John P. Shewchuk, an associate professor with the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, is the recipient of the 2011 Lean Teaching Award.
The award was presented to Shewchuk at the annual honors and awards banquet during the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) Annual Conference in Reno, Nev. The institute is the world's largest professional society dedicated to supporting the industrial engineers' profession.
Shewchuk is the fourth recipient to receive the Lean Teaching Award.
"I am acutely aware of the demand for lean content in industrial engineering education and the superb manner in which Shewchuk has implemented this curriculum. He has added immense value in equipping our students in this domain," said Brian M. Kleiner, professor of industrial and systems engineering and director of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction in the Colleges of Engineering and Architecture and Urban Studies. Kleiner nominated Shewchuk for the award.
Lean manufacturing is an approach for producing goods or providing services in less time, with less waste, and higher quality. The concept started in Japan after World War II and started catching on in the United States and other countries in the late 1970s to early 1980s. Lean manufacturing has revolutionized mass production, just as mass production revolutionized craft production at the start of the last century.
"Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, I worked for several years as a manufacturing engineer with various companies. I saw first-hand how inefficient the standard manufacturing practices of the day were, with poor processes, massive inventories, and long lead times for goods and services," said Shewchuk.
"I first started reading about lean manufacturing about a decade ago. I knew it was the better way I had always thought must exist somewhere," said Shewchuk. "When I became a professor, I knew this was something our students had to learn."
In 2006, Shewchuk first taught his new course, Lean Manufacturing, as a senior/graduate-level elective. At that time it was put on a two-year rotation in industrial and systems engineering. Shewchuk taught the course again in 2008 and 2010. Course enrollment has averaged 50 students each offering.
The course was offered again in spring of 2011 as a result of high demand. The department is considering making the course part of the undergraduate core curriculum.
Ellery Hanlin, a former student wrote: "I decided to enroll in this class because of my confidence in Dr. Shewchuk's ability to deliver high quality, revolutionary material that is not likely to be offered by any other major university."
"Students are well aware that lean manufacturing knowledge is one of the first things potential manufacturing employers look for these days. Many students who took the course [Lean Manufacturing] have informed me how the things they learned in it ended up getting them a job," said Shewchuk.
Shewchuk specializes in both teaching of and applied research in lean manufacturing. His says his other research interests are lean construction, performance modeling and analysis of manufacturing systems, production planning and control, and flexible and agile manufacturing.
In 1984, Shewchuk began his career as a materials and processes engineer with Bristol Aerospace Ltd. of Winnipeg, Canada, after receiving a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Manitoba. He left the company four years later to further his education. Shewchuk received a master's and a doctorate in industrial engineering from Purdue in 1990 and in 1995, respectively.
Shewchuk was awarded the 1991 Graduate Research Award by the Institute of Industrial Engineers, while his Ph.D. dissertation, "A Systems Approach to Flexibility and Manufacturing Systems Analysis and Design," was awarded third place in the 1996 Pritsker Doctoral Dissertation Award by this same institute.
In March 1995, Shewchuk joined Virginia Tech. He is a member of the Institute of Industrial Engineers and a registered professional engineer of the Province of Manitoba.