Meet Tessa Steenwinkel…

By Amy Karagiannakis

Within one year of undergraduate research at Michigan Tech, Tessa Steenwinkel went from assisting in Dr. Thomas Werner’s genetics lab to co-authoring his book. Tessa started at Michigan Tech in the fall of 2017. She is majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology-Biological Sciences with a minor in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Originally from the Netherlands, Tessa has lived in the United States since she was 12 years old. Growing up with a brother who has Down Syndrome drew Tessa to science at a very young age. Her desire to explain to her peers why and how her brother was different led to a later interest in fertility and early development.

She met Dr. Werner as a high school student visiting Tech during Preview Day weekend. He opened up his genetics lab for tours, and Tessa knew then that she wanted to be a part of his research team. She followed up the campus visit with an email to Dr. Werner requesting a copy of his book and inquired as to if there was possibly an opening on his research team for the 2017-18 academic year. Tessa has been part of Dr. Werner’s research team since her first day on campus as a husky.

She started in the fall of 2017 washing lab equipment, quickly transitioned to a research assistant, and then laboratory manager. Biologists use fruit flies to study wing spots, metabolism, and aging. This is important because the same genes and major metabolic pathways in fruit flies affect cancer and other diseases in humans. Dr. Werner’s book, Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast, is a field guide to the drosophilid species of fruit flies in the region that provides some insight into their biology and importance. His intention was to introduce researchers, teachers, and young students to these amazing flies and the diversity of their potential use in research. That’s where Tessa’s contribution to the book comes in.

From left to right: Thomas Werner, Tessa Steenwinkel, and John Jaenike

The second version of Werner’s book was published in 2018 with an interesting new chapter. Tessa wrote a children’s bedtime story about fruit flies that is now included at the end of the book. Now, rather than just being a scientific field guide, Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast includes a significant outreach component that hopefully speaks to young children and gets them excited about science and nature. The book and a beautiful poster can be downloaded for free here.

Tessa became the first recipient of the Soyring Foundation Scholarship last Spring. John Soyring, Tech alumnus and Pavlis Honors College External Advisory Board member, established the new scholarship through a generous gift that awards one deserving student $1000 each year. The scholarship is available exclusively to Pavlis Honors students expressing interest in research and innovation related to water quality management, renewable energy, or solutions to prevent and cure cancer. Tessa was awarded the scholarship this past fall semester for her research in Dr. Werner’s lab.

Tessa is a Pavlis Honors student in the Research Scholars pathway. Last summer, Tessa completed her immersion experience here at Tech on a research project that focused on the evolution of color patterns in animals. Researchers study this because the genes that control the pigmentation are also some of the key players in cancer growth. The focus of Tessa’s research this past summer was to perform transgenics, where they inserted pieces of foreign DNA into fruit fly embryos in order to control those genes. This would give them real causative evidence that these genes play a role in pigmentation in fruit flies.

This past fall, Tessa became the first undergrad in Dr. Werner’s lab to start her own research. She was given the autonomy to develop and set up the project for this academic year herself. Over the last few decades, we have seen a dramatic increase in diseases such as obesity and diabetes, which have long been linked to misregulation of what is known as the metabolic mTOR pathway. Currently, Tessa is looking at four diverse fruit fly species all with their own feeding patterns and preferences and the effect of different types of nutrition on their fecundity (number of offspring) and life expectancy.

When Tessa is not hard at work in Dr. Werner’s genetics lab, you can probably find her at Mont Ripley teaching local elementary school kids to ski, or in her dorm with a book or a knitting project and some tea. Tessa also enjoys playing tennis with the Michigan Tech Tennis Club and going on walks along the Portage.


Husky Innovate Speaker Series Begins March 1

The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship will be hosting the first of the Husky Innovate Speaker Series on Friday, March 1 at 12pm in the Pavlis Honors College Collaboration Space (M&M 722). Faculty, students, and staff are invited to join us for a talk given by Michigan Tech’s Andrew Barnard. Barnard is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and faculty advisor for SENSE Enterprise.

Barnard is using lean business model development and customer discovery to start his own business, NanoSound. NanoSound focuses on the elimination of noise from pipe and duct systems, like automotive exhausts and heating and ventilation pipes. Barnard will provide an example of an early business pitch and provide insights into the customer discovery process and business model development that has led to significant pivots in the start-up’s trajectory.

If you are an innovator or entrepreneur working on an idea with the goal of launching your own business, you are highly encouraged to attend. Registration is required, and attendance will be capped at 30. Lunch will be provided to the first 30 people to register. Please register no later than Monday, February 26. If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Casper (lcasper@mtu.edu).

The Husky Innovate Speaker Series is hosted by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship which is a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College and the School of Business and Economics.


Spend Your Spring Break in Silicon Valley


Aspiring student entrepreneurs and innovators are invited to apply for the Michigan Technological University Silicon Valley Experience, a Spring Break tour of California Bay Area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni who are leaders in their field. The deadline to apply is February 8th, 2019, and the application form can be found at SVE Experience 2019 Application. Up to fifteen students will be selected for this experience. Major funding for the trip is provided by Michigan Tech alum Kanwal Rekhi, as well as the Pavlis Honors College Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship and the School of Business and Economics in collaboration with 14 Floors.

Silicon Valley is known for its software giants, high-tech startups, Fortune 1000 companies, innovative culture and entrepreneurial ecosystem – the environment that affects local/regional entrepreneurship, such as culture, policies, talent, entrepreneurial organizations, regional resources, and networks.

The Silicon Valley Experience will showcase multiple perspectives of a day in the life of successful entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and business leaders. This tour will provide an interactive opportunity for students to discover more about a variety of industry settings, to sample various innovative corporate cultures through tours and presentations, and to meet and talk with successful alumni entrepreneurs.  

Students who apply and are accepted will have the opportunity to:

  • Tour companies like Google, Netflix, Hewlett Packard, Facebook, Ford, Clari, BYTON, Twilio, Autodesk, Waymo, the Porter Vineyard, as well as recent Michigan Tech alumnus startup, Handshake
  • Meet with entrepreneurs and innovators
  • Talk with Michigan Tech alumni who are leaders in their field
  • Get answers to your real-world business, innovation, and leadership questions
  • Gain firsthand knowledge of the enterprises that are revolutionizing global business

Lodging, some food, and ground transportation to and from toured companies will be covered. Students will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own air travel. As part of the student application, students will create a 2-minute video describing how they will share their experience with the Michigan Technological University community upon completion of their travel in order to positively contribute to our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Students may apply for a limited travel scholarship to help cover the cost of air travel. If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Casper (lcasper@mtu.edu). 


Congratulations to the Bob Mark Business Model Competition Winners

By Amy Karagiannakis

Pavlis Honors student, Deanna Springgay, presenting her business model for Little Trainer.
Pavlis Honors student, Deanna Springgay, presenting her business model for Little Trainer.

The 2018 Bob Mark Business Model Competition took place Wednesday, December 5 in the Opie Library. The Competition was hosted by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, a collaboration between Pavlis Honors College, School of Business and Economics, and Vice President for Research Office.

Lavanya Ajexh Kumar presenting on her web-based stress management program, AlzWell
Lavanya Ajexh Kumar presenting on her web-based stress management program, AlzWell

There were more than 20 participants that made up 15 teams from various majors and disciplines who pitched to a panel of judges comprised of President Koubek, faculty, and community members. Ideas ranged from hypothermia preventing life jackets to a web-based stress management program. Participants had five minutes to pitch their ideas and present their business model. The judging panel then had time following the presentation to ask questions and provide valuable feedback to our young entrepreneurs.

Pavlis Honors student, Gary Tropp accepts the First Place award from Dean Johnson. Tropp also won the MTEC SmartZone Game Changer award.
Pavlis Honors student, Gary Tropp accepts the First Place award from Dean Johnson. Tropp also won the MTEC SmartZone Game Changer award.

The winners of the 2018 Bob Mark Business Model Competition were:

  • First Place and MTEC SmartZone Game Changer Award – Gary Tropp (Computer Network & System Administration) for VARS (Virtual Advising Registering and Scheduling)
  • Second and Third Place – Tie between Mayank Bagaria (Mechanical Engineering) for Vakya and Karuna Rana (Environmental and Energy Policy) for Reality Check
  • Audience Favorite – Nate LaJoie (Finance) and Michael Betz (Management) for Backpack Keg
  • Honorable Mention – Deanna Springgay (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) for Little Trainer
  • Honorable Mention – Russ Crofton (Mechanical Engineering Technology) for Moonlight Cycles

Congratulations to all of our winners and participants, and thank you to our panel of distinguished judges for donating their time and expertise. The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship would also like to thank MTEC SmartZone and Arroyo Networks for their support and prize contributions. Photos from the event can be viewed and downloaded here.

Karuna Rana presenting Reality Check, an app to verify product sustainability.
Karuna Rana presenting Reality Check, an app to verify product sustainability. Rana tied for second and third place.

The Bob Mark Competition is part of Husky Innovate, a series of workshops and competitions that guide students through key phases of business development while emphasizing strategies for success. More information on upcoming Spring Husky Innovate events can be found at mtu.edu/husky-innovate.


Science Fair Mentoring Program

Volunteer for the Science Fair Mentoring Program held at Houghton Elementary School during the Spring 2019 semester. As a volunteer in this program you will:

  • Serve as a one-on-one mentor to a 4th grade student and guide them through the process of creating their science fair project
  • Be part of a team of volunteers and be provided with all of the necessary resources and training you will need
  • Have additional opportunities to conduct experiments and demos with 4th grade classes

This program will run from early February to mid-March and will involve an approximately 2 hour per week commitment for the duration of the program. This is a great volunteer opportunity for anyone interested in:

  • Pursuing graduate school in any discipline
  • Improving your science communication skills and sharing your enthusiasm for STEM
  • Inspiring young students
  • Fulfilling your Leadership/Mentorship component

If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out this form by December 14th.

If you have any questions or would like additional information contact Elise Cheney-Makens at eacheney@mtu.edu.


Bob Mark Business Model Competition is December 5

The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship is hosting the 2018 Bob Mark Business Model Competition on Wednesday, December 5 from 7-9 p.m. in the Opie Library. Students can apply to compete here.

The 2018 Bob Mark competition includes an idea pitch and a business model description. This event takes place later in the year so that contestants will have had the opportunity to develop their business model through participation in Husky Innovate workshops. Using Lean Launchpad methods and the Business Model Canvas, students will share insights from customer interviews that inform their business model.

Prizes will be awarded to the most scalable and actionable business model pitches. Using prize money, students have a chance to take their entrepreneurial idea to the next stage of development further preparing them for additional opportunities such as competing at the New Venture Competition held this April at Central Michigan University.

President Koubek will serve as a distinguished judge alongside other entrepreneurially minded faculty, staff, and community members.

Prizes for the Bob Mark Business Model Competition include:

First Prize – $2,000 + $100 services from MTEC SmartZone

Second Prize – $1,000 + $100 services from MTEC SmartZone

Third Prize – $500 + $100 services from MTEC SmartZone

Honorable Mention (2 prizes) – $250 each

Audience Favorite – $250

MTEC SmartZone prize – $1000

This event is a tribute to the late Bob Mark, professor of practice in the School of Business and Economics. Mark founded the Elevator Pitch Competition and brought the Business Plan Competition to Michigan Tech. The Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition and other efforts support his entrepreneurial spirit and that continues to live on in students, faculty, and staff.

Students who participated in the Idea Pitch Competition on October 17 are strongly encouraged to apply to compete in the Bob Mark Business Model Competition. Students should apply by submitting this form no later than midnight on Wednesday, November 21st (before Thanksgiving break). The top 15 applicants will be selected to participate in the Bob Mark Business Model Competition. Students who upload a business model canvas to their application will be given priority consideration. Student guidelines, scoring criteria, and a blank Business Model Canvas can be found at mtu.edu/honors/ice/husky-innovate.

Erica Austin and Kyle Schuhknecht presenting their idea, Mr. Green Tips, an eco-friendly informational application at the Idea Pitch Competition in October.

The 2018 Bob Mark Business Model Competition is part of Husky Innovate, a series of workshops and events that build on each other with the intention of guiding students through key phases of innovation or business development while emphasizing evidence-based strategies for success. Bob Mark Business Model Competition is hosted by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, which is a collaboration between the Pavlis Honors College, the School of Business and Economics, and the Vice President for Research Office.

 


Lear Student Innovation Challenge Now Accepting Applications

Lear is now accepting applications for its 2019 Student Innovation Challenge in Detroit. The competition brings together students from local universities with varied disciplines to compete in teams for cash prizes. The Challenge will kick off with a two-day workshop on February 9 and 10, followed by a two-week incubation period, and ending with a group solution pitch on February 23 to Lear executives and subject matter experts. Winning participants may be offered the opportunity to be a Lear Innovation intern summer 2019.

The competition is designed to teach an innovative mindset and prepare students to create ideas for the future of mobility and vehicle connectivity. Participants will work with innovation coaches and Lear technology development experts to learn how to develop solutions that advance technology and manufacturing. The 2018 Lear Student Innovation Challenge involved increasing vehicle occupant safety. Out of the five Michigan Tech students that competed earlier this year, four took home awards. Tech student, Shawn Badanjek was on the grand prize team and received the coveted summer internship position.

2018 Lear Open Innovation Challenge grand prize winning team: (from left) Michigan Tech student Shawn Badanjek, Janelle Newman, Shivam Bajaj, Nicole Goldi and Adrian Maloy.

Applications must be submitted by November 30 at 7 pm. Keep in mind that this is a very competitive selection process, so applicants may want to include a video or other supplemental materials to bolster their application. Any questions can be directed to the Lear Innovation team at innovate.elevate@lear.com.

 


Michigan Tech Students Named University Innovation Fellows

Congratulations to Cara Hardin, Lexi Steve, Gi West, and Cameron Philo for being named University Innovation Fellows (UIF) by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). This global program trains student leaders to create new opportunities for their peers to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity.

The University Innovation Fellows Program empowers students to become agents of change at Michigan Tech. Fellows work to ensure that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to make a positive impact on the world.

“During training, Fellows gain skills, mindsets and knowledge to face ever-more complex challenges at their schools and in the world,” said Humera Fasihuddin, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. “They learn frameworks like design thinking and lean startup, which help them analyze their campus ecosystems, understand the needs of others, and uncover opportunities for change. As a result, Fellows design learning experiences that better prepare peers for their careers.”

Cara Hardin is a third year student majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Steve, West, and Philo are all Pavlis Honors Pathway Program students. Lexi Steve serves as an Honors Ambassador and is currently studying abroad in Spain this Fall semester. Gi West is the Student Director for The Alley makerspace. Cameron Philo recently competed and won first prize and audience favorite in the Husky Innovate Idea Pitch Competition.

Hardin, Steve, West, and Philo were sponsored by Pavlis Honors College Assistant Dean, Mary Raber. Michigan Tech’s Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship funded the Fellows’ six week online training. These students will have the opportunity to travel to the University Innovation Fellows Silicon Valley Meetup in California this coming Spring 2019. During the meetup, Fellows will take part in immersive experiences at Stanford’s d.school and Google, and work with leaders in education and industry. They will participate in experiential workshops and exercises focused on topics including movement building, innovation spaces, design of learning experiences, and new models for change in higher education.

“In traditional education systems, students have to wait until they graduate to make a difference. We don’t believe that,” said Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. “Students are uniquely equipped to make a difference while they’re in school; they know best what other students want and need. Our Fellows are working with their peers, faculty and administrators to co-design a different educational experience and bring about change where it’s needed most.”

Tech’s new Fellows will advocate for lasting change by creating opportunities for students across campus to engage in more activities and events that inspire innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity.

 


Industry Speaker to Visit from Altair

The Enterprise Program will be hosting Altair’s Training and EDU Technical Relations Manager, Erik Larson, November 14 and 15 for a two part industry speaker series event. On Wednesday, November 14 from 1-3pm in the Active Learning Center (MEEM120) Erik Larson will provide an overview of Altair’s revolutionary, easy to use structural, optimization and motion analysis tool, Inspire.  Inspire offers a simple interface that will allow the user to quickly and easily prepare and solve Finite Element Analysis problems to aid in the engineering and light weighting of static and motion based systems. Inspire leads Altair’s suite of software that promotes their philosophy of simulation driven design. Attend this seminar and start creating intelligent designs for your senior design and enterprise projects. This session is open to all levels of student and no prior FEA experience is necessary. Instructions for downloading the FREE, fully functional student edition of Inspire will be provided at the seminar as well.

On Thursday, November 15 from 10am-12pm and 2-4pm in M&M 718A students will have the ability to meet with Erik to get support and guidance on the application of the Altair software suite to current projects.

Erik Larson (’91 BSME) is Altair’s Training and EDU Technical Relations Manager. He is responsible for managing and conducting both online and instructor-led trainings for the United States. Additionally, Erik acts as a technical liaison for the Altair EDU outreach program, helping universities discover how the Altair suite of tools can enrich their curriculum and training faculty and students in the tools. Erik has over 25 years of experience conducting FEA structural, optimization and crash analysis.


Business Model Canvas Bootcamp

The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship will be hosting Business Model Canvas Bootcamp, a two-part workshop on November 14 and 28 from 7-9 pm in Rekhi 214. Using the Business Model Canvas, students will work with members of the Michigan Tech I-Corps Site Program teaching team to develop a business model for their technology or idea.

The Business Model Canvas is a tool developed by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur. It emphasizes the relationships of the nine components of a business model:

  1. Customer Segments
  2. Value Propositions
  3. Channels
  4. Customer Relationships
  5. Revenue Streams
  6. Key Resources
  7. Key Activities
  8. Key Partnerships and
  9. Cost Structure.

Check out this short video for a brief overview of the Business Model Canvas. The idea is that business plans are static while a successful business model needs to be dynamic. A successful business venture requires a tool that allows one to quickly assess the impact of changes and adjust accordingly.

The I-Corps teaching team will guide students through the process of developing their unique business model. In this workshop, you will map out your canvas with specific focus on the value proposition and the customer segments. After developing a hypothesis around your the nine components, focusing on the customer segment and its “pain points”.  From there you will then test your hypothesis through customer interviews or customer discovery.  Does your solution create value for your customer segment? Based on the customer discovery process you will understand if you need to adjust your value proposition and pivot.

Business Model Bootcamp is part of Husky Innovate, a series of workshops and events that build on each other with the intention of guiding students through key phases of innovation or business development to help them prepare for future competitions, as well as future intrapreneurial and/or entrepreneurial business ventures. Registration for this workshop is required.

Students who participated in the Idea Pitch Competition and/or plan to compete in the upcoming Bob Mark Business Model Competition, are strongly encouraged to register for Business Model Canvas Bootcamp. There is a cap of 25 contestants for our Bob Mark Business Model Competition. Priority will be given to those who have completed the Business Model Boot Camp. Husky Innovate is hosted by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, a collaboration between the School of Business & Economics, Pavlis Honors College, and the Vice President for Research Office.