MEM Capstone Course

ENGR 6240 Operational Excellence for Engineers

The capstone course is a culminating experience providing students the opportunity to solve real-world challenges while implementing the principles of operational excellence and lean systems in an organization. Students learn the principles of operational excellence and lean systems as a baseline and explore the detailed workings of processes throughout the enterprise. Students will focus on how to create learning organizations through problem solving, systems thinking, change management, and continuous improvement. And as they learn how to make their organization and processes more efficient, they will learn to how to create workplaces with highly satisfied and motivated employees.

During the course, each student will complete a project in their organization to address a real-world problem that involves cost, quality, delivery or a combination of these. Through the project students will demonstrate their ability to use their new analytical, management, leadership, and project management skills, as well as the newly acquired principles of operational excellence.

The project is based around solving a problem in a work environment. To do this the student identifies, defines, and documents the current situation using a value stream map. The value stream can be any flow of goods and services, materials or information. Therefore students in any aspect of engineering or any occupation will have processes that can be improved with the tools and principles of lean management.

The selection of a student’s value stream must be approved by the faculty member teaching the course who has the expertise and experience in operational excellence. The faculty member will also be able to help students choose an appropriate value stream for the course, decide if the scope and scale of the project is appropriate, ensuring it’s something the student can achieve and they will have the ability to accomplish it with the approval of their manager and/or organization.   

All of the electives in the MEM curriculum will provide additional skills students can utilize in the capstone course including leadership, data analysis, operations management, risk and decision analysis, engineering management decisions and policy, sustainability and global supply chains. All of these topics will be useful for engineers depending upon their position and role in any organization and the value stream they select to improve.


PDCA (plan–do–check–act or plan–do–check–adjust) is an iterative four-step management method used in business for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products. PDCA is one tool of many that is part of an operational excellence tool kit for engineers.