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Release Date: November 3, 2014


Innovation Encounter, which is funded in part by a grant from the Kern Family Foundation, and is an annual activity of the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) for colleges.

Student teams from six KEEN colleges – Bucknell University, Ohio Northern University, the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM), Kettering University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, as well as LTU – competed by developing a solution, creating materials to showcase their solution, creating a business case, and preparing an oral presentation.

A business case for a problem was presented by Dan Vander Sluis, research and innovation group leader for product and functions at Faurecia, a leading global supplier of automotive seating, interior systems, automotive exteriors, and emissions-control technologies.

The event was kicked off by the motivational keynote speaker, Thom Nealsshon, who is a member of LTU’s Industrial Advisory Board. Then the student teams participated in a workshop presented by Professor Jonathan Weaver of UDM’s Mechanical Engineering Department. This workshop allowed students to learn about the theory of creative problem solving and practice with problem-solving exercises.

In the evening, Mike Heneka, president of North America Faurecia, welcomed the students and thanked them on behalf of Faurecia. Then Mike Twork and Dan Vander Sluis of Faurecia presented the problem statement that each team had to solve by 3 p.m. the next day. Each team also had to submit a business case for its solution to the problem.

The panel of judges included Dan Vander Sluis, Mike Twork, Jay Hotchkiss, and Jay Hutchins, all from Faurecia. Student teams were given 15 minutes for their oral presentations.

At the awards dinner that evening, first-place winner Kettering University received the grand prize of $1,500. The second place prize of $1,000 went to Bucknell University. The LTU team received $500 for finishing third.

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