Category: Awards

Outstanding Woman in Business 2020-21

Fourth-year management information systems (MIS) major Macy Pawielski is the 2020-21 Outstanding Women in Business. Originally from Marquette, Michigan, Pawielski says choosing Michigan Tech has been one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
photo of Macy Pawielski
“I’ve not only had amazing career and leadership opportunities, but I’ve made friendships and professional connections—it’s beyond anything I could have imagined for my college career,” she says.

During her time in the College of Business, she restarted the Organization for Information Systems (OIS) Enterprise, providing fellow MIS students with networking opportunities while developing a close-knit community within the major. Today, Pawielski is president of OIS and serves on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council. She is also a member of the Women in Computer Science organization and has been named to the Dean’s List every semester.

Jeff Wall, associate professor of MIS in the Michigan Tech College of Business, says, “Macy is an outstanding student and leader on and off campus. She has demonstrated time and time again that through her passion and dedication she can make things happen. Macy will have a strong career as a leader in industry.”

Pawielski has interned at 3M for two summers—once within the IT optimization team, followed by a role on the enterprise data quality team.

“I’m very proud of all I have accomplished over my years here at Michigan Tech and I’m honored to receive such a prestigious award.”

About the College of Business
The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of  Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

William Breffle Named Michigan Tech College of Business Teacher of the Year

Enthusiastic, inspirational, and adaptable are how William Breffle’s students describe the economics professor and are attributes they felt worthy of the 2020-21 Michigan Technological University College of Business Teacher of the Year honor.

portrait of Dr. William Breffle

One student noted, “I have had Dr. Breffle for many courses. He cares about students, cares about the curriculum, and offers exquisite insight. The way he relates coursework to current events and trends is fantastic. He’s the best professor I have had at Michigan Tech.”

William “Bill” Breffle is an applied microeconomist specializing in environmental economics. Prior to joining Michigan Tech in 2007, he conducted economics research for Natural Resource Damage Assessments at Superfund sites.

Given the adaptations campus made during the pandemic, many of the undergraduate students who voted described Breffle’s ability to maintain a high level of teaching both in-person and over digital platforms, with one student saying: “He’s the best teacher I’ve had over Zoom. He always wants to lead students to the answer and loves class participation.”

Another student confirmed: “Dr. Breffle shows up to every class ready to teach. His enthusiasm is infectious and gives students energy to participate in class. It is clear he has a deep understanding of the material he teaches.”

Dean Johnson, dean of the College of Business, adds: “Dr. Breffle has consistently provided excellence in the classroom. We are pleased to be able to recognize him this year in the face of disruptions to the teaching environment.”

Breffle has published more than 25 research papers and 20 technical reports. Two of his journal articles have been selected for the International Library of Environmental Economics and Policy book volumes as “important and influential essays.” Another publication co-authored by Breffle is listed among the top 200 “most influential” research papers in the discipline of environmental and ecological economics.

His research focus is on the Great Lakes and their broader ecosystems that help shape the industries, recreation, and culture of the people who live near them. Breffle’s work aids in the development of policy management tools that sustain and protect the environmental and human-use services provided by these critical resources. He frequently involves students in his research activities. 

This is not the first time Breffle has been lauded for his teaching. In 2014, he was selected as the first-ever Props for Profs recipient. In 2015, Breffle was selected as a finalist for the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award—the University’s highest teaching honor—and he was inducted into the Michigan Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence. In 2018, Breffle was inducted by the College of Business into the business honor society Beta Gamma Sigma.

About the College of Business
The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of  Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Elham Asgari Named Michigan Tech College of Business Gates Professor

The Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship in the College of Business is the 2020-21 Gates Professor.

The Gates Family Foundation partners with communities to address long-term quality-of-life challenges and opportunities. At Michigan Technological University, the position will support student engagement in entrepreneurial activities and contribute to the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Elham (Ellie) Asgari joined the faculty of the Michigan Tech College of Business after earning her PhD in business management from Virginia Tech. Her research is at the intersection between entrepreneurship and innovation, and primarily focuses on the impact of upper echelons, star employees, and human resources on technological innovation. She has presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meetings and Strategic Management Society conference, among many others, and is published in top-tier journals such as Journal of Management, Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, and Expert Systems with Applications.



Her most recent paper titled, “Red Giants or Black Holes? The Antecedent Conditions and Multi-Level Impacts of Star Performers” was accepted for publication in the Academy of Management Annals in fall 2020.

Prior to entering her doctoral program, Asgari worked in industry, specializing in human resource management. She holds an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

“With her advanced business and technical background, Dr. Asgari is well-matched for Michigan Tech. The College of Business looks forward to Dr. Asgari leveraging her Gates Professor role in support of the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Michigan Tech, the Keweenaw Peninsula, and across Michigan,” says Dean Johnson, dean of the Michigan Tech College of Business.

In particular, Asgari will promote two of Michigan Tech’s flagship student-based entrepreneurial activities, the immersive Silicon Valley Experience, and the Bob Mark Business Model Competition, in addition to supporting faculty and research in the entrepreneurial area. 

Of the appointment, Asgari says: “I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to using the capacity of the position to enhance the entrepreneurship program at MTU.”

– – –

The Michigan Tech College of Business is large enough to lead and small enough to care. Our faculty are active in research, yet build close relationships with students. Professors understand Huskies’ career goals and provide them with the knowledge, tools, and experiences to create the future. 

Business Students Place Third in Annual Marketing Conference

Three student members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA)—Ryan Calkins (Management), Emily Kughn (Marketing), and Jaxon Verhoff (Marketing)—recently demonstrated their marketing strategy competence at the 2020 AMA regional conference hosted virtually by the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater.



The students were selected as top-10 finalists at the online conference where more than 800 students from 64 universities participated. They went on to place third on October 9, winning a cash award of $250.

In addition to this achievement, Michigan Tech was represented in the AcuRite Digital Marketing Strategy Competition and Gartner Sales Competition, where managers from the sponsoring companies served as judges.

Although COVID-19 disrupted the learning environment, Associate Professor of Marketing, Jun Min, who advises the marketing organization on campus, states, “I am continually impressed with our students’ willingness to try something new.”

2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition Winners

The 2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition was held January 29.  Eighteen students making up 13 teams pitched business models to advance their innovation. Community members and judges from across campus and the community selected the winners and provided the teams with feedback.

Student stands on stage during business plan competition
Jacob Soter is currently pursuing a TechMBA®

The winners of the 2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition:

  • First Prize, $2,000—Kyra Pratley, POWERPENDANTS
  • Second Prize, $1,000—Jake Soter, SwimSmart Technologies
  • Third Prize, $500—J. Harrison Shields, Shields Technologies
  • Honorable Mention, $250—Samerender Hanumantharao & Stephanie Bule, Bio-Synt
  • Honorable Mention, $250—Allysa Meinburg, Haley Papineau, Sadat Yang, AAA Prosthetic Ankle
  • Audience Favorite, $250—Allysa Meinburg, Haley Papineau, Sadat Yang, AAA Prosthetic Ankle
  • MTEC SmartZone Breakout Innovation Award, ($1,000 Reimbursable expenses toward business development)—Ranit Karmakar

This event is a tribute to the late Bob Mark, professor of practice in the College of Business who started the Elevator Pitch Competition at Michigan Tech. The competition recognizes his entrepreneurial spirit and its continuation at Michigan Tech.

The 2020 Bob Mark Business Model Competition was hosted by Husky Innovate, a collaboration between Pavlis Honors College, the Michigan Tech College of Business, and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization. Husky Innovate is Michigan Tech’s resource hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, and offers workshops, competitions, NSF I-Corps training, a speaker series, and co-hosts the Silicon Valley Experience.