For an organization that collaborates with the University, part of MPowered’s mission statement seems counter-intuitive: “…engineers aren’t spinning their class projects into businesses and art students aren’t dropping out of school to run their own clothing line. And that’s the problem.”

Chris Dzombak/Daily

MPowered isn’t encouraging students to drop out of college. It’s pushing students to apply lessons learned in their studies to achieve self-made success — something that Engineering junior Ashwin Lalendran, MPowered co-founder, said had been missing in the University’s approach to education.

Lalendran created MPowered two years ago to encourage entrepreneurship by students, which if aided by Michigan businesses and alumni, could help bolster the state economy.

Since MPowered’s creation, the group has put on career fairs to introduce students to small companies, connected Engineering students with competitions that award grants for promising ideas and hosted a conference with other student entrepreneurship organizations in order to compare ideas and learn from one another.

Lalendran is energetic, a characteristic which his MPowered colleagues said has been a main factor in MPowered’s development in such a short time.

“MPowered definitely would not be the organization it is today (without Lalendran),” said Engineering sophomore Bo Zhu, MPowered’s technical director. “Every aspect of his life was shaped around this organization. He lived and breathed MPowered everyday. He’d be so excited about any small event that we did, every time we went to eat, he’d be telling people about what we were doing. It was like a whole 24 hours, seven days a week thing.”

Recently, Lalendran has stepped down from his direct leadership role in MPowered, passing the torch to a younger group of students so they can learn how to keep the organization going once Lalendran graduates.

Besides heading MPowered, Lalendran has been studying mechanical engineering. After college, he hopes to apply his interest in aerospace technology to start his own business — a plan that’s sure to be all the better after Lalendran’s work with MPowered.

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