Baker College to sponsor state workforce development event for HS students
Cadillac, MI
07/25/2016 12:48 PM

IChallengeU, which invites high school students to develop solutions to real-world business problems, will include a state competition in 2017 sponsored by Baker College.

The sponsorship will be announced today, the final day of the 2016 IChallengeU regional competitions in Jackson and Holland.

IChallengeU is an intense, two-week summer educational opportunity for high school juniors and seniors. It pits teams of students against each other to develop solutions to problems or obstacles experienced by partner companies and organizations. On the final day, each team presents its solution in a 10-minute presentation. Judges select the team that did the best job of developing and presenting its solution.

Next year, teams that win at the regional level will advance to the new state competition titled IChallengeU Michigan. It is set for Friday, July 28, 2017, and will be hosted by Baker College at one of its Michigan campuses. Each winning team member will receive a Baker College scholarship for a two-year associate degree, or equivalent.

“The IChallengeU program was created to help gain public awareness of and support for overcoming a shortage of trained workers and the disconnect between the public and the actual needs of the business community,” said Robert Tebo, Michigan Works! Southeast director—regional business fellowship. “Baker College will be an excellent state contest sponsor. Its high quality programs are uniquely designed to meet employer needs, which is what IChallengeU is all about.”

IChallengeU was developed in 2011 by the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (ISD), Holland. In 2013 Michigan Works! Southeast began hosting an annual IChallengeU competition in Jackson. This year, it involved students and businesses in Hillsdale, Jackson and Lenawee counties.

During the two-week IChallengeU session, specially trained teachers and civic, business and community leaders provide guidance and information to help students identify solutions to the problems posed. Included are general sessions in leadership and teamwork, multiple meetings with the assigned business partner and a tour of the company’s facilities. 

Examples of problems used in past challenges are:

=      For a credit union – Identify ways education and training for e-services can streamline the banking process and demonstrate benefits to members.

=      For a parts manufacturer – Identify changes that can improve attendance of hourly employees.

In 2017, multiple higher education institutions, including Baker College, will provide incentives to students at the regional level: All participating students will receive two to three articulated college credits and winning team members will receive $1,000 scholarships.

Kelly Smith, Baker College of Cadillac president, said, “IChallengeU is an outstanding program for high school students to begin to explore employment options and become motivated to be part of an improved workforce. We look forward to helping Michigan Works! Southeast, the Ottawa Area ISD and others grow the program throughout the state.”

To send a team to the state contest, regional programs must have at least three teams, each with three to eight students. Competitions with seven or more teams can send two teams to the state contest.

Tebo encouraged organizations that want to host a regional program to contact him as soon as possible, as the number of sites eligible to send students to the state contest will be limited to six in 2017. The number of teams will increase by three each following year.

For more information about how schools, organizations and businesses can get involved in the 2017 competitions, visit the website developed by the Ottawa Area ISD, or contact Robert Tebo, Michigan Works! Southeast, 517.673.0383 or

For more information about programs at Baker College, contact Cheri Sprik in the admissions office at 231.876.3119 or, or visit


The largest private college in Michigan, Baker College is a not-for-profit higher education institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Founded in 1911, Baker College grants doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees, as well as certificates in diverse academic fields including business, health sciences, engineering, information technology, education and human services. Baker College has on-ground campuses in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and offers online programs that can be completed 100 percent online without ever visiting a campus. In 2016, the Online Learning Consortium recognized Baker College Online with the OLC Quality Scorecard Exemplary Endorsement, the highest ranking for online higher education programs. For information, visit or follow Baker College on Twitter, @bakercollege, or on Facebook,

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Photo captions

Baker IChallengeU-1.jpeg – John Price, Orbitform business development manager, standing, works with students working on a problem for his employer, a Jackson manufacturer of assembly equipment solutions. Sitting, from left, are Alex Bennett, Napoleon High School, Napoleon; Julia Rickabaugh, Western High School, Parma; Sydney LeFaive, Vandercook Lake High School, Jackson; and Jeremiah Brandenburg, Grass Lake High School, Grass Lake. 

Cheri Sprik
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