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A website of their very own

MIS students hard at work on the 31 Backpacks website during their web design class.

The non-profit organization 31 Backpacks has been operating for a little more than one year, and is now taking a technical step forward with a website created by Michigan Technological University students.

Begun in October 2012 by Laurel and Melissa Maki, and friend Amy Zadawa, the 31 Backpacks program involves identifying children who may be going hungry over a weekend because there isn’t enough food in the house or apartment, getting parents’ permission to send food home with them, then filling the backpacks with enough food items for the weekend. None of the people involved with the organization know the identity of the students getting the food.

The website for 31 Backpacks is being created by students in a web design class of Russell Louks, Tech professor of practice in the School of Business.

“Laurel and Melissa came to my office one day and said they needed a website,” he said.

He assigned the construction of the website to seven students in two groups, Louks said. The best site from the two groups will be chosen to go online.

There were requirements for the website, including number of pages, Louks said.

“It has to have at least six,” he said. “Most of them will have eight or 10.”

One of the teams working on the website consists of Kaylee Betzinger, Seth Stever and Stacie Studer.

Betzinger said the groups had a choice of two websites to work on.

“This appealed to us more,” she said. “It’s for a charity.”

Studer said their group used the website of Love, INC as the model for their creation.

“Laurel and Melissa said they really liked Love, INC’s website,” she said.

Friday, Betzinger said they had completed six pages for the website. At one point they had seven pages, but they eliminated one.

“It’s not adding anymore value to the website to have more pages,” she said.

Betzinger said the website the group created links to 31 Backpacks Facebook page, and it will have a link to PayPal for donations.

Melissa Maki said the three creators of 31 Backpacks wanted a website right from the beginning, but they weren’t able to set one up.

“We don’t have the know-it-all to do it,” she said.

One of the requirements for the website will be that they can do maintenance and updates themselves, Melissa said. They also would like people to be able to volunteer for 31 Backpacks on the site.

Louks said the other group working on the 31 backpacks website consists of Tony Campbell, Paula Castilho, Emily Christ and Quentin Franke. The two groups began working on their versions of a website at the start of the semester in September, and it should take the entire semester.

“We’ll finish it up before Christmas break,” he said.

The site is expected to go live by the end of December, Louks said.

In other 31 Backpacks news, Laurel Maki said Chassell Township Schools are the most recent addition for the organization. They are now serving 106 students in the Public Schools of Calumet, Laurium & Keweenaw, including the district’s Horizon Alternative High School; Chassell Township Schools; Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools; Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools; Hancock Gordon G. Barkell Elementary School and Hancock Middle School; and Houghton Elementary School. Talks are continuing with Adams Township School District and Stanton Township Public Schools.

Laurel Maki said currently 31 Backpacks is getting food from Tadych’s Econo Foods, Pat’s Foods, the Community Action Agency, Walmart and Gordon Food Service in Marquette.

Monetary donations are important for 31 Backpacks, and Laurel maki said a current fundraising effort is taking place at the AmericInn Lodge and Suites in Calumet.

Dianne Peterson, manager of the AmericInn, said the company has a program called AmericInn Cares, and in the Calumet location they are taking donations for 31 Backpacks and the United States Marine Corps’s Toys For Tots.

Donors can pay $2 and get their name displayed in the lobby, or they can make a larger donation and get a free service.

“If you bring in a $5 donation for 31 Backpacks or Toys For Tots, you can swim for free,” she said.

Peterson said she chose 31 Backpacks as one of the charities the business should support after hearing about what they do from some of her staff members.

“I was a little appalled we had that many kids going hungry,” she said.

Peterson said about 40 people have donated to 31 backpacks at the AmericInn since they started just before Halloween. “It’s going good,” she said.

To volunteer or donate to the program contact Melissa Maki,melissamaki19@gmail.com or 231-0694, or Laurel Maki,laurelmaki@charter.net or 231-1472. Make checks payable to 31 Backpacks, Inc.

This article was originally published by Kurt Hauglie fro the Daily Mining Gazette on November 9, 2013.


Business Insider Gives Tech High Marks for Graduate Earning Potential

Potential earnings are part of the value of a university education.

More than ever, students choosing where to go to school review the future earning potential of a university’s graduates. But the well-known US News & World Report ranking of colleges and universities doesn’t give that factor much weight. They should, says Business Insider, a business website that analyzes financial, media, technology and other industries. So Business Insider combined the US News & World Report rankings of best universities and the Payscale.com college salary report to develop rankings that reflect both reputation and the salaries earned by graduates.

Analyzing several hundred universities and colleges, Business Insider developed two lists of colleges and universities: “underrated” and “overrated.” The website termed schools with a lower US News college ranking and higher Payscale.com salary ranking “underrated.” These are schools whose graduates rank high on salaries earned but aren’t given due credit in the US News ranking.

Michigan Tech made Business Insider’s list of the top 25 “underrated” schools, coming in at 22.

Business Insider termed schools with a high US News ranking and low salary ranking as “overrated.” These are schools that show up very well in the Best Colleges ranking, but their graduates earn lower salaries than might be expected from their US News ranking.

“We found that most of the underrated schools were engineering and technology schools with relatively low US News rankings but outstanding salary performance,” Business Insider notes on its web site.

For the full story, see Business Insider. This story was written by Jenn Donovan, Public Relations Director, for Michigan Tech’s University Marketing and Communications faculty and staff newletter, Tech Today.


Two Bows seeks funds for summer apparel line!

Two Bows-- the apparel line with the outdoorsy woman in mind-- is seeking funding for their summer line samples!

Three years ago Management major Jessica Tompkins started her own company Two Bows LLC .  Now a senior in the School of Business and Economics, Jessica needs our support!

Two Bows has been accepted by Kickstarter – an online threshold pledge system for funding creative projects– to raise funds for their Spring/Summer apparel line. She encourages everyone to follow the project, choose a reward, and pass along the word.  Two Bows only has 30 days to reach their goal of $5,000.  This money would then allow them to move forward taking the next big step to develop their company.

Jessica credits the School of Business and Economics and her classes for her growing success. Day by day she uses skills and knowledge she has gained at Michigan Tech while continuing to build the company’s foundation. Two Bows has previously been funded from several resources including: business competitions, Crowdbackers crowdfunding, and non-monetary awards. These sources, combined with social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) have enabled her to market the company at a low cost.

However, in an effort to grow Two Bows, they are searching for additional funding sources to add a Spring/Summer line. This new line will supplement the products currently being sold for Fall and Winter. Jessica hopes the new line will allow Outdoorsy girls, like her, to be comfortable and look great while enjoying the hobbies they love!

By meeting their $5000 goal, Two Bows will have enough funding to create their new line, have professional photos taken, and update their website.  They only have 30 days to raise the money, and get their backers the rewards they earn in return for their funding! The rewards stack, so the more you back, the more you receive. Every donation helps!

Two Bows needs all the support it can get to reach their goal!  Let’s help out one of our own, click here to read more and make a donation!


Students Tackle Silicon Valley over Spring Break

The School of Business and Economics led a student group to Silicon Valley for an Alternative Spring Break trip.

Alternative Spring Break trips are all the rage at Michigan Tech!  These trips enable students an affordable way to get away from Houghton and have some fun over Spring Break.  The School of Business and Economics offers a students the opportunity to tour the high tech companies of California’s Silicon Valley.

“Going on the Silicon Valley trip was a great way to spend break because I got to meet a lot of cool and inspirational people, while touring top-notch technology companies,” says scientific and technical communications major Armando Flores. The School of Business and Economics organized this trip to give students a backstage pass to tech giants like Google, Autodesk, Cisco and Brocade Communications. The visits came with plentiful opportunities to network, learn about business strategies and explore a whole new world of career options.

Aside from connecting with industry leaders, the students got to experience a culture that differs from what they are accustomed to. “I caught a glimpse of what life is like in California. It really is a melting pot of people, culture and innovation,” Flores says.

The trip wasn’t strictly business, however. The students also had time for fun, creating memories that will last a lifetime. “The most memorable experiences for me were visiting The Gallery at Autodesk, riding a G-Bike at Google and then visiting the Hacker Dojo,” says Flores. “Swimming in the ocean was pretty cool too.”

These thrilling experiences may have made returning to classes a challenge, but they also gave Flores something to strive for. “The trip put everything into perspective and motivated me to keep working hard. One way or another, I will go back,” he says firmly.

Click here to read the full Tech Today article that describes other Alternative Spring Break opportunities Michigan Tech students engaged in this year.


Common Sense Investing Event Benefits Business Students

Last Thursday evening, Vice President of Trust Investments at Superior National Bank, Chris Gariepy, spoke to a full room of Michigan Tech students as he shared his knowledge on common sense investing.  Chris discussed highlights from his career on investing and money management.  This event was supported by the Finance Club which promotes interest and knowledge in the field of Finance. The objectives of the Club are to increase interest in finance among Michigan Tech business students by relating the experiences of students, professors and alumni and to provide business students a comprehensive understanding of the finance industry.

Superior National Bank Vice President of Trust Investments addresses students at Finance Club event.

Chris also provided valuable insight into what it takes as a new college graduate to start investing.  Senior, finance major Walker Derby, said “I really enjoyed hearing from someone local who had pertinent advice for people going into the field as well as for individuals who are looking for a greater grasp on financial knowledge.”  Derby also noted that having someone with extensive experience in the financial industry address questions was enlightening, especially for students who are new to the field.

Students in attendance from all School of Business and Economics majors benefited from the event.  The information that Chris brought was insightful on real world applications and interactions of finance, management, economics, and accounting concepts.