Category: Student Spotlight

Student Competition: iOMe Challenge

Calling all students!

Senior lecturer in economics, Emanuel Oliveira, is looking for students this fall to enter the iOMe Challenge. The challenge, started in 2009 discusses how local organizations might engage the so-called Y or Millennial generation to think about their own future, 40 years from now.

The iOMe challenge they designed consists of two components; an essay and a video.

Essay Contest (due October 31, 2012): Write a policy recommendation targeted for the U.S. congress of no more than 10,000 words that addresses the future financial challenges of the Millennial generation and specifically creates incentives and removes barriers associated with low levels of savings and the lack of planning for their retirement.

Video Contest (due November 21, 2012): Produce a short video (60 seconds or less in length) that compellingly illustrates the key elements of the Essay. You might think about the essay as the screenplay and the video as the movie.


Winning team: $10,000 + presentation in D.C. to members of Congress (dependent on
availability). Honorable Mention(s): $2,000

Two years ago, students Coleman Segal (Economics major) and Adam Eidelsafy (Software Engineering major) were finalists in the competition. Last year, three of the four MTU teams made it to the final round of judging and one team has received an honorable mention in the competition. The team receiving the honorable mention was awarded $2,000 and was composed of Katie O’Connell (Economics major), Tianlu Shen (Environmental Engineering major), Adam Stigers (Economics major), Teddy Broe (Economics major), and Walker Derby (Finance major). Read the iOMe update from 2011.

Contact Dr. Oliveira ( if you are interested in participating this year.

Savvy Entrepreneur Workshop: Find Your First Customer

Learn how to close the deal with your first customer at this season’s kickoff of the Savvy Entrepreneur Series, which features interactive web conferencing. This event will start with social networking and refreshments at 5:30 p.m., and then a panel discussion from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 11, in the conference room of the ATDC.

KTM Industries and Jeff Smith, codirector of the New Economy Division for the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, will lead the discussion.

Learn simple steps and best practices to help gain market traction for your intellectual property or collaborative university intellectual property.

The goal is to share rapid commercialization ideas as entrepreneurs work with a university research partner and learn about research intellectual property and the great base of strategic customers in Michigan.

For more information, contact Assistant Director John Diebel (IIE) at 487-1082 or .

The event is sponsored by Innovation and Industry Engagement, the School of Business and Economics, SmartZone and the Keweenaw Alliance For Economic Development.

Study Abroad in Spain? Yes, please!

Kathryn Danielson (left), 4th year Operations and Systems Management major in her Spain apartment during the summer of 2012.

“I wanted to go abroad because I haven’t completed an internship and I’m entering my senior year at Michigan Tech,” said Operations and Systems Management major Kathryn Danielson. “I wanted something that would look good on my resume.”

With an increasingly tough job market, students are encouraged to take advantage of every opportunity offered to gain an edge on the competition. As a business major understanding the global market can set you apart from other applicants when applying for jobs. Danielson did just that by taking courses in Bilbao, Spain during the summer of 2012.

“I took international management and did a field study in Madrid for a week. My class was even smaller than the classes I have had at Tech and they were very hands-on,” she added. “Our professor took us to a lot of businesses in Spain to see how they managed their business and what daily functions they fulfilled. We also attended an entrepreneurship convention in Spain that provided insight on how people may start businesses in Spain.”

Being from the Upper Peninsula, Kathryn admitted that the best part of her trip was meeting the people from a culture different from her own, shopping in the streets, and attending a rave.  See the youtube clip below from the night she saw popular DJ Steve Aoki perform (watch a video of the Bilboa performance!)!

Given the opportunity, she says she would absolutely study abroad again and might try to make one more trip back to Spain to visit friends who are still there, as well as the locals she befriended while studying.

Earn a Global Business Minor

The School of Business has added a new Global Business Minor for students who are interested in traveling the world and earning college credit! It is available to all Michigan Tech students and can be especially beneficial for students considering the Peace Corps or graduate school after graduation.  For more information, please visit Global Business Minor at Michigan Tech.

Michigan Tech MBA Students Cap Program with Trip to India’s Silicon Valley

MBA students Mike Vigrass and Holly Lehto at the pharmaceutical company Micro Labs Ltd. during their residency in Bangalore.

The nine students in Michigan Technological University’s MBA program returned from India with a new appreciation for how the rest of the world does business.

“We chose Bangalore because it’s the Silicon Valley of India,” said Jodie Filpus, who directs recruitment and admissions for the MBA program.

The online MBA program includes three residencies, during which the students leave their far-flung homes to meet in person with each other and their professors. Two residencies are held on the Michigan Tech campus. The third and final residency involves a week of international travel. “We do this so the students will be exposed to different cultures, as well as to introduce them to international businesses,” Filpus said.

It would be hard to imagine a city more different from Houghton than Bangalore. “It’s a very interesting place,” she said. “It’s beautiful in many respects, with its temples and palaces, and it’s so rich in history.” However, the population in the city of over 8 million has grown by over 65 percent in the last 10 years and its infrastructure hasn’t kept up, “so it gave me an appreciation for what we have here.”

Led by Assistant Professor Latha Poonamallee of the School of Business and Economics and accompanied by Filpus, the MBA students visited several different organizations, from a pharmaceutical manufacturer to a nonprofit that provides solar-energy-system financing for poor villages.

“It was my privilege to design and lead this international residency, which was a fitting culmination of a well-designed, innovative MBA program that put the School of Business and Economics on the map among top online MBA programs in the country,” Poonamallee said.

Visiting Bangalore: Mysore Palace During their trip to visit several Bangalore companies, MBA students also had a chance to tour the city. Pictured are Mike Vigrass and Holly Lehto at Mysore Palace.

During the spring semester, the students prepared for their trip by researching each of the companies and identifying a disruptive innovation to discuss with officials and offer potential solutions. Disruptive innovations are marketplace game-changers, such as iPods and cell phones, that upend earlier technologies.

Assistant Professor Andre Laplume taught them how. First they studied the companies’ products and strategies. “Then they proposed a new business for them to get into,” he said. “They described a new product, developed a rationale explaining why it should be adopted, and wrote an essay about it for their final exam.

“By the time they got to Bangalore and faced the company executives, they had something to bring to the table,” Laplume said. Not only was it a good opportunity to see how businesses function overseas, it also gave the students—most of them middle managers—a chance to display their skills before top-level executives.

Before traveling to Bangalore, student Holly Lehto had already put Tech’s MBA curriculum to good use. “Throughout the program I’ve been reaping the benefits,” she said. “A lot of concepts in the case studies are applicable to my day to day work.”

Her final exercise was to study the Bangalore-based market research firm Mu Sigma. “We talked about the possibility of going public, and we also discussed the possibility of capturing data from electrical transmission lines and selling it to clients,” said Lehto, a project manager for Allonhill, a Denver-based firm that provides due diligence and risk management services to the mortgage industry. “It was empowering to have the ear of these global executives, who were truly interested in hearing what we had to say.”

And there were revelations, said Mike Vigrass, manager of a natural gas compressor station with DT Energy-Michigan in Detroit. “I have traveled internationally, but not to India, and I was quite surprised at how much business was conducted in English,” he said. “At one of the site visits, we talked about the fact that India’s wages are going up, so that they are losing a competitive edge, and their answer was compelling. They said they think in English, which gives them an advantage over other emerging markets, where they have to translate the conversation.”

Another eye-opener was the visit with the nonprofit SELCO, which works to provide solar systems to the poor.  “I found that very interesting,” Vigrass said. “Among US corporations, it’s all about market share, getting bigger. For SELCO, it’s about meeting their customers’ expectations.”

Resource-stretched Bangalore has had trouble grappling with its own growth, he noted. “The population has exploded, and it’s hard for them to keep up their infrastructure.”

That culture shock did not take away from the trip, however. If anything, it made it even more worthwhile. “It was a very valuable experience, just to see how people in other parts of the world work and how they think,” Vigrass said.

Lehto agreed. “Both from a business and a cultural perspective, it was such an amazing trip,” she said.

Watch the Tech MBA Online India Residency in pictures


Learn more about the Tech MBA Online.

Student Entrepreneur Seeks Endorsements

Jess Tompkins pitches her idea in the New Venture Competition, a joint business plan competition between Central Michigan and Michigan Technological University held in the spring of 2012.

Jessica Tompkins, a fifth-year student in business management, needs the help of the campus community.

Tompkins is competing for a $250,000 grant for her start-up company, Two Bows LLC, and has only three days to collect 250 votes to be considered for the award.

All you have to do to help is:

  • Go to Mission Small Business
  • Click “Log in and Support” and log in using Facebook.
  • Type “Two Bows” in the search and click “Vote.”

You can also watch this 45-second YouTube video to show you the above steps: How to Vote.

This community outreach is part of CHASE’s program, “Mission: Small Business.” It offers 12 grants in the amount of $250,000 to help small businesses grow. The deadline for weighing in is Saturday, June 30.

Tompkins founded Two Bows, which offers an apparel line with the outdoorsy woman in mind. “For far too long,” she says, “women have worn men’s hunting and fishing apparel because they had nothing else. Now they are able to ‘roll with the boys’ and not have to look like one.”

The endeavor has been fruitful; Two Bows recently received the Student Startup of the Year Award from the MTEC SmartZone.

Tompkins is developing a sewing company in the area, so that garments can be produced not only in America but in Michigan and help create jobs in the area.

Two Bows has raised a small amount of capital on and is near completion on a website through ZT Web Development.

Originally published in Tech Today.

More from Jess and Two Bows…

Michigan Tech Students Compete for $60,000

2011 Elevator Pitch Competition

New Entrepreneur Support Center Includes Space for Tech Students