New Geier Professor blends engineering, business

This academic year’s Visiting Geier Professor, Reginald Tomas Yu-Lee, brings a blended background of engineering expertise and business acumen to campus to help students learn what will be expected of them in the corporate world.

In courses for seniors and graduate students in mechanical and industrial engineering, Yu-Lee, an internationally recognized consultant, author and educator, offers to bridge the gap between what corporations expect from graduates and what students leave college with in terms of experience and expertise.

“Often new graduates make poor first impressions when they present theoretical answers to problems that require thoughtful solutions,” said Yu-Lee. “I’ve talked with corporate leaders about their expectations and seek to help students understand how the approaches learned in college can be enhanced to create better solutions for companies.”

Yu-Lee’s professional and academic credentials make him especially qualified to take on such a role in the classroom. He earned a doctorate in engineering, as well his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, at the University of Dayton, where now TTU College of Engineering Dean Glen Johnson chaired his committee. Throughout his education, he concentrated on developing manufacturing theory and practice, focusing on strategy development, profit and cash flow, operations management, supply chain operations and information technology.

He independently created and developed the concept of explicit cost dynamics, a cost management approach that challenges the validity of many mainstream management concepts and approaches. Through explicit cost dynamics, he challenges familiar concepts including economies of scale and cost accounting.

“Through the approach, I incorporate a lot of non-standard ways to tackle traditional business problems,” said Yu-Lee.

Yu-Lee said many companies operate under untested assumptions such as “time is money” or “cutting inventory will greatly improve cash flow.”

“Those assumptions are not necessarily true and can sometimes create the opposite effect on the bottom line,” he explained.

Yu-Lee has put his concept into action for several large firms within national and international markets, including a major manufacturing company with $1 billion in annual sales and 40 percent market share that implemented explicit cost dynamics company wide. He said the approach is viable for companies of all size, from one of the largest investment firms that manages $1 trillion in assets to a retail paper company with sales of $1 million.

“Without a speedometer, you don’t know how fast you are going,” he said. “Explicit cost dynamics not only tells you how fast you are going, it gives you feedback on what happens to the bottom line when you when you make a decision or ‘push the pedal.’”

Before becoming president of The Yu-Lee Co. in 2002, he served as Director of Strategy and Director of Business Consulting at Sapient Corp. in Atlanta. His previous professional experience includes roles as senior manager for Ernst & Young LLP, a manufacturing consultant for IBM, and senior consultant for Oracle Corp.

Yu-Lee has authored two books, “Explicit Cost Dynamics: An Alternative to Activity Based Costing” (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2001) and “The Essentials of Capacity Management” (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2002). The Institute of Industrial Engineers selected the latter as one of the top books for 2002.

In the spring, Yu-Lee plans to take his expertise outside the classroom to the region’s professionals. Working with Dean Susan Elkins and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Extended Education, Yu-Lee plans to offer executive education programs throughout the region and state. Those programs will offer corporate executives expertise and advice on improving profits as well as operational and manufacturing strategies.

Tennessee Tech began hosting a Geier Visiting Professor in 2002 as part of its commitment to implement the intent of the Geier Consent Decree. Frank Underdown, professor of physics and astronomy Michigan Technological University, was the first professor who visited under the program, followed in 2003 by Alex C. Dunn, an electrical engineer from the University of Houston.