Michigan Tech 14 Floors
14 Floors is a series of events, and activities designed to build momentum and enable culture change on Michigan Tech’s campus. Core are initiatives focused on fostering entrepreneurism and high-tech innovation–both within the context of a global culture and economy. These activities are cross-disciplinary on and off campus, led by staff and faculty, focused on students, and largely enabled by Michigan Tech alumni.
Building on a history of independent but loosely related activities over the past number of years, there is now an opportunity for Michigan Tech to structure and brand the activities as a 14 Floors series of events and eliminate any individual ownership–fostering a cross-functional, collaborative culture.
Name | Activities | Goals
The name “14 Floors” is an analogy to the University’s desire to build a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship on a strong foundation of STEM programming, and gives a nod to the influence and insight from Silicon Valley with the atomic number of Silicon: 14. Analogous to the floors of a building, Michigan Tech’s schools, departments, centers, and student organizations–some fully built-out, others under construction, and many yet to be drafted–are Floors that compliment each other in the framework of and levels within this dynamic, virtual building.
Currently key to 14 Floors is a large, annual trip to California’s Bay Area where students are immersed in Silicon Valley, and bi-annual visits to campus by entrepreneurs and innovators who help advise, support, mentor, and inspire the campus community. These cornerstones provide an open framework that allow the imbedding of numerous activities around corporations, advisory boards, university research and academic centers, alumni, and student organizations.
The goals of 14 Floors are to:
- provide rich experiences for our students, both on campus and in key geographic regions
- foster the entrepreneurial skill sets of Michigan Tech students
- help build and sustain a local ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship
- facilitate personal and technology interactions between students, staff, faculty, and alumni
- engage key alumni as mentors, advisors, and benefactors to programs, centers, and students
- connect Michigan Tech to centers of innovation and their innovative alumni to Michigan Tech
The 14 Floors Experience is a week-long series of tours and activities involving engineering and entrepreneurial-minded students from across campus who compete for a limited number of slots on the trips. Enterprise and startup companies host immersive tours, panel discussions, and social mixers, and the activities involve Michigan Tech staff, faculty, friends, and alumni. The 14 Floors Experience is heavily marketed, and students write daily summaries and report-out to the campus community upon their return.
The 14 Floors Experience model is currently focused on California’s Bay Area – and involves nearly two-dozen students and a dozen visits over five days. The current model allows for scalability; increasing the number of students, and expanding the geographic areas of high-tech, entrepreneurial interest. Recent discussions have identified the Pacific Northwest, Boston, and Austin as future hosts, with additional students, parallel tracts, and a potential for multi-regional stops.
On-campus – Visit
The 14 Floors Campus Visit is a mini-conference set of activities on Michigan Tech’s campus in the spring and fall semesters. The visit is comprised primarily of Michigan Tech alumni who have leadership positions in, and rich history with high-tech innovation and entrepreneurship. Currently led by Dave House ’65, the group spends nearly four days on campus helping lead discussions, mentor students and faculty, and participate in a variety of activities following 14
Floors’ two primary tracks; entrepreneurship and high-tech innovation. These activities include:
- campus and community networking events
- broad-topic discussions with centers and programs
- focused, topical lectures to the campus community
- entrepreneurial business plan pitch events
- one-on-one sessions with campus leadership
- undergraduate, capstone and enterprise project judging
- advisory board meetings
Tie-in to Strategic Plan
Michigan Tech’s Strategic Plan has three primary goals:
- an exceptional and diverse community of students, faculty, and staff
- a distinctive and rigorous action-based learning experience grounded in science, engineering, technology, sustainability, business, and an understanding of the social and cultural contexts of our contemporary world
- research, scholarship, entrepreneurship, innovation, and creative work that promotes a sustainable, just, and prosperous world
14 Floors fits into the strategic plan in a number of explicit ways. By providing entrepreneurial opportunities for students, encouraging and supporting technology commercialization and start-up businesses, and most importantly: creating a culture of responsible innovation and entrepreneurship, and expanding this entrepreneurship in undergraduate and graduate programs.
The formalization of 14 Floors gives identity and the ability to brand and promote a number of key activities that have proven critical to fostering the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship increasingly visible on Michigan Tech’s campus.