Mike Lopez is a technical expert with over 18 years of research and development experience. An entrepreneur at heart, Mike designed the Young Person’s Guide to Arduino to spark the love of engineering in young people. He is also a Lean Six Sigma coach and professor, having taught a course in Lean Engineering at the University of New Mexico for several years.


Mike designed the Avocado Beginner Board and wrote the Young Person’s Guide to Arduino in 2013 after seeing how difficult it would be for his young children to learn computer programming with microcontrollers. More interactive than programming on the screen, he wanted them to see how computer programs can affect things in the real world, like make lights shine and buzzers sound. Filled with entrepreneurial spirit, Mike submitted the Young Person’s Guide to Arduino project twice before it was funded. He produced and shipped the first lot by Christmas 2013, as promised to his Kickstarter backers. Since then, Mike has continued to sell the Young Person’s Guide to Arduino and build other interesting devices.


Mike specializes in the management of high hazard research and development facilities. Working at a world-class science facility, he gained ten years of experience in the scientific, engineering, and operational activities necessary to operate small, medium, and large scale research laboratories. Dr. Lopez managed the activity level work of this major research facility, which included authorizing all work in the facility and integrating a culture of safety with high experiment quality. He has a PhD in Nuclear Engineering and BS in Physics.


In addition to technical expertise, Dr. Lopez is experienced in practicing resilient and reliable management of hazardous technical operations using the principles of Lean, Human Performance Improvement, and High Reliability Organizations.

Mike is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Leading a production system for complex physics targets, he used Lean Six Sigma and project management to reduce costs and increase transparency of the system. He also served as the technical professional responsible for two large contracts (approx. $35M in total value).

Mike coaches students and professionals on Lean Engineering principles and how to apply them to diverse work environments.

“Lean is not just about making cars. With a little imagination, it can be applied to any product, any industry, and any stage of development, even basic research.”


Mike deeply enjoys his work with students as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico, where he teaches a course in Lean Engineering within the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His education in quality began in graduate school, where he studied Quality Function Deployment and the Theory of Constraints. Since then, Mike has continued his learning by taking over 300 hours of courses, which doesn’t include any of the dozens of books he has read, or dozens of lectures he has given in Lean.

Course Description:
Introduces the basic principles and tools of lean production.

Learning Objective:
At the end of this course, you should be able to explain the basic fundamentals of value added and non-value added activities. You should be able to describe the forms of waste (“muda”) and be able to regularly identify them in all environments. You will have an understanding of the principles of Lean shared in the works of Spear & Bowen, Liker, and Womack & Jones. You will also be familiar with the following lean concepts and their role in lean improvement: 5S, housekeeping, waste elimination, standardization, Jidoka, one-piece flow, kaizen, customer demand pace (takt), eliminating barriers to flow, enterprise thinking, systems thinking, flow, pull system, just-in-time, lean product design, load leveling, mistake proofing, mura, muri, PDCA, 5 Whys, quick changeover (SMED), respect for the individual, systems thinking, total productive maintenance, visual workplace. You will be able to create a Value Stream Map. Finally, when you leave this class, you should be able to apply lean principles to improve real world problems at your home, school, or workplace.


  1. Waste Walks. Throughout the course, students will be responsible for submitting digital pictures of waste that they have identified in the real world. The first 15 minutes of each class will be devoted to reviewing these images.
  2.  Weekly Kaizens. For the second half of the course, students will be responsible for submitting evidence of one Kaizen they performed each week. The first 15 minutes of each class will be devoted to reviewing these Kaizens.
  3. Essays. Students will be given questions to answer in essay form throughout the course.
  4. Homework Problems. Problems will be assigned to accompany the weekly reading. Homework is due at the beginning of each class.
  5. Undergraduate Paper. Undergraduate students will independently study a special Lean topic or tool. The output of this study will be a paper explaining the unique value of the topic/tool and step by step instructions on how a beginner should use the tool. Each student will present their paper near the end of the term.
  6. Graduate Student Lean Project. Graduate students will recognize and measure waste in a process and systematically remove it from the system. This project will be individual and each student will present their results near the end of the term.

Relevant Training

  • AAAS/SACNAS Summer Leadership Institute
  • Advanced Corporate Coaching Program Graduate
  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Program Graduate
  • University of Michigan Toyota Kata Course
  • Lean Learning Center Lean Experience
  • Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) Practitioner