Marketing & Communications  


March 29, 2007 - Grand Rapids, Michigan (March 26, 2007) - Whether teaching West Michigan businesses how to develop leaner operations, creating a fully recyclable wind turbine or providing a solution for adequate drinking water in third world countries, the Aquinas College Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) are tackling some real issues with innovative ideas. That innovation earned the AQ SIFE Teams a Regional SIFE Championship during competition held in Chicago March 17-18. The event was one of 19 SIFE USA Regional Competitions being held across the United States in March and April.

The Aquinas team was one of 12 Chicago regional champions earning the right to compete at national competition scheduled for late May in Dallas. The Regional Championship finish comes on the heels of First Runner-Up awards received at the same Regional SIFE competition in both 2005 and 2006.

“The Aquinas SIFE Teams have been making steady progress for the past two years,” said Masato Yamazaki, Ph.D., assistant professor of economics and faculty advisor for the AQ SIFE organization.

“The projects selected by the students demonstrate the level of commitment by these students toward making a difference in the lives of other people and our environment,” he added.

There are more than two dozen Aquinas SIFE team members focusing on one of six projects: the Toyota Production System (TPS) team developed a training model for teaching lean manufacturing techniques to West Michigan businesses in manufacturing and service; the Wind Energy team, working with a Japanese firm, is developing a fully recyclable wind turbine; the Clean Water team seeks to develop a new anti-oxidant water storage system to maintain the qualify of filtered water for millions of people in China; the NaviLife team is marketing an idea developed by an earlier SIFE team that created safety lighting in rubber wall baseboards using light-emitting diodes (LED) designed to guide people to safety from a building fire; the Nutrition team is designing, growing and testing hydroponics produce as an organic food source for our students and the community; and the Financial Literacy team has designed an eight week, hands-on course that introduces secondary school students to personal budgets and expense management.

“The Regional Championship in Chicago was truly a team effort,” stated Roland Vandenbroeck, president of the AQ SIFE organization. “Everyone did their part to make sure that we were prepared for the competition and I believe that we’ve demonstrated that we are well-prepared for the (national) competition in Dallas (May), as well.”

SIFE is an international non-profit organization active on more than 1,400 university/college campuses in 48 countries. SIFE teams create economic opportunities in their communities by organizing outreach projects that focus on: market economics, entrepreneurship, personal financial success skills and business ethics. SIFE began on the Aquinas campus in 2002. Currently, more than two dozen students are involved in SIFE projects.