A partnership between Ivy Tech Community College and Sustainable Energy Products (SEP) has resulted in a win-win enterprise for all involved. With the establishment of the Micro Enterprise Center (MEC) at Ivy Tech, Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering and Design Technology students gained real world experience and job opportunities and SEP, a manufacturer, assembler and distributor of wind turbines, electric generators and peripheral equipment, developed, tested and is ready to market a new wind turbine design.
“The MEC provides students an immersive learning experience in the development, testing, and proto-typing of products,” according to Gail Chesterfield, chancellor of Ivy Tech’s East Central Region. “On the other end, through the MEC, small businesses like SEP have a place to test their designs using state-of-art equipment and trained students.”
Through the MEC and project-based classes at Ivy Tech, Clifford Bassett, founder of SEP, inventor and patent holder, was able to develop and test his new vertical wind turbine design utilizing Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM), Parametric Modeling, and 3D Motion Testing. Among the by-products of this collaborative effort has been a new sustainable energy product ready to be marketed and hands-on training for students.
“With this region’s rich heritage of making products, our economic prosperity and diversity will continue to depend on developing innovative ideas, building prototypes and connecting students, inventors, investors and the market,” said Joyce Wilkerson, dean of the Schools of Technology and Applied Science & Engineering Technology. “The MEC seeks to fill a gap for those with ideas but no place to set up a lab, no prototype to test, or no support to move an idea to market.”
MEC also serves as a connecting point for businesses to other resources such as Innovation Connector in Muncie, the Flagship Enterprise Center in Anderson, state agencies and investors capable of supporting the enterprise.
The seed for the MEC was planted two years when Wilkerson and Bassett began discussing the possibilities. A synergy between Ivy Tech and SEP grew from this relationship with Ivy Tech providing the environment and the students, through project-based learning, and the business providing the product idea and development. “The synergy between SEP and our School of Technology faculty also helped us refine the curriculum and bring real world knowledge and experience into the classroom,” said Jim Savage, chair of Ivy Tech’s Design Technology program. It also resulted in the development of the region’s Advanced Manufacturing program.
The MEC is now ready to expand and look to other businesses and organization that fit the purpose and means of the MEC to provide learning opportunities to students in a similar process, said Wilkerson. For more information, contact Wilkerson in the School of Technology, 765-289-2291 x1338.
Ivy Tech Community College is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system serving nearly 200,000 students annually. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.