Category: Student Spotlight

Tomorrow Needs Accounting Analytics at Michigan Tech

Students sitting at table with professor

Accounting is a critical component of any successful business. Students interested in pursuing accounting careers need to be aware that the traditional study of accounting and accountants’ roles with companies are transforming.

Data Analytics Disruption

In a recent study by KPMG, a worldwide “Big Four” accounting firm, 99 percent of organizations indicated that advanced technology could enhance their financial reporting. However, 81 percent of CEOs stated that companies were not keeping pace with the emergence of these technologies, which could help them make more informed business decisions.

Accounting at Michigan Technological University responded by developing an updated, robust curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Our program prepares students to make immediate and valuable contributions in professional environments by instruction them in the core areas of accounting in addition to contemporary coursework in data analytics.

BS in Accounting

The Michigan Tech Bachelor of Science in Accounting offers an 18-credit concentration in data analytics. Students enrolled in this major prepare to sit for the CPA exam to become licensed accountants and complement their education with topics including data cleaning and visualization, programming, statistical analysis, and optimizations.

Measured against peers, Michigan Tech accounting students earn the second-highest CPA pass rates in the nation and achieve the highest average score.

MS in Accounting

At the graduate level, learners in the Master of Science in Accounting program can also earn certificates in analytical skills expected of them in today’s workforce: accounting analytics and forensic accounting

In a STEM-focused institution like Michigan Tech, the accounting program has the faculty and resources to provide students with an educational experience that bridges the gap between accounting and technology. Accounting analytics skills set our students apart.

Career Success in Accounting

Taylor Johnston
Taylor Johnston

For senior Taylor Johnston, finding the right major took a few tries. “I started in chemical engineering and switched to chemistry before classes even started,” she said. “I stayed in chemistry for four years before realizing that my heart just wasn’t in it anymore.” After moving to management information systems in the College of Business, Johnston found herself in Sheila Milligan’s Accounting Principles I course in fall 2020 and after two weeks of class, she ran to her advisor to add accounting with data analytics as a dual major.

“No one thinks of accounting as a glamorous career, but the passion and enthusiasm Sheila shows in her teaching lit a fire inside of me I never knew I had.

Taylor Johnston, Michigan Tech accounting student

Johnston spent last summer interning as a tax accountant with Freeport-McMoRan. In that role, she created a database from scratch and automated more than 20 calculations that were required each quarter.

 “I was the only person in the entire department able to do this since I had the accounting background and analytics skills.”

Taylor Johnston, Michigan Tech accounting student
Student Taylor Johnston snowshoeing


Now, she’s gaining attention from Silicon Valley corporations and Big Four accounting firms, but first has her sights set on achieving her MS in Accounting. “I’m committed to completing the accelerated master’s in accounting program to continue strengthening my skills in a subject I love.” 

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Marketing Internship Success Story

Jaxon Verhoff

Third-year Michigan Tech marketing student Jaxon Verhoff has received four internship offers from industry-leading companies—General Motors, Kimberly Clark, Caterpillar, and Dow Chemical. 

“My offers are due in large part to the opportunities the College of Business has made available to me,” Verhoff says. Some of the most valuable career-shaping experience, he says, has been interacting with alumni, student organization activities and competitions, projects, and technology incorporation into curriculum.

While all four companies would offer valuable marketing internship experience, Verhoff settled on Dow Chemical, where he’ll serve as a digital marketing analyst intern, because of its proximity to his hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin. His top internship goal? Soaking in all that working at a large company has to offer.

“I am going to have the opportunity to meet and interact with many people company-wide, so I will be asking questions and learning from professionals.”

Jaxon Verhoff, Michigan Tech marketing student

In addition, Verhoff will have his hand in projects, getting to apply and build upon classroom knowledge.

Verhoff participated in Michigan Tech’s Career Fairs to gain the internship opportunities. In fall 2020, he met virtually with as many companies as possible to get his name out there. By fall of this year, he met again with some of the same recruiters who remembered him and were able to track his personal and professional growth.

“Jaxon has followed our success formula. He has continued to apply for an internship until he gets it.”

Junhong “Jun” Min, Michigan Tech professor of marketing
Jaxon, second from top left, chilling post-class with his broomball team

Long term, Verhoff is after a sense of career fulfillment. The people he surrounds himself with, the company culture he immerses himself in, and the projects he leads, he says, all lend themselves toward the feeling of making a difference, making an impact—that he’s ultimately looking to achieve. “Success and a great salary are important, but feeling fulfilled is what’s most important to me,” he adds.

Before he heads off to Dow, Verhoff, who is a senior residential assistant, is eager to continue working toward goals as president of the American Marketing Association group on campus. “We are developing meaningful connections with industry professionals, faculty, and students, while deepening our digital marketing skills through data analysis, case studies, and competitions.”

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Scholarship Spotlight: Management Information Systems Alumni Scholarship

campus drone shot

The Michigan Tech College of Business (COB) boasts more than 50 donor- and industry-sponsored scholarships reserved exclusively for new and returning business students. These awards are offered in addition to competitive, merit-, and need-based aid. For 2020-21, total scholarships and grants awarded to undergraduate students in the College of Business exceeded $4.6 million.

This month we highlight the Management Information Systems (MIS) Alumni Scholarship.

MIS Alumni Scholarship

Joseph Gherardi
Joseph Gherardi

The MIS Alumni Scholarship is an endowed scholarship created and funded by College of Business MIS graduates. Selection criteria include being an MIS major (or dual major) with a strong academic standing, a demonstrated commitment to the degree program, and professional communication skills.

One of two 2021-22 recipients of the MIS Alumni Scholarship is Joseph Gherardi. The third-year MIS student is active on campus as the assistant general manager for Sound and Lighting Services as well as a residence counselor for Summer Youth Programs. Gherardi chose MIS in part for its versatility; he says that he’s particularly fascinated by database management and security. “Working in IT for a hospital sounds like a lot of fun to me,” Gherardi says.

“Working in IT for a hospital sounds like a lot of fun to me,”

Joseph Gherardi, student

Two, one-time scholarships are awarded annually by the faculty committee; the sophomore award is valued at $1,000 and the junior-level scholarship is $2,000. Jeff Wall, associate professor of management information systems, says that Joseph’s focus and curiosity in class and involvement on campus helps him stand out. “He is the type of student every professor hopes for—he’s full of thoughtful questions and reflects deeply on complex material. Joseph has a bright future,” Wall adds. 

Management Information Systems at Michigan Tech

Pandemic-related workforce challenges really drove home how crucial information systems and technology are to industry, education, and entertainment. The Management Information Systems major at Michigan Tech helps meet the need—the 10 percent projected job demand through 2029 is much faster than average. In the College of Business, the major has already experienced incredible growth, doubling enrollment since 2012.

Responding to industry demand, recent changes to the MIS curriculum at Michigan Tech deepen the technical nature of the program. Huskies studying MIS can now specialize in cloud computing, data analytics, and machine learning.

Huskies studying MIS can now specialize in cloud computing, data analytics, and machine learning.

To support more future MTU students entering the major, alumni and friends can contribute to and grow the MIS Alumni Scholarship (please indicate fund number 4994 with your gift.) Questions related to the MIS Alumni Scholarship may be directed to business@mtu.edu.

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

MTU Business Student is No. 1 Army ROTC Cadet in US

Michigan Tech Army ROTC
It’s mission complete for the Ranger Challenge Teams of the Michigan Tech 1st Arctic Warriors Battalion

Caleb Grulke, an engineering management major in the Michigan Technological University College of Business, is the number-one ranked Army ROTC cadet in the nation. As battalion commander of the 1st Arctic Warriors Battalion of the Michigan Tech Army ROTC, Cadet Lt. Col. Grulke credits the multidisciplinary nature of his major—business blended with engineering—and the guidance of his cadre for the opportunity. “The lessons I’m learning in the College of Business apply to every task at hand, even military tasks,” says the Waukesha, Wisconsin, native. 

Cadet Lt. Col. Caleb Grulke
Cadet Lt. Col. Caleb Grulke

This year, 3,762 ROTC cadets from 260 ROTC programs were selected to be assessed for active duty in the US Army. Grulke’s 4.0 GPA, superb performance at summer training, participation in extracurricular activities, and leadership ability were factors contributing to his ranking.

Maj. Daniel Gwosch, department chair and professor of military science for Michigan Tech ROTC, says the ranking is deserved. “Caleb is a gifted leader and the heart of our battalion,” says Gwosch. “His enthusiasm and drive are infectious and are why we experienced a 200 percent increase in first-year enrollment and a 300 percent increase in ROTC scholarship candidates committing to Tech this fall.”

“Caleb is a gifted leader and the heart of our battalion.”

Maj. Daniel Gwosch

Gwosch adds: “This is a great honor for him and something our whole program is excited about because it validates how hard the cadets work. It’s not easy to wake up in the early morning hours, but cadets like Caleb do it with a smile.”

The commanding general of Cadet Command will officially announce Grulke as the top cadet when the accessions process for the roughly 7,500 cadets in active duty, National Guard, and reserve officer status concludes in December.

Dean Johnson, dean of the Michigan Tech College of Business, is eager to see what comes next in Grulke’s future. “To rise to the top of an already highly selected group of individuals is an impressive accomplishment,” says Johnson. “He has accomplished so much already and more awaits him through his hard work and leadership.

We are very proud to have Caleb represent us!” 

Dean Johnson

Both the Army and Air Force have active ROTC programs on Michigan Tech’s campus. Since 1917, the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps has prepared Huskies to be US military officers. The in-college officer-commissioning program is a path toward a college education and a headstart to a military career related to a field of study. 

About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.

Engineering Economics: One Student’s Journey to a Grad School Scholarship

John Ruf and a classmate during a DC trip
John Ruf (left) during a DC trip for winning the iOme Challenge, a national retirement security essay competition

Like many STEM-savvy Huskies, John Ruf came to Michigan Technological University to study mechanical engineering. When he arrived on campus from the Chicago suburb of Orland Park back in 2016, Ruf’s passion for economics was untapped. A series of unexpected opportunities during his time at Tech gave Ruf the chance to dive deeper into a newly discovered field.

Ruf’s initial interest in economics began with Free to Choose, by prominent monetary economist and University of Chicago’s-own Milton Friedman, followed by John Galbraith’s The Affluent Society. Ruf says, “I began to realize that economics is a mathematical and scientific discipline, not just something people argue about; it’s an endeavor to understand how people behave, trade, and make the best for themselves in a complicated world.”

It wasn’t long after that Ruf saw a poster for an MTU Economics Club meeting, and on a whim he showed up.

During that first meeting, Ruf learned from club advisor Emanuel Oliveira, an associate professor of economics in the College of Business, that many club members had graduated, leaving a gap in leadership. Ruf stepped up.

“At the time, I had not even taken an economics course, so I really had to learn on the fly, without any coursework backing me up.”

Ruf

As club president, Ruf reinvigorated the group by hosting regular meetings, moderating discussions of current economics events, and networking with guest speakers from industry. He was building relationships as well as knowledge. “Emanuel always took the time to teach me economic concepts and to introduce me to members of the College of Business,” he says.

Between the four economics courses offered to engineering students (one required and three electives), and his curiosity and club involvement, it was a natural evolution for Ruf to add an 18-credit economics minor to his résumé.

In his junior year, he landed a cost-management engineering co-op at Oshkosh Corporation, which blended econ and engineering. He’d continue that position into his senior year. In addition, Ruf became involved in the KHOB Economic Outlook Report, a research project studying the four-county region—Keweenaw, Houghton, Ontonagon, and Baraga— surrounding Michigan Tech. “We presented to the community and attracted the interest of policymakers—that’s when I knew that studying economics and using the data-driven principles we were learning in class not only mattered, but could make a difference in the world,” he says.

Ruf (far right) meeting with US Senator Debbie Stabenow (Michigan)

Balancing Studies and Leadership

Ruf, who served as VP of finance for Blue Marble Security Enterprise on campus, is the first to admit that managing the opportunities—leadership in student organizations, his co-op, research projects, and studies in both engineering and economics—was a challenge. “I had to master time management skills very quickly.” His econ underpinning helped with that feat, too.

The Blue Marble Security team

“The comparative advantage I learned in Jenny Apriesnig’s [assistant professor of economics] class helped me realize I could spend less time on my strengths—like data visualization and coding—and focus on areas I’m not as efficient at,” says Ruf, who wound up applying what he learned in econometrics everywhere, including his Senior Design engineering project.

During what was the most competitive application cycle in more than a decade, Ruf set his sights on an economics graduate program—and not just any program. “I applied to schools as far away as Italy and also to top US schools like Duke, Clemson, and the University of Chicago.”

​​The vast research Ruf conducted while on campus, he says, prepared him for top programs. With mentorship from Associate Professor of Economics Bill Breffle, Ruff conducted an in-depth study of the impact of broomball referees on game outcomes, producing a paper in the niche field of sports economics. He also was an integral member of Dr. Apriesnig’s research team—a study of local beer brewing: “Berries & Brews: Understanding the Market and Technological Processing Opportunities of Michigan Grown Fruit in the Craft Beverage Industry.”

He helped manage and motivate the team. During the survey stage of the project, John helped develop the questions, contact Michigan brewers, and analyze the results with econometric methods.

“I have never met another student with a more genuine curiosity for answering economic questions. Anyone that meets John immediately knows of his passion for economics.”

Apriesnig

The relationships Ruf developed with College of Business professors both in class and through hands-on research projects supported his grad school application process. “My professors advised me on which schools to apply to and they helped review my submissions, making them as strong as possible. They were also always available for pep talks when I started to doubt myself.”

He did it! Profs Sorcha (left) and Apriesnig (right) help celebrate the big day with John and his fellow 2021 grads!

Ruf earned admission to a University of Chicago PhD-prep program, complete with a valuable and hard-to-earn scholarship. In fall 2021, Ruf began the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences. The economics program accepts up to 36 students on average from a 1,800 applicant pool. Ruf’s scholarship will cover two-thirds of his master’s degree.

His ultimate goal is to become an academic economist. Some of his future research focus areas include using patent and shale reservoir data to evaluate the relationship between process improvements and reservoir productivity.

“At Michigan Tech, my mentors in the College of Business inspired me to use the tools I learned in engineering and economics to really further our understanding of the 21st century economy. At UChicago, I hope to make my mentors proud and showcase the best of Tech,” Ruf concludes.


About the College of Business

The Michigan Tech College of Business offers undergraduate majors in accounting, construction management, economics, engineering management, finance, management, management information systems, and marketing, as well as a general business option. Graduate degrees include the TechMBA®, a Master of Engineering Management, a Master of Science in Accounting, and a Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics.