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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!”


SURFs open for 2021

Applications for 2021 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 4 p.m. on February 12, 2021. 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 surf@mtu.edu


Results of the TCNewTech Pitch Competition

On August 4, 2020, six Michigan Tech teams participated in a takeover of TCNewTech’s virtual pitch competition. TCNewTech is a community of tech enthusiasts, businesses, entrepreneurs, and Michigan policymakers building a culture of innovation, economic growth and opportunity for local talent in the Traverse City region.

Mitch DeLong won the one-minute “bar napkin” pitch with InnoFreightive, which uses software to consolidate less-than-truckload freight into full truckloads, saving time and money and eliminating the need for warehouses to consolidate services. Ranit Karmakar won the five-minute new venture category with FOCUS, which combines a cell phone and a slit-lamp microscope to make eye diseases diagnoses more accessible to all parts of the world.

Read the full results in Tech Today.


Michigan Tech Receives Bronze Seal for Excellence in Student Voter Engagement

All-In challenge bronze award for 20-29% voting rateAt the 2019 ALL IN Challenge Awards Ceremony held to recognize colleges and universities committed to increasing college student voting rates, Michigan Technological University received a bronze seal for achieving a student rate between 20% and 29%. A full list of seal awardees can be viewed here

“Civic engagement is on the minds of faculty, staff and students at Michigan Tech,” said Bonnie Gorman, Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs. “Our students are on the forefront of solving some of our nation’s most vexing problems and it is critical to have them engaged in the political process as well.”

Student participation in elections has increased from the 2014 midterm election to the recent 2018 midterm election. According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, an initiative of Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, voter turnout at the more than 1,000 institutions participating in the study increased by 21 points from 19% to 40%. Michigan Tech’s data reveals a student voting rate in the 2018 midterm of 26.9 percent, a 17.5 point increase from 2014 (9.4% rate in that midterm).

The growth is encouraging, and student leaders are identifying ways to increase participation in coming years. “While working on Voter Registration Day, I realized that there are a lot of questions students have regarding voting that otherwise go unanswered,” said Anna Ellis (forestry ‘20), chair of the Undergraduate Student Government’s Political Affairs Committee. “Michigan Tech has made great strides in increasing political involvement, but if we want to continue this we will need to create resources that make the process less confusing for busy students.” 

NSLV report showing Michigan Tech's increase of 17.5% voting participation rates.

“We are excited to honor Michigan Tech with an ALL IN Challenge bronze seal in recognition of their intentional efforts to increase democratic engagement and full voter participation,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “More institutions like Michigan Tech are changing culture on campus by institutionalizing nonpartisan democratic engagement efforts that are resulting in the incredible student voter turnout rates that we’ve seen across the country.”

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a nonpartisan, national initiative recognizing and supporting campuses as they work to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and full student voter participation. The Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, and make democratic participation a core value on their campus. 

More than 560 campuses, enrolling more than 6.2 million students, have joined the Challenge since its launch in summer 2016.

If you want to get involved in the Michigan Tech ALL IN Democracy Challenge and help with voter registration, contact Kari Henquinet at kbhenqui@mtu.edu.


Innovation Week at Michigan Tech

Innovation Week

The University Innovation Fellows are hosting their 2nd annual Innovation Week to promote innovation and entrepreneurship on the Michigan Tech campus. There are a variety of events being held next week, October 14-20 with the final event being a regional meet-up for students from universities across the midwest with ties to the University Innovation Fellows program. The University Innovation Fellows program empowers students to become agents of change at their schools. The Fellows are a global community of students leading a movement to ensure that all students gain the necessary attitudes, skills, and knowledge required to compete in the economy of the future.

Please share the following public events with faculty, staff, and students of the Michigan Tech entrepreneurial community.

“I have an idea that I think can make some money…now what?” | Oct. 14 | 1pm | Fisher 125

Idea Pitch Practice | Oct. 15 | 5pm | ICE House

Idea Pitch Competition | Oct. 17 | 7pm | M&M U113 | This competition is hosted by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship, a collaboration between the School of Business and Economics and the Pavlis Honors College.

Coffee Sprints | Oct. 18 | 6:30pm | Library 244

Teaching Design Thinkers: The Responsibilities of Empowering the Next Generation | Oct. 19 | 1pm | Rekhi G05 | Registration for this event is required, and it is sponsored by the Pavlis Honors College, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Visiting Professor Lecturer/Scholar Series (VPLSS) which is funded by a grant to the Provost’s Office from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.


University of Minnesota Duluth is seeking submissions for Aisthesis

duluth-shore-fall

Are you looking for an opportunity to get your academic or creative work published? The University of Minnesota Duluth’s Honors Program is currently accepting submissions for the 2018 issue of Aisthesis, a student-run annual honors journal. As an interdisciplinary publication, the journal welcomes academic work, including honors capstone projects, literature reviews, and articles from all fields of research. Creative writing, multimedia, as well as visual art submissions are also encouraged. The submission deadline is March 15, 2018.

To submit, please visit https://pubs.lib.umn.edu/index.php/aisthesis/index. The 2018 call for submissions can be found on here.

If you have any questions, please email honorsaisthesis@d.umn.edu.


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.

SemiFinalPresentation
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/.

 


Keweenaw National Historical Park is offering a year-long internship focusing on community engagement.

Community Volunteer Ambassadors (CVA) serve with the National Park Service in field offices across the country working to engage diverse groups in volunteerism, service-learning, and community activities. As a CVA, you will help grow volunteer programs in National Parks, build new community partnerships, and promote the NPS. Application deadline October 23!

For specific questions about the position please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Valerie Newman at valerie_newman@nps.gov or 906-483-3028.