Teams of Millikin University master of business administration (MBA) students conducted their final gate reviews, using Six Sigma, at Caterpillar Inc.'s Decatur facility on May 17.
The Millikin Fast-Track MBA students spent 18 weeks learning the concepts of Six Sigma problem solving and improvement methods, and have been working at Caterpillar (CAT) for the last nine weeks to complete three separate projects, all led by Black Belts at CAT. The Six Sigma system is a set of techniques and tools for process improvement. The system analyzes how things are done and seeks answers to make any process work better for less money.
The class is led by John Yotter, a Caterpillar Black Belt teacher and adjunct faculty member in the Millikin MBA Program. The students presented their final projects in front of CAT managers and executives.
"The students were given the opportunity to show what they've learned using the Six Sigma problem solving methodology," Yotter said. "I thought each of the three teams applied the taught tools in an exceptional fashion – very impressive results; the kind of results Caterpillar expects."
The Millikin MBA team of Maxwell Gonzalez, from Grayslake, Ill., Thomas Byler, from Urbana, Ill., and Michael Guerra, from Crystal Lake, Ill., created a communication plan to increase awareness and showcase the benefits of mining. They ended their presentation by playing a recording of a pro-mining jingle they had crafted.
"It's been a learning experience all round," Gonzalez said. "We've discovered mining is a fascinating subject and we've learned a lot about it."
Students Erik Edmonds, from Decatur, Ill., Ashanti Balch, from Urbana, and Zach Owens, from Mt. Zion, Ill., presented on the costs involved with building different vehicles on the same Caterpillar assembly lines.
Yotter noted, "The teams reviewed the projects succinctly and thoroughly, and presented well in front of Caterpillar executives. They were given a 20-minute time limit for their presentations."
The final presentation was made by students Kelly Hill, from Decatur, Trevor May, from Dundas, Ill., and Ariana Shelton, from Oreana, Ill. The team's presentation focused on improving Caterpillar's handling of raw materials. The team crafted a way to monitor and track supplies that would avoid delays. It has the potential to save the company more than $200,000 a year.
The presentations were the culmination of a project called "Making Progress Possible." The goal of the project was to change the perception of mining internally at Caterpillar and externally with social media followers.
The Millikin MBA students will have the opportunity to take the Six Sigma Green Belt Certification exam upon completion of the program.
Millikin Fast-Track MBA
Millikin University's Fast-Track MBA Program provides a unique experience tailored to the diverse needs of today's ambitious business professionals. The 12-month Fast-Track MBA offers accelerated day classes for recent college graduates. Millikin undergraduate students in the Tabor School of Business and/or with a music business major may take MBA classes during their senior year.
For more information about Millikin's Fast-Track MBA, visit millikin.edu/mba/fast-track.