Engineering students’ project designed to improve clinic’s efficiency wins national acclaim

Contact: Erin Flynn

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Helping a health clinic identify avenues to improve efficiency amid the pandemic could win a team of Western Michigan University industrial and entrepreneurial engineering students a national award. Sean Fitzsimons, Paul Geyer and Sam Olmstead have reached the top 10 in the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers’ 2019-2020 Outstanding Capstone Senior Design Projects Award competition.

“The Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering Program is extremely proud of the work Sam, Sean and Paul completed,” says Dana Hammond, faculty specialist and industrial and entrepreneurial engineering—IEE—academic advisor. “They viewed the challenges that spring 2020 presented as an opportunity to show their diverse skills and flexibility.”

Paul Geyer, Sean Fitzsimons and Sam Olmstead

The students used industrial engineering skills to help a pediatric specialty clinic improve its operations. After observing and analyzing data for several months, they recommended a variety of changes to streamline processes, such as consolidating clinic dates, implementing a cancellation policy and installing hallway desks for specialists to reduce down-time between patients. Geyer also developed a programming code to help support staff schedule patient visits more efficiently.

“The great thing about senior design projects in general is that we can take all the tools and the classes that we’ve learned and apply them in the real world,” Olmstead says. “In this case, it was a little different world than most people imagined, but we were still able to figure out how those tools can be implemented into the medical field. So it was a great experience. We gained a lot of confidence from the project as well.”

Guidance provided both by advisors at WMU and industry professionals connected to the IEE program helped set the team up for success.

“The team worked very well with each other,” says Geyer. “Our industry contact (WMU alumnus Lukas Swoboda) provided us with a lot of help and allowed us to complete this project and turn it into something that was pretty valuable to the clinic.”

The work done by Fitzimons, Geyer and Olmstead was chosen to represent WMU out of all of the spring 2020 IEE senior design projects. They will soon find out if they’re selected as one of three teams to compete for the top award at the upcoming IISE National Conference in November.

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