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.


Enterprise Ready to Tackle Manufacturing Challenges of the 21st Century

By Chris Morgan, Assistant Director of Educational Partnerships

The Enterprise Program provides world-class hand’s on educational opportunities for Michigan Tech students.  Since joining the program office in fall of 2019, I’ve had a chance to see this first hand with the amazing student projects that Enterprise teams propose, design, prototype, and validate as part of their teamwork experience.  The program is filled with unique individuals who are learning to demonstrate their technical, professional, and leadership skills with real-world applicable projects.  The program is also supported by a host of engaged industry partners, advisors, and program staff that are engaged above and beyond expectations to make sure MTU students can receive a world class education.

One opportunity that sticks out from this year has been the Enterprise Manufacturing Initiative.  This initiative allows for Enterprise students and teams to propose a manufacturing related project topic, receive funding through General Motors’ University Giving, get timely advice from two dedicated GM manufacturing engineers (MTU alumni), and execute the project with pre-defined timelines and measurable outcomes.  This year’s EMI student group proposed 7 new projects, including everything from advanced suspension design on the SAE Baja vehicle, to recycling systems for 3-D printing filament, to a low cost vaccine transport device for impoverished communities.  Despite the transition to remote learning, these students produced great strides in the effort to finalize their designs and prepare for prototyping next fall.  The Baja Suspension team was even kind enough to bring their entire vehicle up to the Pavlis Honors College common space to show off their accomplishment during a February EMI general meeting.

Looking forward to next year’s Enterprise team accomplishments!  Please consider becoming involved in the many opportunities and objectives of the Enterprise program.


Enterprise in 2040: A Vision for the Next 20 Years

By Rick Berkey, Professor of Practice and Enterprise Program Director

This Fall, the Enterprise Program began its 20th year of operation —  a significant milestone for any program, and even more so for one that has been financially self-sustaining since the initial NSF grant ended in 2002. In 2006, I left a successful industry career to manage annual fundraising and sponsorship needs for the Enterprise and Senior Design Programs. Looking back on my decision to work for Michigan Tech, Enterprise was a huge and deciding factor. I was motivated by the opportunity to support students in an educational program that:

  1. looks more like the interdisciplinary work environment students are heading towards,  
  2. connects students with project sponsors and mentors to solve open-ended, industry-relevant challenges, and 
  3. gives students ownership of a portion of their education that aligns with their personal development and career interests.

Fourteen years later, I am fortunate to direct the program, in addition to teaching Enterprise courses and advising the Supermileage Systems Enterprise. I am just as motivated now as I was in 2006 to be part of what has become an award-winning program that remains quite unique when compared with other programs across the country. Enterprise was, and still is, ahead of the curve in preparing students for successful careers. While we can (and should!) pause briefly to celebrate our important milestone, it’s really time to forge ahead to keep our graduates out in front. So with that, will Enterprise look like in the next 20 years?

First off, I would like to start with what will not change: Enterprise will continue to be student-led, with support and mentorship from faculty, staff, and industry. When students are empowered in an active learning environment, we shift the focus from ‘satisfying degree requirements’ to ‘satisfying curiosity’. Enterprise will remain a multi-year program, where students create their unique pathway through a cycle of experience, reflection, and growth. This also allows enterprise to build a sense of community and be part of something bigger during their time at Michigan Tech; I really enjoy hearing alumni introduce themselves first by their Enterprise, and then by their major. Speaking of majors, Enterprise must and will remain focused on multi/interdisciplinary, team-based problem solving. Why? Because this is how the world operates, whether working in the public or private sector. Finally, industry partners will continue to play a critical role in the Enterprise Program. After all, the best way to continue preparing students for early career success is by partnering with the very organizations seeking to hire them upon graduation.

So, how might we build on this foundation to adapt and evolve the Enterprise Program so that it continues to meet the needs of its graduates and those who employ them? Here are some thoughts and ideas for the next two decades:

Agility, Inclusive, Innovation
  • Agility: Cross-enterprise collaboration – if we think of the Enterprise Program as a network, each enterprise is a node with valuable assets, capabilities, resources, and motivations. What if we harnessed this potential more seamlessly and to a greater extent? Imagine multiple enterprises collaborating to address larger-scale “wicked problems” such as NAE’s Grand Challenges. Or, a more agile approach to assembling project teams of varying duration, across enterprises, leveraging complementary skill sets. This year certainly reminds us of the need to be flexible, adaptable, and resilient. We have had successes already with ‘joint ventures’ between enterprises, and the potential to expand on this idea will enhance the Enterprise experience for our students and project stakeholders.
  • Inclusivity: Enterprise options for ALL undergraduate majors – from the outset, Enterprise has been open to all majors and annually attracts ~900 students from 30+ majors. Yet, the majority of student enrollment is from the colleges of engineering and computing (see chart). Two factors strongly influence Enterprise enrollment: 1.) degree programs that include a defined Enterprise pathway option for their students, and 2.) the attractiveness of the Enterprise team and project ‘portfolio’ to students. Progress continues on both fronts, with a goal to attract a broader slice of Michigan Tech’s student population each year.
  • Value Creation: Fostering innovation and entrepreneurial mindset – in terms of industry-sponsored projects, Enterprise students get first-hand experience delivering an innovative solution of value to a client. As part of the scope, they may even do sponsor-guided market research and economic analysis to help quantify the value for the sponsor’s client. But, we have many enterprises also working on their own innovations, without an external sponsor. Often, these are the projects where student motivation is highest — working on something they are truly passionate about. Some could turn out to be the “next big thing”, and students may even wish to start an eventual business around the idea. The potential to enhance student-initiated project experiences with more support — educationally, financially, and programmatically —  will be a focus for the coming years, working closely with colleagues in Husky Innovate and our broader innovation ecosystem.

These are some major initiatives we’re working on, so stay tuned for updates in the coming months. We welcome alumni and industry input in these plans, so please get in touch! As the saying goes, “the only constant is change”, and the ability to embrace, respond, and adapt to change is what will differentiate our graduates going forward. We need only look to our current COVID-19 environment for motivation. But rather than focusing on getting back to normal, our focus is on getting back to better…a better Enterprise Program, a better Michigan Tech, and a better future, created by Huskies!


2020 Design Expo Goes Virtual!

Design Expo 2020 - A showcase of Enterprise and Senior Design student projects

Nothing can stop us from celebrating the 20th anniversary of Design Expo. More than 1,000 students in the Enterprise and Senior Design programs have come together to put on a virtual showcase of their work and compete for awards. This year, a panel of judges, made up of distinguished corporate representatives, alumni, community members, and Michigan Tech staff and faculty will critique videos of team projects, solutions and results. 

Similar to past years, teams have a chance to earn cash awards along with well-deserved recognition among their peers. This year, total student awards have been increased to more than $3,500. As always, many projects are sponsored by industry, which allows students to gain valuable experience in solving real industrial problems. Additionally, many teams engage in student-initiated ideas that embody the innovative and the entrepreneurial spirit that comes with being a Husky.

This event is free and open to the public. We encourage current and future students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, families of students. etc to help us celebrate our students and their achievement—register today to virtually attend Design Expo (see registration links below). 

2020 Schedule of Events:

Tuesday, April 14

Noon: Remote Judging Opens 

Thursday, April 16

10:00 a.m.: Opening Remarks via live webinar

10:15 a.m.: Virtual gallery open to public

2:00 p.m.: Remote judging closes

4:00 p.m.: Presentation of Awards via live webinar

4:30 p.m.: 2020 Design Expo concludes

Register to attend Design Expo live events today.

Design Expo: Kickoff & Opening Remarks

Design Expo: Presentation of Awards

Text In Voting

New this year, participants will have the chance to vote for their favorite student project. Using the number (919) 351-8683, participants can vote for as many competitors as they like but can only vote once for each competitor. Text in voting will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 16.

To vote, a participant might text the following case sensitive message to the phone number above:
101 to vote for Baja Blizzard or 201 to vote for Medical Device Ball Bearing Temperature Test Fixture

Team numbers will be available on April 16 via the Design Expo website, and all who register for Live Webinars. 

Interested in judging for the 20th annual Design Expo? 

This year, judges will have the flexibility to vote anytime between noon on  April 14 through 2 p.m.  April 16. Judging should still take about an hour, depending on the number of volunteers. Please register to become a judge today.

Check out all of the details of Design Expo here. For questions, please reach out to Briana Tucker.


Clean Snowmobile Challenge Enterprise Team Takes First Place

The Michigan Tech Clean Snowmobile Challenge Enterprise Team captured first place in the Spark Ignition (SI), internal combustion engine category competition in the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge that took place last week at the Keweenaw Research Center.

Other awards the team received in the SI category are:

  • Best Lab Emissions Winner
  • Quietest Snowmobile Winner
  • Most Practical Winner
  • Most Sportsmanlike Winner ($1,000 and one of the most important prizes in the competition)

 In the Diesel Engine Category the team won the Quietest Snowmobile award. William Predebon,  J. S. Endowed Department Chair and Professor
in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics said the wins were impressive. 

“Teams from 14 universities from as far east as SUNY- Buffalo and as far west as the University of Idaho, and as well Ecole De Technologie Superieure in Canada participated in the competition. It is unusual to win so many categories in the SI competition. This is an impressive accomplishment by our team of students from several College of Engineering Departments.”

Predebon said with past wins in the Diesel and Electric Snowmobile categories Michigan Tech has accomplished wins in all three categories. The Electric Snowmobile category is no longer part of the Clean Snowmobile Challenge.  

The CSC advisor is Jason Bough (ME-EM) and engine co-advisor is Scott Miers (ME-EM).

Source: Tech Today, 3/18/2020


Enterprise Turns 20!

Twenty years of computers, robotics, and game development. Of better snowboards, open-source solutions, and nanosatellites. Of clean snowmobiles and cinematography. Twenty years of working with industry, leading and managing teams, persevering through setbacks and challenges, and developing lifelong friendships.

In 1999, it all started with an NSF grant and three pilot teams– Program in Integrated Sustainable Manufacturing (PrISM), Resource Engineering Associates (REA), and Wireless Communication Enterprise. One year later, over 200 students were enrolled in 11 different Enterprise Teams with over 19 majors represented. And now, two decades later, over 900 students enroll in Enterprise each year. Today’s Enterprise students represent 31 different majors from across the University. Nearly 5,000 alumni (and counting!) have chosen the Enterprise pathway at Michigan Tech.

Enterprise is a student-led, multi-year, interdisciplinary program open to first-year through graduate-level students of any major. Each year, the program offers team-based, hands-on, and client-centric project experiences that can only be found at Michigan Tech. All of those projects and innovative ideas are showcased at one year-end event — Design Expo. More than 1000 students in Enterprise and Senior Design teams present their work and compete for awards. A panel of judges, made up of distinguished corporate representatives and Michigan Tech staff and faculty, critique the projects. Many team projects are sponsored by industry, providing students valuable experience addressing industry-relevant challenges and communicating their results to a diverse audience.

Help us take Enterprise into the next 20 years by getting involved! The Enterprise Program encourages alumni, industry partners, and community members to give back through student engagement and project sponsorship. Sponsorship opportunities are flexible and range from unrestricted donations to multi-year partnership agreements. We can work with you to successfully match your project or idea to the appropriate Enterprise team. 

Learn more about sponsoring a project here: www.mtu.edu/enterprise/involved/industry/

Looking for ways to get involved sooner? The Design Expo is in need of individuals to serve as distinguished Design Expo judges. We’re calling all alumni, community members, and industry representatives who are interested in seeing what today’s students are accomplishing. Judging typically takes an hour or less. As a judge, you’ll be paired with 3-6 teams where you will evaluate their poster/presentation design, organization, communication, and final solutions.

Learn more about judging here: www.mtu.edu/enterprise/involved/expo/judges-guests/

We hope you will join us at the Michigan Tech Memorial Union Ballroom on Thursday, April 16, 2020, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for the 20th annual Design Expo. Whether a judge or simply a guest, your feedback at the event is greatly valued by our student teams and makes a valuable contribution to their education. 

2oth anniversary Enterprise Logo
www.mtu.edu/enterprise/20/