Author: bctucker

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!


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/

Enroll in ENT3970: LabVIEW

Want to learn how to program in LabVIEW?

LabVIEW is a graphical programming language that is used by engineers and scientists for data acquisition, automation and many other tasks.

ENT-3970 (CRN 15000) is open for enrollment for the Spring 2020 semester. In this course, students will learn the fundamentals of LabVIEW.

* No prior programming experience needed  * No prerequisites  * All majors welcome

Contact Steve Lehmann (sdlehman@mtu.edu) for more info

This course is perfect for preparing for data acquisition or automation needs involving Enterprise, Senior Design or any research project.


Enterprise Open House– Friday, August 02, 2019, 1-4pm

The Enterprise Program Office invites Alumni and Friends, the campus, and community to tour various Enterprise team spaces Friday, 1-4 pm during the Campus and Department Open Houses. There are over 20 labs, classrooms, and meeting spaces across campus that Enterprise teams call home. Join us as we explore Blue Marble Security, Consumer Product Manufacturing, and M&M 614. During this time, stop by to talk with students and program staff to learn more about these Enterprise teams and their current projects. Refreshments will be served along the way.

Blue Marble Security- EERC 629

Consumer Product Manufacturing- Chem Sci SB018

Enterprise Collaborative Team Space- M&M 614 (Shared space for all Enterprise teams and office space specifically for Supermileage Systems, BoardSport Technologies, General and Expedition Adventure Research (GEAR), and Innovative Global Solutions)