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Winkler practices leadership in engineering management

“I view Engineering Technology and Management (ETM) as a program that makes leaders of engineers,” said Samuel Winkler, a fourth year ETM student.  

Like many students in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, Winkler developed his leadership skills during an internship. Specifically, he worked as a process engineering intern for Stirling Ultracold, a company specializing in the development of freezers. Over the course of a summer, Winkler led a project to streamline processes on a factory floor to improve efficiency and flow.  

“The first month I had to capture the current state [of the factory floor] by asking the operators what they thought could be improved. The next step was value stream mapping. After we reorganized everything, we invited the people who work on the floor to see the new space and get their feedback,” said Winkler. 

Throughout the process, Winkler used lean methods to inform his project management style. Lean is a framework that optimizes the flow of people and resources at an organization. Throughout this project, Winkler had to listen to the employees and use data to make decisions that optimized the efficiency of the factory floor since a new engine line was being introduced.  

“Lean is the overall removal of waste. I actually learned about lean during my internship and took the class after my internship, which really helped me understand the content in class,” said Winkler.  

Over the course of his internship, Winkler learned valuable lessons in leadership and management. He tried to make himself accessible to his team, so they felt comfortable communicating their suggestions and concerns throughout the process. Additionally, his internship showed him that he may not know everything needed to succeed in a job, but he is able to learn along the way. These soft skills helped Winkler see his project to completion.  

“Seeing the before and after and walking the floor plan was the highlight of my internship. Once we created the new floor plan, we were able to walk it and the responses from people on the floor were positive too,” said Winkler.  

After completing his internship and continuing his coursework in lean methods, Winkler knows that he wants to continue to learn about and implement lean methodologies in his career.  

“Lean means there is opportunity for continuous improvement. I like making things perfect, so with lean, you can always work towards that goal,” said Winkler.  

December 8, 2022
Chloe Musick