Ford grant to support U.P. health resources hub

Michigan Technological University is one of seven universities to receive a $25,000 grant from this year’s Ford Fund College Community Challenge.
Michigan Tech Enterprise students, along with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, will create a publicly available, online health resources hub that can connect individuals, health care practitioners, caregivers and social service organizations to community resources to improve health and wellbeing in the region.

This project serves an unmet need for the five county region served by WUPHD, an exclusively rural population of approximately 67,700. The hub will also include community resources that support social determinants of health, helping our more vulnerable populations find services to address factors that adversely affect health, such as non-emergent medical transportation services or domestic violence services. Given the remote, rural population this project serves, the mobile platform will increase the reach of the hub for those with limited access to high-speed internet or computers.

“The Enterprise program is very excited to be participating with the Ford Motor Company Fund to promote health resource education, in our community and beyond,” said Chris Morgan, the Enterprise program’s assistant director for educational partnerships. “This project fits both the local population and Enterprise well, as there is a tangible outcome that is driven by a community need, where Michigan Tech students will excel at developing unique solutions.”

2020 U.S. Ford College Community Challenge Winners

Learn more about the 2020 Ford College Community Challenge award winners

About Ford Motor Company Fund 

As the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Ford Fund’s mission is to strengthen communities and help make people’s lives better. Working with dealers and nonprofit partners in more than 50 countries, Ford Fund provides access to opportunities and resources that help people reach their full potential. Since 1949, Ford Fund has invested more than $2 billion in programs that support education, promote safe driving, enrich community life and encourage employee volunteering. For more information, visit www.fordfund.org or join us at @FordFund on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram


GM awards $110,000 grant to Michigan Tech

General Motors, a long-time supporter of Michigan Technological University, has awarded the University a $110,000 grant through its University/Organization Partner Program, once again, supporting the critical needs of STEM Education here at MTU

A significant portion of the grant will be devoted to General Motors’ commitment to the Enterprise Manufacturing Initiative. The grant will also provide continuing support for a variety of student activities, including the Advanced Motorsports Enterprises, Education, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) outreach, underrepresented student groups and diversity programs through the Center for Educational Outreach and Center for Diversity and Inclusion, as well as support for the community-chosen Enterprise project working on an HVAC system that cleans viruses and other disease-causing particles from enclosed buildings.

Housed in the Pavlis Honors College, the Enterprise program consists of student-driven, multidisciplinary teams that work like companies on real-world client projects, whether the deliverable is an innovative product, a pioneering solution or a much-needed service. The hallmark of the Enterprise program is the experiential training it provides to students.  The manufacturing engineering initiative focuses on student projects to educate Michigan Tech Enterprise students that manufacturing engineering is a viable area of study and career path.

“Michigan Tech’s Enterprise program is thrilled to again partner with General Motors to develop Enterprise projects that highlight career opportunities available in manufacturing,” said Chris Morgan, assistant director for educational partnerships. “The Enterprise program’s hands-on and can-do attitude fits perfectly as the home for manufacturing project-based learning.”

Michigan Tech is pleased again to have GM as a “Creating the Future” Advanced Motorsports (AMS) sponsor.  As part of Michigan Tech’s signature Enterprise Program, AMS represents a consortium of four of the vehicle competition Enterprise teams—Blizzard Baja, Clean Snowmobile Challenge, Formula Car, and Supermileage Systems.  Each AMS team is an interdisciplinary organization of students whose goal is to develop a complete vehicle—from concept, through prototyping and testing, and on to final build and ‘delivery’ at the respective competitions.  While each team operates as a separate Enterprise entity, the AMS umbrella enables our teams to leverage the diverse talent, economies of scale, and synergistic opportunities afforded to the group as a whole.  Ultimately, this hands-on learning environment allows AMS members to develop critical business, engineering, communication, and leadership skills for a successful transition into the workforce.

Michigan Tech and General Motors have had a long-standing partnership dating back to at least 1940, supporting a wide range of activities across campus including scholarships, Senior Design and Enterprise projects, student organizations, sponsored research, recruiting support, youth programs, diversity initiatives and more.

For more information on the Enterprise Program, or GM’s partnership with Michigan Tech, please contact enterprise@mtu.edu.


Q&A with Dr. Mark Rudnicki

Dr. Mark Rudnicki

Dr. Mark Rudnicki is currently a Professor of Practice of Forest Biomaterials in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University, where he conducts and coordinates research and teaching in sustainable bioproducts and, more holistically, the circular bioeconomy. Mark is an advisory board member for the 2021 World Bioeconomy Forum and a founding member of the Houghton-based FinnZone, a commercial launchpad for Finnish tech companies entering the United States. His diverse research interests include tree biomechanics, forest meteorology, circular bioeconomy, biomaterials, and mass timber. Dr. Rudnicki was also the Executive Director (2015-2019) of the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute since its establishment as a non-profit NGO dedicated to the facilitation of the forest bioeconomy in the State of Michigan.

Before Mark came to Michigan Tech in 2015, he held a tenured faculty position at the University of Connecticut where he taught forestry classes and led research in wind and trees and the establishment of the Stormwise program to reduce tree-related storm damage to power lines.

What inspired you to start HotForest?

HotForest was inspired by a new major in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (CFRES): Sustainable Bioproducts– B.S. I wanted, as part of this new degree, for students to engage in experiential learning. Students who enroll in this major are required to be a part of Enterprise. In addition to our new degree program, we’re seeing a resurgence of interest in and for renewable, recycled, and repurposed materials—and the big picture of the circular and bioeconomies.  Students are not limited to HotForest, but do need to be a part of any Enterprise team for at least two years.

Describe how HotForest will attract students from different disciplines.

When we start looking at all the aspects of the circular economy, you realize pretty quickly how multiple perspectives and disciplines are required to understand its full potential, including business, forestry, environmental science, engineering, and computer science for example. Reusable products need to be well designed, both functionally and aesthetically. Therefore, the art/design community is also a key stakeholder in addition to STEM fields. It will be important to involve students from across campus to be a part of HotForest for its optimal success. 

In an effort to build relationships and interdisciplinary studies, I have reached out to the College of Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. Both CFRES and the College of Creative Studies want to work together either through this new Enterprise team, or another potential collaboration. The College of Creative Studies is interested in pairing their industrial design prowess with Michigan Tech engineering and bioproducts students, and vice versa.  We’re both fairly specialized schools, so our students could bring complementary skills to each other’s work.

What type of projects would interest HotForest?

This semester, HotForest was fortunate enough to get our first sponsorship from one of the Tech Forward Initiatives: Advanced Materials and Manufacturing. The AM&M initiative is looking to establish Michigan Tech as a global leader in research and education associated with advanced materials and manufacturing and the circular economy fits very well within their scope. The new HotForest team is essentially in an establishment phase during its first semester of existence this fall, which includes scoping and deciding on project priorities. The next step, and one the team is very hungry for, is to put the plan into action and take on real world problems. For instance they are considering the problem of waste wood from the manufacturing of office furniture, which generates over 100 tons per day in Grand Rapids and desperately needs an added value solution. The team is also looking to enter an international competition in just a couple weeks, the Wege Prize 2021, that is focusing on circular economy solutions from transdisciplinary student teams from around the world.

What are the goals for HotForest during this first year? What do you hope to accomplish?

The students really want to educate themselves on what a circular economy really entails. Looking for the silver lining to COVID-19 crisis, I believe there are some good opportunities for students to attend world class conferences and meetings that otherwise would have been out of reach for them financially. HotForest will be able to engage online and interact with global experts in a cost effective way. And that’s what the team is doing now, researching which meetings they might attend and planning how they’re going to go about educating themselves about this circular economy, with the intent that next semester we can hit the ground running with projects and probably a competition. With strong student interest in what HotForest is doing, we expect the team to grow. Our current members are looking forward to the challenge of growing and juggling multiple projects and, in the end, more progress toward the circular economy.

Are there any teams HotForest would like to work with?

I think there are probably several others that might also have a sustainability orientation, like Consumer Products Manufacturing for example, but also some that might not be an intuitive match, like Advanced Metalworks. There are lots of possibilities. Once HotForest gains its footing, I believe the team will be able to dig deeper into other teams’ individual projects and see if there are connections to what we hope to do. 

What inspired the name HotForest?

In full disclosure, I put a bunch of keywords into an online name and logo generator and after sifting through many hundreds and several websites that do this, I hit on HotForest with a logo that inspired what you see now.  Not terribly inspiring origin story, but the name did resonate with me as I wanted something off the wall—something that would make people wonder how it makes any sense and dig a little deeper.  The current team secretary (and safety officer) Katelyn Hacker tells me this is the same approach used by Post Malone of the Wu Tang Clan, so it seems a good way to go.

What would be your advice to a student interested in joining Enterprise, and more specifically HotForest?

As a student, if you’re interested in Enterprise, you should do it! Hands on learning is what Enterprise is all about—and Enterprise is a signature program at Michigan Tech. Before coming to Michigan Tech, I had never seen a program like this. Students are able to work over multiple years on student-led, and importantly, student-driven projects. That’s why I really wanted Enterprise to be a part of this new major, and ultimately create and advise the new HotForest team. Being a part of this Enterprise allows students to drill down into what we can do right now to start making positive changes in the world. We’re seeing companies who realize that we can’t just proceed with business as usual. I think it behooves students to be prepared for that future. This is what HotForest is really about! 

What’s something fun, impressive, or unique about yourself that might surprise people?

Before I went to grad school, I took some time off and worked as a carpenter for about 3 years. I wandered a lot and worked in Alaska, including in the towns of Wassila (where Sarah Palin was my mayor), and a month in Kotzebue inside the arctic circle, which was very eye-opening to say the least. 


A Message from the Enterprise Program

By Rick Berkey, Professor of Practice and Enterprise Program Director and Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program Coordinator

Welcome to the second issue of our 2020 Enterprise Program Newsletter! With the new academic year now underway, it’s safe to say 2020 has been quite the year of uncertainty and change. For 20 years, the Enterprise Program has emphasized project-based learning, teamwork, mentorship, and professional networking — activities that have been shown to improve student retention, graduation, and career preparation. So what happens when the world is challenged to work together, but separately? In Enterprise, we have embraced this challenge by thinking harder, trying new things, and refusing to be discouraged. In one word: #tenacity! And in this context, ‘we’ includes our students, faculty advisors, support staff, and program supporters.

It really does “take a village” to run an Enterprise Program. This fall, any uncertainty about enrollment in Enterprise was quickly dispelled, as 700 students returned to campus to participate in one of our 24 enterprises. We even launched a new enterprise — Hotforest — to give students a new option focused around sustainable forest bioproducts and the circular bioeconomy. Continue reading below to meet Hotforest’s faculty advisor, Dr. Mark Rudnicki. Across Enterprise, students are tackling well over 100 projects this year, including several focused around responses to COVID-19 challenges! Similar to the pivot industry has made, our teams have had to learn how to work from home, socially distance in labs with smaller group sizes, and further improve their planning and communication skills…all in the spirit of getting the job done.

In other fall news, we excitedly hosted Enterprise Day on October 19th– with 21 teams in attendance, and students joining both in-person and online. We’ve started planning for Design Expo by taking lessons learned from last year’s first-ever virtual showcase. With only 9 weeks into the academic year, so much is still unknown, but what we do know is that students will continue to plan for their team, progress on project timelines, and thrive in national competitions. We hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to staying connected – Go Huskies!


A Message from the Dean

picture of dr. lorelle meadows

By Dr. Lorelle Meadows, Pavlis Honors College, Dean

It’s Fall and Michigan Tech is knee deep in… Enterprise Projects!! (and leaves!)

A lot has changed over the past six months, but one thing that remains a hallmark of a Michigan Tech education is the hands-on work that our students do. With comprehensive safety measures in place, our Enterprise teams are working together on over 100 projects to do things like create competitive SAE competition vehicles, build a satellite, improve the lives of rehabilitation patients, and even help with the COVID19 pandemic response..among many others. And, they’re working to respond to the global pandemic by designing affordable shared air filtration systems, developing virus-resistant materials, and creating physical distancing apps.

Through the explosion of virtual engagement, the teams are better equipped than ever before to engage with sponsors and clients afar, to include team members at a distance, and to draw on a broader network of expertise around the world. Imagine layering the current challenges over the traditional Enterprise education, and you have the recipe for a graduating class of incredible leaders who know how to manage adversity and change at an unprecedented level.


Breathing Easier: Michigan Tech Enterprise to Study Safer Heating and Air Conditioning

The Enterprise Program at Michigan Technological University has a hot new project as the weather turns cooler—developing safer heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Evidence suggests that transmission of the COVID-19 virus may increase as fresh air decreases, meaning indoor spaces with standard HVAC systems can be riskier than spaces with hospital-grade HVAC filtering. Classrooms, office spaces, and other venues around the world are trying to mitigate this with social distancing, masking protocols, and virtual gatherings. Michigan Tech’s Enterprise program—multidisciplinary student teams, led by faculty, that work on real-world projects for industry and government partners—will seek a more active solution. 

The Consumer Product Manufacturing (CPM) Enterprise has been selected to helm the project. The CPM team has a long history of improving, upgrading, and troubleshooting existing consumer products.

“This is just the type of problem CPM likes to tackle because it is tailor-made for a multi-disciplinary Enterprise,” said Tony Rogers, faculty advisor for the team. “The shared air filtration project is appealing and interesting to our members, and a solution will benefit the public. I am looking forward to brainstorming with the CPM students—their diversity of training in various disciplines almost always leads to creative, and often unexpected, solutions.”

“CPM is all about giving our members real-world project experiences while being on Michigan Tech’s campus,” said Kelsey Farrell, chemical engineering student and vice president of the CPM Enterprise. “Creating an HVAC system to reduce the spread of the virus will be an incredible experience for our members as it allows them to make a personal impact in the fight against this pandemic. I am excited to see what our team can produce to keep our communities safe!”

A clear winner and some intriguing potential projects

The shared air filtration project received nearly a third of the votes out of seven projects proposed over the summer and voted on by Enterprise students, alumni, industry sponsors, and the greater Michigan Tech community. Virus-resistant materials came in second place, with 15 percent of the vote.

The most interesting part of the poll? Voter-submitted suggestions for additional Enterprise COVID-19 projects. Suggestions ranged from applying LEAN methodologies to Michigan Tech’s testing process, to voice-activated elevators, to waste minimization techniques which would reduce the long-term environmental impact of disposables. The Enterprise program is trying to find funding for at least one of these additional projects.

How to help

The CPM team is very excited to start pursuing this project, but the team still needs your financial support, says Chris Morgan, assistant director of educational partnerships for Enterprise. “The team currently has enough funding to start purchasing preliminary materials, but your continued donations will help them build a complete prototype, and perhaps even allow for full testing of the developed system.”

Donations can be made online, or you can contact Chris Morgan at cjmorgan@mtu.edu or 906-487-2633.
Funding will go directly to the Enterprise program to support Enterprise’s response to COVID-19. Funding received beyond the cost of the safer HVAC project will be applied to additional student projects.

The Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise is very excited to work on the shared air filtration project! We are very excited to be able to provide new and innovative air filtration solutions that will benefit the community and also help combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jacob Michaud, chemical engineering student and president of the CPM Enterprise

Donate now

Members of the 2019 CPM team

Sponsor a Student Design Project

We need support. You need to get more done.

Connect with talented students, work with Michigan Tech to develop tomorrow’s workforce, and let us move your projects from “to-do” to “done” by sponsoring an Enterprise or Senior Design project.

Enterprise consists of student-driven, multidisciplinary teams that work like companies on real-world client projects. Projects can be short- or long-term, and will be worked on by students of multiple years and majors. Senior Design connects students and industry through open-ended, industrial projects. Senior Design teams typically consist of one major and the students are in their final year at Michigan Tech. In both programs, teams collaborate with clients from industry, communities, and government organizations, and work closely with a faculty advisor.

Want to see what our teams can do? Check out the 2020 Virtual Design Expo to see year-end wrapups for projects ranging from radiofrequency ablation to lunar trenchers to packaging improvements.

Let Us Work For You

You and your company can sponsor projects, support project teams, offer unrestricted support to help program infrastructure, provide gifts-in-kind, and more.

Consider sponsoring Enterprise or Senior Design if you:

  1. Have a low- or medium-priority project that could be tackled by a team of undergraduate students, supervised by Michigan Tech faculty
  2. Could benefit from a fresh perspective
  3. Are motivated to develop tomorrow’s workforce
  4. Want to access the talent, capabilities, and facilities of Michigan Technological University

To learn more, please visit mtu.edu/enterprise/giving or contact Chris Morgan, Assistant Director of Educational Partnerships, at cjmorgan@mtu.edu or 906-487-2633.


A Message from the Dean

I am pleased to have this opportunity to share with you a few words about Enterprise and the role that Enterprise plays at Michigan Tech and in the Pavlis Honors College.  Six years ago, Enterprise became one of the first programs placed into the newly formed Pavlis Honors College. With a 14-year record of excellence in education at the time, it is no surprise that the Enterprise model helped to shape what would soon become a unique honors college.  

Enterprise was designed to provide academic enrichment and offer real hands-on practical experience to any student on campus interested in expanding their education beyond the classroom. This mission became a core principle of the honors college, pushing Michigan Tech to think broadly of what an honors experience can be – a resource for highly motivated students (not just for students with high grades).  Enterprise also provides students with opportunities to build key skills for post-graduate success, including communication, teamwork, management, and leadership (among others).  These skills formed a foundation for what would soon become the Pavlis Honors Abilities, a set of nine competencies that all students who engage with Pavlis programs are guided in developing.  

As Enterprise turns 20 this year, the program continues its legacy of impact, providing value to Michigan Tech students, to the faculty who advise these students, to the partners who provide these students with relevant and meaningful work, and to the employers who hire these students after they graduate.  It isn’t often that an academic program can weather the social challenges of two decades, innovate and adapt, and remain relevant to these broad constituencies.  And, it isn’t often that the social changes of one semester can push us to reconsider what we mean by “hands-on.”  The Enterprise team met this challenge “head-on” with a creative approach to the way we teach and learn, and ultimately, showcase student learning and accomplishment amid a global pandemic (you can read more about this elsewhere in this newsletter). This wasn’t only a response for the moment, but an opportunity for a shift in the future that will be evident as we continue to live and learn in a time of accelerated change. 

I’m excited for the future of Enterprise – to witness the work of our leadership team, our faculty advisors and module instructors, our partners and, most importantly, our students and graduates – to see where the next semester, year and decade of change take this incredible program as we continue to build forward to meet the changing needs society.


Q&A with Dr. Tony Rogers

Tony Rogers (1994, PhD ChE, Michigan Tech) has worked over 30 years on experimental thermodynamics, structure-property relationships, and mathematical techniques of searching molecular graphs for the presence of moieties, bonds, and other features. This experience was gained on faculty at Michigan Tech and earlier as a Senior Research Engineer at Research Triangle Institute (RTP, NC). Tony led an AIChE-DIPPR effort from 1991-2009 to compile and model chemical property information. He now teaches process simulation and process analysis and design to chemical engineering seniors.  In the fall of 2000, Tony helped found the Enterprise Program through an NSF Action Agenda grant (EEC-9872533).  Now in its 21st year, the Enterprise model gives teams of students from multiple disciplines an opportunity to work together in a business-like setting to solve real-world problems of importance to industry.

Over the years, what inspires you to continue as an Enterprise Advisor?

Enterprise lets me leave a lasting imprint on many of the CPM students.  I don’t indulge modern students’ general overreliance on technology to communicate.  Direct person-to-person interactions are encouraged to get things done.  In my view, personal traits of honesty and reliability are much more important than the “gimmicky” concepts found in scholarly courses on teamwork.  I can have a multi-year impact on a student and really give guidance and/or encouragement during a critical formative period.

As the recipient of the 2018 and 2020 Outstanding Enterprise Advisor Award, what is your approach to advising Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise?

My role is primarily to be a facilitator.  Every year, I tell the newly-selected President and Executive Board that my role is to help them achieve their collective vision for the CPM Enterprise.  I connect them with the resources, facilities, mentoring, and staff help they need.  I stay in my lane and let the students show their creativity and initiative.  New product and project ideas need to have student origination and/or buy-in; otherwise they are DOA.

What is your most memorable project CPM has worked on, and why?

In 2009, CPM partnered with the Blue Marble Security Enterprise to thermoform a 3M film into a cover for an LED taillight.  The film’s optical properties spread the light uniformly across the cavity with relatively few light sources.  Compared to an incandescent bulb, the LED taillight has a lower volume and weight, requires less energy, and is now standard equipment in the Buick Enclave.

This successful project proved that intradisciplinary pride can co-exist with respect for the diverse skillsets of the various Enterprise majors.

Describe an “aha!” moment you experienced while advising your team. How did this moment make it clear the benefit students gain from being a part of Enterprise?

Three years ago, the CPM President conducted himself so well at the Spring Design Expo that judges mistook him for an industry consultant.  Running CPM let him stay calm, cool, and collected in front of any audience.  The Enterprise model fosters more ownership in the organization than would be normal for a traditional class or club. Enterprise alumni stay connected after graduation to a surprising degree.

Periodically, I remind the students that overcoming bureaucracy and red tape is a valuable project management skill they are learning in CPM.  They learn how to get things done and how to speak the corporate lingo.

Offering leadership opportunities has led CPM to have strong participation by its female members at all levels.  No particular strategy to get there has been necessary; as a whole the class is welcoming and supportive.

What would be your advice to a student who wants to make the most of their Enterprise experience?

Be proactive and seek out leadership opportunities.  Spot problems and fix them without being told.  Practice being the kind of employee companies want to hire and relate these anecdotal details to prospective employers.

Also, step outside your comfort zone.  An abundance of leadership positions exists in every Enterprise and within the Enterprise Program structure.  In CPM, we created a new student leadership position, ‘Director of Professional Development’, to benefit all of the students who want to develop new marketable skills.

How do employers benefit when they hire students who have been on an Enterprise team?

The best hires, not surprisingly, have inherent personality traits like honesty, integrity, initiative, punctuality, and perseverance.  Traditional classes, however, do not always require students to draw upon these traits to be successful.  High-GPA students sometimes make bad employees simply because they lack good character.  In the work environment we create, Enterprise students cannot lead and function well without being good people.

What is something you plan to do in the next year to enhance the student experience in CPM?

More accountability is needed for the larger project teams.  My Executive Board plans to expand the peer evaluations and conduct them earlier to give more time for corrective feedback.  Team Leaders will have a lot of authority and responsibility to manage.

What’s something fun, impressive or unique about yourself that might surprise people.

Sometimes you can connect with students about the strangest subjects.  For instance, I grew up fascinated by the kayfabe surrounding the old territorial professional wrestling at its peak (c. 1965 – 1985).  Unlike the cartoon-like product of today, the regional wrestling territories tried to make the in-ring product seem like real athletic contests.  In boxing, the 1970s was a similar golden age for the heavyweight division with Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Norton, Lyle, Shavers, etc.  Fortunately, through YouTube video clips I can share wrestling and boxing history with today’s students.  Being a Clemson graduate, I can also brag a bit about college football championships and a 4-0 all-time record versus tOSU.