Meet Erin Richie…

By Amy Karagiannakis

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Erin Riche and Maddy Duensing on their 5-week immersion experience in Ghana.

Erin Richie traveled to Ghana last summer with a cohort of students from the Global Leadership Pathway within the Pavlis Honors College. The team worked on numerous projects while in country, but Erin took the lead on the Women’s Health and Education project. In many developing countries, the subject of menstruation is still very much taboo. Many parents will not discuss menstrual hygiene with their daughters, which can lead to embarrassment and confusion. Without access to sanitary pads, many women use items such as newspaper, rags, and other materials that are not very efficient at absorbing and can cause infection. Girls will often miss several days of school each month while they are on their period to avoid the potential embarrassment of staining their clothes due to leakage. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), approximately 10% of African girls will quit school due to issues regarding menstruation. There are solutions available, but making them accessible to small villages, such as those Erin traveled to in Ghana, is difficult. Before leaving for Ghana, Erin first reached out to Diva Cup for donations. Diva Cup manufactures reusable menstrual cups that last several years and can be cleaned and sanitized using boiling water. The company agreed to donate 50 cups, as well as designed posters explaining proper care and use. Erin wanted to do more though. She new that 50 cups, while helpful, would eventually run out. Erin wanted to provide an alternative for the girls and women in the Ghanaian village that they could continue to utilize even after she had left. Using simple, low cost materials, Erin modified a pattern for a reusable menstrual pad that could be washed and then sun bleached. She wanted to offer workshops to teach girls and women how to make their own reusable menstrual pads providing the necessary materials. Through a connection with the nonprofit organization Women of the Pearl, Erin partnered with a local pastor and his wife in Ghana. The couple believed that when women are empowered, their children will prosper. They were very excited about the project and helped Erin solidify a location for her first workshop. The initial workshop was a success and the turn out was very encouraging. The demand for more workshops grew and Erin spent much of her time in country holding these workshops and teaching local women how to facilitate their own. These women could now make their own affordable, reusable pads, allowing them the protection to stay in school during their monthly cycle.

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From left to right: Bob Beynon, Maddy Duensing, Erin Richie, Amanda Vermeer, and Peter Seim in Ghana.

“I’m so thankful for all that I’ve been able to do by being involved with the Pavlis Honors College. Aside from learning about the culture, my time in Ghana also taught me how to be a better teammate. I’m so lucky to have had a great supportive team in Ghana and for all I was able to learn from them that I can apply to future experiences, as teamwork is not only an intricate part of becoming an engineer, but a valuable life skill,” reflected Erin. The next Pavlis Honors College Ghana team will be traveling this summer. They are currently raising money to purchase more materials and supplies to continue teaching Erin’s workshops in local villages. Donations to this and other causes can be made through Superior Ideas, a Michigan Tech crowdfunding site.

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Erin with fellow PHC students and young Ghanaian women who benefited from the workshops.

Erin returned from her immersion experience in Ghana a little less than a year ago, but her devotion to women’s health and education has only grown stronger. She will be spending two weeks this summer volunteering in Uganda with Women of the Pearl to continue her work, as well as contribute to other projects that empower women around the globe. Prior to her trip to Uganda, Erin will be studying abroad for six weeks in Peru to participate in some volunteer work and finish up her minor in Spanish. She will be living with a host family while in country, and hopes to find some time to visit Machu Picchu, Ica, and Iquitos. Erin will be graduating at the end of Fall semester 2017 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and minors in Spanish and Psychology.

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Erin at the Women’s Solidarity March across the Portage Lake Bridge on Jan. 21.

Erin’s interest in human centered design did not originate in Ghana. As a mechanical engineering major, Erin is passionate about designing and developing products that make daily work and life more efficient and enjoyable. Erin is currently leading the Human Factors Team for the Humane Interface Design Enterprise (HIDE) at Michigan Tech. HIDE is a student-run organization focused on software development and usability research. Erin is now working with the Undergraduate Student Government to develop an RFID voting booth in order to increase student involvement in surveys and elections. Starting in the Fall, Erin will become the co-president of HIDE.

Erin Richie and Nicole Mackey with PHC benefactor Frank Pavlis in Allentown, PA.
Nicole Mackey and Erin Richie with PHC benefactor Frank Pavlis in Allentown, PA.

Erin Richie is an active Honors Ambassador and works as an academic success coach on campus, as well as off campus as an elementary school STEM instructor through the GLRC.  She was recently awarded the Pavlis Honors College Dean’s Scholarship in the amount of $1000. Erin is the first recipient of this award, which was created to recognize Honors students like Erin who go above and beyond. The Pavlis Honors College Dean’s Scholarship will be awarded to one honors student annually in the amount of $1000 to recognize their outstanding commitment to our programs and pathways. Erin consistently volunteers her time to design, plan and implement recruitment efforts to grow the PHC community. She has taken a leading role to ensure the successful implementation of ideas and events. She goes above and beyond to engage with students and faculty on a meaningful level and continues to have a significant positive effect on College enrollment. Overall, Erin is passionate about the PHC and enthusiastically shares her passion with potential future Honors students whenever given the opportunity. On behalf of the entire PHC staff and faculty, I would like to congratulate Erin on her achievements and accomplishments. We could not be more proud of her and look forward to what her future holds.

 

 


Michigan Tech Students Win $30,000 at CMU New Venture Competition

By Amy Karagiannakis

Five student teams from Michigan Tech recently traveled to Central Michigan University to compete in the New Venture Competition. The seventh annual New Venture Competition took place on Friday, March 24th and was co-sponsored by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) within the Pavlis Honors College at Michigan Tech. A total of 29 student teams competed: 24 from Central Michigan University, four from Michigan Technological University and one team with members from both universities. Students pitched their businesses to panels of experienced entrepreneurs through three consecutive rounds.

Multi-Dimensional Manufacturing led by Nick Dubeil (Mechanical Engineering) and Morgan Crocker (Scientific and Technical Communication) along with their product, The Metaloid, won Best Overall Venture which comes with $30,000 and a year of mentoring support from Blue Water Angels in Midland.  Dubiel and Crocker were invited to pitch their business for investment to Blue Water Angels at a pitch night the following week as well. Jim Baker, Executive Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement at Michigan Tech, served as Dubiel’s mentor for his participation in the competition. “Nick and Morgan’s success is a great example of the hands-on nature of the Michigan Tech experience and the resourcefulness of students who choose to come here. Their path to winning began when Nick got his hands dirty and built a 3D printer to demonstrate the specific advantages of his ideas over alternatives. They followed their technical validation by leveraging resources within the Pavlis Honors College and the Entrepreneurs Club to develop a compelling, and winning, business model and pitch,” shared Baker.

Photo courtesy of Central Michigan University.
Photo courtesy of Central Michigan University.

The core themes of CMU’s New Venture is the hands-on approach to proving that your product works and providing a business model that demonstrates an understanding of concepts that will attract investors and buyers. Dubiel and Crocker covered both criteria, enabling their win and attracting interested investors in the process. Ron Beebe, principal owner of Euclid Industries and founding member of the Blue Water Angels said, “I think the passion that (Dubiel) has for his product was probably the most significant factor. I invest in people. I think (Dubiel) is very smart, and he’s incredibly passionate about what he’s doing, plus it’s a good product.”

Dubiel developed his own 3D printer when he became frustrated with the inefficiencies of current 3D printing technology. By improving on the nozzle-based material delivery hardware and using temperature-sensing technology, Dubiel says The Metaloid can print eight times faster than conventional 3D printers currently on the market. “I was not expecting to do as well as I did in this (competition),” Dubiel said. “I have a lot of new decisions to make, but it will be fun, because I didn’t anticipate any of this.” He plans to begin selling his product at a price of $3,300.

Dubiel and Crocker participated in Michigan Tech’s National Science Foundation I-Corps Site Program in January. Directed by Mary Raber, Assistant Dean of the Pavlis Honors College, I-Corps is a team-based program structure that was developed through a partnership between the National Science Foundation (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. Michigan Tech will be holding the next I-Corps Site workshop in August.

This is the 7th year of the New Venture competition and the 6th year of Michigan Tech’s partnership with CMU. Last year, Michigan Tech had two category winners and a pitch competition win totaling $21,500 in prizes. Michigan Tech’s Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) within the Pavlis Honors College continues to be an excellent resource for students looking to start their own business or bring new ideas or concepts to the next stage of development. The mission of the Center is to harness the potential of the Michigan Tech campus community to innovate, develop, and implement ideas and inventions by building and maintaining a strong and integrated ecosystem with a cohesive set of entrepreneurial and innovation resources to enable success. Students interested in harnessing their potential to innovate, develop, and implement their ideas and inventions are encouraged to stop in the Pavlis Honors College (M&M 722) to learn more about ICE and all of the resources available to them. A schedule of upcoming student innovator and entrepreneur competitions can be found here.


Enterprise wins ASME Innovation in Education Award

By Amy Karagiannakis

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Formula SAE Enterprise Team

Michigan Tech’s Enterprise Program was selected by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Engineering Education Awards Committee for the Donald N. Zwiep Innovation in Education Award. Rick Berkey, the Director of the Enterprise Program and Dr. William Predebon, Department Chair of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, nominated the Enterprise Program for the award last month. They will be accepting the award on behalf of Michigan Tech on April 19th in Washington D.C. at the Mechanical Engineering Education Leadership Summit Awards Luncheon. At that time, Berkey and Predebon will have the opportunity to make a presentation regarding the Enterprise Program sharing how it differentiates Michigan Tech from other universities.

Donald N. Zwiep, ASME member from 1947-2012, was a pioneer of project-based, experiential learning in mechanical engineering. The Innovation in Education Award that bears his name recognizes innovative educational programs that foster and contribute to the advancement of collaborative and multi-disciplinary learning within the field of mechanical engineering.

Founded in 2000, the Enterprise Program at Michigan Tech is comprised of student-driven, multidisciplinary teams that operate like companies on real-world client-sponsored projects. Whether the deliverable is an innovative product, a pioneering solution, or a much-needed service, the hallmark of the Enterprise Program is the experiential learning it provides to Tech’s students. Many teams design, manufacture, and test their own prototypes which provides students with an end-to-end project development experience.

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Aerospace Enterprise working on their custom-made OCULUS-ASR microsatellite.
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The Innovative Global Solutions Enterprise tested their infant heart annunciators in Ghana.

Enterprise teams prepare designs for national competitions, and some projects will even take teams abroad. The Aerospace Enterprise placed first in the University Nanosat 6 Competition, receiving a contract to further develop the custom-made satellite to be launched into orbit by the Department of Defense upon completion. The Innovative Global Solutions Enterprise designed an infant heart annunciator for use in developing countries. Through the Pavlis Honors College, these students were given the opportunity to test their lifesaving device on infants in Ghana.

The Enterprise Program at Michigan Technological University has demonstrated an exemplary understanding of the importance and value of hands-on, project-based learning. Consisting of 26 teams and 800 students that represent 35 different majors, the Enterprise Program was founded on an environment of collaborative and interdisciplinary education.

 

 

 

 


Meet Adam Augustyniak…

By Amy Karagiannakis

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Every summer, approximately 100 undergraduate and graduate students from top universities across the country become interns at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. MIT’s summer research program offers their interns the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a cutting-edge research environment. The application and selection process is extremely competitive. Participants contribute to projects in fields such as mechanical engineering, aeronautics, molecular biology, and many more. PHC student, Adam Augustyniak, was recently notified of his acceptance into MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory for this summer’s research internship program as part of the Mechanical Engineering Group. Adam will be working as an intern this summer at the lab in Lexington, MA. Just 14 miles from Boston and a short trek from New England’s beautiful seashore, mountains and Cape Cod, Adam will be able to spend some of his free time this summer enjoying the outdoors. As a paid student intern at Lincoln Laboratory, Adam will have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment to solve real-world technical problems. At the conclusion of the internship, students present the results of their research to national experts in the field.

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Adam believes that it his curiosity and interest in learning that drove him to become an engineer. He is in his third year at Michigan Tech and is majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Adam is very involved in Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise. Michigan Tech Enterprises are student-driven, multidisciplinary teams that work like companies on real-world client projects. Adam currently serves as the Structures Systems Engineer for the Aerospace Enterprise. Current projects include the Stratus CubeSat, funded by NASA, and the Auris Microsatellite, funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory. In his student position, he is responsible for a team of 12 student structural engineers that design and test the structures of the satellites. Before acting as lead engineer for these two projects, Adam worked on the Oculus-ASR Microsatellite mission. This nanosatellite was designed and built by Aerospace Enterprise students for space situational awareness research. Oculus-ASR is due to launch sometime in the next couple months aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Following graduation in 2018, he plans to attend graduate school to further his knowledge in Aerospace Engineering.

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Adam is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and currently sits on the Pavlis Honors College Undergraduate Student Advisory Board. The USAB facilitates the engagement of undergraduate students in the improvement of their living and learning environments by working closely with the College administration, with student organizations and groups and with University and College offices to identify and implement solutions to critical problems. The PHC Board is a self-directed, collaborative body designed for discussion and raising awareness of key issues. In addition to Adam’s involvement on campus, he has also held internship positions with BACA Systems and Fiat Chrysler while working over the summer in 2015 and 2016. As the supervisor to the base tradesmen at the Fiat Chrysler Warren Truck Assembly Plant, Adam was pushed out of his comfort zone to lead people twice his age. This experience helped him grow as a leader and as an engineer.

What motivates Adam, is the desire to become the best possible version of himself. If he is not constantly working to improve himself, he cannot be satisfied with where he is in life. “I must always strive for self-improvement when it comes to academics, physical activity, and any other aspects to life. The Pavlis Honors College nicely compliments my engineering education. Through reflection, I have been able to determine what I want and do not want to do with my career,” Adam shared. Similar to most students at Michigan Tech, Adam enjoys spending his free time outdoors. He spent some time backpacking and hiking the trails of Isle Royale National Park.

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Meet Karin Wolken…

By Amy Karagiannakis

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Karin Wolken believes that research is vitally important to understanding the altering circumstances Earth continues to undergo. She is honing her data analysis skills as she works on a project concerning the fate of carbon in forest residues, a study that could have implications for carbon cycling and climate change. Karin began working as a research assistant in the Forest Biometrics Lab shortly after beginning her education at Tech in 2014. A Forestry major, on par to graduate in just three years, her current project work involves assessing the fate of carbon present in logging residues. During the summer between her first and second year Karin worked as a crew leader in the field collecting samples from red pine and aspen all over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Since Fall 2015, Karin has been diligently working through processing the collected samples and analyzing and managing the data. Potentially, logging residues could be used as a source of biofuel, a prospect that would have significant impact on the energy industry. Karin presented her team’s findings at the Society of American Foresters National Convention in Madison, WI last fall. The time and commitment Karin has put into this research project has strengthened her ability to lead a team, as well as improved her communication skills, prowess that she will certainly use in future work.

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Karin lived in Seattle her entire life and came to Michigan Tech to experience something completely different from the urban Northwestern bubble she grew up in. The rugged, unlandscaped Upper Peninsula of Michigan seemed like a drastic but welcome change from the temperate rainforests of Northwestern Washington. Karin’s love of the outdoors and the hope that one day her research may contribute to reversing the effects of climate change is what drew her to Forestry.

“I want to be part of something that can help draw the line between coexisting and overusing the world around us. I want to explore what we don’t understand and help get the necessary information to not only survive in our changing world, but thrive.”

Shifting from recreationally enjoying the large trees of the Pacific Northwest to studying the fate of logging residues in the stands of UP forests seemed like a natural transition for Karin. Outside of what she does academically, Karin enjoys knitting, cooking and visiting the Copper Country Humane Society. Karin is currently playing flute in the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and tries to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors as she can.

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Being involved with the Pavlis Honors College has given Karin the opportunity to meet and work with people across departments and disciplines. Her focus is in forestry research, but the Honors College has allowed her to branch out and collaborate with similarly driven people of various majors and interests.

Karin’s Honors project is to improve the Forestry Learning Center (FLC) at Michigan Tech by shifting to a more peer-focused learning platform. The center, in comparison with other learning centers on campus, has lacked the proper attention, funding and support. Karin believes that peer tutoring is extremely effective to learning and understanding. An acting tutor herself, Karin coordinates the current tutoring system at the FLC and focuses on one-on-one and group sessions. Her goal is to identify ways for the center to become more effective in helping SFRES students and implement these practices for future undergraduate classes.


Applications Now Being Accepted for Gilman Scholarship

GilmanThe Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad.  This type of experience prepares U.S. students for an increasingly global economy. The Gilman Scholarship seeks students from a diverse range of private and public institutions all over the country across all 50 states. The selection process is highly competitive. Good news for Michigan Tech students, the Gilman panel looks for STEM majors!

Benjamin A. Gilman, retired New York congressman and the scholarship’s namesake, once said, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

If you are interested in applying, visit the website here for more information. The deadline to apply for Summer 2017 and Fall 2017-18 is March 7th.


Your Professional Network

By Joe Thompson

Regardless of your personal goals and aspirations, it is always a good idea to cultivate and maintain your professional network. This is a network of individuals you can call on when you need a letter of recommendation, a professional reference, or are otherwise looking to grow professionally. This network is unique to you, your experiences and professional interactions. You’ll know you have a strong network and whether you are associated with the right people if they look for professional benefit from you as well.

wordcloud-professional-networkingA professional network is about more than how many LinkedIn connections you’ve attained. A real professional network will include those you’ve had meaningful professional or academic interactions with, not just those you’ve met at a conference or latched onto via a mutual connection or algorithm recommendations. An inner circle of 10-15 people will be worth more to you in long run than 1,000 connections who periodically “like” a press release or article you share!

So where might a Michigan Tech student look when developing a real professional network? If you are like most Michigan Tech students, you are probably involved in a club, student organization, Enterprise Team, Sorority or Fraternity, etc. Maybe you volunteer with a local community non-profit or are an active member of a religious institution. Have you had a leadership role or have you participated on any committees, sub teams, project teams? There is probably someone you worked with who could speak to specifics about how you benefited the team/organization/project by being involved. Those specifics are what makes a real network connection!

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If you’ve had a positive Co-op or internship experience, your manager and those you worked with are real professional connections. Even if you don’t want to work for that company (or in that particular industry) in the future, maintaining a professional relationship with those you’ve had work experience with is important. If you establish yourself on a different career path, being able to show your professional adaptability by your success in a potentially unrelated sector can highlight universal leadership or technical ability.

It is never too early to start developing your real professional network. The experiences you have on campus and off campus during your time at Michigan Tech are valuable and will not only aid you now, but also as you move forward on whatever career path you choose!


Meet Randy Wilharm…

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By Amy Karaginannakis

Randy came from the suburbs of Chicago to Tech in the Fall of 2013. He was excited to move someplace different from the urban home he had grown accustomed to and looked forward to new experiences in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. His love of music led him to join the Superior Wind Symphony and the Michigan Tech Pep Band shortly after arriving to campus. Randy plays the clarinet and will graduate Tech this coming Spring with a Major in Chemistry and a Minor in Music. He spoke fondly of his time at Tech, but most memorably enjoys attending the hockey games. In addition to Randy’s passion for new experiences, it was Tech’s reputation as a cutting-edge research university that drew him to the Keweenaw.

wilharmAs a Research Pathway student in the Pavlis Honors College, Randy has been involved in various research projects across campus. During his second year on campus he conducted research with Dr. Bruce Lee and contributed to the article, “Modulating the movement of hydrogel actuator based on catechol-iron ion coordination chemistry” in the scientific journal, Sensors and Actuators B. Over this past summer, Randy worked alongside Dr. Rudy Luck, an Associate Professor for the Department of Chemistry, here at Tech. This experience served as Randy’s Immersion that would fulfill one of the key components of his Honors education. While working in the lab over the summer, Randy synthesized and tested different complexes to learn their properties and determine potential uses. Randy is currently working to produce a catalyst that will improve the process of electrolysis. The process is currently very energy intensive and the complexes him and his fellow researchers are working with may allow electrolysis to occur with just UV light. Randy continues to forge his legacy on campus and beyond.

 

1064226_10203173494759398_713905516_oRandy is always up for a challenge and has never been satisfied with just fulfilling the minimum requirements. That’s part of the reason he decided to apply to the Pavlis Honors College. Always motivated to be his best, no matter what the task, Randy does not accept mediocrity in his daily life. He also enjoys engaging in service projects that afford him the opportunity to help others. He continues to donate his time to service projects in the local community and travels to Florida for his Spring Break every year with Cru, a national Christian community of college students.

 

12719197_10153556594761365_8902995734081003632_oRandy wants to do something no one has ever done before and believes that should be the goal of every scientist. The Pavlis Honors College has fueled his passion for learning and continues to prepare him for graduate school and life after graduation. When asked about his experiences in the Honors College, Randy reflected, “The PHC has pushed me that extra step beyond my classwork to clarify and work to achieve my goals as an independent person. Because of this, I feel more confident and prepared to enter the world after college.” Following graduation this Spring from Michigan Tech, Randy plans to attend graduate school to pursue a PhD in Chemistry.


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.