Innovation & Job News

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MSU's STEM Success helps STEM students prepare for successful career

Thanks to a grant from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, a program called STEM Success will help students who are interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers but may not have gotten the education necessary in High School. 

According to Sekhar Chivukula of the College of Natural Science, students coming in to the STEM majors that have to back track to the courses they didn't take in High School are much less likely to graduate with a STEM degree. When this grant came about, Chivukula says they realized, “It was the perfect opportunity to develop a program that would give them the skills they needed to succeed (in these careers).” 

The program will offer online summer programming that will refresh and review the student’s math skills, it will start integrating them into the community before they reach campus and help them improve their study skills. They are also hiring back peer mentors that completed the STEM programs successfully to offer mentoring. 

Students that graduate with a STEM degree have very low unemployment rates. Depending on the degree, over 90 percent of students are hired, or enter graduate school, within a year after graduation. Besides the technical skills, Chivukula says “It’s important we teach them how to persist, and persevere.” 

Source: Sekhar Chivukula, College of Natural Science
?Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Innovative agreement to build bio-economy

Two bio-economy visionaries with a shared vision signed an innovative, binational agreement on September 26 in Lansing. Lansing’s MBI and Ontario’s Bioindustrial Innovation Canada will work together to build the bio-economy and work to alleviate our dependence on petroleum. The agreement allows them to share their bio-based research and agendas. 

J.D. Snyder of the Center for Community and Economic Development at MSU says, “What we are trying to do is facilitate a collaborative flow of innovation and ideas.” That collaborative flow will ideally create the means to open new, bio-based facilities, create jobs and invite investment to the state. “We are looking at a bio-economy that can only continue to grow,” says Snyder, “We are looking forward, not back.” 

Another goal of the collaboration is to gain the attention of the policy makers and those in private sectors, allowing them to see that investment in these types of technologies will be a positive, economic development. Snyder says everything that uses plastic can be produced using bio-based material, “There are very real opportunities for change.” It’s important that they see, Snyder adds, that “the opportunities are endless and that as opportunities arise, more jobs will be created.” 

Source: J.D. Snyder, Center for Community and Economic Development at MSU
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Startup Weekend encourages manufacturing, business creation

Lansing’s first ever Maker Week will wrap up on Friday, October 10th but for some, the fun will be beginning. Maker Week was actually born as simply Startup Weekend, but so many organizations brought so much to the table that they extended what was meant to be a weekend to a week long event. 

When Maker Week ends, Startup Weekend begins. Teams will be instructed to come up with a brand new idea, they will pitch that idea, and the chosen teams will have 54 hours to take a project from the idea phase to a product. 

At the end of the weekend, one winner will be picked and that team will be given the resources, sponsorships and guidance needed to take their product to market. “By the end of this,” says Sarah Parkinson of LEAP (one of the sponsors), “we expect to see actual prototypes and products.” Judging by the success of past participants in previous events like this, including one that turned into an international service, Sara says, “It’s not outrageous to think these ideas will turn into full-fledged companies.”

Through a partnership with LCC, teams will have access to the tools the trade students get to use, giving them the chance to manufacture their products. 

Source: Sara Parkinson, LEAP
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation New Editor

Food Processing and Innovation Center Minimizes Production Risk for Food Companies

Michigan State University will use a grant and funding from multiple sources to open the Food Processing and Innovation Center.

The center will be a facility where established food companies with limited resources can produce their product at a low cost, with minimal risk. It will allow them to view the product, assess components that may be missing and make improvements. According to Dr. H. Christopher Peterson of the MSU Product Center, “It’s absolutely an asset for companies looking to go to market.” But, it’s an asset that has been missing. 

Small to mid-size companies will be able to rent the facility for 3-10 days, build what they need, send it to market, then come back again if they need to. Taking a product to market is often a risk companies can’t afford to take, this facility minimizes that risk and gets the product out there. 

When the center launches in 2016, a full-time staff of four will be needed to keep it running but, Dr. Petersen says, “The real job impact will come from the jobs that will be generated from the expansion of these companies.” Three hundreds jobs a year is an estimate of the growth the facility will provide. 

Source:  Dr. H. Christopher Peterson of the MSU Product Center
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Zipcar comes to East Lansing, offers affordable transportation alternatives

After seeing success on Michigan State’s campus, Zipcar’s car sharing service is now available in East Lansing as an alternative mode of transportation. Zipcar offers simple, affordable transportation options by providing two vehicles, a Ford Focus hatchback and a Ford Focus sedan, for use by the hour or the day. These are in addition to seven cars previously available on campus. 

The cars have designated parking spots that make them easily accessible to anyone in East Lansing, including students over 18. The cars can be reserved online or through a mobile app. “It’s a convenient and flexible alternative to owning a car,” says Katelyn Lopresti, General Manager of Zipcar for University, “you can use them where you live, work, or travel.” 

They are especially great alternatives for students who don’t want to bring cars to campus, where traffic and parking can be a major problem. It gives the university the option to expand the buildings rather than the parking structures and reduces the carbon footprint and air quality. 

Zipcar also offers discounted rates to local business owners in order to help them expand their businesses and meet environmental standards. 

Parking and congestion can be serious issues for a campus town, and Lopresti says their solution is, “fun and practical.”

Source: Katelyn Lopresti, General Manager of Zipcar for University
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Williamston Theatre receives National Theatre Company Grant

The Williamston Theatre has received one of the National Theatre Company grants from the American Theatre Wing.

This kind of national recognition, according to Emily Sutton-Smith, gives the theatre the leverage it needs to apply for other grants. It compares them to theaters across the country and shows, “They think we are furthering the art form.”

While the theatre is a non-profit, it does pay all its employees, and the number of employees can sometimes be up to 75 in one season. These jobs, while not permanent, allow the actors, directors, designers, etc, to stay in the state. “We are creating an environment that supports a lifestyle…” says Sutton-Smith, “it allows them to cobble together a living and stay in the area.” The theatre relies on fundraising, and grants like this, to help them cover the expenses that keep the theatre up and running. 

The founders of the theatre, of which Sutton-Smith is one, have made huge sacrifices and receiving this grant validates those sacrifices. The theatre is continually contributing to the community by creating jobs and bringing in people and businesses. “80 percent of the people that come to the the theatre don’t live in Williamston,” says Sutton-Smith. 

The Williamston Theatre is only one of twelve theaters across the country to receive the grant. 

Source: Emily Sutton-Smith, Williamston Theatre
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Art For Charlie Foundation to hold first bereavement conference

The Art for Charlie Foundation is holding a Conference on Pediatric Hospice and Bereavement Support on Nov. 1. The goal of the conference, according to Richard Graham-Yooll, is to bring attention to the gap in hospice and hospital care for children and begin to move toward a solution. 

The gap was brought to the attention of Yooll’s family with the diagnosis and death of Charlie (who was diagnosed at 2 and died three years later). The family learned the importance of coordinated palliative and hospice care for children in Michigan and this conference is a step toward providing that care. 

The conference will bring together professionals, catalog the resources in the area and bring others up to speed on the state of care in the area. “It’s important that hospitals everywhere have the details of centralized pediatric care around them,” says Richard. Even if they can’t provide it, it’s important they know where to send their patients. 

There will be discussions, panels and Yooll is hoping all the attendees will participate and exchange ideas. “This is not a money making conference. We want to see people who are interested. We want results.” 

Yooll also recognizes the advantage of doing something like this in Lansing and being so close to the government. 

Source: Richard Graham-Yooll, Art for Charlie Foundation
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Mid-Michigan Talent Connection educates, assists job seekers and employers

This year’s Mid-Michigan Talent Connection was held on Sept. 11, and while it is in its 5th year, it’s the first since its rebranding. The networking event used to be called “Pinkslip” but due to the negative connotation it was changed. “We wanted to give it a name that said what it is,” says Amanda Dumond, Director of Talent Initiatives at Prima Civitas.

Dumond says there are a lot of employers, small and large that are struggling with filling positions, and a lot of people looking for jobs. The problem arises when many job seekers can’t get past the electronic systems many companies use for employment. To solve that, Dumond says, “We wanted to have a face to face format that didn’t rely on electronic systems.” 

The event offered more than simple networking opportunities. Job seekers learned how to craft a resume, present themselves, follow up after an interview, change their job search strategy and more. The most powerful event, according to Dumond, was the Ask a Recruiter Panel. “There was a lot of back and forth dialogue.”

Another unique aspect was the fact that the event was organized by interns working with the MEDC’s Michigan Shifting Gears program. At the end of the day, many employers were interested in gathering their information. 

The event brought in talent from across the state. 

Source: Amanda Dumond, Director, Talent Initiatives, Prima Civitas
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Sparrow Medical Group VOA Practice treats area homeless

Since the Sparrow Medical Group VOA practice launched six months ago, serving the area’s homeless, they have averaged over 100 visits per week. 

“The way we provide care is very innovative,” says Patrick Patterson, the physician on staff, “But we are really just touching the tip of the iceberg.” It takes a lot, he added, to set a route to good health in the homeless community. 

They look to help in four areas; medical and mental health, stability, and a place to live/source of income. To help in these areas, the clinic brings together 14 different programs that help with a variety of different conditions. Mental health, addiction, and many disabling conditions are often problems that many homeless can’t get treated for. When they can’t get treatment, they are are unable to work. 

“The most rapid place for innovation is the healthcare system,” says Patterson. By cutting down the number of ER visits and ambulance calls, costs can be lowered all across the community. When someone is kept out of the hospital, the bill isn’t generated and the cost to the taxpayer is lower. When people have decent healthcare, says Patterson, “it’s not always a calamity.” 

The program has also created eight jobs and Patterson says they are just getting started. 

Source: Patrick Patterson, Volunteers of America
?Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

ELPL 2.0 Maker Studio to open and encourage community creativity

While many thought libraries were on their way out with the invention of the internet, and then again with the appearance of e-books, they are simply, according to the director of the East Lansing Public Library (ELPL) Kristin Shelley, finding ways to reinvent themselves. One of those reinventions will premiere on October 1st with the grand opening of the ELPL 2.0 Maker Studio. 

Only the second of its kind in the area, Detroit being the closest, the Studio will offer a space that provides the public somewhere to create and share ideas. There will be a 3D printer, recording equipment, design supplies, sewing machines, bike repair facilities, and much more.The public can cut an album, design a brochure, or produce a podcast.  

This reinvention of the library, says Shelley, “gives people the opportunity to create the information. Instead of people just consuming our materials, they can create it themselves.” It’s taking the library beyond books and story time and Shelley is excited that the public will be able to choose the direction they want the space to go. 

There will also be a community loom that will represent the community weaving together. 

The space is possible due to the fundraising efforts of the library and also because of an anonymous donor. 

Source: Kristin Shelley, Director ELPL
Author: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

Mahabir Spa introduces new skin care line, offers "whole approach"

Gita Mahabir has always loved making others feel good about themselves. Cosmetology didn’t take her passion far enough so she got her Masters in counseling and focused on combining her desire to treat outside as well as inside beauty. 

She has taken that concept and opened the Mahabir Spa in Lansing, and introduced a new skin care line. The spa focuses on a “whole approach.”  It opened on September 10th and takes a unique approach on beauty. “Even if you look fabulous,” says Mahabir, “If you’re not feeling fabulous, I didn’t do my job.” Those that come to the spa of course get typical spa treatments but she also asks how she can make customers feel better about themselves. 

Mahabir will be offering a webinar on how taking care of yourself and your skin can help your self-esteem overall. “It’s a step by step process, but I would eventually like to be seen as an educator.” 

Her brand new, unique skin care line, sold in the spa and online, is medical grade and different because of it’s small molecules that are able to sink to a second layer of skin. It also has peptides that put collagen back into the skin. The unique, feathery   cream, complete with Amino Acids, protects and repairs the skin at a cellular level.

Source: Gita Mahabir, Mahabir Spa
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

REACH Art Studio's crowdfunding campaign will allow for expansion

REACH Studio Art Center will be the first organization in nine counties to benefit from a new and unique partnership between the crowdfunding platform Patronicity and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Patronicity is a Michigan-based site that helps local non-profits raise the funds they need. If REACH achieves their goal, the MEDC will match the funds giving the Center a total of $96,000 to put toward a new expansion. 

Having outgrown their 1,000 square foot building, the art studio is expanding to 9 times it’s original size. Kim Brock says the “expansion is necessary to serve the youth in the area and give them the proper space to learn through art.” 

The studio bought 5 store fronts along Washington Ave in REO Town and will use the funding to give them a completely new facade. Brock says there will be a courtyard, a sculpture garden a gallery and more. The students will benefit from the expansion but Brock says, “It’s not just exciting for REACH, but also the community and this neighborhood. There are a lot of kids here that need positive things to do.”  The expansion will also clean up the area, adding beautiful things to unused buildings. 

The expansion is already a community project involving the local Studio Intrigue Architects and Van Ermen Commercial Development. 

Source: Kim Brock, REACH Art Studio
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

College of Music endowment encourages MSU music students to become entrepreneurs

The Withrow Career Building Endowment in the College of Music, created by long time donors and supporters Jack and Dottie Withrow, is helping talented students gain the skills they will need no matter what type of career they pursue. Though, the intent, says David Rayl of the College of Music, “is to give them the chance to pursue non-traditional music careers that will enhance the community.” 

There are a wide range of goals surrounding the endowment and a major one is to help students develop an entrepreneurial mind set that will lead to valuable, art-related businesses within the community. “The presence of art in a community makes it more vibrant,” says Rayl. The purpose of this endowment is to show students there are a lot of ways to make a living and contribute to the community with a music degree. 

Funds from the endowment give support to a wide range of activities. A music business class teaches students how to put together a business plan, and guest speakers that come in from the community include successful alumni that have taken non-traditional paths. 

While many of the students will become performers or play in orchestras, they can’t be present in the community if they can’t make a living. This endowment helps them do just that. 

Source: David Rayl, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in Music
?Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

M3 Group acquires new publication, expands reach

Since recognizing a need for niche magazines in Lansing 7 years ago, Tiffany Dowling, President and CEO of M3 Group has been steadily expanding their publishing department. Their most recent addition is the student publication, ing Magazine. “Niche magazines are an innovative way to get news out there,” says Emily Caswell, editor at M3 Group publication, Greater Lansing Business Monthly, “Not to my knowledge has any other branding agency reached out in that way.”

ing Magazine was acquired from Spartan Printing and will be primarily run by students at MSU by way of a journalism class. Publishing opportunities will also be available for freelance writers that want to participate but can’t take the class. It will be a great opportunity for students to get experience and build their portfolios to help them land journalism jobs after graduation. “It’s very hard to get hired without having something that shows what you can do,” says Caswell. 

The expansion means growth for M3 Group as well and they have added a sales position. Also, they would like to help grow the reach of the publication. “We want to pass that invisible line between Lansing and East Lansing,” says Caswell, “Let the students know what’s out there.” 

Source: Emily Caswell, Greater Lansing Business Monthly
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor

EduSTEM offers job training to a very specific audience

EduSTEM is reaching out to a group that may normally have a hard time gaining skills for meaningful employment. 

They provide assessment and computer training for individuals with high functioning autism (HFA) to allow them to find careers in software testing and development. 

Many may not be aware that the traits that many HFA individuals display (extreme focus and highly analytical minds) are the same traits that many IT companies are looking for in new hires. EduSTEM offers basic, intermediate  and advanced computer language programming to help them land jobs as software engineers or in data quality assurance. “Those that leave our company find pretty easy employment in the surrounding areas,” says Jeremiah Orians, Chief Technical Officer. 

The companies’ ultimate goal is to establish an infrastructure of smart, capable individuals with at least a moderate level of creativity. Orians says innovation is ultimately about using risk and accepting it as the cost of going business. And they hope that any risk they may be taking pays off, “By the number of people we have working, hopefully one of them will be the next Facebook or Google.” 

They are currently working with at least a dozen students they expect to graduate in the next year. “And at least of few of them,” says Orians, “have shown great potential to be employed.” 

Source: Jeremiah Orians, EduSTEM
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovation News Editor
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