Archives—December 2016

New Entrepreneur Congressional Intern Program

The National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2) has developed a new University Entrepreneur Congressional Intern Program to start in the Summer of 2017. This eight-week program places exceptional university and college students in Senate and House offices to work on issues dealing with entrepreneurship and startups. The Program also includes meetings with senior federal administration officials, serial entrepreneurs, startups, venture capitalists, angel investors, and corporate venture groups to increase the student’s professional network during the internship and after, when they return to campus to share their experiences and networks with students, researchers, faculty and alumni. In the long term, it is expected that these students will provide entrepreneurship leadership in public service, academia, and the private sector throughout their careers.

More information about the program can be found at ncet2.org/interns. The deadline to apply is January 30, 2017.

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Michigan Tech I-Corps Site Workshop

The Michigan Tech I-Corps Site Program and the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship will be hosting its next NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Workshop in January over a 4-week period, with the first session starting on Saturday, January 7th.

The I-Corps Site program is a team-based program structure that was developed through a partnership between the National Science logo_nsf-icorpsFoundation (NSF) and successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The workshop provides an introduction to the Lean Start-up business development methodology which focuses on getting out of the lab and using the proven tools of Customer Discovery and the Business Model Canvas to evaluate the commercial potential of innovative technologies.

This is a great opportunity to work with an experienced team of workshop leaders to determine, document, and fully realize the commercial potential of your technology. Teams which successfully complete the program requirements are eligible for $2500 to advance their technology-focused start-up ideas through customer discovery and prototyping. Teams also become eligible for NSF’s National I-Corps program which includes $50,000 in funding.

Participants of I-Corps Site programs and NSF’s National I-Corps have demonstrated significantly higher funding rates from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs which offer Phase I awards up to $225,000 and Phase II awards up to $750,000. Past participants also report that the I-Corps program had a positive impact on their careers, as well as their approach to research, teaching and mentoring.

Apply today for this great experience! For more information on the Michigan Tech I-Corps Site Program or to apply to the January workshop, visit mtu.edu/honors/ice/icorps/. The deadline to submit your application is January 2, 2017.


Effectively Managing Time

By Paige Hackney

Being a successful and productive student is a combination of many factors and decisions all working in concert to culminate in a fulfilling academic career. To be a well-rounded and successful student requires selecting a major that fulfills your interests and future career plans, balancing academic requirements and pressures, finding time for relaxation and fun, engaging in activities that bring you joy, and making and enjoying friends. When I was a student in the late 70’s, a student’s main “job” was to go to class, study, do homework, perhaps work a few hours a week, and enjoy new friends. In short – be a student. It strikes me that much more is expected of today’s student than the student of my day. Most of today’s students appear to balance studies with more time-consuming and often multiple jobs, involvement in several organizations, and engaging in community service activities, all while setting aside time to spend with friends. This increased demand on the finite resource of time can lead to stress which in turn can lead to the ineffective use of that time.

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How can students develop effective time management skills that minimize stress and provide optimal results in the classroom and/or on the job coupled with a satisfying social life and a positive sense of self? While each student will bring a unique ability to manage time, based in part on personality (Type A versus Type B), there are strategies that any student can implement to improve their use of this all important finite resource that we each have in the course of a day. I would like to explore some simple strategies for effective time management that may help you make more efficient and productive use of your time that should decrease stress and increase performance in your studies and overall satisfaction with life.

The first and most intuitive step is to prioritize tasks. When considering multiple tasks, consider deadlines and magnitude of tasks that need to be accomplished. And by all means, do not procrastinate. Use and regularly check a calendaring system to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. I like to use the analogy of having multiple Saturday errands to run in a single trip. If I find that I need to go to the bank, pharmacy, grocery store, and drop off garbage, I always think about how best to manage my route and stops. Multiple factors will figure into my chosen route and sequence of chores based on immediate needs (Do I need cash from the bank to complete any of the other tasks on my list or am I getting cash for an upcoming trip in a few days), the season (do I want to avoid smelly garbage and melted ice cream in my car in summer) and ease of negotiating my chosen travel route through busy intersections (stop light placement, on what side of the street are my destinations located). In summer my route is often different than in winter based on logistics, priorities and conditions.

The second, and perhaps the most difficult strategy is: Don’t procrastinate. Few people actually perform better under pressure in a short period compared to a longer span of time. It is easy to fall into this trap especially when having to choose between taking on the task at hand rather than doing something more attractive and fun. Procrastination only leads to stress and leaves little, if any, time to learn from unanticipated results and make corrections to produce a better end product or start over.

sporkMy third suggestion is to avoid multitasking and focus on one assignment at a time and do it well. Studies show it usually takes longer to complete multiple tasks simultaneously than it does to complete several tasks singularly. This phenomenon is due to the additional time required to refocus when transitioning back and forth between tasks.

Don’t forget to take care of your basic needs when you have many things to accomplish. Getting adequate sleep does take time; however, sleep is a source of rejuvenation for the mind as well as the body. Sleep provides the resources to think more clearly, organize thoughts more efficiently and learn and retain information more easily. If you do find yourself stressing over a daunting to-do list, take time to relieve the added pressure by engaging in some form of exercise or meditation. Exercise is not only good for the heart and overall personal wellbeing and health, but also improves brain function to spark memory and general brain function. Engaging in a regular exercise regimen has scientifically-proven long-term benefits including longevity, improved memory and enhanced thinking skills.

On those busiest of days, don’t forget to take time to enjoy life with friends. Social engagement is as basic a human need as eating and sleeping and should be regularly worked into your schedule to foment success. Taking a break to enjoy dinner with friends may be all that is necessary on a hectic day to help you relax, redirect energies and ultimately refocus.

While these strategies seem simple and intuitive, they will require a conscious effort to implement for most people. However, the added benefit you will find in your personal and academic life will be significant.

 


The Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship

Scoville Fellows work with one or more than two dozen participating public-interest organizations. They may undertake a variety of activities, including research, writing, public education and advocacy on a range of security issues, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, non-proliferation, missile defense, weapons trade, environmental and energy security, and peacekeeping, that support the goals of their host organization, and may attend coalition meetings, policy briefings and Congressional hearings. Fellows are supervised by senior level staff and often have the opportunity to publish articles, blogs, or reports. The program also arranges meetings for the fellows with policy experts. Many former Scoville Fellows have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in international relations and taken prominent positions in the field of peace and security with public interest organizations, the Federal Government, academia and media.

The 6-9 month fellowship in Washington D.C. is open to recent undergraduate and graduate alumni with an excellent academic record and a strong interest in issues of peace and security. Deadline to apply is January 6th, 2017. For more information visit scoville.org


Design Thinking and Makerspaces

By Mary Raber

If you’ve been hanging out around the Pavlis Honors College you’ve probably heard talk about Design Thinking and Makerspaces. And maybe you’re wondering, what are these things and why are they important?

As stated by Tom & David Kelley, co-founders of the product innovation company IDEO and authors of Creative Confidence, “Most people are born creative. As children, we revel in imaginary play, ask outlandish questions, draw blobs and call them dinosaurs. But over time, because of socialization and formal education, a lot of us start to stifle those impulses. We learn to be warier of judgment, more cautious, more analytical. The world seems to divide into “creatives” and “non-creatives,” and too many people consciously or unconsciously resign themselves to the latter category.”

Last fall, the Pavlis Honors College announced the creation of a new Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE), and as part of our mission we want to help Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff reclaim their “creative confidence.” Design thinking and makerspaces are two great tools that can help.

“Design Thinking is defined as a methodology and a mindset that draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity,” explains IDEO CEO, Tim Brown.

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It is an iterative process that starts with Empathy…understanding the needs and challenges of the people who might use the innovative ideas you are developing. By getting out and talking to people, you can learn a lot about their needs and challenges which can help ensure that you are focusing on the right problem. Then through ideation processes such as brainstorming, new ideas are generated. Simple prototypes of these ideas can be created with fast and inexpensive methods such as sketching, role playing, or building models using materials like post-it notes and pipe cleaners. These simple prototypes can then be used to gain valuable feedback by testing a physical model of your idea with prospective users. This allows you to determine whether you’re on the right track before you’ve invested too much time or money, or if you need to go back to a previous step to explore your idea further.

We now have a team of faculty and students (our University Innovation Fellows) who are trained in the design thinking process and are available to help others develop design-thinking skills through facilitated workshops and class sessions. The team has already been working hard to help infuse this process across campus and into the community.

You’ve probably also heard about our new makerspace, The Alley. Makerspaces are popping up all over the world and there are an estimated 400 makerspaces in the US alone. They are intended to be creative, DIY spaces where people can gather to create, collaborative, invent, tinker and learn using a variety of tools and materials. By all accounts, they are not just spaces, they are communities of people from all disciplines and backgrounds who enjoy making things. They encompass making in all forms, whether building with power tools, creating 3D printed prototypes, experimenting with cooking, or creating through more traditional art forms like sewing and painting.

Over the past year, a diverse team of students, faculty and staff have worked to convert the old bowling alley in the basement of the MUB to a really cool collaborative work space where members of the Michigan Tech community can bring their ideas to life.

In September, representatives of Milwaukee Tool came to campus to help facilitate a workbench building event. Milwaukee Tool is a strong supporter of The Alley and helped get the makerspace off the ground with a generous donation of tools. The Alley officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 25th, 2016.

The Alley is a student-led makerspace, with a team of Maker Coaches (student, faculty and staff volunteers) who staff the space, maintain the tools & equipment, train new users, and help to make it a safe place to work. It is open to the Michigan Tech community on Monday-Thursday from 3:00-9:00pm. For more info on the space, or how to get involved as a volunteer Maker Coach, check out The Alley’s website or Facebook page.

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Meet Neffertia Tyner…

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Neffertia Tyner (second from the right) is a student staff assistant for the Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

 

By Amy Karagiannakis

Neffertia Tyner transferred to Michigan Tech in 2014 from Wayne County Community College in Detroit, MI. She grew up in Detroit and identifies as an “inner-city kid.” Maybe not how some would perceive an inner-city kid though. Unfortunately, for many people the phrase inner-city kid brings to mind negative stereotypes. Neffertia wants to change the way people think, “I see inner-city kids as ambitious, head-strong and courageous. We should not be ashamed or embarrassed of where we came from or how we grew up.”

Neffertia is a Psychology major and is planning to graduate in the Fall of 2017. As a Custom Pathways student in the Pavlis Honors College, Neffertia has chosen to focus on service. She volunteers at Dial Help which she believes complements her minor in Diversity Studies. Dial Help is a crisis and helpline service that provides immediate assistance over the phone or via text that attempts to relieve the stress that a caller might be experiencing from a crisis or critical situation. Neffertia receives calls from a diverse number of community members that vary in age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, culture and socioeconomic background while volunteering at Dial Help. Being exposed to such a diverse group of individuals has helped her to better understand the issues and problems that face people that are different from her.

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DSC_0108DSC_0135Working as a student staff assistant for the Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion has inspired Neffertia to stand up for social justice within the campus community and beyond. Following the results of the presidential election, many on campus, particularly members of underrepresented communities, were feeling confused, hopeless and even scared. Within a week, Neffertia organized a silent march through campus and into town that was meant to offer support, comfort, and reassurance to those that needed it. Several hundred students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered at the Husky statue on the evening of Wednesday, November 16th to march together in solidarity to demonstrate that we will not accept hate on our campus or in our community.

Neffertia participated last April in an event organized by the new student organization, SAVE which stands for Sexual Assault and Violence Education. The purpose of this new student org is to raise awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence. Neffertia along with other volunteers, drove around campus in the SAVE “Cash” Cart giving away prizes such as brownies and candy to help raise awareness about the resources Tech and our community have for sexual assault victims. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The “It’s On Us” initiative took root in 2014 and has been gaining momentum across college campuses nationwide. The campaign is dedicated to making a concerted effort to raise awareness and put an end to campus sexual assault.

 

20161014_095322Neffertia is a Big Sister for the UP KIDS Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. This nonprofit organization matches children with caring adults in the Keweenaw who encourage them to reach their full potential. Many children involved in the program are already facing adversity in their very young lives. Big Brothers and Big Sisters provide support, friendship, and guidance to a child that may otherwise be lacking a strong role model in their lives. Neffertia has been with her Little for a year now and believes that having a role model that shares similar interests is important. “My Little and I talk about our aspirations in life and the issues we are going through. More importantly, we always support each other.”

This past summer Neffertia worked as an Activity Counselor for the Michigan Tech Summer Youth Program (SYP). She worked closely with the student participants engaging them in STEM-related activities and other camp events. Neffertia’s work with the CDI, Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success, and the SYP along with her volunteer work has culminated into a growing interest in working with young people and providing them with the guidance and support they need to succeed. Whether this interest leads to a career in higher education or working with at-risk youths in Detroit area high schools, Neffertia is passionate about helping others reach their full potential. “We should not try to prove to others that we are not a stereotype, but strive to prove to ourselves that we are perfectly capable of being successful. We should work towards empowering and supporting one another. While I am standing on my pedestal of success, I am going to turn around, reach out my hand, and welcome the next in line to join me. Then I want them to turn around, reach their hand out, and welcome another inner-city kid to join us.” Neffertia Tyner is redefining what it means to be an “inner-city kid.” 

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