Enterprise Spotlight: Humane Interface Design Enterprise

Humane Interface Design Enterprise Team

Humane Interface Design Enterprise (HIDE) focuses on software development and usability research. HIDE provides students a collaborative environment where they can gain real-world work experience and get a headstart in their careers. For students, joining Enterprise is more than just taking a class, it’s an all-encompassing opportunity to prepare for their future career, and find the industry they want to one day work in. Students elect to discover opportunities through many different projects that can be industry-sponsored. HIDE is dedicated to doing just that. In this guest blog, current HIDE team members share about their enterprise experiences, team projects, and how students and sponsors can get involved.

Charles Vidro, President, HIDE

“I joined HIDE because I wanted to get practical, real-world software development experience. As president, I like to know what type of work people are interested in. Instead of asking what they’re good at, I ask what they want to work on because our projects prepare students for their future careers,” said Vidro. “While students can work on substantial projects within their courses, such as the Team Software Project course, HIDE offers opportunities to work on a project for several semesters with students who are from different majors and have various skill sets and experiences.”

Vidro continues by sharing HIDE project processes and highlights successful projects, “Within HIDE, there is a culture of helping others out and making a difference. Our projects are used by people, so when we develop a web app, we keep the user in mind throughout the entire process. We accomplish this by creating a simple but powerful user interface that meets the users’ needs. Whether it’s helping a user through the crisis of not having access to food, such as in our Health Resource Hub team, or making people’s jobs easier and safer, such as in the Chem Store project,” said Vidro.

Interested in getting involved in Enterprise as a corporate partner? Contact Chris Morgan to learn about partnership benefits and opportunities.

HIDE Students Working on Team Project

“HIDE has worked on several exciting projects. Early projects were the touch screen display studies and developed a HVAC controls mobile app. HIDE has also developed a citizen science app, CoCoTemp, for a scientist in Arizona. A web app for voting on music preferences during Winter Carnival was very popular. Recently, I think that the HuskyHunt website replacing the old Bark Board website will be very popular. I am optimistic that the app Little Brothers supporting drivers transporting community elders will be very successful and helpful. HIDE gives students the opportunity to work with a variety of clients to design and implement enterprise applications.”

Robert Pastel, HIDE Faculty Advisor

HIDE Members Share Their Stories

Abby Myers

“The project I’m currently working on, Health Resource Hub, will make a difference in the UP. It will allow UP residents to locate any resources they may need – food, legal, education, health, etc. This project, co-sponsored by Superior Health Foundation and the Western UP Health Department, is aimed at improving web access to all health related support and services in our local community.”

Abby Myer, Vice President

Jason Hoffman

“CCLC queue is a project that had the most impact on my school life as a computer science student, as it changed the way students can ask questions in the learning centers on campus. It anonymizes questions and makes the coaches more accessible, which makes it easier and less stressful to ask questions when I need help.”

Jason Hoffman, Chemstore Team Lead

Joe Wood

“HuskyHunt is a project developed by HIDE that offers students a platform to create listings for products that they would like to sell to other MTU students. It also offers ridesharing planning to help students in getting home and back during school breaks.”

Joe Wood, GVSC Team Lead

Tyler Zetty

“A project from HIDE that I think is really good is the Little Brothers project. I think it has a good purpose and if it works it will really make their mission easier to achieve.”

Tyler Zetty, CCLC Queue Team Lead

Winners Announced: 2022 Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition

Social Impact Award Winner – Bayle Golden with STEMPOWER

Congratulations and thank you to Husky Innovate’s Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition contestants and winners! On January 27th, 16 Michigan Tech students, representing diverse majors, participated in the competition either virtually over Zoom or in-person, and pitched their business models to a panel of judges and to a live audience. Each contestant was provided 4 minutes to pitch key components of their business models, including the value proposition and customer segment.

A highlight of Michigan Tech’s Innovation Week, this legacy event celebrates entrepreneurship and is a tribute to the late College of Business Professor of Practice Bob Mark. There were three categories of prizes: business model, social impact, and breakout innovation. The business model category looked at how well the solution addresses the customers’ needs, the path to revenue, and the overall presentation. The social impact category examined the significance of the social problem and how well the solution addressed it. The breakout innovation award considered the solution’s novelty, ease of implementation, and time to implementation.  

Congrats to all the contestants who took a big step forward with their entrepreneurship goals when they pitched their business models. Special congratulations to our award winners:

Business Model Category 

Presented by College of Business, thank you to sponsors Rick and Jo Berquist, and Dan and Jane Green for sponsoring the Audience Favorite award.

  • First prize – Akhil Kurup with Sense ($2,000)
  • Second prize – Maggie Zimmermann  with Famealia ($1,000)
  • Third prize – Jakob Christiansen with ProBoard ($500)
  • Honorable Mention – Nick Peterson with NOMAD ($250) 
  • Audience Favorite – Maggie Zimmermann with Famealia ($250) 

Social Impact Award Category

Sponsored and presented by Dr. Elham Asgari, Gates Professor College of Business, with a $1,000 matching contribution from Arick Davis and Jake Northey of Creative Mines.

  • Bayle Golden with STEMPOWER ($2,000)

Breakout Innovation Award

Presented by Patrick Visser, Chief Commercial Officer, MTEC SmartZone, sponsored by the MTEC SmartZone and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

  • Akhil Kurup with Sense ($1,000)

Husky Innovate extends a special thanks to those who provided their time and resources to make the competition a success.

Our Sponsors

  • Dean Johnson, Dean, College of Business
  • Elham Asgari, Gates Professor, College of Business
  • Rick and Jo Berquist
  • Dan and Jane Green
  • Arick Davis and Jake Northey, Creative Mines
  • MTEC SmartZone and the MEDC

Our Judges 

  • Jim Baker, Associate VP Research Administration, Co-Director Husky Innovate 
  • Michelle Jarvie-Eggart, Assistant Professor Engineering Fundamentals
  • Eric Roberts, Executive Director 20Fathoms 
  • David Shull, Senior Director Skills Partnerships, Handshake
  • Elham Asgari, Gates Professor, College of Business
  • Dan Green, Entrepreneur, and Principal at BlackFin Group, MTU Alumnus
  • Arick Davis, Entrepreneur, Co-founder Last Mile Cafe, Creative Mines, MTU Alumnus 
Competition Judges

Our Emcee

Gary Tropp, Computer Network and System Administration, Pavlis Honors College Student, University Innovation Fellow, and Husky Innovate Pitch winner ‘18, ‘19.

Our Marketing Team

Vienna Leonarduzzi, Marketing and Communications Director, Pavlis Honors College, and Laura Vidal Chiesa, Michigan Tech Ph.D. Student, College of Sciences and Arts and Husky Innovate Intern.  

Our Production Team

Special thanks to Stefan Hurthibise and the Michigan Tech IT team, Sound and Lighting Services’ James Langsford, Elijah Nation, Luke Schloemp, and the rest of the team, and Photo Services provided by Alok Shelar of University Marketing and Communications, and Dining and Catering Services for their support. 

A special thank you to the Office of Advancement and Alumni Engagement for inviting all Bob Mark pitch contestants to watch the January 29th Michigan Tech Hockey game from the Presidential Skybox.

Thanks to all who attended! We look forward to next year’s event!

SURF Applications Now Open

Applications for the 2022 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURFs) are now open. Fellowship recipients will spend the summer on an individual research project under the guidance of a Michigan Tech faculty mentor. SURFs are open to all Tech undergraduates who have at least one semester remaining after the summer term. Awards are up to $4,000.

How to apply

Applications are due by 5 p.m. on February 11, 2022. For more information on the SURF application process, watch the workshop video included on this page. To access application materials and instructions, visit the SURF webpage. If you have any questions, contact Rob Handler at rhandler@mtu.edu

Enterprise Spotlight: Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise

Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise Team Photo
Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise Team

Consumer Product Manufacturing (CPM) Enterprise, one of 26 Michigan Tech Enterprise Teams, has been busy with several team projects this year. CPM is a multidisciplinary enterprise team that aspires to empower Michigan Tech students with the entrepreneurial, technical, and professional skills to conceive, develop, and market successful products in a company-like setting. In this guest blog, fourth-year chemical engineering major and Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise’s Chief Financial Officer and Co-President Seth Whiting shares more about CPM Enterprise, team projects, and how students and sponsors can get involved.

Seth Whiting
Seth Whiting

I decided to come to Michigan Tech after hearing people in the industry speak about how good of a school Michigan Tech is. I joined Consumer Product Manufacturing (CPM) Enterprise to get hands-on experience working on an industry-relevant project. The biggest highlight for me has been the opportunity to work on multiple different interdisciplinary teams. Working with individuals from different majors lends new perspectives that I wouldn’t have considered before.

About CPM Enterprise

We are one of the original enterprises at MTU and have been around for just over 20 years. CPM has multiple different teams working on multiple different projects, which fall under the broad categories of sustainable services, process improvement, and product creation. The Enterprise is open to all majors. Currently, the majority of our members are chemical engineering majors, however, we do have a number of biomedical engineering majors and mechanical engineering majors as well as a few others.

“One of the big aspects that makes CPM unique is the opportunity to meet and work with real-world industry sponsors.”

Seth Whiting, CPM Enterprise student

For over 20 years CPM has provided students a chance to develop a wide range of technical and professional skills. Whether it be by working with a sponsor to solve a real-world problem or creating an idealized solution to one of the many challenges that society faces, CPM provides opportunities for students to grow their skills and gain hands-on experiences. The goal of CPM is to help students develop entrepreneurial, technical, and professional skills and be able to practice them in an environment that is normally not provided in a typical class.

CPM Enterprise Projects

CPM is working on about 10 different projects at the moment, one of which is our shareable air virus mitigation system. The shareable air project was started as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re attempting to use hydroxyl radicals to eliminate airborne pathogens and mitigate the spread of diseases.

One of CPM’s previous projects worth mentioning is our nanomag project, sponsored by alumnus Dr. Robert Carnahan, and implemented into production by Shaggy’s. The project explored the use of a dampening agent in skis, utilizing a magnesium alloy developed by nanoMAG.

While I haven’t had a chance to work on this project myself, I would still have to say that I am most proud of CPM’s biogas project. The biogas progress is an attempt to convert food waste into methane that can then be used by MTU. The project has been running for a while now and has seen the creation of an anaerobic digester pilot plant on its path to completion.

CPM is a great way for students to gain experience working on projects, as well as a great resume builder. Anyone interested in learning more about CPM is free to contact me or visit the CPM website. To join, you can contact our advisor, Dr. Tony Rogers.

Get Involved With CPM Enterprise

CPM Enterprise is always looking for industry partners to sponsor a project for the student teams. This process is very straightforward and comes with excellent benefits like engaging students well in advance of graduation, finding new and unique solutions, and growing your organization’s presence at Michigan Tech. To learn more about participating, contact Chris Morgan cjmorgan@mtu.edu or visit mtu.edu/enterprise/giving/.

About the Enterprise Program

The Enterprise Program is a unique project-based curriculum and is available to students from any major. Students work in multidisciplinary teams on real projects, with real clients, in an environment that’s more like a business than a classroom. With coaching and guidance from faculty mentors, the Enterprise teams work to invent products, provide services, and pioneer solutions. 

Through Enterprise, students have the opportunity to build up their existing skills, and also add some new ones to their repertoires. Enterprise encourages:

  • effective time management
  • leadership, project management, and team-working skills
  • problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • adaptability
  • global awareness
  • business savvy
  • competence in written and oral communication
  • networking with industry leaders

Teams collaborate with industry sponsors, communities, and government organizations, and work closely with a faculty advisor. Students could work with organizations like 3M, General Motors, Kimberly-Clark, and the Department of Energy, among many others. Take a look at the Enterprise team listing to learn about existing teams. If you have questions about the Enterprise Program, please contact enterprise@mtu.edu.

Michigan Tech Part of $15M Great Lakes Innovation Hub

(Reposted from Michigan Tech News)

In an effort to nurture a regional innovation ecosystem and move more discoveries from the research lab to the real world, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has established a Great Lakes Innovation Corps Hub and Michigan Technological University plays a key role.
 
The 11-university Hub is led by the University of Michigan (U-M), and it’s one of five Hubs across the country announced Aug. 26 as NSF continues to evolve the I-Corps program. Launched in 2011, the NSF Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, trains scientists and engineers to carry their promising ideas and technologies beyond the university and into the marketplace to benefit society.
 
In addition to Michigan Tech and U-M, the Great Lakes Hub includes Purdue University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Toledo, the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, the University of Akron, the University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Impact of I-Corps

Each university in the Great Lakes Hub already has a successful I-Corps program. Michigan Tech has been part of the NSF I-Corps Site program since 2015. Over the past five years, Michigan Tech’s I-Corps Site has helped introduce the entrepreneurial mindset to over 300 researchers, faculty, staff, and students, and helped teams assess the commercial potential of nearly 150 technologies.
 
The Great Lakes I-Corps Hub aims to connect people at a large scale to increase the “effective density” of the Midwest’s innovation ecosystem. Mary Raber, Michigan Tech I-Corps principal investigator and chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals, said Michigan Tech researchers will be able to engage with the other members of the Hub and benefit from the extensive resources available throughout the Great Lakes region.
 
“Being invited to join the Great Lakes Hub is reflective of the success of Michigan Tech’s I-Corps Site program and the number of teams that have been selected to attend the National I-Corps program,” said Raber.
 
Other members of the Michigan Tech I-Corps team include Lisa Casper (Pavlis Honors College), Jim Baker (Office of the Vice President for Research), Michael Morley, and Nate Yenor (Office of Innovation and Commercialization), and Jonathan Leinonen (College of Business).
 
“The Great Lakes region is home to many of the world’s leading research institutions, and many of our nation’s critical industries. Our goal with this I-Corps Hub is to leverage this intellectual depth to create a lasting economic impact on the region,” said Alec D. Gallimore, the U-M Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and a professor of aerospace engineering.
 
“We’ll do this by creating new businesses, by keeping our existing companies globally competitive and on the leading edge of technology, and by developing talent that not only has technical and cultural expertise, but also an entrepreneurial mindset,” he said.
 
The new Great Lakes Hub has set a goal of training 2,350 teams in the next five years and sending an additional 220 teams to a more in-depth National NSF I-Corps program.
 
In this way, I-Corps is helping to fill what Jonathan Fay, executive director of the U-M Center for Entrepreneurship, calls the “widening gap” between the cutting-edge research being done at universities and the development work of industry to turn research into societal benefit and economic gain.
 
“U.S. universities are set up to reward scientific breakthroughs, but not necessarily the hard work of turning that discovery into social or economic impact,” Fay said. “On the industry side, investing in long-range R&D is expensive with uncertain payoffs. This has led to a shift in the industry away from research and toward development.”
 
“What I-Corps does is fill that gap by changing both the mode of thinking and the social networks of the academic community so we can maximize the benefits of publicly funded research by finding the right place within the industry for a new breakthrough to take hold,” he said.

A Proven Track Record of Success

Each university in the Hub already has a successful I-Corps program, and the new model will make it easier for them to network and learn from one another. Supported through Husky Innovate, Michigan Tech’s innovation and entrepreneurship resource hub, the University will continue offering I-Corps training and support to faculty, students and staff who are developing new ideas and want to explore their commercial viability. “Michigan Tech is an integral part of the Great Lakes Hub,” said Raber.

Teams that have successfully participated in the Michigan Tech I-Corps Site program include:
 
●   Nanosound Inc. is focused on quieting noise from pipes and ducts, such as building HVAC systems, by using active noise control and carbon nanotube technology. Nanosound has secured an initial investment and has partnership agreements with multiple companies to further develop the technology.
 
●   SwimSmart aims to enhance beach safety through smart and connected beachfront technologies that improve swimmer situational awareness, increase forecast frequency and accuracy, and assist lifeguards, first responders and beach managers in their efforts toward the greater goal of ending drownings in our communities. SwimSmart products are on beaches this summer in Frankfort and Muskegon, Michigan, with expansion planned for next year.
 
●   Stabilux Biosciences is commercializing fluorescent imaging compounds with enhanced and tunable brightness, which enables levels of detection which had been previously unattainable. Applications for this technology include biomedical research and medical diagnostics. Stabilux has raised $4 million in follow-on funding to date.
 
●   ZiTechnologies is commercializing technologies that enable the beneficial utilization of plastic from industrial and post-consumer waste streams. It has recently received a $256,000 grant through NSF’s Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I (SBIR) to continue the commercialization process.

Congratulations, graduates!

The class of 2021 had their “embrace ambiguity” skills tested during their final year. Even with this unexpected twist, our newest honors students made their mark in labs and Enterprise spaces, in bowling alleys and roller derby arenas, everywhere from Houghton to Peru. Congratulations, graduates.

Ben Neely

During his time at Tech, Ben served as vice president of Phi Kappa Tau, spent part of his research pathway studying grade estimation using dynamic anisotropy interpolation, and is graduating with a degree in mining engineering. Ben’s headed to Lexington, Kentucky after graduation, where he’ll work for RESPEC Engineering.


Brandon Howard

A mechanical engineer on the New Venture pathway, Brandon’s senior design team won first place in this year’s Design Expo, designing an N95-rated filtration system to be used with Stryker’s existing Flyte helmet and hood in order to protect surgeons against COVID-19 and other airborne viruses. Brandon also served as advertising chair for Film Board, and headed several student committees. Brandon is staying at Michigan Tech to work on a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, with a focus on sustainable design and manufacturing.


Chiarra Elkort-Wickboldt

Chiarra graduated with a degree in environmental engineering. During her community engagement pathway, she earned a Peace Corps Prep certificate, mentored in the Young Women’s Leadership Program, worked with the Canterbury House Food Pantry and served as a learning facilitator for HON 1150. After graduation, Chiarra’s going to stay at Michigan Tech for a while longer to finish an accelerated master’s degree in environmental engineering.


Deanna Springgay

Deanna Springgay’s (center-right, kneeling in a purple jersey) roller derby team

A statistics major, Deanna used her custom pathway to improve one of her favorite off-campus activities: she created a recording system for Keweenaw Roller Derby’s internal team development. She also served on the Pavlis Honors College’s undergraduate student advisory board and volunteered as a Pavlis peer mentor. After graduation, she’ll start working for Epic Software as a technical solutions engineer.


Harley Merkaj

Harley graduated with a computer science major and a mathematics minor. As part of his leadership pathway, Harley created a ticketing portal for USG. The website gives all registered student organizations on campus a way to efficiently file forms with USG. He also served on the Diversity Council, the Networking and Computing Student Association, and on the Honors Ambassador team. Harley was also nominated for exceptional leadership in student governance. Harley plans to move to California after graduation.


Joseph Van Linn

Joseph graduated with a mechanical engineering major and a Spanish minor. On his research pathway, he’s done everything from presenting his research at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition virtually in November of 2020 to fighting forest fires in Oregon to a Study Abroad in Spain to giving back to Pavlis as one of our first peer mentors. After graduation, Josephy plans to go back to Oregon for another season of firefighting, and will then go to graduate school in the Netherlands.


Kaylee Meyers

A biomedical engineering major, Goldwater Scholar, and winner of the 2019-2020 Provost’s Award, Kaylee is also a co-director and tutor for Tech Tutors (a free and virtual tutoring program developed in response to schools moving online due to COVID-19). On her research pathway, Kaylee studied ultrasound and tendon wound healing. After graduation, she’s headed to graduate school to work on translating biosensor medical research and technology to clinical settings.


Kenneth Shivers

Kenneth earned dual degrees in computer and electrical engineering. On his enhanced Enterprise pathway, Kenneth served as a project manager for the Wireless Communication Enterprise and the Michigan Tech fall Hackathon. After graduation, Kenneth’s hoping to find a job as an embedded engineer in southeast Michigan.


Jake Grund

Jake Grund (back row, third from the left)

Mechanical engineering technology major Jake Grund is one of Pavlis’ first ETS-IMPRESS graduates. He’s also a fantastic bowler, and used his pathway to teach others the game through a coaching clinic and outreach to middle and high schoolers. After graduation, Jake plans to move closer to his hometown, volunteer, and continue bowling.


Lydia Savatsky

Lydia Savatsky majored in mathematics, minored in global community development partnerships, earned a Peace Corps Prep certificate, received the Dean of Students’ Award for Service (2020-2021), and completed a community engagement pathway for her honors program. On her pathway, Lydia did data analysis with the Appalachia Service Project, and mentored a young women’s leadership program. Lydia is off to the University of Minnesota to work towards a master’s degree in business analytics.


Lexi Steve

Lexi Steve graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in Spanish. Lexi was a member of the Green Campus Enterprise, a founding member of Students for Sustainability, a resident of the Sustainability House, a University Innovation Fellow, a learning facilitator for HON 2150, and interned for Husky Innovate and IDEAhub. On her global and community engagement pathway, Lexi piloted a community project in Peru, hosting design workshops for afterschool teachers, community parents, and a local volunteer organization. What’s next for Lexi? “A few main options: convert a travel van, become a co-world renowned chef, mentor some kiddos in California, or build a greenhouse–nothing is set in stone, but the world is full of opportunities!”

2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium Winners Announced

To follow COVID-19 safety protocols, the 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium was held virtually and asynchronously. While we missed seeing our poster presenters in person, the virtual symposium gave us a chance to keep and display our students’ presentations.

2021 Winners

First Place: Ethan Burghardt, Biochemistry

“Characterization of Aqueous Two-Phase Extraction Systems for Virus Purification” working with Caryn Heldt (ChE)

Play Characterization of Aqueous Two-Phase Extraction Systems for Virus Purification video
Preview image for Characterization of Aqueous Two-Phase Extraction Systems for Virus Purification video

Characterization of Aqueous Two-Phase Extraction Systems for Virus Purification

Second Place (Tie): Ava Miller, Sustainability Science and Society

“Community Response to Renewable Energy Project Siting: A Case Student in L’Anse, MI” working with Richelle Winkler (SS)

Play Community Response to Renewable Energy Project Siting: A Case Study in L’Anse, MI video
Preview image for Community Response to Renewable Energy Project Siting: A Case Study in L’Anse, MI video

Community Response to Renewable Energy Project Siting: A Case Study in L’Anse, MI

Second Place (Tie): Lauren Spahn, Chemical Engineering

“Optimization of Lignin Precipitation with Functional Group Control for Use in Bio-Based Polyurethane Foams” working with Rebecca Ong (ChE)

Play Optimization of Lignin Precipitation w/Functional Group Control for…Bio-Based Polyurethane Foams video
Preview image for Optimization of Lignin Precipitation w/Functional Group Control for...Bio-Based Polyurethane Foams video

Optimization of Lignin Precipitation w/Functional Group Control for…Bio-Based Polyurethane Foams

Four students also received Honorable Mention:

Volunteer at Design Expo 2021!

How well do students in Michigan Tech’s Enterprise and Senior Design programs address design challenges? You be the judge—volunteer at Design Expo 2021!

Hosted by the Pavlis Honors College and the College of Engineering as an annual event, Design Expo highlights hands-on, discovery-based learning at Michigan Tech.

At Design Expo, more than 1000 students in Enterprise and Senior Design teams showcase their work and compete for awards. Many team projects are supported by industry, which allows students to gain valuable experience and direct exposure to industry-relevant problems.

Do you have an hour or so to spare? Sign up to serve as distinguished virtual judge at Michigan Tech’s upcoming 21st annual Design Expo, held virtually on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

“No experience or education in engineering is required to be a judge,” says Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program Coordinator in the Pavlis Honors College at Michigan Tech. “In fact, we welcome judges from various professions, disciplines and backgrounds to volunteer to judge at this year’s event.”

As a virtual event, 2021 Design Expo includes a digital gallery of student-created videos that showcase their project work. Judging usually takes about an hour, depending on the number of volunteers.

Sign Me Up!

Visit Michigan Tech’s Design Expo Judges and Guests page for more information and to register to judge by Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

In order to serve as a judge, please commit to the following: 

  1. Attend Design Expo between 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM on April 15, 2021 to interact virtually with assigned teams via Gatherly.
  1. Review and score assigned team videos via RocketJudge prior to the start of Design Expo, April 12-15, 2021.

Note: prior to the event, all judges and attendees will be provided resources outlining use of the Gatherly and RocketJudge platforms.

Who should judge?

  • Community members
  • Alumni interested in seeing what today’s undergraduate students are accomplishing as undergrads
  • Those looking to network with Michigan Tech faculty and students
  • Industry representatives interested in sponsoring a future project
  • Anyone with an interest in supporting our students as they engage in hands-on, discovery-based learning

Questions? 

Feel free to contact Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program Coordinator in Michigan Tech’s Pavlis Honors College, at bctucker@mtu.edu.

“We hope you will join us virtually at the 21st Annual Design Expo. Whether a judge or simply a virtual guest, your involvement in the event is greatly valued by our student teams and makes a valuable contribution to their education.” 

Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program Coordinator, Pavlis Honors College, Michigan Tech

Meet Annalisa Wiesner…

“When I joined Pavlis, I was worried that I wouldn’t have time for it and that it would be too stressful. Pavlis actually made my life a lot less stressful because I learned how to manage myself and manage my work. I did things that were really interesting to me and that gave me energy and were creative and exciting and not not just schoolwork. My life felt a lot better once I started with Pavlis. ” Watch Annalisa’s commencement interview, or read more about her Pavlis experience.

Annalisa Wiesner’s “why did you become an engineer?” story is a familiar one. But through her own reflections and a little help from Pavlis Honors College, Annalisa’s personal pathway led her to become an author, an architect, a builder, and a Michigan Tech graduate in mechanical engineering with ideas on how to combine creativity, curiosity, and technical know-how into a career path custom to her interests. Her “What will you do now that you’re an engineer?” story has been shaped by her time in the Pavlis Honors College.

A young woman sitting on the base of the Michigan Tech husky statue and smiling.

“Honestly? I threw the mailer away.”

“My parents always told me that I was good at engineering, and that I was creative, and that I should look into engineering as a career.” After two years at community college exploring engineering courses, Annalisa transferred to Michigan Tech.

“Right before I started at Michigan Tech, I got the mailer about the honors college, and honestly? I threw it away without even opening it. I didn’t want to be an honors student in college. I had been an honors student for a long time [in high school], and I wanted to be done with the stress of being in honors.”

Fortunately, Annalisa had a friend in the Honors Pathway Program. A lot of the things her friend was learning in her honors classes—like personal growth, leadership skills, and incorporating school into her life instead of going to school just because it was the next expected thing to do—resonated with Annalisa.

“When I joined Pavlis, I was worried that I wouldn’t have time for it and that it would be too stressful. Pavlis actually made my life a lot less stressful because I learned how to manage myself and manage my work. And I did things that were really interesting to me and that gave me energy and were creative and exciting and not not just schoolwork. My life felt a lot better once I started with Pavlis. ”

A group of college students stands on the star decal at center field of AT&T stadium
Annalisa’s immersion experience let her see the sights in Texas, including AT&T Stadium.

Fast facts: Annalisa’s Pathway

Annalisa graduated in December 2020 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Immersion experience: Internship with CommScope, an American global network infrastructure provider company, in their Richardson, Texas office

Honors project: writing a children’s book about her hometown of Traverse City, Michigan.

Academic enhancement: the design/build semester program at Yestermorrow Design/Build School. In the program, she joined a team that researched, designed, and built an architecturally innovative high-performance shelter.

Leadership/mentorship activity: worked in the toddler room at BHK Child Development in Houghton

[Learn more about pathway components]


A young woman laughs in the woods, wearing ear protection and brandishing a chainsaw.
Annalisa’s academic enhancement included chainsaws, customer discovery, and more.

Academics, enhanced (with chainsaws)

Reflection and Design Thinking are two key parts of the Honors Pathway Program. Try something, think about the experience, and base your next steps on what you’ve learned. Annalisa’s immersion experience, an internship, made her realize she wanted to try a self-directed creative project. So she wrote a children’s book for her honors project. After more reflection, she had an idea for an academic enhancement.

By her senior year, Annalisa knew that she wanted to find a career that got her away from a desk, where creativity and dreams and design could come together. “I had this crazy idea to be a treehouse engineer, to design and build liveable, sustainable treehouses as a career.”

Some research led to Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont. Their treehouse class was full, but they did offer a 16-week, 15-credit immersive program that “takes up to 15 students from a variety of backgrounds through an architectural design process to the substantial completion of a single, high-performance, year-round structure. Students, while completing a 15-credit course load, receive instruction in design, assembly and detailing, and building performance while exploring group process, definitions of sustainability, and relevant contexts.” [Source] 

Building an knowledge base in an area that complements the focus of an honors experience? That’s an academic enhancement. After talking to her honors and in-major advisor, the registrar, and more, she had a plan: her last semester of college would be spent in Vermont. Four credits would apply to Senior Design, and the rest would form her academic enhancement for her honors pathway.

The Yestermorrow team designed a building for a customer who needed flexibility. It could be a residential space. It could be a small business space. It could be a short-term rental. And, per the customer’s request, you can keep the front tire of a bike fixed in a center spot and rotate the rest of the bike 360 degrees around that pivot point without running into anything. (And yes, Annalisa got to work on a treehouse while at Yestermorrow.)

Annalisa, wearing ear protection and a face mask, poses for the camera while wearing a shirt that reads "I got my geek on at Michigan Tech."

“My experiences are 100 percent going to impact what I do after graduation,” says Annalisa. “One hundred percent.”

“When you know how things work, you can make things that are really cool and really creative. And that’s what I want to use my degree for.”

Why Pavlis?

Annalisa’s pathway components added a lot to her resume. But Pavlis added more than bullet points on a resume. “I think the biggest benefit that I received personally from the honors college is that I learned how to reflect on my circumstances and my experiences. I’ve gone back to that idea of reflection so many times, and I write reflections now on things that don’t have anything to do with the honors college. I know how to think through my experiences better because I was asked to do that in Pavlis. I’ll go and reflect on a problem or an event, and I’ll come up with some really profound things to help me know myself better and help me to choose a direction for my life. Pavlis taught me the tools that I can use to design my life.”