Category: Student Spotlight

Business Huskies Win at CMU’s 10th Annual New Venture Challenge

Bayle Golden holding check with other individuals at New Venture Challenge Competition
Michigan Tech teams brought home $21K in prizes for their innovative ideas.

Central Michigan University (CMU) and Michigan Tech have collaborated for a decade to offer Michigan Tech students a chance to compete in CMU’s New Venture Challenge (NVC). This showcase event provides an opportunity for students at both universities to present their businesses and network with prospective investors, mentors and partners. Student participants compete for a total of $60,000 in prizes and in-kind services.

On April 22, four Michigan Tech teams—three from the College of Business—pitched their ideas and businesses in person on CMU’s campus in Mount Pleasant. Students had an opportunity to compete in either the two-minute pitch competition or the seven-minute business model competition, as well as a gallery competition where teams had tables with individual displays and took questions from attendees.

New Venture Challenge winners from the College of Business are as follows:

Two-Minute Pitch Competition

Jakob Christiansen at the New Venture Challenge Competition
Michigan Tech construction management student Jakob Christiansen delivers his two-minute pitch for his new supply chain e-commerce platform, ProBoard.
  • Jakob Christiansen (construction management) won first place and received $4,000. Christiansen pitched “ProBoard,” an e-commerce platform to solve issues in the construction material supply chain.

Seven-Minute Pitch Competition

  • Bayle Golden (master’s in engineering management) won first place in the Social Mission category and received $10,000. Golden pitched “SafeRow,” an innovative wearable device designed to keep children safe when every second counts.
  • Jordan Craven (management information systems) won third place in the High Tech High Growth category and received $2,000. Craven pitched “Tall and Small Designs,” a technology company that provides software to online clothing retailers

“Your ideas have the potential to change the world.”

Lisa Casper, Michigan Tech Husky Innovate Program Manager

In preparing for the New Venture Challenge, Michigan Tech students participated in Husky Innovate workshops and review sessions. They also benefited from resources and expertise available within MTEC SmartZone, the local state-funded technology business incubator, and the Upper Peninsula Regional Small Business Development Center, which is hosted by Michigan Tech’s Office of Innovation and Commercialization in collaboration with the College of Business. Student mentors and sponsors include Pavlis Honors College, Office of Innovation and Commercialization, College of Business, College of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Civil Engineering.

Golden, winner in the Social Mission category, has formed a Limited Liability Company (LLC) with her earnings, and will
begin production to segue into a full launch. In addition, on Thursday, May 12, as part of Northern Michigan Startup Week in Traverse City, the Michigan Tech graduate student will pitch to compete for a cash prize and startup resources amongst student-entrepreneurs from five other Michigan universities during the University Idea Showcase, hosted by TCNewTech in partnership with the Michigan Tech College of Business. Alumnus and local business owner, David McBride ‘82, will serve as a judge of the showcase.

“I am so thankful for the mentorship and support I have received from Michigan Tech for this venture. I look forward to being yet another success story from Tech!”

Bayle Golden, Michigan Tech Master’s in Engineering Management Student
Michigan Tech management information systems student Jordan Craven pitched “Tall and Small Designs,” a new kind of software for retailers who sell clothes online

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.

Finance Club Inaugural Investment Competition Concludes, Mattila Takes First

campus clock tower in spring


During spring semester, the Michigan Tech Finance Club hosted a 10-week stock competition open to all College of Business (COB) majors and minors. Each of the 29 participants received $100,000 in virtual dollars to use on the Investopedia simulator. At the conclusion of trading on April 12, the top three winning portfolios received cash prizes from the COB Dean’s Office. 

Madison Mattila
Madison Mattila, accounting with analytics major

First place $500—Madison Mattila

“I really enjoyed the competition! It was fun to compete against classmates. It also was valuable to spend time watching the market and using the simulator. I’ve been working on a strategy for a while, which I’ve yet to perfect, so I don’t want to spread too much about it right now.”

Second place $300—James Zuzelski

James Zuzelski
James Zuzelski, economics minor

“This was an amazing experience. It motivated me to try new things. My strategy was to capitalize on medium- to high-risk stocks that were trending due to current and near-future geopolitical factors. Due to the short time frame I went with a high-risk, low-diversity, individual stock portfolio.”

Third place $200—Bill Rautiola

Bill Rautiola
Bill Rautiola, finance major

“I consider myself an experienced trader, having done a fair amount of trading on my own. My strategy for this game was to invest in energy sectors, including oil. I also placed a couple option trades.”

The Finance Club at Michigan Tech, advised by Xin Li and supported by the Undergraduate Student Government and the COB, promotes the interest in and knowledge of the field of finance. Members have access to career development opportunities, guidance from Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP) members, and resources within the APMP Lab. In addition, club members take annual trips to visit mutual funds, the Federal Reserve, investment firms, and the futures and options exchange market in the Midwest.

Assistant Professor Xin Li
Xin Li, assistant professor of finance

Club President Elisabeth Mattson said plans are in place to hold the competition next year and interested participants can connect with incoming President Kevin Hoefer (kdhoefer@mtu.edu) for more information.

“The Finance Club Stock Competition allowed students across the College of Business to try out new investing strategies in a low-risk environment, while competing with their peers.

The winners had different strategies and were able to share knowledge and skills with participants, many of whom are excited to try again next year.”

Elisabeth Mattson, 2021-22 Michigan Tech Finance Club President

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.

Hillary Prout Named Outstanding Woman in Business

Michigan Tech student Hillary Prout


Growing up on her family’s farm in Rosebush, Michigan, taught Hillary Prout—the 2022 Sam Tidwell Outstanding Woman in Business—early on about the importance of hard work. Through her coursework and involvement at Michigan Tech, Prout worked diligently to develop her leadership and communications skills and applied them as the student representative of the Michigan Association of CPAs, a professional organization promoting and enhancing the value of the CPA profession, and of the Becker CPA Review, a software package that helps students prepare for the certified public accountant and certified management accountant exams. In this leadership role, Prout organized meetings, updated students and staff regarding exam updates, and mentored students as their exam date approached.

“Hillary is an amazing student—always focused and working hard for goals she sets for herself.”

Sheila Milligan, senior lecturer of accounting, Michigan Tech College of Business

In her four years at Michigan Tech, Prout held the presidential role in the University’s accounting club, Kappa Sigma Iotta, and served on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council. She also assisted other Tech students with tax preparation through the College of Business’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. More recently, she was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, the exclusive business honor society affiliated with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

“I am grateful for the many experiences I have had as a business student at Michigan Tech,” Prout says. 

Michigan Tech student Hillary Prout
Hillary Prout

Since 2021, Prout has held an internship with Rukkila, Negro and Associates, an accounting firm located in downtown Houghton. There, she worked in individual and small business tax preparation, nonprofit tax preparation, and payroll processing for local businesses.

After earning her BS in Accounting with a minor in financial technology, Prout plans to take advantage of Tech’s accelerated MS in Accounting program before earning her CPA license to work in tax advising and preparation.

The Sam Tidwell Outstanding Man and Woman in Business awards, valued at $250 each, are presented annually to two current College of Business students who embody a dedication to academics, leadership, and extracurricular involvement within the Michigan Tech community.

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.

Nathan Sodini Named Outstanding Man in Business

Nathan Sodini, a student dual majoring in engineering management and finance, is the 2022 Sam Tidwell Outstanding Man in Business. Roger Woods, College of Business faculty member, says Sodini’s involvement in campus programs defines what it means to be a Michigan Tech business Husky. “This is a student who from day one has engaged in all opportunities Michigan Tech has to offer—and his involvement has paid off.”

Back in high school, Sodini launched a profitable entrepreneurial endeavor with his passion for classic and performance automobiles. During his first year on campus, the scholar-athlete landed a paid internship as a production supervisor at General Motors’ (GM) Heavy-Duty Truck Plant. In his second year, Sodini took on a co-op with GM as a quality-operations supervisor, tasked with controlling the daily quality of T1 HD trucks with his team of more than 40 employees.

Student Nathan Sodini standing in staircase
Nathan Sodini

Adding to his already impressive resume, Sodini obtained a motorsports internship with Hagerty back in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, and last fall was back at GM in the body shop, orchestrating the procurement of pre-assembled trucks to support the Oshawa launch. His leadership skills were further honed on campus, where he served for two years each as elected president of the Society of Automotive Engineers student chapter and as business manager of Advanced Motorsports Enterprise—Formula SAE. For his final college summer, Sodini heads south to General Motors Defense in North Carolina where, as a business manager/shift leader co-op, he will support the production management of the Infantry Squad Vehicle being produced for the United States Army.

Being able to blend the worlds of engineering and business has been a dream come true, Sodini says:

“A business degree from Michigan Tech is more than coursework. It’s an experience preparing strategic leaders for tomorrow’s challenges.” 

Nathan Sodini, Michigan Tech Outstanding Man in Business

The Sam Tidwell Outstanding Man and Woman in Business awards, valued at $250 each, are presented annually to two current College of Business students who embody a dedication to academics, leadership, and extracurricular involvement within the Michigan Tech community.

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.

It’s on to Nationals for MTU DECA

DECA students standing in a group with their advisor to the left
Left to right: Jenny Apriesnig (faculty advisor), Zach Hooper, Sammy Perrone, Ethan Semenchuk, Jaylen Body, Lexi Dembrowski, Madelyn Carey

Back from the Michigan Collegiate DECA Career Development Conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the business Huskies of Michigan Technological University made a strong first appearance, participating in and winning competitions while earning a spot to nationals.

Student competitors included:

  • Jaylen Body (management)—first place, hotel and lodging
  • Sammy Perrone (marketing)—first place, fashion merchandising and marketing 
  • Lexi Dembrowski (accounting with data analytics)—first place, financial accounting 
  • Ethan Semenchuk (engineering management)—third place, corporate finance
  • Madelyn Carey (accounting and finance)—third place, financial accounting 
  • Zach Hooper (management information systems)—third place, entrepreneurship operations
  • Lexi Dembrowski and Madelyn Carey—second place, event planning 
Students standing in a group with DECA plaques

Their successful showing qualifies the team for the national competition in April at the International Career Development Conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

In addition to the competitions, students contributed to roundtable discussions where they chose from topics including: Global citizen strategy, career tips and tricks, nonverbal communication, and conflict resolution.

The conference was attended in person by Collegiate DECA groups from Cleary University, Davenport University, Michigan State University, and the University of Michigan. Eastern Michigan University, Kettering University, and Northwood University competed virtually.

Between functions, the Huskies explored downtown Kalamazoo and visited with downstate-based parents (and enjoyed home-baked cookies!). Other social highlights included singing carpool karaoke and navigating fresh snow to the Mackinac Bridge.

It was a fun and successful trip!

Jenny Apriesnig, assistant professor of economics and DECA advisor

To support Michigan Tech DECA’s goals and travels, connect with Advisor Jenny Apriesnig. Follow the group on Instagram @mtu_deca.

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.