“Be Epic”: The University of Michigan lecturer helps students with business start-up ideas

ANN ARBOR, MI – If anyone had told Eric Fretz that he would be back at the University of Michigan as a faculty member after graduating from UM in 1989, they would have told them they were crazy.

Now, six college degrees later, Fretz teaches classes in UM’s Psychology Department, School of Education, College of Engineering, and a core entrepreneurship minor course in which he challenges his students to “Epic S ***” in Making Form Of Business Ideas included bottles disguised as hair ties, students going to Ohio to get Waffle House for their co-workers, and a toaster that displayed pictures – like UM soccer coach Jim Harbaugh and Fretz himself – prints on bread.

The class is popular with students looking for an entrepreneurship minor, which Fretz attributes to his diverse academic and military experience.

“Almost everything (students) will bring to the table, I’ve either thought about it or I know someone who has thought about it, and this combination makes me really effective on this particular thing, helping them focus on their idea, where the magic happens for the class, ”said Fretz.

Fretz graduated from UM’s Residential College in 1989, where he fulfilled his passion for leadership in the Navy ROTC program. Installed after graduation, and eventually running a schoolhouse, he was told how to get a second bachelor’s degree during weekend classes at Southern Illinois University.

It was during that time that Fretz realized what college should be like, he said.

“I wasn’t a good student, and I tell my students, ‘If you’ve ever had an angry experience with Dr. Fretz, it’s because your behavior reminds me of me when I was your age, ‘and I hate how bad I treated Michigan, “said Fretz.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in pedagogy at the SIU, Fretz opened another door, where he obtained a master’s degree in pedagogy at the SIU in 1999. He returned to UM and did a Masters in Psychology in 2002. He was then selected for a dual doctorate. DD Program in Education and Psychology – an opportunity Fretz knew he couldn’t miss.

In this role, Fretz and other researchers took over the science curriculum for the Detroit Public Schools. From there, UM called and asked Fretz to teach a class, then an undergraduate seminar, and then another seminar, and he ended up interviewing to teach the entrepreneurship core class to the minor.

“They needed someone with a business background, and I had a small business and a couple of small charities. Someone who knew about leadership, management, training, teamwork, and interpersonal dynamics, and that’s all that could be found in the military. and someone who could teach creativity as a psychological construct, ”said Fretz. “… I looked at my shadow and I saw this thing being described and I looked at my shadow and I said, ‘Huh, what are the odds?'”

So Fretz’s entrepreneurial creativity class was born. In the class, the students form groups of three to five people and present Fretz ideas for a new business, a way to solve a problem or a new invention. The students develop these ideas into something tangible and, with the help of the feedback from Fretz and a graduate student instructor, present their projects to the class at the end of the semester. Some of the best projects get an opportunity to share their ideas with a New York City venture capital firm and entrepreneurs in the Ann Arbor area, Fretz said.

The teams are supposed to work a few hundred hours, but Fretz thinks that many of them work more than 1,000 hours because they have found this passion and want to do the work.

One of the funnest parts of the class for Fretz is watching his students get motivated, team up, and give their presentations.

“The absolute best thing is that after the class is over, the students who come back to me for a year or more with a growing company are a working thing and say, ‘I never thought I could do this. ” ‘Said Fretz. “… you are so excited to discover your potential and that is really exciting as an educator.”


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