Category: Student Organizations

All Majors invited to Elevator Pitch Competition!

What is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short speech that outlines a business idea.

Come Pitch your idea for a chance to win $1000 in 90 seconds!

When: Thursday, November 7th at 6:00 pm

Where: Fisher Hall, Room 135

Why: $1000 First Place Prize…$500 Second Place Prize…$250 Third Place Prize…$200 Audience Favorite

Even if you’re not interested in competing, please join us for what is sure to be a fun and entertaining event! We look forward to see you in the audience!

Please contact Nikoli Wiens with any questions at

Undergraduate Student Government Participation = Resume Boost

USG offers SBE students the opportunity to apply their academics and background to boost their resume and align with career goals.

Michigan Tech’s Student Government asks the students of SBE:

“What would Goldman Sachs do?”

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) is currently exploring an idea to engage students interested in the application of business and economics.  The idea is to create a kind of student consultancy that can assist the USG Executive Team in the strategic management and investment of the Student Activity Fee (SAF) accounts, which total more than $800k annually.

Part of the USG’s mission is to support all student organizations. To do that, USG uses the SAF money to fund orgs and initiatives for the benefit of all students.  The overall vision of this role is to provide financial resources so that the student orgs can help Tech to graduate students ready to “create the future”.

USG’s Challenge: The goal of graduating students ready to “create the future” is difficult to optimize because it is not inherently empirical.  There are few metrics in use to tell USG which potential investments are most valuable, or to measure the success of investments.  Therefore, USG hopes students can answer the following questions:

  • What critical results does USG need to deliver when investing the SAF funds?
  • What processes/metrics can we use to prioritize investment to deliver those results?
  • What metrics can we use to monitor the success of an org and/or new initiative?

By providing this open ended challenge, USG hopes students can apply their training to create resume experiences in line with their professional goals.  In doing so, these students can build a network of motivated partners inside and outside the university, and leave a lasting impact on the entire Michigan Tech community.

Please contact Kyle Johnston with questions or interest.

THE Project 2014

Sign up by October 1st to join a team for this year's competition!

If you enjoyed the project management course, you will really enjoy THE Project 2014 competition.  Each year student teams compete by developing a project plan for a specific case study. The competition is sponsored by the West Michigan Chapter of the Project Management Institute (WMPMI).  This is the third year of the competition and the number of schools participating as well as teams is expected to increase.  There is an opportunity to win a part of the $10,000 prize money too.  First place team receives $5,000, second place receives $3,000, and third receives $2,000.  In last year’s competition, Michigan Tech’s two teams placed 2nd and 3rd place!  We hope to field more winning teams this year.

If you have completed a project management course and are interested in participating, you will need to contact Dr. Dana Johnson before October 1, 2013.  You will then be given approval to enroll in OSM4200 Advanced Project Management for Spring 2014. The course meets by arrangement.  There is a maximum of three teams with up to six members each so sign up early.  More information about the competition can be found here.

If you would like to talk to past team members, there are a few here at Michigan Tech. These students can share with you their experiences of working with PMI certified mentors, opportunities with companies for internships and/or career options, and the great hands on experience.  It looks good on your resume too.

This year’s case is based on mergers and acquisitions of health care organizations and was written by Dr. Johnson the faculty advisor.  Interested in learning more??? Please contact Dr. Johnson at .

THE Project 2014

The Western Michigan Chapter of the Project Management Institute (WMPMI) is currently in the preparation stages of their 3rd Annual Collegiate Project Management Competition… “THE Project 2014.”


To develop young business leaders by partnering college students, community leaders, and Project Management Professionals to competitively tackle a commonly shared business challenge.


Teams will develop a proposal, strategy, approach and plan that could be used to develop a product, service or result. Teams will be judged on their use of proper project management techniques.  Team members will enjoy the benefits of working on a real life business challenge with a Project Management Professional Mentor. Teams will compete for a financial reward and recognition.

Fun facts

  • Each collegiate team will consist of 4 – 6 students
  • Each collegiate team will consist of no more than 50% graduate level students
  • Each collegiate team will need to have the names of their team members delivered to the PMI Education Council by no later than November 1st, 2013
  • Each collegiate team will have a “Mentor” assigned by the PMI Education Council.  A Mentor is a Project Management Professional (PMP) certified in the many disciplines of Project Management and they’ll meet with the team and Team Champion on a regular basis to mentor them through the competition deliverables
  • Each collegiate team will have at least 1, no more than 2 “Team Champion(s).”  A Team Champion is a school official (usually faculty member or department head) that meets with the team on a semi-regular basis to help motivate and support the work of the team and the Mentor
  • Knowledge in or pursuit of a program of study in Business, Engineering or Project Management is not a requirement but will be helpful in completing various competition deliverables as well as having students studying varying backgrounds like Finance, Human Resources,  Business, Sociology, etc.
  • Each educational institution will be allowed to enter a maximum of 2 teams into the competition
  • There is no cost to any students or the educational institution to participate (other than coordinating travel to Grand Rapids on the final event day in April 2014)
  • The winning team in the competition receives $5,000 to split between its members however all top 4 finishing teams will receive some form of monetary reward for their success
  • The winning team will also have an opportunity to present their project plans at a West Michigan Chapter of PMI dinner meeting

All competitors will participate in a day-long final event where:

  • a Reverse Career-Fair will take place involving all the sponsor and partner companies (over half of our competitors in previous years have ended up with an internship or job offer)
  • each team will present their final presentations to a panel of leading project management professionals for the first round of judging and the top four teams will then present to a panel of prominent business leaders for final judging

Students will. . .

  • Receive an intern like opportunity in Project Management
  • Experience a great opportunity to work on real business problems and create a real project plan for the business
  • Enjoy a networking opportunity to interact with local business leaders
  • Gain real world opportunity to showcase leadership and interpersonal skills
  • Represent their school in a collegiate competition
  • Develop career focused skills which will translate to career opportunities
  • Participate in “hands-on” learning in a team environment

Below are three videos from the PMI website that are great:

Governor Snyder’s Greeting (his personal address to participants in last year’s competition)

West Michigan Week Video – Aired April 2013 (on WGVU News)

THE Project Vision Video (THE Project from an internal perspective)

*The West Michigan Chapter of the Project Management Institute (WMPMI) started planning a collegiate Project Management competition in 2011 for students in various business, engineering and project management content areas.  The students competed for a cash prize and in some cases received college credit (this is dependent entirely on the awarding institution… i.e. policies regarding Prior Learning Assessment Credit or ability to implement content material into curriculum).  The biggest benefit for the students was the networking they were able to do and the exposure they received to various local businesses and leaders so they might secure internships and jobs once they graduate.  This event has grown in size and popularity and is now an annual event that WMPMI looks forward to every year.

Business Students Learning Lean Process Improvement

The School of Business and Economics will be adding a new Student Organization focusing on LEAN Process Improvement.


How can switching cheese pizza toppings contribute to a million dollars in savings for a campus dining service? At Michigan Technological University, the cheese swap was part of the university’s use of Lean principles, which were applied to all areas of food service operations. The university’s goal of implementing Lean was, and is, to sustainably reduce waste and improve the quality of products and services through a method of continuous improvement.

After discussions among senior leaders, including Ellen Horsch, vice president for administration, it was decided that dining services would be the ideal area in which to pilot Lean Practices. In 2008, Robert Hiltunen, director of auxiliary services, began working with his staff to begin the change management process. In just four years, moving forward little by little, the new process has saved approximately $1 million.

People as Part of Process

The core of Lean Practice involves engaging and empowering people, since many potential improvements are best identified by the staff who perform the related work (and the customers who receive the product or service). Key to the process, then, is building a culture of employees who are valued and encouraged to communicate their ideas.

For the dining service, Hiltunen invited employees to lead discussions, talk about current problems, and brainstorm ideas for improvement. Described by a Japanese word, meaning roughly “change for the better,” this is known as a “kaizen” event, during which employees begin breaking down tasks into small steps, each of which they consider in terms of its value. Those elements identified as non-
value added are slated for improvement or removal. The idea is to reduce and, if possible, eliminate waste. The group then began to craft possible solutions or countermeasures for doing so.

A Series of Small Improvements

The Lean team took one step at a time.

  • Start with standardization. A current-state evaluation showed that many recurring processes in the various dining services’ outlets were not standardized-resulting in inconsistent quality of products and services. Multiple kaizen events resulted in the creation of an online E-Cater reservation program as well as the use of standard recipes in each residence hall. Using visual controls, standardized recipes, and the same measuring equipment in residence halls has immensely improved the consistency and quality of products offered across campus.The E-Cater program benefits students and employees alike by simplifying the catering service reservation process, reducing the margin of error, and ultimately saving money.
  • Grill it just in time (JIT). Dining services staff observed and collected data on the way grilled menu items, particularly burgers and cheeseburgers, were produced. It turned out that cooks grilled daily a set quantity of burgers and cheeseburgers at one specified time, leading to sandwiches that diminished in quality and ultimately had to be discarded. Staff identified the JIT production method as a medium that could sustainably improve the quality and consistency of the end product, while minimizing waste.Staff collected dining hall traffic data, identifying the times of the day when a peak number of customers were using the dining halls—and consuming the largest volumes of burgers. Using this data, dining services created a new production environment where demand became defined by a “pull” from customers as opposed to the “push” of a set amount of food. Now, the cooks know when to have more burgers readily available and when to pause production. The change has resulted in guaranteed-fresh products at all times of the day and a dramatic reduction in preconsumer waste, leading to significant monetary savings.
  • Who moved the cheese?The team noted that while the number of pizzas prepared per week changed very little, the quantity of shredded cheese ordered for pizza production tended to fluctuate, despite the one-cup-per-pizza standard allotment. Obviously, this made it difficult to calculate the amount of cheese to order. Further evaluation discovered that employees preparing pizzas often added a discretionary amount of cheese to fill any “sauce gaps.”The kaizen team performed a series of rapid experiments, trying various combinations of shredded and sliced cheeses to prepare pizzas. The result: a new standard calling for seven pieces of sliced cheese. Through taste tests, student and employee customers agreed that this option was adequate for taste, quality, and coverage. It also led to a reduction in cheese used per pizza, predictability for the cheese order, and an annual cost savings of $17,000.
  • Tracking and reducing waste. In 2009, the university introduced LeanPath, a waste tracking system to electronically measure and track all preconsumer food waste, which comes from spoilage, overproduction, trim waste, and expired products. Previously, since waste 
was not measured, it was normal for an employee to dispose of full pans of food that had not been used.During a six-week trial period in the Douglass Houghton Hall kitchen, a staff team regularly analyzed results of the waste-tracking system and reviewed ways to reduce waste. At the trial period’s conclusion, preconsumer waste declined by 50 percent. In 2011, the LeanPath system debuted in the university kitchens campuswide. Using a two-pronged approach of reducing overproduction via the JIT method and safely repurposing (rather than disposing of) overproduced food items into other recipes, the dining service saved approximately $30,000 annually.

Overall Impact

None of these changes alone would have achieved big savings, but one little thing after another really added up. Since the adoption of Lean thinking in 2008, dining services has considerably reduced its cost of sales even as the number of meals served per year increases. From 2006 to 2008, the cost per meal jumped from $2.92 to $3.06, an upward trend that could be detrimental to revenues if not addressed. After Lean implementation in 2008, the cost per meal sold dropped to $2.52. In 2011-12, the cost per meal sold decreased even further—to $2.38.

Rather than using the saved dollars to benefit only a few, the university directed much of the money to its general fund used for financing instruction and general administration, directly benefiting students, faculty, and staff. Those employed by Michigan Tech have seen increased job security as a direct result. “Without Lean initiatives, especially in these tougher times, we would have had to eliminate positions in order to align resources,” says Horsch.

“Little improvements every day—that’s what Lean is all about,” says Hiltunen. “If dining services was able to achieve such success in the first four years of the journey, imagine what Michigan Technological University, as a unified whole, can do in the future.”

This article was submitted to Business Officer Magazine by Kaylee Betzinger, student process improvement coordinator, and Brittany Wood, market research analyst, auxiliary services operations, Michigan Technological University, Houghton.

DECA Chapter Has Banner Year

Haley Florinki smiles on with Dean Klippel and DECA Advisor Becky Lafrancois after her 1st place finish at Internationals.

Michigan Tech’s DECA Chapter attended the Wisconsin State Career Development Conference this year with all members traveling to Madison, Wisconsin to compete during the spring semester.  Members attending the event included: Brittany Barry, Angela Barr, Kaylee Betzinger, Haley Florinki, Frank Kampe, Gabe Kallungi, Sarah Ochs and Tom Simonsen.

Michigan Tech DECA students were very successful at the conference with all participating members taking home medals. Awards Received by each member are listed below:

  • Haley Florinki took home the gold in the Banking and Financial Services category. She received a plaque and three medals.
  • Sarah Ochs received the gold in a Business Research prepared event steaming from research conducted in her Marketing Research class with Dr. Jun Min. She received a plaque and three medals.
  • Tom Simonsen took an overall of second place receiving three medals in the category of Corporate Finance.
  • Brittany Barry received a medal in the Accounting Category with second place on her role play as well as placing in the top eight for her exam and being top eight overall. She took home three medals.
  • Frank Kampe participated in Restaurant and Food Management placing third place for his exam.
  • Angela Barr and Kaylee Betzinger worked as a team in their Business to Business event receiving a medal for being top eight in their event. Angela Barr also received a medal for being top eight in her exam for her category.
  • Gabe Kallungi participated in Restaurant and Food Service Management receiving three medals by placing third for his role play.

DECA Vice President Haley Florinki was the only Michigan Tech student to go on to the international conference.  She traveled to Anaheim, California where she also took first place in the National Management Institute category.  We are proud of DECA Chapter and look forward to their continued success and growth.