IVCC students learn valuable business lessons through MIMIC Fair
OGLESBY — There are many facets in launching a new product or business into the marketplace. To help students understand these different relationships, Illinois Valley Community College's Making Industry Meaningful in College (MIMIC) program helps provide practical, real-world experience with designing, troubleshooting, manufacturing and marketing.
This nationally recognized program, now in its 24th year, places students from design, manufacturing, and business programs into teams with the challenge of developing products from concept to completion.
The teams, called "companies," simulate an industrial company structure. This allows them to experience a workplace environment in a classroom setting.
MIMIC gives students the opportunity to use creative thinking skills and teamwork to utilize the knowledge gained in their previous classes to help their team overcome the various problems that will undoubtedly arise during any business venture.
Dorene Data, computer aided drafting (CAD) instructor, program coordinator and one of the MIMIC co-founders, said: "We want our students to not only have ability, but to be employable. Our students have skills with communication, teamwork, problem solving and time management. This is as close to real-life as we can get them. We found during the first year that we didn't need to build in problems to their projects because they arrive on their own."
There were five student "companies" displaying wares at the recent MIMIC Fair held on the IVCC campus. A sixth team held the responsibility of organizing and promoting the event, which was held in the cafeteria foyer.
Products for sale included modular desk organizers, yard decor, fountains, metal art, wireless charging tables, and modular planters.
"We learned we couldn't get too complicated because we only had so much time and the biggest lesson we learned was the importance of time management and communication," MIMIC student Rebecca Reed, of LaSalle, said.
Reed was part of the Women In Technology (WIT) company, along with instructor Theresa Molln; Amelia Stalter, of Peru; and Kiley Rosnes, of Tonica.
Each team at the MIMIC Fair reported communication as the key lesson of the exercise.
"This was a nice experience, and I liked the creative freedom and working with the other classes to see their perspectives. The communication was challenging, but we learned how important it was while working with the welding team," Shelby Chalus, of the Tabletown company, said.
"This taught us that you have to keep going if something doesn't work out. You have to figure out how to correct it," student Dalton Paulick said.
Sales at the MIMIC Fair were good as most teams reported they had either sold all or most of their products. Some teams were able to increase revenue through raffles or other attractions.
The most significant change to happen to the MIMIC program throughout the years has come from the advances in technology, and IVCC has kept pace with the ever-changing world.
Student Kristin Kiest's team sold out of their modular planters created with 3-D printers and colorful ABS plastic.
"I liked educating myself with the design process and seeing the end result of the 3-D printing. It gave us a real sense of pride to sell so many," Kiest said.