The Evolution of Lean Construction Education (Part 1 of 2): At US-Based Universities

Zofia K. Rybkowski1, Lincoln H. Forbes2 & Cynthia C.Y. Tsao3

1Associate Professor, Department of Construction Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77845-3137, USA, +1 979 845-4354, [email protected]
2Adjunct Professor, Florida International University and East Carolina University, USA, +1 305 546- 6239, [email protected]
3Owner, Navilean, Brookline, MA 02445, USA, Phone +1 510 593-4884, [email protected]


Effectively transferring lean knowledge and skills to owners, architects, engineers, and constructors (OAEC) requires behavioral changes within an industry that has been legitimately criticized for entrenched practices and low productivity. Documenting how successful that knowledge transfer is taking place can be helpful to those wishing to efficiently introduce lean into their own OAEC organizations. Lean educational efforts within academic settings have been brought to light through earlier publications. This research identifies the content of lean construction courses from five US-based universities to add to the seven previously documented. Tabulated results revealed that: (a) the content of lean curricula is evolving as grading formats, types of readings, and numbers and types of simulations have grown; and (b) lean curricula as defined by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) lean certification program is starting to permeate academic coursework. This may be a testament that AGC lean certification is providing some advantage in career placement for students. Investigation of the evolution of lean education within academia helps us better understand a driver of change as students enter the OAEC industry following graduation. The intent of this paper is to document this moment in time, as well as to raise a question about the potential impact of curriculum standardization on future continuous improvement initiatives with respect to lean construction philosophy, methods, and tools, in the OAEC industry.


Lean construction education, lean in academia, US-based universities, lean certification



Rybkowski, Z. K. , Forbes, L. H. & Tsao, C. C. 2018, 'The Evolution of Lean Construction Education (Part 1 of 2): At US-Based Universities' In:, 26th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Chennai, India, 18-20 Jul 2018. pp 1013-1023

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