UT Lean program helps students, businesses stay competitive

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A University of Tennessee summer program is gaining worldwide recognition for helping businesses stay competitive. The Lean Enterprise program is run by the Department of Industrial and Information Engineering.

The program kicked off its five week course Monday with nearly 200 students from Brazil, Mexico, China and Columbia participating. It teaches students how to create more value for consumers by using fewer resources and eliminating waste. The students will learn in the classroom and interact with local businesses.

“They’re going to be applying what they learn and on a daily basis going to the companies, analyzing the processes and proposing improvements,” said Enrique Macias Deanda, who helps run the program.

Lean practices are designed to help businesses become more competitive. It’s popular with big companies like Toyota, and it’s catching on locally with more and more companies and hospitals taking part. Students say it’s a great way to meet industry contacts.

“I can bring this experience back to Brazil or even have an opportunity here if I do a great job to come back here in the USA and work with some of these companies,” said Ana Breda.

UT professor Rupy Sawhney started the program five years ago. He says it’s helping international students get a better understanding of American culture.

“They work for an American company, they study at an American university, and they see it’s not what they thought so they leave as much better ambassadors of the United States,” Sawhney said.

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