The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

UT Lean Enterprise Summer Program


Current Instructors

Rupy Sawhney

Rupy SawhneyRupy Sawhney, the Weston Fulton Professor and head of the Department of Industrial and Information Engineering, is an expert on lean management, including manufacturing planning and control systems, lean production systems, simulation modeling, and supply chain management. The total economic impact of his work in the last five years has been assessed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology at approximately $10 million.

His current research is supported by the US Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, the Tennessee Manufacturing Extension Program, and others. He is also a faculty member of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education (CIRE), a joint effort between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory focused on renewable energy. He is a 2006 Boeing Welliver Fellow and has received numerous teaching and research awards during his career at UT, including the College of Engineering’s prestigious Teaching Fellow Award and Research Fellow Award.

His research expertise is in the development of supply chain management models, integrating reliability into lean systems, and development of enterprise improvement strategies. He currently heads a research team comprised of twenty research faculty, postdocs, and graduate students.

With more than 300 degree programs, we prepare and empower leaders in just about every profession. Our engineering, business, education, law, and social work programs consistently rank among the Top 50 in the nation among public universities, at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Isaac Mitchell

Rupy SawhneyIsaac Mitchell has over ten years experience driving change utilizing lean methodology in organizations ranging from automotive to small machining job shops to healthcare organization. 

He is a full time lean practitioner at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and the founder and president of Gemba Improvements LLC which focuses on Lean healthcare training and consulting.

In addition to a master of business administration from Xavier University and bachelor of science in industrial engineering from the University of Tennessee, he also holds a Lean Black Belt certification through the Institute of Industrial Engineers.  This training and experience has enabled him to bring successful and time-proven methodologies to his clients.

His passion and focus is on training and implementing lean techniques to transform work cultures to improve healthcare processes and outcomes for patients and providers.

Misty DePriest

DePriestMisty has over twelve years of experience managing manufacturing operations and continuous improvement projects across a broad range of industries. Misty is currently a Manufacturing Consultant with The University of Tennessee, Center for Industrial Services. She is also a certified National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) lean trainer, and has trained thousands of executives, managers, engineers and operators in the principles of Lean Manufacturing.

She has facilitated over one hundred lean implementation events with companies in various industries and specializes in Kaizen implementation to create value and profitability for her customers.

Misty holds a B.S in Mechanical Engineering and M.S.E. in Engineering Management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and is a SME Bronze level lean certified sensei.


Former Instructors:

John Collier

 john John is the Solutions Consultant for the North Central Region of Tennessee. He has over 35 years of experience in management of manufacturing operations.

  Prior to working for The University of Tennessee, John was Manager of Operations and Engineering at The Robert Bosch Corporation plant in Gallatin, TN.  At Bosch John also held a variety of jobs including Continuous Improvement Coordinator and Bosch Production System Leader.

  In these capacities he facilitated a wide range of lean  improvement events including Lean Overviews, Lead Time Reduction, Achieving Flow, Pull/Kanban Systems, Quick Change Over, Total Productive Maintenance, Quality at the Source, Lean Office, Standard Work, Workplace Organization (5s), Kiazen Facilitation, and Lean Leadership. 

John also co-created “Rapid Solutions”, a program to start generating immediate continuous improvement results. Prior to Bosch, John was The Manufacturing Manager at Aladdin Industries LLC.  In this position, John and his team went through a massive transformation of The Plastics Plant.  This transformation combined 3 departments into one continuous flow operation.

He has a BS in Business Management from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Executive Development Program through the University of Tennessee, Lean Certification (LBC-sensei) through the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Certification in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) through APICS

Joseph R. Stainback IV

DePriestJoseph R. Stainback IV, PhD (Joe) is Director, Global Security Program Initiatives at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Joe has been working for Y-12’s Management and Operations contractor, Babcock & Wilcox, for over 27 years within the nuclear industry related to national defense. Joe started out as a mechanical engineer with Babcock & Wilcox and has advanced his career through various leadership capacities within technical and regulatory fields supporting a wide array of defense related programs in Manufacturing, Project Management, Domestic Nuclear Safeguards/Security and International Safeguards.  

Joe has earned five Defense Program Awards of Excellence, has been responsible for several significant transformation projects and participates in preserving Y-12’s history. Joe is also a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee and serves in leadership roles on various technical and community related organizations.   

Academic research interests include: Performance Management (Productivity / Process Engineering), Production Planning, Six-Sigma, Lean Systems, Ergonomics, Macroergonomics, Human Behavior related to Productivity, Organizational and Industrial Psychology, and the Integration of Computational Mathematics, Statistics, Optimization, and Simulation to resolve productivity challenges. 

Eric Arendt

DePriestEric Arendt has a background that covers a wide range of manufacturing and healthcare experiences. He has held numerous corporate positions including Corporate Energy Manager and Environmental and Safety Manager for the Parker Hannifin Corporation and Environmental and Safety Director for the Stant Corporation. His work for Brunswick Corporation as a Lean Manager and Industrial Engineering Manager for the Gates Rubber Company and Tomkins Industrial & Automotive Group include redesigning facilities, leading week-long Kaizen events and Green Belt training for supervisors.

Eric holds a B.S and M.S degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Toledo. He received his Black Belt training in Six Sigma through Air Academy and is an ISO 14001 Lead Auditor certified through Quality Management international, Inc. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. degree as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Tennessee. His research work includes multifunctional staffing to reduce patient wait time in a hospital and the application of Taguchi’s method in healthcare.

Eric has previously trained students in the use of ProModel software and is proficient in AutoCad and statistical software including JMP, Minitab and NCSS. His academic areas of interests include the System Reliability, Optimization Theory,Design of Experiment, Multivariate Statistics and Facility Layout.


Bharadwaj Venkatesan

DePriestBharadwaj Venkatesan is pursuing PhD in the Industrial and Information Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is presently working as a Graduate Research Assistant under Dr. Rupy Sawhney. His dissertation is on “Methodology for Sustained Development of Tennessee Solar Value Chain”. He holds a B.Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering from Vidya Jyothi Institute of Technology (affiliate of JNTU), Hyderabad, India, and a M.S in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

He has worked on projects in wide ranging fields such as Supply Chain Management, Warehousing, Simulation, Lean-Six Sigma Implementation, Database Management, Ergonomics, and Healthcare for both private and public sectors.

He is proficient in ARENA and ProModel software, and has developed multiple simulation based decision making tools to manage large supply chains. He is also adept in: Supply Chain Management, Lean-Six Sigma, Reliability Engineering, Optimization, Design of Experiments, Forecasting, Database Management and Application Development.



The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Big Orange. Big Ideas.

Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System