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Design Thinking and Makerspaces

By Mary Raber

If you’ve been hanging out around the Pavlis Honors College you’ve probably heard talk about Design Thinking and Makerspaces. And maybe you’re wondering, what are these things and why are they important?

As stated by Tom & David Kelley, co-founders of the product innovation company IDEO and authors of Creative Confidence, “Most people are born creative. As children, we revel in imaginary play, ask outlandish questions, draw blobs and call them dinosaurs. But over time, because of socialization and formal education, a lot of us start to stifle those impulses. We learn to be warier of judgment, more cautious, more analytical. The world seems to divide into “creatives” and “non-creatives,” and too many people consciously or unconsciously resign themselves to the latter category.”

Last fall, the Pavlis Honors College announced the creation of a new Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE), and as part of our mission we want to help Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff reclaim their “creative confidence.” Design thinking and makerspaces are two great tools that can help.

“Design Thinking is defined as a methodology and a mindset that 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,” explains IDEO CEO, Tim Brown.

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It is an iterative process that starts with Empathy…understanding the needs and challenges of the people who might use the innovative ideas you are developing. By getting out and talking to people, you can learn a lot about their needs and challenges which can help ensure that you are focusing on the right problem. Then through ideation processes such as brainstorming, new ideas are generated. Simple prototypes of these ideas can be created with fast and inexpensive methods such as sketching, role playing, or building models using materials like post-it notes and pipe cleaners. These simple prototypes can then be used to gain valuable feedback by testing a physical model of your idea with prospective users. This allows you to determine whether you’re on the right track before you’ve invested too much time or money, or if you need to go back to a previous step to explore your idea further.

We now have a team of faculty and students (our University Innovation Fellows) who are trained in the design thinking process and are available to help others develop design-thinking skills through facilitated workshops and class sessions. The team has already been working hard to help infuse this process across campus and into the community.

You’ve probably also heard about our new makerspace, The Alley. Makerspaces are popping up all over the world and there are an estimated 400 makerspaces in the US alone. They are intended to be creative, DIY spaces where people can gather to create, collaborative, invent, tinker and learn using a variety of tools and materials. By all accounts, they are not just spaces, they are communities of people from all disciplines and backgrounds who enjoy making things. They encompass making in all forms, whether building with power tools, creating 3D printed prototypes, experimenting with cooking, or creating through more traditional art forms like sewing and painting.

Over the past year, a diverse team of students, faculty and staff have worked to convert the old bowling alley in the basement of the MUB to a really cool collaborative work space where members of the Michigan Tech community can bring their ideas to life.

In September, representatives of Milwaukee Tool came to campus to help facilitate a workbench building event. Milwaukee Tool is a strong supporter of The Alley and helped get the makerspace off the ground with a generous donation of tools. The Alley officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 25th, 2016.

The Alley is a student-led makerspace, with a team of Maker Coaches (student, faculty and staff volunteers) who staff the space, maintain the tools & equipment, train new users, and help to make it a safe place to work. It is open to the Michigan Tech community on Monday-Thursday from 3:00-9:00pm. For more info on the space, or how to get involved as a volunteer Maker Coach, check out The Alley’s website or Facebook page.

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“He Named me Malala” Film Screening

In recognition of International Education Week, Michigan Tech is screening the critically acclaimed documentary, “He Named me Malala,” at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11 in Fisher 135. A reflection discussion will follow the film. Admission is free.

The film is an intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. She miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund.

The event is sponsored by Michigan Tech Provost Office, International Programs and Services and Michigan Tech Film Board.

Malala

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Traces of Reading, or A Tale of Two Bookshelves

By Laura Fiss

Anne Fadiman says that there are two kinds of book-lovers: “courtly” and “carnal.” They differ in their attitudes toward the marks and side-effects of reading: creases, dog-eared pages, bent or broken spines, ripped pages, food and water stains. Courtly lovers treat the book with respect and veneration, honoring the book as object. Carnal lovers consume the book enthusiastically, viewing any degradation of the object as a natural result of a delightful encounter. I fall somewhere in the middle, as I suspect most of us do. I treat my books with care – particularly the nineteenth- and twentieth-century volumes in my possession – but I also see the creased spines of some of my more well-loved paperbacks as a badge of honor. The only time I wrote in a library book (gasp!), it was a copy of H. J. Jackson’s Marginalia, and I carefully initialed and dated my notation.

IMG_20161020_123917107The child of bibliophiles, I feel a strong attraction to the book as object. My childhood bedroom, a wood-paneled former study, had one wall of bookshelves and another of windows. I feel a strong sense of comfort when I’m ensconced in a place with nearly-ceiling-high, full bookshelves. Yet as I sit in my new PHC office (with a beautiful view of the fall foliage out the window — come visit us if you haven’t already!), the bookshelf next to me doesn’t have the same effect as the bookshelves of similar height in my office in Walker (come visit there, too!). When I first drafted this post, I thought these books belonged to my office-mate, but I’ve since discovered that they consist the PHC library, which actually changes the way I think about them. At first, I thought that while titles such as The Innovation Killer and multiple copies of Business Model Generation are intriguing and the colorful, mainly paperback spines are aesthetically pleasing, nevertheless these books are, to me, as yet, only objects. Initially, I saw in them the arrangement of another single personality, one who would place Out of Poverty by Paul Polak next to The Seven Layers of Integrity by George P. Jones and June Ferrill for alphabet-defying reasons that make perfect sense to a mind not my own. Now that I know these books are for everyone, I feel less closed-off from them, knowing I could pick one up at any time and begin reading (I suppose I’m too courtly to borrow someone else’s books without their permission).

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Each one of these books has a story. I’ve moved several times in the last few years, and I always enjoy the chance to hold each book individually.

Still, these books don’t have the same effect as the ones in my Walker office, particularly my nineteenth-century bookcase (alphabetized by author, then with books ordered by date of publication). There’s my shelf of Jerome K. Jerome, where a few sad print-on-demand titles rub alongside first editions (British and American) purchased for a song online: few people want Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow as much as I. Above and below lie ranks of black Penguins and white Oxford World’s Classics, slim volumes and doorstoppers with variously creased spines. Particular books remind me not only of the plot but of a moment in my personal and academic life. Little Dorrit changed my mind about Dickens. I finished The Mill on the Floss on a bus in France, tears running down my cheeks. He Knew He Was Right fired up my blood throughout its agonizing, painful, infuriating 900 pages, and I finished it while walking to my graduate seminar. While I’m no stranger to multitasking while reading – in high school I played the flute while reading Mercedes Lackey and knitting got me few several Dickens biographies in the final year of my dissertation – walking while reading has always been a matter of necessity rather than pleasure.

I relish the different traditions of reading I participate in, the different rituals of reading I’ve learned. My parents taught me to “break in” a book, particularly a large textbook, by placing it spine-down on a firm surface and gently creasing pages down from both ends. I’ve done that with several Complete Works of Shakespeare over the years. As a child and young adult, I loved filling up a canvas bag at the public library, and now I do the same thing at Portage Lake District Library with my toddler (who’s very into the Llama Llama books at the moment). As a Jew I engage in rituals of reading around prayer books and scrolls, relishing the moment when a manuscript scroll is lifted above our heads (by a web developer the other week) as we sing triumphantly and hope it stays aloft.

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These, too, have their stories; I just don’t know them – yet!

I’ve dedicated my life not only to the practice of reading but to the study of reading practices because the act of reading fascinates me in its potency and its fragility. We invest books and other text-carriers (next time, maybe we’ll talk about our relationships to phones) with all these properties, but at the end of the day, they’re just objects: paper, wood, rag, cloth. In the words of one of my favorite jokes (about a pool table), if it falls from a tree, it’ll kill you.

Why do we do these things? Why do we have rituals around reading, and why do some of us feel so strongly about books and the way they are treated that we might, like the chambermaid in Fadiman’s essay, tell each other, “You must never do that to a book”? Reading is many things: frustrating and fun, arduous and ardent. It can stretch time or make it fly by, make us incredibly conscious of our surroundings or transport us, in Emily Dickinson’s words, “Lands away.” The closed book is itself a metaphor for things we don’t — yet? — know. The books in my office might be closed to me at the moment, but the very fact that they’re books makes me feel at home.

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Silicon Valley to Michigan

GLRCBy Office of Advancement

There will be an open roundtable at noon Wednesday (Oct.26) in GLRC 202. The topic of the roundtable is “Silicon Valley to Michigan—Does the Model Translate?”

This will be an open discussion on business, technology, government and the links between Michigan and California. Automotive, start-ups, app-development – who is taking cues from whom? This roundtable is part of the 14 Floors series.

14 Floors is a series of events and activities designed to build momentum and enable culture change on Michigan Tech’s campus. Core are initiatives focused on fostering entrepreneurism and high-tech innovation—both within the context of a global culture and economy. These activities are cross-disciplinary on and off campus, led by staff and faculty, focused on students and largely enabled by Michigan Tech alumni.

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Ownership of student intellectual property – clarifying policies and dispelling myths

By Jim Baker

This is my first blog as a member of the Pavlis Honors College team. I work half time in the Honors College as co-director of the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) alongside Mary Raber. ICE was established in the fall of 2015 to serve as a cross-campus resource to connect entrepreneurially-minded students, faculty and staff to resources and expertise that will help them advance their businesses and ideas into the market. Mary and I have both been involved in startup companies and established manufacturing companies and are building ICE within the Honors College to complement existing campus and community resources. In addition to my new role focused on enabling student innovation and entrepreneurship, the other half of my job involves creating companies and business opportunities around University technologies. I have a technical background with a PhD in engineering and am licensed to practice patent law in the United States.

Among the host of topics rattling around in my head on innovation, entrepreneurship, and various random issues, the ownership of intellectual property for students at Michigan Tech is one that comes up a lot and seems to remain a source of confusion and even mystery. In this post, I will clarify the University’s policies on intellectual property ownership for students.

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The University policy on Patents can be viewed online and provides for two sides of this issue. 1. The University has rights to “any software or invention conceived or reduced to practice by faculty, staff, and students in the course of University employment or research, or through the use of University facilities and equipment”, and 2. The University does not have rights to “inventions developed without the use of its funds, facilities, or equipment.”

University employment is quite simple – did you get a paycheck to do it? University research is also quite simple – is there a contract or other agreement in place that covers the project? The phrase “use of facilities and equipment” is sometimes a cause for concern and is perceived by some to allow the University to claim ownership to anything that a student does while they are at Michigan Tech. That is not the case, and this issue has been formally clarified in a memo issued by Dave Reed, Michigan Tech’s Vice President for Research.

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The memo lays out two very important qualifiers to the facilities and equipment issue. It requires that the facility/equipment be specialized and that the use be substantive. Any facility that is open to the entire student body is outside of the definition of specialized. A dorm room, the library, an open computer lab, and the Innovation Alley Makerspace are examples of things outside of the definition of specialized facilities and equipment because all students have access to them. The supercomputer cluster, electron optics equipment, and any specialized lab facilities would be specialized, however their use alone may not necessarily result in University ownership – the use must also be substantive to the creation of the invention in question.   For example, if you design something on your own computer and then make arrangements to simply have it made in a ‘specialized facility’ then that use is not substantive.

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All policies regarding facilities use still apply so you can’t open a retail store in your dorm room or us a machine shop to manufacture production parts but if you think of the next best invention in your dorm room and email a description to your friend from a University email account it’s all yours to do with as you please. I am hopeful that this post clarifies the policies and practices but if you have any remaining concerns I encourage you to reach out with your specific questions and circumstances. We can answer any questions you have, and through ICE, we can provide guidance on your path forward to customers as well as recommendations to other recourses that will be essential on your way there.

Jim Baker can usually be found at the Pavlis Honors College offices on Tuesdays or Thursdays. If you would like to set up an appointment with him to talk IP, please email Amy Karagiannakis (akaragia@mtu.edu).

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Meet Brad Turner…

Brad

By Amy Karagiannakis

Brad works part-time as a product designer for Handshake, the Michigan Tech start-up that is now headquartered in San Francisco. He started as an intern while the company was still located in Houghton in 2014. David Shull, Michigan Tech alumni and Director of University Growth at Handshake, related, “I’ve had the chance to work with Brad on a few different teams now.  At Handshake, Brad crafted major redesigns of the student on-boarding process. Over three months, Brad’s inquisitive nature enabled him to learn about the company, the team, and the users to create a new student experience that has been used by hundreds of thousands of students across the country. From day one, Brad was treated as a full time team member and impressed the entire team with his work ethic, design skills, and technical approach to problem solving.” Brad’s biggest challenge since working at Handshake is trying to involve more actual users in the design process. He’s currently leading many student-focused projects that will help to redesign the job search experience for all of Handshake’s users.

Handshake office in San Francisco

With the new Michigan Tech Makerspace set to open in a little over a week, Brad has been busy trying to get The Alley ready. Next week, Silicon Valley alum will be visiting campus to take part in the Makerspace grand opening. As the Student Director, Brad incorporated a design thinking process to turn the old Michigan Tech bowling alley into a multi-functional makerspace that the entire University community can benefit from.

Preliminary floor plans courtesy of makerspacemtu.github.io/updates.html
Preliminary floor plans courtesy of makerspacemtu.github.io/updates.html

Brad is a fourth year student graduating in the Spring with a Bachelors degree in Software Engineering. A Custom Pathways Innovation student, Brad sits on the Pavlis Honors College (PHC) Undergraduate Student Advisory Board and is very involved with Michigan Tech’s new Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE). During Homecoming week, Brad gathered a team to construct a cardboard boat for the Pavlis Honors College to compete in the annual races. Dr. Meadows may have captained the boat, but Brad led the charge. The well constructed design stayed afloat, and PHC came in second in their race.

BradCardboard

Named University Innovation Fellow in 2015, Brad continues to bring the entrepreneurial mindset to Tech by increasing engagement on campus through innovation, design thinking, and creativity. He facilitates student workshops and coordinates the Maker Coach training. Brad is also putting what he learned through his involvement with UIF, to use at Handshake, as he develops personas to better understand the students using the platform.

UIFs in Silicon Valley for Epicenter Training

One of Brad’s favorite memories while working in San Francisco this past summer was marching in the Pride parade with a group called the Trevor project, which is a suicide hotline for LGBT youth. Outside of class, Brad enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, skiing, and taking pictures.  Self-proclaimed Harry Potter nerd, Brad bought the new book this summer on the day of its release and read it all in one day. He also loves volunteering at the Humane Society in his spare time to hang out with the cats.

Brad Turner is redefining what it means to be an Honors student. Have a passion for innovation? Find out how you can get involved with the Pavlis Honors College. Applications are due October 23rd.

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Michigan Tech Ranked #18 for Return on Investment

michigan-technological-universityReturn on investment or ROI compares the cost of a college education with what that graduate can expect to earn. Bestcolleges.com recently released a report on the 50 best colleges and universities in terms of ROI. With a 30-year net ROI of just under $1,000,000, Michigan Tech ranked 18th in the nation. This number is calculated by taking the average net earnings a graduate can expect to make over a 30 year period and subtracting the cost of their education.

Find out how the Pavlis Honors College can help make that number grow. Our Scholars and Leaders Programs prepare students for success after graduation. We address society’s need for graduates who possess both depth of knowledge in their chosen field and intellectual breadth obtained through interdisciplinary collaboration, experiential learning and deliberate reflection. Graduating with recognition from the Honors College provides students with what Frank Pavlis calls the “plus factors” that put them at a noticeable advantage above their peers when applying for jobs.

Read the full report from Bestcolleges.com.

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High school girls invited to Tech last Friday for Women in Computing Day

Last Friday Michigan Tech hosted high school girls from all over the upper Midwest who are interested in careers involving computer science, electrical engineering, and computer engineering. The Blue Marble Security Enterprise team, advised by Glen Archer, facilitated many of the projects which included programming a robot, building a working heart rate monitor and making a hologram. Be sure to check out Blue Marble Security at this year’s Design Expo on Thursday, April 14th. Read the full story from the Daily Mining Gazette.

Team107B

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Challenge Detroit: Accepting Applications

Graduating students and post-grads, don’t miss this unique opportunity to make a social impact in Detroit and connect to great job opportunities through a program called Challenge Detroit. Over the course of a year, Challenge Detroit Fellows live, work, play, give and lead in Detroit. They work for top regional companies, while partnering monthly with nonprofits to address issues and opportunities facing the community.

Students that are interested in learning more about Challenge Detroit are welcome to email The Challenge Detroit Team directly at info@challengedetroit.org or apply at www.challengedetroit.org/application now through 11:59pm on March 6, 2016.

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ewb mtu logo

There will be a general meeting for Michigan Tech’s Engineers Without Borders chapter Thursday, February 11th at 6pm in Dillman 214.

Engineers Without Borders is an international philanthropy organization. By joining Michigan Tech’s EWB chapter you will learn to use a variety of skills to improve the lives of communities in need around the world. Michigan Tech’s chapter is currently working on well projects in Guatemala and a water distribution project in Panama, with both teams planning on traveling in the next year. Don’t let the name of the organization deter you from joining if you aren’t an engineer. EWB is looking for anyone interested in making a difference in people’s lives, regardless of major. Scientific and Technical Communication, business, language, and biology majors, to name a few, are all welcome. There are opportunities for experience in water resources, Spanish, technical writing, communication, engineering, team building and much more.
If you are interested in learning more about Engineers Without Borders, please attend the upcoming meeting in Dillman 214 at 6pm on Thursday, February 11th. If you can’t make it, feel free to email the chapter president (smbeine@mtu.edu) with any questions!

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