Caterpillar donates time and treasure to Manual Manufacturing program

Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 11/7/2019 8:00:00 PM

About two dozen Caterpillar Inc. employees spent three days at Manual Academy last week working with manufacturing teacher Andrew Rice to make the school’s workshop cleaner and more efficient and introducing students to the manufacturing concept of Rapid Improvement Workshop (RIW). To top it off, at the end of the week, Building KK Facility Manager John Downey surprised Mr. Rice with a check for $1,500!


An RIW is much more than just decluttering and cleaning. With the limited 45-minute high school class time, getting students quickly engaged and working in a hands-on environment can be a struggle if the learning space is not organized. In a manufacturing environment, RIW is used to reach quality management goals and is a hallmark of Six Sigma. RIW seeks to achieve change quickly so benefits are immediately visible and keep participants – in this case Manual Academy students -- engaged in the change process so they feel invested and in control. 


Manual Academy principal Devon Hawks noted that watching Caterpillar professionals come in each day and work with the students was uplifting. The end result of a transformed shop was amazing, says Rice. “But it also taught my students valuable skills: they know they can work to their full potential to accomplish their goals and how important it is to sustain an efficient and organized workspace.”


Rice plans to use the donation to purchase additional equipment for the shop, allowing the program to accommodate more students in coming years. Manual Academy’s manufacturing program began accepting students district-wide starting this school year.


Andrew Rice, John Downey, Caterpillar employees


Peoria Public Schools and the Manual staff, students and community are truly grateful for the support of Caterpillar and its employees.