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Meet the 2023 Great Innovate Winners and Competitors

Competitors at Process Palooza, a groundbreaking event highlighting UC San Diego's utilization of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) for enhanced efficiency, confronted a formidable task: analyzing and reimagining a critical department process within a single day.

On March 29, participants gathered at UC San Diego campus for an eventful agenda. Seasoned LSS experts engaged in the hands-on application of their knowledge, addressing business challenges faced by UC San Diego. Meanwhile, other attendees participated in workshops that covered the fundamentals of LSS and provided real-life demonstrations of its implementation.

Process A: Summer Session Schedule

About: Summer Special Session offers approximately 100 courses from a variety of departments to more than 2,000 students over the Summer. Summer Session courses allow students to accelerate progress towards their degrees, enroll in classes that fill up quickly during the school year, and learn new specialized skills. The Summer Session office manages the Summer Session website, schedules courses, and determines registration deadlines, including add/drop deadlines, payment deadlines, refund deadlines, etc.

Process Owner

  • Becky Arce, Director, Summer Session

Problem Statement: Special Summer Session is serving an increasingly growing number of students. Currently, it consists of around 100 courses and serves about 2,000 students. Due to the variety of the start and end dates of the special summer session, along with the incompatibility of Webreg and the schedule of classes software, there are challenges with updating the calendar to reflect the accurate and important dates that are relevant for students. It is crucial for students to have accurate information related to deadlines and dates associated with registration since it is linked with tuition requirements, grading and refunds in several ways.

  1. If you decide to add an additional course before the add deadline, the tuition and fees for your new course are due immediately.
  2. If you add courses after the cancellation date has passed, you are responsible for all tuition and fees associated with your enrollment.
  3. If you drop a course and add a new course after the refund deadline, the student will be responsible for the fees for both courses.
  4. Tuition and campus-based fees for a course dropped after the refund deadline will not be reversed.
If you wish to add a class after the Deadline to Add a Class, you will need to submit a Late Add Request via the Enrollment Authorization System (EASy). Students rely heavily on the provided information that can be found on the summer session website via the calendar, which is produced manually through a time-consuming and meticulous process. This process leaves a lot of room for error and prevents summer session staff from addressing other departmental needs during the months that the calendar must be regularly updated.



  • Tran Chau, Assistant Nurse Manager, CVICU, Sulpizio, UC San Diego
  • Alina Mullen, Executive Assistant, JSOE Dean's Office, Corporate Partnerships, UC San Diego
  • Irvin Palacios, Senior Analyst, Business and Financial Services, UC San Diego
  • Miguel Suarez, Continuous Improvement Specialist, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare
  • Harrison Watts, Service Offering Manager, IT Services, UC San Diego
  • Amy Westermann, Project Manager, ACTRI, UC San Diego


Sigma Blue

  • Suzie Engel, Development Coordinator, School of Global Policy and Strategy - UC San Diego
  • Daniel Fischer
  • Tina Mata, Project Policy Analyst, Academic Personnel Services - Academic Affairs - UC San Diego
  • Lillian Tureaud, Program Manager, UC San Diego Health - Pediatrics
  • Priya Venkatesan
  • Kathy Whelan, Sr. Facilities Planner, EVC, Resource Administration

Orange Sensation

  • Jessica Chapman, Associate Director of Child and Family Health, Center for Community Health, UC San Diego
  • Sandra Chavez-Martinez, Survey Assistant, Transportation Services, UC San Diego
  • Katherine Collins, EdTech Support Manager, IT Services, UC San Diego
  • Kinuko Kanda, Research Administrator, Electrical & Computer Engineering, UC San Diego
  • Sam Semrad, Business Process Analyst, Silvergate Bank


Process B: HDH/HR Hiring and Onboarding

What is HDH/HR Hiring and Onboarding?  Housing Dining Hospitality (HDH) is a self-funded department consisting of eight divisions, approximately 900 career staff, 1,400 student employees, and an annual operating budget of ~295 million, with next year projected at ~340 million. The largest employer of student employees is Dining. The student staff accounts for 85% of the HDH employees.

The department provides housing for nearly 15,000 undergraduate and transfer students, graduate and professional students, faculty, staff, and families. It also administers residential dining, catering, and retail market locations available to residents and the campus community; maintenance and repair services; conference services; human resources, marketing, financial services, and more.

Process Owner:

  • Claudia Mellon, Director/HR, HDH, UC San Diego

Problem Statement: The hiring of students and determination of start dates can be held back or delayed due to several points within the hiring process.
Current Pain Points:

  1. Identification of available seats: Often when students leave employment, that information is not readily available for the HR team in HDH. This leads to batch processing.
  2. Completion of Core Hire Forms: This varies by candidate, and recruitment will sometimes need to send candidates several reminder emails. Recruitment also calls occasionally to check where they are at in the process.
  3. Approval for EID Creation: The time frame to receive approval from UCPath ranges anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks and is out of Recruitment’s control, especially during high volume periods (i.e., Fall quarter). Page 3 of 8
  4. Finalize Paperwork: Student employees may not have all required documents by scheduled appointment with the Personnel Team to complete paperwork such as section 2 of I-9, Emergency Contact form, etc. This causes additional days of delays depending on the missing items.
  5. Dining location scheduling of newly hired employees: Once a candidate is selected and paperwork is finalized, there is a delay between when they are Onboarded by HR and are provided their first day of work. 6. Any time the start date changes (the vast majority of these cases are due to process delays), HDH HR must submit a form to UCPATH.


Black Diamonds


  • Perla Susana Barajas, Financial Analyst, SIO Nimitz Marine Facility, UC San Diego
  • Peter Blando, Business Systems Analyst, UC Davis
  • Sherry Hayes, Lecturer, Rady School of Management/Undergraduate, UC San Diego
  • Bernadette Hill-Comeau
  • Debra Kirkwood, Case Investigator, UCSD Public Health Covid Response Team, UC San Diego

black diamonds

Teal Team Six

  • Annel Hernandez, Admin Officer III, VC Health Sciences, UC San Diego
  • Sarah Kang, Logistics Technology Analyst, IPPS, UC San Diego
  • Claudia-Veronica Suares, Custodial Supervisor, HDH-BCS, UC San Diego
  • Scott Winter, Continuous Improvement Manager, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare

Yellow Jackets

  • Traci Doddy, Instructor Services Specialist, Division of Extended Studies, UC San Diego
  • YaYa Grimaldo, IS PMO Project Coordinator - Strategic & Capital Projects, Insight Global
  • Mona Hassoun, Fund Manager, Electrical & Computer Engineering, UC San Diego
  • Joshua Liggett, Transplant Quality Specialist, Transplant Quality, UC San Diego
  • Bekah Yohe-Lawrence, Project Manager, ACTRI, UC San Diego