ISE students team up with City of Rochester Hills on Lean Initiatives at Van Hoosen Farm

ISE students team up with City of Rochester Hills on Lean Initiatives at Van Hoosen Farm
The OU student team members included Craig Loebs, Kusay Al-Banna, and Samanwitha Mishra. The team members from the city of Rochester Hills were Ken Elwert, Director of Parks and Recreation and Jenna Raschke who runs the Van Hoosen reservation process.

Every year, Instructor Larry Osentoski seeks to find non-traditional projects for students in his Lean Principles and Applications course to give them hands-on experience.

One of this year’s projects teamed Oakland University Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) students with Rochester Hills officials to help improve the city’s process for managing event planning at the Van Hoosen Farm

Traditional lean projects often focus on the manufacturing plant floor, but lean is applicable in every industry and market.  The key aspect of a lean project is working with all stakeholders to determine What's In It For Me? (WIIFM) while working through problems with the assistance and respect for the people who do the work on a daily basis.  Process improvements rarely are sustainable without the buy-in of the individuals or team responsible to operate and maintain the system being improved.  

The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm is located in Stoney Creek Village, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  This 16-acre museum complex was home to the Taylor and Van Hoosen families dating back to 1823.  It features structures original to the property from 1840 to the early 20th century.  Presented in a restored 1927 dairy barn are well-designed and informative exhibits highlighting the settlement, agriculture, industry and cultural evolution of this community.  The Museum serves as the repository for artifacts and archives related to the greater Rochester area and offers access for research.  The farm has also become a popular location for weddings and other gatherings offered through an onsite banquet hall.


The collaborative project was part of the ISE Department’s ISE 581 Lean Principles and Applications course, and it helped to identify a potential savings of $9,000 and 170 man-hours per year for taxpayers.  Craig Loebs, OU Student Team Leader, stated “Initially it seemed like an insurmountable task to improve the city’s process for managing events. But we were able to work with the City using the lean tools and principles learned in class to identify the waste within the process and help to eliminate it.  This class has opened my eyes to the possibilities of using lean principles in other areas not commonly associated with lean.  I will definitely be able to apply the lessons learned in this project in my personal and professional life.”


Ken Elwert, Director of Rochester Hills Parks and Forestry Department added: “This is a great process.  The ability to expose our team to the lean tool of Value Stream Mapping was eye opening, especially when working with passionate students from Oakland University.  Through the collaborative process, led by a committed student team, we discovered new ideas and changes of process we are currently implementing. We believe these changes will save us a few hours of work a week - well worth the few hours of staff team time we committed to the partnership.  The City of Rochester Hill's Mission is 'Innovative by Nature.' This partnership with Oakland University is a perfect example of how we bring innovation in unexpected ways."   

Robert Van Til, Pawley Professor of Lean Studies and chair of the ISE department notes that “providing hand-on experiential learning is an import component of not only our graduate programs in ISE and Engineering Management, but also in our undergraduates ISE program.  This semester, we have undergraduate ISE 491 ISE Senior Design teams working on hands-on projects at FCA, NORMA Group, Comerica and the Open Hands Food Pantry.”

The ISE 581 course is always looking for unique industries in which to train students with hands-on experiential learning.  If your organization is interested in hosting a team of Oakland University Master’s Engineering students please contact Larry Osentoski at 248-613-6738. 

“This is a unique opportunity for government and industry to get free outside eyes to look at their process and work with them to make sustainable improvements.  It is truly win-win proposal.” said Osentoski.