid traveler and will never say no to a proposition of adventure. I miss, and think of Brazil every day. The transition through reverse culture shock was definitely a difficult one, but I finally feel at home again here in the United States. Michigan Tech has pushed and aided me in the process of rediscovering the area, finding new hobbies, and making many new friends. I strive to utilize every opportunity that comes my way and will continue to do so throughout my time as a Husky.

I look forward to my time in this position and am already passionate about the work I will be doing. I am truly blessed to work with all of the wonderful people in the Office of Continuous Improvement and look forward to what the year will bring. I am incredibly thankful for this amazing opportunity. I will continue to learn everything I can about Lean initiatives. I hope to make a substantial impact on the university by utilizing my quirkiness and unique perspective to find unconventional solutions throughout my collegiate journey.

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Welcome Elizabeth Wohlford!

The Office of Continuous Improvement has hired a new Student Process Improvement Coordinator. Elizabeth is a third-year Mechanical Engineering major and also does research in the Biomedical Engineering department under Dr. Neuman, is Vice- President of Michigan Tech’s student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and is webmaster for Michigan Tech’s Society of Women Engineers. She brings to the office previous experience in Six Sigma and Lean Practices from previous internships with Johnson Controls and Kimberly-Clark along with a willingness to learn more about the world of continuous improvement.

Here Elizabeth will introduce herself and share some thoughts about her new role:

When I went into my first industry experience as an intern for Johnson Controls I had very minimal exposure to the world of continuous improvement. I was given a process improvement project dealing with automotive door panel scratch testing and tasked with identifying the variables that affected performance. I was able to go through Green Belt training with using the project to learn Six Sigma methodology. While working at a mill for Kimberly-Clark in Utah I was exposed to Lean practices and how crucial it is to have standard processes in the world of mass production manufacturing. When I found out about this open position in the office of Continuous Improvement, I knew it would be a great opportunity to continue the learning process and be a leader in conducting improvement efforts on campus.

Over the past few weeks that I have been working in the office, I have put together a training course for teaching about Lean practices. I will be working on assisting with the coordination, data collection and facilitation of Kaizen Events.

I am grateful to be given this opportunity and look forward to adding value in the office by executing on initiatives that drive Michigan Tech’s campus to the next level.

WohlfordElizabeth

 


Lean at Tech Update

Michigan Technological University campus

At Michigan Tech, continuous improvement is being integrated into the everyday operations of the university. A central Office of Continuous Improvement supports departments and individuals in their efforts and functions as a knowledge bank for people seeking more information. This office connects people who want to do a continuous improvement event with a trained facilitator; the university’s 24 facilitators are all volunteers.  

Training, workshops, and coaching help to develop a continuous improvement culture. The Lean facilitators and Lean Implementation Leaders attend monthly continuing education to keep their skills fresh. All new supervisors are required to receive basic training in Lean principles. In addition, periodic workshops on topics like 5S and Process Mapping make Lean immediately useful and accessible to university employees.

Michigan Tech’s Continuous Improvement program also increases campus and community awareness, exposure, and engagement. Initiatives in this area include an active website, this blog, a recurring article in the university newsletter Tech Today, a Twitter account (@Lean_at_MTU), and a Lean Library. A Lean Model Office tour showcases Lean practices in an office environment; stop by the office at 136W Wadsworth Hall to take the self-guided tour. Michigan Tech also organizes a quarterly meeting for the Copper County Lean Group made up of 26 area businesses who gather to learn more about Lean and continuous improvement, share stories, collaborate, ask questions, and celebrate successes.


Goodbye, Megan

Today we bid a fond farewell to Megan Johnson. Megan has been a student Process Improvement Coordinator in the Office of Continuous Improvement for 3 years. In that time, she was involved with dozens of Kaizen Events, both as a coordinator and as a facilitator. 

We have a Megan for that! The Two Megans partnership has come to an end.

Megan recently graduated from Michigan Tech with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. She’s taking a position with a global manufacturing company as a Value Stream Team Leader. A value stream is the series of events and the information flow required to transform a customer request into a good or service. Value streams generally cross production lines and departmental boundaries; they have an enterprise focus rather than a functional focus. Megan credits the skills she developed as a student Process Improvement Coordinator and as the president of the Leaders in Continuous Improvement (LCI) student organization with giving her the competitive edge during her job search. 

Megan sends her thanks to all of the wonderful continuous improvement facilitators and team leaders that she’s worked with. 

Goodbye, Megan. Have a super sparkly career!


New Manager of Process Improvement

Ruth Archer, Manager of Process Improvement
Ruth Archer, Manager of Process Improvement

Hello! I’m Ruth Archer, the new Manager of Process Improvement. I’ll be maintaining and building on the excellent foundation of continuous improvement using Lean principles already established at Michigan Tech. I’m responsible for the leadership and support of process improvement activities on campus. I’m pleased to be leading this highly skilled team and look forward to taking on the challenges of the position.

I believe that following a continuous improvement philosophy is an excellent way to be successful, both professionally and personally. Integrating continuous improvement into your work can increase your effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity. Bottlenecks and non-value-added steps can be identified and eliminated. Costs can be reduced through savings in money, time, and materials. In addition, continuous improvement can increase your job satisfaction because you’ll feel empowered. Decision making is pushed down to the lowest possible level. Employees are enabled to challenge the status quo and offer ideas for improvements. And the system ensures that people’s ideas are listened to and discussed, so, even if your idea isn’t ultimately used, you’ll still feel valued. Finally, continuous improvement increases customer satisfaction because the customer gets a quality product at the lowest cost. Satisfied customers will return for more and recommend your organization to other people.

The best part is that you don’t have to figure this out on your own! Our team of experienced facilitators and process coordinators will help you form the right team and lead you through every step to get your process improved.

I personally enjoy practicing Lean principles. When I was an aircraft technician in the Air Force, my shop lived by the 5S’s: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. Our tools were carefully arranged, including our bench tools and our toolboxes. Our workplace was cleaned at the end of each shift, and our work on the aircraft had to be meticulous. We used technical orders to standardize tasks and regular inspections to sustain adherence to procedures. As a university instructor, I used continuous improvement as an integral part of teaching. I applied the Lean principles of creating value for the customer, eliminating waste, and respect for people to improve my courses. For example, reviewing the type and spacing of assignments to provide a steady work load for students, explicitly relating assignments to learning outcomes, and ensuring all assignments have a clear format and grading rubric are all continuous improvement processes for faculty.

Contact us and we’ll come and talk to you about how you can incorporate continuous improvement practices into your everyday activities.


Welcome Nate Hood!

The Office of Continuous Improvement has hired a new Student Process Improvement Coordinator to replace the recently departed Mike Leveille. Nate is a third-year Supply Chain Management major and currently captain of the Michigan Tech Track and Field team.  Prior to this position, Nate worked predominately in purchasing and in sales. He brings to the office a good understanding of many business processes along with a willingness and eagerness to learn more.

Here Nate will introduce himself and share some thoughts about his new role:

In recent years, when February comes around I find myself more stressed than usual. The looming pressure to impress potential employers grows exponentially with every passing day leading  up to the spring career fair. This year I have been relieved of that stress as I was hired to be a PIC two weeks ago. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work with the Office of Continuous Improvement staff on the many different improvement events around campus. This position was right up my alley, as I have always enjoyed being a part of improvement projects. The chance to spend the rest of the semester and the entire summer assisting with these projects and learning about Lean is priceless.

In the two weeks that I’ve been in the office I have spent a lot of time reading up on various lean principles, practices, tools, and techniques; I even did surprisingly well on our office “Lean Jeopardy” game this past Monday. This week I was also added as a PIC on three different Kaizen events that I’m very excited to be working on. Being in this office and working with this staff of wonderful ladies (and Andre), I feel like I’m a part of something great and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and excited to see what the future holds.



Campus 5S Blitz!

Are you always searching for lost files or tools? Do items from your area seem to just “go missing”? Is it hard to find files on your shared network drive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, the 5S Blitz might be for you! The 5S Blitz is a Lean Workshop for those who are interested in learning more about Lean and in using 5S to improve their (physical or virtual) work spaces. 5S can be applied to your personal desk, a lab, a supply area, a network drive, and more! The workshop will be taking place on January 28, 2014.

In the 5S Blitz, participants will have a learning session in the morning, and then will be able to go to their work space to start implementing 5S with the help of a campus Lean facilitator before coming back in the afternoon to share their progress and any lessons learned. Throughout the following two weeks, participants can continue to work on their 5S project before sharing their experience in an open report out.

If you’re interested in participating, you can find out more and register today on the Lean Workshops page of our website. You can participate individually or with others from your work area. All you need to register is a 5S project idea!

A disorganized cabinet before 5S...
...and an organized cabinet with visual controls after!