Business students at Kettering University are going outside the classroom and working in the community in a unique way to expand their knowledge and help a local nonprofit organization.
The students in Kettering’s Business Design Project course are partnering with Factory Two to help with marketing and getting the word out about the makerspace and the opportunities it brings to the community.
“As students one of the goals is always to give back to the community. Partnering with something that is based here and local is a great way to help them while also helping us, giving us tools and experience such as learning how a non-profit functions from its beginning stages,” said Katelyn Starr ‘17, a Business major at Kettering.
After touring the facility, meeting Factory Two leaders and learning more about operations, the eight students in the class started brainstorming how they could be more useful, understanding that much of the implementation phase would be passed on to the next section of students.
The students looked at operations, marketing and financials before focusing on marketing and pricing strategies for the project.
Factory Two is located at 129 N. Grand Traverse St. in a former manufacturing facility built more than 100 years ago by Dort Motor Car Company. This site is now an opportunity for Flint entrepreneurs and artists to create new ventures. It’s located just a mile from Kettering University along Water Street.
Kettering and Factory Two already have an established partnership that gives every student on campus a membership to the makerspace. Kettering students have more than just access to the space -- they helped create it. Students turned their community service opportunities into a chance to help make the space a success. Students from Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Chi fraternities helped move and set up the makerspace.
And now students get the opportunity to work side by side with Factory Two leaders to help connect the facility with the community.
"Working with Kettering students through their senior projects is an interesting experience that brings a fresh set of eyes and ideas to a project in motion. The diversity of the students and their education really helps us to get a wide range of insight and input,” said Jon Hardman, program director at Factory Two.
For the business students, working with Factory Two was a chance to be a part of something innovative. Jace Stokes ‘18 said the project was a great way to learn a new way of thinking and to be in charge of a project that will make an impact on a community.
“We are allowed a creative edge. We are starting with a clean slate and getting to ask the organizers questions to get started,” said Stokes, an Industrial Engineering major. “The biggest thing for me is being a part of the innovation and developing a startup mentality. It’s a great opportunity for people in the Flint community to encompass the Silicon Valley mindset.
“I really love the collaboration economy. Having a collaborative anchor space really makes a lot of sense. It makes more sense to share those tools and 3D printers. It helps people break the ground and move toward an idea.”
Factory Two has only been open for a few months but has already allowed Kettering students to really get involved in the early stages.
“It was really cool to work with a company that just started because it allowed us more room for creativity with an organization that is open to new ideas,” Starr said.
At Factory Two there is a variety of tools and equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutter, a Shopbot 8’x4’ CNC router, sewing machines, drafting computers, audio engineering equipment, textile and poster printing, woodshop, bike shop and more.
Factory Two hosts a wide variety of programs and activities that serve to bring people into the space. And it’s the Kettering students’ hope to help create a strategy to make those programs and the facility successful.
Kettering students will get to walk away from the project with valuable skills and knowledge, said Dr. Ken Williams, assistant professor in the School of Management.
“Kettering's business program, like most universities, tends to focus on the management of large, publicly-traded corporations. Working with a non-profit organization allows our students to apply the tools and skills learned to the nonprofit sector,” Williams said. “Our students are gaining meaningful insight and appreciation on the impact nonprofit organizations have on our communities.”
To learn more about Factory Two visit factorytwo.org.