All posts by akaragia

New Campaign to Fund Transportation and Accommodations for Visiting Prospective Huskies

Michigan Tech has started a new crowd funding campaign through the help of Superior Ideas to raise money for travel and accommodations for underrepresented prospective Huskies. Given the Keweenaw’s unique geographical location, many students considering Michigan Tech are faced with barriers such as high transportation and accommodation costs when trying to plan a campus visit.

Orientation 2018
Orientation 2018

Events such as Open House and Preview Day allow students to visit campus and get hands-on experiences discovering all of the academic and extracurricular opportunities Michigan Tech has to offer.  Open House is an all-day event held on campus every fall for prospective students to meet with current students, faculty, and staff in order to learn more about Michigan Tech. Students have access to information on financial aid, student life, student activities, career center, residence halls, as well as visits in the academic departments they are considering. The admissions office opens up access to online applications that help students start the admission process while on campus. Open House often helps students vetting their higher education options determine if Michigan Tech is a potential fit. Preview Day, held annually in the spring, is designed for students accepted to Michigan Tech to come to campus for a day to help make (or reinforce) a decision around attending Michigan Tech. Students attend informational sessions about academics, co-ops, internships, housing, financial aid, and scholarships; meet and talk with faculty, staff, and current students; and experience a taste of college life by exploring campus, visiting the residence halls, and touring academic departments.

Students at the Husky statue during their visit to campus.
Students at the Husky statue during their visit to campus.

Open House and Preview Day are Michigan Tech’s way of showing off what the University has to offer and draw in new students. The on-campus experience, whether through Open House, Preview Day, or Admissions-led campus tours, contribute greatly to the decision made by potential students. Some high-potential, traditionally underrepresented students, do not have access to a support network to help them make the trip to Houghton for Preview Day or Open House at Michigan Tech.

“Being able to take a bus to visit this university ultimately changed the path of my life. Being given the opportunity to see this campus made this university go from a choice that I wasn’t even considering to my first choice college. Now I am here as a first year student making my mark as a true Husky!” – Jailynn Johnson

huskies

This project seeks to organize funding to help potential or admitted students travel to, and stay in, Houghton in order to understand all that Michigan Tech has to offer them and aid them in deciding upon a university. The fund will help with transportation, accommodations, and potentially a per diem to offset or eliminate the expenses incurred by these potential Huskies. Leading the project are Darnishia Slade, global engagement programs manager, and Joseph Thompson, associate director of industry engagement, both of the Pavlis Honors College. Slade is a proud Tech alumnae of the School of Business and Economics who understands the value of the “Tech Experience.” She is passionate about youth development and would like to expose more underrepresented minorities to the rich and rewarding possibilities that Michigan Tech has to offer. Joseph Thompson joined the University after working in multiple industries as a Mechanical Engineer. In his current role, he works with Michigan Tech’s industry partners, corporate foundations, granting agencies, alumni, and university supporters to identify different ways to connect with or support the academic and professional aspirations of Michigan Tech students.

If you’d like to contribute to this campaign, please visit Superior Ideas and donate today. Your donations will help defer prospective student transportation costs by assisting with accommodations in Houghton and potentially providing a per diem for food and other travel expenses.


Pavlis Honors College and CTL Invite Instructors to Join a Reading and Reflection Group

Instructors are invited to apply to join the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and the Pavlis Honors College in a Reading and Reflection Circle centered on teaching in the 21st century.
This semester, we are inviting faculty to join us to read, reflect and dialogue on “Cheating Lessons: Learning from Academic Dishonesty” by James M. Lang.
A complete description of the book is available here.
The Reading and Reflection group will meet from 11 a.m. – noon on the first Friday of each month (Oct. 5, Nov. 2 and Dec. 7). Faculty selected for the circle will be provided with a copy of the book. Refreshments will be provided during the meetings.
If interested, apply using this form. Applications are open until Monday, Sept. 10.
Questions can be directed to Mike Meyer (mrmeyer@mtu.edu) and/or Lorelle Meadows (lameadows@mtu.edu).

Michigan Tech Alumnus, Benefactor and Friend, Frank Pavlis dies at 101

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Frank Pavlis with Honors College alum, Shelby Marter in Allentown, PA.

by Mark Wilcox
Michigan Tech and the honors college that bears his family name are mourning the passing of Frank Pavlis. The alumnus, benefactor and friend of the University died Friday, Aug. 24 at Legacy Place Cottages in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He was 101.

Pavlis was raised on a farm in northern Lower Michigan and was the first in his family to graduate from college. He finished at the top of his class with a degree in chemical engineering from what was then the Michigan College of Mining and Technology. Pavlis’ success in Houghton led to a fellowship from the University of Michigan where he earned a master’s degree.

Following college, Pavlis turned down a job offer from Shell Oil to become the first employee of a small new Detroit Company called Air Products. Pavlis was tasked with the design and construction of a prototype processing plant to separate oxygen from atmospheric air. The project was completed a year later with Pavlis as the chief engineer. Air Products was credited with making a significant contribution to Allied success in World War II. Today, Air Products and Chemicals Inc., now headquartered in Allentown, Pennsylvania, has more than 19,000 employees in 55 countries with annual revenues of about $10 billion.

Pavlis rose through the ranks, joining the company’s Board of Directors in 1952 and serving as vice president for engineering and finance before retiring in 1980 as vice president for international/world trade. He is said to have traveled around the world five times in his lifetime.

Throughout his professional success, he never forgot Michigan Tech. The University responded by presenting him with an honorary doctorate of philosophy. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009 and is a member of the University’s McNair and Hubbell Societies. He was the principal benefactor of the Pavlis Honors College which began in 2014.

Lorelle Meadows, dean of the Pavlis Honors College, reflected on what Frank Pavlis means to Michigan Tech.

“Frank was a visionary, foreseeing the value of a global education for the college graduate of the 21st century,” Meadows says.

“He so generously gave of his time and resources to encourage our students to reach outside of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to attain their full potential as professionals and citizens of the world.”

Pavlis was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Ethel, in 2002. The couple had no children.

Funeral services for Frank Pavlis will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10 at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Macungie, Pennsylvania. Contributions in his memory can be made to Jah Jireh Homes of America – Allentown, 2051 Bevin Dr., Allentown, PA 18103. Donations received will be used to fund charitable care at Legacy Place Cottages.

Pavlis will be laid to rest in the small Michigan cemetery where his wife, parents, grandparents, brother and sister are buried.

“We will all miss Frank greatly,” Meadows says. “But his legacy will live on as we continue to put his vision to work to graduate students who will go out—ready and empowered—to make their unique contributions to society with understanding, vision and a commitment that honors his life.”

For more information about Frank Pavlis or to watch a digital history of the Honors College benefactor visit mtu.edu/honors/about/frank-pavlis.


Michigan Tech Among 12 College Teams to Compete in Make 48 TV Series

Michigan Tech is one of twelve U.S. college teams Make48 recently announced to compete in Season 3 of the national invention TV series. Make48 is a nationwide invention competition documentary series that gives teams exactly 48 hours to come up with an idea, create a prototype and promotional video and then present their idea to a panel of judges. Three winning teams are chosen and the remainder of the series highlights the process of trying to get the products to market.

Other schools that will be competing along side Tech include Georgetown, Rice, Tulane, University of Nevada-Reno, University of Miami, University of Connecticut, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Illinois-Champaign, K-State Polytech, and Kansas City Art Institute. The Michigan Tech team consists of Mike Gazdecki (material science and engineering), Patrick Guyon (mechanical and electrical engineering), Rachel Kolb (mechanical engineering), and Ryan Thompson (mechanical engineering). The team took fourth place in Michigan Tech’s 2018 Consumer Products Challenge for their single serve Margarita Machine. Twenty-six teams consisting of 3-5 Tech students received a Challenge Box filled with products supplied by corporate sponsors — Amway, 3M, and Kimberly-Clark. When asked about being selected to compete in Make48, Kolb shared, “I think I’m most looking forward to working with the team again. When we made our team for Consumer Products Day, none of us had worked together before, but we ended up having a blast. This will be the perfect opportunity to use the skills I learned in the UIF program to help the team!”

From left to right: Patrick, Michael, Rachel, Ryan
From left to right: Patrick, Michael, Rachel, Ryan

Filming will take place August 10th-12th at the Stanley Black and Decker Innovation Lab in Towson, MD, where the teams will compete in a 48-hour competition.

Stanley Black & Decker Makerspace in Towson, MD
Stanley Black & Decker Makerspace in Towson, MD

“Season three of Make48 is really exciting for us,” says Tim Perra, Vice President, Public Affairs for Stanley Black and Decker. “These students are in the midst of learning the skills needed to become innovators and entrepreneurs, and they’re going to be put to the test like never before in a 48-hour competition. We’re excited to welcome these students to our Makerspace and hopefully provide an atmosphere where they feel inspired to create the best products possible.”

Backed by industry giants like Stanley Black and Decker, Ace Hardware and QVC, Make48, which has now been picked up by 92% of American public television markets, is excited to turn the spotlight on students this time. “It will be intriguing to see what these young creative minds will invent in 48 hours. By bringing the collaboration of the Make48 tool technicians and Stanley’s state of the art innovation lab will no doubt leave this seasons judges with a hard task,” Make48 CEO, Tom Gray says.

Season 2 will premiere in September on local PBS/APT (American Public Television) stations across the country. You can catch season 1 by going to Amazon Prime Video, PBS.org or Make48.com. You can also find out more about Make48 by following them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Tech’s Frozen Engineers to Compete in Make48 Competition this Summer

By Amy Karagiannakis

Michigan Tech’s Frozen Engineers were selected to represent Tech at the Make48: College vs. College competition this August in Baltimore, MD. Teams are given 48 hours to plan, prototype, and pitch an idea for prizes and licensing potential. The top three teams may have an opportunity to license their designs and take their products to market. The entire competition will be filmed in a documentary style TV series. The goal is to foster imagination, creativity, problem solving and an entrepreneurial mindset. Make48 captures the process of invention through a hands-on competition that challenges individuals of various ages and backgrounds to take product ideas from conception to physical prototype in just 48 hours.

From left to right: Patrick, Michael, Rachel, Ryan
From left to right: Guyon, Gazdecki, Kolb, and Thompson

The Michigan Tech team consists of Mike Gazdecki (material science and engineering), Patrick Guyon (mechanical and electrical engineering), Rachel Kolb (mechanical engineering), and Ryan Thompson (mechanical engineering). The Frozen Engineers took fourth place in Michigan Tech’s 2018 Consumer Products Challenge for their single serve Margarita Machine. Twenty-six teams consisting of 3-5 Tech students received a Challenge Box filled with products supplied by corporate sponsors — Amway, 3M, and Kimberly-Clark. When asked about being selected to compete in Make48, Kolb shared, “I think I’m most looking forward to working with the team again. When we made our team for Consumer Products Day, none of us had worked together before, but we ended up having a blast. This will be the perfect opportunity to use the skills I learned in the UIF program to help the team!”

Judges at Make48 are looking for highly marketable ideas that appeal to a large market and are able to be manufactured. The upcoming 48-hour invent-a-thon will take place August 10-12 in Baltimore, MD at the Stanley Black & Decker Makerspace and the Baltimore Museum of Industry. You can learn more about the other university teams competing in this year’s competition here.


Pavlis Students Recognized at 24th Annual Student Leadership Awards

By Amy Karagiannakis

The 24th Annual Student Leadership Awards were held Friday, April 20 in the Memorial Union Ballroom. The Student Leadership Awards celebrate and reward the individual and group efforts of students involved in organizations across campus. There are awards for student employees, student organizations, programs and more. Among the awards that were presented and announced at this year’s ceremony, three of the winners and 14 of the nominees were Pavlis Honors College students.

Aaron Dean, Magann Dykema, Sarah Jo Martens, Logan McMillan, and Christine Wood were nominated for the President’s Award for Leadership. Sarah Jo Martens was presented with this prestigious undergraduate award. Pavlis Honors College also presented Martens with the Departmental Scholar Award which in turn allowed her to be considered for the Provost’s Award for Scholarship. Martens is a key member of the Pavlis community, not only by academic standards, but also for her motivation, creativity, and leadership. Martens plays flute in the Michigan Tech Huskies Pep Band, serves as President of the Blue Key Honor Society – Michigan Tech Chapter, and is very active in Michigan Tech’s theatre community.

Sarah Jo Martens (center) performing in Tech's West Side Story in 2017
Sarah Jo Martens (center) performing in Tech’s West Side Story in 2017

Logan McMillan was presented with the Percy Julian Award earlier this month at the annual Percy Julian Graduation Reception. This award is given each year to a Tech student who actively promotes diversity, social equality, and cultural competency. McMillan’s award was announced at the Student Leadership Awards.

Percy Julian Award winners from 2016, 2017 and 2018. Left to right, Neffertia Tyner, Jimmie Cannon, and Logan McMillan
Percy Julian Award winners from 2016, 2017 and 2018. Left to right, Neffertia Tyner, Jimmie Cannon, and Logan McMillan

Gi West was presented with the Rising Star of the Year Award. Several Pavlis Honors College students were nominated for Rising Star, including Maya Geiselhart, Cameron Philo, and Lexi Steve. Nominees for this award are undergraduates in their first or second year who show great potential for leadership and strive for personal development in everything they do. West will be taking over as The Alley director next year.

Gi West (front row, second from right) with Alley makerspace coaches
Gi West (front row, second from right) with Alley makerspace coaches

Pavlis Honors College students Emily Lilla and Laura Schimmel were nominated for the Vice President for Student Affairs and Advancement Award for Service. This award is designed to recognize students demonstrating leadership, engagement in community, and a commitment to service. Pavlis alum, Erin Richie was presented with the 2017 Service Award and gave the welcome address at this year’s award ceremony.

The Undergraduate Research Symposium winners were also recognized at Friday’s Award ceremony. Erinn Smith (biochemistry and molecular biology) took first place for her research, Refining the Purification Process of Histone Proteins. David Ross (biomedical engineering) placed second for his research entitled, Bioactive Polydimethylsiloxane Surface for Optimal Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Sheet Culture. Third place was awarded to Alex Baker (civil and environmental engineering) for Multiobjective Optimization of Cost and Strength for Various Lengths of Doubly Reinforced Concrete T-beams.

Undergraduate Research Symposium 2018 at the Rosza Center for Performing Arts
Undergraduate Research Symposium 2018 at the Rosza Center for Performing Arts

The Pavlis Honors College would also like to recognize other Honors student nominees: Clara Peterson, nominated for the Exceptional Enthusiasm as a Student Leader Award and Peter Beach and Rachel Chard, both nominated for Outstanding Future Alumni. A list of all other 2018 Student Leadership Award winners can be found here.


Four Michigan Tech Teams Take Home Awards from the Central Michigan University New Venture Competition

By Amy Karagiannakis

Six undergraduate student teams from Michigan Technological University traveled to Central Michigan University (CMU) to compete in the eighth annual New Venture Competition held Friday, April 13. The event was co-sponsored by Michigan Tech’s Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE). Student teams from Michigan Tech and CMU presented business plans and pitches to panels of experienced entrepreneurs. Four of Michigan Tech’s six competing teams took home cash and in-kind awards.

Weber presenting for Makerhub to a panel of entrepreneurs
Weber presenting for Makerhub to a panel of entrepreneurs

Team Makerhub led by Cedric Kennedy (business administration and management ’16) and Adam Weber (computer network and system administration) won the Korson Family Highest Growth Potential award and $10,000. Makerhub crowdsources 3-D printers in order to fulfill the need for 3-D printed parts. When asked what’s next for Makerhub, Weber shared, “Right now, Makerhub is being tested in a private beta with a large handful of users. The prize money will be used to accelerate the development process and release it to the general public very soon.”

Weber (left) and Kennedy (right) with award check
Weber (left) and Kennedy (right) with award check

 

Team Fitstop took first place in the pitch competition and was awarded $1,000. Fitstop founders, Gabe Giddings (computer science) and Jacob Carley (electrical engineering), participated in Michigan Tech’s I-Corps Site Program in January. Directed by Mary Raber, assistant dean of Pavlis Honors College, I-Corps is a team-based program structure that was developed through a partnership between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The workshop provides an introduction to the Lean Start-up business development methodology, which focuses on getting out of the lab and using the tools of customer discovery and the business model canvas to evaluate the commercial potential of innovative technologies. Jim Baker, executive director of innovation and industry engagement at Michigan Tech served as mentor for Fitstop’s participation in the competition. “Gabe and Jake have worked hard on engagement with customers, including gym owners and travelers seeking a better workout experience on the road. Understanding the needs of both customer segments has been very helpful in presenting a compelling value proposition that translates into a very effective pitch, as shown by this award,” noted Baker.

Giddings presenting for Fitstop in the pitch competition
Giddings presenting for Fitstop in the pitch competition

 

The core themes of CMU’s New Venture Competition are the hands-on approach to proving that a product works and providing a business model that demonstrates an understanding of concepts that attract investors and customers. Pavlis Honors College student Kyle Ludwig won the $250 Audience Choice Award in the pitch component of the competition for his startup Looma. In addition, Looma was also awarded $1,500 in legal assistance from Foster Swift. Ludwig also participated in Michigan Tech’s I-Corps Site Workshop and found it to be very helpful in developing Looma’s business plan. “The I-Corp Site Program at Michigan Tech helped me realize the direction for my business by introducing me to processes which inspire product development around the customer,” shared Ludwig.

Ludwig wins Audience Choice pitch award
Ludwig wins Audience Choice pitch award

 

Michigan Tech’s Hinge was awarded second runner up in the pitch component of the competition and $250. Isaiah Pfund (mechanical engineering), Jack Horrigan (electrical engineering), and Tanner Sheahan (chemical engineering), of Hinge, participated in the Michigan Tech Consumer Products Challenge last January and are working on a self-sanitizing toilet as well as other consumer and industrial product ideas. Horrigan and Pfund were also winners of best elevator pitch at the Bob Mark competition last fall.

From left to right, Sheahan, Pfund, Baker (mentor), and Horrigan accept award check
From left to right, Sheahan, Pfund, Baker (mentor), and Horrigan accept award check

 

This is the eighth year of the New Venture competition and the seventh year of Michigan Tech’s partnership with CMU. Last year, Michigan Tech students Nick Dubiel and Morgan Crocker won Best Overall Venture, which came with $30,000 and a year of mentoring support from Blue Water Angels in Midland for their product The Metaloid.

Michigan Tech’s Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) within the Pavlis Honors College continues to be an excellent resource for students looking to start their own business or bring new ideas and concepts to the next stage of development. The mission of the center is to harness the potential of the Michigan Tech campus community to innovate, develop, and implement ideas and inventions by building and maintaining a strong and integrated ecosystem with a cohesive set of entrepreneurial and innovation resources to enable success. Students interested in innovating, developing, and implementing their ideas and inventions are encouraged to visit the Pavlis Honors College (M&M 722) to learn more about ICE and the resources available to them. A schedule of upcoming student innovator and entrepreneur competitions, in order of registration deadlines, can be found on our website.


Meet Christine Wood…

By Amy Karagiannakis

Christine Wood

Christine Wood has always felt passionate about the environment and public well-being. Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech is allowing her to turn that passion into a career. Improving the relationship between humans and the environment has become Christine’s primary goal. Christine grew up in East Lansing, MI and began her college experience at Olivet College located in south central Michigan. As part of the transfer program, she transferred to Michigan Tech in the fall of 2016 to major in Environmental Engineering. Christine became involved in the Society of Women’s Engineers and the Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP). YWLP is unique to Tech and facilitated through the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. A mentoring program, YWLP pairs Michigan Tech female undergraduate volunteers with local middle school girls. Through YWLP, Christine continues to empower young girls to set goals, build positive self-esteem, and develop valuable communication and leadership skills.

Christine with her "little" from YWLP
Christine with her “little” from YWLP

After spending a semester at Tech, Christine joined the Pavlis Honors College as part of the Custom Pathway. She quickly started taking on more leadership roles within the Pavlis community as a peer mentor and joined the Honors Ambassadors group in the spring of 2017. This past academic year Christine has led the bi-weekly Ambassador meetings and helped develop and implement several College events. Christine leads through example and consistently goes above and beyond to engage with students on a meaningful level. Her commitment to Pavlis and the campus community is why Christine was awarded the annual Pavlis Honors College Dean’s Scholarship this month. This prestigious scholarship is awarded to one Honors student annually in the amount of $1,000 to recognize their outstanding commitment to Pavlis programs and pathways. Pavlis students are nominated from within the department by faculty and staff, but ultimately selected by the dean. “Christine commits herself deeply to everything she does. As a peer mentor in our first semester course, she worked diligently to create a truly welcoming and, yet, challenging environment for our students—really pushing them to learn and grow.” shared Lorelle Meadows, Pavlis Honors College dean.

Christine presenting at World Water Day
Christine presenting at World Water Day

Christine is expected to graduate with her BS in Environmental Engineering in the fall of 2018, but plans to stay in Houghton to complete her MS in Environmental Engineering through Tech’s accelerated master’s degree program. Her ultimate goal is to work in wastewater consulting within the state of Michigan. Christine interned with the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Charlotte, MI and the Wastewater Department for Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber in Lansing, MI which both helped her realize her desire to focus on water and wastewater processing. Christine is currently involved in a research study which will serve as her honors project component entitled Reduction of Stream Erosion through Air Injection. Now president of the Chi Epsilon Civil and Environmental Engineering Honors Society, Christine had to initially obtain signatures from professors within her department for induction. This is how she became involved with Dr. Brian Barkdoll and his research regarding the prevention of erosion around bridges. While this research may deviate slightly from Christine’s wastewater focus, she has found the experience very rewarding. Applying knowledge and general understanding of how the natural environment functions to real-world problems is valuable to any student considering a career in consulting.

Christine enjoys being active with softball, volleyball, running, and ultimate frisbee. She also enjoys attending and watching sporting events, especially MTU Hockey. Christine is an avid reader and will often spend her free time researching interesting facts about wastewater. Other things you can find Christine doing is socializing with animals, playing games and other activities with her friends.


Defining Success

googleBy Lorelle Meadows

Earlier this week, I spent a day with Michigan Tech students in Silicon Valley and had the opportunity to visit with a number of Michigan Tech alums. Among the Tech alums were Stuart Pann, class of ’81, Alex Johnson, class of 92′ and Tony Altobelli. They welcomed us to their companies (HP, Facebook, and Google!), gave us tours and shared their stories. As they presented their ideas to us, I recorded the advice that they gave. Here it is:

  1. It’s not about your major – it’s about what you want to DO
  2. A Michigan Tech background gives you great quantitative skills to build on (these were all engineers), but you need more
  3. Follow your passion – know your strengths and what you love to do
  4. Put in the work – effort and perseverance matter – but also know when to ask for help
  5. Your first job matters, it sets up how you will view the world
  6. Money isn’t everything, just something – make sure the value system of the company works for you (this might mean taking your lowest offer)
  7. The hallmark of a good interview is preparation – you need to convey curiosity, your ability to work in teams and a sense of humility – tell why you want to join THIS company – do your homework – share your projects AND passions – tell your story
  8. Map your path to success, but adapt as opportunities come up and changes happen
  9. Enjoy the ups and downs – nothing in life is perfect – don’t give up on your dreams

Within these valuable tidbits, I could feel the alignment with Pavlis. Here, we build on the skills in your major and challenge you to find your own pathway to success – to figure out who you are and what you want to DO. We demand effort and offer resources. We encourage you to explore your values and purpose and use these to identify the right opportunities for you. We value curiosity, communication and ask you to balance confidence with humility. We push you to develop professional flexibility, to act in the face of uncertainty. We help you compose and then tell your story. It’s hard work, but in the end, we believe that this development of character is exactly what it takes to propel you to your goals and ultimately YOUR success.

I think what stood out most to me was that every one of these alums loves what they do. They all talked about how much they love coming to work every day – even on challenging days. Imagine how that feels and how following their advice might get you there!


Fostering an Innovation and Entrepreneurial Mindset at Tech

By Amy Karagiannakis

Michigan Tech has been awarded the VentureWell Faculty Grant in the amount of $22,800 for the proposal “Building a Curriculum that Fosters an Innovation & Entrepreneurial (I&E) Mindset for our First-year Students.” The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship teamed up with Engineering Fundamentals and the School of Business and Economics (SBE) to develop a first-year curriculum that infuses design thinking methodology into Tech’s first-year engineering and business courses.

All engineering students at Tech are required to complete ENG1102, Engineering Modeling and Design in their first year and SBE offers BUS1100, Introduction to Business to their first-year students. Last Fall semester, working off a previously awarded grant, PIs Mary Raber, Mary Fraley, Brett Hamlin, and Amber Kemppainen piloted incorporating the design-thinking process into two sections of ENG1102. Concurrently, the team also worked with Jon Leinonen to incorporate a similar set of design-thinking modules in three sections of BUS1100.  Students in these courses were ultimately required to form teams and develop innovative solutions for a self-identified problem. Prior to being given a designated challenge however, students were introduced to design thinking methodology through a series of interactive workshops and activities. With the knowledge and concepts they learned, they could apply the phases of empathy, define, ideation, prototype, and test to developing solutions to their prescribed team challenges.

Venturewell3

Mary Fraley, Lecturer for Engineering Fundamentals reflected, “We learned in the pilot that including design thinking in a first-year engineering course was an effective way to introduce students to an entrepreneurial mindset. Through the development of an innovative product, students not only improved their critical thinking skills, but also developed an understanding of incorporating customer needs into their design. We look forward to refining this approach in the future.”

The new grant will allow Tech’s PIs to expand upon the Fall pilot, affording business and engineering students the opportunity to work together on innovative solutions to problems they identify. The goal is to refine the curriculum based on lessons learned from last Fall hoping to eventually introduce a permanent curricular offering. The new grant money will also enable Tech to train additional faculty in the design thinking and lean startup methodology through workshops facilitated by those who have completed Stanford’s Teaching and Learning Studio training, as well as Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad training. The team also plans to incorporate Tech’s new makerspace, the Alley, for prototyping and testing student design projects.

venturewellgrant1

Jon Leinonen, lecturer in the School of Business and Economics highlights the interdisciplinary teamwork that the VentureWell project provides as a point of distinction for Michigan Tech’s students, saying, “In this setting, students learn to apply business principles in a technical environment. This provides a foundation for more creative, feasible and rewarding outcomes when graduates step into industry.”Venturewell2

This collaborative project is lead by a team of faculty from the Innovative Center for Entrepreneurship, the Engineering Fundamentals Department and the School of Business. Mary Raber has experience with developing educational programming around Design Thinking, Lean Start-up and makerspaces. Mary Fraley, Brett Hamlin and Amber Kemppainen are instructors in the first-year engineering program and Jon Leinonen is a business instructor and I&E mentor. Together, this team will lead the efforts to continue to integrate design thinking and lean startup concepts into the core engineering fundamentals and business courses.

Mary Raber, co-director of the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship and Assistant Dean of the Pavlis Honors College stated, “This grant from VentureWell will allow us to build upon the pilot conducted in Fall 2017 that introduced design thinking into first-year engineering and business courses.  Our goal is to give these students an opportunity to begin developing an innovation and entrepreneurial mindset while working together to create innovative solutions to problems of interest.”