School:Central Michigan University

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Campus Overview

With over 200 undergraduate majors, over 50 graduate and doctoral degrees, and a multitude of certifications to pursue, Central Michigan University offers all its students the variety to explore their passions and find the programs that are best suited for their needs.

Central Michigan University offers a variety of support systems to their students to help them create and maintain a healthy environment to thrive in during their time in Mount Pleasant and beyond. The university provides many mental health resources such as CMU Cares, the counseling center that is free for students, and SAPA which is a student run organization that supports students going through health and safety issues. CMU also ensures to have financial support for all of its students through our student financial aid as well as serving students through the student pantry where you do not have to enclose your financial background to receive food from the university.

Promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship

Central Michigan’s entrepreneurship and innovation team would not be anything without its students that help shape the college. At Central, students are given many opportunities to be able to get into their own creative flow. An example of promoting student innovation and entrepreneurship is the  CMU sales challenge which provides students an excellent way to showcase their abilities in marketing that they have been taught all year. The CMU Sales Challenge brings in what students have been practicing in the classroom, and brings forth their ideas to professionals that may be recruiting. This is also a great way for students to win scholarship money.

Another way for students to display their new talents is at the first inaugural CMU Hackathon, which was a collaboration between colleges over a 24 hour period. The event started with icebreakers and team building to help to create teams to tackle multiple different challenges. Throughout the time allotted for problem solving, students are able to remain within the building whether it be for working, eating, sleeping on provided cots, and brainstorming within their teams. Judges are brought in to judge the final exhibition to award students for their work and innovative ideas for these projects.

The New Venture Challenge is another way for entrepreneurship students to get some funding for their start-ups. Any student with an idea of a business can participate, regardless of their major. The event usually takes place in April of each year. Students who wish to participate have to submit a form to qualify. Then, if their venture meets the requirements, they do a 7-minute presentation virtually in front of a panel of judges. There are three categories their ventures can participate in High Growth, Main Street, and Social Mission. Only three teams are selected from each category, and those teams will do an in-person presentation of 7 minutes on the day of the competition. If a team is not selected as a finalist, they can still win money by doing a 2-minute elevator pitch on the day of the competition. On that day, there are several panels of judges that evaluate each category of the competition. Students can network with alumni and investors, and meet new entrepreneur students. After the presentations, there is a gallery in which students have a table and have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with judges and investors and get monetary compensation because there is another category for gallery awards. Overall, this competition is a great way for students to connect with investors and get funding to launch their start-ups.

In April 2023, a group of students organized CMU's inaugural TEDx conference (TEDxCentral Michigan University). The program was established to give a platform to student leaders so that they may amplify their ideas for a better world. The conference featured 8 student and faculty speakers who each gave their take on the theme "The Essence of a Changing World." Each of these Ted Talks are now featured on the TEDx Talks YouTube channel.

The Adobe Creative Jam was an event on campus to promote a new resource that is available to all students and staff. Creative and accessible technology was the focus of this event with a speaker from Adobe talking about a video editing app that was built to allow easy editing for anyone. Along with this, the Adobe Creative Lounge (located in the CMU Library) was introduced, where there are spaces to meet collaboratively and rent space like the sound booth. This space gives anyone that uses it access to professional equipment and help when using software like the Adobe Creative Cloud (available for all students and faculty).

InSciTE was a new program in Spring 2023. This is the integration of science technology and entrepreneurship. This program is a certificate program designed to give students real world skills that employers are looking for. This is for STEM majors. Students take one class every spring and each class focuses on certain things. The first cohort started in 2023 and will expect to be done with the program in Spring of 2026.

Encouraging faculty innovation and entrepreneurship

The innovation and entrepreneurial mindset does not end at the students, faculty are encouraged to pursue their own ventures as well. The Office of Research and Graduate Studies is a resource that can provide support in the way of learning, funding, and exhibition. Through this office, grants are available to support not only research but creative endeavors as well, helping to foster an environment of innovation. Along with this, there are spaces that are available to present ventures that faculty have spearheaded. One of these is the Baber Room within the library that is used as an exhibition space, giving access to creative endeavors created by all disciplines. This space not only allows for faculty to promote their work but also to reach students that might have an interest in furthering their academics through possible mentors.

Groups within CMU are beginning to pop up as well bring together different colleges in the hopes of collaboration and innovation. One group that is prevalent in innovation and entrepreneurship focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship and the maker ecosystem within CMU as a university, stressing the need to work between colleges to allow for better access to resources. These groups allow for the conversations to start about how to create environments that will foster connection and creativity, two key items when developing ideas and working towards better design thinking principles.

Actively supporting the university technology transfer function

There are multiple resources available to help people with their technology transfer function such as:

Technology is constantly being iterated on within Central's campus. Within the IDEA den, a plethora of resources, including 3D printers, access to graphics and content software, training, and people to build confidence with all of these innovative tools is a constant. The MakerBot Innovation Center in Moore hall also offers a centralized location for students to create, design, and experiment with 3D printing.

At the Adobe Creative Lounge, located at the University Library, students are able to create media while accessing professionals to support in their creative endeavors.

The Office of Research and Graduate Studies works in tandem with CMU RC, and develops research technology and creative endeavors. Grant searching, providing insights into exhibition spaces, and promoting a culture of innovation are all high level assets that the Office provides to transform innovation throughout the university.

Facilitating university-industry collaboration

At CMU, developing meaningful relationships is the foundation on which collaboration across industries is innovated. Internships, travel opportunities and events, both virtual and in-person with companies such as SAP, Ford, and Isabella Bank are all being iterated on to promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and intrapreneurship within industry environments.

The Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship sponsors the IDEA Den, a center for student-led Innovation that focuses on incubating start-up ideation and growing new ventures.  Additionally within the College of Business, the SAP Next-Gen Lab is constantly developing ERPsimulation events, workshops, and speaker series’ to engage students with innovation in information systems. This last year, over 50 students traveled to Chicago to create a relationship with SAP leadership.

The School of Music hosts a myriad of workshops, competitions, and concerts to give performance opportunities to prepare students for their future professional endeavors. Some of these include the Summer School of Music Institute which offers professional instruction to high school students for a low cost; CMU Sax Day which exposes high school students to life in a college saxophone studio, as well as a series of masterclasses; and competitions like the Concerto Competition allowing current students a challenge to work for.

Additionally, continuous development of internships and industry collaboration is competitive. Within CMU’s entrepreneurship workshops and bootcamps, over 20 entrepreneurs from around the nation fly and drive in to mentor students on new ventures and startups.

Engaging with regional and local economic development efforts

Development on a local and regional scale is also important in a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. Central Michigan engages in this effort by guiding people towards the resources that are available in the area and on campus. The CMU Research Cooperation (CMU RC) is a space that allows for co-working in four different cities. These spaces give all different levels of business networking and collaboration opportunities, as well as support from staff that helps entrepreneurs tackle their issues and strive for success. Along with this, the CMU RC gives people from start ups, established companies, the university and more the opportunity to share resources and innovate.

Another fantastic way to engage with economic development efforts is the Michigan Small Business Development Center, which is located within the Mid-Michigan College campus that is less than 5 miles from CMU’s campus. This center provides resources to small businesses to help them get on their feet, grow as a business, or develop more skills through training.

The Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce is a group that holds events and supports small businesses.

The CMU Landscape Campus can be found here.