LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 10, 2014) — Serving more than 20,000 people from around the world over the past 20 years, the University of Kentucky Lean Systems Program's collaboration with Toyota has exceeded expectations. Its success was not only recently celebrated in a letter by Toyota Motor Corporation's Honorary Chairman Fujio Cho, but was also commemorated by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray declaring Oct. 28, 2014, as "University of Kentucky/Toyota Collaboration Day."
The proclamation recognized the Institute of Research for Technology Development, part of the College of Engineering, for responding to the “industry’s immediate and long-term needs through engineering research, education and outreach.” The Institute consists of both the Lean Systems Program and the Painting Research and Development Program.
Mayor Gray's proclamation also pointed out the benefits of Toyota's lean system: promoting a culture of problem-solving, transparency, team building and continuous improvement.
In addition to the mayor's proclamation of "University of Kentucky/Toyota Collaboration Day" presented at the 20th anniversary celebration for the programs, a letter by Cho was presented. In 1994, Cho proposed the partnership between the university and his company.
Cho wrote of his gratitude to the state of Kentucky, city of Lexington and the university, and went on to write about the future of the UK/Toyota partnership, including a joint production engineering program at UK.
Others agree that the future for the Lean Systems Program's collaboration with Toyota looks promising. As former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins and Toyota President Simon Nagata pointed out at the anniversary celebration, the collaboration not only advances the industry, but the Commonwealth and its economy.
UK President Eli Capilouto agrees. He also commented on the possibilities of the partnership going forward.
"Together we can help Kentucky business and industry flourish. Together we can forge new pathways for integrating lean systems approaches in emerging sectors that impact Kentucky, and further develop ideas that serve as models both in the Commonwealth and internationally," Capilouto said.
Bret Anderson, executive in residence of the Lean Systems Program, expects to expand the lean philosophy to UK students in many other disciplines.
"With the backing of a large, influential and community-minded company like Toyota, and the university's mission to educate and be one of the nation's best research universities, we have high expectations," said Anderson.
The Lean Systems Program is currently developing new courses and services to offer, and added two new specialty courses this year alone.