Pawley Lean Institute

Pawley Lean Institute Partners for Internships

icon of a calendarSeptember 3, 2020

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Pawley Lean Institute Partners for Internships

Dennis Wade, Director of the Pawley Lean Institute, sees the opportunity to connect Oakland University students with internships as the most important and rewarding priority of the Institute.  “The opportunity for a student to complete one or multiple internships creates the ability to enhance a resume or potentially lead to a job offer from the organization providing the internship.” Wade adds, “Students that have taken Lean coursework will also find that these skills are a differentiator when it comes to seeking employment. As organizations are looking for students that can complete Lean projects or see the skillset as an asset for open internship opportunities.”

The Pawley Lean Institute has worked with both undergraduate and graduate students in the placement of either co-op or summer internships.   The Institute has partnered with various organizations for these paid opportunities that provide a significant enhancement to the student learning experience.

The student learning experience may include:

  • A learning environment using students to complete projects
  • An environment where students conduct research as well as collect and analyze data
  • Participation in a Kaizen (Lean workout) to a process or product
  • Participation in a real-world Lean implementation project

Jeni Wenson, Special Instructor - Department of Organizational Leadership, supports the use of Lean internships, “I’ve been able to align coursework projects in the classroom with organizations outside of the university. The use of internships is the next logical step in getting our students experience in their field of study as they pursue career interests.”

Bob Van Til, Pawley Professor of Lean Studies and Chair – Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), also supports internships, “The Pawley Lean Institute has partnered with the ISE Department to develop relationships with organizations willing to pay our students for these internships. In turn, our students have demonstrated their skills and added organizational value while also gaining real-world experience. Following the success of the first ISE student intern they have hired, many of these organizations have returned to us seeking additional students for internships. Several of these organizations have also hired our student interns to permanent positions upon graduation.”

Oakland University offers Lean coursework in the School of Business, School of Education and Human Services, and the School of Engineering and Computer Science. Students have been employed at diverse organizations including Bosch, Carcoustics, Comerica Bank, Detroit Diesel, DTE Energy, Hirotec America, MacLean-Fogg, Randstad Sourceright, and St. Joseph Hospital – Oakland.

Currently one of the Lean Internships is a partnership between Oakland University and the Lean Enterprise Institute JPW Fund. This paid internship places students into a community service organization implementing Lean initiatives. Currently, students are working at Humble Design in Pontiac, Michigan a non-profit helping families transition out of homeless shelters by providing furnishings and design services. This video highlights the partnership between Oakland University, the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), and Humble Design.

For more information, contact the Pawley Institute at

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