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MTU University Student Priorities

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Contents

Overview

Michigan Tech’s campus is poised to be a model for student innovation and entrepreneurship. The State of Michigan has recognized the Houghton / Hancock area as a hotbed of innovation, and efforts to connect the School of Business and the School of Engineering are creating new business opportunities daily.

The problem isn’t ideas. It rarely ever is. Uniquely, Michigan Tech doesn’t suffer from a talent gap. Michigan Tech’s engineers are recruited around the globe for their hands-on experience and industry-focused education.

We’ll include a story to summarize the problem at Michigan Tech:  One day in early April, a venture capitalist (VC) from Silicon Valley came to Michigan Tech to do due-diligence on a new technology being developed in 3D printing. The VC gave a speech and discussed her time at Stanford. She said, “I never thought about being involved in venture capital, but when I got to school, everyone was talking about starting a business and I felt like I needed to get plugged into that ecosystem.” Michigan Tech lacks that passion, enthusiasm, and culture. These three strategies are designed to remedy that challenge.

A new center for innovation and entrepreneurship is the proposed solution. It uses new academic opportunities, event programming, and startup support to drive a culture shift towards innovation and entrepreneurship.

YouTube Pitch

 

Strategies for Expansion of Innovation and Entrepreneurship on Campus

Strategy One: Connecting Students through Sustainability

When analyzing the first year experience at Michigan Tech, it became evident that some students felt disconnected from their peers in different majors. For some reason, there was a barrier that was a barrier that was keeping these students from interacting with students that were in other majors. To defeat this barrier, we want to be able to incorporate design thinking into some different areas of our campus to better help our peers be able to work with one another to work on a common goal. One class on the Michigan Tech campus that sees a majority of the student body already tackles large world issues in a lecture type setting: Global Issues. Changing a class can take a lot of steps to implement. During this class changing process, our team wants to get evidence of how students working together to work to a common goal could be a good addition to the class as well as get students more involved on our campus.

To do this, our team plans on taking four steps: hosting sustainability workshops in our campus's MakerSpace, deploying a sustainability survey through the first year students to gage their interest on the topic, launch a sustainability initiative on the Michigan Tech campus with the help of different organizations and the student body, and implenting changes to the Global Issues class to incorporate more design thinking and team work.

Sustainability Workshops: Initially we want to start out with some sustainability workshops to see what portion of students are interested in taking a part of a conversation about sustainability. To do this, there will be three different workshops. It will be optional to attend any one of them without attending previous ones to work with the changing schedule of an everyday student. In these workshops, there will be a DIY recyclable project, a sustainability conversation, and a design thinking challenge to get students thinking about their own environmental "pawprint" as a Michgan Tech Husky.

Campus Survey: Next, we plan on taking a poll through the campus, ideally through first-year students to get their perspective on the new campus they've become accustomed to. In this survey, there will be questions about where their interest lies in different sustainability issues whether it be recycling, garbage, renewable energy, and other topics. This will help see what sort of initiatives the student body would be interested in persuing and seeing implemented on their campus.

Sustainability Initiative: With the data found from the campus survey, the team will be able to find what larger interests our new students have with changing their campus. We plan on taking these passions from the student body and creating an initiative that everyone can take a part of changing on their campus. This can be done by reaching out to different areas of the campus and helping with initiatives that are already in place as well as sustaining our own. We want to be able to create a community where people are able to help each other and work together to reach our common goal of sustainability.

Global Issues Revamp: Once we are able to bring different majors together to encourage design thinking to bring solutions to our own campus, we want to bring this data to the faculty that teach the Global Issues class at Michigan Tech. We see great potential in this class to help students gain a larger appreciation for the subject. Incorporating more group work to assign students to different world issues will help students gain an understanding for what is going on in the world outside their bubble on the Michigan Tech campus.

Strategy Two: Innovation Learning Community

With the formation of the new Pavlis Honors College on Michigan Tech's campus, the are plenty of new opportunities available to introduce innovation and creative thinking early in the student experience. One of the best ways to inspire a shared vision within students is provide them with the opportunity to spend time with other students who are interested in similar ideas. By creating an environment where students are constantly challenged to think differently in their everyday experiences, they will develop a more diverse set of problem solving skills to implement in their daily lives.

Next year the Pavlis Honors College will have a learning community for first year students in the College. This will be a great opportunity to test out some creative ways to incorporate creative thinking into residence hall life. Resident Assistants are currently required to create programs for their students to participate in and this would be an exceptional opportunity to test out some new ideas. Some of these programs that they do with their students make include some of the events such as the Make-a-thon or the 10X Thinking Workshop.

Strategy Three: Innovation and Brainstorming Course

Currently, first year engineering students can be found using their brainstorming and innovation skills in class. These skills are typically not used again until the student reaches their fourth or fifth year and are taking Senior Design or join an Enterprise Team. There are many instances where students have a hard time trying to think of ideas for projects because they are trying to focus on what they have learned from the books, but when they get out into the real world, the answer will not be in the back of the book.

This class will help students to continue to use their brainstorming and innovation tools that they have learned so that they can use these tools in the future. This course will also help guide students to think outside the box so that it is easier to tackle problems in future courses and in the real world. This could possibly be a program of classes that will take place during both the student's second and third year in order to make sure that the student is ready to tackle the final projects before graduating and heading out into the work force.

Strategy Four: Innovation Retreat

Currently, Michigan Tech has a focus on retreats for Leadership and similar skills, but no such thing for Innovation. There is plenty of time within the curriculum schedules of students who are interested to attend a weekend retreat to the surrounding wilderness of Michigan Tech, and focus solely on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, to help cultivate an Innovative Mindset.

This retreat would help students cultivate Innovation Mindsets by presenting them with real world challenges, and giving them time to work on finding solutions for these challenges, followed by creating prototypes of their solutions by using whatever resources they find in the surrounding area. On the final day, the students will discuss challenges in the local community of Michigan Tech and how they might go about solving those challenges, as well as other strategies for staying involved in an innovation mindset after they leave the retreat.

Strategy Five: I&E Event Series

After creating an amazing collaborative space on campus, there will be plenty of opportunities to host events focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. These events will focus on creating excitement about the new initiatives on campus and recruit motivated students for the new I&E section of the Pavlis Honors College. The Pathways team has been working on bringing in a few speakers, and the student programming board is already planning an event to be held in the space.

Examples of events that can be held in the space include:

Speaker Series - Bringing in guest speakers who have had experience with I&E and have proven to be a strong motivating force for involving students. Possible topics include opportunity recognition, legal principles, entrepreneurial finance, strategic partnering and building effective startup teams.

Recent interviews have brought to life the importance of bringing in fresh faces from outside of the Michigan Tech community or alumni who have moved on and are doing incredible things.  Likewise, there should be speakers from a variety of disciplines.

Examples of speakers that we would like to bring in are: Debbie Sterling (Founder/CEO of Goldieblox which produces engineering toys geared for a female market), William Henderickson (Founder/CEO of Avecka, Inc which specializes in particle technology, an example is E-ink), and many more!

Make-a-thon - An opportunity for student teams to come together and brainstorm possible solutions for an and all ideas. Some of these projects and ideas could potentailly be carried on after the end of the event.

3 Day Startup - As mentioned in the spring overview, the goal of the event is to connect engineers who may be interested in working with a startup to business leaders with ideas they would love to see come to life.

10X Thinking Workshop - An opportunity for students to understand the steps to brainstorming and prototyping an idea. One of these already happened on campus in a small scale, but the hope is to have more in order to reach more students. 

Strategy Six: StartupTech

StartupTech is an Enterprise team that connects top student talent to student led startups. It utilizes the existing enterprise infrastructure to ensure student involvement by allowing students to work on a startup team as part of their required credits for graduation. Connecting engineering teams to students motivated by turning an idea into a business will help promote business development far more than it currently is at Michigan Tech.

The program will provide supprt for new entreprenuers by sponsoring workshops, recruiting advisors, and giving these teams a space to work and the resources necessary to turn their dreams into reality. Hopefully this program would be implemented alongside of the expansion to the larger invention space on campus, providing teams with space in a modern office equiped with state of the art technology. Funds would also be available for some business development expenses such as travel expenses, office supplies, hardware, software licenses, etc.

A Board of Directors for the program would consist of faculty involved in I&E on campus, a representative from the Houghton SmartZone and a student with startup and leadership experience. The board will be responsible for selecting the ventures to include in the program as well as monitoring the students participating in the program.

Strategy Seven: Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Command the Dialogue

Overview: As mentioned above, the culture at Michigan Tech rarely caters to inventions and entrepreneurship. Although, the new Pavlis Honors College is in the works with Dean Lorelle Meadows to create a Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the college. This center would provide staff to bring all resources and inititives currently happening at Michigan Tech under one roof. Then the staff could grow as needed, working to change the culture on campus to be more entrepreneurial. The center will also house a student organization with the mission of increasing entrepreneurship from the student's perspective. The proposed name is MUBX. 

3DS 

MUBX will be responsible for bringing the Three Day Startup (3DS) event to Michigan Tech’s campus. The goal of event will be to connect engineers who may be interested in working with a startup to business leaders with ideas that they’d love to see come to fruition.

MUBX will work with the School of Business and Economics to support 3DS startups that leave the event excited about starting a new venture by encouraging them to enter in the New Venture Competition (NVC).

TEDx 

In 2013, Michigan Tech held their first ever TEDx. Only 100 tickets were available and at $10 apiece, they sold out within minutes of going on sale. The event’s reach was limited, but provided a breath of energy to the campus. It got people talking.

TechMakers I 

TechMakers will be an extension of the TechHacks concept planned and executed by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) chapter at Michigan Tech. MUBX will support ACM and expand the event to include all majors and facilitate creation across campus.

Teams that move through the 3DS program and are interested in competing in the NVC will be encouraged to attend TechMakers I as an opportunity to deliver a prototype to the NVC judges. 

The Opportunity to Learn

Overview: The greatest incentive a university can offer a student to encourage learning is credit towards graduation. By applying entrepreneurial and innovative courses to the existing curriculum structure, students will have an opportunity to grow their skill set within the I&E space.

By pulling together existing classes and proposing new ones, the LearnX branch will empower students to take the next step.

Lean Startup

A lean startup course has already been proposed by the NCIIA Pathways group and is being implemented during the Summer of 2014 as a pilot course. This course will hopefully grow in size and popularity as more students become interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Design for Organizations

Right now Michigan Tech doesn’t offer any comprehensive graphic design or marketing crash course. This (new) course will teach students the basics of the Adobe Creative Suite, as well as basic marketing psychology. The course instruction will center around working with real-world clients and applying the concepts to small businesses (start-ups) and student organizations.   

Technology Commercialization

As a continuation of a course already offered by Michigan Tech, this section will focus on how to transform research into a viable business. With a strong focus on customer voice and the business model canvas, this class will help researchers and innovators bridge the gap between idea and market success.

Grand Challenges Scholars Program

The Grand Challenges Scholars Program has five components: service learning, entrepreneurship, inter-disciplinary, research and a global dimension. Michigan Tech has the Pavlis Honors College that parallel this program closely with five pathways: service, innovation, industry, research and global. Michigan Tech also has a letter of commitment to the Grand Scholars Program. After attending the Global Grand Challenges Summit of 2015, a quote that resonated with me was: “inspiring the engineers of tomorrow”. In order to bring this back to Michigan Tech, myself and Amanda Moya, who was also able to attend the Summit, are in the process of inspiring students with the intent of bringing guest speakers to campus and implementing challenge programs in the Pavlis Honors College that allow students to begin working on projects and utilizing all their potential from day one of their time on campus.

Our first formal presentation of the idea is set for October 13th, 2015. By the end of October 2015, we hope to have the necessary stakeholders from the College of Engineering and Pavlis Honors College supporting this strategy. Amanda and I are aiming to present our challenge program idea to the first-year students interested in the Pavlis Honors College and also to the members of the Pavlis Honors College at an all-cohort meeting before the end of the fall 2015 semester in order to introduce students to the idea. We hope to gain student interest and support of the challenge program with students outside the Pavlis Honors College by advertising the guest speakers through Student Activities, MUB Board and on-campus advertising. Before the end of the spring 2016 semester, the goal is to host the first guest speaker in order to gain momentum and keep student interest. If all goes well, we would like to have the challenge program in place for students to begin next year, fall 2016 semester, at the earliest. 

Looking Forward

While these classes mark a great start in empowering students to extend their development in innovation and entrepreneurship, they won’t be enough in the long term. As a part of LearnX, faculty and staff will be encouraged to offer one-credit seminars in areas they’re passionate about. This could range from an exploration of Google Glass to a series of lectures on programming competitively.

This collection of courses is designed to give students who think they may be interested in innovation or entrepreneurship the opportunity to grow, and dabble, in a formalized setting.

Support the Culture

TechX

TechX is the culmination of the previous two strategies. Once a student is introduced to the concept of a startup through MUBX, and is equipped with the tools to make the startup successful though LearnX, they move onto TechX. TechX is a startup incubator modeled after Stanford’s StartX.

TechX will provide a variety of resources to fledgling startups in order to support their development.

The concept of TechX is still being developed.  It is being designed by student entrepreneurs, for students.

Space

Like most universities, space is in short supply at Michigan Tech. TechX will provide startups with premier workspace, featuring an open and flexible floor plan. This space will be designed to support a variety of team, and individual, work. A modern atmosphere and amenities will encourage the best startups to call TechX home.

Mentorship

A key component to the TechX program will be access to mentorship opportunities through the University. These mentors may include one-on-ones with successful leaders in the industry, or faculty who have technical experience in the startup’s field.

Each startup will be assigned a handpicked team of advisors who will provide advice on running a startup, leading teams, raising capital, and so on.

Mentorship & Collaboration Sub Project:

A common theme we have heard is that students don’t know about the resources available to them- including the interests and experience of fellow students.  In order to help connect students to each other and to faculty mentors for projects, an online database system has been proposed. This searchable database would allow entrepreneurial students and faculty to identify their needs for like-minded business partners, or with a background in certain skills. The idea is to encourage collaboration of students across various departments.   All users would have the option and ability to provide as little or as much information about their skills as they’d like, and also be able to tag themselves as having experience with various methods and materials, such as 3D printing, electronics, or marketing strategy.

Funding

While no significant funding will be provided through the TechX program, small amounts of funds will be made available to teams in order to facilitate business growth. Funding may be allocated for travel, marketing materials, and business needs to help get the startup off the ground.

General Overview

MTU TecHX.png

Completed Strategies

Invention Space 

A small maker space has been completed to be implemented in the current Enterprise lab. At this time, there are very few spaces on campus where students can come together and work collaboratively and have access to prototyping tools and supplies. Much of the renovation necessary to create an effective invention space has been completed, but additional support is needed to gather tools and supplies. This space will allow us to obtain student feedback in order to potentially expand to a much larger and extensive invention space on campus.

This space will serve multiple purposes outside of providing a collaborative workspace. It can be used to hold classes in an non-traditional style classroom with an alternative setup. The Invention Space will also host events focusing on innovation and entrepreneurship on campus mentioned below. The space will also serve as an "IP Free" zone in hopes that students would be less worried about having to worry about legal issues with the University and more focused on creating new ideas.

Key Features:

Movable furniture: tables with adjustable heights, adjustable rolling chairs, and stackable seating.

Prototyping supplies: one wall of the room will be lined with cheap craft supplies and an array of tools for students to use

Technology: projector for student teams to present their ideas and 3-4 desktop computers used for product design

Other: storage space for student teams, portable whiteboards, and power distribution throughout the space for students to plug in

Related Links

Magann Dykema - A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Josh Jay- A University Innovation Fellow Candidate from Michigan Tech

Rachel Kolb- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Josh Krugh- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Rob Lambert- A University Innovation Fellow Candidate from Michigan Tech

Kyle Ludwig- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Arsh Sahu - A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

David Shull- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Brad Turner- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Adam Weber- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

About the University - Learn about Michigan Tech including a landscape analysis

Michigan Tech Student Priorities - Learn about what students are working on

http://www.mtu.edu/ - Michigan Tech's website