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Onset Marketing diversifies clientele to spur growth

Client diversification has been a key part of Onset Marketing's story since it got its start a dozen years ago. Back then it helped clients diversify to grow. Today client diversification is powering Onset Marketing's own growth.

The Wixom-based company's roots are in the automotive industry, and it used that base of support to grow into a solid boutique B2B marketing firm. It slowly began to adding other firms from different industries to its clientele in recent years.

"We are diversifying a bit," says Jim Graziano, president of Onset Marketing.

That's a bit of an understatement. Onset Marketing's automotive industry work made up two thirds of its bottom line. Today it's barely 50 percent. Its customers in other industries include firms in healthcare, finance, and education.

"We have always had this desire to go into different industries," Graziano says.

Onset Marketing got its start providing similar services for automotive firms. It helped provide the marketing materials for automotive suppliers so they could add clients in other industries. It proved to be a nice, little niche to carve out in metro Detroit.

"We helped a lot of automotive suppliers that were only working with the Big Three," Graziano says. "We helped them become non-automotive suppliers. We helped them sell to heavy trucking industry, tractor industry, and defense industry."

That allowed Onset Marketing to grow to a staff of 10 employees and the occasional intern. It has hired three people in marketing over the last year.

Source: Jim Graziano, president of Onset Marketing
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

36 county companies benefit from job training funds

Thirty-six Oakland County companies in 13 communities received more than $1 million from the state’s Skilled Trades Training Fund, enabling them to hire about 170 new employees while upgrading the skills of nearly 1,200 current employees.

Compared to last year, the number of companies awarded funding more than tripled and the amount of support received increased by more than 40 percent in Oakland County. Workers will be trained in occupations such as software programming, computer-aided design, welding, and robot operations.

“This is one state economic development program that works and creates some huge return on our investment,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “Congratulations to our 36 companies and the state for helping our workforce get the skills they need to succeed.”

The companies in turn agreed to contribute more than $4 million in matching job training funds to help prepare their workforces. Coupled with funds received beginning in 2013 from the state, Oakland County employers – through Oakland County Michigan Works! – have received more than $2 million to retrain its existing workforce and hire new employees.

The Auburn Hills location of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the world’s seventh largest auto maker, was the largest benefactor of the training funds, receiving almost $350,000. Marada Industries of South Lyon, a subsidiary of Canadian-based auto supplier Magna International, was next in line at $63,500.

Employers must apply for the state funds through their local Michigan Works! office. The grants are monitored and the companies must report on how the funds were used and that employees designated for job training actually receive it, said John Almstadt, manager of Workforce Development for the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs.

Other companies receiving training funds are: AirBoss, Android Industries, Beaumont Health System, Borg Warner, Fanuc Robotics, Nuspire, Orchid Orthopedic Solutions, Silent Call Communications, Softura, The Productivity Team, and Trijicon.

Oakland County Michigan Works! provides talent attraction, management and retention services for businesses, and career management, training and placement for job seekers at eight locations in Oakland County.

Automation Alley's 2016 Technology Industry Outlook

Don't miss the Automation Alley Technology Center Partner Spotlight, Feb. 22 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, in conjunction with the 2016 Technology Industry Outlook. Sponsored by Comcast Business, the Spotlight will include technology demonstrations from industry leaders including DASI Solutions, DELRAY Systems, Geometric Solutions, PROLIM, PTC, Rave Computer, Tata Technologies, Tooling U-SME and Wenzel America. Demonstrations will include collaborative robotics, 3D printing and scanning, CAD, PLM, MSV and reverse engineering applications.

"At Comcast, we like to say we are a 'big business with deep roots in small business.' We understand small business needs, growing from a small startup with less than 10 employees to now nearly 130 employees nationally. In Michigan, we provide business solutions including data, video, voice and fiber to thousands of customers. We are a proud supporter of Automation Alley and all their efforts to grow businesses – both big and small – here in Southeast Michigan."
– Pamela DoverComcast Business, Senior Director of Business Development
8-10 a.m. Networking, strolling breakfast and the Technology Center Partner Spotlight sponsored by Comcast Business

10-11 a.m. Detroit vs. Silicon Valley: Expert panel to discuss and analyze the 2016 Technology Industry Report

Automation Alley’s 2016 Technology Industry Outlook is sponsored by Oakland County Tech248™.

Comerica grant to help OU students mentor area high schoolers in STEM fields

The Pawley Lean Institute (PLI) at Oakland University has been award a $2,000 grant from the Comerica Charitable Foundation. The grant is specifically targeted to Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) students to support High School Student Workshops within the ISE Department. 

Dennis Wade, director of the PLI stated, “This grant will allow our ISE students to mentor high school students in the Oakland/Macomb area in the STEM (Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering) fields of study. In particular, the exposure to ISE will spark interest in the STEM field of study for both education and potential careers within engineering, and we thank Comerica for their support.”

“Supporting education is one of our priorities,” explained Janice Tessier, president of the Comerica Charitable Foundation. “The Comerica Charitable Foundation is proud to support Oakland University’s efforts to encourage area high school students to consider STEM-related majors in their higher education endeavors.”     

Oakland’s High School Student Workshops program promotes ISE and Lean Learning as it introduces ISE as a field of study to high school students from both a college degree and career perspective. The program consists of three visits from high school classes to the ISE department as a partnership program with the PLI at Oakland University. The program will engage over 100 high school students and runs during normal school hours. 

Components to the sessions held at OU include:
  • Hands on, tool orientation
  • Lean/Continuous Improvement exercises
  • Ergonomics using simulation tools
  • Product Life Cycle Management
  • Manufacturing Systems Simulation
According to Dr. Robert Van Til, ISE department chair and Pawley professor of lean studies, “We are excited to have the Pawley Lean Institute join us on our STEM outreach activities involving Lean. My ISE department colleagues and I have worked with a local high school on a pilot STEM outreach workshop for the past two years, and this grant from Comerica will allow the Pawley Lean Institute to join us to work together on expanding our STEM outreach activities to other K-12 schools.”


Couple sells salsa that is inspired by gods


Dan and Stacy Pillera knew they’d be up against tough competition when they started making and selling fresh salsa nearly two years ago.

“We’re going up against the largest fresh salsa maker in the country,” Dan said, “and they make it in Michigan and we know we have our work cut out for us.”

Read more.

Aviation exec: Success comes from stubbornness


As a boy, Rick Nini was fascinated with flying.

He was inspired, he said, by the NASA space program, and at 12 or 13, his parents put him on a new, commercial jet to fly by himself from Michigan to California to see his aunt, uncle and cousins.

“I think it was a 747, a brand-new plane,” Nini, 60, recalled. “After that, I knew I wanted to do this, to fly.”

Read more.

LTU department chair develops mobile technology to reduce falls by seniors

Thomas Goulding, chair of LTU’s Department of Math and Computer Science, is leading a team of physicians, scientists, and professors who have developed a product using mobile technology to alert health care providers when an elderly person is about to get out of a wheelchair.

Falling is a serious problem for the elderly with potentially life-changing and even fatal results. Thousands of falls occur every year when an elderly person in a wheelchair attempts to walk without the assistance that he or she needs. But caregivers can’t watch an elderly person at all times.

The research team has come up with a simple electronic device named Sparrow that will alert a caregiver when an elderly person makes movements in preparation for leaving the wheelchair. Sparrow is a mobile Android device that will provide the caregiver with continuous information about the movement and posture of someone in a wheelchair. That information will allow the caregiver to come to the patient’s aid before a potentially life-threatening fall occurs.

Sparrow fuses multiple sensors, a microprocessor, artificial intelligence and Internet technologies into a tool that is easy to use and which requires little administration and a minimum of staff training.

“It was extraordinarily difficult to design a product like Sparrow that has to be extraordinarily simple to use,” Goulding said.
The product, which has been in development for four years, is entering into clinical testing in Michigan and Massachusetts early in 2016.

Goulding is the primary architect of the device and the co-founder of ElderSafe Technologies Inc, along with Leon Deligiannidis, a researcher at MIT. Together they have published results of their work on Sparrow in peer-reviewed biomedical and bioinformatics journals.

The idea was born when Deligiannidis’ mother-in-law had a fatal fall. His wife was just a few feet away in another room, but couldn’t prevent the fall from happening because she hadn’t been alerted to her mother’s movements.

Recently, several LTU students have become involved by helping to develop marketing and technical documents for Sparrow. Faculty member Na Yu has done some mathematical modeling, and adjunct Hans Mills is working on software and testing with Goulding.

South Lyon library offers social media marketing classes


The Salem-South Lyon District Library is hosting a series of free program focused on online marketing.
Register at www.webworldadvantage.com/seminars/upcoming-seminars or ssldl.evanced.info/signup/EventCalendar.aspx.

Read more.

Denso exceeds previous investment announcement, adds 3,000 NA jobs since 2014


At the North American International Auto Show in 2013, Denso International America Inc.said it would invest $750 million in North America and hire 1,200 employees.

Three years later, the Southfield-based supplier proves it missed its forecasting —  by a lot.

Since the announcement, Denso has invested more than $1 billion and added 3,000 new jobs in North America since 2014.

Read more.

Royal Oak tech startup keeps growing, and hiring


Finding new customers is key to business growth, and the most effective leads come from referrals. For one Royal Oak-based business, finding referrals is what has made it one of the fastest growing businesses in Oakland County. Ambassador is a marketing company that has developed a referral platform that helps enterprise companies scale, track, and manage referrals to grow their business. Referral marketing leverages the positive equity built by loyal customers who are encouraged to promote products or services to friends and family for rewards.

Read more.

Research is improving medical imaging scans for better patient care

Medical imaging systems make it possible for health care professionals to see processes within the body so they can diagnose, monitor or treat medical problems. It’s a growing industry — one market research company is forecasting growth from $30.2 billion in 2013 to $49 billion in 2020.  

Oakland University researcher Jing Tang, Ph.D., ABSNM, and her small team in the Biomedical Imaging Laboratory in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, are part of the imaging revolution that is improving diagnosis and treatment. 

Dr. Tang, assistant professor in the department and director of the imaging laboratory, leads research designed to improve medical image reconstruction, evaluation, and analysis techniques. More specifically, Dr. Tang, two graduate students and a postdoctoral researcher are working on algorithms that, when incorporated into equipment software, will improve the images generated by certain imaging systems. 

Dr. Tang’s current research, funded by a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, involves data from the emerging and cutting-edge hybrid PET/MRI (positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance imaging) biomedical imaging system. PET imaging, she says, measures functional information in the body, while MRI imaging provides anatomical information with better soft tissue contrast than a computer tomography (CT) — scan. 

The hybrid imaging system is relatively new, having received Food and Drug Administration approval in 2011. The technology is used primarily for oncology, neurology and cardiology applications. 

“Whether the two systems are used sequentially or simultaneously, the hybrid PET/MRI system gives physicians more detailed and thorough information than a single system scan,” Dr. Tang says. “Most prefer simultaneous scans, but even with both options in place, there are more technical difficulties to overcome,” she adds. 

The brain PET image from a patient radiotracer (11C-DPA-713) study reconstructed using (a) the conventional reconstruction method and (b) the newly developed reconstruction method incorporating the anatomical information from (c) the corresponding MR image. The new method demonstrates its potential in clinical quantitative PET imaging. 11C-DPA-713 is a promising radiotracer for evaluating translocator protein (TSPO) binding with PET. TSPO can serve as a marker of neuro-inflammation. 
Collaborating with OUWB School of Medicine 
Dr. Tang’s research into how to improve the images generated by the hybrid imaging systems involves close collaboration with Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine physicians. 

“They are our real-world connections,” Dr. Tang says. “They tell us what kind of image problems they would like us to solve and we develop algorithms to address them. For example, a doctor might say there are artifacts in certain areas of the images, and ask us to find a solution to that problem.” 

The work involves determining how to overcome obstacles involved with forming the image as well as how to make the most of the integrated data generated by both imaging methods — PET and MRI. 

“The images generated by the data collected in the scans are already very good,” Dr. Tang notes, “but there’s room for improvement. For example, organ movement and signal loss when traveling through the body both have an impact on the resulting image that physicians study. How can we overcome those issues?” 

The goal, she says, is to use modern techniques to extract more information from the data to create even higher quality images. The work could, ultimately, contribute to providing patients with personalized medicine. 

“The better the image, the better able physicians will be to see what’s going on and decide on the best, most targeted treatment,” she says. 

Sharing developments 
The research results will eventually get translated into code that will be incorporated into medical imaging equipment software. 

More immediately, the team’s research results are shared in medical specialty conference papers and presentations. For example, team members made two presentations at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging annual meeting in June, including “Anatomy-assisted direct 4D parametric image reconstruction for dynamic cardiac PET imaging.” 

Dr. Tang also received funding through the National Science Foundation’s Broadening Participation Research Initiation Grants in Engineering to reach and engage historically under-represented minority students. Working with undergraduate students, she created and presented to Detroit-area high school students the “I See You” workshop on biomedical imaging. 

“We want to interest underrepresented students, including young women, in engineering careers in general but also in biomedical engineering and biomedical imaging careers specifically,”
Dr. Tang says. “We’ve recently been able to collaborate with the School of Engineering and the School of Medicine, so we have a greater variety of presenters and presentations.” 

Providing better patient care 
As Dr. Tang continues her research to improve the images generated by hybrid PET/MRI technology, she remains focused on her end goal: Better care for patients. 

“For me, it’s not about publishing high-profile papers or moving up through the ranks in academia, although that’s all good. My ultimate goal is to contribute to the well-being of people throughout the world,” Dr. Tang says. 

In fact, it is why she chose medical imaging over offers in other fields that included the oil industry. 

“Improving health care is what’s in my heart,” she says. “My lab’s contribution right now is tiny, but we’re doing things that will help.” 

Walsh College receives designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense

Walsh College has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense (CD) by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), underscoring its commitment to the quality undergraduate and graduate information technology (IT) degree programs valued by students and employers alike.

The goal of the NSA CAE-CD program is to reduce vulnerability in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and producing professionals with cyber defense expertise for the U.S.  The Walsh College designation is effective through the 2021 academic year.

Walsh, one of five colleges or universities in Michigan to receive the designation, offers four IT degrees: Bachelor of Science in IT, Master of Science in IT, Master of Science in IT Leadership (MSITL), and a dual Master of Business Administration (MBA)/MSITL degree.  A concentration in cybersecurity for the graduate-level programs is planned for early 2016.

Courses in all of these programs were mapped to the stringent NSA requirements.  They meet a core set of cyber-defense knowledge units.   

“This important designation recognizes the academic strength of our IT programs and of our faculty,” said Stephanie Bergeron, president and CEO, Walsh College.  “Information technology and cybersecurity are critical to business success for employers and to career success for IT students.” 

CAE-CD institutions receive formal recognition from the U.S. government as well as opportunities for recognition for their role in securing the nation’s information systems.  Students graduating from the Walsh College IT programs receive a special letter indicating that they have graduated from an approved NSA/CAE-CD program.

Walsh College was one of the first schools in Michigan to receive the previous designation of Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.  It remains committed to preparing its students to understanding and manage cybersecurity threats and challenges.

“While the CAE-CD certification process was difficult, Walsh College met the stringent requirements based on its new programs, its faculty, and its involvement with the community,” said Barbara Ciaramitaro, Ph.D., lead professor, Information Technology and Cybersecurity, Walsh College, and director of its Center for Cybersecurity Leadership (CCL).  “We are proud to have earned this important recognition and designation.”

In addition to ensuring that its programs meet the NSA CAE/CD requirements, Walsh College has also mapped its courses and programs to align with two other external standards: Department of Defense (DoD) 8570 and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) NICE Framework.

To support its efforts in providing leadership in cybersecurity education, Walsh established the Center for Cybersecurity Leadership (CCL).  The CCL, one of four Walsh College research centers, was established through collaboration between the Management and Information Technology Departments of Walsh College with strong support from business, military, and government leaders.

Classes for the Winter 2016 semester at Walsh College begin Monday, January 4, 2016.  Potential students can meet with an advisor by contacting admissions@walshcollege.edu or 248-823-1610.  Dr. Ciaramitaro may be contacted for additional information at bciara2@walshcolelge.edu.

For additional information on Walsh College, visit www.walshcollege.edu.  

Reasons why impact of culture on international operations matters

Culture drives the way professionals relate to each other, and impacts performance when doing business internationally. Sam Yankelevitch, CEO, Xpress Lingo Solutions, describes the importance of understanding the impact of culture on doing business internationally in his new Audio Interview, “Impact of Culture on International Operations.”

In the 17- minute interview, produced by GlobalBusinessProfessor.com and GlobalAutoIndustry.com, Yankelevitch presents reasons why understanding culture is important and offers examples of situations where misunderstanding cultures can create problems.
Yankelevitch will be facilitating the workshop “MEXICO: Bridging Cultures in Automotive Supply Chain Management to Drive Performance” in person at Automation Alley Headquarters in Troy, MI on February 19 from 8:00 am – 12:30 pm, as well as in Greenville, South Carolina, on February 12. The half-day workshops will present methodologies for incorporating lean concepts such as standard work, PDCA, root cause analysis and A3 thinking to improve intercultural communication. Participants in the seminar will learn how to avoid misunderstandings and reduce waste rooted in language, culture and distance. To register for the seminar to be held at Automation Alley, click here. To register for the seminar in Greenville, South Carolina, click here.
Yankelevitch is an author, entrepreneur, and seasoned business leader and for more than 30 years has interacted with Mexican manufacturers and distributors in automotive supply chain operations.  He is the author of Lean Potion #9 - Communication: The Next Lean Frontier and Lean Communication: Applications for Continuous Process Improvement, which offer solutions for waste in global supply chains.
GlobalAutoIndustry.com and GlobalBusinessProfessor.com 
GlobalAutoIndustry.com is the leading global business intelligence source for the automotive industry, connecting the worldwide auto supplier industry with the resources to effectively do business globally. Through the web site, www.GlobalAutoIndustry.com, auto supplier executives can find insight, solutions and strategies focused on doing business in the world's top automotive markets.

GlobalBusinessProfessor.com is the leading online education company helping corporate professionals and business school students learn practical, up-to-date international business skills. GlobalBusinessProfessor.com offerings include On-Demand Seminars from practicing experts around the world, Audio Interviews, online courses, reports, studies and international business eJournals.

OCC Sign Language Interpreter program receives national accreditation

Oakland Community College’s Sign Language Interpreting program has been awarded national accreditation for its Associate Degree program by the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education (CCIE).

The accreditation comes at an important time as Michigan faces a significant sign language interpreter shortage – one of the most severe shortages seen in decades according to the Deaf Community Advocacy Network. The shortage is, in part, due to rules put in place last year to protect the Deaf, calling for interpreters in hospitals, schools, courts and law offices, and requires passage of certification exams. Currently for every one graduate, there are three jobs that go unfilled.

OCC’s program was judged by the CCIE under the same standards as a four-year program including curriculum design, rigor, research requirements and 300 hours of mandated practicum experience. Starting in January 2016, there is moratorium on accreditation of associate degree programs. OCC’s accreditation is approved for 10 years, the maximum available.

There are currently five Sign Language Interpreter (SLI) degree programs across the state including three associate and two bachelor degree programs. OCC’s program is noted for its nationally credentialed faculty, “highly active” student body and diversity of its program and students.

“One of the key factors that distinguishes our program from others – and, is also an accreditation requirement – is our small class sizes,” said Kelly Flores, program coordinator of OCC’s Sign Language Interpreter Program. “Students get more one-on-one time with the faculty which is proven to enhance learning.”

OCC’s SLI classes are limited to 15 students per class; program academic classes are limited to 20 students and interpreting classes max out at 12 students. The program takes 2½ to three years to complete. There are approximately 20 students who graduate each year as American Sign Language (ASL)-English interpreters for all consumers.

A practice profession with a code of conduct, rigorous course study and outside practical experience.
OCC began offering sign language courses in the early 2000s while a local community interpreter secured a grant to launch a full program. Consultants helped develop curriculum and, in 2004, the College began offering second and third year courses. In 2006, the program graduated its first cohort.

Today, the total number of students taking an introductory SLI class is approximately1200-1300 students per year. Some of the American Sign Language courses can be used to fulfill a general education degree humanities requirement. The program gets much smaller with less than 5% of students starting second year classes in advance language and interpreting. 

A small field, based on relationships.
OCC’s program has more deaf faculty than hearing instructors and promotes a very diverse adjunct and student base to match the greater metro area. Language immersion starts from day one and the students "eat, sleep and breath” the language to become fluent in the process. OCC Highland Lakes Art, Design, and Humanities Department Chair Joanne Forbes is currently the only deaf department chairperson in any Michigan college or university.

Anyone who wants to be a part of the Deaf community is expected to use their talents and serve within it for their full career. Faculty model this by supervising interpreters for interns, serving on various boards and associations and volunteering for various causes. Students follow in the footsteps of their OCC instructors interpreting at community outreach centers, Little League, “Deaf Arts Festival” at Arts Beats and Eats, conferences and signing and Deaf club events. They are also very active in Sign Club, mentoring programs, preparation for certification examinations, and professional development activities.

Staunch supporters, active recruiters.
During the accreditation process, the commissioners commented stakeholder attendance was the highest they’ve seen. People attended multiple sessions wearing different hats; many community members and graduates came to participate as well showing outstanding community support.

A point of pride is program faculty diversity at over 30% and, as a result, students have tremendous opportunity to interact with individuals who possess a broad range of language styles. In addition, students are presented with courses that enhance their knowledge and appreciation of multicultural features of society.

The final award noted the College’s Sign Language Interpreting Program “consistently demonstrated complete and seamless support from the president on down….stated again and again by community members, students, adjunct faculty, and full time program faculty.”

About OCC
With five campuses throughout Oakland County, Oakland Community College is committed to providing academic and developmental experiences that allows each student to reach their full potential and enhance the diverse communities they serve. It offers degrees and certificates in approximately 100 career fields and university transfer degrees in business, science and the liberal arts. More than a million students have enrolled in the college since it opened in 1965. To learn more about OCC, visit oaklandcc.edu.

LTU Collaboratory Customer to Cash program application deadline Feb, 1

The LTU Collaboratory will hold the nine-week Customer to Cash program starting in February 2016. Start-up and second-stage entrepreneurs, innovators and business owners are encouraged to apply.
The Customers to Cash program is designed to serve established companies with new products to launch in new or existing markets; innovators with new technologies to sell; entrepreneurs with fresh business ideas to start up and grow; tinkerers with product ideas and prototypes to test with real customers; and college students with new product ideas to validate with customers.
Every team in the program can receive a prototyping stipend and can qualify for additional seed funding. Prizes totaling $10,000 will be awarded to the top teams.
Each team is matched with an industry mentor for individual assistance and can qualify for a year of additional professional mentoring. 
Go to www.ltu.edu/C2C to apply by the Feb. 1 deadline. There is no charge to participate in this program, which is offered by the LTU Collaboratory.
“If you’re ready to really advance your innovation, to truly understand who will buy your product and what kind of business you can build, then this is the program for you,” said Tex Criqui, Director, LTU Collaboratory and team leader of the C2C program. “We are offering this nine-week program on Saturdays so that busy working professionals, faculty and students can advance their ideas and innovations.”
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. The Brookings Institution ranks Lawrence Tech fifth nationwide for boosting graduates’ earning power, PayScale lists it in the nation’s top 10 percent of universities for graduates’ salaries, and U.S. News and World Report places it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus in Southfield, Michigan, include over 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.
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