Innovation & Job News

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Sparrow and MSU partner to offer unique, hands on experience for youth

MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and Sparrow Health Systems have teamed up to create a one of a kind experience for a group of Lansing High School students.

FutureDOCS kicked off on June 5th and is giving a group of 16 outstanding students from Eastern, Everett and Sexton High Schools the chance to pursue an interest in a career in medicine. A hands-on experience, Program Director Floyd Hardin says one of their goals is to make students "work force ready." They will learn what it's like to attend medical school, get time in an actual ER and even get instructions on how to create a resume and personal statement.

Since the students are from communities that may be under resourced, Hardin also stressed the importance of helping these students become active participants, or even future leaders, in their community. "We want to instill pride and turn them into leaders that can someday give back," says Hardin.

The program is all about providing resources to under- served populations and providing tangible experience the students can take into the work force. To aide in this, and because of the quick growth of the program, a new Program Assistant was hired and Hardin says they expect to need more.

The students will work closely with MSU faculty, Sparrow physicians and be mentored by MSUCOM students.

Source: Floyd Hardin, MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
Writer: Allison Monroe, Innovations News Editor

MSU research finds enhanced poplar trees become a possible biofuel resource

Research finds that poplar trees can be enhanced to break down more easily and as such, become a more viable resource for biofuel.

“Poplar trees are difficult to breakdown for organisms or enzymes,” says Curtis Wilkerson, plant biologist and lead author of the study at Michigan State University. “We can change the pH of the plant in a chemical treatment facility which will allow the plant to function as it normally does.”

Wilkerson along with his colleague, Shawn Mansfield from the University of British Columbia, identified the gene that produces monomers – molecular bonds – and enhanced their degradability. The majority of the cost associated with processing any type of fuel is transportation cost.  The goal is to place processing plants in the center of the agricultural land where the crop is grown and provide a renewable resource that will help lower C02 emissions.

This research was part of a collaboration intent on making transformational breakthroughs in new cellulosic biofuels technology. Funding was provided by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Source: Curtis Wilkerson, Michigan State University
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Camp helps youth improve athletic movement

Young athletes between the ages of 6 and 10 will have the opportunity to improve their athletic movement through an expansion to the Speed and Athletic Enhancement camps offered by the Spartan Nutrition and Performance Program (SNAPP).

SNAPP supports young athletes in the Lansing area by providing training, testing, sports nutrition expertise and a research library at Michigan State University.

“Physical education has been cut out of the public school curriculum in the last decade,” stated Joe Eisenmann, director of SNAPP and professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University. “This program is in response to a call out from the community and parents of younger athletes who want to help their children develop fundamental motor skills.”

The FUNdamentals of Athletic Movement is scheduled for every Sunday from 6p.m. to 7p.m. starting April 27, 2014 and ending on May 25, 2014. The camp will be held at Hannah Community Center in East Lansing. For more information or to register, visit or call 517-884-6133.

Source: Joe Eisenmann, Spartan Nutrition and Performance Program
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

MSU Law Review Symposium examines desegregation

On April 10, 2011, the MSU Law Review will host a symposium that will feature speakers and attorneys who were involved in the landmark desegregation cases during the Civil Rights Movement.

Coinciding with the yearlong Project 60/50, “Pursuing the Dreams of Brown and the Civil Rights Act: A Living History of the Fight for Educational Equality” will examine the progress of integration and desegregation by examining historic cases.

“Desegregation is an ever present issue in education,” said Shannon Smith, MSU Law Review senior symposia editor. “The symposia will provide students an opportunity to meet scholars and individuals that were involved in historic cases that moved desegregation in education forward for diverse groups of children across the nation.”

The symposium will also provide law students an opportunity to gain professional skills and references through their interaction with experienced attorneys that will help them obtain employment in the future.

For more information or to RSVP, visit

The symposium is co-sponsored by MSU College of Education; MSU Department of Political Science; MSU LeFrak Forum on Science, Reason and Modern Democracy; MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives; Education Law Association; University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.
Source: Shannon Smith,  MSU Law Review senior symposia editor
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Attracting wild bees to farms proves a good investment

Attracting wild bees to farms by investing in planting their natural habitat will provide higher harvest yields and will pay for itself in 4 years according to research studies out of Michigan State University.

Historically, wild bees would have had access to a more diverse range of wildflowers to sustain them throughout the growing season. Currently, beekeepers transport honey bees into the area incurring a nationwide expense of $14 billion. This practice will not replace that practice but may supplement the cost.

“It will take some time and patience to realize the return, said Rufus Isaacs, professor and extension specialist in the entomology department. “The Initial cost of planting can be covered by government programs that will help farmers see a return more quickly.”

The study was conducted in farms in western and northern Michigan because they are #1 in the nation for blueberry and tart cherry production. However, the research published in the study is useful for farmers across the state that grow fruits, vegetables and nut varieties that require the pollination of bees.

Blaauw was the lead author on the paper and is now at Rutgers University. Isaacs’ research is funded by the USDA and MSU’s AgBioResearch. 
Source: Rufus Isaacs, Michigan State University
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor 

Lansing-area fire initiative honored

Six Lansing-area jurisdictions shared the spotlight at the Michigan Municipal League’s Region 2 Community Excellence Award (CEA) for their winning project, Metro Connection: A Greater Lansing Shared Services Fire Initiative.

“This project was about finding ways to share  policies and procedures that improve the effectiveness of our city’s emergency response teams,” stated City of East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett. “Many would be surprised about how differently area fire departments respond to emergencies.”

Participating fire departments included the cities of Lansing and East Lansing, Meridian, Lansing, Delta and Delhi Township.

“This project is unique to the competition in that it is a collaboration between Lansing-area jurisdictions and not a brick and mortar business innovation,” emphasized Triplett. “It’s also a great example of how municipalities can provide high quality public services with significant budget constraints.”

The joint project received top honors at the League’s 2014 Capital Conference and will now go on to compete for the statewide CEA title in Marquette on October 14-17, 2014.

Latin IS America Festival celebrates latin culture through music

The Michigan State University College of Music invites the Greater Lansing area to explore Latin America through musical, artistic and scholarly expression during the Latin IS America Festival, April 9-19 2014 at various campus locations.

“Although there are 25 million Hispanics living in the United States,” said Ricardo Lorenz, associate professor and chair of music composition and codirector of Lansing IS America. “We fail to see Latin America as embedded in the culture of the United States.”

 The festival is open to the public and will showcase premieres, a Latin soul string quartet, percussive and choral ensembles, a children's ballet troupe dancing to the works of Mexican composers, a Cuban musicologist, and a Tejano panel discussion and dance party.

“The Latin IS America Festival will portray the culture not as foreign or exotic but a community right here in Lansing and Ann Arbor,” said Lorenz.

The festival offers a variety of free and ticketed events. For detailed information and tickets visit  People can also “like” the festival on Facebook:
Source: Ricardo Lorenz, Michigan State University School of Music
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Hunt for Points and discover culture in your community

A scavenger hunt app created to help community members discover culture in their own community will be releasing an updated version.  The concept for Pointillism was inspired by the Dirty Feet Adventure race whose tag line is ‘Never Stop Exploring’.

“We wanted to create a similar experience that people could do on their own time,” said Jeff Smith, CEO. “We wanted people to get out into the community and discover it in a fun way.”

 Smith and his team partnered with Lansing Give Camp to create the early stages of the app and eventually developed Pointillism into a mobile map where users could check in to unique local sites and earn points on a leaderboard.
The new version will allow users to create private scavenger hunts with as many points of interest as they want. The potential for commercial use is extensive. Michigan State University is interested in setting up a private hunt for incoming freshman to help them get familiar with the campus. This feature is available for a fee with a cost structure based on the amount of users able to participate.

Pointillism has already been utilized by participants of Be A Tourist In Your Own Town.

 “People may not know the awesome things in their own community. Pointillism works to provide users with an insider’s view on a new community while competing against others.” said Smith.
 Source: Jeff Smith, Pointillism
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

GTRI and Prima Civitas team up to enhance Michigan's talent pipeline

Global Talent Retention Initiative(GTRI) and Prima Civitas team up to expand Michigan’s talent pipeline in an effort to cultivate greater economic prosperity for the state.

“Our goal is attracting and retaining talent, whether it comes from within our borders or beyond.” said Prima Civitas CEO Arnold Weinfeld. “Michigan is in catch up mode when it comes to having a highly skilled labor force for the kinds of high wage jobs that are present in our economy today.”

Due to the lack of skilled labor in our country, this initiative is one that encourages an enhancement to our statewide diversity while creating a community that is attractive and welcoming to the immigrant population. This diversity is expected to also attract a younger generation that enjoys diverse surroundings and experiences. Additionally, attracting international students and helping employers sponsor them drives up wages in Michigan because of prevailing wages.

“You are losing half of your talent pool if you don’t consider international students,” asserted GTRI's Director, Athena Trentin. “We don’t have enough engineering students with Masters Degrees or PHDs in Michigan right now. “

Currently, 40% of engineering degrees are awarded to international students with 50% of the degrees earned at the PHD level. 

Source: Arnold Weinfeld, Prima Civitas and Athena Trenton, Global Talent Retention Initiative
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Two Men and a Truck launches Career Move Month

Two Men and a Truck launches Career Move Month in March with a goal of accepting 10,000 applications and hiring 1,000 people nationwide, 24 people in the Greater Lansing area.

"This is an opportunity to showcase the careers and potential for career advancement with Two Men and a Truck,” said President Randy Shacka. “It’s also a way to proactively plan for the busy season between May and September.”

Career Move Month began in 2013 with 1,000 applicants and 550 people hired nationwide.  The local business has seen impressive growth this year signing their largest number of new franchisees and hitting their highest revenues ever. As a system, their focus turned towards improving sales processes and finding the right people to help continue this growth.

“It was the perfect storm of people, processes and technology.  We had to ask ourselves what we could do differently to sustain our growth,” said Shacka, who originally started as an intern with the expanding company. “Companies do not make great companies. People do.”

The diverse positions available will range from movers and drivers to sales and management. The increase in staffing at the Lansing corporate office will require a 7 million dollar expansion of the Greater Lansing home office. 

In addition to the reinvestment in the economic improvement of the Mid-Michigan area, Two Men and a Truck will donate $5,000 to 5 different Dress for Success locations to support career advancement for low-income women nationwide.
Interested candidates can search for existing opportunities at

Source: Randy Shacka, Two Men and a Truck
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

City of East Lansing Geographic Information Site enhanced

The Geographic Information System provided by the City of East Lansing has been enhanced for usability 
and increased information.
“The GIS website provides data that people investing in the community would be looking for,” said Lori 
Mullins, Community and Economic Development Administrator for the City of East Lansing. “Although we 
still encourage community members to contact us for assistance on new developments, the GIS website is a good place to start with initial inquiries regarding property.”
The website allows for visitors to view layers of information related to parcel ownership, taxable value, zoning and links to market data. All commercial property listed publicly, as well as listings reported to the City of East Lansing is included on the mapping tool.
"We recognize the way that people do business today. Whether it’s making plans for vacation or any other activity, people go to the web first,” said Mullins. “If they can find info easily, they’ll have a better experience in the beginning and are more likely to take the next step in making an investment.”
The City of East Lansing will continue to add more information as it becomes available and community members are encouraged to submit feedback for improvement in the future.

Source: Lori Mullins, City of East Lansing
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

Conferences to help educate emerging cooperatives

The MSU Product Center will be hosting 3 conferences this spring to help groups interested in forming cooperatives answer preliminary questions.

A well rounded group of attorneys, financiers, consumer cooperatives and small cooperative representatives and staff help them investigate what their options might be and discuss topics like 5-year strategic plans, long range planning and financing.

“We want to foster sustainable businesses, said Tom Kalchik, director of the Michigan Cooperative Development Program. “Many times we have individuals working on the same thing. If we can get them to work cooperatively they are in a better position to serve customers rather than trying to compete.”

Growers that work within a cooperative are often times more attractive to buyers because they can deal with one entity for delivery and payment.  A great local example would be the Allen Street Market where they work with growers in the area to deliver food to food hubs that are a part of the project.

Attendees are required to preregister for upcoming conferences. Click here for more information.

Source: Tom Kalchik, Michigan Cooperative Development Program
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor 

MSU Extension provides fiscal sustainability training for Lansing City Council

The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC) supports a new program facilitated by Michigan State University Extension that offers City of Lansing officials fiscal sustainability training.

“The financial challenges that the City of Lansing is facing right now are significant,” stated Tim Daman, CEO and President of the LRCC. “Providing an additional outside resource and the tremendous amount of knowledge that Dr. Eric Scorsone of MSU Extension brings to the table will help better educate government officials through this process.”

The training is offered in six modules offered over the course of three 2-hour. Although the modules are geared towards helping Lansing City Council officials make educated decisions that will positively impact the budget, any government official is welcome to attend the interactive workshop sessions.

“We have been working very closely with the City of Lansing and we know the fiscal challenges they are facing,” shared Daman. “We need the City of Lansing as strong and fiscally sound as possible to ensure the fiscal sustainability of our government entity.”

Source: Tim Daman, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor 

E-commerce community brings student art to area businesses

In October 2013, Victoria Bujney, Ashley Brimley and Caitlin McDonald participated in Startup Weekend Lansing. Within 52 hours they had created a rough concept for Folyo, a social e-commerce community geared toward student artists.

“Even if students had amazing work, they were selling to other students who couldn’t afford their art,” said Bujney, co-founder and CEO of Folyo. “Small and medium businesses don’t have the time or resources to pursue art but they have the budget that can afford student art.”

Folyo creates a bridge between talented artists and a market of small to medium sized businesses that want beautiful original art. The co-founders focus heavily on building a community of art enthusiasts who can get to know and engage with the artists creating their one-of-a-kind piece.  It also provides a space for artists to sell their art as well as an opportunity to learn how to price and eventually market their pieces.

“I think a lot of people, expect something like this to come out of New York and California. We have extreme talent here in Michigan.” said Bujney

Folyo is set to launch in April 2014. There is an open application process for top notch artists in the Michigan area. Visit for more information.

Ashley Brimley is the Chief Operating Officer and the artist who inspired the idea behind the new venture while Katelyn McDonald serves as the startup's Chief Technical Officer.

Source: Victorie Bujny, Folyo
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor

4-H Renewable Energy Camp introduces local students to innovative technologies

Local youth between the ages of 13 and 19 are invited to apply to attend the 4-H Renewable Energy Camp.

Starting June 23rd, students will reside in dorms to experience college life and participate in off campus tours around the state to learn about the unique role the state of Michigan plays in renewable energy.

Topics of study will include solar, wind and cellulose power sources. Instructors will show students the process of growing crops like soy beans, corn and sugar cane specifically for the purpose of converting them into energy that can be utilized by the community they live in.

“It will be a dynamic experience that exposes children to renewable energy and how they might be a part of it,” said Jacob Dedecker, Stem Program Leader for MSU Extension. “We provide youth with examples of what careers look like now and what they may be like in the future.”

There will also be a Teen Challenge component of the camp announced in the future.  Participants will work with leading researchers and industry leaders to find solutions to renewable energy problems and make their own experiments.

While creating awareness for the work that Michigan State University and local industries do within the different facets of renewable energy technology, the camp organizers seek to highlight successes and initial endeavors in the field for students interested in pursuing a career in the field.

The application for the camp is available online here. The cost of the camp is $190 for 4-H members and $200 for non-members. The fee includes meals, lodging and camp materials. 

Source: Jacob Dedecker, MSU Extension
Writer: Tashmica Torok, Innovation News Editor
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