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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!

Enterprise Projects are Shaping Tomorrow’s World

By Chris Morgan, Assistant Director of Educational Partnerships

Two hands, each with a puzzle piece coming together
Top view of male and female hands joining two matching puzzle pieces together in a conceptual image. Over yellow background.

A special thank you to the supporters of the Michigan Tech Enterprise Program! This year Enterprise and Senior Design Teams are tackling inspiring and engaging projects and are solving problems more important than ever before.

Students enrolled in Enterprise right now are solving leading-edge technology problems, including energy-saving appliances, automotive autonomy and electrification, intelligent grid systems, medical devices, heavy machinery, department of defense, and even emerging bicycle technology. Students even have an opportunity to get involved in our community with projects that support local non-profits like Little Brother’s, Friends of the Elderly.

Our Consumer Products Manufacturing Enterprise (CPM) is once again working to create practical prototypes of the “Shared Air” system that can help mitigate and eliminate bacteria and viruses in buildings and enclosed spaces. Long-time Enterprise supporter General Motors are now sponsoring the project.

The ITOxygen Enterprise team is diving headfirst into Machine Learning and AI technology with two relevant projects studying and analyzing big data sets of video and imaging for medical and civil engineering customers. Fascinating implementation of new skillsets from the team and new hardware and servers are being put to good use!

Enterprise teams need your support in developing projects and financial support for students to gain educational exposure to real-world engineering, design, business, and problem-solving. As you may know, the Enterprise Program relies on external partnerships to make real-world project curriculum a reality. If you are interested in supporting Michigan Tech students’ education through real-world, hands-on projects, please contact me – Chris Morgan – cjmorgan@mtu.edu. There are many ways to support the teams, including general donation, project sponsorships, Advanced Motorsports Team Support, and Gift in Kind Donation. For more information, please see the Enterprise Sponsorship Website. (Link: https://www.mtu.edu/enterprise/giving/)

If you are already participating as a partner with the Michigan Tech Enterprise Program, thank you! Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any experience highlights, questions, or concerns.

Welcome from the Enterprise Program Office

By Rick Berkey, Professor of Practice and Director, The Enterprise Program

Welcome to the Fall 2021 issue of the Enterprise Program Newsletter. And welcome to early November in Houghton — as you can see in this photo, Mt. Ripley may get a head start on the ski season if this keeps up!

With our Fall 2021 semester well underway, we have plenty of great news and highlights to share in this issue. Despite the global pandemic, external sponsorship and project support remains strong. Similarly, Spring 2021 Enterprise enrollment was the highest since 2008, with combined team and module course enrollments of 901 students! While external support and enrollment metrics only tell part of the story, both are signals of the value of Enterprise — for students, program partners, and employers of Enterprise graduates. Looking further at enrollment, we see growth across campus, consistent with our efforts to expand and provide experiential learning opportunities. Fun fact: while engineering majors represent ~75% of Enterprise enrollment, students from 24 unique majors outside of engineering now participate in Enterprise. Teams like HotforestCinOptic, and the newly launched H-STEM Enterprise (featured in this issue) are helping fuel this growth. And, what’s even more encouraging is that our enterprises are becoming more interdisciplinary: the “average” enterprise enrolls 36 students from six unique majors!

Along with many new student faces, we have seven new faculty serving as advisors or co-advisors. Please join me in welcoming Nick Hendrickson (MMET), David Labyak (MMET), Tim Havens (CS), Joe Azzarello (Chem Eng), Robert Handler (Chem Eng), Steven Elmer (KIP), and Shane Oberloier (ECE) to our Enterprise community. As usual, we also have several team highlights to share since our summer newsletter, so without further delay, please read on and enjoy! 

— Go Huskies!

Aramco Americas Grant Boosts Advanced Motorsports Enterprise

Aramco Americas, a multiple-year partner of Michigan Technological University, has awarded the Enterprise Program a $40,000 grant to support STEM education at MTU.

The funds, which demonstrate Aramco America’s ongoing commitment to the Enterprise program, will specifically promote STEM education in the areas of advanced mobility technology, vehicle performance, and reducing emissions. The grant will directly support Advanced Motorsports (AMS) Enterprise Team projects this year, including Formula SAE, Blizzard Baja, Clean Snowmobile, and Supermileage Systems Enterprise.

“This is an outstanding program and one that Aramco Americas has had the pleasure of supporting as part of our commitment to STEM education and advancing transportation technologies,” said David Cleary.  Cleary is responsible for Aramco Research Center in SE Michigan/Detroit area focused on engines and fuels technology.  

Tech’s one-of-a-kind Enterprise program focuses on student-driven multidisciplinary teams that work like companies on real-world client projects. Whether the deliverable is an innovative product, a pioneering solution, or a much-needed service, the hallmark of Enterprise program is experiential training that equips students with the skills they need to succeed. 

“We’re extremely excited and grateful for this contribution” said Chris Morgan, assistant director for educational partnerships. “The Michigan Tech Advanced Motorsports teams in these collegiate competitions are performing at the top levels across the nation. This  gift will help them continue to push the limits of what these competitions are all about.”

This support positions Aramco Americas as a Creating the Future AMS Sponsor.  Each AMS team is an interdisciplinary student team whose goal is to develop a complete vehicle—from concept, through prototyping and testing and on to final build and ‘delivery’ at their respective competitions. While each team operates as a separate Enterprise entity, the AMS umbrella enables our teams to leverage the diverse talent, economies of scale, and synergistic opportunities afforded the group as a whole. The hands-on learning environment allows AMS members to develop critical business, engineering, communication, and leadership skills for a successful transition into the workforce.

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

Steel Warehouse

Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest flat-rolled steel company and the largest iron ore pellet producer in North America. The company is vertically integrated from mining through iron making, steelmaking, rolling, finishing and downstream with hot and cold stamping of steel parts and components.

Cleveland-Cliffs has an extensive history of being an innovator dating back more than a century. We want to support innovative teams at Michigan Tech by supplying steel for your Enterprise project. 

This program is managed by the Enterprise Program Office.

  •  Any enterprise or senior project team may request steel (and only steel) for their project.
  • To enable support of many teams across campus, requests are limited to $500. Requests greater than $500 may be considered for approval, depending upon availability of funds and total number of requests received. For more information, please contact steelwarehouse@mtu.edu.

**NOTE: The approval and ordering processes have changed.**

Find team instructions here. A list of preferred steel vendors is provided here.

Q&A with Dr. Mark Rudnicki

Dr. Mark Rudnicki

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

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

What inspired you to start HotForest?

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

Describe how HotForest will attract students from different disciplines.

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

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

What type of projects would interest HotForest?

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

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

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

Are there any teams HotForest would like to work with?

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

What inspired the name HotForest?

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

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

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

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

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

A Message from the Dean

picture of dr. lorelle meadows

By Dr. Lorelle Meadows, Pavlis Honors College, Dean

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

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

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

A Message from the Enterprise Program

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

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

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

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

A Message from the Dean

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.