2016 Sustainability Progress Report
Student Engagement


U-M students and faculty are involved in hundreds of sustainability projects on campus and around the world, from the development of healthy food ventures in Detroit to exploring sustainable solutions worldwide.

  • 45 Projects supported through Dow Distinguished Awards since 2011
  • $46K funding given to students through Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund

Expanding access to healthy food in Detroit

During the next year, teams representing more than 5,000 MBA students from Michigan Ross are partnering with 20 Detroit-based food entrepreneurs to create business ventures that impact healthy food access and affordability, food waste and consumer choice.

One of the most ambitious and immersive leadership development programs of its kind for business school students, the Impact Challenge engages the entire class of first-year, full-time MBA students in a four-day, fast-paced business challenge to make a positive difference in the community.


Historic Milestone

Historic Milestone

Students Go Solar

In 1989, engineering undergrad Bill Kaliardos founds the U-M Solar Car team, which becomes the most successful solar team on the continent.

View other historic milestones

Wildlife selfies

U-M wildlife ecologist Nyeema Harris and graduate student Corbin Kuntze installed motion-triggered “camera traps” to capture snapshots of the state’s diverse wildlife, conducting the largest-ever camera-trap research of Michigan Wildlife. Their focus was on carnivores, the meat eaters.

The researchers want to know how animals’ daily activity patterns, the types of habitats they use, their diet and even the parasites that plague them differ between locations. This data trove is expected to yield insights for wildlife management and conservation efforts now and in the future, as these animal populations shift in response to human-induced pressures such as urbanization and climate change.

Impact beyond campus

To foster high-impact sustainability collaborations across U-M, the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program includes a “beyond the campus” competition for applied sustainability projects. This past year, 83 students from varying academic levels representing 14 schools and colleges led projects outlining a new product, service or project to protect the environment and enhance quality of life for present and future generations.

$150K Total Funds Awarded
15 Projects Supported
6 countries Impacted

Coffee and climate adaptation in Costa Rica

A team of Master’s students engaged with specialty coffee growers in Costa Rica to explore perceptions of climate change the perceived ability to adapt to climate change in that region. The project establishes a basis for further study of how farmers can better adapt to climate change in Costa Rica.

Making U-M Solar Car history

“Out of all the teams, we were the only ones that went the entire race on solar power alone. To be part of a race that was completely sunless for the last two days and still being able to win. This is going to add to the legacy of Michigan Solar car.”

Shihaab Punia, team leader and junior in computer engineering, on the U-M Solar Car team successfully defending its decade-long reigning championship — winning the 2016 American Solar Challenge for the sixth consecutive time.


Kulisha, a global team of students, produces low-cost, high-quality, sustainable fish feed made from insects catering to small-scale aquaculture farmers in Kenya. The company helps to divert food waste going to landfills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and eliminate trawling.

Kulisha won the Grand Prize in the Social Impact Track of the Michigan Business Challenge, sponsored by the Center for Social Impact, the Erb Institute and Zell Lurie Institute, and also the top prize at the Thought for Food Summit in Zurich, Switzerland. The group also was a recipient of a large grant through the Dow Distinguished Awards.