How a university is using the Deming approach to save jobs, transform airplane maintenance training, and change legislation to make flying safer.


When we met Mike Mower, Executive Director of the Aviation Program at Southern Utah University, the program was on the brink of collapse. They were contracting with a private, for-profit company to help them with training aviation students. But it wasn’t working, and they couldn’t figure out why or what to do. As Mower describes in a recent Deming Institute Podcast, what happened next is “probably the biggest Cinderella story our university has ever seen.”


Through a partnership with SUU’s QUIL (the W. Edwards Deming Quality, Innovation & Leadership Incubator) and with guidance from Dr. Ravi Roy, SUU Professor and Senior Research Fellow at The Deming Institute, SUU Aviation began to integrate the Deming Leadership System. Within two years, they had saved the Aviation Program – and 130 jobs!


But that was just the beginning. Aviation programs had long struggled to train students under antiquated FAA maintenance training regulations. “You can imagine how much maintenance has changed in the last 60 years, but the way people are trained hadn’t changed at all,” says Mower. Frustrated with an unresponsive FAA, SUU Aviation took it upon themselves to revise the rules, using a Deming approach, and then lobby Congress to pass a bill that was signed into law in 2018. SUU Aviation will be the first program in the nation to teach under the new rules.


“We need Deming more than ever,” says Mower, and SUU Aviation is “poised to change the world…Globally, as we work with our partners in China, Taiwan, and Korea, we will spread the story of…what happens when you eliminate fear, once you get rid of barriers and allow people to be creative in thought and action.”


We would like to personally invite you to attend our Annual Bryce Canyon Deming Leadership learning event. Each year SUU and The Deming Institute partner to create a great 1-day learning event - sometimes a conference with several speakers and sometimes a hands-on seminar. You can learn more about this year's event here.

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SUU Professor Ravi Roy and Department of Aviation Director Mike Mower

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The SUU Aviation link is bad on the old site...

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