Regional Biz Incubators Win Funding From LEAP

LANSING — Four Lansing-area business incubators will receive from the New Economy Division of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership.

The incubators responded to a request for proposals earlier this year and will receive $5,000 to support their unique programming and operations.

The awarded incubators are:

* The Allen Neighborhood Center, an agriculture-based incubator on the east side of Lansing.
* The Technology Innovation Center, a tech business incubator in East Lansing.
* The Fledge, a youth-focused incubator in downtown Grand Ledge.
* The Runway, the state’s first fashion and design incubator located in the former Knapp’s department store building in downtown Lansing.

Each have completed a memorandum of understanding to solidify the adoption of best practices in business incubation to ensure long term sustainability.

“Each incubator is unique and offers a plethora of support resources to their tenants,” said LEAP business incubation manager Quin Stinchfield. “We want to ensure the sustainability of these incubators as they continue on their trajectory for success in creating ideas, jobs, and new wealth for the Lansing region.”

Added LEAP president and CEO Bob Trezise: “The global Lansing
region continues to rapidly build a brand new, entrepreneurial, and
business startup culture. This is the number one way to convince
younger talent, especially that of Michigan State University, that the
Lansing region is the kind of creative, fun metropolitan climate they
seek. Support of our incubators is one key piece to a very big puzzle.”

For more information about LEAP, visit http://www.purelansing.com.

Baker College President Retiring, Successor Promoted

FLINT — The Baker College System Board of Trustees has announced that Bart Daig, Ph.D., a 25-year veteran of Baker College, will become president and CEO of the Baker College System Jan. 1. He will succeed F. James Cummins, who will retire, having worked for Baker College for nearly 30 years.

Continue reading Baker College President Retiring, Successor Promoted

MSU Sets Chemical Engineering Research Forum

EAST LANSING — The Department of Chemical Engineering and
Materials Science at Michigan State University has scheduled its annual ChEMS Research Forum for Thursday, May 12.

The forum will be held at the Huntington Club at Spartan Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University.

The 13th Annual ChEMS Research Forum will showcase Departmental research advances in the areas of energy and sustainability, nanotechnology and materials, biotechnology and biomedical engineering.

The one-day program will feature plenary speakers, posters and oral
presentations describing the latest department research. Registration, lunch, and refreshments are complimentary.

Featured speakers include Matthew Neurock, Shell Professor of
Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, University of Minnesota;
Deborah F. Mielewski, senior tech leader on materials and sustainability at the Ford Motor Co. Research and Innovation Center; Scott Calabrese Barton, associate profesesor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU; and Andre Y. Lee, associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science at MSU.

Sponsors include Battelle, Chemtura, Dow Chemical Co. and Dow
Corning Corp.

To register, visit http://www.chems.msu.edu/forum2016/Registration.

Robert Half Offers 2016 Tech Job Trends

SOUTHFIELD — The temporary tech staffing firm Robert Half
Technology says hiring challenges remain as IT operations move into
2016.

A survey of CIOs and IT executives around the country found that
desktop support was the skill most in demand by IT managers, cited by 57 percent, followed by database management at 55 percent, network administration at 54 percent and windows administration at 52 percent.

In other survey results, 81 percnet of CIOs believe wearable technology will become a common workplace tool, with 38 percent believe it will happen within the next five years.

Also, to improve security, 54 percent want to beef up employee training, 45 percent want to vet consulting firms more closely and 45 percent plan to hire more security pros.

Finally, salaries in 2016 will rise. Starting salaries in IT are predicted to increase 5.3 percent in 2016 – wireless networking engineers will see the highest predicted gains at 9.7 percent.

More at http://www.rht.com.

Science Center Kicks Off ‘STEMinista Project’ To Boost Girls’ Interest In STEM

DETROIT — The Michigan Science Center is kicking off a new project to interest girls in STEM careers.

Called the STEMinista Project, the goal is to collect 150 profiles of women working in STEM careers, in STEM research, education and entrepreneurship or who have STEM degrees, to use as role models for the girls who will be involved in the program.

Women in STEM are invited to submit a biography at this Google Docs link.

The goal of the STEMinista Project is to spark and maintain interest in STEM in elementary and middle school girls. The Science Center aims to broaden the pipeline of the next generation of STEMinistas. The program will engage girls with authentic STEM experiences designed to increase their interest, confidence and skill sets in STEM. Organizers say a critical part of this process is exposing girls to role models who have achieved in STEM.

The Case Of The Sticky Protein: Michigan Tech Sleuths On A Biochemistry Mystery

HOUGHTON — Proteins are like a body’s in-house Lego set. Most of the time, these large, complex molecules fold correctly—but sometimes they misfold, which can lead to a number of different diseases including ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Many of these interactions, both folded and misfolded, are affected by the surface chemistry of proteins. Specifically, how sticky the proteins are.

The problem is that researchers don’t have highly sensitive tools or methods to measure the stickiness, or the hydrophobicity, of protein surfaces. Now, an interdisciplinary team at Michigan Technological University has gathered new tools to solve the case of the sticky protein. Their work on improving the sensitivity of hydrophobicity detection came out in the scholarly publication Scientific Reports.

Hydrophobic, Sticky Proteins

Ashutosh Tiwari, an associate professor of chemistry at Michigan Tech and corresponding author on the study, compares a sticky protein to a ball covered in glue with a few craft pom-poms stuck to it.

“When you roll it on the ground, it will non-specifically bind with a lot of gunk,” said Tiwari, at left in the photo above. “What we want to know is how much of that surface is sticky, and if we can define it in terms of stickiness, then we will know the protein’s tendency to bind with gunk, which reflects its ability to interact with other proteins.”

Many of those interactions are a normal function of proteins, but biochemists think extra stickiness can drive the protein misfolding and aggregation process. Protein aggregates are called many names including amyloid, plaques, tangles, inclusions, and pick bodies—the body’s signatures for many neurodegenerative diseases.

Nethaniah Dorh, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student with Tiwari, focused on this work for his dissertation. In this video, he explains what inspires his research.

Tiwari’s lab focuses on untangling these misfolded proteins. But in order to peel apart the details of protein stickiness, they had to recruit researchers to help them design chemical probes that are sensitive to surface hydrophobicity.

Bring in the Synthetic Chemists

Tiwari collaborated with Haiying Liu, a professor of chemistry at Michigan Tech. As a synthetic chemist, Liu practices both the science and art of crafting molecules. In this case, his team designed and produced several fluorescent dyes based on boron-dipyrromethene (and shortened to BODIPY by researchers) for sensing protein surface-hydrophobicity. Using these hydrophobic sensors, Tiwari’s lab led experiments that measured hydrophobicity in three proteins: Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA), apomyoglobin and myoglobin.

MTU protein research

In the study, the proteins are like the glue-covered ball and the BODIPY-based probes are the gunk. Because of the hydrophobic interactions—how the protein surface and BODIPY-based probe glom together—a stickier protein will have more gunk and will glow brighter when it fluoresces. The BODIPY-based probes fluoresced much more than one of the most commonly used probes, ANS.

“This is like going from having one 40-watt light bulb and then having 60 of them in the same room, just imagine the difference in illumination,” Tiwari says, explaining that this makes the probes more sensitive as well, which could be useful for sensing hydrophobic proteins at very low concentrations.

A Problem for the Physicists

To figure out why the new hydrophobic sensing probes based on BODIPY core beat out ANS, Tiwari turned to Ranjit Pati, a professor of physics at Michigan Tech. The team shed light by calculating the energy driving the probes’ fluorescence.

Basically, fluorescence works by exciting electrons, and as they calm down and return back to their regular energy levels they emit light. The difference between the calm and excited levels drives the brightness and longevity of fluorescence. The energy gap for several of the hydrophobic sensors is about 2.2 electron volts, ideal for fluorescence.

Tiwari and Dorh say the collaboration was instrumental in the study; each of these steps could have been a separate study. Instead of needing to reconcile the data in hindsight, the team was able to integrate the data up front.

“We also have a way to design future dyes based on this research to improve the process,” Dorh says, explaining that while the ultimate goal for him is to improve protein misfolding detection, the probes could have applications beyond that.

“As a grad student,” he adds, “going forward I have an understanding that collaboration is key to progress — no man is an island.”

And no sticky protein is a lone glue-ball. Solving these clues will enable researchers to pursue hydrophobicity studies within cells, going after the misfolded mafia of cellular and protein interactions.

Last M2 TechCast Of 2015 Monday

SOUTHFIELD — The M2 TechCast is celebrating its 15th episode with a special year-in-review edition Monday afternoon.

You can listen to the Michigan tech news podcast live on the internet at 3 p.m. Eastern time at http://www.podcastdetroit.com.

Scheduled guests on the Dec. 21 show include:
* Cyber security experts Dan Lohrmann and Richard Stiennon, who will take a look at the biggest cyber attacks of 2015 and conjecture on what cybersecurity threats might await businesses, governments and consumers in 2016.
* Max Muncey from the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, who will talk about the new website and mobile apps available for the nearly one million people who are expected to visit the North American International Auto Show in January.
* Online Tech Inc. CEO Yan Ness, and head of the Michigan Data Center Alliance, who will share his views on the tax breaks given this week to Las Vegas-based Switch to woo them to Michigan where the company plans to convert a former Steelcase building in suburban Grand Rapids into a $5 billion data center.

The M2 TechCast is part of the Podcast Detroit family of more than 30 podcasts, produced locally at the Podcast Detroit studios in Ferndale. Those studios were established by the founders of the IT in the D podcast, David Phillips and Bob Waltenspiel.

Previous editions of the show are available on iTunes, http://www.soundcloud.com and http://www.podcastdetroit.com.

The show is hosted by Mike Brennan, owner of Michigan Technology News and its tech news website, http://www.mitechnews.com, and Matt Roush, director of communications and public relations at The Engineering Society of Detroit, and managing editor of its tech news website, http://www.techcentury.com, and the quarterly print magazine TechCentury, published by ESD since 1939.

2015 A Record Year For Fanuc — 400,000 Robots Sold

ROCHESTER HILLS — Fanuc America Corp., the Rochester Hills-based supplier of robotics and factory automation, said Monday that its parent company, Oshino, Japan-based Fanuc Corp., set a new record for production in 2015, with more than 400,000 robots sold worldwide during the year.

Continue reading 2015 A Record Year For Fanuc — 400,000 Robots Sold

ESD On WJR Saturday

SOUTHFIELD — WJR AM 760’s weekend high-tech show, The Internet Advisor, will have an Engineering Society of Detroit flavor Saturday.

Matt Roush, ESD’s director of communications and public relations and managing editor of its TechCentury magazine and website, will be a special guest host on the show from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday. Roush will appear with Mike Brennan, owner of Michigan Technology News and its tech news website, http://www.mitechnews.com. Roush and Brennan also co-host the M2 TechCast, a weekly podcast about Michigan technology and engineering that airs live on the internet Mondays at 3 p.m. at http://www.podcastdetroit.com.

Continue reading ESD On WJR Saturday

Michigan Tech Engineers Make Wheelchair Exercise Equipment Better

HOUGHTON — Regular exercise is important for maintaining health, especially for wheelchair users. However, exercise equipment to be used with a wheelchair is not always readily accessible, adjustable or effective. A team of mechanical engineering, kinesiology and physical therapy students are collaborating on developing new exercise equipment for wheelchair users. Steven Elmer leads the team, which is working to bridge the gap between engineering and rehabilitation.

Elmer is an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and
Integrative Physiology, and also has affiliated appointments in the
Departments of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics and Biological Sciences. Over the past several months and into the New Year, Elmer’s team is bringing 10 wheelchair users to campus to use the specially designed exercise equipment and measure how it impacts upper body muscles.

Continue reading Michigan Tech Engineers Make Wheelchair Exercise Equipment Better