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ODU Institute to Host Lean Educator Conference This Month

Old Dominion University's Lean Manufacturing and Enterprise Institute will host industry and academic experts from across the United States at the Lean Educator Conference 2012, Sept. 27-29.

Lean manufacturing is a production practice centered on preserving value with less work. It considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination.

ODU's Lean Manufacturing and Enterprise Institute, part of the engineering technology department of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, was established to find solutions for issues related to enterprise productivity, and convey those solutions to local industries like the shipyard and U.S. Navy.

Its work has brought together the expertise of faculty and industry to enhance education and learning opportunities for educators nationwide in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

Alok Verma, Ray Ferrari Professor and director of ODU's Lean Institute, will serve as the conference chair. He said the conference is ideal for linking ODU's efforts to those being undertaken by industry and by other schools.

"Industry has been implementing lean manufacturing over the past several years, starting with aerospace and automotive, and moving to areas like shipbuilding and health care," Verma said. "But none of the universities really offered a program in lean education, to train the people who will train the workforces."

Verma said MIT started working on a curriculum in lean education about a decade ago, and has since been joined by more than 40 other institutions nationwide, including Old Dominion.

"People have to find ways to do more with fewer resources. Our current economic downturn demonstrated this," said Verma.

Among the speakers scheduled to appear at the Lean Educator Conference are Ron Murray, vice president of quality and process excellence for Newport News Shipbuilding; Mike Rother, author of the publication "Learning to See," about mapping value in manufacturing; and Capt. James Cobell III, U.S. Navy commanding officer, Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic.

The three-day conference also includes panels on applying lean thinking to improve K-12 education, and using software simulation to teach process improvement.

For more information about the Lean Educator Conference 2012, email: info@leaneducatorconference.org.