Technology educator and entrepreneur part of WMU Innovation Day

contact: Deanne Puca
| WMU News
Photo of WMU Innovation Day participants.

Past Innovation Day participants

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Budding entrepreneurs of all ages will be pitching their products, models and prototypes on Friday, Dec. 2, at an Innovation Day celebration at Western Michigan University's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Some 75 K-12 students from area schools—along with WMU undergraduate and graduate engineering students—will be seeking input from the public on their innovations and inventions. The free event will be held in the atrium of Floyd Hall on WMU's Parkview campus from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is being hosted by the Department of Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering and Engineering Management.

"Innovation 'dollars' will be given to visitors so they can 'invest' in the products they see as the most innovative," says Dr. Steven E. Butt, professor and department chair. "They'll have a chance to hear the students pitch their products and decide where they want to spend their money."

The winning student teams in various categories will receive medals.

"This is a great way for students of all ages to expose their ideas and talents to engineering professionals, professors and community members," Butt says. "It really is a celebration of the entrepreneurs of the future."

Sponsors of the event are the Custer Office Environment Lecture Series, DENSO and the Society of Plastics Engineers. To register for or sponsor the event, visit

Keynote speaker

Now in its 10th year, the free event also includes a keynote speech from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. by Nik Kalyani, an entrepreneur and technology educator from Mountain View, Calif. He is the co-founder and CTO of WhenHub, a beta stage Silicon Valley internet startup. He is also the creator of Walkstarter, a free fundraising platform for U.S. schools.

Previously, Kalyani co-founded DNN Software, the venture-backed software company behind the popular DotNetNuke open-source software project that runs on hundreds of thousands of websites worldwide. During the dot-com growth era, he founded iWidgets, also a venture-backed internet startup.

In addition, Kalyani helped create the Silicon Valley chapter of CoderDojo, a global network of free computer programming clubs for young people, and has volunteered to teach coding to over 1,200 youngsters in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been recognized with Microsoft's "Most Valuable Professional" award for the past 10 years for his community contributions. Kalyani has a bachelor's degree in computer science from WMU. He can be found online at and on Twitter as @techbubble.

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