Learn More About Majors in Business and Economics

Undergraduate students who are unsure of their major, or are interested in pursuing a dual major, are invited to attend the Meet Your Major series hosted by the School of Business and Economics (SBE). This is an opportunity to hear from faculty and current students about internships, courses, career paths, and student organizations.

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Meet Your Major will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Snacks and refreshments will be served. Contact Shannon Rinkinen with questions and see below for topics, dates, and locations.

  • Marketing—Sept. 26 in AOB 101
  • Engineering Management—Oct. 10 in AOB 101
  • Finance—Oct. 17 in the APMP Trading Lab
  • Management Information Systems (MIS)—Oct. 17 in AOB 101
  • Management with concentrations in Supply Chain Operations and Management and Entrepreneurship—Oct. 24 in AOB 101
  • Accounting—Nov. 7 in the APMP Trading Lab
  • Economics—Nov. 7 in AOB 101

Q&A with Russ Louks

Sit down with Russ Louks, management information systems professor of practice in Michigan Tech’s School of Business and Economics.

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You received your BS from Michigan Tech in 1979. How has campus evolved since your time as an undergrad?

EERC had just opened. Walker was Sherman Gym. There was no Rozsa Center. The Union was about half its size. K-Day was either on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. A whistle blew at Noon and class was dismissed. Students piled in their cars and went out to McLain for a barbecue. Not knowing when it was going to be held was a lot of fun.

Michigan Tech’s focus on academics hasn’t changed.

Tech students haven’t changed. They are still smart students who are technology focused.

The emphasis on experiential learning and preparation for a career has changed dramatically.

How do your nearly 30 years in industry inform your teaching?

I saw a huge technology change over my 28 years at Ford. Laptops didn’t exist. Devices didn’t exist. Computers were the size of a three-foot bookcase. But the concepts are the same, which is the key to longevity in the field. Eighties and nineties IT is unrecognizable, but the concepts are the same.

It’s about putting what you are trying to learn into a structure you already know.

The new Emerging Technology class I teach at MTU is the same thing I was doing at Ford, interfacing with the real world, using a computer system to use information to make decisions or control a part of the physical environment. It’s a realm I am still incredibly interested in.

What does it mean to be a professor of practice? 

Being a professor of practice goes back to experiential learning—I’ve been there, done that. I have a lot of war stories [chuckle]. I’ve learned how technology evolves. The trends that fizzle out. You learn to look deeper to determine if a trend is really going to make a difference, and how to apply it.

A technology whose hype tails off tend to be the ones who deliver on the offerings. MIS professionals ask: What’s behind this and how can we take advantage of the technology to solve business problems? Getting across the idea that technology is great, but it must solve a problem . . . a technology problem, a business problem, a social problem. Chasing a solution without a problem is wasting money.

You have a diverse background in computer technologies including experience with data collection technologies including 2-D barcodes, RFID technologies, computer networking, serial communications, and handheld computing devices. Why is it important for business students to have technology knowhow?

You can’t run a business today—even a mom and pop shop—without technology solutions. Whether you are in IS, CS, or any other area, you have to touch technology. We must ask: How can technology advance my business? Can I take advantage of it before others? What negative impacts will it have? Will it put me out of business? How will we use it? How will we make money?

It’s an imperfect science.

As the advisor of IT Oxygen Enterprise, what does the team have in store for this academic year?

We’ve got a stream of all-new projects this year including data science projects; we’ve got a project with the Department of Defense, where we will research how to keep mobile networks alive in extreme environments; a project with Microsoft; a project with Ford; and an internal project within Enterprise to develop an easy-to-use web template for the dozens of Enterprise teams on campus.

IT Oxygen is multidisciplinary, bringing together students from computer science, MIS, engineering, and scientific and technical communications. All components are necessary. All skills are complementary–not in competition. Any overlap in skills is what allows us to communicate.

One of your research areas is information security. What can a layperson do now to protect themselves?

Be vigilant. The biggest cybersecurity threat in the world today is people. Perform a risk analysis just like in a financial situation. There isn’t a business immune from cybersecurity issues. You are responsible for the data you collect and store. Change passwords. Use strong passwords. Implement two-factor authentication. It can be a pain, but it’s today’s world. Every morning I check my bank accounts. The cost of convenience is vigilance.

What keeps you motivated?

If you are really enjoying what you are doing, you keep up on trends without realizing it; you read for pleasure. It doesn’t feel like a burden (if it feels like that, you are in the wrong job). Reading, going to events, and learning—not to learn—but because there’s an interest. Working with students is a joy; it’s easy to stay motivated.

What has been your biggest source of pride in working with Huskies?

Watching the transformation that takes place over the course of an internship. The light turns on and students return to campus as young professionals. Just because I teach doesn’t mean students learn. It’s incredibly rewarding when students come back and say, “I get it now.” Seeing them progress and seeing their success makes this job worthwhile.


New School of Business and Economics Faculty Awards Recognize Research, Service

The bronze Husky dog statues sits in the center of Michigan Tech's campus. At its annual faculty retreat last week, Dean Johnson, dean of the School of Business and Economics (SBE), presented for the first time awards for excellence in research and service. Dana Johnson, professor of supply chain and engineering management, was the recipient of the research award. Johnson will receive funding toward faculty development for her current stream of research to predict which patient psychometric attributes and demographic variables impact overall patient experience. This will extend prior research by working with Aspirus Keweenaw who utilizes the Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. 

Joel Tuoriniemi, professor of practice in accounting, was acknowledged for his dedication to service. “There are many deserving faculty members in SBE who work to advance our strategic vision. I am fortunate to be surrounded by motivated students who demand a rigorous experience and serve as ambassadors. It makes my job promoting the Master of Science in Accounting program to future Huskies and employers that much more rewarding,” says Tuoriniemi.

In addition to the new honors in research and service, the School each year recognizes exemplary teaching. The addition of two new awards promotes the hard work School of Business and Economics faculty dedicate to blending business and technology curriculum to meet student and industry needs of the future.

“Faculty have expectations in the realms of teaching, research, and service. These new awards are designed to recognize faculty leaders in the School of Business and Economics,” says Dean Johnson.


Internship Spotlight: Rachel Chard at L’Oreal

Supply Chain and Operations Management major, Rachel Chard ’18, interned with L’Oreal USA this summer. The cosmetics group operates in more than 140 countries, providing hair care, skin care, and makeup through a portfolio of 34 brands including Maybelline, L’Oreal Paris, Urban Decay, and Garnier.
Michigan Tech student Rachel Chard poses in the L'Oreal USA office.
Chard, who will graduate in December 2018, finds professional value in her business education rooted in a STEM university.

“L’Oreal’s fast-paced environment and entrepreneurial mindset challenged me to think outside of my traditional process-driven approach and adapt quickly. From day one, I was treated as a full-time employee who was empowered and expected to deliver high-quality results. Michigan Tech prepared me to be successful in this role, as our curriculum is focused on applying both interpersonal and analytical skills through practical application.
I submitted my application to L’Oreal’s website in November and received an interview for a role at their North Little Rock, Arkansas, facility in March. While the position was not the right fit, I was still motivated to work at L’Oreal. I connected with an HR recruiter on LinkedIn and continued the conversation, expressing my interest in working for the top cosmetics group worldwide. A few messages back and forth and two interviews later, I landed an internship in Indirect Sourcing!
It was my role to support both the logistics and industrial services teams in the implementation of sourcing projects to optimize cost while enhancing overall value. My main responsibility was to identify a transportation carrier who could deliver product directly from our retail stores to our customers within the same day. To achieve this, I followed the request for proposal process, which included data collection, market analysis, supplier onboarding, supplier bid evaluation, negotiation, and contracting.
In support of L’Oreal’s goal to bring more flexibility and agility to our facilities, I participated in projects to source forklifts and automated-guided vehicles. Specifically, I analyzed our network of forklifts across L’Oreal’s 20 sites to establish a baseline and identify opportunities for cost savings through the consolidation of vendors and comparing lease vs. buy models.
Given the variety and complexity of projects I worked on this summer, I am grateful to study at a STEM university where I am in constant communication with engineers, and I am provided with a technical perspective. Thank you to my colleagues at L’Oreal and the professors and the administrators at Michigan Tech for their continued support and guidance as I complete my final year and begin my career.”