Category: Student Spotlight

Michigan Tech Takes Second in Project Management Competition

On April 9th, two, four-person Michigan Tech teams traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan for A Project Management Collegiate Competition presented by The Project Management Institute, Western Michigan Chapter. Out of eight teams, Michigan Tech placed second, ousted only by Grand Valley State University for the top position. Other competitors from Aquinas College, Kalamazoo College, Davenport University, and University of Phoenix were also in attendance. The day was devoted to presentations, networking, and sharing knowledge about the future of project management.

“Our teams have been preparing over the past two semesters to present project management plans at the competition,” said Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management Dana Johnson. “Being able to use the skills and tools that students learned in class will help them prepare for their future careers.”

The student teams, along with their school, business, and PMP mentors, had to create a project management plan for a business seeking B Corporation certification. B Corps permits and protects businesses in making social and environmental decisions. Instead of being accountable only to shareholders, B Corps businesses must also consider their impact on employees, their community, and the environment.

Team A: Dani Revord, Drew Randall, Emily Jensen, and Sarah Zimmerman. This team was mentored by Ashley Livingston, PMP and Andrew Gill, PMP.

Michigan Tech’s Team A was composed of Davi Revord, Emily Jensen, Drew Randall, and Sarah Zimmerman. The A Team was mentored by Ashley Livingston, PMP and Andrew Gill, PMP. Team B was made up of Jane Koivisto, George Olszewski, Ashleigh Juday, and Samuel Eberhard and mentored by Jeff Hazy, MBA, PMP and Derek Mazurek, MBA, PMP.

“This was a wonderful experience for all of us, and we were very fortunate to place in the competition, meet our mentors, and socialize with the WMPMI board,” said Samuel Eberhard of Team B. “All of us are extremely happy we had the opportunity to compete in this competition , and we hope future Michigan Tech students take part in it.”

Team B: Samuel Eberhard, Jane Koivisto, Ashleigh Juday, and George Olszewski, Team B was mentored by Jeff Hazy, MBA, PMP and Derek Mazurek, MBA, PMP.

The event is the first collaboration between Western Michigan Project Management Institute (WMPMI), Universities, and West Michigan Business Leaders.

This trip was supported by the Michigan Tech Parents Fund and the Western Michigan Chapter of the Project Management Institute.

Students Hit the Jackpot in Venture Competition, $40K with Two Awards; Third Place Brings Home $5K

Ben Mitchell works with a villager while a new tube is pictured in the background.

April 2, 2012—

Michigan Technological University students placed first and third in the New Venture Competition held recently on the campus of Central Michigan University. The first place team also was named Best Social Venture.

Ben Mitchell and Wade Aitken-Palmer won for creating better bicycle components for rural Africans who depend on their bicycles for their livelihood. Their idea, called Baisikeli Ugunduzi (Swahili for “modern bicycle”), captured a $30,000 first prize and another $10,000 for Best Social Venture, for its sustainability and social impact, among other criteria. The invention is a tube that eliminates flat tires.

Mitchell, a PhD student in mechanical engineering, and Aitken-Palmer, a student in the Peace Corps Master’s International program, have been working on the business idea since last year. Mitchell said the inspiration began with his stint in the Peace Corps a couple of years before that.

Thanks to the big win, he is planning a trip to Kenya in May to begin with more market testing.

“We are working with bicycle taxi drivers, who can go through many tubes in a month,” Mitchell said. “The tubes will have to be produced in Taiwan, as there are no production facilities in Kenya.”

Assembling will take place in Africa, however, and that will create some jobs.

“Our first hire will be a mechanic,” he said. “And he could do some modifications as well.”

Phil Musser, executive director of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance and mentor to the winning team, was not surprised at their success.

“It was clear from the beginning that they were serious about this business,” he said. “It was just a matter of them following through with organizational details and financial projections. It was a pleasure to work with them. Their work will have a serious social impact,” Musser added.

Jim Baker, executive director of innovation and industry engagement for Michigan Tech, was the key liaison between Central and Tech.

“I stepped in when Bob Mark passed away,” Baker said, referring to the late professor of practice who started the collaboration with Central. “John Leinonen (program director of the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation SmartZone) and student Travis Beaulieau were instrumental in keeping the teams moving forward and better prepared for the competition.”

Mitchell said, thanks to the all the help and the win, Baisikeli Ugunduzi has secured additional local funding assistance too.

When they began, Mitchell said, he had some catching up to do on the business side of things, but they did have a more thought-out design and a more developed prototype than most, thanks to their engineering backgrounds.

He has high hopes for the future.

“Some 50 million sub-Saharan Africans depend on bicycles,” he said. “As our mission statement says, we work with mechanics and bicycle taxi unions to design, produce and distribute products that add value to working bicycles and improve the livelihoods of bicycle taxi drivers, messengers and others who earn a living on their bicycles.”

Musser said it was a great experience for the six Michigan Tech teams who traveled to Mt. Pleasant and advanced past the first round. Teams actually began their work on projects in August and met weekly since then. On the Tech campus, Elevator Pitch Competition and New Business Venture Competitions helped prepare them for Mt. Pleasant. A total of thirty teams squared off at Central Michigan University.

Mitchell also praised Central Michigan for hosting the event.

“They did a tremendous job coordinating the whole event, with all the judges and student teams,” he said. “It was very well orchestrated.”

Central has also invited Baisikeli Ugunduzi back to talk about how it all develops in the future.

The New Venture Competition is a joint Central Michigan/Michigan Tech event. Locally, the competition is sponsored by the MTEC SmartZone, the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, and the School of Business and Economics.

Runner-up in the finals at Central Michigan was MVMT Media Products, an entry of Central Michigan students Sean Armstrong and Jeff Wegner. Their business would manage high-quality online video content. They took home $10,000.

Winning third place and $5,000 was Picket Books, the brainchild of Michigan Tech students Kyle Johnston, a biomedical engineering major, and David Shull, who is studying computer engineering. In their business, students rent textbooks from each other online, streamlining the process and reducing the costs.

“The prize money will be re-invested in the Houghton area,” Shull said. “We are hoping to find students to be a part of a startup to assist in our development work over the summer. We are looking to launch Picket Books by spring 2013.”

Shull talked about the overall experience.

“Over the weekend, I began to realize what makes Michigan Tech so special,” he said. “Most of our CMU competitors were majors in entrepreneurship or business, while many of the students competing for Tech were engineers or majors other than business. I think Tech’s emphasis on entrepreneurship while educating a generation of engineers proves Tech students can build businesses that will lead the world in innovation and creativity. The investment in competitions like this one are creating Tech’s future in the world of business, one student at a time.”

The prizes were awarded by Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley.

Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

Michigan Tech Students Compete for $60,000

Michigan Tech students, Ben Mitchell and Wade Aitken-Palmer practice in the last few hours before pitching at the New Venture Competition and their chance at $60,000 to fund Baisikeli Ugunduzi, a bicycle components business for rural Africa.

On March 30, 2012, six Michigan Tech teams will compete for $60,000 as part of the New Venture Competition. A joint partnership between Michigan Tech and Central Michigan University, the competition aims to support and promote Michigan entrepreneurship by showcasing talents and the passion of students.

Since September 2011, students have been developing and honing their entrepreneurial savvy through educational broadcasts, meetings, and mentor support to arrive at the competition in Mount Pleasant.

“Working with students to develop and push their ideas into the marketplace is one of the most innovative educations one can receive,” said Darrell Radson, dean of the School of Business and Economics. “We’re excited and thankful for the opportunity to partner with Central Michigan University and push entrepreneurial innovation for our state and our country.”

The competition includes three rounds of single elimination presentations and is punctuated by a luncheon panel featuring entrepreneurial experts from the state of Michigan. A business pitch competition will round out the day’s events and end with an awards banquet and reception.

Teams will be judged on key criteria including: quality of an idea, strength of the management team, clarity and persuasiveness of the written plan, and the oral presentation.

The competition includes a first place prize of $30,000 followed by $10,000 second place and $5,000 third place finish. Other awards also include Best Social Venture, Best Technology, Venture Shaping and a first and second place for Best Business Pitch.

Representing Michigan Tech

AsfalisMed: Travis Beaulieu and Joel Florek
Develop a medical record platform for individuals to store emergency medical information and medical history in an online profile that can be accessed by any EMS, clinic, or hospital.

Baisikeli Ugunduzi: Ben Mitchell and Wade Aitken-Palmer
Designs and produces high quality, non-puncturing bicycle components for rural people in Kitale, Kenya and serves sub-Saharan Africa.

G&A’s Farmer’s Market: Amber Campbell and Jeffrey Squires
A production, distribution, and retail facility for fresh produce, organic foods, and garden center products to be located in Houghton, Michigan.

Picket Books: Kyle Johnston and David Shull
A rental company that connects students around the world to facilitate peer-to-peer rental transactions for college textbooks.

Two Bows, LLC: Jessica Tompkins, Walker Derby, Shawn Peterson, and Christina Ruth
Provide women hunters with fit and functional apparel that is warm, quiet, and minimizes bulk.

Unoja Engineering: Bailey Gamble and Benjamin Savonen
Produces fluoride filitration systems that eliminate harmful pathogens by using bone char technology in Tanzania.

Stay informed of the competition progress by following #nvc2012 on Twitter or by visiting the School of Business and Economics facebook page: www.facebook.com/Businessattech.

Annual APMP Scholarships Awarded

APMP students hard at work.

The School of Business and Economics awards annual scholarships to students who participate in the Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP).  The scholarships are made possible by generous donors who have setup funds to recognize specific skill sets and characteristics in the recipients.  Each scholarship is awarded in the Spring of the academic year. We are very grateful to the generous donors that provide excellent opportunities to stand-out APMP students at Michigan Tech.

2012 Scholarship Recipients

Clarence Fisher APMP Scholarship – Jessie Patrick

Chester Reault APMP Scholarship – Todd Storm

Norb Verville APMP Scholarship – Mike Harri

Joe Dancy LSGI Scholarship – Dan Eskola

Hugh Makens APMP Scholarship – Pat Carroll

Jeff Call Memorial APMP Scholarship – Rachael Ristau

Scholarship Descriptions

The Clarence Fisher, Chester Rheault, and Norb Verville APMP scholarships recognize the impact these three former Advisory Board members had in founding APMP.  Recipients of these scholarships this year were: Jesse Patrick, Todd Storm, and Mike Harri, respectively.

As an APMP Board member from origination through today, the Hugh Makens APMP scholarship honors Hugh’s continual support of the students and the program.  Pat Carroll is the 2012 recipient.

Dan Eskola was the recipient of the LSGI Fund Scholarship, also known as the Joe Dancy LSGI Scholarship.  This scholarship is awarded to the student who displays excellent academic achievement, expresses an interest in finance or applied mathematics, and demonstrates high moral and ethical characteristics.  The LSGI Fund is a hedge fund managed by Joe Dancy, a Michigan Tech alumnus from Dallas, TX.

Finally, the Jeff Call Memorial Scholarship was given to Rachael Ristau.  Jeff Call, a 2002 graduate of the School and the APMP, passed away unexpectedly in 2006.  To honor Jeff’s contributions to the School and the APMP Advisory Board, together with Jeff’s parents, the groups established the Jeff Call Memorial Scholarship.  It is awarded annually to the senior who demonstrates the highest degree of commitment to APMP—a commitment Jeff displayed every day during his time at Michigan Tech.

MBA Students Help Guide Portage Hospital Decisions

Students provide guidance for local healthcare provider.

MBA students from Michigan Tech have assisted in optimizing the schedule for Portage Health’s Dialysis Center as published in the Daily Mining Gazette weekend edition.

“The change in hours will increase patient safety, patient satisfaction and efficiency,” said Karen Kelley, dialysis director.

The decision to add new software, Schedule Wise, was suggested by an MBA team including Karen Giddings, Emmett Golde, Heather Richards, and Birong Tao in the spring of 2010.

“The students did a learn project where they examined patient flow, eventually concluding that new software would help,” Kelley said.

For more information about the Portage Health Dialysis Center, visit portagehealth.org/dialysis.

This was originally published by the Daily Mining Gazette March 17/18 weekend edition.