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Innovation & Job News

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Construction tech students renovate church


The David W. Elliott Memorial Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant to the Clarkston Schools Construction Tech program for renovation of the historic Sashabaw Presbyterian Church on Maybee Road.

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Recess Cafe opens in downtown Ferndale, empowers LGBTQ youth with life and business skills

After spending the past eight weeks learning about business development, marketing, inventory, and budgeting, the young people of the Affirmations Youth Workforce Program have reached the culmination of their hard work with the grand opening of the Recess Cafe in downtown Ferndale. An open mic night helped ring in the celebration.

Though the classroom portion of the program has come to a close, the Youth Workforce Program will now spend the next eight weeks gaining hands-on experience while actually operating the cafe. Recess Cafe operates every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. through mid-January.

Affirmations, the community center for people that identify as LGBTQ and their allies, runs two 16-week cohorts of the Youth Workforce Development program per year. Cohorts are typically made up of ten to twelve people that identify as LGBTQ, ages 16 to 24 years old.

In addition to the business skills learned, those enrolled in the program also receive monetary stipends to cover travel costs and the time served working the cafe. Members of the local business community make up a business advisory council to advise the youth.

Ian Unger, Youth Program Coordinator at Affirmations, says that both the youth program and Affirmations itself exist to empower people.

"Young people come to Affirmations to find a safe space and to develop life skills," says Unger. "We want to prepare these kids to become the next leaders in their communities."

Each cohort decides how Recess Cafe will be run. The current iteration features an outer space theme, coinciding with the students' idea that Recess Cafe is a space for everyone. Space decorations and space-themed events complement the cafe. Open mics and craft-making nights also make up the programming schedule for the next eight weeks.

The cafe itself features standard fare, including hot chocolate, coffee, tea, smoothies, and root beer. Snacks include jerky, cookies, candy, and other treats.

Recess Cafe is open to the public. It is located in the Affirmations building at 290 W. 9 Mile Rd. in downtown Ferndale.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

OU INC graduates international client company Car Studio

Car Studio, an OU INC client company, recently graduated from its incubator program and international Soft Landing Facility. The company’s success has allowed it to move into a nearby facility in Troy. Headquartered in Europe, Car Studio’s U.S. expansion has led the parent company to decide to keep the U.S. location in Oakland County, thereby adding jobs to the region and becoming a thoroughly successful incubator graduate.

During Car Studio’s time as a client company, OU INC provided incubation and acceleration services to assist Car Studio on their path to success. Car Studio took advantage of the benefits of being located within an incubator and soft landings program, including that of being in close proximity to other growing companies in the expansion phase.

“For us, the best things about OU INC are the spacing, the pricing, and the quiet atmosphere to start a business. OU INC has the warehouse space, which not a lot of places have,” said Andrea Abrami, president, Car Studio North America.

“Though there are many types of businesses in one office building, we all have the same startup business mentality. So, if you need anything or have questions, we’re all in it together.”

Car Studio was founded in 1986 in Europe by Dario Abrami after having gained more than 20 years of experience in the design industry. Expanding rapidly, it became one of the leading companies in the automotive and agriculture sectors. Today, Car Studio boasts experience in many different sectors and can offer a high level of technical competence thanks to qualified collaborators and state-of-the-art IT systems.

OU INC is a designated Soft Landing Facility for international companies through the International Business Association (iNBIA). iNBIA’s Soft Landings network ensures that businesses entering or expanding into a new country are provided with an accelerated introduction to that country’s business practices, regulations, and culture. Soft Landings designees help make contacts in a new country more quickly and efficiently while providing access to the resources necessary to meet their business goals.

OCC awarded Gold Veteran-Friendly status

Oakland Community College was awarded Gold Veteran-Friendly status by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) for its commitment to supporting the needs of student veterans and dependents. This is OCC's second consecutive award; the first award received was for silver status.

"This award is an acknowledgment that OCC values our veterans and their service to our country," said Sandra Strong, Manager of Student Financial Resources & Scholarships/Veterans. "Providing the best possible support and resources for them and their dependents has always been a priority for the College. Our work is to continue to improve and expand our services to meet the needs of our military families and help them achieve their academic and career goals."

OCC is in good company with the MVAA award. A record 70 colleges throughout Michigan were recognized this year, the third year of the program. The College is one of 41 attaining Gold status.

"Michigan is fortunate to have top quality educational institutions that maintain high standards of support and services for our growing population of veterans and their families," said MVAA Director James Robert Redford. "The program makes it easy for students to identify which schools are invested in their success, and we greatly appreciate the commitment of this year's participants.

OCC participates in six veterans educational benefits plans with most College programs approved by the Veterans Administration for enrollment. To learn more about veterans services at OCC, visit the Veteran Benefits webpage.

An estimated 16,458 military-connected students are attending the 70 ranked institutions for the 2017 academic year. Criteria the schools must meet include having an active student-operated veterans club or association; veteran-specific career services or advising; on-campus veteran's coordinator, and awarding credit based on prior military training and experience.

LTU among state's top five schools in earning power, mechanical engineering

Lawrence Technological University continues to be among the top schools in the Great Lakes region when it comes to the compensation of its graduates – and in rankings of the school overall.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows Lawrence Tech is No. 5 among the state’s 93 colleges and universities for the average annual earnings of its graduates, at $59,800, according to Mlive.com.

And Zippia.com, the San Mateo, Calif.-based career guidance website, this week ranked Lawrence Tech No. 4 in Michigan on its list for “best colleges for mechanical engineering majors.” The results were based on average earnings after six and 10 years in a career, the percentage of graduates at the institution who were mechanical engineering majors, rates of admissions and graduation, and cost and debt issues. (Read the full story at this link.)

PayScale, the Seattle, Wash.-based compensation consultant, also currently ranks LTU No. 4 among bachelor’s degree-granting institutions in Michigan for the pay of its recent graduates (those with zero to 5 years of job experience) and of its graduates with 10 years of career experience. The ranking puts LTU in the nation’s top 100.

U.S. News & World Report ranked LTU No. 38 among Regional Universities-Midwest, up from 40 in 2017 and 54 in 2016. U.S. News also ranked LTU 25th on its list of Best Colleges for Veterans, which identifies schools that fully participate in federal programs helping veterans and active service members pursue a college education.

Other top rankings include the Princeton Review’s “Best in the Midwest” designation, conferred on only the top 25 percent of colleges and universities, and its lists of Green Colleges and Best Schools for Game Design.

A 2015 study from the prestigious Brookings Institution ranked Lawrence Technological University fifth in the country for providing the most value-added in preparing its graduates for well-paying occupations.

Oakland University approves Public Relations and Strategic Communication major

The public relations professional works hard to get positive messages into the public arena through traditional and social media methods. This field requires resourceful and creative communicators who overcome increasingly crowded airwaves with impactful stories that help promote their clients’ objectives. It is also a profession expected to grow in the next several years. 
To fill that expected need, a newly approved Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communication has been added at Oakland University. OU’s program begins with the Fall 2018 semester and joins only two other universities in Southeast Michigan offering such a degree. Currently, public relations is the most popular minor in the Department of Communication and Journalism. 
“For the first year, 30 students will be admitted into the new PR major,” said Chiaoning Su, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism who has helped shape the curriculum. “Applications for the charter class will begin being accepted in January 2018 and will be considered contingent upon many factors, including a 3.0 grade point average or better in WRT 1060 Writing Composition II, JRN 2000 Intro to Journalism and News Writing and JRN 2500 Intro to Public Relations.”
 “This program will be rigorous both in theories classes and applied skills,” according to Garry Gilbert, director of the journalism program and chair of the committee that brought forward the idea of adding public relations nearly three years ago. “Several new classes will be offered including, writing for PR, research methods in public relations and a crisis communication class.”
The committee saw a growing interest from students and surveyed 36 area PR agencies who all thought adding this major would help graduates find jobs after college. 

“Our location is optimum for students to get a great internship in PR, and we know those internships tend to lead to jobs,” Gilbert said.
Su added, “Our long-term plans include establishing a chapter in the Public Relations Student Society of America and developing study abroad internship opportunities.”
Another encouraging sign is that employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their PR report indicates, “The need for organizations to maintain their public image will continue to drive employment growth. Candidates can expect strong competition for jobs at advertising and public relations firms and organizations with large media exposure.”

Humanetics Innovative Solutions opens headquarters in Farmington Hills


Humanetics Innovative Solutions, a global supplier of automotive crash test dummies, has moved its headquarters to an updated facility in Farmington Hills.

Located 10 miles north of the company’s former headquarters, the new 100,000-square-foot facility was customized to meet Humanetics needs for manufacturing, engineering, calibration, software development, corporate administrative functions, and consolidating all Michigan-based operations into one location.

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OCC sweeps Michigan Chefs de Cuisine awards

In a region known for its foodies and talent, winning is important to Oakland Community College (OCC) Culinary Studies Institute (CSI) alumni. Great chefs know winning takes passion, stamina, creativity, attention to detail and remarkable training as the key ingredients – and the competition is as stiff as a good meringue on a holiday pie.

For the fourth year in a row, a graduate of OCC's award-winning culinary program picked up the Chef of the Year award while the Pastry Chef of the Year and Chef Educator of the Year also went to OCC graduates in this year's annual American Culinary Federation (ACF) Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Awards.

The Chef of the Year award winner is Chef Rob Coran, Executive Sous Chef at Walnut Creek Country Club and a 2014 OCC Culinary Studies Institute graduate. Coran joins a select group of nine alumni ACF Chef of the Year winners.

"Rob was a very talented student and a team leader for the OCC culinary team who won a silver medal during that time," shared his former OCC instructor Chef Kevin Enright CEC/CCE/AAC. "He has worked hard on becoming a truly talented chef."

Chef Mark Slessor won Pastry Chef of the Year. Slessor is the Pastry Chef at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester and graduated from the OCC CSI program in 2006. This is the third time OCC alumni have won this honor in the past four years.

Chef Educator of the Year went to Chef Terri Briggs, a faculty member at Washtenaw Community College and a 1997 graduate of OCC. Rounding out the sweep was Andrew Dos Santos, who picked up the Student Chef of the Year award. Dos Santos, 20 and a Farmington Hills resident, works at Walnut Creek Country Club in South Lyon. He will graduate from the CSI program in 2018.

Competitions for the awards took place in August and September, and the awards announced this fall. Chefs, nominated by their peers, had to meet rigorous standards established by the ACF then competed in a hot food competition. They were evaluated and scored by certified ACF judges on their performance.

The winners will go on to compete at the ACF Regional Convention February 16-18, 2018, in Madison, WI, where they will compete in another hot food competition against chefs from the Midwest. Winners of the regional competition move on to the national competition next July in New Orleans.

"OCC's Culinary Studies Institute has a long history of graduating outstanding chefs," said Susan Baier, OCC faculty, past program coordinator, and herself a 2014 winner of the Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Educator of the Year award. "We are proud of their many accomplishments and delighted that they, and our program, are consistently recognized by the state and national organizations like MCCA and ACF."

About OCC - With five campuses throughout Oakland County, OCC offers degrees and certificates in approximately 100 career fields as well as university transfer degrees in business, science and liberal arts. The College provides academic and developmental experiences allowing each student to reach their full potential and enhance the communities they serve. More than 45,000 students annually attend OCC; more than a million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.

The Culinary Studies Institute has been preparing aspiring chefs for a career in the food and beverage industry for decades. For more on the OCC Culinary Studies Institute, visit the Culinary Program webpage. The program is housed on the Orchard Ridge Campus.

About Michigan Chefs de Cuisine (MCCA) - The MCCA, an American Culinary Federation chapter organization, was founded in 1970 by Master Chef Milos Cihelka, whose vision it was to create one of the most prestigious chef's associations in the nation. The Chapter consists of about 350 members. The goals of the MCCA are to further culinary education and professional growth, provide networking opportunities, and support charitable organizations. For more information, visit MCCA's website.

Innovation Encounter engineering competition at LTU headed into ninth year

A design competition for engineering students invented at Lawrence Technological University is entering its ninth year with enthusiastic support from industry.

Initial financial support for Innovation Encounter came from the Kern Family Foundation. The Wisconsin-based foundation, founded by the family behind Generac generators, seeks to boost the level of entrepreneurship education in the nation’s engineering schools. Innovation Encounter is now self-sustaining through its sponsors. The competition itself was created by Donald Reimer, college professor of engineering at LTU, based on an innovation event that LTU attended at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2007.

Since the first Innovation Encounter in 2010, more than a dozen universities from coast to coast have participated. Most have been members of a group of schools called KEEN, the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network, universities that have had grant support from the Kern Foundation. Industry sponsors over the years have included ElringKlinger Automotive Manufacturing Inc., Faurecia, Ford Motor Co., Masco Corp., Microsoft Corp., Sundberg-Ferar Inc., and Visteon Corp.

Lawrence Tech won the event in 2015, placed second in 2014 and third in 2016.

“Innovation Encounter continues to engage students and industry in solving real-world engineering problems,” Reimer said. “Lawrence Tech is proud to host this event as an example of the university’s longtime motto, ‘Theory and Practice.’”

In this year’s competition, held Oct. 20-21 on the LTU campus, Marquette University placed first, Ohio Northern University second and Worcester Polytechnic Institute third.

In Innovation Encounter, student teams are given a real-world engineering challenge developed by the event’s sponsor. This year, the sponsor was Dürr Systems Inc., the Southfield-based subsidiary of the German mechanical and plant engineering firm Dürr AG. Three Dürr engineers served as the event’s judges.

The problem statement presented by Dürr focused on infrastructure upgrades of an existing automated industrial paint shop. The teams were challenged with doubling the production output, while not increasing the length or footprint of a coating systems production line.

Although Innovation Encounter is an engineering challenge, by the very nature of the competition, students with non-engineering majors also add needed diversity to the teams. “It was interesting to watch the students’ thought process as they tackled the challenge problem,” said Tim Devries, Dürr project manager. Designs and calculations were not enough to bring home the win. The teams also needed to show confidence as they presented their challenge solutions and answered the questions asked by the Dürr judges.

“Innovation Encounter is an excellent opportunity for students to obtain practical experience with a real world engineering issue,” said Gina Zasadny, entrepreneurial coordinator at LTU. “This provides a terrific platform to stretch technical, creative, and business skills that will transfer to the workplace. Ultimately, this type of experience makes the student stand out among their collegiate peers.”

Michigan US China Exchange Center launches in Troy


A new industry trade group, the Michigan US China Exchange Center in Troy, has launched and hosted a delegation from the China Wuxi Die and Mould Trade Association on Nov. 8 at the Iroquois Club in Bloomfield Hills.

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LG Electronics manufacturing coming to Hazel Park, job fair next week


New green jobs are coming to Hazel Park and city officials are urging residents to apply at an upcoming job fair. 

City Manager Ed Klobucher said LG Electronics is getting ready to take space in a facility inside the massive Tri-County Commerce Center building at 1400 E. 10 Mile Road that opened this summer.

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Beaumont Health acquires Southfield building for shared services

Beaumont Health has purchased the First Center building in Southfield to consolidate shared services employees currently working in 16 owned or leased buildings in three counties across Metro Detroit.

“This consolidation of our business services that support patient care is a major step forward in advancing our commitment to being the employer of choice,” said Carolyn Wilson, chief operating officer, Beaumont Health. “It will allow teams in separate locations to work together in an updated, collaborative space with amenities our employees want, promoting teamwork, while enhancing efficiency and reducing cost. It will also help free up much-needed space on our hospital campuses for patient care, by pulling business and administrative professionals out of our inpatient settings.”

Beaumont evaluated 45 properties in Metro Detroit before deciding to purchase the First Center building on Northwestern Highway near Lahser Road. The 686,000-square-foot multi-tenant building was built in 1984 and sits on 31 acres of land.

Beaumont will initially occupy 360,000-square-feet in the building. Existing tenant leases will remain and will be evaluated going forward. The building will be renamed and branded as a Beaumont facility along with existing tenant signage.

About 2,500-3,000 Beaumont employees will be relocated to the building in phases by the end of 2018. Beaumont’s financial services team will lead the way, relocating in early 2018, once building renovations are complete.

Details of what other departments will move and when are still being worked out, but could include functions such as compliance, legal affairs, information technology, human resources and others.

“This is another important step in pulling Beaumont Health together as one high performance organization providing the highest quality patient care and demonstrating best practices in all patient care support areas,” said John Fox, CEO, Beaumont Health. “With 38,000 employees and 5,000 physicians, we are in a great position to positively impact the overall health status in Southeast Michigan.”

The building’s open floor plan office design will include meeting rooms, shared amenity areas and collaborative spaces. Work teams will have input in customizing their work areas. The building will also include a first-floor conference center for large Beaumont business meetings.

“We will be creating an open, collaborative and flexible work environment based on the latest research around workplace design,” said Wilson. “This new work environment will optimize employee productivity and outcomes which will ultimately benefit the patients and families we serve.”

Neumann/Smith of Southfield is the architectural and design firm working with Beaumont on the design and renovation of office space.

Beaumont began its search for a shared services location in mid-2015 after looking at where its shared services employees live and identifying Southfield as a central location that would minimize additional drive time for many employees affected by the move.

Michigan universities push ahead on autonomous vehicles


On the small campus of Lawrence Technological University, a few students are on the cusp of programming one of the nation’s first autonomous vehicles as a class project.

Already, the two-seat electric vehicle — the size of a golf cart — won an international competition last spring for the software the students developed, taking first place in a new division of the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition at Oakland University.

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Vectorform's Vazzano talks VR, AI, IoT and digital transformation


Vectorform co-founder Jason Vazzano talks about his digital transformation company in Royal Oak that works with Amazon, Walt Disney and other big players to help them innovate, another of the Tech248 Member interviews conducted by Irene Spanos with Oakland County government.

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Beaumont Health tests Michigan's first 3D whole breast ultrasound for cancer detection


Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn is one of eight centers nationwide participating in research to improve the detection of breast cancer in women by using SoftVue three-dimensional ultrasound technology on women with dense breast tissue.

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