Cameron Gackstetter won the Main Division 1st place prize of $10,000 in the 2015 Arctic Innovation Competition for his innovation of the ThawHead. The ThawHead is a portable, 40-pound apparatus which uses a two-stage process to thaw ice and then remove melt water and debris in an efficient manner. The ThawHead is designed to assist with the removal of ice and snow from airport lighting canisters, thus exposing the lights and any areas that may need to be repaired.
The inspiration for the ThawHead came to Gackstetter through his recognition of a common and troubling Alaskan problem. On airport runways, groundwater often freezes inside airfield lighting canisters, and the ice build-up can damage wiring and reduce visible lighting. This can quickly become a critical issue if pilots cannot see the runway in order to safely land their planes, especially in rural areas and during the dark winter nights. When the lights freeze up, workers have to thaw the ice away to clear them. This is usually a long, slow process, and the typical methods (such as using a blowtorch) can be a hazardous task for workers and can also potentially damage the lights. Gackstetter wanted to create something that would quickly, safely, and efficiently thaw ice and remove melted water; thus, the innovation of the ThawHead came to be. Gackstetter sees the ThawHead as not only helpful, but necessary, in areas with harsh winter conditions, including Alaska. He explained, “The ThawHead cuts a 2-hour project down to 15 minutes, so it’s a big time saver.”
Taking a Chance
Gackstetter and his wife Shannon did not submit their idea until 11:58 p.m. on the day of the submission deadline. They had no expectations of winning the competition, but believed that they wouldn’t know how successful the ThawHead could be unless they tried. Taking a chance did in fact pay off for Gackstetter, and the AIC competition showed him what a promising innovation he had in the ThawHead. Winning the AIC and taking advantage of the resources and connections this provided served as a starting point for the couple to take their invention to the next phase.
Into The Future Since winning AIC, the Gackstetters have attended multiple conferences to demonstrate the ThawHead, including a Canadian cold weather exhibit in Minneapolis. The state of Alaska has already purchased two of the machines and plans on purchasing more in the future; in October, the ThawHead will be featured in a trade magazine. The Gackstetters hope to convince more municipal and state governments, as well as the U.S. military, to purchase the ThawHead. In addition, they are marketing a complementary invention called the Thaw Rig – an optional, self-contained support system for the ThawHead, which is housed in an insulated trailer that can be pulled behind an ATV or snowmachine.
Words of Wisdom to Competitors Cameron and Shannon’s advice to competitors would be, “Don’t afraid to ask questions.” The couple explained that having help from mentors and leaders is definitely beneficial for all competitors. “Believe in what you’re building,” said Cameron. The couple’s final advice to AIC competitors is, “Good luck and have fun!”
View a video taken during an interview with the Gackstetters on August 11, 2016.
With his creation of The Wylie Post, Wylie Rogers, along with his partner John Miller, won the Alaska College Student Kicker Prize at the 2014 Arctic Innovation Competition. The Wylie Post modernizes the hockey net peg by making it safer and more efficient to anchor hockey nets to the ice.
Focus on Safety The Wylie Post was created to help make playing hockey safer for all players. Many aspects of hockey have benefited from advances in technology, but not the net peg. The old steel pegs do not hold the net sturdily enough, allowing teams to lose control of the net or causing players to receive unnecessary injuries from running into the net. Rogers witnessed these problems firsthand during his college hockey career with the UAF Alaska Nanooks, and invented The Wylie Post to create a more stable net for a safer game.
Support Leads to Success When The Wylie Post was first created, Rogers admits that he was often unsure what he should to do next in order to make his innovation successful. He explained that he could have avoided many obstacles throughout this process if he had known someone who had previously gone through similar situations. With support from his mentors – Dr. Ping Lan, AIC director and professor of business administration at the UAF School of Management, and Ky Holland, assistant professor of business administration management at Alaska Pacific University – who helped guide Rogers to his next steps, The Wylie Post finally began achieving its full potential. Rogers stated, “Ping was like my Miyagi, he tells you just enough and then makes you figure out the rest.” Rogers further shared that Holland was instrumental during the process of engineering the pegs through the prototyping stages and into a market-ready product.
Mentorship – Paying it Forward Thanks to the success of The Wylie Post, Rogers has found himself mentoring fellow innovators. He has learned a lot from the process of creating and marketing his own product, and now he shares these learning experiences with other innovators who may be facing similar issues. Without his own mentors helping him throughout its creation, he firmly believes The Wylie Post would not be where it is today.
Into the Future Rogers hopes to see The Wylie Post receive a stamp of approval as the safest hockey net peg on the market; he looks forward to a day when hockey teams will be required to use The Wylie Post to protect their players from injuries caused by unstable nets. Rogers’ ultimate dream is to be able to go into any rink anywhere and find his product in full use.
Words of Wisdom for AIC Competitors Rogers would like competitors to know that they should never be afraid to ask someone for help. He explained how he would constantly call his mentors for help and absorb the information they were giving him like a sponge. He believes competitors should understand that it’s fine if they don’t know everything, and that asking for help always works in their favor. Rogers shared these final words of wisdom for AIC competitors – “Surround yourself with good people and good things are bound to happen.”
Hear Rogers share his stories and experiences in person at this year’s AIC Final Competition on Saturday, October 22, 2016!
View a video taken during an interview with Rogers on July 20, 2016.
The AIC team recently interviewed Marc Golat, part of the team behind the Thread Wizard bolt cleaner, which received an honorable mention in the 2015 Arctic Innovation Competition. The Thread Wizard was created for mechanics to have a safer and more efficient way to clean dirty bolts.
Inspiration for the Thread Wizard The idea for the Thread Wizard was thought up by Golat’s business partner, Gary Taylor, who is a mechanic. The old way to clean dirty bolts was using a wheel grinder. This wheel grinder would frequently cause injuries due to bolts coming loose and shooting off into the room while being cleaned. In addition, because the wire bristles on the wire wheel can fall out, they can potentially end up in someone’s eye or finger, making the use of this old product even more dangerous for mechanics. Taylor witnessed this problem first hand when he was cleaning old bolts and was almost struck in the eye by a bristle from a wire wheel. Taylor decided something needed to be created to ensure this would not happen to other fellow mechanics. Thus, the Thread Wizard came to be, a product that not only saves time and money, but also creates a safer work environment for mechanics everywhere.
The Thread Wizard Innovation Taylor took the original wire wheel and transformed it into stationary tool. Previously, mechanics would hold their bolts against a quickly spinning wire wheel. The Thread Wizard addresses this potential hazard by fitting the wire wheel into a sturdy handle, which can be held by hand or clamped into a vise. The wires protrude into various-sized holes surrounding the wheel. When a bolt is turned through the Thread Wizard either by hand or by power tool, the wire wheel removes dirt, rust, and other build up quickly and safely.
AIC Idea Update Since the idea was presented at AIC 2015, the Thread Wizard is now being sold all over the world through Golat’s and Taylor’s company, GolaTTAylor Tools, Inc. The Thread Wizard team has started marketing the product globally and now sells the product in Canada, Estonia, and even Australia. Golat stated that his team’s main goal is to help people understand what this new tool is and how it can help mechanics. His team has already started achieving this goal through a 5-minute segment about the Thread Wizard air on Velocity TV, a program that reaches over 50,000 people. Just through this segment alone, sales of the Thread Wizard have already increased. The team hopes to continue making people aware of their innovation and expanding their sales reach.
Words of Wisdom for AIC Competitors Golat believes that all competitors should feel confident about entering the Arctic Innovation Competition if they have a new innovation to share with the world. Golat explained, “Any product, no matter big or small, is worthwhile to show somebody, because you might have something that’s really good, so don’t be afraid.”
View a short video taken during an interview with Golat on July 20, 2016.
Now in its eighth year, AIC is Alaska’s original idea competition that will award more than $28,000 in cash prizes this year. The competition is free to enter, individuals and teams of all ages may enter, and multiple ideas can be entered. No business plan or prototype is required to enter, although they are recommended.
This year, the competition will feature a new $2,000 prize incentive. Joining the previously established “kicker” or side prizes, the new Recycling Kicker prize will be awarded for the best recycling-related idea. Sponsored by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Recycling Commission, this prize will recognize a new innovation for a product, service, or process that encourages or utilizes the reduction, reuse, and/or recycling of solid wastes.
The deadline to submit an idea for AIC is 11:59 p.m. AKDT on Friday, September 23, 2016.
The final competition will be held on Saturday, October 22 and all finalists must attend the event to present their ideas for judging.
GCI is an Alaska-based company that delivers communication and technology services to consumers and businesses. They’ve been delivering services for more than 35 years to some of the most remote communities in our state and in some of the most challenging conditions in North America. GCI is proud to be an “Alaska born and raised” company; they’re dedicated to providing Alaskans with the most innovative technologies in order to improve the quality of life for all Alaskans, through education, health care and economic development.
The GCI and SOM Partnership
The UAF School of Management is training Alaska’s future leaders and is an important investment not only for GCI, but also for the state. Recently, GCI has become more involved, becoming a top-level sponsor of SOM’s annual gala, Business Leader of the Year, and participating in the Spring Etiquette Seminar, which provides students with the opportunity to learn valuable lessons about professional conduct from Alaska’s business leaders.
GCI and the UAF Business Leader of the Year As one of Alaska’s largest employers, GCI believes in the importance of developing Alaska’s future business leaders and value the education that SOM provides. Many key business leaders in the Interior and across Alaska are SOM graduates. As an Alaska-based company, GCI understands how crucial it is to attract talented business minds as well as retain those individuals so that they can continue to serve Alaskans for years to come.
Advice for Current SOM Students Value the lessons that you’re learning—they will help set you up to excel in the world of business and prepare you for many of the business challenges that are unique to Alaska. Also, keep in mind that it’s in your best interest to take advantage of every opportunity to learn outside of the classroom. Internships and other forms of business experience can go a long way and will provide valuable, on-the-job lessons that will complement your education (and resume).
GCI Gives Generously Around the State GCI’s long-standing history of corporate giving is built on their philanthropic goals, which include supporting youth education and higher learning, investing in Alaska-based programs and initiatives and strengthening programs supported by GCI employees. There are dozens of organizations and causes that GCI supports; the gamut includes major Alaska cultural events such as the Native Youth Olympics and the Iditarod, to educational opportunities like the Alaska Academic Decathlon, to business and health-related organizations. A full list is available on the GCI website.
GCI’s Advice for an OrganizationConsidering a Gift to SOM
It’s incredibly important to support the institutions that develop and prepare the individuals who will make up our future business workforce. By investing in UAF’s School of Management, you are also investing in the next generation of business and community leaders, those who will play an immense role in the future development of Alaska’s economy and therefore the well-being of all Alaskans.
This letter from SOM Dean Mark Herrmann was printed in the SOM Spring Newsletter, published in June, 2016.
At the UAF School of Management, we are committed to offering programs that serve the needs of today’s students in tomorrow’s economy. We are equally dedicated to preparing them for leadership roles in society. To meet our commitments, SOM focuses on excellence in and out of the classroom, and provides our students with frequent opportunities to interact with the business community. This partnership between SOM and the business community is what ensures our students a state-of-the-art education.
As you are well aware, the university system is facing significant fiscal challenges that threaten its financial stability and the quality of its students’ educational experiences. Both UAF and UAA strongly believe their business schools are essential to the communities in which they exist. I am working closely with Dr. Rashmi Prasad, Dean of the UAA College of Business and Public Policy, towards a collaborative plan for both schools. We’re working together to determine how to best serve Alaska with business education under a unified university and the new Strategic Pathways model proposed by UA President Jim Johnsen.
Schools with accreditation from AACSB International – the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – are considered the best business schools in the world. Their degree programs have passed rigorous standards for quality. AACSB accredited schools have the best programs, the highest quality faculty and the most prepared students. More employers recruit from these schools and their graduates receive higher salaries. AACSB accreditation is an important achievement for both UAF and UAA, which further underscores the need to ensure that both of these excellent business schools remain strong.
With UAA in the Anchorage bowl area and UAF in Interior Alaska, each business school features a specialized, community-based focus. SOM is as strong as it’s ever been, and we want to continue building on that strength. This academic year, we had a record number of enrolled students and a record number of graduates. We have been internationally recognized for our community outreach. Be confident SOM is poised to continue to offer the type of active learning opportunities you have come to expect and that employers desire.
No doubt there’s some uncertainty about the future. Dean Prasad and I are collaborating with President Johnsen and expect to have a much better grasp of the situation and a clearer direction by the end of this calendar year. We are working with the information we are given and unfortunately it changes frequently. I am committed to keeping you informed of potential changes and other updates as soon as the information is available.
To Donors and Alumni
I am optimistic that SOM is going to remain in Fairbanks. We have received signals from President Johnsen that our school is of critical importance to the community and to UA as a whole. We may look somewhat different in the future, but we are working diligently to maintain our core strengths. Philanthropic gifts will continue to benefit your areas of support, just as they always have. With your help, our students will continue to have extra-curricular experiences as they receive the high-quality education that they, you, and I have all come to expect.
How you can support SOM
Your commitment and support over the next few months are even more important than ever. This support may take the form of writing letters to the Legislature, testifying to the Board of Regents or the President, and sharing your stories about the positive impacts our school and our students make on the community.
Micaiah is a human resources administrative assistant at the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and Denali Center. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in Spanish in 2015.
Why did you choose to attend UAF? I chose UAF because it is my hometown school and offers a quality education at an affordable price. All of this without having to leave my friends and family was a win-win. As a first-generation graduate, attending college was not an easy feat for me, but UAF made it possible.
Share a memory of an outstanding teacher or class. Amy Cooper always comes to mind. I wasn’t even an accounting major and she almost convinced me to switch majors based on her teaching ability and friendliness. Wendy Tisland is a great mentor in the HR field.
What is a favorite SOM memory? I have a lot of great memories with the UAF Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) student organization, which I helped found and then served as an officer. A few of us participated in the Northwestern Human Resources Management Association HR Case Competition and student conference held in Portland. We had a great time going to Voodoo donuts as a group and networking with other HR students and professionals in the Northwest.
How did SOM prepare you for your professional career? SOM prepared me for my professional career in a number of ways. It taught me how to balance my personal life with deadlines and how to prioritize. It taught me the value of networking and teamwork. I learned a lot about myself and what sacrifices are necessary to succeed and accomplish a task. Being in a student organization highlighted the importance of making the time to participate in extracurricular activities. I have learned that you will never have the extra time to do such things, you have to make the time.
What does being an alumna mean to you? Being a UAF alumna gives me a great sense of pride. I am proud to support the university that supported me, got me where I am today, and will take me farther in the future. I have my UAF Alumni sticker on the back window of my car, and I flaunt it shamelessly!
What keeps you enthusiastic about your career? Continuing education, challenges, and experience keep me excited about my healthcare HR career. I am able to shadow the recruiters I work with and I plan on going into that particular field. I hope to be an HR Consultant or Chief HR Officer, and I am starting the UAF MBA program to help me reach my goal. The unlimited growth potential in the field keeps me very motivated to keep moving forward.
What’s the number one skill or practice that has contributed to your success? Sheer determination, strong will and consistency helped me succeed. There were many obstacles and challenges along the way and I feel like overcoming them made me better. I haven’t given up when times have gotten hard, and have pushed through instead. I worked two jobs and supported myself through my whole college career. That working experience helps me today, and I know how to balance multiple commitments. It took me five and a half years to complete my Bachelor’s, but I got it done!
What advice would you give to current students? I would advise students to expand your horizons and not get too overwhelmed. Make time for yourself through working out, a hobby or travel. I also strongly recommend joining a student organization and making professional connections in your chosen field.
Micaiah participates in the annual American Heart Association Heart Walk with co-workers.
What is your favorite breakfast food? Pancakes, although I don’t eat them very often (unless they’re protein pancakes)!
Dream vacation destination? Anywhere foreign, exotic or tropical. I like to get out of my comfort zone and see things from a different perspective. I would love to go to Greece or somewhere in the Caribbean.
Last music digital download or streaming channel? G-Eazy radio on Pandora. He is coming up to the Alaska state fair this year!
What’s the best advice you didn’t take? To start applying for scholarships earlier in my college career. I thought I would not be considered for any, but turns out there is a lot of aid available.
When was the last time you sang out loud? Probably yesterday in my shower or in the car. I sing and dance a lot!
Hailing from East Haddam, Connecticut, Josh’s connection to the sports industry started as a minor league hockey player and turned into sport marketing during graduate school. Josh stays connected to his hockey background as an NCAA referee for the WCHA and Big Ten Conference. You may see him on the ice with the UAF Nanooks. Josh is an assistant professor of business administration.
Educational background: Ph.D. – University of Minnesota, Sport Management M.A. – University of Connecticut, Sport Management & Sociology B.A. – Franklin Pierce University, Business Management & Mathematics
What brought you to Alaska? The opportunity to work for the School of Management, my colleagues (plus their mutual hockey interests), and a family adventure.
What do you enjoy about Alaska? I enjoy the family-friendly community and how much opportunity there is for outdoor family activities. Even walking the dog is a fun adventure, with the wildlife and the numerous trails.
This is your first year with SOM. What were your first impressions? I enjoy the friendly business school culture. While SOM is very professional and respected within the community, you don’t have to wear a suit to work everyday for someone to know you mean business!
Your specialized field is sports marketing. How does that translate into the classroom? Sports marketing has endless connections to the classroom as athlete endorsements continue to trend upwards. There is no lack of controversial topics when it comes to professional athletes and how their personal life choices affect the sport industry. Connecting with students on these topics and how they choose to consume sports is something I very much enjoy. People tend to carry a lot more passion in how they choose one sports brand/team over another than for general consumer products like shampoo.
What research or project are you currently working on? I am currently working on a collaborative project where we are researching the gender differences of fantasy football participation and what motivational differences exist for females with respect to starting and continuing to play fantasy football.
What advice do you have for current students? My advice for students, especially student-athletes, is to take advantage of the network around you. Everyone at SOM takes pride in helping you get to that next level. I can’t think of too many places in the world that provide as much professional development support and personal interest in your career.
What would you like to tell us about your family? My wife Tracy and I welcomed our first child, Ava, this past December. We are excited to be raising a family in the Fairbanks, AK community and can’t wait till she is old enough to ride her first snowmachine!
Josh and his dog.
Next TV/movie binge watch in queue? “Ballers” on HBO, but it is on hold until after the Stanley Cup.
Book you are currently reading? “Winning the customer: Turn consumers into fans and get them to spend more,” by Lou Imbriano & Elizabeth King.
Your last music download? “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” by Mike Posner.
If you were granted you one wish to change the world what would it be?Stop global warming, so that future generations can enjoy the world as we do.
HSEM Director Cameron Carlson (left) and SOM Dean Mark Herrmann (right) pose with Order of the Sword and Shield inductees Walter Murrell, James Fergurgur, and Thomas Antal.
On Friday, May 6, 2016, the School of Management held our inaugural induction for three of our Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) students into the Order of the Sword and Shield national honor society.
The Order of the Sword and Shield is a national honor society for academically superior students Homeland Security, Intelligence, Emergency Management and all Protective Security Disciplines. The society just completed its fifth year of operation and includes 32 collegiate chapters, 3 professional chapters, and a National Chapter, and includes students from over 70 schools across the country. More on this honor society can be found at the Order of the Sword and Shield website.
The students inducted to the honor society were Thomas Antal, Jason Fegurgur, and Walter Murrell. HSEM Program Director Cameron Carlson said “I am especially proud of this inaugural group of outstanding academic student leaders, who have helped set a standard for this new chapter in one of the higher rated programs in the nation.”
This stellar accomplishment by our students is yet another example of how this nationally ranked HSEM program continues to grow and excel.
James Fergurgur signs the official record of inductees for the UAF chapter of the Order of the Sword and Shield national honor society.
On Friday, May 6, 2016, SOM honored our Beta Gamma Sigma inductees for 2016.
Beta Gamma Sigma is a national honor society recognizing the highest scholastic honor a student can achieve in Business Administration at an AACSB-accredited institution. To be eligible for membership in this distinguished organization, a student must rank in the top of their class.
Top 10 percent of the Junior class
Top 10 percent of the Senior class
Top 20 percent of MBA students