Perfecting the Toy Making Process

Zachary Holt, '09, says his life has been dramatically altered after spending the summer of 2009 living and working in China for one of the world's largest toy manufacturers as part of a Ball State University initiative.

The native of New Albany, Indiana, earned his Six Sigma Black Belt—one of the most popular professional credentials in business today—while working for 10 weeks for the Early Light Industrial Company, located just outside of Hong Kong in Ping Hu, China.

Holt's project entailed using analysis learned through the Six Sigma minor offered by Ball State to identify and remove the causes of defects and errors in Early Light's plastic injection molding machines.

Holt was able to reduce the time it took for machine to recycle by 30 percent, saving the company about $3 million annually. The recent college graduate admits that working in China was far different than he anticipated.

"I don't think anyone can truly appreciate the value of working in China without having gone through it," says Holt, who is now working at a company in Muncie. "My project was full of ups and downs, but learning how to deal with the highs and lows may be one of the biggest things I learned from this experience. During those 10 weeks, I had to remember to keep a level head when making crucial decisions and handle myself professionally in times of chaos."

Alan Leduc, a technology professor who is coordinating the minor emphasizing the Six Sigma Black Belt, believes that the certification will create a new generation of results-oriented professionals across various industries.

As part of the certification, Ball State is offering a minor that allows students to take six classes as well as participate in an immersive learning opportunity. The minor was recently created as a result of a gift-in-kind valued at $1.4 million from a prominent alumnus, Mikel Harry, a 1973 Ball State graduate and president of the Six Sigma Management Institute.

"Zach Holt is a perfect example of a student who uses an opportunity to gain international experience while working for a major corporation halfway around the world," Leduc says. "We believe that students who graduate with a minor emphasizing Six Sigma will quickly move into leadership positions in their new companies."

Holt, who interned for nearly two years for his current employer, firmly believes his experience in China will pay off down the road.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Six Sigma has opened new gateways for me in terms of personal growth and career advancement. I feel strongly that due to my professional certification, and accompanying credentials, that I now have a path for success laid in front of me. While the rest is up to me, I plan on using what I have learned in years to come."

Related links:

Six Sigma minor 

Immersive Learning