A better face mask. Meal-delivering robots. Virus-resistant materials. Huskies wouldn’t be Huskies without a solution-oriented response to the global pandemic. You can help.
When students in Michigan Technological University's Enterprise Program partner with companies to do real projects, it’s a win-win combination. With the challenges for both higher education and business greater than ever, the community also factors into the equation. You can help student entrepreneurs and their corporate and campus sponsors innovate ways to address the challenges presented by COVID-19.
Which COVID-19 Enterprise projects will make efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 easier and more efficient? Pick your best of seven:
Shared Air Filtration System: An affordable proof-of-concept solution for indoor spaces to improve air quality and reduce the risk of disease spread.
Physical Distancing Technology: Devices or apps to help people maintain six-foot distancing—for example, indicating when the grocery store is the least crowded.
Small-scale Sanitizing Unit: Personal or family-size models for disinfecting/decontaminating cloth face coverings or other personal protective equipment.
Virus-resistant Materials: Coatings and other materials that can be used on high-frequency touchpoints in public areas, like door handles and handrails, to reduce viral spread.
Open-source Home Care Equipment: Designs for special-needs products like hospital-style beds and bathing aids for those convalescing at home could be built by individuals or local and regional manufacturers in the event of regional outbreaks that deplete equipment supplies.
A More Comfortable Mask: A prototype developed after review of home- and medical-grade face masks to solve issues with fit and comfort, removing an obstacle to widespread adoption of this method to prevent viral spread.
Touch-free Delivery: A robot or autonomous device to bring packages and meals to customers safely.
Brainstorm. Vote. Share.
Explore the seven proposed projects in more detail and vote for the one you’d like to see funded first. You can also propose projects. Besides contributing your thoughts and your time, you can also donate funding—not required, but deeply appreciated.
Enterprise Teams Count on Sponsors, Too
In its 20-year history, MTU Enterprise has relied on corporate, small business, and individual sponsors who know that Huskies who choose the Enterprise pathway stand out in the global workplace. Students don’t have to take Enterprise. They choose to, in order to learn how to design, plan, and make solutions happen in the real world. As ArcelorMittal's Joe Nowosad put it, "Enterprise has helped us attract some of the best and brightest students to our industry. It has allowed us to watch these students work on real-world problems and see how they approach problem solving and design verification in a team environment, much like they would experience working with industry vendors solving problems for us."
COVID-19 Constraints Don't Stop Tenacious Huskies
Some might be wondering how Enterprise students will be able to get their hands dirty and their feet wet—to spend long hours in labs and workshops, on the testing grounds, and in the field, like they’ve always done. The answer, says Chris Morgan, assistant director of educational partnerships, is not doing it like it’s always been done. In fact, the notion of a status quo is contrary to the process of innovation, which is driven by the need to change, to move ahead, to improve. Enterprise has always embodied that process and will continue to do so with forward-thinking flexibility, from virtual brainstorming to small-group work.
"Engineering solutions affect all walks of life. What better time to center an Enterprise team's focus on helping out the world by tackling the problem at hand?" said Morgan.
"We hope the community as well as existing and new sponsors will be as excited about these projects as we are. Voting will end on Thursday, August 20. Your participation is much appreciated!"
Enterprise has already learned a great deal about the need for agility during the pandemic. When the annual Design Expo Showcase for Enterprise and Senior Design wasn’t able to take place in person during the spring semester, the event moved online. The shift brought in a larger audience than ever before for the first real-time award presentations.
“Safety is our first priority for navigating COVID-19,” said Enterprise Program Director Rick Berkey. “But Enterprise has a long history of meeting challenges and delivering the quality work our partners and clients expect—masks and social distancing are viewed as opportunities to work innovatively as our students rise to the challenge!”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.