New online maintenance, warehouse layout training builds on decades of industry partnerships


With the pandemic’s shift to online training, the University of Kansas delivers engineering and technology management and logistics professional development around the world.

A well-organized warehouse or plant, showing what students learn in courses from KU Lifelong & Professional Education.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies and universities to revisit how to receive and deliver necessary training to professionals. Without location as a factor, University of Kansas Lifelong & Professional Education (LPE) pivoted hand-on, in-person training to online delivery. This allows top instructors in the field to work with the university to train individuals around the world, increasing the diversity of peers, flexibility of training options and access to opportunities.

As supply chains were strained over the past year and a half, the need for a well-organized warehouse and well-trained supervisors was magnified. LPE answered with expanded online, self-paced certifications and courses in maintenance management, supply chain, logistics, technology management, project management and more.

“We enjoy seeing everyone together in person, but the increase in access and accommodations, especially for technology and logistics – two critical areas heightened by the pandemic – allows professionals around the world to be trained by top leaders in their field without having to travel,” said Kevin Curry, technology management program manager for LPE. “Not only can participants complete these courses online, but they often can also complete them at their own pace.”

Over the past 15 years, hundreds of professionals have completed programs such as the Certificate in Systematic Layout Planning for Lean Facilities, Certificate in Warehouse and Distribution Center Layout and Lean Six Sigma

Longstanding partnerships with industry help ensure the classes are relevant and applicable to real-world scenarios. This includes the 63-year partnership between Richard Muther & Associates and the warehouse layout courses. Current president and owner, Lee Hales, has been teaching courses for LPE off and on since 1975. A graduate of KU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prolific industrial planning author, Hales has consulted with companies including Amazon, Caterpillar, General Motors, Ford, Coca-Cola, The Container Store and many more.

Based out of Atlanta, he teaches courses for the Certificate in Systematic Layout Planning (SLP) for Lean Facilities and the Certificate in Warehouse and Distribution Center Layout. He is the coauthor of Systematic Layout Planning (SLP) 4th edition. Over the years, this course and others have evolved with the times, along with participant, employer and industry needs. From in-person courses – for which people flew from all over the world to attend courses in the Kansas City area – to online course delivery from the states across the globe, the lessons in these courses are universal.

“Lee’s experience led us to solve what were, in the past, tough layout problems,” said Heráclito I. Ribas from Makro South America, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Ribas is one of more than 400 individuals around the globe who have completed the Certificate in Warehouse and Distribution Center Layout.

“These are unique training opportunities applicable to real-world scenarios,” Hales said. “The SLP video course is really complete instruction, covering more than ever before. It’s an incredible value. These courses are hands-on and extremely practical, based on methods we use every day. They are immediately applicable to anyone struggling with capital investment in a facility or warehouse or who is ready improve themselves and the quality of their work.”

According to Hales, teaching for his alma mater while he stays active in the field is satisfying in multiple ways. “First of all, I love the university,” he said. “This is a way to give back and support the university’s mission. I also enjoying getting to interact with people all over the country and even the world. It’s very energizing.”

Training maintenance professionals around the world is commonplace for instructor Joel Levitt who’s been with KU for nine years and recently helped launch the new Certificate in Leadership Skills for Maintenance Supervisors and Managers, for which he wrote the main textbook. Levitt has been teaching in LPE’s maintenance management certificate program for more than 10 years, and more than 200 people have graduated with their certificate during that time.

Levitt has consulted and taught around the world and is a leading trainer of maintenance professionals. Over his 35 years of experience, he’s trained more than 20,000 maintenance leaders from 3,000 organizations in 39 countries, and written nearly 20 maintenance management texts on the topic.

“Online courses give unprecedented access for people to gain this kind of training, especially in the maintenance world,” Levitt said.

Levitt started teaching maintenance courses in 1987 and says he learned how to teach as he went and continually asked students what was missing from management training.

His research efforts lead to him administrating Meyers-Briggs testing to 5,000 people to learn how they were motivated. From there he wrote his textbook on supervision, which became the impetus of the new Certificate in Leadership Skills for Maintenance Supervisors and Managers.  

“Every factory or big facility in the U.S. has a maintenance supervisor,” Levitt said. “They are the key players in the effectiveness of maintenance, and there’s very little out there for them as far as needed, specialized training. These courses are important in helping to fill this gap.”

Not only do students in these online course gain instruction from world renowned experts, they also learn from each other. Levitt says the motivation of his KU students adds to the outcome of the courses.

“The students here are very motivated since they choose to come and spend their time on their own accord,” he said. “They stay late at work or go home and get online. They’re working full time, and they can discuss current situations or what they’re going through with the group. They really get a lot out of this.”

Engineering and technology example online courses

Online Certificate in Process Instrumentation & Control

Process control refers to the regulation of all aspects of the industrial process: control of level, temperature, pressure and flow. Learn the basics of process instrumentation and control (PIC), including different control functions and instruments and the engineering and the installation of control equipment.

Online Certificate in Process Control and Advanced Control Strategies

The certificate covers the different aspects of control loop optimization, faultfinding, and application of advanced control strategies from a non-mathematical and practical point of view. The material is rich in practical examples and features many hands-on exercises (labs) using process simulation software to help you understand the important concepts covered during the course.

Online Certificate in Process Engineering for Control Practitioners

The importance of knowing basic process engineering for practitioners of Process Instrumentation and Control (PIC) is vital in being able to implement PIC systems correctly. In this course, you will learn the basics of Process Engineering as they relate to PIC.

Online certificate courses

Certificate in Warehouse and Distribution Center Layout

A well-planned warehouse layout will help you reduce operating costs by improving warehouse processes and inventory control. You will learn to apply field-proven techniques, which focus on layout planning, methods selection, space optimization, and material handling.

New Certificate in Sustainability Management

This certificate program will benefit those who wish to gain a deeper knowledge of the growing sustainability management sector. The lessons learned in the four courses of this certificate can be used to develop, manage, and improve manufacturing processes, commercial products, and corporate practices for improving the long-term sustainability of a company. Attendees will be better positioned to contribute to their organization's financial wellbeing while alleviating the negative environmental impact of their operation.

Live online

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Training

This online program prepares those who already have a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt to lead large projects by explaining Six Sigma philosophies and principles, demonstrating team leadership, understanding team dynamics and assigning team member roles and responsibilities.

Self-paced online training

Systematic Layout Planning for Lean Facilities

Systematic Layout Planning (SLP) is recognized throughout the world as the most organized way to lay out a facility for efficient operation. Leading companies have made it standard practice in their Lean and Six Sigma programs. This course will prepare you to lead layout projects using SLP and to achieve remarkable results in record time.

What’s this class like? Here’s your sneak peek: https://learn.ku.edu/lean-plant-layout

Reliability Engineering Certification

The Reliability Engineering Certification (REC) builds and certifies competency in reliability engineering and asset management. Successful candidates will be able to apply reliability engineering to build asset management programs that are consistent with ISO 55000 Asset Management standards. As a candidate in this program, you will learn practical skills that can be applied on the job right away, demonstrate your commitment to reliability and continuous improvement, and increase your value to your organization.

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training

This on-demand, online program prepares new Green Belts to lead projects and contribute to improving services and manufacturing. Those who pass the exam will receive Green Belt certification from the University of Kansas.


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