Hybrid Green Belt Class Connects Students Across the World

By Lindsay Emery

Weak connections from home routers and fuzzy video are now cornerstones of the new work-from-home environment that are now so familiar. However, most people's connectivity isn't dependent on the perfect alignment of a satellite. On the other hand, program member and winter over taker Reginald Percival had to ask to change the daily time for the most recent PAE Green Belt class because the satellite providing his internet access wasn't directly overhead where he works in Antarctica for the WebEx feed to show clearly.

"I thought of all the things that I've encountered from technical difficulties in a decade or more of training these types of course, I've never had that," Director of Continuous Improvement John Bennett said.

July's Green Belt class consisted of 13 students attending from Colombia, Iraq, India, Antarctica and the United States. Bennett developed a hybrid curriculum so that employees across the world could participate.

The 40-hour training is the first level of the Lean Six Sigma program, followed by the Black Belt and Master Black Belt levels. The Green Belt program focuses on DMAIC, which stands for define, measure, analyze, improve and control. After Green Belts complete their coursework, they need to pass an exam and start their own continuous improvement project to improve processes at their own sites.

Ibeth Jimenez is the safety and occupational health supervisor for the ARAVI program in Colombia. Jimenez wanted to compliment her background in occupation health and nursing with skills with the Green Belt class.

"My job is very interesting because I help monitor all the employees because it's important for the employees to enter, stay and leave healthy," Jimenez said.

Since safety is a priority for all sites Jimenez manages in Colombia, the Green Belt class helped her identify and establish new improved processes in different areas. Fellow ARAVI program employee Pablo Castro also wanted to take the class to learn more practical tools and techniques.

"We have the vision to implement a change, but we don't have a recipe or a roadmap that tells you exactly how or where you have to begin, and where the next steps are," Information and Technology Supervisor Castro said. "The good thing about the Six Sigma and the Continuous Improvement class is that it tells you step-by-step what the things that you need to consider and what you need to achieve for a gradual improvement in your operation."

The class is conducted online for four ARAVI program employees, but Castro enjoyed interacting with PAE employees from different operational areas in other countries. Quality Control Inspector Joseph Gitau Kariuki, who took the online class in Iraq, agreed with the ARAVI employees and said he found the lab exercises particularly helpful to his everyday responsibilities.

"The training provided me with a lot of tools," Kariuki said. "An example being when we perform our audits, we used to manually compile and just pick up documents from departments and analyze them to verify the information but also to get the picture of how compliant the departments are, so I can use some of the tools like the batch sampling, which I learned during training."

Bennett's hybrid class allowed students to participate via WebEx but also in-person. Since there were cameras in the classroom, online students could observe the in-person students and participate during exercises. Other Black Belts attended the class to learn how to teach the curriculum and so they can bring the curriculum to Antarctica.

In addition to expanding the curriculum to Antarctica last month with the training of Percival and other Black Belts, Bennett is looking forward to travelling to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to teach an in-person Green Belt class.

"The Green Belt class is an important tie-in to the entire PAE leadership training principles and it's one of the entry gates as we identify high potentials and get them into the course," Bennett said. "Most people who go through this course end up with a certification as a Lean Six Sigma or a Green Belt."