By Alwyn Jimmy, Part-time Staff Writer
Originally Published October 9, 2023
The Gary M. Quinlivan Operational Excellence Lab has become a core component of the McKenna School and the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program. The lab grants faculty the ability to teach other organizations who look to implement Operational Excellence themselves. Located on the first floor of Aurelius Hall, construction of the lab began in Sept. 2022, and it opened in Spring of 2023.
Evan Rega, senior management major, praised Operational Excellence for enhancing his academic journey, especially since he has an Operational Excellence minor.
“The lab acts as a bridge, connecting academic learning with practical skills, ensuring that I and other students are well-prepared and competent in the field of operational excellence,” he said.
It is not just academics in which the lab excels. “One of my favourite aspects of the lab is how authentically it replicates a manufacturing environment, particularly through notebook creation.” Rega said.
The lab’s ability to simulate real-life environments is a great feature for students. Rega said the realistic setting allows him to immerse himself fully in the operational processes, offering insight into important details and challenges faced in a manufacturing context.
As more emphasis is placed on experience rather than simply memorizing concepts, the lab provides relevant exposure to students.
“It's not just about learning the concepts; it's about living them, experiencing them firsthand, and understanding their practical applications and implications.” Rega said. “This real-world experience is invaluable in preparing me for a successful career in operational excellence.”
Another important aspect of the lab is its ability to develop other skills that are immensely valuable, and an emphasis on mental attributes.
“It aids me and other students in honing our abilities to streamline processes, eliminate waste, and enhance efficiency, all of which are paramount in today’s fast-paced work environment.” Rega said.
The lab represents the shift from passive to active learning and showcases the benefits that come with that. Instead of simply focusing on traditional forms of learning, the lab allows students to gain knowledge through hearing, seeing and reading, very much placing the student at the heart of the learning process.
Dr. Terrance Smith, Assistant Professor of Management, and Graduate Director of Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence, oversees the OE lab. According to him, the lab is about blending simulation and classroom learning.
“The defining characteristics involve the ability of simulation participants to experience both the theoretical aspect of learning and the actual application of the tools and knowledge simultaneously,” Smith said.
Smith outlined the various components of the lab and what the future held.
“The lab will provide participants with a way to execute the assembly process, material storage, problem solving, and cost analysis functions through the simulations,”
Smith said. “There will eventually be some Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing [(SAP)] integrated in the OE Lab simulations and operation.”
Smith, like Rega, held a positive view of the OE lab. “Students have been able to broaden their knowledge of core management and operational theories that can be applied in various situations, regardless of industry.”