Depot, university partner to groom future business leaders
August 19, 2008
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Tobyhanna and the University of Scranton Operations and Information Management (OIM) Department have joined forces to provide college students the tools they'll need for a career in big business.
The collaborative effort brought the classroom to the worksite during Lean Six Sigma events conducted here Aug. 4-7. Five university professors, depot employees and SCEP students applied textbook theory and hands-on experience to improve business processes on the production floor via two rapid improvement events (RIE) and a value stream analysis (VSA).
Lean Six Sigma is a disciplined approach that helps Tobyhanna consistently meet customer requirements and drive continuous improvement through process-focused management.
The teams spent four days targeting specific processes or tasks to identify and eliminate waste.
"This partnership expands the professors' ability to teach Lean Six Sigma because it exposes them to how it is deployed in a production setting here. Plus, we [Tobyhanna] benefit from their expertise on the latest academic research and studies in this area," said Brad Jones, Productivity Improvement and Innovation Directorate director. "It's a win-win and it's just the beginning of mutually beneficial projects we've got planned."
The university's curriculum covers productivity, workplace efficiency, supply chain matters, enterprise resource planning systems and other operational management processes.
"Reading the textbook is one thing, but putting it into practice is another," said Rose Sebastianelli. "When you sit in on an event, you begin to understand the challenges and obstacles that are in a real organization." Sebastianelli is a statistics and forecasting professor. She also teaches quality management.
University students studying OIM who participated in the Lean Six Sigma events remarked on how much the experience taught them. The students are employed here under the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP).
"When I started working here, I didn't know much about Lean," said Melissa Marczak, explaining that her job as a management analyst trainee has reinforced a love of OIM. "I've learned so much from all the reading material and hands-on events, I'm thinking of switching my major to operational management," she said. Marczak starts her junior year this fall.
The VSA team worked to improve the AN/TSC-147 shelter maintenance process by mapping out ways to eliminate waste while establishing a one-piece flow, similar to the AN/TYQ-23 process. The RIE teams worked to improve the AN/TPS-75 line repairable unit (LRU) overhaul process and reduce rework, and develop and implement standard work for the AN/TSC-154 Secure Mobile Anti-Jam Reliable Tactical Terminal (SMART-T) cells/stations in Building 72A.
Professors Ying Chien and Kingsley Gnanendran were members of the VSA team. Gnanendran teaches supply chain management and Chien teaches management science.
"I am so grateful for the opportunity to see the real thing." said Chien, associate professor of operations management. "Our group was wonderful, the environment was relaxed and everyone was very knowledgeable."
Both professors were impressed with the group's teamwork and cooperation while working through the process.
"Everybody was an equal partner from the students to the division head," Gnanendran said. "It was amazing to see everyone getting the opportunity to participate."
The educators also earned rave reviews from the team leaders and facilitators who headed the three events.
"They were knowledgeable and helpful," said Thomas Cline, VSA facilitator. "They participated in the data gathering exercise by walking the system route through the support shops and helped calculate the lineal feet between each operation."
Ramona Kost said the professor assigned to the SMART-T event provided suggestions and identified areas for improvement.
"Having someone in the group who wasn't part of the depot organization was refreshing," she said. "They were able to help everyone think outside the box."
James Martin's group was tasked to decrease the amount of rework performed on LRUs during system testing on Powder Smoke Ridge. During the RIE, professors Sebastianelli and Tamimi evaluated the process using Lean tools then offered suggestions or opinions on how to make improvements, according to Bill Stevens and Chris Simko, event facilitators.
"I thought the professors were knowledgeable in the theory of Lean Six Sigma," Simko said. "One of the professors, a statistician, was able to offer insightful perspectives on better ways to compile and analyze the data required to make improvements."
At the end of the four days, everyone felt they had accomplished what they set out to do.
"A lot of problematic areas were identified and new methods were implemented," said Nabil Tamimi, a management science professor who teaches operations management. "Participating in events like this will help us teach our students skills to better equip them for a career in business."
Jennifer O'Hara starts her junior year at the University of Scranton this fall. As a management analyst trainee at Tobyhanna, she said participating in Lean events has helped her apply what she's learned in school to the business world.
"I haven't decided what I want to do after graduation," said O'Hara, "but working here would be a great place to start my career."
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.
About 5,800 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control, computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.