A collaboration with industry to enhance undergraduate engineering education.
A collaboration with industry to enhance undergraduate engineering education.
Enterprise Race Car
A collaboration with industry to enhance undergraduate engineering education.
“Students working on projects of this scale no longer feel like students.”

The enterprise program has just completed its second full year; development was supported by the National Science Foundation. For more information, see http://www.enterprise.mtu.edu or contact Mary Raber at 906/487-2005 or mraber@mtu.edu

Michigan Technological University: The Enterprise Program

Building a hybrid electric SUV. Evaluating groundwater and recommending ecosystem improvements. Developing hardware, software, and a test bed for wireless communications. Design and construction of pavement.

This is college?

It is at Michigan Tech, where the “engineering enterprise” program introduces sophomores, juniors and seniors to education across disciplines, team learning and undergraduate research.

An enterprise gives a team of students from varied disciplines the opportunity to work for two or three years in a business-like setting to solve real-world engineering problems supplied by industry.

“Students working on projects of this scale no longer feel like students,” said Carl Anderson, professor of mechanical engineering and an enterprise team faculty advisor. “They feel like engineers. They take ownership of the project and that’s the magic.”

Students join an enterprise during their second year and remain with the project throughout the rest of their academic careers. All enterprise employees (students) have prescribed responsibilities corresponding to their levels of abilities and technical education.

In addition to working on real-world projects, the enterprise program requires structured mini-courses or modules covering topics in communication and working in teams. Students also choose modules covering additional business issues and specialized engineering topics.

“The enterprise program will expose students to the ‘real world’ problems and situations they will face upon graduation,” said Gerald Haycock, director of core and advanced powertrain engineering at Ford Motor, a major supporter of enterprises. “This gives them not only the technical tools, but also critical personal and team building skills.”

Each enterprise seeks to have at least one corporate sponsor helping to drive the process. Partners provide funding for supplies, equipment and travel.

Companies also provide mentors for the students, communicating by e-mail and phone and making two visits to campus for program planning and evaluation. At the end of each year, teams submit detailed written and oral reports.

2002-03 Enterprise Teams:

  • Aerospace (hands-on aerospace education/experience)
  • Alternative Fuels (provide viable solutions to energy problems)
  • Aqua Terra Tech (provide comprehensive picture of hydrogeological setting in which groundwater supplies reside)
  • Automotive Systems (automotive engineering consulting services)
  • Campus and Community Development Programs (campus improvement initiatives)
  • Clean Snowmobile Challenge (noise/emissions reduction national collegiate design competition)
  • Consumer Products Manufacturing (product/process design and development)
  • Formula SAE Car (Indy-style race car national collegiate design competition)
  • Future Truck (hybrid electric SUV national collegiate design competition)
  • Integrated Microsystems (design and development of wireless integrated microsystem technologies)
  • IT Oxygen (provide dynamic, customizable, server-side solutions for the creation, acquisition, analysis, collaboration and dissemination of expert knowledge)
  • Mini-Baja SAE (mini-baja national collegiate design competition)
  • Pavement Design, Construction and Materials (road pavement design, materials, and construction)
  • PrISM (Program in Integrated Sustainable Manufacturing)
  • Robotic Systems (robotic design and manufacturing solutions)
  • Wireless Communications (test bed for wireless communications, hardware, software development)
  • Entrepreneurial Ventures (product, process and technology innovation)