STEM Sucess

Students compete to win invention competitions with the help of Howard & Howard, a business law firm in Royal Oak.
Brewer Academy students in Detroit take part in the Inventors Club with their teachers, Deborah Carr and Steve Monteleone, left and center, along with Dan Chojnowski, right, an IP lawyer with Howard & Howard in Royal Oak. The students developed a light-up heated vest.

Royal Oak-based business law firm Howard & Howard understands the importance of giving back to the community. Jon Kreucher, its president and CEO, encourages attorneys to donate a certain portion of their compensation to assist nonprofit organizations, and many go beyond that call — including Dan Chojnowksi, group chair of the firm’s intellectual property practice and founder of the Inventors Club.

Located at Brewer Academy, part of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, the program, which is entering its third year, guides students through the process of taking an invention from idea to prototype with the help of Chojnowski, other Howard & Howard IP attorneys, and teachers.

Chojnowski’s wife, an elementary school STEM teacher, was doing an assignment about inventors with her students when the idea came to her. “I thought it would be cool if I could take this program and mentor kids,” she says. “It was in the wheelhouse of what I do, I had the support of Howard & Howard, and when I approached DPSCD, they were enthusiastic about it, too,” she says.

So far, 40 students are tasked with thinking of a problem specific to their life and coming up with an invention that could serve as a solution. The role of the attorneys and teachers is to guide students through the process of taking a concept to prototype and help them work through problems that Chojnowski points out are challenging for adults, let alone fifth- to eighth-grade students.

EO Magic

Former Michigan State University and Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Detroit XCentric 2023, which will take place at the Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit Oct. 2-4.

“Our theme coming out of COVID-19 is Amplify,” says Jenny Feterovich, president of EO Detroit and co-chair of XCentric. “We have a powerful group of high-growth entrepreneurs flying in from around the world ready to accelerate their businesses and experience the very best of Detroit. We take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that we provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our guests, and that they return to their respective cities and countries bragging about their time in Detroit.”

Each year, one chapter in EO’s Central Region is selected to plan and host a multi-day event for 600 entrepreneurs. The annual immersive events include notable speakers, off-site experiences, social activities, and peer-to-peer networking opportunities.

Lansing native Johnson is a five-time NBA champion, a 1992 Olympic gold medalist, a two-time Basketball Hall of Famer, and co-owner of the Lakers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA. He also is founder of the Magic Johnson Foundation, and chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises.

— By R.J. King

“It’s a remarkable program. I look at it as being the initial step of being an integrative approach on diversity, equity, and inclusion for our attorneys. You have to think about how you interest kids when they’re young, get them exposed to STEM, get them exposed to what a lawyer does, and get them excited and enthusiastic about it,” says Kreucher, who celebrated his one-year anniversary as president and CEO of the firm in January.

The program also provides the students with an opportunity to participate in the Invention Convention Michigan, hosted by Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. Students compete for a chance to take their prototypes to the competition’s national finals. The museum also hosted a free field trip for 80 Brewer Academy students, including club members.

“No one creates success alone,” Kreucher says. “We all need a team to succeed. We need people around us who complement what we bring to the table, (and) who are genuinely interested in each other’s success as much as their own.”