Lake Trust Credit Union Sponsors Blockchain Competition for Leading University Student Teams at Michigan State University

Lake Trust Credit Union – a community-based financial institution serving members across Michigan – co-sponsored the Spartan Blockchain Innovation Competition 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan, on Saturday, March 30, 2019. Supported by Michigan State University’s administration, the event brought together teams from leading academic institutions to compete in a thought-provoking blockchain pitch competition.

Lake Trust announced the credit union would double the pitch contest prize from $750.00 to $1,500.00. The top award went to Smartifi, which is a prospective solution regarding the student loan crisis, presented by Michigan State students Majeed Fardin and Parker Nolan.

Spartan Blockchain is a nonprofit blockchain advisory firm and student organization dedicated to making Michigan State University a global leader in blockchain development and innovation. In the belief that large-scale blockchain system adoption will restructure the global economy, the students seek to serve Michigan State University and the surrounding area by helping students, faculty and businesses adopt blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

In addition to the competition, Spartan Blockchain hosted a think tank that included sponsors, students, faculty and other attendees. The think tank was followed by a community meetup that allowed students and community members to connect and collaborate on innovative blockchain projects.

The only credit union headquartered in Livingston County, Lake Trust Credit Union has more than $1.8 billion in assets and ranks fifth-largest in Michigan in number of members. With federally NCUA-insured branches located in counties across the state of
Michigan, Lake Trust is an equal opportunity lender, equal housing lender and committed to creating stronger Michigan communities. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in the state of Michigan. For more information, visit and follow @LakeTrustCreditUnion on Facebook and @laketrust on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

The Lake Trust Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting local Michigan-based opportunities that address the five basic human needs: food, shelter, clothing, education and health care. The Foundation frequently contributes to 501(c)(3) organizations who align with its mission to support economic development, basic human needs fulfillment and entities offering programs for entrepreneurs. Through partnerships, outreach programs, grants, financial assistance and support for a community’s underserved people, the Foundation helps to build and sustain stronger communities. For more information, visit For information on Lake Trust’s Moved By Good initiative, see Follow @movedbygood on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Awards $3.5 Million Grant to Detroit Promise to Help Students Pursue Higher Education

By Tiffany Jones

The Detroit Regional Chamber joined Gov. Rick Snyder and Mayor Mike Duggan to announce a $3.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in support of the Detroit Promise, a last-dollar scholarship program administered by the Chamber Foundation.

The grant will support thousands of Detroit high school graduates with tuition and services as they pursue a college education at participating institutions over the next three years. The grant is part of a $30 million campaign led by the Michigan Education Excellence Foundation (MEEF), which seeks to shepherd the program through a critical time of transition and development. The grant will support the two-year and four-year scholarship program to meet anticipated growth. It also will support efforts to enhance retention rates so that more students successfully obtain degrees and certificates.

Under the leadership of the governor, MEEF has raised nearly $10 million in seed money to initiate the scholarship program, established in 2013, formerly known as the Detroit Scholarship Fund. The grant will ensure that the scholarship and supportive programs are fully developed and available to Detroit youth as public funding becomes available during the next couple of years under the Detroit Promise Zone, a tax capture program initiated by the mayor.


“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation investment will assure that more Detroit youth will enter college and successfully earn postsecondary degrees,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Thousands of young Detroit residents will be better prepared for and able to succeed in the 21st century global economy.”

The announcement attracted media from major local outlets including Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, WWJ and WXYZ-TV7.

Tiffany Jones is the director of communications at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

Read more about The Detroit Promise:

Detroit Promise Expands Tuition-Free Program to Four-Year Universities


Michigan schools on cutting edge of high-tech programs to meet needs of auto industry

By Dawson Bell

Employment prospects in Michigan have turned around dramatically since the depths of the Great Recession in 2008-09.

Overall job numbers have rebounded to near pre-recession levels. The state’s unemployment rate (5.4 percent) is now below the national average after a decade spent among the highest in the country (peaking in 2009 at 14.9 percent).

But one of the most striking features of Michigan’s turnaround is that it represents not so much a restoration of a lost economy, but the creation of a transformed one.

Nowhere is that transformation more remarkable than in the automotive and transportation manufacturing and service sectors — long the bedrock of the state’s economy. The home of the auto industry has become ground zero for the development of 21st century mobility technology. And with that transformation comes one of the most significant challenges the state now faces: developing a workforce with the talents needed to sustain that position of leadership.

Consider a report issued in April by the research group Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan, which identified 564,000 state workers employed in the broad category of transportation safety — from tractor-trailer drivers to engineers and planners. The size of the cohort is astonishingly robust, and the demand for new workers intense.

Yet in some areas most in search of new talent, demand far outstrips supply. In 2014, for example, employers sought to fill more than 16,500 jobs for transportation-related application and software developers, while only 1,586 potential employees had recently completed the requisite training for those jobs.

Fortunately, a broad range of educational institutions, nonprofits and businesses are moving quickly to turn the skills gap around. Among them:

Washtenaw Community College, where the Advanced Transportation Center (ATC), launched in 2015, is working with academic and industry partners to provide training and certification for students in a variety of leading transportation technologies. Those include: computer service diagnostics, lightweight materials and advanced manufacturing techniques, and the technology required for autonomous and connected vehicles.

Director Al Lecz, who spent 36 years with Ford Motor Co. working primarily as a powertrain engineer, said technology has fundamentally transformed the transportation industry. The culture has rapidly become one in which flexibility, innovation and creative problem solving are highly valued, he said.

“It is an absolutely thrilling time to be an engineer or technician,” Lecz said.

The Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (MCAM), formed by eight community colleges (Bay, Grand Rapids, Kellogg, Lake Michigan, Lansing, Macomb, Mott and Schoolcraft), trains aspiring and displaced workers in high-demand technical fields, e.g. computer numerical control (CNC) and mechatronics (combining electronics and engineering). The program received a nearly $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor at its launch in 2013.

The formation of a partnership between Ford Motor Co. and the University of Michigan will bring Ford engineers and researchers on campus at the university’s new robotics lab. The partnership is aimed at accelerating autonomous vehicle research in collaboration with UM academics and students in a place where “machines walk, fly, drive and swim,” according to reports issued with its announcement in September.

Connected and Autonomous Networked Vehicles for Active Safety (CANVAS), within Michigan State University’s electrical and computer engineering program, is testing a range of technologies for driverless and connected cars.

Director Hayder Radha said the objective is to train a new generation of engineers in new technology that rely on sensors, radar, computer science and artificial intelligence to create a vehicle capable of independent navigation.

In the last 20 years, vehicles have evolved rapidly into highly sophisticated mobile computers, Radha said. But the impending launch of autonomous and connected vehicles has generated unprecedented interest among millennials.

“I’ve been overwhelmed with students who want to work in this area,” Radha said. “They may not even want to drive, but they want to develop and drive autonomous vehicles.”

MSU Engineering Dean Leo Kempel said Michigan has long been home to the highest per-capita concentration of engineers of any state in the country. What is changing is the rapid expansion of the field into new disciplines, like computer science, sensor technology and artificial intelligence.

“Students want to work on those things. They want to work in areas where they can make change,” Kempel said.

That ideal has also led to a boom in interest in Wayne State University’s electric-drive vehicle engineering degree program, one of the first programs of its kind in the United States aimed at reducing the nation’s dependence on imported fossil energy and lessening the environmental impact of petroleum-based vehicles through innovation.

For more than a century Michigan has been a preeminent state for engineering and technology, Kempel said, “but in 20 years, I think we may look back and say the last 20 were better than the previous 50.”

The pace of change is dizzying, but Michigan’s colleges appear to be keeping up.

Dawson Bell is a metro Detroit freelance writer.

Joan Rose

Center for Water Sciences;

Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment

joan-roseJoan Rose serves as the Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research at Michigan State University, the co-director of the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment (CAMRA) and the co-director of the Center for Water Sciences.

An international expert in water microbiology, water quality and public health safety, Rose has published more than 250 manuscripts. She has been involved in the investigation of numerous waterborne outbreaks worldwide. She has also been involved in the study of water supplies, water used for food production, and coastal environments as well as drinking water treatment, wastewater treatment and reclaimed water. Her research focuses on microbial pathogen transport in coastal systems and risks to recreational waters and the study of climate factors which impact water quality.

Rose has been appointed to the National Research Council of the National Academies Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Advisory Board, and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Canadian National Research Center.

As the big game approaches, Brinks Gilson & Lione attorneys pit the University of Michigan against Michigan State University in trademark wars

ANN ARBOR –Oct. 12, 2015 -While the winner of the highly anticipated gridiron match-up between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University on Saturday, Oct. 17 remains to be determined, there is a clear victor off the field when it comes to school trademarks, according to Michael Spink, a shareholder in the Ann Arbor office of intellectual property law firm Brinks Gilson & Lione. Spink and his colleague, Briana Emerson, an associate at Brinks, researched each school’s registered trademarks in a study earlier this year that analyzed the trend among universities of registering unusual trademarks that are often related to athletics.

“In the rivalry between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, U of M is the clear winner in the trademark competition,” Spink said. “MSU has 17 live registrations (including the block S and Spartan helmet), 6 pending registrations, and 8 unregistered trademarks; while U of M has 54 live registrations (including the block M and a word mark for the BIG HOUSE), 12 pending registrations, and 16 non-registered trademarks.”

Emerson notes the University of Michigan has trademarks that incorporate the names of its school colors, including “MAIZE RAGE” (US Reg. No. 2683625) and “M GO BLUE” (US Reg. No. 2781716) for both collegiate athletic exhibitions and games. She also offers some other interesting tidbits on the intellectual property and social media happenings of both Big 10 schools:

  • In June 2015, MSU signed Atlanta based Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) as its licensing agent. Until June, MSU had been “one of the nation’s largest remaining independent licensing programs,” according to a press release on the CLC website. CLC represents nearly 200 collegiate institutions nationwide, including the University of Michigan.
  • The CLC website lists U of M’s royalty rate as 12% while MSU’s royalty rate is 10%
  • In published university financial documents, MSU lists its athletic licensing and royalty revenue from June 2013 to July 2014 as $1,762,160, while U of M lists its athletic licensing and royalty revenue as $7,487,000 for the same time period
  • According to a hashtag search on Instagram, #harbaugh has been used 15,412 times as of Sept 29, while #dantonio has been used 1,133 times. Harbaugh’s dominance could be skewed because of his time coaching professional football.

Amid all the competition, Spink, who blogs and tweets about unusual trademarks @funkymarks, said that the universities in Michigan have not ventured too far into the field of registering non-traditional trademarks. In contrast, he notes that many other universities have.

“For example, the University of Arkansas’ famous ‘hog call’, a distinctive crowd cheering ‘”Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie! Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie! Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie! Razorbacks!”’ was registered in 2014 with the trademark office,” Spink said. “In overcoming an initial rejection, the University submitted a substitute specimen, along with evidence of continuous and exclusive use for at least 5 years preceding the application, in order to obtain the trademark registration. Our universities’ mutual rival, Ohio State, has registered the silhouette of four people using their arms to spell O-H-I-O, a longstanding tradition of alumni and students.”

Spink and Emerson hold degrees from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and Michigan State University (Go Green!) respectively. To view their original report from March 2015 on the trend towards trademarking school colors and other college athletic signs and symbols, visit the Brinks website.

Brinks Gilson & Lione
The attorneys, scientific advisors and patent agents at Brinks Gilson & Lione focus their practice in the field of intellectual property, making Brinks one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S. Clients around the world rely on Brinks to help them protect and enforce their intellectual property rights. Brinks attorneys provide counseling in all aspects of patent, trademark, unfair competition, trade secret and copyright law. More information is available at

‘Michigan State has always been in Detroit’

By Chris Solari

March 21, 2013


The ties that bind Michigan State’s basketball team to Detroit are long and deep.

Greg Kelser. Steve Smith. Shawn Respert. Kalin Lucas. Some of the Spartans’ best players have come from the Motor City.

“We feel like Detroit IS Michigan State and Michigan State IS Detroit,” junior guard Keith Appling said.

That feeling holds true outside the arena, too. MSU’s reach in metropolitan Detroit extends well beyond sports.

Detroit is home to the school’s largest alumni base, with about 100,000 Spartans who own businesses and serve in the workforce. And the university has made a concerted effort in recent years to establish more of a presence there — with its athletic teams and its academic programs.

MSU returns to its home away from home this weekend, opening NCAA tournament play today at The Palace of Auburn Hills. And Tom Izzo’s team once again will shine a national spotlight on the city and the school’s symbiotic relationship.

“I think they embody what I believe in — the blue-collar, hard-working, factory-type,” Izzo said this week. “I can’t think of a better place to have this at.”

About 25 percent of MSU alumni live in the southeast region of the state.

Ben Erulkar sees them all around him every day. And the Detroit Regional Chamber’s senior vice president for economic development knows exactly the impact they have.

“The first and most obvious way Michigan State benefits Detroit is through talent, pure and simple,” Harvard graduate Erulkar said. “Michigan State produces really smart people. Those folks stay in the region to make their lives and their careers, and that’s a tremendous benefit — probably the benefit we tend to overlook and take most for granted.”

Jena Baker-Calloway, director of the 3 1/2-year old MSU Detroit Center, said the university also benefits from having a metropolitan Detroit presence.

“It’s a two-way relationship, not a one-way relationship,” Baker-Calloway said. “There is expertise within the community that the university wants to make use of as well, along with what university brings there in various disciplines where we are top of the field in terms of thinking and research.”

Erulkar pointed to two cooperatives in particular: The university’s supply chain management school, which helps to guide the resurgent automotive industry, and its agricultural programs, particularly with the recent urban farming initiative to help reallocate land within the city. He added that MSU’s research and discoveries in those areas, as well as others, provide the type of innovation and entrepreneurship needed to re-energize Detroit’s economy.

“When we at the chamber go overseas and promote Michigan and southeast Michigan as an attractive place for talent to come to and for capital to invest in, Detroit is the brand name that people focus on,” Erulkar said. “There’s no question that the state as a whole, and MSU and the educational institutions, all benefit from that.”

‘Terrific experiences’

There is no MSU brand more recognized than its basketball team, and Izzo has made Detroit a major point of emphasis during his 18 years as head coach.

The Spartans have played 16 times in the metro area under Izzo. His record is 10-1 in Auburn Hills, including two NCAA tournament victories in 2000 en route to the national championship.

“We’ve had terrific experiences playing there,” MSU President Lou Anna Simon said Tuesday.

Izzo said the way the city embraced MSU in 2009 made its Final Four trip to Detroit “just a setting of all settings.” Open practice at Ford Field before the games drew more than 10,000 fans. More than 7,000 more jammed into Somerset Mall in Troy later for a pep rally.

“I thought that was pretty sweet with it being in the city,” said MSU senior center Derrick Nix, who that year was a senior and schoolmate of Appling at Detroit’s Pershing High. “It meant a lot to the city, and it meant a lot to the program.”

One example of the emphasis MSU has taken in the region is by opening its Detroit Center in October 2009. It’s a way for the university to introduce itself to future Spartans while helping to contribute in the rebuilding of a troubled city.

More visible now

“Michigan State has always been in Detroit,” Calloway-Baker said, “but not as visible.”

The office on Woodward Avenue adds a central location to the university’s presence in southeast Michigan — the College of Osteopathic Medicine has locations at Detroit Medical Center and Macomb University Center, and MSU Extension programs are available in the region.

The center contains the College of Music’s Community Music School, which offers music therapy as well as classes for inner-city children to help fill the void left by arts funding cuts to public schools. College of Education interns in area schools use the center as a home base, and it also houses offices for governmental affairs, university advancement and admissions.

Another major compoment of the Detroit Center is its abundant space. Staff has reached out to offer a place for neighborhood groups and civic organizations to meet.

“People see East Lansing sometimes as being kind of far away,” Calloway-Baker said. “It makes our faculty and the university as a whole more local.”

All tied to athletics

Bob Hornik says MSU’s success means a lot to the alumni — in terms of pride and finances. MSU’s Macomb Alumni Association president, who previously sat on the school’s national alumni board, has researched a number of Big Ten peers and said there is a direct correlation between athletic success and donations to his group and the university.

“How the alumni association goes is how the athletic programs go,” Hornik said. “Everything kind of ties to athletics.”

Hornik’s group collects money through fundraising events — such as the one it will hold March 27 in Warren with former Spartan basketball star and Pistons announcer Kelser. Those funds go to scholarships for MSU freshmen.

He said there has been an active push in the last half-decade to promote the school more as well, stretching beyond being just a social organization.

Steve Culp, who is in charge of the MSU Alumni of Metro Detroit, was a football manager in the 1990s. He now coaches football and track at Troy Athens High and teaches physical education at Brookfield Academy.

He said the Detroit Spartans — which encompasses alumni groups in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties — attend MSU sporting events together when they are held in town, as well as organize watch parties at local bars for games on TV. They also participate in a number of civic activities, such as next month’s tree planting in the city’s Parkland area.

“The thing you see the most and what stands out, obviously, is sports,” Culp said. “But also, it’s about getting involved in the community.”

Izzo said he’s been appreciative of the Spartan support around Detroit and thinks this weekend’s second- and third-round NCAA games — especially with rival Michigan also playing at The Palace — will provide an energized environment.

And, in turn, he envisions it as a much larger positive for a city that needs MSU’s help.

“Hopefully they’ll embrace it like I think they will,” Izzo said. “It’s another way to put our best foot forward as a city and hopefully keep building on what we’re trying to do down there — and that’s to get things straightened out the way they should be.”

Going Green

Inside the CEO Mind welcomes MSU president

Page 60

As the 20th president of Michigan State University (MSU), Lou Anna Kimsey Simon leads one of the world’s top universities and serves as one of the state’s thought-leaders on the changes and challenges facing higher education.

On April 19, Simon will be the featured speaker at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Inside the CEO Mind, a programming series that provides Chamber members with exclusive access to the some of the region’s best business minds and innovative thinkers.

“We’re thrilled to have Lou Anna Simon speak at Inside the CEO Mind,” said Chamber Chief Operating Officer Tammy Carnrike. “As the leader of a world-renowned university, she can bring a unique perspective on leadership as  well as the state of higher education  and innovation in Michigan.”

Simon was appointed president in January 2005 by the MSU board of trustees. Her career at MSU began after earning her doctorate in 1974 and moved into a variety of administrative roles, including assistant provost for general academic administration, associate provost, and provost and vice president for academic affairs.

As president, Simon has engaged MSU in a strategic and transformative journey to adapt the principles of the land-grant tradition to 21st century challenges. She has expanded MSU’s reach in the state and around the world by focusing the university’s strengths on solutions that enhance and protect quality of life: clean and affordable energy, access to education, safe and plentiful food, and health care.

Simon is the second speaker in the 2013 series lineup as the program continues to host high profile CEOs whose innovative businesses, practices and companies are fueling Southeast Michigan’s economy. This year’s programming season kicked off with Carla Bailo, senior vice president of research and development for Nissan Americas.

“Inside the CEO Mind is a wonderful program. To hear these accomplished professionals share their wisdom and insight is truly inspirational, but even  more important, their advice is practical,” said Alan Hahn, business development manager, Dragun Corporation.

In 2012, the Inside the CEO Mind series hosted influential CEOs including Mike Duggan of Detroit Medical Center, Florine Mark of Weight Watchers Group and Kim Yost of Art Van Furniture.

“It’s not often that a small business can have an audience with the CEO of a large company. But that is exactly what you get with Inside the CEO Mind,” said Jim Musial, Chamber member and ambassador. “You get to hear firsthand about their personal story and about their organization. The stories are inspiring and I always look forward  to the next one.”

To learn more about Inside the CEO Mind or to attend an event, please visit