Co-op Student Blazes Six Sigma Trail!

October 3, 2006

Brian Porter, a senior in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Columbia, recently became the first cooperative education student to participate in the Mississippi State, Bagley College of Engineering Six Sigma Certificate program during a co-op work semester. Brian’s co-op employer is Shaw Industries, located in Dalton, Georgia.

Six Sigma is a methodology, widely used in the business world, that provides organizations with the tools to improve the capability of their processes. Six Sigma facilitates reductions in variation and waste in businesses, providing for continuous improvement in output, efficiency, and customer service. Over time, this approach enables processes to approach entitlement, “becoming the best that they can be.” Shaw Industries is an avid proponent of the six sigma concept, applying it in all aspects of their business. MSU initiated the Six Sigma Certificate Program for students in 2005.

Brian initially approached MSU’s Director of Six Sigma, Larry Dalton of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, with the concept. Dalton, Melody DuBard Beaty and Mike Mathews visited Shaw Industries to propose the idea. Shaw Director of Quality, Chester Chaffin, agreed to the proposal and scheduled Brian for Shaw Six Sigma Green Belt Training beginning in January of 2006. At the same time, Brian is enrolled in the MSU academic course, IE4923, Six Sigma Methods & Project during the spring 2006 semester.

A requirement of both the Shaw and MSU six sigma programs is that Brian conduct and successfully complete a “real world” six sigma project. Brian’s project involves improving the logistics of material transportation, via a tractor-trailer, between two of Shaw’s manufacturing plants. His goal is to improve the process by approximately 60% compared to past history for the same activity.

During the course of the training and project, numerous experienced six sigma professionals at Shaw as well as Mr. Dalton at MSU supported Brian. Dalton believes this sort of activity is a beneficial experience for all involved and predicts that more students will follow in Brian’s footsteps. “Since more and more businesses are becoming practitioners of the six sigma methodology, this sort of joint effort becomes possible. It can be particularly significant for both co-op students and their employers,” Dalton said.

For more information concerning the joint Six Sigma and Co-op Program, contact Dalton at 662-325-0570 or the Co-op staff at 662-325-3823.