Category: PHC Students

Congratulations, Pavlis Honors College class of 2020

Spring 2020 Medallion Ceremony – Pavlis Honors College at Michigan Tech

Congratulations to our graduates! Watch our virtual medallion ceremony as we celebrate Adison Cook, Brad Dahm, Becky Daniels, Samantha Dertinger, Lucinda Hall, Lianne Novak, Clara Peterson, Cameron Philo, Brenna Rosso, Emily Rutledge, Addie Saltarelli, Joshua Undlin, and Amanda Vermeer.

Transforming a Michigan Tech Program into an Honors Program

Every Michigan Tech graduate has accomplished something amazing — Michigan Tech has prepared them to create the future in their fields. So how did our Honors graduates go above and beyond?

They had once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Took action. Learned and led. Developed relationships in the Michigan Tech community and around the world. Take a look at this photo essay to see how the Pavlis Honors College’s class of 2020 created their own definitions of success.

Spring 2020 Pavlis Honors College graduates


Student Feature: Addie Saltarelli on School Greenhouses and Gardens

“When I was growing up, I could walk fifty feet out my back door and pick a fresh tomato to eat as an afternoon snack. Another fifty feet, I would find farm fresh eggs and beyond that there were blueberry bushes that our bee hives were pollinating. My family survived Michigan winters from persevering the food we grew in the garden from the summer before. I was fortunate enough to grow up watching my food grow and being a part of the system of planting, picking, and processing. I quickly realized not every kid grew up like this. …”

Sometimes the best way to teach really does involve getting your hands dirty. Read “Planting a Seed for Generations to Come: School Greenhouses and Gardens,” by Honors student Addie Saltarelli, on the Western Upper Peninsula Food System’s blog.


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.


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.


Meet Magann Dykema…

By Amy Karagiannakis

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From right to left: Magann Dykema, Brad Turner, and Kathryn Christopher. Photo credit to Patrick Beaudouin.

 

Magann Dykema is committed to spreading a culture of innovation across the Michigan Tech campus. A University Innovation Fellow (UIF) since 2015, Magann is always looking for new opportunities to engage Tech students in innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity. Fellows work to ensure that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to make a positive impact on the world. Magann’s biggest and most impactful project on Tech’s campus is #uifresh which introduces incoming first-year students to innovation and the entrepreneurial mindset. To date, Michigan Tech’s University Innovation Fellows have engaged with over 4000 incoming first-year students through orientation, exposing them early on to powerful entrepreneurial tools and resources.

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Magann at the March 2017 UIF meetup in Silicon Valley. Photo credit to Ryan Phillips.

Have you visited the Alley yet? The space where the old Michigan Tech bowling alley used to reside was completely redesigned and repurposed to create an open-community workshop incorporating elements of machine shops, wood shops, art studios and computer labs where Michigan Tech students, faculty, and staff can come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things. Magann is currently the Alley Student Director and collaborated on the design and creation of the new makerspace back in the fall of 2015. Magann worked with Pavlis alum Brad Turner to incorporate a design thinking process to turn an old bowling alley into a multi-functional makerspace that the entire University community could benefit from. The Alley currently has tools and equipment available to use for 3D printing, woodworking, electronics, crafting, and sewing, but Magann hopes to expand these offerings through more donors and sponsorship. The Alley and its associated events and activities are completely student led and student driven. The student team also offers classes, seminars, and workshops. Their mission: to create an environment where everyone in the Michigan Tech community is encouraged and supported by providing a welcoming space, learning opportunities, a maker network, and resources.

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Michigan Tech’s makerspace, the Alley

Last summer, Magann traveled to Brazil to pilot the new Belem site for the Global Leadership pathway in the Pavlis Honors College. Her team’s goal on this initial trip was to determine the needs of the Belem people and develop sustainable solutions that the local community would support. Over five weeks, Magann and her team were able to establish a network of contacts in Brazil, as well as a plethora of resources to aid the next Pavlis team that travels to Belem. Project opportunities for future Pavlis cohorts include stormwater management, English language and STEM education classes, and alternative energy using biofuels. The work and documentation that Magann and her team completed over these initial five weeks in Brazil laid the groundwork for future Pavlis teams to continue to help the people of Belem.

Magann (front, right) in Belem, Brazil for her Pavlis Honors College immersion experience.
Magann (front, right) in Belem, Brazil for her Pavlis Honors College immersion experience.

Magann hails from Norton Shores, MI and is in her fourth year at Michigan Tech. While her focus is in water resources as a Civil Engineering major, her passion is teaching design thinking. IDEO CEO, Tim Brown describes this methodology and mindset, “Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” Magann has also been an integral part in helping get the new Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) established at Michigan Tech. Director of Global Leadership and Co-Director of the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, Mary Raber stated, “Magann has really embraced the intent of the Pavlis Honors College by taking advantage of all that Michigan Tech has to offer in order to gain the most from her educational experience.  Participating in the University Innovation Fellows program, spending five weeks living and working in Brazil through the Global Leadership pathway, and helping to lead the new makerspace, are just a few of the ways Magann is making a lasting impact at Tech.”

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Magann crowned at the 2017 Michigan Tech Homecoming.

Having attended Tech’s Summer Youth Program (SYP) in 2012 and 2013 as a high school student, Magann wanted to give back by becoming an SYP counselor herself. Working for the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship and in collaboration with SYP, Magann developed and taught a design thinking-related summer camp called World of Design. Through the success of this initiative, Magann was also able to offer after-school classes to elementary and middle school-aged children called Discovering Your Creative Confidence and Inner Maker. Magann is the Vice President of MUB Board and was recently crowned Homecoming Royalty. Magann is an avid bowler, a diehard Detroit Tigers fan, and loves exploring the outdoors.


Meet Laura Schimmel…

By Amy Karagiannakis

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Schimmel in Montserrat, Spain on a study abroad

Laura Schimmel is driven towards making an impact in the environmental sustainability field. Growing up on a small farm in Oxford, MI laid a solid foundation for her interest and education in sustainable development. Peace Corps Prep, within the Pavlis Honors College Community Engagement pathway, is preparing her for the U.S. Peace Corps after graduation.

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Schimmel volunteering at the Niabi Zoo

Laura’s love of animals, along with her commitment to conservation, drew her to volunteering at the Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley, IL last summer for her Pavlis Honors College immersion experience. The zoo’s name comes from the Native American Osage language and means “young deer spared by the hunter.” Laura’s personal interest in conservation and sustainability paralleled with the zoo’s mission to connect the community with nature through conservation leadership and education. As an interpreter in the zoo’s new ocean exhibit, much of her time was spent teaching visitors about tropical fish, sharks, eels and stingrays. Educating local children and adults about the direct connection they have between the Mississippi River basin and the ocean was one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience. “Even though these animals seem exotic, we are more connected to them than it may seem. I refined my ability to communicate scientific information to people spanning a wide range of ages, nationalities, and socioeconomic statuses,” reflected Laura.

While the experience at Niabi was certainly valuable, Laura is excited to pursue more international endeavors through the U.S. Peace Corps after graduation. The federal U.S. Peace Corps volunteer program is highly competitive, generally only accepting one fourth of its annual applicants. The Community Engagement pathway through the Pavlis Honors College offers Peace Corps Prep certification that aligns closely with the skills and training that the U.S. Peace Corps is looking for in its applicants. Peace Corps Prep lays the foundation for Honors students to specialize in an area of international development such as education, health, or the environment

Laura is an active member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Engineers Without Borders (EWB). Through her involvement in SWE since 2015, she has helped organize and participated in various events ranging from pre-college outreach to fund raising. She presented at the 2017 D80 Conference on her EWB team’s work designing and implementing a water system for a rural community in Guatemala. The team is currently trying to organize a trip to Guatemala over the upcoming winter break. Laura’s experiences with EWB have enabled her to apply her engineering education to real world issues that truly benefit communities in need of basic infrastructure.

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Schimmel (right) working with Engineers Without Borders

 

As a member of the Alternative Energy Enterprise (AEE), Laura collaborated on a project with the Keweenaw National Historic Park regarding a geothermal energy system using abandoned mineshafts as the thermal reservoir. She currently writes the blog on the Sustainability Demonstration House project which seeks to retrofit the Kettle Gundlach building (formerly the university president’s residence) with more sustainable energy, water, and gas efficiency. Laura explained her interest in AEE projects, “Living sustainably is not merely a trendy alternative lifestyle for those living in the UP. With electricity costs more than twice as high as the rest of Michigan, and the second highest in the US, living efficiently is absolutely necessary.”

Alternative Energy Enterprise team photo
Alternative Energy Enterprise team photo

Laura Schimmel’s passion for the environment and conservation is fueled by her love for the outdoors. She enjoys hiking and camping and has enjoyed exploring the Keweenaw landscape and other areas of the upper peninsula while at Tech. An avid runner, Laura has accomplished six half marathons and last September completed her first full marathon. Her favorite places in Houghton to run and train are the Tech Trails and along the Portage Canal. Laura is expected to graduate Fall 2018 with bachelor’s degrees in both Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. She is determined to join the Peace Corps after graduation and feels this time in public service will help to build intercultural competency and develop a better understanding of critical global issues. Ultimately, she hopes that her time in the Peace Corps will help give her direction and focus, so that she can continue to make positive impacts in the field of sustainable development. Michigan Tech News recently published a story about Laura Schimmel and the Peace Corps Prep program.

Laura volunteering at the UP Science Fair
Laura volunteering at the UP Science Fair

 


Meet Kyle Ludwig…

By Amy Karagiannakis

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Planning meals and eating healthy can be challenging for college students. Sometimes finding the time (and money) to go grocery shopping and cooking your own meals can seem like impossible tasks. Yet, studies show that meal planning can lead to healthier eating habits, a more active lifestyle, and a great amount of savings. If there was a mobile app that could recommend healthy meals that you actually want to eat, provide recipes, and generate grocery lists, while tracking your nutrition progress automatically, would you download it? Kyle Ludwig expects you will, and not just students, but also busy, young professionals. He plans to launch his app, Looma on Indiegogo this coming December. Looma didn’t just happen overnight, and really not even in the last year. Looma has been through many iterations, design concepts, ideas, and names since Kyle came to Tech as a transfer student from Traverse City, MI in 2015.

Kyle joined Pavlis Honors College in 2015 as a Custom Pathway student with a focus on entrepreneurship. His Pavlis mentor and advisor, Jim Baker recalled how far Kyle has come, “Kyle has done an amazing job of developing a network of advisors, mentors, and team members to bring his company through a series of transformations and accomplishments on the path from idea to reality.  Entrepreneurship and taking someone’s ideas into the market requires a constructive balance of persistence and agility which Kyle has exemplified and which will serve him substantially throughout his career and life.” Kyle participated in Michigan Tech’s I-Corps Site Program in 2016 with a very different version of Looma, then called TRU. TRU was merely an idea at that time that focused more on personal medical diagnostics than nutrition and wellness. Kyle’s long-term career goal is still to work on blood diagnostics technology for personal health applications, but Looma has taken him on an unexpected, but welcome detour. “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.”

Kyle Ludwig and Adam Weber accepting their check for Best Technology at the Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition.
Kyle Ludwig and Adam Weber accepting their check for Best Technology at the Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition.

Since his participation in I-Corps, Kyle has competed in numerous pitch competitions all over the state of Michigan. He won $1000 for Best Technology at the Bob Mark Elevator Pitch in 2016 and competed in the New Venture Competition at Central Michigan University. TRU was also one of 27 semi-finalists out of 70 student company applicants from across Michigan that was selected to compete for up to $20,000 in cash prizes at the 2016 Accelerate Michigan Competition. While TRU did not walk away with a check, the startup’s founder did gain experience and new ideas for how to improve. Now a 2017 semi-finalist, Kyle will have the chance to compete at the Accelerate Michigan competition again, but this time with Looma.

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Ludwig competing at Accelerate Michigan 2016 in Detroit

Kyle was named University Innovation Fellow (UIF) by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) last October, along with two other Michigan Tech students. This global program trains student leaders to create new opportunities for their peers to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity. The Pavlis Honors College Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship funded the fellow’s six week online training and their travel to the UIF Silicon Valley Meetup last March. Kyle, along with the other Tech UIFs are committed to creating opportunities for students across campus to engage in more activities and events that inspire innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity.

UIF Meetup in Silicon Valley, March 2017
UIF Meetup in Silicon Valley, March 2017

This past summer, Kyle had the opportunity to intern at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, CA. Ford is currently looking to expand into all modes of transportation. Palo Alto focuses on developing technologies that will come in the next 5-10 years, including working closely with self-driving vehicle technology that’s announced for release in 2021. Through his work with Ford, Kyle was able to collaborate with individuals from IDEO at Greenfield Labs, Stanford University, and Argo. While in Palo Alto, he developed mobile apps to improve efficiency for Ford employees. Kyle also conducted a team study to improve Agile workflow and led groups in patent ideation using the design thinking practices he learned from his UIF training.

Kyle is expected to graduate in May of 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering. While he always makes time for his school work, Looma has been monopolizing most of his waking hours. When asked about the anticipated upcoming launch, Kyle responded, “We’ll be on Indiegogo in December, just in time for New Year’s resolutions. Looma will launch for iOS after the campaign in 2018.” If you’d like to learn more about Looma or sign up for the limited iOS pre-release, visit https://livelooma.com/.

 


Meet Sarah Martens…

IMG_3017Sarah Jo Martens is fascinated by water. Learning how to conserve this precious resource is one of the reasons that led Sarah to choose a major in Environmental Engineering. The human impact on the Earth and its resources is getting increasingly more difficult to ignore. Sarah is committed to addressing these environmental issues in the field once she graduates, and plans to lead the way to a sustainable future.

Sarah is enrolled in the Pavlis Honors College as part of the Custom Pathway. Sarah has volunteered with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Water Department compiling data on water and soil quality. In 2016, Sarah spent seven months participating in a co-op with Expera Specialty Solutions as an environmental engineer. This hands-on experience not only taught her regulatory standards and processes for the industry, but also lessons that you can’t learn in a classroom, such as project management and the confidence to lead. “The opportunity to be a part of real-world projects and see first-hand the impact of what is taught in the classroom was extremely beneficial to solidify the theories I had previously learned,” Sarah shared.

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This past summer, Sarah completed an internship with GEI Consultants, Inc in Green Bay, Wisconsin as an environmental engineer and staff. The experience focused on technical and communication skills necessary for some of the projects completed by environmental consultants for government and industrial clients. Sarah wrote and contributed to many Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, and completed soil & groundwater sampling & analysis.

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West Side Story (2017)

 

In addition to majoring in Environmental Engineering, Sarah is also minoring in Theatre. She recently wrote a play entitled “Leaving” that was chosen as a regional finalist in the Kennedy Center American Collegiate Theatre Festival. Her play advanced to the regional finals where college theatre students from schools in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana competed in acting, playwriting, design, and more. “Leaving” was inspired by Sarah’s relationship with her sister Rachel, and was given a fully-staged reading, along with four other finalists at the Region III Festival this past January in Indianapolis. Sarah has also been nominated and participated in the Irene Ryan Scholarship Program acting competition three times. Sarah is a member of the Tech Theatre Company and is regularly seen at McArdle and the Rosza acting with the group. Last year, Sarah assisted with starting Michigan Tech’s chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, a national theatre honor society.

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Alternate Realities (2014)

Sarah also plays flute in the Michigan Tech Huskies Pep Band and is President of the Blue Key Honor Society – Michigan Tech Chapter. In 2016, Michigan Tech’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts honored Sarah with the Woman of Promise Award. Women of Promise recognizes current female Michigan Tech students from each academic department who go above and beyond what is expected of them in terms of being well-rounded. It honors students who have demonstrated academic achievement, campus and community leadership, good citizenship, creativity, and other characteristics of high-achieving individuals.

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This past spring, Sarah had the opportunity to complete a short term study abroad adventure with The Green Program and Reykjavik University in Iceland. The ten day sustainability and renewable energy program included lectures, site visits, and experiences focused on the topics of hydroelectric power, geothermal energy, biomass production & usage, and the overall history & geology of Iceland that makes it unique. With nearly 100% of the country’s electricity drawn from renewable sources, the program was a playground of real-world examples of sustainable development. Sarah completed a capstone project with a team of 4 other students from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, and South Africa tying in concepts related to hydroelectric power discussed during the experience. The team completed a feasibility study for micro-hydroelectric power for small communities in rural Nepal where only 49% of the population is serviced by electricity. The project included research into the current electrical state of Nepal, resources available, cultural expectations, analysis of potential equipment, and cost analysis. The project was presented at Reykjavik University to a panel of professors who provided lecture series to the students throughout the week.

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What’s next for Sarah? She is in her fourth year at Tech, and looking forward to graduation in December of next year. After graduation, Sarah plans to continue her education in the field of environmental engineering by pursuing her Master’s degree. “As an environmental engineer, I will work toward solutions restoring and protecting the Earth from human interaction. I hope to be out making a significant impact on the world and environment.”

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The Pavlis Honors College uses Seelio, a higher-ed portfolio solution for managing and organizing student works and projects. Seelio provides a platform for students to easily and beautifully document their works, projects, and passions. Students can tell their professional story, share their personal brand and improve their online presence. Sarah Marten’s profile has been highlighted by Seelio as being exemplary of what students can do with the technology to better showcase their professional talents and accomplishments.