WVU Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Course

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification course for forensic professionals is now available at West Virginia University to help understaffed crime laboratories reduce errors and increase efficiency.



Written by: Martina Bison-Huckaby, Director of the Center for Executive Education at West Virginia University



For the first time, the West Virginia University Center for Executive Education (CEE), located at the College of Business and Economics, will be offering a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification course specifically for forensic professionals. The course, which begins on March 22, 2016, will consist of sixteen 2-hour long webinars grouped in five modules, and will conclude with a face to face finale on August 30th in Pittsburgh, PA.  The course has already drawn the attention of several forensic professionals from different crime laboratories in the United States who have enrolled in the program and are eager to start.

While the Lean Six Sigma program is new to the CEE, the Center is no stranger to engaging in management and leadership training for forensic professionals, mostly through the Forensic Management Academy ( be.wvu.edu.execed/fma ) , a program which addresses several of the managerial competencies that are needed to run a crime laboratory and that are not normally directly addressed in the course of a manager’s professional development.

Timothy Kupferschmid, Chief of Laboratories in the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York will be the course instructor. Kupferschmid, a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma, has been practicing these methods since 2008, including applying the LSS methodology at the Forensic DNA Casework of the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory.  In the report titled “Increasing Efficiency of Forensic DNA Casework Using Lean Six Sigma Tools” by Melinda Richard and Timothy Kupferschmid, the authors state “All grant goals and objectives were met, but more importantly, the process has been improved and the culture has changed such that the LSPCL Forensic DNA Unit has substantially increased its operational efficiency……. Primarily the LSS projects changed the culture and has provided a platform to make the equipment, personnel and available resources more efficient.”(1)


Lean Six Sigma reduces errors to 3.4 per one million opportunities and increases efficiency. Click To Tweet


The Lean Six Sigma methodology that has been adopted by various industries since the 1980s combines both the effort of process improvement and quality control by reducing the number of ‘defects’ or ‘errors’ to 3.4 per one million opportunities. The ultimate goal is to help improve processes at crime labs, as those labs are many times understaffed and have mounting numbers of cases. Reducing errors and increasing efficiency is the foundation of this course.

As an ideology, Six Sigma is centered on five “Core” phases: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. Similarly, the CEE certification program will have its webinar sessions broken up into five different modules of different lengths, all based on these Core Phases. Participants will work on a process improvement project for their agency throughout the course.


  • The first of these phases, which will be the first module of the course, is the Define phase. During this module, participants will select the course project, complete their project charter and validate the project using the voice of the customer.


  • The second webinar module will be based off of the Measure phase. During this module, participants will learn to determine outputs and inputs to the process, as well as create a data collection plan and collect data on the current state of the process. Mapping tools will be used, such as a process map, SIPOC and a value stream map.


  • For the Analyze phase module, participants will determine the critical inputs of the process and analyze data in order to determine root causes of problems within the organization. Tools that will be used during this process may include brainstorming, FMEA, C&E diagrams and root cause analyses.


  • This Improve phase module will involve generating potential solutions and improvements for the process by selecting and standardizing key steps. Participants will also develop a future state process map and value stream map, as well as develop and implement a pilot solution which will lead to full-scale implementation of the project.


  • For the last webinar module— based off of the Control phase— participants will develop and implement measurement of key performance indicators, as well as create quality and management system controls.


Upon completion of the webinar series, participants will meet at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh International Airport on August 30, 2016 for a unique keystone seminar on leading organizational change.   This is not normally part of a Lean Six Sigma program curriculum, but it was specifically added to help participants with the implementation.  Change efforts, such as a Lean Six Sigma improvement process, can often fail when the “human element” is not considered.  Gaining buy-in from employees that will need to change their processes and behaviors can sometimes be difficult and can cause a whole range of emotions such as denial, confusion and rejection of the change.  This seminar will proactively provide participants with the tools to address possible resistance that can hinder or delay their efforts.


Goal is to improve processes at crime labs, as they are often understaffed and have numbers of cases. Click To Tweet


The seminar will be led by Dean Gialamas, Division Director of the Technical Services Division of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Gialamas, who was formerly Crime Lab Director both at the Orange County Crime Laboratory and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, has been instructing for the CEE’s Forensic Management Academy since its inception.  His course draws on his extensive experience in leading organization-wide change at crime laboratories.

After the seminar, participants will present their Lean Six Sigma projects to the group.  Following the presentation, successful participants will be conferred their Green Belt Lean Six Sigma certification during a concluding networking reception event.

For more information on the program, please visit be.wvu.edu/execed/lean-six-sigma.htm or contact Martina Bison-Huckaby, Director of the West Virginia University Center for Executive Education, by telephone at (304) 293-7926, or by email at martina.bison.huckaby@mail.wvu.edu.


(1)          https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/235190.pdf