Tag Archives: enterprise

Target Enterprise Project offers real world experience to ITOxygen members

Where does a giant international retailer turn when it needs innovative IT support?  Michigan Technological University, of course.

Target Corporation, with international headquarters in Minneapolis, is the first retail firm to participate in Michigan Tech’s signature Enterprise program. In the Enterprise program, teams of students work with a business or industry sponsor on a real-world problem that the sponsor would like the students to help solve.

ITOxygen is an Enterprise that specializes in information technology (IT) solutions. Their motto: We breathe new life into information technology projects.

ITOxygen Enterprise team members work on an IT project for Target.

Target actually presented ITOxygen with several problems involving mobile app development and computer infrastructure. Over the school year, the students developed an app for the iPad that measures wi-fi connectivity throughout Target stories. Another app lets shoppers with Android smartphones build a shopping list and share it with others.

The shopping list app will be particularly useful for event planners, teachers and parents buying school supplies, or groups of students or others living together.  “With it, you can avoid buying 200 boxes of Kleenex and no crayons, Russ Louks, ITOxygen’s advisor, explains.

The ITOxygen students also wrote scripts to automatically deploy servers nationwide. Then they were invited to present their work to a meeting of high-level corporate executives.

Target not only put money into the project, they really integrated the students into the corporate IT structure, says Rick Berkey, the Enterprise liaison between Michigan Tech and corporate sponsors.  “The students are working right along with Target IT professionals, learning the language of the industry,” Berkey says. “That level of support and time commitment is unusual.”

Target has enjoyed recruiting for technical talent at Michigan Tech, says E. B. Hakkinen, process consultant for Target Corporation’s Technology Solutions. “Target was interested in continuing to build upon our strong relationship with Michigan Tech, she explains. “We wanted to deepen our partnership and technology brand on campus.   We saw a unique opportunity through the Enterprise Program, specifically ITOxygen, to brand Target as an employer of choice for technology students, while collaborating with Michigan Tech students and giving them a first-hand experience of what it could be like to work for Target.”

“We learned a lot in our first year, 2012-2013, working with ITOxygen,” she continues. “This past year we experienced success with all of our ITOxygen projects. We found the best approach is to allow the students to be innovative in their solutions while we provide the support and tools necessary for them to be successful.  We look forward to continuing our relationship and seeing innovative solutions from the ITOxygen students in the coming school year.”

As Berkey puts it, without a hint of a grin, “the ITOxygen students have been right on target.”

One of the students, David Shull, a computer engineering major, was especially impressed with Target’s commitment to integrating technology into retail sales.  “It’s really exciting how innovative they’re being in mobile and web technologies,” he says.

Shull feels that the Enterprise project teaches skills that are hard to learn in a traditional classroom setting. “The most important thing I gained was the experience working on a corporate project with people from all over the country,” he says.

Projects like ITOxygen’s work with Target prepare students for their future in the working world, which is just what Target—the first retailer to come to Michigan Tech’s Career Fairs–wants. “Target is recruiting skilled IT employees,” says Berkey. “It’s more than a retail store.”

Shull says students need the kind of experiences the Target Enterprise project offered. “It’s too easy for students to think they know what ‘real’ work is like,” he says. “I hear students complain about how a concept they’ve learned won’t be of use in the real world. Opportunities like the Target Enterprise project give students hands-on experience that is guaranteed to be applicable in the real world, and demonstrates the value of concepts that were learned previously. They also facilitate self-learning, engineering management and other key skills.

“Plus—there is something really cool about walking into a Target store and knowing that you wrote an app the employees or shoppers are using.”

This story was originally posted in Michigan Tech News and written by Jennifer Donovan. To see the original story please view this link.


MTU Team Makes Final Cut of MCIP

The Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize is a six month program that enables teams to go from an idea to venture launch.

A new statewide entrepreneurial contest aims to arm students with the resources and skills necessary to launch a successful tech start-up in the state of Michigan. In addition to more than $100,000 in award money, the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize (MCIP) offered participants intensive start-up training based on the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program.

Michigan Tech fielded a team out of a project for the Business Development Experience course — one of four required for the Entrepreneurship Concentration.

"Our low cost ventilator which encompasses a robust and simple design, is used to provide life saving care for infants suffering from respiratory ailments in developing countries," said Smith.

The Michigan Tech students who participated were:

  • Cole SmithManagement major
  • Brock TreanklerManagement major
  • Colin PuttersMarketing major
  • Carolynn MagnusonMarketing major
  • Derek MazurBiomedical Engineering major

The challenge kicked off in late October with a two-day workshop and culminated in February with a final showcase and awards ceremony. During the intervening four months, participants attended biweekly online progress meetings and received pitch training, mentorship and up to $2,000 in prototype funding. Teams were encouraged to brainstorm and innovate on their business model and position in the market.

90 teams participated in the first round and 29 made it on to the finals. Applicants were evaluated based on:

  • The viability and impact of their technology
  • How their business differentiates itself in the marketplace
  • The skill and experience level of the team members.

The Michigan Tech Team mentored by Professor Entrepreneurship and Innovation Dr. Saurav Pathak, Instructor Jonathan Leinonen, and Senior Lecturer in Accounting Anne Warrington was one of the teams selected to advance to the finals. Their project was to develop a low cost ventilator for infants in Ghana. This is an International Business Venture project out of the Enterprise program. The Michigan Tech team went on to win a $2,000 grant to further develop their product.

Event coordinators say the statewide venture challenge will help both the state and its students by keeping Michigan relevant in the knowledge economy and creating different career paths for college graduates.


ITOxygen Specializes in Giving Organizations a Breath of Fresh Air

The Enterprise exists to make other people’s jobs easier, said team leader Adam Gibson, a management information systems major in the School of Business and Economics. “We make web-based information solutions,” he said Thursday at the Undergraduate Expo.

For client Marquette General Hospital, that meant customizing calendar software that lets them better schedule video conferences, particularly between doctors and patients. Their initial effort worked so well, Gibson said, “they’ve called us back to add more features.”

On campus, IT Oxygen is working with Human Resources, examining their processes in hopes of improving efficiency and evaluating their software to make it easier and faster to update records. “They’ve done a very good, professional job so far, listening to us and making every effort to meet our needs,” said Bobby Escobar, associate director for immigration and faculty, HR. “We’re looking forward to seeing their final report and recommendations.” At the Van Pelt and Opie Library, an Enterprise team is developing software to index the many electronic journals that the library now receives.

The Rozsa Center is using their services to monitor ticket sales, and they are helping the School of Technology manage expenses and work flow for its Senior Design projects.

“They are doing really well,” said their advisor, Robert Maatta, a professor of practice in the School of Business and Economics. “We try to complement what we do in the classroom–small projects and theory–with ITOxygen’s real-world experience, including getting clients and developing applications to meet their needs.”

Students learn a lot, but that’s not the only benefit. “One goal of ITOxygen is to help students make some money to pay for their education,” Maatta said. “The Enterprise makes enough money so we can pay them. Rather than work at a fast-food restaurant, they can work part-time at a job that furthers their education, and when they graduate, they’ll be prepared to go off and do something productive.”

That’s how it’s worked out for Gibson and fellow ITOxygen team member Aman Bamra. “We’re starting a business in the SmartZone based on artificial intelligence and cloud computing,” said Gibson. “The AI will be your personal assistant, gathering the information you need.” The skills Gibson developed in ITOxygen made it possible, he said. “I learned more by the end of my sophomore year than most students learn as seniors.”

Bhamra agreed. “It connects your classroom concepts to real work,” he said.

ITOxygen is sponsored by the Dow Foundation, GE Aviation and Human Resources at Michigan Tech.

Learn more about ITOxygen at Michigan Tech.

by Marcia Goodrich, senior writer. Originally published in Tech Today.