Invent welcomes new interim director

Winter Keefer

[email protected] gained a new interim director in early August, shortly before the beginning of the fall semester.
Marquette resident, David Puskala, was hired as the new interim director of [email protected] after founding director, Dave Ollila, accepted a position in a Flint-based company as the vice president of innovation.

re-DavePuskalaThough [email protected] is primarily student run, Puskala contributes a diverse background to the organization with a degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech and extensive manufacturing and management experience.

“What I bring to [email protected] is just that whole idea of what it takes to bring a product from an idea to the marketplace,” Puskala said.

“But, I also think that there is a great staff of students here right now who really understand the invent process, and have done a great job with getting ideas from people who walk through the doors to the market.”

As the owner of Northern Energy Solutions, Puskala said he hopes to bring his background as a businessman to his new role at Invent.

Puskala also has expertise in lean manufacturing and product and process development and improvement.

“Within manufacturing there is always product development, which is somewhat like inventing, but it is usually very specific because you’re trying to either improve an existing product or add to another product line,” Puskala said.

“So a lot of the process involves incremental improvements to products. Through this process, you learn a lot about what it takes to move a product from an idea to selling it out in the marketplace.”

More of Puskala’s previous experience extends from serving as manager of business and development for Upper Peninsula Power Company to being chief operating officer/plant manager of Brute Industries of Escanaba. He has also served as president and chief executive officer of Superior Spectrum.

As interim director, Puskala said he will help provide guidance and resources to maintain the students’ ability to help clients, while also looking toward what comes next.

David Ollila was an amazing person to start the program at [email protected], Program Liaison Rachel Barra, said. Puskala seems like a great fit for the future. [email protected] will continue to be a primarily student-run program.

“We are all about innovation and change, and for things to grow, things need to change,” said Barra.

Working for or with [email protected] is an opportunity every student who gets involved will benefit from, Barra added. She was a student working as a project manager for [email protected] a year before graduating with a degree in entrepreneurship.

“Being a student employee here was really awesome,” said Barra. “You get the chance to take what you’re learning in the classroom and do it in the real world.”

Barra said [email protected] brings students from backgrounds including business and engineering in conjunction with art and design.

“Having the opportunity to work with a variety of different students in a range of majors is really incredible,” she said. The goal is to remove our clients from the entrepreneurial burden, said Charlie Tyson, marketing major and project manager at [email protected]

“I’ve really learned a lot just from working here,” he added. “That’s kind of half of the model. It’s more student oriented—giving the students an experience that they might not have in the classroom.”

Tyson said the student workers really appreciate the experience Puskala will bring to [email protected]

“I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who wants to gain a competitive edge in the marketplace,” he said.