Dartmouth and SMT Unite for Six Sigma Program

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When Sylvanus Thayer, often called “The Father of Technology in the U.S.,” founded and endowed the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in 1871, I doubt he imagined it would be held in such high esteem more than a century later. Many early, significant engineering projects in our country can be credited to Thayer’s students, most notably George Washington Goethals and the Panama Canal.

63790-th_0503smtinside.jpgSylvanus Thayer

Following Thayer’s mark of setting others up for greatness in the engineering field, the Thayer School’s Cook Engineering Design Center and SMT Magazine will establish one of the industry’s most rigorous Six Sigma programs, scheduled to begin in June 2005.

Ronald Lasky, Ph.D., PE, a visiting professor at Dartmouth and senior technologist with Indium Corporation, will be program director and lead instructor for the Six Sigma program. Lasky has worked with colleagues at the Thayer School, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and associates from the industry to develop the curriculum.

The workshops cover typical Six Sigma topics such as statistics, design of experiments, design for manufacturability and continuous improvement plans. The program also will cover several unique topics that Lasky and his colleagues feel are of particular interest. “An effective Six Sigma Program should have a dramatic impact on the financial bottom line. To achieve this, we believe that additional topics such as process optimization, cost estimating, technical estimating and statistical thinking are crucial for success,” explains Lasky. “Not only do we teach these topics, but we have developed Excel-based software to help students master them.”

As you may know, the BASIC programming language was developed at Dartmouth. The school also was one of the first educational institutions to be wired and wireless for Internet. Therefore, computers play a large part in the Six Sigma Program with the use of Excel and MiniTab for problem solving.

The Six Sigma Program begins with a one-week “Green Belt” phase, which consists of four training days and an exam. After successfully completing this phase, participants earn the right to be called a Six Sigma Green Belt. A student who attends three additional three-day workshops can obtain a Black Belt, which is awarded after successful completion of a final exam and applying skills learned to an on-the-job project.

The staff of Dartmouth, in collaboration with Phil Zarrow of ITM, administers the program. Cooperation between Dartmouth, ITM, SMT Magazine and student interns has been crucial in putting together the program. Professional education for the Six Sigma workshops offers hands-on learning for growth in quality programs.

“The entire program has come together in a logical way,” says William Lotko, Thayer School Dean. “Professors at the Thayer School such as Ron and Bob Graves, who have theoretical and practical experience, and colleagues in the Tuck School have a strong mix of the right skills to make our Six Sigma Program the best of breed. The effort is consistent with Dartmouth’s mission as a top-tier educational institution.”

Program attendees should have a bachelor’s degree and some exposure to calculus. For more information on the program or to register, visit http://engineering.dartmouth.edu/other/sixsigma/. This collaboration promises to be yet another milestone in technical education. We think Sylvanus Thayer would be proud.

- Michelle M. Boisvert


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