Each year, students in the Industrial Engineering program at Clemson University complete senior projects. These projects culminate their four years at the university and allow them to use their education to benefit businesses in the area. This year, a few students had the opportunity to use industrial engineering in a field that many may not expect, healthcare.
Sloan Bankson, an Industrial Engineering student working on a senior project for Family Dental Health, explains, “This is an extremely nontraditional field for Industrial engineers. Most of the projects…I think there’s only a small handful that are not in manufacturing. So a manufacturing environment really produces goods or as we call them, widgets, in my classes, but here it’s about the patients and about their care.”
Shea Tolbert, General Family and Cosmetic Dentist at Family Dental Health, says, “The Industrial Engineering side is kind of new to us. Our CEO, our first dentist, Dr. Rob Safrit, has a Masters Degree in Industrial Engineering...so he understands how to run businesses, systems and processes. So we thought, okay, we can kind of group the engineering part, not just the medical part of Clemson, and help get better patient care and manage our business. So we’ve been working together on really trying to provide efficiency and help save time with patient care.”
Another healthcare-related company who has partnered with Clemson engineering students is Make a Wish SC. Like family dental health, Make a Wish SC acknowledges that they may not be the typical company. Engineering students work with CEO and President Bill Tiller, who explains, “We think of ourselves as a wish factory. We think we’re manufacturers too. We just make wishes. Our product is hope, strength, and joy through the wish experience. Part of making those things happen is cash donations from our supporters, which is great. The other part of that is in-kind gifts.”
Bill Tiller is excited to see the final outcome of the Clemson Industrial Engineering students’ hard work. He says, “One of the things that we aim to do for our kids is have amazing transformational experiences. And so, we don’t want to be encumbered by budget concerns. So, by having in-kind gifts, we can increase the quality of the wish experience without adding to the expense of it. Hopefully, that’s going to be the end product for the Wish Kids and their families, to have an amazing transformational experience.”
Shea Tolbert discusses how Clemson Industrial Engineering students have already helped their business. He explains, “The last few months, we’ve been able to do more dentistry than we’ve ever done for our patients before.”