Category: Events

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.


McBride, Elliott, Blankenship, and Roualet Honored as Academy of Business Inductees

The Michigan Technological University School of Business and Economics announces its 2019 inductees to the esteemed Academy of Business. These four individuals join a group of outstanding leaders in business and civic affairs, as well those who have contributed significantly to the growth and development of the School of Business and Economics (SBE).

Four people stand along wall with award plaques
2019 Academy of Business Inductees

The new inductees were honored at a celebratory dinner in the Great Lakes Research Center on the evening of September 20:

David W. McBride ‘82, owner, McBride Remodeling Inc. and Northland Self Storage LLC

David McBride (right) receives his award from Dean Johnson, dean of the School of Business and Economics

David McBride leads an award-winning team of highly trained professionals who are leaders in the home improvement and storage industry. He has grown the construction division to become one of the top 500 in the country. In the storage division, he actively manages three facilities and more than 500 customer relationships. 

Highlighted projects include developing a 25-acre industrial park in a former gravel mine, converting a drive-in theater into a commercial center, and receiving the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation in 2017 for the Douglas House renovation. 

McBride is a proud supporter of Michigan Tech Summer Youth Programs. 

Dale F. Elliott ‘79, president and CEO, FCM Advisory Group, Ltd

Dale Elliott has a long association with Michigan Tech. Seven members of his immediate family have graduated from the University. Elliott earned a TechMBA in 1979, after earning his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State and then working in the family tool-and-die design and engineering business. 

On campus, he was a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. 

After Michigan Tech, Elliott joined Brunswick Corporation as an advanced management trainee. He then spent 11 years with Emerson Electric, starting with the Dremel division as marketing manager.

Dale Elliott (right)

After a few successful years he was promoted to general manager of Dremel and was then selected to be vice president of marketing for the S-B Power Tool business, a joint venture between Emerson and Robert Bosch GmbH. This experience provided many valuable lessons about managing an international business and the importance of culture in a global organization. 

In 1995, he took a position with Snap-on Tools Inc., as president of the industrial and power tool business. He was named chairperson, president, and CEO of Snap-on Tools in 2001 and over the next three years he developed the strategy and tactical plans that set the stage for their future growth and profitability, while addressing the economic impact of the September 11, 2001 attacks. 

After retiring from Snap-on, Elliott was called on to become president of American Standard’s Global Bath and Kitchen business, a global market leader with more than 26,000 employees. 

Currently, Elliott is president and CEO of FCM Advisory Group, Ltd. a business consulting company he founded in 2007. His efforts are focused on a process called “Full-Circle Management,” which ensures that the activities of an entire organization align with company goals and objectives.

He has served on the School of Business and Economics National Advisory Board and is a Michigan Tech Fund Life Trustee as well as a member of the President’s Advancement Council.

Denise Blankenship ‘84, retired vice president of business analysis of Church Pension Group  

Throughout her career Denise Blankenship held numerous positions in the information technology field with a focus on business analysis and resource management.

Denise Blankenship (left)

Most recently Blankenship served as the vice president of business analysis at Church Pension Group (CPG) where she was a senior IT manager responsible for partnering with corporate business leaders to define, prioritize, and develop IT strategy for supporting both IT and business projects. 

During her tenure at CPG, Denise established an enterprise business analyst program. She implemented numerous process improvement projects spanning web self-service, policy administration, document automation, and content management with a focus on efficient work-flow automation.

In 2011, she received the Women in Insurance Leadership Notable Achiever Award. 

Blankenship holds a BS in business administration from Michigan Tech. She has served on numerous vendor Customer Advisory Boards and is a member of the Presidential Council of Alumnae.

Mark C. Roualet ‘81, executive vice president, Combat Systems

Mark Roualet (right)

Mark Roualet is the executive vice president of General Dynamics for their combat systems group. This group  includes three companies: European Land Systems, Land Systems, and Ordnance and Tactical Systems. 

He held positions of increasing responsibility throughout his employment with General Dynamics Land Systems to include plant manager; vice president of the Interim Brigade Combat Team program; vice president of Wheeled Vehicle Systems; and senior vice president and chief operating officer. 

Roualet earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Michigan Tech and a master’s of business administration from the University of Dayton. He was recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business Magazine as one of their “40 Under 40” executives and has received the Silver Star by the National Defense Industrial Association. 

In 2019, Roualet was elected to the Council of Trustees for the Association of the United States Army, a non-profit educational and development association serving America’s total Army, soldiers and civilians, and their families.

Find the entire Academy of Business here. 


Marketplace’s Chris Farrell to Speak On Campus April 8

Chris Farrell next to a bronze Husky statue on campus

Farrell’s presentation, “Old Techniques and New Technologies: The Rise of the Creative Economy,” will focus on one of the most exciting economic trends of our era—the rise of an artisan, craft, and creative business economy. Craft businesses like brew pubs and handcrafted snow bikes aren’t quaint artifacts from another era. They’ve grown and expanded and moved from the economy’s tributaries into the mainstream. Equipped with advanced technologies, entrepreneurial artisans can sell into local, national, and global markets.

An award-winning journalist, Farrell is a columnist for Next Avenue and the Star Tribune. He has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, the New York Times, Kiplinger’s, and other publications. He is also economics commentator for Minnesota Public Radio and host of the series, “Conversations on the Creative Economy.” His most recent book is “Purpose and a Paycheck” (HarperCollins Leadership).


Full-Circle Moment: MLK Day Speaker, Alumnus Reflects on Husky Experience

Speaker Donzell Dixson stands before an audience
Dixson Dynamics founder, Donzell Dixson, got his first speaking experience as a Michigan Tech business student.


Heading back to campus as the keynote speaker for the 30th annual Michigan Technological University Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration banquet was a pinch-me moment for 2014 finance graduate Donzell Dixson. It wasn’t that long ago, where instead of inspiration and confidence, Dixson waded through self-doubt.

“At times as a student, I felt inadequate. I felt less than. In class, I wasn’t the smartest. Other students seemed to be more prepared for college than I was,” Dixson says. “But my professors in the School of Business and Economics seemed to recognize I had a willingness—an eagerness—to learn.”

Michigan Tech alumnus Donzell Dixson
Today, Dixson resides in Minneapolis and is employed by Target Headquarters.

The Saginaw, Michigan, native first experienced campus by way of the MiCup Scholars Program, a collaboration between three Michigan community colleges and Michigan Tech, which encourages low-income and first-generation college students to continue to follow their dreams of higher education. The initiative is specifically geared toward students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

“MiCup was really the first and only time I got to see firsthand what Michigan Tech was all about. That’s how I knew it could be for me,” he recalls.

Coursework was rigorous and with support Dixson rose to the challenge. “Getting connected with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion was critical for me. My relationships there helped during times of struggle,” he says.

In his senior year, Dixson applied and was accepted into the competitive and nationally recognized Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP). “It is a hands-on trading experience that really opened my eyes to possibilities in business. The thought processes and strategies I learned in APMP apply to just about every facet of my career and life now. I tend to approach everything a little bit differently—asking, ‘how can I be a producer instead of a consumer’?”

A college internship with Target headquarters has evolved into a diverse technical career for Dixson. “Colleagues will often assume that as a business graduate I might not have a handle on the highly technical aspects,” Dixson explains. He became even more motivated to learn, challenging himself to master coding and develop mobile apps. Management took notice. He has thrived in software engineering roles with the company and is now a business analyst.

In 2017, Dixson, who recalls his first-ever public speaking experience as an APMP student, founded Dixson Dynamics, whose mission is to educate, motivate and guide others to achieve their goals through a plan. He and his business partners have spoken to schools, colleges, organizations and businesses about how to not only create a plan but to put it into action.

Donzell Dixson poses with Dean Johnson, dean of the Michigan Tech School of Business
Reconnecting—Donzell Dixson stands with his former finance professor, Dean Johnson, now dean of the School of Business and Economics.


Dixson calls Minneapolis home now, but he still has family back in Michigan rooting for him, just as they have since his days as a Husky. “In a lot of ways my mom barely recognizes me. I was a kid who at one time was expelled from school. She is proud of me. And she is proud that my success is centered on serving others.”

Just as Donzell Dixson has evolved, campus continues to, too. Dixson believes in President Koubek’s leadership and his mission to diversify Michigan Tech, providing more opportunities and experiences like his to even more students.


2018 Bob Mark Business Model Competition

The Bob Mark Business Model Competition provides a venue for students of all majors to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas before an audience and a panel of judges. Prior to the competition, students receive coaching from business professionals to hone their ideas and improve their pitches.

The 2018 Bob Mark Business Model Competition took place Wednesday, Dec. 5. More than 20 participants making up 15 teams pitched business plans for ideas ranging from hypothermia-preventing life jackets to a web-based stress management program.

Congratulations to this year’s winners:

  • First Place and MTEC SmartZone Game-Changer Award—Gary Tropp (Computer Network and System Administration) for VARS (Virtual Advising Registering and Scheduling)
  • Second and Third Place—Tie between Mayank Bagaria (Mechanical Engineering) for Vakya and Karuna Rana (Environmental and Energy Policy) for Reality Check
  • Audience Favorite—Nate LaJoie (Finance) and Michael Betz (Management) for Backpack Keg
  • Honorable Mention—Deanna Springgay (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) for Little Trainer
  • Honorable Mention—Russ Crofton (Mechanical Engineering Technology) for Modern Steel Bicycles

Lecturer Jonathan Leinonen reminisces on Bob’s passion and teachings.

Judges asked questions and shared feedback following pitches.

Business alumnus Cedric Kennedy served as the night’s emcee.

Deanna Springgay’s business concept, Little Trainer, provides a mobile and affordable way to exercise safely.

The RankUP concept monetizes the gaming trend.

Gary Tropp took what he saw as a problem with scheduling classes and programmed a solution.

Using drone technology, this business model can make routine traffic stops safer.

Michigan Tech Sound and Lighting student crews set the vibe for an inspiring night.