The sun is shining on a new Upper Peninsula business

Dustin Denkins ('10) and Matt Miotke of Suburb Solar, Cooks, MI (Photo credit: Shawn Malone)

Alum Dustin Denkins and his wife Jill are growing their advanced technology business right here in the Upper Peninsula.  Suburb Solar, which was founded in 2009 during Dustin’s graduate work here at Michigan Tech, was formally incorporated in early 2011. Sam Eggleston of Upper Pennisula’s Second Wave, an online magazine devoted to reporting trends in technology, business, and growth in Michigan’s UP, featured the story in their January 2012 edition.

Suburb Solar builds portable solar generators, making it simple for anyone to use it in everyday applications. “Basically, when I decided to make this, I wanted to make something so easy that my grandmother could use it,” says Dustin Denkins of the EasySun Solar Generator.

While an MBA student at Michigan Tech, Denkins won first place in the first annual Business Plan Competition (founded by the late Bob Mark), and walked away with $4,100 in prize money and consulting services to help get the company off the ground. The Business Plan Competition, now the New Venture Competition, has partnered with Central Michigan University to offer a top prize of $30,000 on March 31st down in Mt. Pleasant. Michigan Tech expects to be well represented, learn more about the competition.

The solar generator–built right here in the Upper Peninsula and with many components constructed here as well–is portable, sporting two heavy-duty wheels that allows the 125-pound device to be transported wherever it needs to go.

The School of Business and Economics wishes Superb Solar future success and thanks Dustin for being a great inspiration to other students.

See full story here.

Finance Club to Host Guest Speaker

Photo of Jim with students (Jacob Vehring, Eric Tangko, Amanda Vogt, and Will Thiele) from the April 2010 visit to Chicago.

Michigan Tech Finance Club announced today that Jim Northey of Lasalletech will be coming to campus on February 2nd to give a guest lecture.  Northey’s topic is “High Frequency Trading in Today’s Markets” and he will discuss current events that have affected our financial markets including the flash crash and other issues associated with high frequency trading strategies.

When: Thursday, February 2nd at 5:00 pm

Where: Fisher 130

Come out and join us to learn more about high frequency trading and eat some free pizza!  Please RSVP to if you plan on attending.

Finance Club Speaker

A Day in the Life… Freshmen Student Athlete: Tanner Agen

Freshmen Defensive Lineman, Tanner Agen, chalks up first semester at Tech as a successful learning experience.

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a collegiate student-athlete?  Can you imagine trying to fit 3 hours of practice into your already busy days? At Michigan Tech, we have several student-athletes that choose a major in the School of Business and Economics.  One student, Tanner Agen, is a freshmen defensive lineman for the Husky’s football team.  Agen, out of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, was named defensive scout team player of the year and also has a work study with the School of Business and Economics staff and administration in the Academic Office Building.  After working with Tanner and knowing about the time management skills required for success in collegiate student athletes, we wanted to learn more about Tanner’s transition from high school to his first semester of college.

Here’s my interview with Tanner to learn more about his first semester as a Husky:

Why did you choose Michigan Tech?

I chose Michigan Tech because of the opportunities I have as an athlete and in a future profession. I have a dream in mind that I want to play as long as I can, and I feel that the coaching staff here will give me great opportunities. Although going pro is a slim chance, I need a backup plan with a profession that I can live off of.  Michigan Tech is an excellent school and it can open many doors for me along the road.

What was your first impression of Michigan Tech?

My first impression of Michigan Tech was very good. When touring the athletic facilities, I found the place to be very clean and the coaching staff well organized. They all had that winning attitude and I knew they believed that I was and could be a very good player for them. Along with athletics, I liked how all the educational buildings were close together and the campus was quite small.

What is your major? Why?

My major coming into my first semester was Accounting.  I am very good with numbers and I believed it was best suited for me. Now I realize that accounting isn’t really for me, so I am thinking of going into economics or finance. I find economics very interesting and there is demand for business majors. There is a high chance of getting a job out of college, which is something everyone wants, I hope.

How many credits did you take in your first semester?  Was it too much/ too little?

I took the minimum of twelve credits because it was in the football season and also having to work. I feel it was just right and for me because of what I had for a schedule. Maybe if I didn’t have work I would have taken another class, but redshirting my first year gives me another year to play and go to school so I can lighten my load and not take so many.

What importance does your coaching staff place on academic success?

The requirements to stay out of study tables are to have a 2.3 or higher GPA. They also say that school does come first because we are “Student-Athletes”. So if we have a class or a test during practice or directly after, they are understanding and get us to where we have to be.

What is the biggest difference between high school courses and college courses?

High school courses are the same classes every day taking it in slowly. The teachers make sure you get your studies done and are there to help you a lot. In college, you don’t have the same classes every day and the learning pace is a whole lot faster. We may go through a section in a 50 min class period and move on to the next one the next class. Some classes vary in time as well in college and in high school, all the classes were the same time frame.

What is the biggest difference between high school and college football?

College football is completely different than high school. The speed of the game, how practices are run, the coaching, and your life is pretty much football. I love the game and want to succeed, but my life is football and school work in college. Also, what kind of shape you have to be in. I thought I was in good shape coming into the season, but I thought wrong. Personally, I believe that the first year of college is an eye opener and a learning experience.

Do you think your professors understand of your athletic commitments?

I think they understand what athletes have to do and I know they don’t treat us in a special way either. They treat their students the same and I feel that they know that we don’t want to slack of and try to get by with a pass/fail grade.

How much time per week is required for practice?  In season and out.

In season practice starts at 3:00PM and goes until about 6:00PM. Also in the beginning of the season, there are morning meetings and walk throughs and night meetings as well. So there is a lot of time spent up at the SDC. Out of season is a little different. All that is really required is that we lift and some occasional meetings here and there.

What is the best thing about being a Husky?

The best thing about being a Husky is all the help that is offered here. You aren’t alone in any way. Coaches for football help me out, the athletic trainer is always there, teachers have office hours and are always willing to talk and help, and the administrators really guide you through college and it makes it easier on a student.

THE Project Competition: Two School of Business and Economics Teams

When people hear the word “manager”, they think of a supervisor or someone in charge of making a schedule. Images of Bill Lumburgh from Office Space talking about memos and TPS reports come to mind.

However, in recent years, Project Management has grown into an important profession and Michigan has begun to take notice. Spectrum Health, Steelcase, Amway, the Grand Rapids Business Journal and other local businesses have partnered with the Western Michigan chapter of The Project Management Institute (WMPMI) to host an intercollegiate project management competition simply known as THE Project 2012.

Eight teams from six colleges and universities compete for $10,000 in cash prizes and paid internships at major corporations in West Michigan. Dana M. Johnson, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management and Michigan Tech Champion, formed two team of four students each from the School of Business and Economics, Michigan Tech for the competition.

”This is a great opportunity for our students to apply what they learned in the project management course to a real-life situation. At the competition, students will not only be able to network with other teams, but gain valuable exposure to companies who are seeking to hire graduates through a reverse career fair.”

The student teams, along with their school, business, and PMP mentors, must 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.

“B Corps certification allows a business to have a triple bottom line focus of profit, people and the environment,” Kelly Talsma, PMP, Vice President of Education at WMPMI, said.

The Project Management Institute recently released a study stating there were 90,000 job openings in the United States where businesses required or preferred PMP certification. Many colleges and universities have recognized this trend and have responded with several courses and degrees with a focus in Project Management.

THE Project 2012 wants to give students real-life business experience rather than a mere academic exercise. The winning team will have an opportunity to make their presentation in front of 500 business and academic leaders as well as members of WMPMI.

For more information on project management or WMPMI, go to To learn more about B Corporations, visit

iOMe Challenge Update: Michigan Tech Receives Honorable Mention


Four teams of Michigan Tech students competed in the 2011 iOMe Challenge, that builds awareness for ways that local organizations might engage the Y or Millennial generation to think about their own future, 40 years from now.  Three of the four MTU teams made it to the final round of judging and one team has received an honorable mention in the 2011 competition. Students were judged on a video submission (above) and an essay.  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
  • Walker Derby, Finance major

Lecturer in Economics, Emanuel Oliveira, was the academic advisor of the four teams competing in this year’s iOMe Challenge.  Commenting on the contest’s two components, Oliveira said, “The students put together an excellent essay that contained innovative policy recommendations, considerable statistical analysis, and it was very well written.”

Team leader of the winning team and economics major, Katie O’Connell, noted that it was amazing to find out that their group had received honorable mention in the iOMe Challenge.  Recalling her feelings prior to the competition and why she chose to compete she said, “I remember hoping to do well!  Receiving an honorable mention was great. I decided to compete in this challenge to get a closer look at how to encourage people to save money.  It truly is a challenge in an economy where interest rates are so low and there is no obvious and immediate reward. But it’s also critically important to the future of our economy, and even our society, to reverse the downward savings trend. I hope that our participation in this process will at least help to open discussion as well as spark ideas and interest in creating an America that saves more.”

Congrats to all of this years competitors and Dr. Emanuel Oliveira!

iOMe results from 2010-2011