Trending @IISE

This edition of Trending @IISE features letters about our September and October magazine content, LinkedIn group members weighing in on the 40-hour workweek, and Twitter posts from IISE President Michael Foss' visit to the University of Pittsburgh's IE department and the IISE Northeastern University student chapter networking at a College of Engineering event. 


Magazine helps expand reach of lean Six Sigma in academia

I just want to write a thank you note for the great article that you helped put together for ISE magazine ("Adapting Six Sigma for Academia," September). I have received the complimentary copies and reviewed our article and other informative materials in the magazine. We at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology already have been in touch with two readers to further discuss issues related to implementing lean Six Sigma in academia, so thank you once again for reaching out to us early on and for helping us to get our story out to the broader IISE audience.

Timothy Chow
Director of institutional research
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Terre Haute, Indiana

Undergraduate ISE curricula not teaching the "right stuff"

ISE curricula do not contain a sufficient number of practicebased courses that also teach useful quantitative methods and give sufficient industry exposure to the students. Two articles in the October 2016 issue of ISE contain the latest indicators that the curricula will continue to fail the thousands of students who enter industry every year.

Take the Volunteer Snapshot on Page 56 that discusses revamping curricula for schools of industrial and systems engineering. I believe that the modernization of ISE curricula should not be entrusted to the faculty of top-ranked ISE departments like Georgia Tech, Cornell University and the University of California-Berkeley. Many of their faculty have Ph.D.s in mathematics, statistics, physics and other nonengineering disciplines. Faculty with not even the remotest exposure to industrial engineering (or as I call it, industrYal engineering) are in no position to develop an ISE curriculum.

Most of their faculty do theoretical research with little practical relevance to the operational problems of manufacturing and service processes and systems. They have no industry experience and lack the change management skills essential to undertake the arduous task of transforming their research into practice.

In defense of the top-ranked departments, faculty are driven by promotion and tenure, which gives them zero incentive to do practice-driven research to address industry needs. This means, of course, that they must publish research papers in topranked academic journals. "Academic" equates to mathematical sophistication, not real-world relevance.

In addition, the feature by James Rethaber on Page 31 ("Hit and Miss Ergonomics Education") discussed how many ISE schools are de-emphasizing human factors courses. Only faculty who never have worked in industry would decide to eliminate ergonomics from their department's ISE curriculum.

Any lean implementer will acknowledge the critical role of ergonomics in worker safety, process consistency, workplace organization, etc. In fact, the very first improvement project I did in an industry job was to eliminate the risk of falling by the operator of a T-lathe.

To be fair, before I left academia in 2012, I used to pooh-pooh practical aspects of lean like 6S (sort, shine, set, standardize, sustain, safety) as housekeeping and trash removal. Did I eat crow once I began working in industry? Yes, as 6S harmoniously integrates so many ISE skills such as time studies, ergonomics, workplace layout, quadratic assignment problem, storage systems design and activity sequencing and scheduling.

My ignorance (and faculty arrogance) disappeared very quickly as I saw how much shop employees benefitted from projects that eliminated (or reduced) uncomfortable work positions, workstation clutter and wasted time in assembly cycle times, all while improving point-of-use availability of inventory and inventory traceability. By winning their support, I prepared the foundations for doing the far more challenging projects that involved moving machines into cellular arrangements.

Shahrukh Irani
Lean & Flexible LLC
Sugar Land, Texas


Is 40 hours too much after 40?

ISE columnist Kevin McManus posted an article from Yahoo!Canada Finance written by Michael Shulman titled "A 40-hour work week after the age of 40 could damage the brain." Here's what commenters had to say:

"I am switching from 40 to 30 hours starting in January, and I am 42 years old. Maybe I should have dropped down to 25 hours ..."
Brion Hurley, lean Six Sigma black belt, Rockwell Collins 

"There are limits – like how much income you need to pay the bills."
Tamara Wilhite, contract technical writer and IISE blogger 

"Nice article, but here in [the Dominican Republic], we have the same issue mentioned by Tamara Wilhite: limits."
Miller Martinez Diaz, superintendent procurement, Caribbean, Gildan Activewear, DR 


Michael Foss @MDFoss
"Met with Dr. Bopaya Bidanda & Staff at the newly renovated University of Pittsburgh's Industrial Engineering offices." From left: Jay Rajgopal, Karen Bursic, Michael Foss and Bopaya Bidanda 

IISE Northeastern @IISE_NU
"We had a great time meeting students interested in making things better at the annual COE Freshman Night!" @NortheasternCOE

Members of the IISE Northeastern University Student Chapter 

Send letters to Michael Hughes at or to IISE, 3577 Parkway Lane, Suite 200, Norcross, GA 30092. And join the discussion on IISE's social media sites by sharing your professional insights, questions, multimedia, kudos and more. Go to to get into the conversati