In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.
– Shunryu Suzuki
A couple of recent Harvard Business Review articles have discussed how higher education isn’t preparing graduates for the workforce and how engineers need experience in nonlinear thinking. There’s an interesting relationship between the topics, and it also brought back fond memories of my own experience in engineering school over three decades (!) ago.
Chemical engineering provides an exceptional foundation for process thinking. Chemicals generally flow in continuous fashion via pipes through various reactors to create a finished product. Small batches and work-in-process inventory are rare as the stability of WIP intermediates can be low. I mastered the theory and knew the equations, and enjoyed the puzzle of how do you turn raw component A into finished product B.
I’ve always been a hands-on guy, and after three years of heavy duty theory and equations I felt a need to see it in action. I took a semester and a summer off and did a co-op at a Nestlé manufacturing and research facility in Connecticut. This turned out to be one of the favorite experiences of my life and set the stage for my career in manufacturing.
Continue reading on the Gemba Academy blog…