CME seniors gain hands-on experience in the Gulf Coast industry

Twenty students from the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence spent a week solving real world problems at Keith Huber Corp. at Gulfport. The event was part of an experiential course for seniors. Photo courtesy of Tyler Biggs / CME

OXFORD, Mississippi – Twenty accounting, business and engineering students from the University of Mississippi had a rare opportunity to solve real-world problems when they recently attended an experiential learning course on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.

The students spent almost a week at Keith Huber Corp. at Gulfport as part of Manufacturing 450: Solving practical problems. Students started the week with a lecture that ranged from fundamental problem-solving techniques to more complex methods used by companies such as Ford Motor Co., Caterpillar, and Toyota. Class time ended with techniques used by industries to avoid product and process design issues.

The students were then divided into three teams, with each team responsible for a quality or operational problem to be solved in the factory. The teams worked with Keith Huber’s team members, mentors and managers to solve the assigned problem, using an industry technique known as the 8-D Problem Solving Method.

The course ended with each team making a presentation of their problem solutions to the industry leadership team.

“The experiential learning class allows students to practice humility by working with all levels of employees in the operation and requires collaborative teamwork from students,” said Eddie Carr, practice professor at Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the university. “In addition, students have the opportunity to develop their presentation skills by presenting their team’s project to industry leaders. “

Nearly five hours from campus, this important area of ​​Mississippi isn’t always associated with hosting an Ole Miss class, said Tyler Biggs, associate director of external operations at CME.

“The course was a unique opportunity which, to our knowledge, is not available to students from other universities,” he said. “The interdisciplinary nature of our program allows students to step out of the traditional classroom and gain hands-on experience that will prepare them to become leaders in the modern economy.

The students said they were grateful for the opportunity.

“At Keith Huber, we were able to apply what we learned in class to actual production processes, improving our understanding of concepts and increasing Huber’s production efficiency,” said Ward Winstead, senior mechanical engineer at Gulfport.

“The Harrison County Economic Development Board and Keith Huber’s team not only provided their time and resources while we were there, but also provided us with an afternoon boat trip to celebrate. our time with them! These experiential learning courses are a showcase of the connections the university shares with businesses across the state. “

Hollie Arnsdorff, a chemical and physics engineering major from Knoxville, Tennessee, noted that in just three and a half days, the experience helped her become more confident in her abilities to work in a manufacturing environment.

“Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of a career in engineering and manufacturing is implementing procedures that focus on improving safety, quality and working conditions. She said. “During our time at Keith Huber, my team and I were able to implement a new process to achieve these goals.

“I have gained valuable experience that will help me in my search for my first full-time career after graduation. “

Jamie Holder, COO at Keith Huber, praised the students’ creativity.

“Ole Miss’s students demonstrated exceptional cognitive thinking skills when confronted with the challenges faced by our team,” Holden said. “Their analysis followed by their solutions was superb. Everyone involved at Keith Huber was very impressed.

Biggs said the benefits of experiential classes are twofold for students.

“First of all, these courses prepare our students to enter any aspect of modern manufacturing industry and to feel that they can contribute to it,” he said. “Second, it’s also helpful because that’s the kind of experience companies look for when they hire. “

Keith Huber Corp. builds industrial vacuum trucks and pump units and has become the country’s largest independent manufacturer of these suction units.

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