Northwood University Students Conclude Clean Energy Venture Competition

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These students gained valuable knowledge and skills applicable to future entrepreneurial endeavors.

MIDLAND, MI – A student team from Northwood University’s Midland Campus brought a classroom idea for green energy to the Clean Energy Venture Challenge competition presented by DTE Energy and the University of Michigan Energy Institute and Center for Entrepreneurship. The Clean Energy Venture Challenge offers all Michigan-based university students the opportunity for skill building, mentorship and proper funds for prototype development to launch ideas into a feasible green energy venture. Now in its sixth year, the Michigan Clean Energy Venture Challenge has continuously provided students an environment to cultivate green ideas with exposure to leading companies such as DTE Energy.

The Northwood team student members are: Joshua Allen, a junior from Rhodes majoring in management information systems; Chad Dandron, a junior from Farwell majoring in management information systems; and Madison Pines, a senior from Troy majoring in accounting. There were 27 teams chosen from 71 teams that applied from 11 schools across the state.

During this six-month challenge, Northwood students participated in weekly meetings with their two mentors, Northwood University Professors Dr. Stelian Grigoras and Dr. Nasim Hosein. Throughout the venture evolution, the students qualified for three rounds of judging which focused on the progression of their idea development. Specific criteria were analyzed in each round. Named Autopilot, the students’ venture encompassed green energy technology through smart phone controls for energy management, home security and a smart thermostat within the home. Allen, Dandron and Pines made it to the final round occurring in February at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Although they did not win, these students gained valuable knowledge and skills applicable to future entrepreneurial endeavors. Dandron, who utilized marketing skills and target market research, said, “The Clean Energy Venture Competition was a phenomenal experience.” Allen contributed the technology research while Pines developed the financials including contribution margin schedule and five-year projections.

"The Michigan Clean Energy Venture Competition was a great way for my friends and I to gain experience in starting a new entrepreneurial venture. Despite leaving without funding, we did not leave empty-handed as we learned new pitching techniques and had a lot of great networking experience,” commented Allen. According to Pines, “It was really challenging to be on the management side of accounting where I was the one making decisions and finding raw data instead of just analyzing data that was already given to me. It was difficult to figure out what data was appropriate or even where I should be looking to find information—a side of accounting that I wouldn’t normally see in the classroom.”


Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.

Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at three full-service, residential campuses located in southern Florida, mid-Michigan and northern Texas. Adult Degree Programs are available in eight states with many course delivery options including an online option. The DeVos Graduate School offers day, evening and weekend programming in Michigan, Texas and Florida. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise provides system-wide expertise in family enterprise, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and new business development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in Switzerland, China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.