BY JESI MUNGUIA
A Cadillac-based manufacturing company is citing reductions in Department of Defense spending as a factor in its announcement that 130 employees will be laid off by the end of May.
AAR Mobility Systems in Cadillac is a global supplier of rapid deployment equipment and mobile tactical shelters for the military.
Their four main products are: Internal Airlift/Helicopter Slingable Container Units, Rapidly Deployable Mobile Tactical Shelter Systems, Air Cargo Pallets and Palletized Systems.
According to released statements, the layoffs are also due to the delay in its Defense Logistics Agency contract which in turn has resulted in a decrease of sale orders.
AAR Mobility Systems also was forced to downsize 282 employees in October 2010.
Officials with the company refused comment for this story.
BY AMANDA HARRISON
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is looking to fund start up technology companies, working with organizations called incubators, through eight-point-five million dollars in grant funding.
The funding would be divided among qualifying recipients depending on size and need.
Paula Sorrell is the managing director of entrepreneurship and innovation for the MEDC.
She said qualifying incubators will help support job growth throughout the state.
"They will typically say they'll work with x amount of companies over the next four year years, they'll say however long they'll need funding for, how many jobs they hope to create and then they have the responsibility in return of reporting back to us for a period of five years after the funding ends."
Sorrell said one eligible incubator has been identified in Isabella County, and could receive up to half a million dollars if approved.
Other incubators throughout the state are being encouraged to apply.
BY ANTHONY RIZZO
Central Michigan University faculty are using a new method for early detection of invasive species.
The new technology is an easy-to-use and inexpensive method for searching ships, ports and other at-risk areas for invasive species like zebra or quagga mussels and Asian carp.
Experts say the early detection of invasive species is critical to combating their spread.
Dr. Andrew Mahon is an assistant professor of Biology at CMU. He's a leader in the use of the new technology.
"The laser-transmission spectroscopy is just the platform that is coupled with some standard genetic techniques that allows us to look for some target species; if we're looking for zebra mussels or quagga mussels or any other invasive species that we're concerned about."
Dr. Mahon said the technology is paving the way for field-based identification of harmful species.
BY CONSUELO MCABOY
Headline: Trivalent Group will give out tens of thousands of dollars in free technology to Michigan nonprofits
As technology continues to change and impact the way businesses run, one Michigan technology firm has created a new initiative. It's providing tens of thousands of dollars in free technology to nonprofit organizations.
Trivalent Group calls it the CompassionIT initiative.
It provides at least 30,000 dollars in technology equipment or services to a nonprofit that needs assistance to grow.
The way it works is this; a selection committee reviews applications and narrows them down to 5 finalists through a public vote.
Afterwards, one nonprofit is selected to win the top prize.
Dawn Simpson is the Vice President of Market Development.
"We are so excited to be able to provide this. We can't wait to see who submits. We can't wait to see who the winners are. We are just excited to be able to hopefully make a difference in a lot of people's lives, doing what we do best and providing these services and providing whatever will help is a big benefit for us."
Simpson said Trivalent staff will help all five finalists analyze their technology systems and create technology roadmaps.
Nonprofits must submit their applications by October 31st.
BY AMY ROBINSON
In the race for the newest, latest, greatest in technology, Charlevoix County this week became a national leader.
Charlevoix county is the first municipality in the nation to be named a "connected" community for its work on broadband internet.
The recognition comes from the 'Connected Nation' initiative.
The county earned the ranking through its work developing a technology plan to expand broadband access and use,
Judy Palnau is with the Michigan Public Service Commission.
"I am told that Michigan is definitely in the leadership when it comes to this community approach to attracting broadband. There are some other states that have similar groups, but it seems like an awful lot of them are in Michigan. And Charlevoix county today has the designation first."
Palnau said other Michigan communities, including Harbor Springs, Clare and Wexford counties are also working to improve community wide broadband.
BY JESI MUNGUIA
According to the most recent American Optometric Association's survey, 79 percent of parents are concerned that their child may be damaging their eyes due to technology use.
The Michigan Optometric Association's said, high-tech classrooms can greatly enhance learning, they can also pose a number of challenges to students' vision.
Continuous or prolonged use of technology can lead to computer vision syndrome, or CVS. That includes eyestrain, headaches, fatigue, blurred vision, or head and neck pain.
Dr. Mark Swan is a professor at the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University. He said that there's nothing inherently harmful from new technologies devices.
"People often times work harder at near than in other types of tasks. So especially for children it's probably a good idea that they get a good balance. That they spend some time outside running around, they spend some time using paper and pencil task kinda traditional school work activities and they spend some time on technology. But you shouldn't do any one thing to the exclusion ofthe others."
Dr.Swan said, by encouraging students to follow the 20-20-20 rule can help avoid CVS. Take a 20 second break every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
BY JESI MUNGUIA
Whether you like it, tweet it, pin it or hashtag it, Pure Michigan is expanding its social media fan base including Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
Pure Michigan continues to be one of the top-ranked state tourism agencies in the country.
And now recently It was recently named by Think Social Media as the second best social media presence among all state destinations in the nation.
According to staff with Pure Michigan, social media is a great way for them to interact with travelers, share information and above all promote Michigan.
Agency spokesperson Michelle Begnoche said in July our fans on Google+ were 54,000 in August it jumped to 94,000 fans...
"It's very easy to get a message to a lot of people. Especially if you can tap into those other networks. NASCAR got a huge fan following so we were able to plug into that and cross promote. So we're constantly looking for ways to help. With our partners cross promote and other fan bases out there. Doing that we're able to grow our followers."
Begnoche said, "Everyone has a different preference on what social media platform they prefer and we wanna make sure we there."
BY KAITLYN CAMILLERI
A national health survey is recognizing one of Northern Michigan's hospitals.
McLaren Northern Michigan in Petoskey is named one of the nation's "Most Wired." A Most Wired hospital is one that utilizes information technology to improve efficiency.
The survey rated over fifteen-hundred hospitals in the country.
Mark Gray is the Chief Information Officer at McLaren Northern.
"It gives us a benchmark of how we really relate to and how we are doing with our information technology in comparison to our peers in the health care industry."
Gray said using information technology helps protects patient data with having electronic medical records.
He said McLaren Northern is working on becoming a paperless hospital, something at which only a few hospitals in the country have succeeded.
By Amanda Harrison
Sault Ste. Marie will begin work on a new city building May 2. The facility will offer support to entrepreneurs who are just getting started.
Eric Becks is the president of Sault Ste. Marie Advanced Research and Technology Corp or SSMart. He said the city is combing an incubator, a building that offers work space and phone services for new businesses, with a manufacturing set up.
"The idea with this whole thing is kind of like a learning laboratory for entrepreneurs. So if you come in and you've got a great idea but you know not everybody who has a great idea is an engineer for example so we would be able to put engineering faculty and engineering students to work with the client."
Becks said the building will offer most services a client would need to start a business, from patent attorneys to a robotics room.
Last month, the Michigan Department of Corrections eliminated perimeter guards from 27 prisons to trim the state budget.
Prison officials say the change is working well, but some lawmakers are still concerned...
Until recently, Michigan prisons had guards patrolling their perimeters 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
But that changed April 1, when perimeter guards were eliminated, saving over 12 million dollars per year.
Russ Marlan is a spokesman for the Department of Corrections. He said the perimeter guards have been replaced by technology...
"Yes, over the last several years we've installed cameras that can see virtually the entire perimeter at most of our prisons. We've electrified our fences, we have lights, motion sensors."
Marlan said perimeter guards have also been replaced by periodic, random patrols from local and state law enforcement. He said wardens report being comfortable with their current staffing levels.
Some people, however, are still concerned about the elimination of perimeter guards.
State Representative Frank Foster is among them...
"I am more confident now that they've been able to lend the State Police to help out, but, you know, I want every protocol and procedure and every precaution deemed necessary to be implemented. And sometimes that's not always cost effective. I understand that."
Foster has been trying to legislatively restore funding for perimeter guards, however, those efforts have, so far, been unsuccessful.
By Amy Robinson
A lot of schools tap into new technology to help students learn.
But for kids with autism, the latest must-have electronic gadget is proving to be almost a necessity of life.
Special ed programs are finding that iPads allow autistic kids, who often have problems talking, to finally be able to communicate.
The special ed preschool classroom at Sherwood Elementary school in Saginaw looks like any other preschool; bright, cherry signs around the room, those little tables and chairs that are just the right size for five year olds, and of course small children being herded by a teacher.
But in this classroom of mainly autistic boys, most of the kids don't talk. That's a classic feature of autism. Instead these kids are finding a way to reach out through technology.
"Make the O, ooo, make the fish go round, fish. Where is the fish? Fish. Why isn't he moving? ooo. Oh, go to a different letter, he is stuck. Oh there he goes. Oh the fish is stuck today, hmm. O is your favorite letter isn't it. There he goes, there he goes. Do you see Ms. Kelly? What did we make, O. What is next? P. P is next, that's right, you're going to make the letter P."
Kelly Kiss has been teaching special needs kids for over a decade.
She introduced iPads last fall. She said this little device opens the world of communication to bright little boys who, due to a neurological disorder, had been shut out.
"He can't make any sounds. He can't talk at all. He was getting frustrated because he understands everything. He wants to tell us a million things, but he can't. So our speech therapist downloaded an app called proloquo to go. And it has, you can make it individualized. It has his picture on it, he can tap on it, he can say his name. It allows him to communicate his wants and needs without getting frustrated."
Kiss said there are so many apps that it's easy to find one that feels almost custom made for each child. She said the tablet style computer is easier for her students to use than a desktop mouse.
Sherwood Elementary special ed owns two iPads now. Kiss said she'd like to have one for every student. She said these devices are so engaging, that it's hard to pull kids away.
"They almost need an iPad that is only for the communication piece and then an iPad for the games. The kids will get on it and they will communicate and they'll want to play angry birds or they want to play another. We've taken angry birds off of a lot of iPads because they want to play it so much."
Kiss said students learn more than language skills with iPads. They also learn patience and sharing. She said the device is a great motivator. Kids that won't respond to encouragement or privileges or food, will work to get time on the iPad.
Kara Mohr is the speech therapist. She's found the same thing.
"I absolutely love it. It has been my most favorite therapy tool ever. Because, it is so engaging. That is what they love. They will do so much for me on the iPad. I mean they like the fun stuff too. But they are so easily engaged even with work too."
Mohr said at a cost of about $500 each, she considers them cost effective as an educational too. And she said they're sturdy in a roomful of preschoolers the iPads have been dropped and come up still working.
Amy Schlegel's son Sam is one of the kids in this preschool class. She purchased an iPad for him last year with proceeds from a garage sale. She said the difference in his receptive language is huge.
"He had maybe, 10-20 words. He probably now has over 200, 300 words I would say. I use to keep track of them, and I just quit keeping track because I can't keep up."
It's unclear just how many iPads are being used in special ed classrooms in Michigan. The teachers at Sherwood Elementary say they hope to write grants to purchase more.
They say a few hundred dollars is a small price to pay to open up a world of communication to a child.
By Consuelo McAboy
Many people use the sex offender registry to check for convicted sex offenders in their neighborhoods. Now, the Michigan state police are using new technology to ensure more accurate results.
The Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act requires all sex offenders to verify their address as often as every three months.
Recently, the office of the auditor general completed a follow up to a 2005 audit that made changes to the current act.
The changes include using better technology to automatically check an offender's address against other public records to confirm that's really where the offender lives.
Leo Mioduszewski is the Isabella County Sheriff. He says before the automated registry, checking addresses manually was the only option.
"We'll have deputies in conjunction with the Michigan state police that will go out in the county and actually knock on doors to make sure that an individual is living at the address that they put down as far as their living address. It does take quite a bit of time between the deputies and the troopers to go throughout the county to check on the sex offenders but obviously if somebody lists down an address, we want to go there and make sure that they're actually living there and not just putting down some other address for whatever reason"
Mioduszewski said purpose of the act is to provide families with an accurate list of sex offenders in their neighborhood.
By Amy Robinson
A state grant is allowing the Bay City police department to be more high tech, and more proactive, in its fight on crime.
The city police department received a $25,000 grant to purchase new crime analysis software.
The software allows police to identify pockets of crime in the city and allocate resources to address it.
Bay City Police Chief Miek Cecchini said after about a month of use, they're already seeing some trends.
"...We've noticed some things where we're actually writing up some action plans to address some issues to try to prevent crime and future calls for service at locations.
Cecchini said police know their beats and know where crime typically occurs. The software can help identify unexpected or overlooked problems, and address them before they grow.
By Amanda Harrison
As some in Lansing argue that the states budget surplus should be put back into the schools local districts have been forced to tighten their belts. One way is through consolidation.
The Clare Public Schools is merging with four other districts within its RESD, the Regional Education Service District, to share their technology services.
Consolidation of technology includes workers.
Ken Chinavare is the director of technology for the Clare Gladwin RESD.
He said IT techs, maintenance and others will be centralized at the RESD.
"One person for a school district is what a lot times a lot of schools used to have years ago and then they would add a couple more people here and there. But the problem is with the shrinking budgets that have been happening across the state and the federal for that matter, we just couldn't afford to have all the people necessary in one school district to take care of all the technology."
Chinavare said one person in the Clare School District will be out of a job after the merger.
But he said there will be a job opening for repair technician at the RESD.
By Consuelo McAboy
Many schools overseas struggle to find funding for luxuries like computers and playground equipment. A Northern Michigan employer may be well on his way to helping with this issue.
The president of Teamtech motorsports in Saginaw county traveled to the City of Guaymate in the Dominican Republic.
His team began making improvements and installed an internet system of 10 computers. The computers were donated by two churches from Saginaw county.
Curt Tucker is the President of Teamtech Motorsports. He said he plans to go back to the Dominican Republic to make more changes.
"We're gonna go back there and have plans on installing a playground, upgrading the cafeteria and see what we can do about some type of a kitchen for hot lunches."
Tucker said he would like to find sponsors for a battery backup electrical system, solar panels and a wind generation system to completely power the school.
He said his future goal is to support continuing education for students through scholarships.
By Consuelo McAboy
Parts of Northern Michigan may begin to span the digital divide of equal access to information with the help of a fiber optic infrastructure project.
The Merit Network began construction for its Reach-3-M-C project in the Upper Peninsula. The project is funded by a grant from the Federal stimulus package.
Don Welch is the C.E.O of Merit. He said the project will be beneficial to the state for a couple of reasons.
"It won't matter where you're located geographically within the state of Michigan but you'll have equal access to information and right now throughout the remote and rural areas of Michigan, it's a lot harder and more expensive to get access to broadband and we have this vision of equal access to information throughout the state of Michigan that we will be able to fulfill this way."
Welch said the project will build infrastructure in under-served communities in Michigan. He said it will add more options for residents to receive broadband service.
From hard drives crashing to broken C-D's, many people have experienced some form of digital storage media failure. Today, Ferris State University may be well on their way to fixing this problem with a newly awarded grant from the National Science Foundation.
The National Science Foundation awarded a 330 thousand dollar grant to the Ferris State University Information Security and Intelligence program. The award was given to two I-S-I faculty members. The grant is dedicated to the study of digital storage media failure.
Sandy Gholston is the Interim Assistant Director of News Services for Ferris State. He said the grant will be beneficial to the University for a couple of reasons.
"Well this is an exciting grant and an opportunity for our Information Security and Intelligence program to showcase some of the work that they've been doing and to really showcase their expertise in terms of information security and intelligence so we're very excited about this grant, this grant in the total of 330,860 dollars. We feel like it's going to be something that we can really put to use and we're definitely very gratified that the National Science Foundation would award this to Ferris."
Gholston said the grant will bring recognition to Ferris State. He said the award will be a big step toward helping people store their information more securely.
All 29 Michigan State Police dogs have now been equipped with G-P-S tracking collars.
The collars come a year after a police dog was lost in Presque Isle County while searching for a missing man.
The State Police don't ever want to see a repeat of that fateful day in November of last year, when Bane, a German Shepherd assigned to the Alpena post, ran off while on a search.
His handler believes he was chasing a deer, and unfortunately, troopers had no way to track him.
Sgt. David Yount is commander of the M-S-P canine division.
He said G-P-S collars were recently donated to all 29 state police dogs and they're proving to be quite useful.
"We originally thought this would be for if the canine became separated from the handler, it would be a way to recover the canine. And it does meet that criteria, but we also found that this will enhance our search capabilities, because we can remotely monitor this from a command post, a patrol car."
Yount said the G-P-S collars allow troopers to see exactly where their dogs have been, and then adjust their search patterns accordingly.
The collars were purchased through private donations.
Copyright 2010, MPRN
By Amanda Harrison
Leelanau County is one of six Michigan communities who will receive an advanced lighting technology grant.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. offered the funding to communities to replace street lights with LED lights.
Trudy Gala is the Planing Director for Leelanau County of Commissioners. She said the project will save maintenance and energy costs.
"We're estimating about seven thousand dollars in energy savings each year. But over a long time period that adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars and then of course the extra time and hours we're saving in maintenance and labor."
Gala said LED lights last much longer than incandescent bulbs. She said the longer life-span will decrease maintenance costs.
The MEDC also gave the City of Owosso funding for its project.
A congressional investigation has uncovered thousands of instances of counterfeit parts working their way into Department of Defense supply chains.
Michigan Senator Carl Levin said the counterfeits parts are a threat that should be taken very seriously.
Counterfeit electronic parts have been identified in numerous American defense systems, ranging from missile guidance systems to display units in military aircraft.
According to Levin, most of the counterfeit parts come from China.
He said that country has been unwilling to work with congressional investigators, because the investigation could damage U-S China relations. Levin disagrees.
"What is damaging to U-S China relations isn't our investigation. It's China's refusal to act against brazen counterfeiting, which endangers our troops and our missions."
Levin said counterfeits are a problem because many parts for defense systems are only produced for a few years, while the systems they are installed in can remain active for decades.
That forces defense contractors to turn to third-party dealers to obtain replacement parts, instead of original manufacturers.
By Laura Weber
More internet-based K-through-12 schools may soon be available to Michigan students. The state Senate approved a measure that would allow more cyber-schools than the two web-based charter schools already in the state.
Cyber-school supporters said there are thousands of kids on waiting lists to get into the state's two internet-based charter schools. They said parents and students, especially those in failing school districts, deserve more and better choices.
Democratic state Senator Rebekah Warren said the state should know more about how well the current cyber schools are doing before opening up the state to more.
"Michigan, to this point, really has no good data on how those two cyber-charters are doing on the educational achievement of the students that are in those programs, and on the actual cost of providing that education."
Warren's proposal to ensure the student-to-teacher ratio in cyber-schools is similar to that of traditional public school classrooms was rejected by the state Senate. The cyber-schools bill now moves to the state House.
© Copyright 2010, MPRN
A new state website promises to reduce the need to visit Secretary of State offices.
The website expressSOS.com
will allow Michigan residents to quickly renew or replace drivers licenses, vehicle registrations and titles, and license plate tabs, without having to visit an office in person.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said it will save customers time and money.
"ExpressSOS.com will allow most of these customers to do those transactions online, saving time, gas money, and frankly, frustration."
Johnson said over 10 million people visit Secretary of State offices each year, often for tasks that can be completed online.
She said the new website is part of a modernization effort designed to make the Secretary of State more efficient and customer friendly.
By Laura Weber
Governor Rick Snyder said he wants Michigan to be one of the top states in the country in developing defenses against cyber-crimes. He said five years ago his personal credit record was hurt by identity theft on the internet. He said it took two years to clear the mess up.
"My family and I have been a victim of cyber-crime. And if I went around this room and asked how many of you have been a victim, I bet most of the hands would go up."
Snyder was speaking at a cyber-attack prevention conference in Ypsilanti. The governor's administration announced initiatives to help make Michigan a leader in cyber-attack prevention. That includes the creation of a "Cyber Command Center" designed to better respond to cyber emergencies in the state.
Copyright 2010, MPRN
By Amanda Harrison
Dow Chemical executives and colleges students and faculty have spent the weekend in Washington D.C. for the first U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon.
Public Radio spoke with Pat Nugent, director of business for Dow Solar, via phone from the event.
She said Dow is proud to support several key events and two student teams.
She said 20 high school teams built and designed their own energy-efficient model homes.
"And they are going to start next week giving awards for different levels of energy efficiency, or how they met the architecture, market appeal, engineering, affordability, so there are at least ten different areas that they are going to get awards on and scores."
Dow Solar's managing director will announce the winning homes October 1.
She said the Decathlon is designed to help educate everyone from Congress to students on the value of solar energy.
By Amanda Harrison
MIR's can help save lives but for a claustrophobic patient it can be a nightmare. A new open MRI was installed in Mt. Pleasant Tuesday.
John Hoyle is with "Open MRI" he said the new machine will give patients a peace of mind.
"The biggest issue in MRI is claustrophobia for patients going inside a tunnel. Even the so called open boar or the wider boar magnets you still feel like they're inside a tunnel. And this is much more open side to side and you can actually lay several people inside this next to each other."
Hoyle said the bigger machine will not be more expensive for patients. And because it's located at an outpatient facility instead of a hospital setting, he said, insurance companies are more inclined to cover it.
He said the bigger MRI machine is just as effective as the smaller version but makes it easier for patients to move around.
Hoyle said the machine will be ready for patient use within the next few weeks.
By Rick Pluta
Former Governor Jennifer Granholm said she coached the C-E-O of General Motors on his congressional testimony following a disasterous appearance before Congress. It's part of her political memoir, "A Governor's Story." Granholm said she also learned some on-the-job lessons to help the U-S compete with the rest of the world for high-tech manufacturing jobs.
Jennifer Granholm was a politician known for her ability to deliver a passionate stem-winder, and she tried to pass some advice along to General Motors' then-C-E-O Rick Wagoner. That was after the Detroit Three C-E-Os suffered a fiasco in their first appearance before a congressional committee to appeal for emergency business loans.
"You remember the first time, of course, that that they went and they flew in their jets..."
"I'm going to ask the three executives here to raise their hand if they flew here commercial. Let the record show no hands went up. Second, going to ask you to raise yor hand if you're planning to sell your jet in place now and fly back commercial. Let the record show no hands went up..."
"...And it was this disaster. I was just a disaster. So, the second time they went, if your listeners recall, they drove in their favorite car to Washington to make their case and present their new plans. So it was so important to Michigan. So I just remember this conversation that I had with Rick. He was a basketball player himself, so he was very open to coaching. I said, 'Rick, you've got to look them in the eye.' I was in my office by myself gesticulating while I was talking on the phone, saying, 'You've got to make the case from your heart that this industry is going to lead America to energy independence, that we are going to come back because of this industry, not in spite of this industry.'"
Granholm also took to the airwaves, the halls of Congress, and the White House to make the case for a federal bailout. She could not keep G-M and Chrysler out of bankruptcy. But the auto companies did get federal loans to help them survive.
Granholm said the experience of trying to turn around Michigan's economy as jobs moved offshore or to other states, or simply disappeared taught her some lessons that she is trying to pass along to the public and nation's leaders.
"There's some things that worked and some that didn't and you can learn from us."
Granholm said tax cuts and smaller government are not enough to help a state, a region, or the country compete with nations that subsidize their industries. She said the federal government needs to help with research, and place bets to help some industries grow, like Michigan did with advanced batteries.
"To stand idly by will only ensure the loss, the continued loss of good-paying middle-class jobs."
That's in contrast to the argument that government should not try to pick winners in a free-market economy. Michigan has stepped back from industry-specific tax breaks and other subsidies since the governor left office.
"I think there is a role for this sort of thing, but I would caution you need to be very careful."
Charles Ballard is a Michigan State University economist who has written two books about the state's economy.
"If the state of Washington had gotten in on the ground floor of Microsoft, they would have been great. If the state of Texas had gotten in on the ground floor and invested a whole lot with Enron which, at the time everyone was saying, Oh, what a brilliant company Enron is, that would have been a disaster."
Ballard said it's more important for governments to focus on education and transportation and communication infrastructure.
He said Granholm got it right when she called for tougher high school standards, and better worker training and re-training, but he said she still cut funding for higher education year after year when she was governor facing budget crises.
© Copyright 2010, MPRN
Students at more than 200 universities, including Central Michigan University, are discovering an interesting way of reaching out to missed connections.
LikeALittle.com calls itself "high-quality flirting." At just barely a month old, the site has thousands of anonymous users, according to site creator Evan Reas.
"Often, people are finding the site, they think it's really interesting, think it's fun, share it on Facebook with their friends. Then their friends see it, and come take a look at it, and either spread it to their campus, or start using it at their own."
Reas says the site lets people connect in a positive way. But others have called it a "stalker's wonderland."
LikeALittle.com is pretty popular already among CMU students, despite having been on campus for only a little more than two weeks. In fact, of the more than 200 campuses with pages, Central has the second-most traffic.
Site administrators jokingly call the service a "flirting-facilitation platform."
"You know, you're sitting in class, or you're sitting in the library, and you're like, 'This guy is looking really good today,' or 'This girl is beautiful.' Or maybe you just made a great comment, and I want to say this person is really smart."
Site CEO and co-founder Evan Reas says LikeALittle.com allows users to post anonymous comments about people they interact with - or even just see. The comments are supposed to be positive, and often hint at some attraction.
"So, it's anonymous, but people get descriptive, and people will specifically say, in a certain classroom, or in a certain location. You can kind of tell that, 'Oh, it's probably me, or it's kind of my friend,' or maybe they say, 'This guy has a mohawk,' so very descriptive characteristics."
Users generally browse the site for three reasons: to submit a post, to see if there are posts about them, and simply to watch.
"It was definitely flattering. I had a friend tell me about the site. So I was just kind of checking it out, I was going through the posts, and I found this one," says Sarah Kielinen, a CMU student.
She found a post that she says she knew was about her, because it accurately described her Halloween costume.
"And I was dressed up as Tiger Woods for Halloween. You know, I knew who was at the party, and I knew there were no other people dressed up -- especially females -- dressed up as Tiger Woods, so I kind of put two and two together with that one, and figured it was probably me."
Sarah says the site's premise is fun, and it's kind of flattering finding a post about yourself. She says she still doesn't know who wrote the one about her. And although it's fun, Sarah says it could get creepy.
With so much attention recently on online harassment and bullying, some people are concerned that LikeALittle.com could easily be used for malicious purposes.
"There's a significant percentage of us that are not such good people, that would use this to degrade, harm, bully other people, and that's what I fear," says Steve Thompson, Director of Sexual Aggression Services at CMU, and a nationally-known expert on sexual aggression. He says he's worried, too, that LikeALittle.com could be a tool for stalking.
"The ability to maintain anonymity is huge, and the consequence to that is zero. So I can go on that site, or any number of sites after you or I leave, and I can say anything I want about you. And what's the consequence to me?"
Thompson says LikeALittle.com reminds him of another site -- JuicyCampus.com -- where students gossip. He says Juicy Campus quickly became a place to harass and insult people, and he hopes Like A Little doesn't become the same.
Site creator Evan Reas says there are measures to prevent that.
"There's no full names allowed. We also don't let people do room numbers, or if they're on there, we delete those, so it doesn't get too specific. Every single school has at least five moderators, making sure to take down negative, or offensive, or creepy comments. The other thing that we do, is that anybody with a .edu email address from the school that you're looking at can delete any comment immediately."
Like A Little offers an obvious appeal to people who post.
"The idea of being anonymous and posting your opinions of other people in a way that can't come back necessarily to harm you is very attractive," according to Dr. Lesley Whithers. She's a Professor of Communication and Dramatic Arts at CMU. She says the site can make it easier for people to post something that's difficult to say in person.
"It's that idea of 'I'm self-disclosing, but I can also deny it,' so if you come up to me later and say, 'Hey, somebody posted on this website, saying that they liked me, and said we were talking about snowboarding -- we were talking about snowboarding!' They can always deny it, if it seems like it's not going well. But if it seems like it is going well, then they can say, 'Well yes, actually I did post that!'"
Some say, too, that the site challenges assumptions about who is posting.
"There are these assumptions that people make when they come into it that do tend to be heteronormative," says Dr. Patty Williamson, an Associate Professor of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts at CMU. She says people most likely assume that men are commenting about women, and vice-versa -- but that's not necessarily the case.
Dr. Williamson also says it's clear that some people on the site simply like to watch.
"There's inherent entertainment in sort of the voyeurism of being able to look into other people's private lives, assuming that some of the posts are real on the site. People who are just using it as a source of entertainment kind of look at it as a way to kind of snoop on other people's interpersonal relationships."
At this point, it's hard to tell whether LikeALittle.com will stick around, but it definitely draws attention to who may be paying attention to you.
Researchers hope to find undiscovered shipwrecks near Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary using new sonar technology.
The sonar is called ATLAS, for Autonomous Topographic Large Area Survey. It can map a swath of lakebed one thousand meters wide with a single scan, but with slightly less resolution than older sonar.
Russ Green is a deputy superintendent and research coordinator at the Thunder Bay Sanctuary. He says the ATLAS sonar has identified potential shipwreck sites. He says researchers will use higher-resolution equipment to investigate further.
"There are some targets that are promising, that we're looking forward to following up. And now it's a little bit of a waiting game as we kind of pull in the remotely operated vehicle and the high-resolution sonar to kind of really find out what's going on there. So there's a little lag time between what we find with this great sonar, and figuring out exactly what it is. But there are some good targets out there, for sure."
Green says in addition to finding shipwrecks, the project aims to map the lakebed more thoroughly.
"It does paint kind of a picture of the bottom. We're learning a little bit more about the geology of the lake bed. For instance, if there was a submerged sinkhole, which occur in the sanctuary, chances are the sonar would pick that up. And also habitat. We know that ATLAS will pick up a little bit of geology, and maybe we can learn a little bit more about the diversity of the habitat within the marine sanctuary, and beyond."
Green says the sonar equipment is mounted on a free-swimming underwater vehicle, which surveys the lake bed for eight to ten hours at a time.
The project concludes on Friday. By then, Green hopes to have scanned 150 square miles of the Lake Huron lakebed.
A student at Central Michigan University hopes to earn the title of "College Entrepreneur of 2010" from Entrepreneur magazine.
Senior Daniel Pearson is among the competition's top five finalists.
Pearson submitted plans for what he calls the "Hybrid Card." He says it would allow consumers to access multiple credit and debit accounts from one card.
"When you swipe the card at the register, the card will prompt you on which card out of all the many cards that people carry which one you should use, which is the best, based on interest rates or rewards bonuses. Depending on whether people carry a balance month-to-month, or whether they pay things off, it will give you recommendations based on that."
He says the idea came from experience running his own business.
"I'd ran a landscaping company since I was eighteen. I actually just have recently sold it. I was always trying to take advantage of all the reward programs and so many different things, and I was always using so many different cards for different things. I figured it would be so much easier for me if I could have everything on one card. It would just be way more efficient, and safe, and everything else."
The 21-year-old Pearson says he would use ten percent of transaction fees from the Hybrid Card to promote responsible credit use and combat corporate waste.
Seed money totaling $5,000 is at stake in the contest. The finalists will be narrowed down by voting on Entrepreneur magazine's website, and the winner will be announced in November.
Pearson says he plans to develop the Hybrid Card regardless of whether he wins the competition.
Police in Flint are continuing their search for a serial killer. Authorities believe the suspect is responsible for sixteen stabbings there. Similar crimes in Ohio and Virginia are also under investigation.
In the midst of the investigation, a Facebook profile has been created for the so-called "Flint Serial Killer."
Steve Thompson, is the Sexual Aggression Services Director at CMU. Thompson has worked with law enforcement to profile criminals.
Thompson says it's unlikely the Facebook profile was actually created by the perpetrator, but, he says, the killer might enjoy the attention.
"I would say that he probably enjoys that, if they give him a name. All I've heard is "slasher." I don't know if they've given him some cute name or not. He probably gets off on that. More likely than not, he's enjoying the publicity. More likely than not, he is. If he didn't enjoy it, there's ways to do crime that would be less known to the public."
User comments on the Facebook page range from joking to disgusted.
As alternative energy becomes a larger part of Michigan's manufacturing sector, Dow Corning has entered into a collaborative effort to make alternative energy more affordable.
Scientists at Dow Corning plan to work with partners from the University of Toledo to research and develop solar technology. Silicon-based materials produced by Dow Corning are used in the photovoltaic cells that make solar energy possible.
Jarrod Erpelding is a spokesperson for Dow Corning. He says the collaboration aims to make solar technology a more affordable energy option.
"The focus of the collaboration will be to research and develop products and materials that look to reduce the cost of solar energy to make it a sustainable and economically-viable energy option globally."
Erpelding says research will take place in Midland and at the University of Toledo. The university launched a dedicated effort to research photovoltaic technology three years ago.
Erpelding adds that both Dow Corning and the University of Toledo hope other universities and business join their effort in the future.
The agreement between Dow Corning and the University of Toledo allows researchers to share data and information between their organizations, while protecting their respective intellectual property.
A national think tank says online learning is a possible solution to teacher shortages and funding shortfalls facing K-12 education.
In a recent report, the Alliance for Excellent Education argues that online learning could also help meet an increasing global demand for skilled workers.
Jason Amos is the Director of Communications at the Alliance for Excellent Education. He says online education might even help teachers find jobs.
"For example, if there is a teacher who is very well-qualified in Michigan, who can't find a job where he or she lives, he or she could essentially export their expertise virtually, to a state that has a need for the expertise that they have. So in that sense, it could actually help people find a job."
Amos also says Michigan is the first state to require students to have an online learning experience before graduation.
Dr. Kathy Koch is the interim Dean of the College of Education and Human Services at CMU. She says whether or not online education is effective depends on its quality - as is the case with any education.
"One of the prime requirements of a good online course is that you do have close connection with the students. Students do need to have communication with the teacher, whether it be online, or in some other way. So, good teaching, whether it's online or face-to-face, some of the same things hold true."
According to Koch, online learning is one tool to provide students with an education, and it could help schools share resources. She describes online education as an evolutionary step in the field, but not a singular solution to all the problems facing K-12 programs.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, sales of small wind turbines increased by fifteen percent last year.
Ron Stimmel is the Manager of Small Wind Systems and Legislative Affairs with the AWEA. He says exact state-by-state growth is hard to measure, but Michigan is one of the fastest-growing markets, thanks to windy conditions and a relatively easy permitting process.
"Michigan offers a pretty healthy assortment of policies and incentives to help consumers purchase small wind systems, as well. So rebates and various utility policies that help making connecting the system into the grid more streamlined."
Stimmel says small wind turbines power homes, farms, and small businesses. He estimates 100,000 of these units are now in use throughout the US, generating one hundred megawatts of power, and contributing to the energy used by homes, farms, and small businesses.
"While a hundred megawatts is still not a considerable amount of our nation's electricity supply, what it really means is there are a 100,000 neighborhoods and communities that are getting accustomed and acclimated to renewable energy right in their backyards.
Jon Sarver is the Manager of Renewable Energy for the State of Michigan's Energy Office. He says a growing number of consumers who use alternative energy sources are selling excess energy back to utilities through net metering programs.
And of those alternative energy sources, wind is beating out solar.
"Wind was the more popular option, with respect to the increase. The wind actually went from 29 in the previous year to 96 in this most recent year. So of those 137 net-metering customers, 96 of those were small wind."
Small wind turbines are those that power individual homes, farms, or small businesses.
Last week, the Michigan Public Service Commission denied an air-quality permit to a proposed Rogers City coal-fired power plant.
Now Dow Chemical has announced further testing of carbon-capture technology they have developed in conjunction with Alstom Power. Their Advanced Amine Process is designed to prevent plants that burn coal, oil, and gas from releasing carbon dioxide.
Dow and Alstom have won a contract to demonstrate the commercial viability of their process at a French coal plant, beginning in two years. The companies will contract with Electricity de France.
Ajay Badhwar manages Dow's CO2 capture project. He says the project will help limit how much carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere.
"Carbon dioxide-capture is a necessary technology that needs to be developed for the marketplace to ensure that the technology is ready when CO2 legislation comes into place. So it takes significant investment to ensure the technology is ready when the market or the world is ready to accept the technology."
Badhwar says the companies plan to make the technology commercially-available in the next five-to-ten years.
"Dow and Alstom together are working to develop an easy-to-install technology on the outlet of flue gas streams of power plants - predominately coal power plants, but it could be applicable to any types of power plant."
Badhwar says similar processes have been used in other types of facilities, but applying carbon-capture to power plants has been a challenge. The process filters power-plant emissions through an absorbent chemical solution to remove carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere.
Badhwar says another ongoing project will determine what to do with carbon dioxide after capturing it.
A project called Cell Phones for Soldiers collects and sells unused phones to a recycler in return for calling cards that are then sent to troops.
The Little Caesars pizza chain is partnering with the project through April.
Robert Bergquist is the President of Cell Phones for Soldiers.
"Every pizza that Little Caesars sends out will have a Cell Phones for Soldiers mailing label on it, and every phone that is sent in works out to just about one hour of talk-time for a soldier overseas."
Kathryn Oldham is the Director of Communications for Little Caesars. She says the partnership is popular so far with their customers.
"We've received a number of comments about people who appreciate having the opportunity to support our troops, to do something good for the environment also, and clean out their desk drawer at home."
According to Cell Phones for Soldiers, the project has donated nearly one million hours of talk-time to soldiers overseas since 2004.
Since the Toxic Substances Control Act became law over thirty years ago, many new chemical technologies have evolved that aren't regulated by the federal government.
Stephen Rapundalo is the President and CEO of MichBio. He says the newly-formed Michigan Coalition for Chemical Safety is encouraging Congress to reform chemical regulations to protect businesses, consumers, and the environment.
"The EPA does not have the statutory enforcement wherewithal to regulate many of these chemicals and technologies. If we're going to have regulations on the book, then the EPA should have the ability to be able to make sure that those regulations are adhered to."
According to Rapundalo, the E-P-A doesn't even have the ability to regulate a substance like asbestos - documented to be a major threat to human health. He says new chemical regulations must also have some mode of enforcement.
State Representative Jeff Mayes from Bay City represents part of a region that has been called "Michigan's new chemical and clean energy alley." He says the Toxic Substances Control Act needs to be updated in order to protect the public and to let businesses grow.
"We're hoping to become leaders in battery technology, and we want to have high standards as a country, and we want to make sure the public is safe. But in the event that each of our fifty states has slightly a different standard in terms of how you would approach battery manufacturing, it's going to make it challenging for companies that want to locate here to build batteries and to be competitive."
Battery manufacturing is just one sector affected by chemical regulations - others include agriculture, biotechnology, and retail.
"Here in mid-Michigan, companies like Michigan Sugar, and Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, Hemlock Semiconductor are part of the national effort to promote changes in this act."
Representative Mayes says the Michigan coalition is part of a national effort to reform chemical regulations.
Rapundalo says the U-S Senate is already considering reforming the regulations.
"In early December, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held an oversight hearing. The chairman of that committee is making a big push in the Senate on this topic. We're feeling pretty good that this will see the light of day."
According to Rapundalo, the coalition's efforts are meant to improve the goods that people use in daily life.
These range, he says, from food and the agriculture industry to the chemical products and by products from Dow Chemical and Dow Corning.
The coalition is encouraging Congress to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act first passed in 1976, which the group says is outdated.
The Michigan Coalition for Chemical Safety is composed of about thirty member businesses and organizations.
Political accusations... a State investigation ... and college students hoping they're not tagged for underage drinking; all triggered by one blog post.
CMU Public Radio reported earlier this month on a college student's blog talking about wild parties and underage drinking at a Republican State meeting on Mackinac Island. The Democrats called for an investigation after what was believed to be a private blog entry found its way to the public arena.
Experts say they're not surprised. They say "internet privacy" is an oxymoron.
Dr. Lesley Withers teaches Communication classes at Central Michigan University . She also spends a lot of time on the internet.
"More and more I see people posting things that others might not want to have known about them and that ultimately, you might not want to have known about yourself."
Case in point, a recent blog post titled "A Real Political Party" in which a CMU student discussed underage drinking at a political meeting on Mackinac Island. That post prompted news reports, political accusations and an investigation by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission; that's still ongoing.
Shortly after the post was made public, the student password protected and then deleted it. Dr. Withers says the time to exercise caution is before you post to the web.
"Well it's only as private as the people who are allowed to view it. Even if you password protect something, if someone that you give permission to see it then shares it with a friend of theirs or copies it, saves it as a PDF, it can still be pretty easily distributed. Or certain search engines may turn it up even if it is protected"
Dr. Withers makes a point to warn her college students about the dangers of assuming the internet is private. She talks about an airline attendant who got fired because she posted a photo of herself working on a company plane.; a violation of airline policy. She talks about job seekers who are passed over when an employer sees online photos of them drinking or doing anything else the employer doesn't like.
She says a lack of caution on the internet is generational; more common among college students and teenagers.
"I think because they've grown up with it, there's a false sense of security. It's always been there for them, and so they may not question it as much as generations that are more unfamiliar with the technology. I think perhaps being unfamiliar with it helps us have a healthy skepticism that perhaps those growing up with it have never had."
Dr. Withers say a healthy skepticism can be a good thing when you're posting online; where the effects of your disclosure may come back to haunt you years after the original post.
"I think when we look at the political candidates 20-years from now, they're going to be finding out what they shouldn't have posted in high school and in college. And perhaps wishing that they had used a little more discretion at that time."
Dr. Withers says parents should be talking to their students about internet privacy... or lack thereof.
"Set your student down and talk with them about the risks. And really you know, think about the fact that anything you post online is going to be available potentially for an indeterminate amount of time. For years to come. And so it's like putting a resume out there or putting an ad in the paper with your pictureon it. What do you want to be known about you in cyber-space? Because the information that you put out today will be the information that will be the information that will be out there years from now. And you can't take it back once it's out there."
Coming up next week , All Things Considered will examine the issue of internet privacy. Among other things: how marketers are using personal information, and computer researchers who are working on a "kill date" for personal information on the web.