Category Archives: Majors

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.


Spend Your Spring Break in Silicon Valley

Aerial view of Silicon Valley

Aspiring student entrepreneurs and innovators are invited to apply for the Michigan Technological University Silicon Valley Experience, a spring break tour of California Bay Area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni who are leaders in their field. The deadline to apply is February 10, 2019; the application form can be found at SVE Experience 2019 Application. Up to 15 students will be selected for this experience. Major funding for the trip is provided by Michigan Tech alumnus Kanwal Rekhi, as well as the Pavlis Honors College Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship and the School of Business and Economics in collaboration with 14 Floors.

Silicon Valley is known for its software giants, high-tech startups, Fortune 1000 companies, innovative culture, and entrepreneurial ecosystem–the environment that affects local/regional entrepreneurship, such as culture, policies, talent, entrepreneurial organizations, regional resources, and networks.

The Silicon Valley Experience will showcase multiple perspectives of a day-in-the-life of successful entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and business leaders. This tour provides an interactive opportunity for students to discover more about a variety of industry settings, to sample innovative corporate cultures through tours and presentations, and to meet and talk with successful alumni entrepreneurs.

Image of bicycle outside Google headquarters

Students who apply and are accepted will have the opportunity to:

  • Tour companies like Google, Netflix, Hewlett Packard, Facebook, Ford, Clari, BYTON, Twilio, Autodesk, Waymo, the Porter Vineyard, as well as recent Michigan Tech startup, Handshake
  • Meet with entrepreneurs and innovators
  • Talk with Michigan Tech alumni who are leaders in their field
  • Get answers to your real-world business, innovation, and leadership questions
  • Gain firsthand knowledge of the enterprises that are revolutionizing global business

Lodging, some food, and ground transportation to and from toured companies will be covered. Students will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own air travel. As part of the student application, students will create a two-minute video describing how they will share their experience with the Michigan Technological University community upon completion of their travel in order to positively contribute to our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Students who have a demonstrated financial need can apply for a limited travel scholarship. If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Casper (lcasper@mtu.edu).


Imagineering Audit 4.0 Researcher at Michigan Tech

Jun Dai is a visiting assistant professor from Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in China. She received her PhD in 2017 from the Rutgers Business School. Her research interests include applying new technologies such as blockchain, industry 4.0, and data analytics for the auditing profession.

Dai’s paper “Imagineering Audit 4.0” received the Bright Idea award in 2017, which is identified as one of the top 10 manuscripts for the year among all publications of New
Jersey ’s business faculty.

In addition to conducting research, Dai will be guest lecturing finance and accounting classes during her time on campus.

Earlier this month, Dai presented to the 43rd World Continuous Auditing and Reporting Symposium. The theme of the symposium was disruptive innovation in accounting. Her presentation, “Utilizing Blockchain and Smart Contracts to Enable Audit 4.0: A Case of Accountability Audit of Air Pollution Controls In China,” explored the potentials of using smart sensors, Internet of things, blockchain, and smart contracts to reengineer current auditing procedures to be more agile, precise, and transparent.

Dai serves as an associated editor of the Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting and has published in academic journals and professional journals, including Accounting Horizons, Journal of Information Systems, International Journal of Accounting Information systems, Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting, and the CPA Journal.


Business and Technology Merges in Husky Innovate Idea Pitch Competition

The first annual Husky Innovate Idea Pitch Competition took place Wednesday, Oct. 17 in Fisher Hall. The competition was hosted by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College, the School of Business and Economics, and the Vice President for Research Office.

More than 30 students from various majors and disciplines pitched to a panel of judges comprised of faculty, alumni, and community members. Participants had two minutes to pitch their innovative and disruptive ideas. Alumni from Michigan Tech’s 14 Floors joined the judging panel to offer feedback and expert advice to budding Michigan Tech entrepreneurs.

Two students on stage after presenting in the Husky Innovate Idea Pitch Competition
Students in the School of Business and Economics participate in the Husky Innovate Idea Pitch Competition.

The winners of the 2018 Idea Pitch Competition are:

  • First Place and Audience Choice—Cameron Philo, Electrical Engineering, Pavlis Honors College, Life Pro Jackets
  • Second Place—Gary Tropp, Computer Network and System Administration, A Better Way to Schedule Classes
  •  Third Place—Mayank Bagaria, Mechanical Engineering, Wearable Translator
  • Honorable Mention—Sarah Smyth, Business, Post-op Bra for Breast Cancer Survivors
  • Honorable Mention—Christopher Codere and Joshua Hansen, MBA and Software Engineering, Firearm Detection Technology for Police Officers
  • Honorable Mention—Marina Brusso and Maxx Fredrickson, Marketing/Management and Management, Parking Improvement App

The Idea Pitch Competition is part of Husky Innovate, a series of workshops and competitions that guide students through key phases of business development while emphasizing strategies for success. More information on upcoming Husky Innovate events can be found at mtu.edu/husky-innovate.


Mentoring Opportunity for Entrepreneurial-Minded Students

Michigan Tech campus in the fall.
The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College and the School of Business and Economics, announces a mentoring opportunity for students to meet with successful Michigan Tech alumni.

During Innovation Week (Oct. 15-18), Kanwal Rekhi ‘69, along with other 14 Floors members, have generously offered to meet one-on-one with entrepreneurial-minded Huskies. Students who have an innovative technology, solution, idea, and/or prototype that they would like to get in front of an experienced entrepreneur to talk market assessment and commercialization potential, should apply for the mentoring opportunity. Limited times are available.

This initiative is part of Michigan Tech’s 14 Floors. 14 Floors is a series of events and activities designed to build momentum and enable culture change on campus. Core initiatives focus on fostering entrepreneurship and high-tech innovation within a global culture and economy. Cross-disciplinary activities led by faculty and staff focus on students and are held on and off campus. The effort is made possible through alumni support.