Marshall University partners with Toyota on student business project

Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Four Marshall University students have completed an eight-week business  problem-solving partnership with Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, which allowed them to have an international business experience without leaving West Virginia.

Toyota and Marshall University representatives developed the program after an exploratory meeting last fall to discuss the university’s relatively new International Business program and internship possibilities.  The academic program requires students to complete either a foreign study or a business experience that exposes them to global economic issues.

“Last October, Denise Hogsett and Debby Stoler with Career Services, myself, and two students visited Toyota in Putnam County and met with several executives,” said Dr. Harlan Smith, head of the Division of Finance and Economics in the Lewis College of Business.  “Our talks culminated in the establishment of what Toyota calls a ‘problem-solving partnership’ with our students who then had an incredibly valuable learning experience.”

“Career Services has had a long-standing relationship with Toyota and we are pleased this new business-education partnership has developed,” said Stoler, assistant director of development and outreach with Career Services.  “Our visit to Putnam County last fall also connected Marshall University to several other international companies who are interested in possible student internships.”

Toyota personnel trained the students using a Japanese business concept called Kaizen, which means “improvement” or “change for the better” and refers to the philosophy or practice that focuses on continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering and business management.  The team of students was required to be at the Buffalo plant two days a week for a minimum of 10 hours per week.

The four students who participated are Matthew Lawless, Klaudia Mucharzewska and Sarah Kay, all from the Lewis College of Business, and Michael “Chad” McClure from the College of Liberal Arts.

The Toyota partnership was a great opportunity to get some hands-on experience in a business setting,” McClure said.  “We were able to work closely with several members of the Toyota staff, learn from them and ultimately present our results to the senior management of the plant.”

Toyota General Manager Mike Lutz said his company welcomed the opportunity to build an educational bridge with Marshall University.


This important educational opportunity helped prepare these students to be our next generation of leaders,” Lutz said.  “This exercise was to teach them the concept of going back to basics, exposing real significant problems, and then making fundamental improvements, which is the foundation of the Toyota Production System.”