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Business Students Learn To Be Lean

By Christine Rojewski

Their mothers always told them not to waste their food, but this week, students will be learning not to waste anything.

Rockwell Collins and its Lean Aerospace Initiative program is teaming up with the University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business to instruct MBA students in ways to use waste.

About 30 students will be taught so-called "lean" practices, which are the methods used by businesses to use waste effectively. Waste is defined as anything that is not valuable to consumers.

Barrett Thomas, an assistant professor in management sciences at UI, said the three-credit course will be taught through lectures and activities.

"We'll be teaching it in this way so the students put the concepts into practice," he said.

The university has offered similar courses in the past, but they were never teamed with Rockwell Collins.

College of Business officials decided to work with the Cedar Rapids company because it has had outstanding success working with the philosophy of lean practices, Thomas said.

"It just seemed like a natural next step to teach students about the lean properties that we apply to our company and factory," said Nancy Welsh, director of public relations for Rockwell.

Thomas said interest in the weeklong course, which begins today, is high, at least based on enrollment.

"We had a lot of response," he said. "But we couldn't take everyone, just a few."

The class will tour Rockwell Collins today and hold a simulation practice on Tuesday.

Although this is the first year for the class, Thomas said that both the university and Rockwell Collins want to offer others in the future.

"It's a good treatment of the topic, and students clearly want it," he said. "The only problem is time constraint. We don't know if we'll offer it over the summer or next winter."

He thinks that the class will be a success because students will walk away from it with a great knowledge of lean principals and tools.

"I have a lot of faith in this class," he said.

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