Roundup: WSU’s ITT Outreach, LIFT Prize, VNN & More

Here’s a look at tech and innovation news from around Michigan this month:

—Wayne State University is offering free academic counseling to displaced ITT students. According to a press release, affected ITT students can schedule appointments with WSU counselors to discuss financial aid and credit transfers. The counselors will help the students determine if WSU is a good fit.

“Even if Wayne State is not the right fit for them, we want to offer these students support and encourage them to continue with their education,” said Dawn Medley, the university’s associate vice president of enrollment management.

Former ITT students can make an appointment at studentservice@wayne.edu or by calling (313) 577-2100. Students are also invited to attend a special session at Wayne State’s fall open house on Oct. 15.

—Detroit-based Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT) and the Ohio State University Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence have identified computer-controlled manufacturing and reshaping, also known as “robotic blacksmithing,” as the next breakthrough manufacturing technology. They’re seeking teams of students to join the LIFT Prize in Robotic Blacksmithing competition.

The competition is a LIFT education and workforce development initiative for high school and college students in which they can earn cash prizes. Phase one of the competition, where students will program a machine to reshape clay, will run through the 2016-17 school year. LIFT plans to use the competition to develop methods for shaping metal directly using all the tricks a human blacksmith usually does, but with the reproduction and data collection of an automated system.

The program’s goal is to ensure participants have the foundational science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills for success in future advanced manufacturing careers. The competition is open to students at any high school, community college, career/technical college, college, and university in the United States. Teams can be affiliated with an educational institution or can be formed as independent clubs, and they can also ask for donations, loans, cash grants, equipment, or advice. Students are required to take charge of the project, control the necessary equipment and resources, and do the programming. Competition winners will be named in April; you can learn more about the competition here.

Ryan Vaughn of Varsity News Network (VNN) has been selected to join Endeavor, the nonprofit organization has announced. Endeavor Detroit set up shop in the Motor City 18 months ago with the goal of finding mid-stage startups that are poised to scale, and providing them with a suite of services and programs, as well as access to its international mentor network.

VNN is a Grand Rapids, MI-based company that facilitates online communication between high school athletic departments, parents, and athletes. The company was chosen at Endeavor’s international selection panel, featuring global business leaders and investors drawn from Endeavor’s network. Vaughn is one of 34 entrepreneurs representing 18 companies and 12 countries who were selected at the panel.

Workpack Solutions, a Grand Rapids-based enterprise resource planning software provider, announced earlier this month that it has released a new tracking technology for manufacturers in the printed packaging and food production industries. The Work In Progress tracker allows manufacturers to access previously non-integrated data points in the production process.

The tracker also provides increased visibility during production, such as the number of sheets or pieces a machine is running, operator time, run waste, and other relative data. This hardware was developed to improve current problems involving traceability within production facilities and pull it all into one dashboard.

“WIP tracker is enabling folding carton manufacturers to [work] with increased visibility, traceability, and efficiency, which allows them to now see and track details of jobs at any specific point in time down to the second,” said Workpack senior software engineer Douglas Scranton in a press release. “And the best part is that it [can] all be accessed remotely from your smartphone.”

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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