Author: Briana Tucker

Innovative Global Solutions: The Project That Changed My Life.

By Riley Dickert, Innovative Global Solutions

two students and a white van
Emma Kantola (left) and Riley Dickert (right)


With one final toss, our last suitcase was out of the van and onto the long Kenyan grass.

The almost 10-hour journey by car was long, but nothing a Tech student wasn’t used to – at least not usually.

As we drove through herds of cattle, sheep, and goats, my mind was overwhelmed with the novelty of my surroundings. If the constant honking at livestock wasn’t enough, throw in some Baboons and Zebras, and the whole experience was straight out of a fever dream.

My teammate Emma and I were in Kenya to implement an aeration system our project team had developed for a local aquaponics facility. Aquaponics is a method of agriculture where fish farming (aquaculture) and soil-less plant farming (hydroponics) are combined into one recirculating system. If done correctly, the practice can use much less water and produce less waste than either of the component agriculture styles. Over the past year, we worked with staff from the aquaponics facility to learn about design constraints, develop engineering empathy, and get constant updates on facility conditions. Our two-week trip in Kenya was just the conclusion of hundreds of hours of international communication, research, and prototyping of our idea to help improve the new aquaponics facility. If everything went as planned, we could implement and test our aeration prototype.

When I first started at Michigan Tech, I came in as a physics major with my heart set on studying the universe! I realized in my third year that I had no good idea of what I really wanted to study within physics and (more importantly) that I wanted to avoid being in school for seven more years to find out. I had taken some other courses for my free electives; maybe I could pivot? What I found out the hard way is that it was difficult to find a job in engineering… especially if you weren’t an engineer. So midway through my third year, I was looking for ways to make myself more appealing as a job candidate. That’s when I stumbled upon a project that really caught my eye: an enterprise was doing a project on sustainable agriculture (I had just watched the documentary “Kiss the Ground,” which is definitely worth a watch), and I was curious to find out more. I reached out to the President of the Innovative Global Solutions (IGS) Enterprise and went to the first project meeting I was invited to. I didn’t know what enterprise was all about, but I needed experience, which seemed like an exciting way to get it. 

Despite our best efforts to stay up to date with the project site in Kenya, there was some information our sponsor hadn’t known. The facility manager had been offsite, and the facility had been critically vandalized in the week leading up to our visit. The fish in the pond (the life force of the system) had been taken, the pump that brings water to the crops was stolen, the plants had died, and the electrical systems had been scavenged. Given the facility’s status, our two-week trip dedicated to testing our prototype looked impossible. We would unlikely have even one day to test our prototype, much less two weeks. Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t always go as planned.

Starting with the IGS enterprise in my fourth year as a Physics major and taking over the reins of project lead meant many novel responsibilities were put on my plate. Luckily for me, the past lead was really supportive. During the summer, I was told we would need regular sponsorship meetings to learn about project expectations, site conditions, and the team in Kenya we would be working with. Then, when it got a bit closer to the school year, I was told that I needed to make something called a ‘Gantt Chart’ and plan the entire semester out. The first couple of meetings were time-consuming to prepare for but went great. Despite not being an engineering major, I was starting to feel like this was a space in which I could gain some valuable skills. The only problem was that this project was complicated – many moving parts, open-ended questions, and timelines. It didn’t take long before I felt overwhelmed by how many things I had to get done for my first ‘real-world project.’

Preventing further vandalism, repairing the facility, and testing our prototype was a really intimidating list to check off in two weeks – our testing was initially planned to take up the whole two weeks alone. After seeing the site conditions firsthand, I could tell that making this all work would be a big stretch. But at the same time, what else could we do but try to make the impossible happen?

When the responsibilities of being a project lead first hit, my initial reaction was to back away. I had always been a pretty good student, but when it came to project work, I felt like I had a knack for getting lost in the big picture and psyching myself out.

Instead of giving up, I did my best to figure out how to lead an effective team. Not being too hands-on while not being too hands-off. Holding team members accountable while remembering we’re all busy people. Being in charge… is surprisingly tricky. But I started to learn that often the most significant barrier to success was my own head. It seems like it’s much easier to solve big problems when you break them down into smaller pieces. Kind of like when you want to solve for the area under a curve (which looks pretty tricky), you break it down into infinitely small components and then summate over the bounds and… yeah… calculus.

So, to solve our big problem, we took it one step at a time.

First, we needed to figure out how to solve the vandalism problem. We learned that many issues could be solved by always having someone on-site and creating a sense of community ownership of the project. We worked with village leaders to set up a community day where we could talk with locals about what the facility was there for and how it could improve their access to food. We needed to incentivize neighbors of the facility to prevent any damaging activity from going unnoticed and to have them work as the first defense against vandals.

Second, while local leaders worked to set up the community day, my teammate and I worked with our sponsor and the site staff to repair the facility. Over the next few days, we gained an intricate understanding of how business and contracting in Kenya function and worked alongside local contractors to repair the facility and build some new additions. Every day, we met with our site team to discuss the work to be done that day and where we were in the process. We headed out around 8 am and got home around 9 pm every night. The days were so long and full of new experiences that sometimes it was hard to remember what day it was. To keep me busy during our 3-4 hours of daily driving, I wrote down ideas and journaled about our experiences.

Finally, after a little over a week of work, we had made some significant progress: the site’s essential components were back online, a fence had been built around the fishpond, a dwelling had been built for a full-time resident at the facility, and new seeds were planted in the greenhouse. On our last day at the site, the stage was set. We got ready to test our prototype in the system. Unfortunately, it was during that last day when we finally did the thing we had planned the longest for that we had both the most go wrong, and the most go right simultaneously. The pump was not pulling water properly, adjustments for the international electric grid were not looking right, and a major structural issue in the prototype made success look unattainable yet again. Our team didn’t have access to many of the traditional tools and supplies we needed to make everything work, but we did have a new network of local tradesmen and contractors that we had been working with for the past couple of weeks. Through our combined efforts, we worked through the prototype’s issues and got our system up and running in just one day.

There are times when approaching big problems and projects will be intimidating – there’s just no way around that. But the best way to get good at approaching big problems is through experience in doing so. Being a project lead, going to Kenya, and becoming President of an enterprise are experiences I never could have imagined myself having even two years ago. 

The time I got to test out leading a project and an enterprise not only gave me good experience but also helped me gain a better understanding of what I wanted to do. After being a leader for the past year and a half, I realized that I want to be a project manager or high-level decision-maker, specifically for teams that solve big complicated problems. Without my time in the program, I genuinely don’t know where my future would be aimed. I guess that’s just how life goes – the river doesn’t always take you where you think it will. As long as you’re willing to try new things and follow what interests you, eventually, the path forward might just hit you head-on.


A Thank You to Sponsors.

By Len Switzer, Associate Director, Enterprise Program

The Enterprise Program Team at Michigan Tech would like to extend a heartfelt thank you for all the support provided by the sponsors. The Enterprise and Senior Design teams continue to tackle new, challenging problems in technology, manufacturing, transportation, energy, communications, and societal issues with these generous donations of time, money, and resources.

Becoming involved as an industrial sponsor is incredibly rewarding on so many levels. Sponsors get a chance to interact with some of the brightest minds through working with multidisciplinary teams to consult and advise on the development of unique solutions to real-world problems. This also allows for access to students, advising faculty, and other resources of the University.

Whether you are looking at options to grow your workforce, advance ideas in your business, improve your research portfolio, or just help improve the quality of university education, please consider continuing support for the Enterprise and Senior Design teams. In addition, the Enterprise Program would be happy to discuss whether sponsorship of a project is the right choice for you. Please contact Len Switzer ( or visit to learn more.

Aerospace Enterprise: Dedicated To Advancing Space Technology

By The Aerospace Enterprise

Group photo (left to right): Kyle Bruursema, Matthew Carey, Will Jenness, Evan Melucci, Kjia Moore, Brian Johnson, Will Galvin, Collin Uchida, Nolan Pickett

The Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise describes itself as a collection of research, development, and educational laboratories dedicated to advancing U.S. Space Technology. Their current projects include the Auris and Stratus CubeSats. At the end of this summer, nine members embarked on a trip to Logan, Utah, to attend the Small Satellite Conference (SmallSat). They showcased the Auris mission, explored many company booths, and got opportunities to talk with industry professionals.

The SmallSat Conference is a week-long conference held each year in Logan, Utah, and is internationally recognized as the premier conference on small satellites. Or, as Matthew Carey described, “a massive conference for anyone excited about space!” Six team members who attended SmallSat this past summer share their experience at the conference and their learnings or takeaways from the trip.

Kyle Bruursema showcasing the Auris CubeSat to a vendor from DHV Technologies, a small satellite company out of Spain. The team will be purchasing parts from DHV Technologies for the Auris solar panels.

All team members who shared their insights about the conference are graduating in Spring 2023 and pursuing Mechanical Engineering majors with various minors. Brian Johnson, Kjia Moore, Nolan Pickett, and Will Jenness are all pursuing Aerospace Engineering minors. Pickett and Jenness are also pursuing a second minor in Electrical Engineering. Matthew Carey is pursuing a second major in Electrical Engineering, and Will Galvin is pursuing a minor in Physics.

Pickett, the current Aerospace Enterprise Program Manager, said, “one of the most incredible opportunities the conference offered was igniting a passion in each of the nine attending members.” Those present at SmallSat include industry professionals considered the best minds in the small satellite community, the most well-known companies in the industry, vendors the Aerospace Enterprise team works with, and other universities and students interested in space technology and the aerospace industry. For example, Jenness attended because he wanted to get a better feel for where the industry is today and found that “the learning experience it [SmallSat] provides is indispensable. There is no other place where I could have been exposed to so much so quickly.” 

In addition to having a career fair style set up where attendees can visit company and university booths to learn more about the projects those organizations are working on, the conference had technical presentations about space technology research by undergraduate, master, and Ph.D. students. Galvin noted that these presentations were one of his favorite memories of SmallSat and explained that “getting to see a diverse range of topics and expertise got me excited for my potential in higher education and career overall.” Johnson shared similar thoughts that learning more about the importance of diverse teams with different backgrounds and specialties helped him recognize “where I think I best fit into the puzzle.”

A view of the Northrop Grumman Rocket Garden (9160 UT-83, Corinne, Utah, 84307)

SmallSat isn’t just a place to learn about where the industry is today. It’s also a place to expand your network, meet new people, and share the work you’ve done. Between exploring the other activities at the conference, the team took turns at the MTU booth to share the Auris mission with anyone curious about their satellite and the space research they are doing. Moore was able to hand out her resume, meet tons of people, learn about many scholarship opportunities, and had interviews scheduled soon after the conference. She shares that “attending SmallSat resolidified my passion for aerospace.” Jenness also talked about his networking experience, saying, “I truly feel that I will get a job opportunity out of this experience.” Galvin collected a “large stack of business cards” that he plans to use during his upcoming career/job searches.

Although the primary purpose of this trip was to attend the conference, the team was able to fit more into their schedule to make the journey even more worthwhile. During the drive to and from Logan, Utah, they were able to take quick visits to Yellowstone National Park, tour the Northrop Grumman Rocket Garden, and see the sunrise over Badlands National Park. Once they arrived in Utah, they were greeted with open arms by Aerospace Enterprise alumni Marcello Guadagno, Sarah Wade, Steven Golm, Seth Mares, Ted Kretzmann, Cole Gringas, and Sam Baxendale. These alumni were excited to meet current members of the enterprise and wanted to help the team experience SmallSat by offering them a place to stay in addition to sharing career advice and their experience in the industry so far.

“All members of our crew came back to Michigan Tech with a new fire in their eye” is how Pickett summed up the trip’s success. Overall, this trip to SmallSat gave the team a wide-eyed look at the aerospace industry through technical presentations, company booth visits, and networking opportunities with industry professionals.

The team at Yellowstone National Park

The Aerospace Enterprise plans to attend the SmallSat conference every year, bringing a new batch of students and exposing them to the incredible technology in the space industry. Incoming Program Manager, Seth Quayle, will organize the team’s next trip to the conference.

Interested in joining Aerospace Enterprise? Like any enterprise, Aerospace is open to students of any major, and no prior experience is required. Students typically spend three to four years on a project and have opportunities to build their skills, help improve designs, and prepare for a career in the aerospace industry. The team’s number of open positions depends on current enrollment and varies from semester to semester. You can learn more about the team and the application details by visiting their website:

An Update from the Enterprise Program

By Nagesh Hatti, Director, Enterprise Program

black and glad lamp post signs.
First Snow on Michigan Tech’s Campus, Fall 2022

Welcome to the Fall 2022 issue of the Enterprise Program Newsletter. As the season changes from Fall to Winter in Houghton, it is also a season of change here at the Enterprise program. After spending 16 years as Director of the Enterprise Program, Rick Berkey, who oversaw the growth of the Enterprise into a renowned program, decided to pursue other opportunities outside the University. We at the Enterprise program thank him for his leadership, dedication, and service and wish him well in his future endeavors.

Starting this Fall, I have taken over as the Director of the Enterprise program. Before taking over as the Director, I was a faculty member in our Electrical and Computer Engineering department for three years. So the Enterprise program is not new to me. As an Enterprise faculty advisor, I have seen our students grow and succeed. The program immerses the students in an experience as unique as Michigan Tech. I have spent over 18 years in the industry, first as a software engineer and then in various supply chain and program management corporate roles. I see the Enterprise program’s role in preparing our students for a challenging and fulfilling career. I am committed to strengthening the Enterprise program and enhancing experiential learning for our students. As we leave behind the tumultuous times of the last two years brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am excited to meet with students and share their enthusiasm and passion for work.

The winds of change do not stop here. We have a new associate director for industry engagement – Dr. Len Switzer. Len joins the Enterprise team with a wealth of knowledge and industry background. He has over 20 years of experience working in the industry with a wide range of roles, from research engineer in industrial systems to business development and management of large programs. Len is a Michigan Tech alumnus (’96) with a BS in Chemical Engineering. He obtained his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. We are excited to have Len join the Enterprise program. His corporate experience and technical background will strengthen industry partnerships and benefit our students.

Nagesh Hatti, Director

I also extend a thank you on behalf of everyone at Enterprise to all those who have supported the program. Your support is essential. I look forward to your continued involvement in the program.

Finally, if you have a project idea or want to get more involved with Enterprise, please reach out to discuss your ideas and interests. Also, please contact me if you are in the Houghton area and wish to visit.

Until then, Happy Holidays!

Nagesh Hatti

H-STEM Enterprise’s Commitment to Promoting and Advocating for Health

By The H-STEM Enterprise

21 students standing on sidewalk outside of academic building
H-STEM students gathered outside of the Minerals and Materials Engineering Building (M&M).

The Michigan Tech “H-STEM” Enterprise is a new student-run, multi-disciplinary team committed to improving human health. H-STEM operates within the University’s Enterprise Program, an educational program that aims to develop students’ technical, business, and interpersonal skills through problem and project-based learning. The H-STEM Enterprise comprises 20 students from different majors, including mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering and robotics, biology, and biochemistry. The enterprise’s mission is to improve the community’s health and well-being through innovative science and technology. They do so by working on rehabilitation engineering, healthcare, and health promotion projects. For example, their current projects aim to 1) improve mobility for clinical populations (e.g., stroke, osteoarthritis, joint replacement surgery) and 2) develop cost-effective rehabilitation equipment.

A current project the team is working on is a body weight support treadmill designed to relieve pressure during normal walking/running motion. It has applications in physical therapy for lower extremity injuries, surgery, stroke, or general exercise. Another project is a knee recovery device that will determine the functionality of a knee joint and quadriceps muscles during rehabilitation compared to a healthy knee and muscles. It has application in physical therapy after an ACL or other ligament tear surgery and knee joint replacement surgery. The most recent project, which started this semester, focuses on prosthetics. The goal is to create a suspension system for a prosthetic socket to increase comfort and versatility for the patient in rehab.

The H-STEM Enterprise is also committed to promoting and advocating for health on campus and in the community. . For example, last year, they assisted with the COVID-19 testing clinic on campus and also participated in the U.P. COVID-19 Community Townhall, where they spoke alongside healthcare professionals and other community experts. Most recently, the H-STEM Enterprise presented at the Michigan Tech Global and Community Engagement Conference, where they talked about their current projects that aim to improve the health of the U.P. community as identified in the recent 2021 UP Health Needs Assessment Report.

It is an exciting time for health education and research on campus. Michigan Tech’s new H-STEM Engineering and Health Technologies Complex is scheduled to be constructed in early 2024. The new building will provide state-of-the-art teaching and research labs to advance learning, develop new technologies, and prepare a skilled workforce for tomorrow. For more information about the H-STEM Enterprise, potential sponsorships, and/or collaborative opportunities, please contact Steven Elmer, the H-STEM advisor, via phone (906-487-2324) or email (

Built World Enterprise Takes Third Place for the 2021-2022 TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs

Four students standing for picture
Students pictured left to right: Greg Porcaro, Clark Fadoir, Mary Ollis, and Drew Vega

A Michigan Tech Enterprise Team, Built World Enterprise, earned third place in the 2021-2022 Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs. 

The four-member team from the Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering Department placed in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions Including Aprons, Ramps, and Taxiways category. Their design is titled Thermal Detection System for Mitigating Runway Incursions at Non-Towered Airports. The student members of the team are Clark Fadoir, Mary Ollis, Greg Porcaro, and Drew Vega.  Dr. Audra Morse served as faculty adviser.

This year, the prestigious competition encourages students to design innovative solutions to airport challenges. The competition requires students to work with a faculty adviser and reach out to airport operators and industry experts for advice and to assess their proposed solutions. The Virginia Space Grant Consortium of Hampton, Virginia, manages the competition on behalf of the ACRP. Funding for the competition is provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Volunteer panels of airport industry and academic practitioners, as well as FAA representatives, selected the winning submissions from among the proposals submitted by 21 student teams. Winning teams receive $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place, $1,000 for third place, and $500 for honorable mentions.

The names of all winners and copies of designs receiving place awards are available at

New guidelines for the 2022-2023 academic year competition will be available on the competition website by early August 2022.

The Airport Cooperative Research Program is an industry-driven, applied research program that develops near-term, practical solutions to airport challenges. The program is managed by the Transportation Research Board, which is a program unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The National Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit

Back on Track in 2022: Advanced Motorsport Teams Succeed in SAE International Competitions

This year, Michigan Tech’s Enterprise vehicle competition teams were “back on track” – literally – as their respective SAE competitions safely returned to in-person events in 2022! The Clean Snowmobile Challenge, Formula SAE, and Supermileage Systems enterprises competed in their annual SAE International competitions. Highlights are as follows:

The 2022 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge was held at the World Championship Derby Complex in Eagle River, Wisconsin. The challenge for university teams participating in this Collegiate Design Series event is to develop cleaner, quieter, comfortable, and cost-effective snowmobiles. Competition sleds are evaluated on acceleration, handling, endurance, noise, emissions, and, yes – cold start capability! In addition, team designs are assessed on technical merits, value-added innovations, marketability, and profitability. This year, Michigan Tech’s Clean Snowmobile Enterprise entered sleds in gasoline (SI) and diesel (CI) categories. Overall, the team placed 8th (out of 12) in SI and 4th (out of 6) in CI. The team also received three awards: Best SI Design, Best SI Value Benefit, and Best CI Value Benefit. Full results and more competition information can be found on the SAE Clean Snowmobile competition website.

Ten people standing around a snowmobile.

Competition held: March 1-3, 2022, World Championship Derby Complex, Eagle River, Wisconsin.

The Formula SAE competition challenges student teams to conceive, design, fabricate, develop, and compete with small, formula-style vehicles. The competitions give teams the chance to demonstrate and prove both their creativity and engineering skills in comparison to teams from other universities The Formula SAE competition challenges student teams to conceive, design, fabricate, develop, and compete with small, formula-style vehicles. The competitions give teams the chance to demonstrate and prove their creativity and engineering skills compared to teams from other universities around the world. This year, Michigan Tech’s Formula SAE team took 57th overall out of 100 teams in their first in-person event since 2019. Notable highlights include 15th place in the Cost Event and 27th place (tie) in the Design Event. An oil line failure ultimately ended the team’s day after just one lap in the Endurance Event…a reminder of the real challenges that can and do happen during competition, and a valuable learning experience. Next year, our team is anxious to compete for the first time in the FSAE Electric Vehicle category! For more information and to dive deeper into the results, please visit the Formula SAE Competition website.

Competition held: May 18-21, 2022, Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI.

The engineering design goal of SAE Supermileage is to develop and construct a single-person, fuel-efficient vehicle that complies with the competition rules and is able to obtain the highest combined km/L (mpg) rating while running a specific course. This year, our Supermileage Systems Enterprise took 3rd place overall with a second-best-ever fuel economy of 958 mpg!. This was an impressive feat considering the last two years of virtual events and limited opportunities for vehicle testing. However, the event was bittersweet as this marks the 43rd consecutive and final year as SAE has discontinued the Supermileage competition. Fortunately, Michigan Tech’s Supermileage team will pivot in 2023 and travel to Indianapolis to compete in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas! For more information, please visit the SAE Supermileage competition and Shell Eco-marathon Americas websites.

Eight people standing behind a low-to-the-ground yellow car.

Competition held: June 9-10, 2022, Eaton Proving Grounds, Marshall, MI.

To close the 2022 competition season, we want to send a sincere THANK YOU to all our 2021-22 sponsors of Michigan Tech Advanced Motorsports! Your support makes these experiences possible. Together we are fostering passion and intrinsic motivation, instilling lifelong learning, and preparing Enterprise graduates for early-career success!

Tell Your Story – An Inside Look into CinOptic Communication and Media Enterprise

CinOptic Communication and Media is a student team in the Enterprise program that focuses on creating photography, video, and sound in communicative media products for clients. They specialize in filming, editing, lighting, acting, and other aspects of media production. The team uses technology to “tell your story,” as advertised on their website. They focus on clarity and creativity in their projects while allowing student members to grow in their skills. Located in the Humanities Digital Media Zone in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center Building on Michigan Tech’s campus, CinOptic has access to computing equipment, photography devices, editing software, etc., for their work. The team has grown to nine members within the past year, including three team leaders and a faculty advisor, Dr. Erin Smith. Additional information on the team can be found at

From left to right: Brisson, Humbecke, and Mehki working on their projects in the HDMZ

Team Leader Matthew Brisson opened up on his experience with the enterprise: “CinOptic has been the most important part of my collegiate experience so far. Without the exposure to hands-on equipment usage and real-world clientele, I would not feel comfortable on my current path. Michigan Tech doesn’t have a lot of options for Humanities students, but CinOptic has been the perfect organization for honing the skills I hope to use after graduation.” 

Julianna Humbecke, Team Leader for the biology educational series, describes CinOptic’s project selection process: “Dr. Smith looks over a project proposal, then presents it to the team to make the final decision.” She noted the freedom the team has in terms of who they work with.

One of Humbecke’s current projects is creating a series of educational and promotional videos for Biologist Dr. Erika I. Hersch-Green. She explained, “We accompany her in her greenhouse, lab, or mini-internships to record the processes that are undergone and the research she gathers. We then host interviews with her so she can further explain the procedure, and we can edit an accurate description to accompany the visuals.” Julianna mentioned that the National Science Foundation funded the project to promote Dr. Hersch-Green’s research. It’s meant to follow her progress in research and garner interest in biology and research from high-school students. 

Team Leader Riley Mehki
Team Leader Riley Mehki
Team Leader Matthew Brisson
Team Leader Julianna Humecke
Team Leader Julianna Humecke

Last semester, Humbecke traveled abroad to Germany. Fortunately, another team member could step in to finish up filming and capturing material until she returned. Humbecke described how the organization looks after its members, having members cover one another to help keep projects going. During their bi-weekly meetings, teammates communicate objectives and project progress. 

Team Leader Riley Mehki followed up on Humbecke, stating, “My favorite thing about CinOptic is that everyone has a specific role and knows exactly what to do at the end of each meeting.” One of his major projects was working with Isle Royale National Park to produce a video guide for visitors in the past few years. This included voiceovers recorded by a park ranger with footage from the island. For Mehki, projects like these are “… a great way to learn to work with equipment and real-world clients in a low-stress environment.”

Enterprise Team (as of March 2022)

If you’re interested in learning more about Enterprise at Michigan Tech, you can visit

Ready For The World’s Most Challenging Careers – An Inside Look into Blue Marble Security Enterprise

The Blue Marble Security Enterprise (BMSE) is a multidisciplinary student organization focused on securing the future through the thoughtful use of technology. The team combines a rich educational experience in engineering design, project management, and original product development.

Just like any other enterprise, Blue Marble welcomes students from all majors to get involved and join a project team. Four electrical engineering team members and five mechanical engineering team members shared their insights and experiences. Jessica Dimartino explains why they got involved in Blue Marble, “I wanted to be part of an enterprise that had a variety of subjects/disciplines to explore.”

The enterprise currently has seven projects: General Motors Cost Effective Pickpoint, General Motors Digital Twin, Michigan Tech Library High Density Mobile Shelving Unit, Navy AMCP, Navy Submersible Smart Tow Cable, Oshkosh Baja LCTV Suspension Design, and UP Community Energy. These projects require diverse knowledge and skills, from combining mechanical and electrical systems to balancing technical data with various information release procedures. As 2024 grad and electrical engineering major Ian Wyngarden explained, “this is a good enterprise for someone unsure what they like to work with as we have a project for everyone.”

Jared Roebuck, a fall 2022 grad and mechanical engineering major, has spent three semesters on the MTU Library High Density Mobile Shelving Unit project. This project aims to design and implement a safer moving bookshelf system that is easier to maintain and less expensive for the basement level of the MTU Library. “It [the MTU Library project] is cool because the final product will be something I can see in use.” Roebuck joined the enterprise after having Dr. Archer as an instructor and is the project manager, a project engineer, and the enterprise’s VP of Operations.

Also on the Michigan Tech Library High Density Mobile Shelving Unit Project is Mykenzie Brown, an electrical engineering major, and spring 2023 grad. Brown joined the enterprise because they knew an older member and describes Blue Marble as a team that “strives to get projects done and students are willing to work to the best of their ability on projects.” So far, they have enjoyed working with the motor controller and microcontroller in their project.

Quin Bray, an electrical engineering major and 2023 grad is the UP Community Energy project manager. This project aims to create a model that optimizes renewable energy for households based on various factors. “I’ve learned about small scale renewable energy generation,” said Bray. “I find that cool because I think it would be really cool if I could set up my own house at some point to be totally off the grid.”

Fellow UP Community Energy Project teammate and project document chief Joel Wyngarden talked about how they have enjoyed collaborating with their teammates in this project. Wyndgarden is a 2024 electrical engineering major and emphasized that “every student is there [in BMSE] because they want to be and want to learn and produce results. The group strives to have students create new memories and skills.”

Ian Wyngarden, the enterprise’s financial manager, is also on the UP Community Energy Project and shared their inspiring experience with the project’s sponsor, “I have worked with one sponsor who has helped inspire my interest in renewable energy. Our meetings are relatively relaxed and almost just like a conversation with a focus that we can pull from as needed for the project.”

Kyle Wiersma, a spring 2022 grad and mechanical engineering major, is the project manager for the Oshkosh Baja LCTV Suspension Design Project. This project is a research, design, manufacture, testing, and analysis project based around the Oshkosh Defense Light Concept Test Vehicle (LCTV), a prototype for a new Army vehicle. Wiersma got involved in BSME because of this project and finds it to include “beneficial real-world engineering problems you are investigating and solving.”

“Our enterprise is composed of students excited to work on the leading edge of technology in our field,” said Jack Jones, a mechanical engineering major, and 2022 grad. Jones is the document chief of the Oshkosh project and has felt a significant impact from the sponsor regarding their growth as an engineer. “I’m doing real-world testing related to whole body vibration and ride quality, which is relevant in the ME field.”

Mark Sergio, a summer 2022 grad and mechanical engineering major, and Jessica Dimartino, a spring 2023 grad and mechanical engineering major, are also on the Oshkosh project and are both interested in working for Defense companies such as Oshkosh. “It’s great to be working directly with the sponsor,” said Sergio. “It not only gets your foot in the door with companies that I’d consider working for, but it also allows you to do work that actually serves a purpose.” Dimartino describes the Oshkosh project as “the coolest project I have worked on.” They go on to explain why “Having an opportunity to continue work that has been long in the making and understanding new aspects of an industry I’d like to be a part of is amazing.”

“The best part of enterprise is meeting and working with new people you normally wouldn’t have met,” said Bray. “The most challenging is figuring out how to dedicate time each week to getting your assigned tasks done.”

The Blue Marble Security Enterprise has developed a culture that fosters high professional standards, creativity, productivity, and a burning desire to learn. As a result, their graduates are ready for the world’s most challenging careers.

Meet the Advisor:

Glen Archer

In addition to being interim chair and principal lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr. Glen Archer is also the faculty advisor for Blue Marble. Dr. Archer received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) from Texas Tech University, a Masters in Information Systems Management from Webster University, and brings nearly 30 years of experience as a US Air Force Officer to Michigan Tech.

His students describe him as understanding, knowledgeable, and always willing to help because he genuinely cares. Joel Wyngarden shares how Dr. Archer always has the students’ backs to work through challenging situations, whether technical, professional, or interpersonal. Mark Sergio remarks about their appreciation of Archer’s time to Blue Marble, “It’s amazing how much time he is willing/able to give considering how many students he advises.”

Michigan Tech Clean Snowmobile Enterprise Earns Awards for Best Design, Best Value Benefit at the 2022 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge

The 2022 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge was held last month at the World Championship Derby Complex in Eagle River, Wisconsin. The ‘challenge’ for university teams participating in this Collegiate Design Series event is to develop cleaner, quieter, comfortable, and cost-effective snowmobiles. Competition sleds are evaluated on acceleration, handling, endurance, noise, emissions, and yes – cold start capability! In addition, team designs are evaluated on the technical merits and on value-added innovations, marketability, and profitability.

Many students standing in front of the AMS trailer.

This year, Michigan Tech’s Clean Snowmobile Enterprise entered sleds in gasoline (SI) and diesel (CI) categories. Overall, the team placed 8th (out of 12) in SI and 4th (out of 6) in CI. The team also received three awards: Best SI Design, Best SI Value Benefit, and Best CI Value Benefit.

When asked to reflect on this year’s event, Team President Katy Pioch stated:  “Even though our sleds didn’t perform as expected, we persevered and never gave up. This is what real engineering and teamwork is all about, working together to solve problems in unique ways, and I have to say I’m proud of how our team pushed through the difficulties of competition this year with optimism and even excitement.”

Kole Augustine, 2022-23 Electrical Team Leader, added: “Having been a part of two Clean Snowmobile competitions prior, I can say that having been back in-person has really shown what this event is all about. All the innovative ideas and thoughts that have gone into each individual snowmobile is outstanding. No two vehicles are alike which makes for a very interesting and fun competition. It was great to interact with all the other teams, sponsors, and judges to share stories about their season and see what kind comments they could give to us leading into the 2022 competition year. Even though Michigan Tech did not place as well as we hoped, the 2022 SAE Clean Snow event was a fun and great learning experience.”

After a safe return back to Houghton, the team provided a heartfelt thank you to all Advanced Motorsports sponsors for their continued support of hands-on learning through Michigan Tech’s Enterprise Program. And, while their 2022 competition season is officially over, the team has been using the final weeks of the school year to bring back lessons learned and get a head start on 2023. Congratulations Clean Snowmobile Enterprise!