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Students Work with Manufacturers in Lean Training Event

By Karen Myhaver, Manufacturing YOUR Career Coordinator, MassMEP

This summer, MassMEP ran a Principles of Lean 101 training event graciously hosted by CPI Radant Technologies of Hudson, MA. The complimentary, full-day interactive training was offered to manufacturers who are part of the Manufacturing YOUR Career, Manufacturing LINK. "The LINK" is a database that the MassMEP has put together and provided to Massachusetts high schools to help initiate learning and interaction between students, teachers, guidance professionals, and Massachusetts manufacturers.

Employees from six different manufacturing companies attended the training. Chuck Faraci, Director of Operational Excellence at CPI, kicked off the day by describing the positive effects Lean implementation has had at CPI's facilities. The class also included three Advanced Manufacturing students and their instructor from Worcester Technical High School.

Through the event, MassMEP offered the students the opportunity to learn alongside employees from the manufacturing community while getting real world manufacturing training. One student, Tajaiah (Taj) Ward, is part of Worcester's Innovation Pathways initiative, which allows high school students from two of the city's comprehensive high schools to take classes at the vocational high school in the afternoon. The program provides students with sought after hands-on technical skills and was expanded to include students from all six of Worcester's Comprehensive High Schools for the 2019-2020 school year.

Ward, who will be a senior at Burncoat High School in the fall, said, "I joined Innovation Pathways because I saw it as an opportunity to better myself, and learn new skills that will benefit me going into the real world. I actually wasn't sure what advanced manufacturing was and I was curious. I'm happy with my choice because manufacturing is something that I can see myself making a career and living from. The program opened up a new career path that I honestly didn't even know there was by providing new perspectives, and opportunities for jobs and experiences that I would not get at my regular high school."

Principles of Lean 101 training mixes classroom work with learning simulation. The simulation begins with an "old school" manufacturing scenario where "employees" are thrown into jobs in a disorganized clock factory without proper training. Quality, delivery, and productivity suffer. Throughout the day, new concepts are introduced and applied in "the factory." Eventually, high quality clocks are produced to meet customer demand.

The high school students were as engaged in the training as their manufacturer counterparts and participated by playing roles and offering improvement ideas. Afterwards, participants shared their enthusiasm. "I have tools and motivation to apply at my workplace immediately," wrote one person. Kathleen Doherty, from CPI Radant in Stow said, "Thank you for the opportunity to attend this training. While I will admit I was less than enthusiastic about attending, it was an eye-opener! This clock making exercise was a very refreshing new approach. The 5 S's and the visual tools are just two of the ideas I hope to utilize in my position in the stockroom!"

Jeff Coll from Consolidated Sterilizer Systems in Billerica remarked, "The event was very informative and a lot of fun. John Pelletier was a blast to work with as was Karen Myhaver during the simulation. I'd also like to thank the people at CPI Radant for hosting the training and taking us on a tour of their facility. I found their work and processes fascinating."

"The students and their instructor thought the training was fantastic and got a lot from it," wrote Innovation Pathways Director, Drew Weymouth.

Ward added, "The lean manufacturing training was informative and fun at the same time. I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. Not only does it teach how to run a successful and efficient business, but also the importance of being open minded to change and improvements, about problem solving, teamwork, respect, and thinking critically and outside of the box. In business, it's all about the customer and what they want, and about constantly learning, and improving your skills to get better and make more profit, earn more business, and create partnerships. Overall, it was an amazing and eye opening experience."

"Fantastic! The training shows how small changes can lead to overall improvement," summarized another attendee. His statement doesn't just apply to Lean training though. Encouraging manufacturers to make some small changes by starting to or getting a bit more involved with schools and students will create more interest in manufacturing and manufacturing careers among these potential manufacturing employees - which WILL lead to overall improvement.

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