Category: Majors

Tech’s MIS Students Benefit from Corporate Partnership

Drone photo of campus and Portage Canal
Students in a management information systems (MIS) course at Michigan Technological University are seeing the benefits of a partnership with the provider of the largest cloud platform for developing integrated, custom business applications. Students in Russ Louks’ MIS 4100 capstone course have developed applications using the Quick Base low-code/no-code platform.

Louks, management information systems professor of practice in Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics, said “One of the challenges we face in providing experiential learning opportunities for MIS students, is ensuring the tools and projects offered are in line with the learning curve.”

He said MIS intersects business and technology with graduates developing into “IT Swiss Army Knives.”

Relying on nearly three decades at Ford Motor company, Louks maintains a network of professionals eager to support his business students. One of those connections, Tech alumnus Evan Rice ’06,  senior director of IT operations, information and analysis services for CCI Systems, an Iron Mountain-based communications solutions provider.

Rice, who is also a member of Michigan Tech’s MIS advisory board, was instrumental in implementing a new classroom technology tool that is rapidly becoming a model for educational settings across the country.

“Evan suggested low-code/no-code as a concept our students should learn,” Louks said. CCI employs Quick Base in their professional work and offered to sponsor the licensing of the emerging technology for capstone students.

CCI Systems Business Analyst and Application Development Manager Janet Plumley, led the student project for the past two years. She said, “In traditional settings, students would start by writing code, which can lead to frustration and inefficiencies.” MIS students use a data-model first approach; it’s an easier development environment.”

Louks added “Students enjoy the experience of going from nothing to having a finished product in one semester and a possible career path using the skills they have developed in the program.”

Plumley, who serves on the Builder Advisory Board for Quick Base, has another Husky connection; her son, David, is a current student.

The collaboration was so successful after the first year that CCI Systems expanded the program to include multiple student teams with Tech’s MIS faculty and Quick Base’s Builder Program, that provides no-cost builder accounts for learning purposes. Additionally, CCI adopted the application students developed in class and hired Tom Strome, a Houghton native and ’19 MIS grad.

Plumley said this real-world knowledge of up-and-coming technologies in their toolkit makes Michigan Tech MIS students even more valuable, whether they pursue IT or another high-tech field like finance. “It empowers them to solve their process improvement challenges.”

She added that because these students have a sound knowledge base, they catch on to new challenges quickly. “They aren’t doing theory — they are doing real work that can positively impact a real company.”

“The applications the students presented at the end of the semester were amazing in how closely they mapped to the requirements provided to them by CCI and Michigan Tech,” said Mark Levitt, Quick Base builder program team member. “These students are very well prepared to solve business problems that they encounter in the workplace.”

What began as an industry partnership between CCI Systems leaders and MIS faculty has now evolved into a great lesson about the value of this kind of partnership between universities, commercial organizations and service providers dedicated to helping to equip students with the tool and training they will need in the workplace.

Management information systems at Michigan Tech continues to provide Huskies with a broad background in modern technologies to solve business problems so employers will continue to value hiring its graduates.


Michigan Tech Mourns Loss of Stanford N. Phelps

Amanda and Stan pose with a dinosaur at National History Museum
Stanford N. Phelps (right), late chair of S.N. Phelps & Co., with Michigan Tech alumna Amanda (Vogt) Conner ’10 (middle), vice president of S.N. Phelps & Co.

Stanford “Stan” Phelps, chair of S.N. Phelps & Co., passed away June 6, 2019, at age 84. A graduate of the Phillips Exeter Academy, Yale, and Harvard, Mr. Phelps was a pioneer of the Wall Street junk bond market and was known to Michigan Tech as a supporter of the Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP) and its students. He hired School of Business and Economics interns and graduates who went on to thrive in the financial industry, including Amanda (Vogt) Conner ’10, Vice President of S.N. Phelps & Co. She says of Stan: “He was my boss, mentor, and friend. Stan helped develop my investment skillset and shape my career, while also teaching me the importance of philanthropy. I am forever grateful for the nine years I was able to learn from him.”

Dean Johnson, dean of the School of Business and Economics, adds, “Stan lived a principled life and sought to pass these principles on to future generations. His impact on the careers of many APMP students is just one of his many legacies. We were pleased that this year’s APMP team was able to meet with Stan and Betsy this past spring in Greenwich. Our heartfelt condolences are with Betsy and the entire family.”

Stan Phelps’ obituary, which appeared in The New York Times and Greenwich Time, is below:

Stanford Newton Phelps died peacefully at home in Greenwich, Connecticut on June 6, 2019, at age 84. He is survived by his beloved wife, Elizabeth Richmond Phelps; his son, George; his daughter, Catherine, and son-in-law, Daniel McNamara; his grandchildren, Maxwell, Garrett, and Ford; his brother, Barry Phelps; his sister Jeanette, and brother-in-law, Whitney Evans.

Mr. Phelps was chairman of the board of S.N. Phelps & Co., Commonwealth Oil Refining Company (CORCO) and Clear Springs Land Company, home of Clear Springs blueberries. His earlier career in the bond business included stints with Citibank, F. S. Smithers and Drexel Burnham Lambert where he started their high-yield bond department. He served as the second lieutenant in the United States Army from October 1956 to April 1957.

Mr. Phelps was born in Rochester, New York, the son of Jeanette Coon and Stanford Newton Phelps. The family moved to Detroit and later back to Rochester when Mr. Phelps left to attend Phillips Exeter Academy in 1948. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1952, and subsequently from Yale University in 1956 and Harvard Business School in 1960.

Mr. Phelps was devoted to his church, First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich in Greenwich, Connecticut. Mr. Phelps was a generous supporter of his church and many educational and Christian organizations, including Hartwick College from which he received an honorary Doctor of Laws, Harvard Business School, Keck Graduate Institute where he was on the Board and received a Doctorate of Applied Life Sciences, honoris causa, The Madeira School, Navy Seal Foundation, Polk State College, and Yale Peabody Museum where he served on the Peabody Leadership Council. Throughout his life, however, his highest charitable priority remained his high school alma mater, Exeter.

In Mr. Phelps, Exeter lost one of its most loyal and enthusiastic supporters. The breadth of his commitments grew from a heartfelt devotion to education, his desire to improve opportunities for Exeter students and his deep respect for Exeter’s faculty. He was most proud of his Phelps Scholar-Athlete program through which he provided one hundred seven students with scholarships to attend Exeter. Through his philanthropy, Mr. Phelps sought to inspire others to support the school he loved. In an address to the student body in 2001, he put it this way, “You will be remembered for what you give – not for what you get”.

In all aspects of his life, Mr. Phelps was guided by two principles he learned while a student of Greek and Latin at Exeter: Athanatos esti psyche, “The soul is immortal,” and Nil sine Deo, “Nothing without God.” All those who knew Mr. Phelps will remember him and take comfort in these two phrases. He will be deeply missed by his family, his friends and by the school he loved.

A service in celebration of the life of Stanford Newton Phelps will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, at First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, One West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be directed to the First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich (pcg.org).


School of Business and Economics Announces New Fall 2019 Programs

The Academic Office Building on Michigan Tech's campus is featured

To better serve and provide opportunities for STEM students, the School of Business and Economics (SBE) now offers a minor in business as an attractive addition for students of any major who will go on to work for a company or organization or start their own enterprise. The content allows graduates to differentiate themselves with a foundation of business skills.

In addition, our recently approved master’s degree in engineering management, a hybrid engineering-business degree, focuses on managerial knowledge, business literacy, and other relevant skills critical for successful operations in various engineering/technology-intensive industries.

Finally, to infuse technology into our accounting curriculum, new courses and content have been created resulting in the new concentration in data analytics. This fall, students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting with also be able to earn an 18-credit concentration in data analytics. Those seeking to earn the Master of Science in Accounting degree will also be able to earn a graduate certificate in accounting analytics or forensic examination. “The concentration and certificate programs leverage accounting, information systems, and math coursework to help students acquire a valuable skill set encompassing databases, data cleaning and visualization, statistical programming, and analytical methods,” says program director and professor of practice, Joel Tuoriniemi. 

According to Dean Johnson, dean of the School of Business and Economics, these new offerings leverages SBE’s strengths as a business school embedded in a technological institution.

To learn more about any of our programs, please email business@mtu.edu.


Business Huskies Place Second and Third in State Project Competition

Earlier this month, Michigan Technological University’s School of Business and Economics (SBE) sent two teams of undergraduate students to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to compete in the final stage of the eighth-annual THE Project Competition, an annual collegiate project management competition hosted by the Western Michigan Project Management Institute Chapter.

From L to R: Keaton Thames, Erica Austin, Giselle Ulep, Skyler Nelson-Makuch, Sarah Koerber, Quinn Trumbower

Roger Woods, SBE faculty member who leads the opportunity each year, says that the experience engages Huskies in the practice of project management, develops their leadership skills, and provides them with a platform to demonstrate their abilities to business and community leaders.

Michigan Tech has competed in all eight of the competitions, placing third in 2018 and first in 2017.

THE Project scenario for 2019 was to develop a project plan to renovate an existing building on campus to LEED standards. Teams worked with subject-matter experts and stakeholders to develop a project plan using the Project Management Body of Knowledge published by the Project Management Institute. They are assigned a mentor and are judged by professionals at four different stages or “gates.”

Students faced competition from five other Michigan schools including Cornerstone, Ferris State, Grand Valley, Hillsdale, and Western Michigan.

“THE Project is probably the best college experience I have had outside of an internship for my future career in the project management industry,” says first-time competitor and Michigan Tech senior, Connor Green.

A group of five Michigan Tech students pose at competition.
From L to R: Amanda Vermeer, Amanda Sabol, Megan Twork, Connor Green, Hannah Badger
Team Extreme Makeover Tech Edition–comprised of Erica Austin (management, Sterling Heights, MI), Sarah Koerber (engineering management,Grand Blanc, MI), Skyler Nelson-Makuch (supply chain and operations management, Kalamazoo, MI), Keaton Thames (engineering management, Highlands Ranch, CO), Quinn Trumbower (engineering management, New London, WI) , and Giselle Ulep (engineering management, Beverly Hills, MI)–went from last place to the top spot in their division throughout the four competition gates, securing a position in the final three.

Huskies LEED the Way–a team, which included Hannah Badger (engineering management, Plymouth, MI), Connor Green (engineering management, Sandusky, MI), Amanda Sabol (engineering management, Utica, MI), Megan Twork (engineering management, Ravenna, MI), and Amanda Vermeer (engineering management, Sterling Heights, MI)–led their division from start to finish, also securing a spot in the final three.

Final: Huskies LEED second; Extreme Makeover third.


Full-Circle Moment: MLK Day Speaker, Alumnus Reflects on Husky Experience

Speaker Donzell Dixson stands before an audience
Dixson Dynamics founder, Donzell Dixson, got his first speaking experience as a Michigan Tech business student.

Heading back to campus as the keynote speaker for the 30th annual Michigan Technological University Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration banquet was a pinch-me moment for 2014 finance graduate Donzell Dixson. It wasn’t that long ago, where instead of inspiration and confidence, Dixson waded through self-doubt.

“At times as a student, I felt inadequate. I felt less than. In class, I wasn’t the smartest. Other students seemed to be more prepared for college than I was,” Dixson says. “But my professors in the School of Business and Economics seemed to recognize I had a willingness—an eagerness—to learn.”

Michigan Tech alumnus Donzell Dixson
Today, Dixson resides in Minneapolis and is employed by Target Headquarters.

The Saginaw, Michigan, native first experienced campus by way of the MiCup Scholars Program, a collaboration between three Michigan community colleges and Michigan Tech, which encourages low-income and first-generation college students to continue to follow their dreams of higher education. The initiative is specifically geared toward students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

“MiCup was really the first and only time I got to see firsthand what Michigan Tech was all about. That’s how I knew it could be for me,” he recalls.

Coursework was rigorous and with support Dixson rose to the challenge. “Getting connected with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion was critical for me. My relationships there helped during times of struggle,” he says.

In his senior year, Dixson applied and was accepted into the competitive and nationally recognized Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP). “It is a hands-on trading experience that really opened my eyes to possibilities in business. The thought processes and strategies I learned in APMP apply to just about every facet of my career and life now. I tend to approach everything a little bit differently—asking, ‘how can I be a producer instead of a consumer’?”

A college internship with Target headquarters has evolved into a diverse technical career for Dixson. “Colleagues will often assume that as a business graduate I might not have a handle on the highly technical aspects,” Dixson explains. He became even more motivated to learn, challenging himself to master coding and develop mobile apps. Management took notice. He has thrived in software engineering roles with the company and is now a business analyst.

In 2017, Dixson, who recalls his first-ever public speaking experience as an APMP student, founded Dixson Dynamics, whose mission is to educate, motivate and guide others to achieve their goals through a plan. He and his business partners have spoken to schools, colleges, organizations and businesses about how to not only create a plan but to put it into action.

Donzell Dixson poses with Dean Johnson, dean of the Michigan Tech School of Business
Reconnecting—Donzell Dixson stands with his former finance professor, Dean Johnson, now dean of the School of Business and Economics.

Dixson calls Minneapolis home now, but he still has family back in Michigan rooting for him, just as they have since his days as a Husky. “In a lot of ways my mom barely recognizes me. I was a kid who at one time was expelled from school. She is proud of me. And she is proud that my success is centered on serving others.”

Just as Donzell Dixson has evolved, campus continues to, too. Dixson believes in President Koubek’s leadership and his mission to diversify Michigan Tech, providing more opportunities and experiences like his to even more students.