Category: Guest Columns

A Message from President Koubek

Rick Koubuek
Rick Koubek, President

In late April, we celebrated 1,064 students who earned their degrees from Michigan Tech.

We also celebrated the opening of the new H-STEM Engineering and Health Sciences Complex and the Alumni Gateway pedestrian path. I am particularly grateful to our donors, Mike Trewhella and his family, along with the Harjus, for supporting our vision to create an inviting and welcoming entryway to campus. The Alumni Gateway is a representation of what we’ve always been—a welcoming environment for all who come to campus. This is in addition to the generous donation from Longyear-Able Medical Devices to name the lobby and student commons area in the H-STEM Complex.

As we wrap up these projects, we will soon turn our attention to renovating the McNair dining hall, classrooms in the EERC, and the Daniell Heights apartments. These projects will join ongoing construction already happening around campus—including East Hall, our new residence hall. As our campus grows, so does our community. In July, we will welcome three new deans to campus. We will also welcome our next vice president for research, as Dave Reed is retiring from Michigan Tech after 42 years of service. Dave has been an integral part of Michigan Tech’s success over the years and was instrumental in helping the University attain R1 status.

In this spirit, I’d like to also recognize a few of Michigan Tech’s faculty and students on their recent accomplishments, like MASU’s Distinguished Professor of the Year, Dr. Charles Wallace, and undergraduate student Marielle Raasio, who received the President’s Award for Leadership this spring. As one nominator put it, Marielle has created a community whose well-being and internal confidence encourages the desire to work, study, and build relationships. Finally, kudos to our hockey team for winning the Great Lakes Invitational and the Mason Cup conference championship, and participating in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year—their 16th all-time appearance.

These examples are just a few of the many ways our alumni, faculty, staff, and students reflect the incredible community we call Michigan Tech. As always, thank you for representing Michigan Tech in your communities with such great pride and enthusiasm. I look forward to visiting with you at MTU’s annual Alumni Reunion or perhaps at another one of the many alumni gatherings planned in the future.


Rick Koubek

A Message from President Koubek

Last week heralded a new beginning for nearly 1600 students starting their academic journey at Michigan Tech. Here are a few facts about this year’s entering class:

  • Applications for undergraduate and graduate education were both at all time highs with over 22,000 undergraduate applications and over 33,000 graduate applications.
  • Michigan Tech enrolled a freshmen class on par with the last two years, making these last three classes the largest since the early 1980s.
  • Female enrollment continues to grow, positioned to be the largest number of women in Michigan Tech’s history. This also holds true for domestic ethnicity/racially underrepresented students.
  • New undergraduate students come from 35 states with the largest out of state class Michigan Tech has ever seen. Illinois is now our second largest out of state population after Wisconsin. This is followed by Minnesota and Texas.
  • Academic credentials of this class are aligned with the last two years making these three classes the most academically talented in institutional history (as measured by GPA).

It’s no surprise that our excellent academic programs are driving unprecedented interest from our students at a rate outpacing national trends. This is certainly boosted by the latest Wall Street Journal rankings, which named Michigan Tech 16th overall among U.S. public universities on the WSJ’s list of Best U.S. Colleges 2024.

As our student population grows, so does our campus infrastructure. The H-STEM Engineering and Health Technologies Complex is nearing completion. Renovated space will be used as classrooms and learning labs. The addition will house high-tech, flexible laboratory spaces, teaching labs, offices, and common areas that will meet current industry standards for safe operation and the training of students.

And, soon we will break ground on a new 512 bed residential building located on the east side of campus. This is in addition to several renovation projects underway including classroom and teaching lab renovations, new gym equipment in the Student Development Center, and elevator replacements. We are also delighted to announce the addition of Alumni Way, thanks to the generosity of one of our donors.

Our corporate partners have also embraced this growth, proven by the unprecedented 391 companies that are registered to participate in Michigan Tech’s career fair later this month, and another 18 companies on the waiting list.

As companies look to make excellent hires at Michigan Tech, I have the honor of working with two excellent individual student leaders worthy of an introduction. Mason Krause serves as the 2023-24 undergraduate student body president and Karlee Westrem was elected to serve as the graduate student body president. I met them both and am excited to support their efforts this year.

I am delighted to work with them and the many other faculty, staff, alumni and donors who share the same passion for Michigan Tech. It’s through our shared commitment that we are able to achieve such remarkable results. Thank you for your support of our fine institution.


Rick Koubek

TechAlum Through the Ages: A Look Back at Michigan Tech’s enewsletter

Think back to 1994. Forrest Gump took the box office by storm. OJ Simpson led police on a low-speed chase in his white Bronco, and major league baseball players went on strike in August. Email was not commonplace, nor were websites, at least not as we know them today. There was a text-based thing called the Gopher, but Graphical User Interfaces had yet to enter the mainstream. 

The TechAlum newsletter was born on May 9, 1994 – the first issue was sent to my entire contact list of email addresses – all 30 of them (my last issue on August 22, 2005 went to a list of 7,171). I used Elm and then Pine as my email client. There was no such thing as HTML email – only text and only in Courier. 

At the time, we established that TechAlum was the first electronic alumni newsletter in the country. I got the idea after reading about a professor in Texas who was using this new electronic mail system to keep in touch with some students. 

For 11 years (531 issues), I produced the TechAlum newsletter as a weekly email. It included several standing sections, including a short column about life in the Keweenaw, news from Michigan Tech and local news, weekend sports scores, and the e-mailbag with letters from readers. My great joy was sharing stories about life at Michigan Tech and in the Keweenaw. One story – about my inadvertently trashing my snowblower – led to the verbification of my name (that snowblower was “Woodbecked”). In return, readers would share their stories revealing the rich Michigan Tech heritage shared by alumni of all ages.

-Dean Woodbeck ’78

Moving TechAlum beyond a text-based email newsletter was first done to include photos. In the ten years I was involved, all the changes were done to make it more interesting, attractive, and interactive. Also, going to every other week was a great innovation, as I had more time to develop content.

TechAlum is at its best when it is a conversation with alumni. After all, they have the best stories.

-Dennis Walikainen ’92 ’09

TechAlum Through the Years: The design of TechAlum has changed over the years but the stories and memories have remained.

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