Colby Hawker, BSE

Operations Engineer


Colby Hawker is from Solon, IA, a small town north of Iowa City. He graduated from the University of Iowa in December of 2015 with a BS in Industrial Engineering and a minor in Business Administration. Although his first years as a professional after college were in manufacturing, he had always been interested in working in the medical industry.

His first opportunity after college took him to Fort Madison, IA, where he was hired as a manufacturing engineer at Siemens Wind Power. Siemens manufactured wind turbine blades, ranging from 53 to 64 meters in length. Siemens had been utilizing lean concepts for roughly eight years when he started, creating their own lean department with a leader and mentors. The department would schedule events for new product introductions, as well as Kaizen events for continuous improvement. Colby was able to lead and support multiple events, driving quality improvement, creating standard work instructions, and developing plant layouts and material flow for new products. Siemens also merged with a wind energy company in Spain, where Colby was able to travel with a team to study their manufacturing practices and bring those learnings back to implement in the Fort Madison facility. Colby spent two years with Siemens, but decided to accept a job offer closer to his hometown at Kinze Manufacturing in Williamsburg, IA.

At Kinze, Colby continued his career as a manufacturing engineer. Kinze manufactures large agricultural equipment. He led multiple new product introductions with a focus on manufacturing readiness, utilizing tools including the production part approval process (PPAP), failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA), standard work, Kanban systems, and creating plant layouts. Colby had spent a year and a half at Kinze, before recognizing an intriguing opportunity at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

Colby joined the Operations Excellence team at the University of Iowa in 2020. His interest was sparked by the potential for improvement in healthcare and having a chance to return to the University where he had graduated.

His favorite process improvement tool is standardized work because it reduces variability, simplifies training of new operators, and acts as a baseline for future improvement opportunities.


  • Coach teams on optimal workplace design/layout.
  • Work with outpatient, inpatient, service and administrative teams to develop short and long term methods for improving patient flow and length of stay.
  • Develop and deliver material for our two day training sessions.
  • Collaborate with other OE staff to identify and support any emergent process needs within UIHC.


Address: C 523 GH
Phone: (319) 467-5668

 When asked, “What inspires you?”

“Seeing a problem and coming together with a team of people to create an optimal solution.”