Category: Michigan Tech Global Campus

News about Michigan Tech Global Campus: home of MTU’s online programs.

Bridging Business and STEM

The online Tech MBA program helps people bridge business and STEM.
Engineering and tech companies seek graduates with STEM and business administration expertise.

Discover the Online Tech MBA® and MEM Programs.

The College of Business and Michigan Tech Global Campus are teaming up to hold another virtual interest session on two of MTU’s most popular online programs: The Tech MBA® and the Master of Engineering Management (MEM).

They will be holding a 45-minute virtual interest session on Wednesday, May 15, at 11:30 AM (ET).

Mari Buche, associate Dean of the College of Business and program director; and David Lawrence, vice president for Global Campus and continuing education will lead the presentation. They will highlight and compare these programs, explaining which one is best for you. The team will also provide examples of curriculum pathways and discuss career opportunities.

The Michigan Tech’s Global Campus small but mighty team of admissions representatives (Amanda Irwin and Jacque Smith) will also be present to discuss the application process and accelerated options.

Get an Accredited, Respected Degree.

The Tech MBA® and MEM are not new, though. For several years, the in-person versions of these programs have long been respected at MTU. The Tech MBA in its current form (30 credits) began in 2017 whereas the online format was rolled out in 2022. Next came the in-person and online versions of the MEM (2020, 2023).

Both programs are also accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB), an honor bestowed on only 5% of the nations’s business schools.

And like their in-person equivalents, the online MBA and MEM programs meet a strict set of standards, ensuring quality in curriculum, rigor, and research.

The Online Tech MBA® is a highly structured program consisting of eight required courses and two electives. In contrast, the MEM degree is more flexible. Students get to build their own programs, combining 4-6 business courses with 4-6 engineering courses.

Both programs provide learning experiences that fuse technological expertise and business administration. Students get to leverage their previous engineering experience, regardless of their field, and/or their former engineering management expertise. They also gain the cross-disciplinary advantage of studying at a school known for not only for its technology and business programs, but also for its Faculty who have leadership and industry experience in tech-centric fields.

Graduates of both programs will leave equipped with critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, project management, and leadership skills. As a result, they are more than prepared to tackle marketing, management, technical sales, leadership, strategy, and entrepreneurship positions. 

Prepare Yourself for Career Opportunities.

Incomes differ, but an investopedia article notes that MBA graduates who specialize in consulting, finances, and technology management earn the most. And according to one Fortune article, the median salaries for those with MBA degrees are substantially higher than those without them. One report ascribes 1.2 million dollars in extra income over a 20-year period.

Also, many organizations seek out and respect MBA holders. In fact, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) found that 89% of employers planned to hire MBA graduates in 2021.

And MBA holders apply their skills and expertise in several fields. For instance, in Finance and Accounting, they might work as accounting managers, finance managers, financial analysts, budget analysts, and investment bankers. Whereas in heathcare, they might take on the roles of healthcare administrators and medical health service managers. Still others move to manufacturing where they act as managers for operations, supply chain, quality control, and more.

Typically, MBA programs are one of the most expensive master’s programs, with an average tuition cost of about 56k. This number does not include fees, books, and so on. Michigan Tech’s accredited program, which costs less, is definitely a value.

Learn More!

Prefer to do your own research? We’ve compiled other reasons for earning an advanced degree and pursuing an MBA.

Want to dive deeper? Ask more questions? Please join us at our virtual interest session on the Tech MBA®and MEM programs on Wednesday, May 15, 11:30 AM at ET. Bring your curiosity and your questions.

GIScience for Natural Resources: New Online Grad Cert. From CFRES

Dr. Parth Bhattin the field doing GIScience work.

Dr. Parth Bhatt at work.

Coming in Fall 2024, the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (CFRES) will be offering a new online graduate certificate: Foundations in Geographic Information Science (GIScience) for Natural Resources. Taught by Dr. Parth Bhatt, Associate Teaching Professor / Researcher at CFRES, this certificate consists of three foundational courses. They are GIS for Natural Resource Management (4 credits), Map Design With GIS (3 credits), and GPS Field Techniques (2 credits).

This certificate is the first of three that will form CFRES’s new online master’s degree in GIScience (currently under development). The others will be Advanced Geographic Information Science for Natural Resources and Remote Sensing for Natural Resources. These two will comprise rigorous courses in Python, Applied Spatial Statistics, GIS Project Management, Advanced Terrestrial Remote Sensing, Photogrammetry, and more. In other words, this online MS degree will equip graduates with a rich, varied skill set in GIScience. They will also acquire a holistic, deep understanding of the spatial dimensions of the world.

For a decade, CFRES has offered a respected, in-person MGIS. Like its predecessor, this interdisciplinary online master’s degree will emphasize practical skills in spatial visualization and analysis. Students will use real-world datasets and state-of-the-art GIS software and techniques to take on challenges in forestry, natural resources, and other disciplines.

The reputation of CFRES, the program’s emphasis on natural resources, and its robust curriculum promise to make this program a highly esteemed online GIS master’s degree. Global Campus is thrilled to be involved with it!

Applying GIScience in Forestry and Natural Resources

If you’re not familiar with Geographic Information Science, it is an exciting, growing, multidisciplinary field. It focuses on the study of geographic information, spatial data, as well as their applications. Combining principles from geography, computer science, mathematics, and other disciplines, GIScience has the ambitious goal of understanding, analyzing, and modelling the spatial aspects of the world.

GIS, or Geographical Information Systems, focuses on the what: the hardware and software that capture geographic information. In contrast, GIScience, focuses on the why: finding practical ways to improve GIS data, software, and professional practice.

This certificate and upcoming MGIS will provide fundamental GIScience expertise to foresters and natural resource experts. In Natural Resource Management, for example, professionals use GIScience for several purposes:

  • resource inventory and mapping
  • environmental impact assessment
  • habitat modeling and conservation planning
  • natural disaster management
  • sustainable land use planning
A forest, which is often managed by natural resource experts with GIScience experience.
GIScience is often used in forest management.

Take resource inventory and mapping. Natural resource managers turn to GIScience to create detailed inventories and maps of natural resources. This data then allows them to analyze the distribution and abundance of resources within an area: forest stands, wetlands, mineral deposits, endangered species habitats, and other important ecological features.

Alternatively, in habitat modeling and conservation planning, experts use GIScience tools to analyze the suitability of habitats for different species. This suitability is based on environmental variables such as temperature, precipitation, elevation, and vegetation cover. GIScience, in short, is crucial to conservation planning. It can help identify critical habitats, corridors for wildlife movement, and areas for habitat restoration or protection.

Solving Multiple Problems With GIScience

First and foremost, GIScience offers practical skills and tools for professionals in several natural resource fields. These include GIS Analysts/Technicians, foresters, civil and environmental engineers, spatial/transportation planners, wildlife ecologists, forest analysts, surveyors, geospatial specialists, water resources analysts, environmental scientists, geologists, community forest specialists, and urban forestry technicians.

Several, in fact, turn to this toolkit regularly. One previous alum from the in-person MGIS now works as a Senior GIS Analyst. In this role for Pine Gate Renewables, he uses GIS and Remote Sensing daily. These tools help him to identify risks for setting up solar farms, creating hydrology models, and locating wetlands.

Another alum with broad responsibilities also confirmed the daily use of GIScience. He oversees the creation of maps, spatial data analysis, surveying projects, data checks on road segments, and storm water analysis “to create pervious and impervious classification.” This person also admits to “diligently maintaining maps detailing water infrastructure” and managing and reviewing “various city assets, ensuring their accuracy and reliability through spatial data analysis.”

In other words, these alumni regularly manage several responsibilities with GIScience and Remote Sensing.

Contending With Climate Change

Regardless of their discipline, GIScience can also equip professionals with the tools and the strategies to predict and combat the effects of climate change.

This skillset is especially relevant now: 2023 was the warmest year on record. (The temperature was 1.18°C [2.12°F] above the 20th-century average of 13.9°C [57.0°F]. In fact, the last ten warmest years in the 174-year record have all occurred between 2014 and 2023. And with a heating planet come more impactful environmental events: floods, extreme weather, drought, and forest fires.

According to NOAA, 2023 also set another record–for natural disasters. During this year, there were 28 devastating weather and climate disasters. The price tag for these events was almost 93 billon dollars.

For contending with climate change’s effects, then, GIScience can aid with hazard mapping, risk assessment, and emergency response planning. For instance, by analyzing spatial data related to factors such as terrain, vegetation, hydrology, and population density, professionals can identify areas prone to natural hazards. Whether these are floods, wildfires, and landslides, experts can develop strategies to mitigate risks and respond effectively during emergencies.

The Pakistan Flood Events

Dr. Parth Bhatt, himself, used GI Science to document the effects of Pakistan’s historic floods, which lasted from June 15 to October 2022.

A map of the Pakistan floods made with GIScience.
Map of the area affected by the floods in Pakistan.
A flooded street in a Pakistani province.
Citizens traverse a flooded street in Pakistan.

In these devastating flood events, waters inundated more than one million homes. The flood hit all four of the country’s provinces, resulting in at least two million houses destroyed.

In total, 33 million people were directly affected with 20.6 million requiring urgent humanitarian assistance. (Unfortunately, nine months later, the monsoons brought more flooding, further exacerbating the crisis.)

Looking Ahead to the Future of GIScience

GIScience, in short, can help professionals in many fields manage the world’s resources, plan infrastructure, mitigate and plan for natural hazards, and combat (or prepare for) the effects of climate change, and more.

However, its tools are also becoming increasingly integral in fields beyond traditional domains like urban planning and environmental science.

As GIScience “continues to evolve and adapt to new demands, its impact on industries and disciplines worldwide is set to expand. As such, it will drive “transformative change and unlocking new possibilities for spatial analysis and decision-making” (GIS Analyst II). For instance, some of the newer industries hiring GIS experts are construction, engineering, insurance, real estate, and oil and gas.

One Senior GIS Specialist (Pine Gate Renewables) further confirmed that in the solar industry, there are more people being hired with a GIScience background than there were before. More professionals use “GIS and remote sensing to help identify issues, notice change over time, help drive decisions, and keep projects moving forward.”

Another expert stated that proficiencies in ArcGIS, QGIS, Python, R, and Javscript are becoming increasingly essential in GIS specialist roles.

From agriculture to healthcare, smart cities to disaster management, GIS and Remote Sensing are revolutionizing how we analyze spatial data, make informed decisions, and address complex challenges. Integration with emerging technologies like AI, along with a focus on environmental monitoring, public health, and conservation, underscores their pivotal role in shaping a more sustainable and interconnected world.

GIS Analyst II, Metro Consulting Associates

Learning From a Passionate Teacher

And it’s not just what you will learn in these programs but who you will learn it from. That is, Foundations in GI Science for Natural Resources (and the online MGIS) are both helmed and taught by Dr. Parth Bhatt, whose passion for the subject was covered in a previous blog.

Bhatt’s portfolio of GIScience skills is also diverse: he has expertise in Geographical Information Systems, remote sensing, digital image processing (Multispectral, LiDAR, UAV, Hyperspectral), land use/cover mapping, invasive species mapping, forest health and natural resource management, spatial data analysis, and Web GIS/ArcGIS Online.

Most recently, he has received a grant to put these skills to work: acting as a PI on research projects for The Nature Conservancy in Michigan.

Dr. Parth Bhatt in the classroom, teaching GI Science.
Dr. Parth Bhatt in the classroom

Bhatt has also been instructing the very popular, noncredit, professional development course, Python for Modern GIS and Remote Sensing. This course, which runs several times a year, has had rave reviews.

Taking the Next Steps

If you’d like to learn more about GIScience or you require more information about the Online GIS Certificate from CFRES, please contact Program Director Parth Bhatt (ppbhatt@mtu.edu).

Alternatively, reach out to Program Assistant Marjorie Banovetz (marjorie@mtu.edu).

There is still plenty of time to get started for Fall 2024 and develop your versatile GIS toolkit! And accelerated options are also available.

Jacque Smith: Graduate School Champion and MTU Ambassador

Jacque Smith talks to Peter Lynch, CEO of MAHLE.
Director of Graduate School Operations and Enrollment Services and Global Campus team member, Jacque Smith, chats with MAHLE CEO and President Peter Lynch at the MAHLE Corporate Fellowship Signing Event.

1978. That was the year that a young Jacque Smith, a junior at Marist High School, stopped at a bulletin board. Why? His eye caught a flier for one of Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Programs.

Growing up in the busy city of Chicago, and fascinated by science, this flier spoke to him.

It offered the winning combination of an experience at a STEM school, a taste of the great outdoors, and, of course, a chance for many adventures.

So he just had to go.

That early taste of Tech, which also introduced Jacque to the UP, stuck with him.  So when it was time to apply to colleges, Michigan Tech was not at the top of his list; it was the only school on that list. Off he went, eventually graduating with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1985.

But his relationship with Michigan Tech did not end there. That is, as a valuable staff member, Jacque has been involved with and dedicated to MTU for over 18 years. During this time, he has graciously shared his substantial and varied talents with our Husky community. After beginning under Dave Reed, the Vice President for Research, he moved over to the Graduate School. While there, he has had multiple roles involving admissions and graduate education. He even, for seven years, leant his service to the Alumni Board.

Readers have already learned about the busy schedule and ambitious initiatives of Vice President for Global Campus and continuing education, David Lawrence. They’ve learned about Brian Hannon’s hockey history, MTU origins, and KRC involvement. They’ve also caught a glimpse of Amanda Irwin’s commitment to students and online education. So it was time to introduce Jacque Smith, a crucial part-time team member of Global Campus.

I felt grateful, nay privileged, to catch up with this busy man (and very personable guy).

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. First, please state your title and your position at the Graduate School. What do you do in this role? And how is it connected to your role at Global Campus?

In the Graduate School, I am Director of Graduate School Operations and Enrollment Services where I’m involved with pretty much all the Graduate School processes and policies. Although I don’t have an official title in Global Campus, I feel directly connected to it because we have common goals. That is, I’m a liaison who’s trying to optimize processes and outcomes for Global Campus. Doing so then optimizes those same things for the Graduate School. We’re all trying to improve the admissions experience and get students into programs.

Jacque, give me a breakdown of what you do on a regular day.

I’m a morning person, so I am usually on campus before 7am. And I start my day reading my emails, looking at things that are going on, and then I have my first meeting every day at 8:15 AM with the rest of my admission colleagues and Amanda Irwin from Global Campus. This meeting is where we interact every day to solve problems and to help people. Then, there are various meetings, which could be with Faculty, Global Campus, corporate partners.

A big part of my day is admission matters, in which I’m helping students get to a completed application so they can, ultimately, get a decision. I also make admission decisions for multiple masters’ programs here on campus. So I’m reviewing students’ completed files and making decisions on which students we think will have the best chance of success for our programs.

Why get involved with graduate education? That is, why do YOU think that graduate education matters? What’s your personal motivation to help students get advanced degrees whether online or in-person?

I often tell students that it’s not a question of if you’re going to go on to an advanced degree; it’s a question of when you’re going to do it. In reality, I think advanced degrees are required for our students to get to where they want to go, to get into the types of positions they want, whether it’s management and so on.

Many of our students are striving for more and want different paths. So they need that extra degree. And some people who have their bachelor’s are moving along, they’re doing great things, but they decided they don’t want to do that job forever. I want to help people pivot in their lives, to move in different directions and hopefully be more satisfied.

Jacque, you’re also one of the most enthusiastic advocates, or maybe ambassadors, for Global Campus, Michigan Tech, and the Graduate School. Where have you traveled to recruit students?

I not only have been around the State and the country recruiting students for Michigan Tech, but also have traveled to Thailand, India, and Japan in search of students who are the right fit for this university. Tomorrow, on March 20, I’m traveling down to Chicago to take part in the national MANRRS conference. The mission of MANRRS is to “promote academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences.” While there, I will be representing Michigan Tech and trying to recruit students.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is helping students get through the admissions process and into programs that, I believe many times, are life-changing events. Students come in and when they come out the other side, they often have amazing careers and do amazing things. So helping people get started is probably one of the most rewarding things for me.

Then there is working in the Graduate School itself. I’m dealing with people all around the world: over 50 different nations. So it’s fascinating to sit at my desk and interact with people from all kinds of different countries, helping them out. Another thing I really like about being in the Graduate School is that it encompasses the whole campus. I’m not just dealing with one individual academic program; I’m dealing with all the different academic programs and all their nuances. So, on a daily basis, my job gets me more involved in MTU.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is choosing the best opportunities for Tech. That is, there are so many wonderful things we can be doing to improve the exposure of Michigan Tech, increase our enrollment, and make connections. The tough part is balancing the resources we have while deciding what will bring the best result for the university.

As part of MTU’s mission to support industry in the state of Michigan, Michigan Tech and Global Campus are involved with several corporate partners, which you occasionally get to meet during formal events. Jacque, can you speak of some of your experiences at these events?

Often when we visit these companies, we get to see their facilities. These companies are proud of what they do, just as Michigan Tech is, so they want to show it off. It’s always a privilege to get an inside peek at many of these corporations. We get to tour their facilities, their plants, and meet with their employees and leaders. And we see behind the scenes. It’s also impressive to see the Michigan Tech alumni who are working at these places, helping to build these technologies.

Why Michigan Tech? That is, what is it about this university and this area that make them a natural fit for you?

As I’ve said before, I’m both a graduate of the summer youth program and Michigan Tech, so I have a long history!

About Michigan Tech. I believe it’s the size and the resources and its focus on STEM, which were and are still appealing to me. I’ve always been interested in technical fields. But then I’ve always had an outdoor side to me too. And this university is like a natural extension of these interests. Along with the academics and the programs, there is the location. This area allows me the ability–and I know other people use this term, too–to have micro adventures. I don’t need two weeks to go do something. I can go out on an afternoon and have an amazing experience just because everything is so close in the Upper Peninsula.

When you’re not working for the Graduate School or Global Campus, what do you like to do in your free time? Where can we find you, for example, on the weekend?

I’ve always been an adventurer: a hiker, a climber, and a camper. I’ve done many different activities and I still do a lot of them. Right now, you can often find me on jeeping adventures where I go off-roading to access out-of-the-way areas to camp and stay—to just kind of get out of town and find visually beautiful places. And I often meet great people on these adventures. There’s a certain camaraderie about these experiences. Luckily, I have a wonderful girlfriend who supports me and my jeep journeys!

Jacque standing in front of his jeep during one of his adventures.
Jacque standing in front of his jeep during one of his Upper Peninsula adventures.
Jacque on one of his jeeping adventures.
The reward at the end of the journey: a fire, a quiet place, and a view of the lake.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

One thing has always struck me. Wherever I’ve traveled, it always seems that I find a link to Michigan Tech. Or I meet MTU alumni. It’s a very small world. That is, it seems like no matter where I go, I’m delighted to discover yet another Michigan Tech connection!

I’d like to end by saying that, again, I really enjoy having conversations with current and potential students, determining what their needs are and how Michigan Tech can help fulfill those needs. And I think that graduate school, whether online or in-person, allows students to achieve their goals and get them to where they need to be.

Jacque Smith

Michigan Tech Global Campus: A Great Fit for Amanda Irwin

Amanda promoting the Michigan Tech Global Campus to prospective students.

Amanda doing what she does best: being an advocate and team player for Global Campus

Guiding Students With Expertise and Representing Global Campus With Passion

Michigan Tech Global Campus, which is responsible for housing MTU’s online graduate programs, continuing education, and more, is staffed by a small but mighty team. You previously learned about Vice President David Lawrence, such as his rigorous schedule and his passion for developing partnerships. Then, Brian Hannon, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances, and former MTU hockey star (or should we say celebrity!), skated across the digital pages of this blog.

But there are a few people left to write about, two team members and student champions you need to meet. And one of them is Amanda Irwin, Graduate Admissions Manager for Global Campus. She was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to let me interview her.

Before we get into the details of what you do at Michigan Tech Global Campus, tell us a little more about you.

Amanda Irwin, Graduate Admissions Manager for the Michigan Tech Global Campus.
Amanda Irwin, Graduate Admissions Manager for Michigan Tech Global Campus

In 2009, I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA), majoring in Accounting, from Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU). While completing my degree, I also worked full time in workforce development and case management.

That is when and where I found my passion for higher education. In my job, I worked closely with dislocated workers, helping them take advantage of grant money for retraining. And I loved it.

That experience is what launched me onto the path of helping students with their educational journeys. I am also a mom of four super cool kids!

What, exactly, do you do on your job?

In my role, I help prospective students through all stages of the inquiry and enrollment process. In doing so, I answer questions about our programs and application process. But probably the most impactful of my duties is walking students through the admissions process step by step, detailing the timeline, and letting them know what to expect next. I think students appreciate the insight. They feel more at ease knowing what the process will look like from start to finish.

What was your previous role before coming to Michigan Tech Global Campus and how did that experience prepare you for this one?

Well, I have worked in admissions since 2012, at a local university and at a community college. The decision-making process is very different for a high school student coming to their freshman year of college vs. that of an adult student returning later in life (or starting for the first time). These experiences with students have provided me with perspective. They’ve also opened my eyes to so many different life paths that people will walk through. Lastly, my previous roles have helped me develop a deeper understanding of diverse student experiences. And patience and empathy, of course!

What is the favorite part of being the Graduate Admissions Manager for Michigan Tech Global Campus?

Talking to cool people is my favorite part of the job. I enjoy being in a relationship and making a connection with students, chatting about kids or the weather or sports….finding that common ground with them. A close second is hearing from students semesters later and learning that they are doing well and planning their graduations. In other words, it is that feeling of accomplishment in knowing that you helped them get started.

Why have you chosen to work in online learning? That is, what about online learning resonates with you?

I think online learning is the wave of the future, especially for our adult learners. Online learning offers the flexibility students need to be able to say, “Yes, I can move toward that next goal while working at my current job or caring for my family, and so on.” Online learning allows nontraditional students to fulfill their personal and professional goals and to finish what they started. Or get a brand new start altogether.

Along with guiding students through the application process, you’ve often done outreach for Michigan Tech Global Campus. Can you say a little more about this work?

Amanda Irwin represents Michigan Tech Global Campus at the MAHLE Corporate Fellowship signing ceremony.
Amanda Irwin, sixth from the left, represents Michigan Tech Global Campus at the MAHLE Corporate Education Fellowship signing ceremony. In the center are MAHLE CEO and President Peter Lynch and MTU President Richard Koubek.

Well, I regularly travel to and participate in our corporate partner events to represent Michigan Technological University and Global Campus. For instance, in Fall 2023, I attended corporate fellowship signing ceremonies for both ITC (September) and MAHLE (November).

I’m also very active in my local chamber of commerce where I go to various events and spread the word about Michigan Tech and Global Campus. One of the most memorable events was the Midland Business Association’s (MBS) Women in STEM panel discussion, in which female researchers and leaders talked about some of their challenges in STEM roles. This event was partially sponsored by Global Campus. Global Campus was also a program sponsor for one of our WakeUp Midland networking breakfast events. These events offer a great opportunity to make business contacts, enjoy breakfast, and create networks.

And when Michigan Technological University sponsored Dr. Ruth Archer at the Lean Summit, I set up a Global Campus table there.

The goal in all of these events is getting exposure for Global Campus, building on the respect and reputation of our little school in the north, and letting people know that we can bring Michigan Tech to them.

Amanda Irwin, Graduate Admissions Manager for Global Campus

When you are not working, what do you like to do?

I love helping with my kids’ sports teams, especially basketball. Watching them play any sport is where you will find me most weekends.

When we aren’t playing sports, I enjoy adventuring with my husband and kids. We fish, explore parks, go rock hunting, go on waterfall adventures. The whole family loves going for a drive and searching for eagles and other cool birds.

I also enjoy some recreation league sports that I play in a few times a year, hanging with family and friends, and doing puzzles.

Amanda Irwin, Global Campus Admissions Manager, stands with  her husband and four small children in front of an icy waterfall.
Amanda Irwin and her family doing one of their favorite things: exploring waterfalls.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes. In the second week of March, I will be holding an in-person information session on our accelerated master’s degrees, accelerated certificates, and online graduate programs. At this event, there will be program directors; the always amazing Director of Graduate Enrollment Services, Jacque Smith; and, of course, free pizza. If you’re an eligible student, you’ll get an email from me. So check your inboxes!

If you have questions about any of Michigan Tech’s online programs or the application process, please reach out to me at globalcampus@mtu.edu or make an appointment on my calendar. You’ll get friendly service from someone who knows our programs and the application process inside and out.

Eight Cool Public Policy Careers

Make a Difference With These Alternative Public Policy Jobs.

Two public policy professionals chake hands in an office setting

As previously noted, a public policy is a set of principles, guidelines, regulations, laws, and actions adopted and implemented by a governmental entity. The purpose of a public policy is addressing specific issues/needs or pursuing particular goals within a society. Those needs, for instance, might be making roads more safe. That is, a speed limit sign is an example of a common public policy encountered daily. Rules and ordinances for making annual homecoming events less riotous and destructive are also public policies. The ultimate goals of a public policy, then, are achieving desired outcomes, solving problems, or responding (or in some cases, not responding) to societal needs. Because these needs are so diverse, there are, correspondingly, numerous public policy careers.

Those with public policy experience often work in government, at all levels. There, they might take on roles as policy analysts, legislative assistants, government or public affairs specialists. Or they might find roles in non-governmental organizations or the non-profit sector as policy consultants, program evaluators, and directors.

Learn more about public policy.

Above are some of the typical public policy careers. However, there are other less common but equally satisfying career paths.

1. Urban Planner

Professionals in these roles, who are often civil, environmental, and structural engineers, focus on shaping the development of cities and communities. They strive to create sustainable, greener, and functional urban spaces by considering factors such as zoning, transportation, housing, and environmental impact.

Because urban planners must often abide by local laws and ordinances (or even suggest improved ones), they regularly collaborate with government officials at all levels. Therefore, knowledge of public policy is an asset to urban planners and their decision-making processes.

An image of an urban green space in Vancouver, BC.
An urban green space in Vancouver BC, Canada

2. Environmental Policy Consultant

Environmental engineers with public policy experience can also transition into roles as environmental policy consultants. Or they could even start their own environmental consulting companies, collaborating with governmental entities at all levels.

As these consultants, they might advise on public policies related to pollution, sustainable development, water resource management, and climate change. They might also bring their technical expertise to developing and evaluating environmental policies, as well as helping to create effective, scientifically sound regulations.

A symbol of a smart city, which might need those with public policy expertise.
An image of a smart city.

3. Smart City and IoT Specialist

A smart city is an urban area that uses advanced technology, carefully designed infrastructure, and data-driven solutions. The objectives are reducing costs and resource consumption, enhancing efficiency, and optimizing the lives of inhabitants.

Engineers with policy skills and expertise in both smart city technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) can help influence public policies related to smart cities. These could be regulations on land use, data privacy, accessibility, and so on. In these public policy careers, they might also ensure that smart city technologies abide by local and state ordinances.

4. Open Data Advocate

Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used, and redistributed by anyone. The most fundamental rules of Open Data are the following:

  • Availability and Access: As a whole, data must be available at a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading. Data must also be in a convenient and modifiable form.
  • Re-use and Redistribution: Data must be provided under terms that permit re-use and redistribution, which includes the intermixing with other datasets.
  • Universal Participation: Everyone must be able to use, re-use, and redistribute data without discrimination or restrictions. Open data advocates, for example, are against rules that say data is not for commercial use, only for education, and so on.

Therefore, open data advocates strive to develop public policies that promote the transparency and accessibility of government data. For instance, they might encourage the release of government information in open formats. They believe that open data fosters collaboration, innovation, and accountability.

Where does public policy come in? This role involves working with government agencies, tech communities, and the public to support and advance open data initiatives.

5. Healthcare Technology Policy Analyst

As healthcare grows more data-driven, there arise issues of cybersecurity and the protection of patient information. Biomedical engineers and professionals in the healthcare technology sector with public policy experience could work as this type of analyst.

Healthcare technology policy analysts might undertake the following:

  • assess public policies in the regulatory landscape for medical technologies
  • contribute to the development of health IT policies
  • ensure that policies keep pace with advancements in medical research and technology
  • confirm that protocols in the healthcare industry align with public policies that safeguard patient data

In fact, the US has several privacy laws that protect all types of consumer data: fingerprints, retina scans, biometric data, financial data, names, and addresses. Probably one of the most well-known of these privacy protection laws is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) . This law, which applies to healthcare providers, hospitals, and insurance companies, safeguards an individual’s medical information. Healthcare technology policy analysts, then, might ensure that patients with biomedical devices connected to the IoT have their PHI protected.

An image of the USSF-52 rocket-launch mission. A space policy advisor is a possible public policy career.
Exploring Space safely and ethical will involve those with public policy expertise.

6. Space Policy Advisor

Space exploration and commercial space activities, which have accelerated recently, will require experts with public policy experience. These advisors might focus on issues related to space governance, international cooperation, and regulations. That is, they may be involved in ensuring that their organizations follow policies governing space exploration, satellite deployment, and space resource utilization.

For instance there are national space policies, commercial space launch policies, international space cooperation agreements, licensing and regulatory frameworks, satellite remote sensing policies. There are even policies for mitigating and remediating space debris. And these are just a few public policies related to the space industry.

7. Regulatory Sandbox Manager

This public policy career, which sounds too cool to be real, is ideal for those with previous business experience. More of a legal classification than a physical location, a regulatory sandbox is a space where businesses can play without following (most of the) rules. The objective is seeing whether the removal of restrictions produces innovative ideas and products.

Still, during the experimental phase, these sandboxes must respect basic regulations for public health, safety, and privacy. First, managers with public policy expertise must ensure that these essential regulations are followed during this phase. And when businesses transition out of the sandbox, managers must then confirm that they respect all relevant public policies.

8. Behavioral Economist / Policy Behavioralist

Those taking on this role work in many fields. As behavioral economists, they combine insights from economics, psychology, and/or cognitive science to analyze how people make decisions.

For instance, a policy behavioralist might work in the public health sector, analyzing data to evaluate a group’s potential response (acceptance? rejection? neutrality?) to a new vaccine policy.

In so doing, these policy experts might apply their analyses to help design interventions that positively influence human behavior. They could work to improve policy outcomes around pressing social issues, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Get Skills for Several Public Policy Careers.

Do these alternative public policy jobs sound fun? Fascinating? If they do, Michigan Tech’s Global Campus offers a versatile 9-credit Online Graduate Certificate in Public Policy that can add to/build on your current undergraduate degree.

This certificate consists of three, condensed, seven-week courses, which run several times a year.

  • The Policy Process (SS 5301): Offered Spring, Summer, and Fall 2024
  • Public Management (SS 5318): Offered Spring, Summer, and Fall 2024
  • Policy Analysis (SS 5350): Offered Summer, 2024

Because of this schedule, you can STILL start your certificate in Spring or Summer 2024 and complete it quickly.

Want to learn more about this certificate? Or how to get started on the application? Contact Dr. Adam Wellstead at awellste@mtu.edu.

Why Does Public Policy Matter?

Public policy experts at work in the government.

Public Policy Experts at Work in the Government

The dog license you must purchase; the sign on the road telling you to slow down in a school zone; the $325 fine your neighbor received for having an excessively large apple pile near his deer blind. Each one of these is a public policy. (Michigan’s DNR is pretty serious about its bait-pile fining, too. In fact, in 2018, several conservation officers used Google Maps to track down an apple pile that could be seen from space.)

The DNR-mandated size of a bait pile in Michigan is an example of a public policy.
A bait pile in Illinois (not the one seen from space).

How big is too big?

Well, there’s an answer for that: “Bait volume at any hunting site cannot exceed two gallons. Bait dispersal must be over a minimum 10-foot by 10-foot area.”

But this rule is just for Upper Michigan. Baiting, in fact, is banned in Lower Michigan unless hunters qualify for one of the exceptions.

And the size of the pile may vary between states.

Why do Michigan DNR officials hand out fines over bait piles? Well, excessively large bait piles cause an over-concentration of deer, which may then lead to other problems:

  • Disease Spread: Dense populations of deer can facilitate the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD), a prion disease that affects deer, elk, and moose.
  • Impact on Other Wildlife: Baiting may attract not only deer but also other wildlife species, disrupting natural foraging behaviors and leading to ecosystem imbalances.
  • Unnatural Behavior: Concentrating deer in one area through baiting can lead to unnatural behaviors and affect deer movement patterns, potentially making them more vulnerable to predation or accidents.
  • Management of Deer Population: Wildlife officials often aim to manage deer populations to maintain a balance with the ecosystem’s carrying capacity. Overly large bait piles might interfere with the effectiveness of population control measures.

Who Makes Policy in the US?

The above examples demonstrate that public policy is all around us.

Public policies specifically refer to the set of principles, guidelines, regulations, laws, and actions adopted and implemented by various government entities (school officials, city council members, DNR representatives, governors, etc.) to address specific issues or pursue particular goals within a society. A systematic approach to decision-making and governance, public policy aims to achieve desired outcomes, solve problems, or respond (or in some cases, not respond) to societal needs. And its scope is wide, touching on economic, environmental, health, and education areas, and more. Like deer hunting.

Because public policies exist at the municipal, state, regional, or national level, they may sometimes clash. Consider, for instance, the conflict between state and federal COVID-19 public policies during the pandemic. Or what would happen if you were a hunter who didn’t meet one of the exceptions and travelled down to Lower Michigan to set up your bait pile.

However, public policies should be distinguished from just policies, which are rules and regulations enacted by non-governmental representatives, such as businesses, universities, and so on.

How is Public Policy Created?

But public policy, despite having such a wide scope, is far from simple. There is significant critical thinking, planning, research, and legwork involved in public policy. And much of this legwork involves getting input from stakeholders: various members of the public and subject matter experts at all stages of the policy process.

First, those working in public policy must have a goal or objective (agenda setting). That is, an objective might be addressing social justice, public safety, pollution, the health of the deer population, and so on. And those creating policies (or advocating for their creation) must use a structured decision-making process. This process involves identifying issues, conducting research and analysis, and considering alternative solutions. The final objective is making decisions and creating a policy (formulation) based on the best available information. But these are just the first two steps in the policy process.

The six stages of the policy process:

  • Agenda Setting
  • Formulation
  • Adoption/Legitimation
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation
  • Policy Maintenance, Succession, or Termination

Source: Paul Cairney, Five Image of the Policy Process

However, Paul Cairney contends that the nice, clean cycle above is more of a metaphor than a realistic depiction of how REAL policy unfolds. Instead, the process is messy and confusing. In a blog from 2017, he offers other visual depictions of the policy making process.

Learn more about policy making and other topics related to public policy.

What is an Example of the Policy Process?

In July 2022, Dr. Adam Wellstead (MTU Department of Social Sciences and Director of the Online Public Policy Graduate Certificate) traveled to Queen’s University. His job was to set up a PIL (policy innovation lab) with Public Administration students at the Queen’s School of Policy Studies. The goal was analyzing and making recommendations about a problematic event rattling the local community: Queen’s homecoming.

Loud drunken parties, acts of public vandalism, and even episodes of couch tossing were regular features.

Afterwards, Dr. Wellstead and his team produced a 195-page report, which addressed various stakeholder perspectives and made recommendations. Or to put it another way, this report was meant to get this troublesome event on the agenda (Agenda Setting).

In other words, the report was just the beginning of the process. Getting a problem on the agenda does not mean that anyone is going to do anything about it. That is, after agenda setting, policies must be formulated, adopted, implemented, evaluated, as well as formalized, updated, or rejected. In other words, transforming policy goals into actions is a messy, iterative process involving the coordination between multiple agencies and stakeholders.

A party at the noisy Queen's homecoming, which necessitated a public policy intervention.
Couch tossing at the party during Queen’s homecoming, an annual event that required a public policy intervention.

There is a tremendous gap between public opinion and public policy.

Noam Chomsky

Improving the qualities of our lives should be the ultimate goal of public policies. But public policies can only deliver best fruit if they are based on reliable tools to measure the improvement they seek to produce in our lives.

Jose Angel Gurria

What Are Some Careers in Public Policy?

Therefore, it’s fair to say that those with public policy experience are needed in several fields. Below are some of the most common public policy careers.

  • Policy Analyst/Researcher: Your objective is to analyze data, conduct research, and provide evidence-based recommendations to inform policy decisions. You would most likely also evaluate other public policies.
  • Legislative Assistant: In this position, you would assist legislators in researching and drafting legislation, managing constituent inquiries, and coordinating legislative activities.
  • Government Affairs Specialist: As this type of specialist, you would advocate for the interests of an organization or industry to government officials and policymakers, often involving lobbying efforts. You’d also use your expertise to build relationships with key decision-makers and navigate the legislative process.
  • Public Affairs Specialist: Your role would be managing communication between organizations and the public, including media relations, public relations, and strategic communication in order to shape public opinion on policy issues.
  • Program Evaluator: In this position, you would assess the effectiveness and impact of public programs and policies, providing recommendations for improvement.
  • International Development Specialist: If you took on this role, you’d collaborate with governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and international organizations to address global issues such as poverty, health, education, and environmental sustainability.
  • Non-profit Director: In this career, you’d focus on advancing the mission of the organization and addressing social challenges through policy advocacy, community engagement, and program implementation.
  • Consultant: Whatever your background, a knowledge of public policy will help you leverage your specialized expertise on several projects. For instance, civil engineers with policy experience often work as urban planners and environmental consultants.

Dive deeper into other public policy roles and opportunities that make an impact on the world. Discover the aptitudes, knowledge, and skills that are central to those in public policy fields.

Start Your Online Public Policy Program at Michigan Tech.

Nonetheless, these roles above comprise a selection of the most common public-policy careers. So look out for a future blog that will discuss the diverse and sometimes unexpected intersections between public policy and other disciplines. That is, as societal needs and technologies evolve, new and unconventional public policy jobs will likewise continue to emerge.

If you want to plan for the future AND make a difference by acquiring public policy skills, MTU has just the program for you.

Michigan Tech’s Global Campus offers a versatile 9-credit Online Graduate Certificate in Public Policy. It consists of three, condensed, seven-week courses, which run several times a year:

  • The Policy Process (SS 5301): Runs Spring, Summer, and Fall 2024
  • Public Management (SS 5318): Runs Spring, Summer, and Fall 2024
  • Policy Analysis (SS 5350): Runs Summer, 2024

Because of this schedule, you can start your online certificate in Spring 2024, complete it in record time, allowing you to put your public policy skills to work!

Want to learn more about this certificate? Or what you can do with versatile, in-demand public policy skills? Contact Dr. Adam Wellstead at awellste@mtu.edu.

In the meantime, (and if you want to go a little deeper), check out Dr. Paul Cairney’s awesome Politics and Public Policy Blog. Here, he graciously (and clearly!) unpacks several key public policy terms and concepts.

Also, you should know that deer hunting is still on, at least in Michigan; we’re in late antlerless firearm and archery seasons now. So make sure you remind your neighbors (and maybe yourself) about the mandated size of bait piles.

ChatGPT: Friend or Foe? Maybe Both.

An image of a network to symbolize ChatGPT.

(NOTE: This article is a slightly abbreviated and edited version of a blog originally published in May 2023.)

In 2006, British mathematician and entrepreneur Clive Humby proclaimed that “data is the new oil.”

At the time, his enthusiastic (if not exaggerated) comment reflected the fervor and faith in the then expanding internet economy. And his metaphor had some weight, too. Like oil, data can be collected (or maybe one should say extracted), refined, and sold. Both of these are also in high demand, and just as the inappropriate or excessive use of oil has deleterious effects on the planet, so may the reckless use of data.

Recently, the newest oil concerning many, one that is shaking up the knowledge workplace, is ChatGPT. Released by OpenAI in November 2022, ChatGPT combines chatbot functionality with a very clever language model. Or to be more precise, the GPT in its name stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer.

Global Campus previously published a blog about robots in the workplace. One of the concerns raised then was that of AI taking away our jobs. But perhaps, now, the even bigger concern is AI doing our writing, generating our essays, or even our TV show scripts. That is, many are worried about AI substituting for both our creative and critical thinking.

Training Our AI Writing Helper

ChatGPT is not an entirely new technology. That is, experts have long integrated large language models into customer service chatbots, Google searches, and autocomplete e-mail features. The ChatGPT of today is an updated version of GPT-3, which has been around since 2020. But ChatGPT’s origins go further back. Almost 60 years ago, MIT’s Joseph Weizenbaum rolled out ELIZA: the first chatbot. Named after Eliza Doolittle, this chatbot mimicked a Rogerian therapist by (perhaps annoyingly) rephrasing questions. If someone asked, for instance, “My father hates me,” it would reply with another question: “Why do you say your father hates you?” And so on.

The current ChatGPT’s immense knowledge and conversational ability are indeed impressive. To acquire these skills, ChatGPT was “trained on huge amounts of data from the Internet, including conversations.” An encyclopedia of text-based data was combined with a “machine learning technique called Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF).” This is a technique in which human trainers provided the model with conversations in which they played both the AI chatbot and the user.” In other words, this bot read a lot of text and practiced mimicking human conversations. Its responses, nonetheless, are not based on knowing the answers, but on predicting what words will come next in a series.

The results of this training is that this chatbot is almost indistinguishable from the human voice. And it’s getting better, too. As chatbot engages with more users, its tone and conversations become increasingly life-like (OpenAI).

Using ChatGPT for Mundane Writing Tasks

Many have used, tested, and challenged ChatGPT. Although one can’t say for certain that the bot always admits its mistakes, it definitely rejects inappropriate requests. It will deliver some clever pick-up lines. However, it won’t provide instructions for cheating on your taxes or on your driver’s license exam. And if you ask it what happens after you die, it is suitably dodgy.

But what makes ChatGPT so popular, and some would say dangerous, is the plethora of text-based documents it can produce, such as the following:

  • Long definitions
  • Emails and letters
  • Scripts for podcasts and videos
  • Speeches
  • Basic instructions
  • Quiz questions
  • Discussion prompts
  • Lesson plans
  • Learning objectives
  • Designs for rubrics
  • Outlines for reports and proposals
  • Summaries of arguments
  • Press releases
  • Essays

And this is the short list, too, of its talents. That is, there are people who have used this friendly bot to construct emails to students, quiz questions, and definitions. The internet is also awash with how-to articles on using ChatGPT to write marketing copy, generate novels, and speeches. Noy and Zhang even claim that this “generative writing tool increases the output quality of low-ability workers while reducing their time spent, and it allows high-ability workers to maintain their quality standards while becoming significantly faster.”

Below are examples of two onerous writing tasks assigned to ChatGPT: a reference letter and learning goals.

ChatGPT reference letter.
AI writes a very wordy reference letter
Example of learning goals generated by ChatGPT
Here is an example of content created by ChatGPT after being instructed to use Bloom’s taxonomy to create learning goals for a Sci-Fi course.

Recognizing ChatGPT’s Limited Knowledge

Despite helping writers with mundane tasks, this artificial intelligence helper does have its limitations. First of all, it is only as wise as its instructions. For instance, the effusive reference letter above resulted from it having no guidance about length or tone. ChatGPT just threw everything in the written soup.

This AI helper also makes mistakes. In fact, right on the first page, OpenAI honestly admits that its chatbot “may occasionally generate incorrect information, and produce harmful instructions or biased content.” It also has “limited knowledge of the world and events after 2021.”

And it reveals these gaps, often humorously.

For instance, when prodded to provide information on several well-known professors from various departments, it came back with wrong answers. In fact, it actually misidentified one well-known department chair as a Floridian famous for his philanthropy and footwear empire. In this case, ChatGPT not only demonstrated “limited knowledge of the world” but also incorrect information. As academics, writers, and global citizens, we should be concerned about releasing more fake information into the world.

Taking into consideration these and other errors, one wonders on what data, exactly, was ChatGPT trained. Did it, for instance, just skip over universities? Academics? Respected academics with important accomplishments? As we know, what the internet prioritizes says a lot about what it and its users value.

Creating Errors

There are other limitations. OpenAi’s ChatGPT can’t write a self-reflection or decent poetry. And because it is not online, it cannot summarize recent content from the internet.

It also can’t approximate the tone of this article, which shifts between formal and informal and colloquial. Or whimsically insert allusions or pop culture references.

To compensate for its knowledge gaps, ChatGPT generates answers that are incorrect or slightly correct.

In the case of generating mistakes, ChatGPT does mimic the human tendency to fumble, to tap dance around an answer, and to make up material rather than humbly admit ignorance.

Passing Along Misinformation

Being trained on text-based data, which might have been incorrect in the first place, ChatGPT often passes this fakery along. That is, it also (as the example above shows) has a tendency to generate or fabricate fake references and quotations.

It can also spread misinformation. (Misinformation, unintentional false or inaccurate information, is different from disinformation: the intentional spread of untruths to deceive.)

The companies CNET and Bankrate found out this glitch the hard way. For months, they had been duplicitously publishing AI-generated informational articles as human-written articles under a byline. When this unethical behavior was discovered, it drew the ire of the internet.

CNET’s stories even contained both plagiarism and factual mistakes, or what Jon Christian at Futurism called “bone-headed errors.” Christian humorously drew attention to mathematical mistakes that were delivered with all the panache of a financial advisor. For instance, the article claimed that “if you deposit $10,000 into a savings account that earns 3% interest compounding annually, you’ll earn $10,300 at the end of the first year.” In reality, you’d be earning only $300.

All three screwups. . . . highlight a core issue with current-generation AI text generators: while they’re legitimately impressive at spitting out glib, true-sounding prose, they have a notoriously difficult time distinguishing fact from fiction.

John Christian

Revealing Biases

And ChatGPT is not unbiased either. First, this bot has a strong US leaning. For instance, it was prompted to write about the small town of Wingham, ON. In response, it generated some sunny, non-descript prose. However, it omitted this town’s biggest claim to fame: the birthplace of Nobel Prize winning Alice Munro.

The bias is based on ChatGPT being trained on data pulled from the internet. Thus, it reflects all the prejudices of those who wrote and compiled this information.

Nobel exposes corrupt algorithms. Chat GPT was trained on these.
Nobel’s expose of algorithms

This problem was best articulated by Safiya Umoja Nobel in her landmark book Algorithms of Oppression.

In this text, she challenges the ideal that search engines are value-neutral, exposing their hegemonic norms and the consequences of their various sexist, racist biases. ChatGPT, to be sure, is also affected by if not infected with these biases.

What really made me lose confidence in ChatGPT is when I asked if the United States ever had a president with African ancestry, and it answered no, then apologized after I reminded the chatbot about Barack Obama.

Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Education Editor, The Conversation

Despite agreeing with Nobel’s and Abdul-Alim’s very serious concerns, and thinking that ChatGPT can be remarkably dumb at times, many may not want to smash the algorithmic machines anytime soon. Furthermore, there are writers who do use this bot to generate correct definitions of unfamiliar technical terms encountered in their work. For instance, it can help non-experts understand the basics of such concepts as computational fluid dynamics and geospatial engineering. Still, many professionals choose not to rely on it, nor trust it, too much.

Letting Robots Do Your Homework

But it is students’ trust in and reliance on OpenAI that is causing chaos and consternation in the education world.

That is, many 2022 cases of cheating were connected to one of this bot’s most popular features: its impressive ability to generate essays in seconds. For instance, it constructed a 7-paragraph comparison/contrast essay on Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in under a minute.

And the content of this essay, though vague, does hold some truth: “Impressionism had a profound impact on the art world, challenging traditional academic conventions. Its emphasis on capturing the fleeting qualities of light and atmosphere paved the way for modern art movements. Post-impressionism, building upon the foundations of impressionism, further pushed the boundaries of artistic expression. Artists like Georges Seurat developed the technique of pointillism, while Paul Gauguin explored new avenues in color symbolism. The post-impressionists’ bold experimentation influenced later art movements, such as fauvism and expressionism.”

With a few modifications and a checking of facts, this text would fit comfortably into an introductory art textbook. Or maybe a high-school or a college-level essay.

Sounding the Alarm About ChatGPT

Very shortly after people discovered this essay-writing feature, stories of academic integrity violations flooded the internet. An instructor at an R1 STEM grad program confessed that several students had cheated on a project report milestone. “All 15 students are citing papers that don’t exist.” An alarming article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, written by a student, warned that educators had no idea how much students were using AI. The author rejected the claim that AI’s voice is easy to detect. “It’s very easy to use AI to do the lion’s share of the thinking while still submitting work that looks like your own.”

And it’s not just a minority of students using ChatGPT either. In a study.com survey of 200 K-12 teachers, 26% had already caught a student cheating by using this tool. In a BestColleges survey of 1,000 current undergraduate and graduate students (March 2023), 50% of students admitted to using AI for some portion of their assignment, 30% for the majority, and 17% had “used it to complete an assignment and turn it in with no edits.”

Soon, after publications like Forbes and Business Insider began pushing out articles about rampant cheating,the internet was buzzing. An elite program in a Florida high school reported a chatbot “cheating scandal”. But probably the most notorious episode was a student who used this bot to write an essay for his Ethics and Artificial Intelligence course. Sadly, the student did not really understood the point of the assignment.

Incorporating ChatGPT in the Classroom

According to a Gizmodo article, many schools have forbidden ChatGPT, such as those in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Fairfax County Virginia.

But there is still a growing body of teachers who aren’t that concerned. Many don’t want to ban ChatGPT altogether. Eliminating this tool from educational settings, they caution, will do far more harm than good. Instead, they argue that teachers must set clearer writing expectations about cheating. They should also create ingenious assignments that students can’t hack with their ChatGPT writing coach, as well as construct learning activities that reveal this tool’s limitations.

Others have suggested that the real problem is that of teachers relying on methods of assessment that are too ChatGPT-hackaable: weighty term papers and final exams on generic topics. Teachers may need to rethink their testing strategies, or as that student from the Chronicle asserted, “[M]assive structural change is needed if our schools are going to keep training students to think critically.”

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, also doesn’t agree with all the hand-wringing about ChatGPT cheating. He blithely suggested that schools need to “get over it.”

Generative text is something we all need to adapt to . . . . We adapted to calculators and changed what we tested for in math class, I imagine. This is a more extreme version of that, no doubt, but also the benefits of it are more extreme, as well.

Sam Altman

Read MTU’s own Rod Bishop’s guidance on ChatGPT in the university classroom. And think about your stance on this little AI writing helper.

MAHLE and MTU: Moving Forward Together

Leaders from MAHLE and Michigan Tech gather at the signing ceremony.
Leaders from MAHLE and Michigan Technological University gather at the signing ceremony.

MAHLE is excited to partner with Michigan Tech on the Corporate Education Fellowship. This partnership not only allows employees to steer their professional development and open new pathways for internal career mobility, but also allows MAHLE to proactively support the development of our employees to meet the evolving demand for new skills and competencies.

This fellowship, when coupled with MAHLE’s Educational Reimbursement, provides employees with the ability to access affordable education through Michigan Tech’s online programs, offering flexibility to learn at their own pace, while balancing their personal life and work. We look forward to a successful partnership that will help to further prepare MAHLE and our employees as our industry transforms toward a decarbonized future.

President of MAHLE Peter Lynch

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, Michigan Technological University signed a Corporate Education Partnership Agreement with MAHLE Industries Inc. MAHLE is a leading international development partner and supplier to the automotive industry.

The partnership agreement was signed at MAHLE’s North American headquarters in Farmington Hills, Michigan. President Richard Koubek and David Lawrence (vice president for Global Campus and continuing education) were present for Michigan Tech. Peter Lynch (president of MAHLE) and Tiffiney Woznak, (director of Talent Management, MAHLE North America) represented MAHLE. Other leaders from both organizations also attended.

Richard Koubek and Peter Lynch sign the fellowship agreement.
President Koubek and MAHLE President Peter Lynch sign the fellowship agreement.
Jacque Smith, director of Graduate Enrollment Services; and Peter Lynch  chat.
Jacque Smith, director of Graduate Enrollment Services, and Peter Lynch, president of MAHLE chat.

Growing With Their Organizations

The Corporate Education Fellowship supports MAHLE employees in their pursuit of graduate education through Michigan Tech’s Global Campus. Eligible employees will receive fellowships to enroll in one of Michigan Tech’s online graduate certificates or master’s degree programs.

A hard copy of the MAHLE Corporate Education Fellowship Agreement that people sign.
The signing documents for the corporate fellowship agreement.

With this fellowship, employees can acquire industry-needed skills, follow areas of professional interest, and meet the diverse challenges of the ever-evolving automotive industry.

And they can achieve these benefits while studying online through Global Campus. As many of us understand, earning a credential while staying on the job is very convenient for working professionals.

These fellowships are available for up to four years. Recipients must meet the eligibility requirements of both the fellowship program and the scholastic standards of Michigan Tech’s Graduate School.

This program is part of the connected missions of Global Campus: building relationships between academia and industry, making quality online education more accessible to a diverse population of adult learners, and helping professionals advance and grow with their workplaces.

So far, several MAHLE associates have expressed a deep interest in this program.

Tiffiney Woznak stands in front of a picture of American NASCAR legend Richard Petty and the car Petty’s Garage helped design for MAHLE. Using MAHLE components, Petty’s Garage builds supercharged high-horsepower engines for one-of-a-kind-vehicles.

Tiffiney Woznak shows President Koubek the MAHLE car that Petty helped design.
Tiffiney Woznak (head of Talent Management for MAHLE North America) talks to President Koubek.

Partnering With MAHLE

If you haven’t heard of MAHLE, it is a global powerhouse. It has approximately 72,000 employees working in more than 30 countries. The company also boasts 152 production locations and 12 major research and development centers. As a global leader in technology, MAHLE has been proudly shaping the future of mobility and transforming the automotive industry for more than 100 years. It is known for being a leading international development partner and supplier to the automotive industry with customers in both passenger car and commercial vehicle sectors.

And you’ve probably been in the presence of a MAHLE part or two, as well. That is, this company’s components reside in about 50% of all the passenger and commercial vehicles on the road.

MAHLE’s portfolio is also wide. The company is also involved with industrial applications, as well as both small and large engine components. One of the company’s newest technological ventures is investing in e-bikes and smart bike accessories. E-bikes tend to be remarkably heavy, but MAHLE is changing the game with its ultra-light drive systems.

Collaborating With Companies Making a Difference

MAHLE has a rich past, but like Michigan Tech, it also has ambitious future-changing initiatives.

That is, one of the company’s main and ambitious goals is working towards climate-neutral mobility. To that end, it is focusing “on the strategic areas of electrification and thermal management as well as further technology fields to reduce CO2 emissions, such as fuel cells or highly efficient combustion engines that also run on hydrogen or synthetic fuels” (MAHLE). The company is also striving to improve “the triad of sustainable drives”: the electric motor, the fuel cell, and the non-fossil-fuel-powered intelligent internal combustion engine.

In other words, MAHLE, is both a presence in the vehicular industries and a crucial driver in the global move towards electrification and environmental sustainability. Its leadership in both of these areas make it a natural fit for Michigan Tech.

That is, MTU has a long history of working with the automotive industry and collaborating with other future-forward companies. For instance, in Nov. 2022, MTU signed a fellowship agreement with Nexteer Automotive. Nexteer is respected for delivering high-quality, next-level electric power and steer-by-wire systems, steering columns, driveline systems, and driver-assistance systems. And in August, ITC, a company committed to solving next-generation electricity infrastructure challenges, also partnered with MTU.

Pursuing Advanced Education: An Ongoing Journey

President Koubek confirmed the need for employees to earn advanced degres. From his experience, he knows well that all employees and leaders must continuously improve their skills to not only help their organizations succeed, but also meet upcoming technological challenges. He stressed that education, rather than an endpoint, is an ongoing process.

“I think we’re at a point in time where change is happening so fast . . . . It’s almost an expectation in the world now, especially in the technological fields, that you’re continuing your advanced education, that you’re never really done, and that there is always room to grow.”

Richard Koubek

Michigan Tech looks forward to working with MAHLE and to helping grow its success.

Symposium Brings Together MTU and MSU Researchers

Research symposium group picture.

Presenters, organizers, and some attendees of the second MTU / MSU collaborative research symposium pose for a group photo.

Developing novel approaches to fighting disease, using machine learning and computational methods to solve epidemiological problems and improve patient health, and applying technologies to intervene on disease. These are just a few of the challenges and ambitious solutions facing the state of biomedicine now and in the future. These topics, and several others, were addressed at a recent invitation-only collaborative research symposium between MTU and MSU.

On Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, groups of researchers from Michigan Technological University and Michigan State University University met in a collaborative research symposium.

Entitled Engineering the Future of Human Health II: Biomedicine in the 4th Industrial Revolution, this event was held in Michigan Tech’s Memorial Union Building.

VP David Lawrence opens the symposium.
David Lawrence, vice president for Global Campus and continuing education, opens the symposium.

The symposium preceded the Upper Peninsula Medical Conference, put on by MTU’s Health Research Institute, which focused on diverse approaches to health challenges affecting rural communities. It marked the second collaborative research symposium between these two universities. That is, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine hosted the first symposium on March 13, 2023. It was held in MSU’s beautiful Secchia Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Delivering Short Talks With A Big Impact

For these symposiums, the goals continue to be learning about each other’s work; and investigating areas of shared objectives, mutual interests, and possible research projects between MTU and MSU. But perhaps the even greater purpose is that of these institutions combining forces (and resources) to tackle the most challenging health-related issues of the upcoming decades.

Jeremy Prokop opens the MSU / MTU symposium.
Dr. Jeremy Prokop begins the symposium with his presentation.

To disseminate as much research as possible, presenters kept their talks brief. In total, 12 researchers from MTU and 11 from MSU delivered rapid-fire, ten-minute presentations in six consequent sessions exploring the state of biomedicine in the era of Industry 4.0:

  • Computational Health Science (Session 1)
  • Big Data in Healthcare (Session 2)
  • Kinesiology and Physiology (Session 3)
  • Neural Control and Disease (Session 4)
  • Metabolic Disease (Session 5)
  • Chemical Biology (Session 6)

This structure provided opportunities for researchers not only to learn from each other, but also to explore possible connections between their fields.

And the fields were, indeed, diverse. That is, professionals at this multi-disciplinary event came from applied computing, biological sciences, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, computer science and engineering, kinesiology and integrated physiology, pediatrics and human development, and quantitative health sciences. Overall, the quality of the research and breadth of disciplines spoke to the depth of expertise at this symposium and to the challenges and opportunities facing the future of biomedicine.

There was also a concurrent combined poster session with the UPMC that featured research from several MSU and MTU students, as well as a few professors.

Exploring Connections Between MTU and MSU

Throughout the symposium, there were several salient connections both within and between sessions. For instance, many experts presented on novel treatments for conditions and/or diseases affecting public health, such as diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis, neurodegenerative disorders, and lack of activity. Dr. Ping “Peter” Wang (MSU, Session) tackled integrating bioengineering into Type-1 Diabetes treatment. And Dr. Marina Tanasova (Session 6, MTU), after summarizing the role of GLUTs (Glucose transporters) in various diseases, focused on targeting these GLUTs in cancer therapy. Dr. Ashutosh Tiwari (Session 4, MTU), analyzed the role of protein aggregates (misfolded proteins) in the cellular toxicity central to neurodegenerative diseases.

Another common thread was responding to the continuing public health crisis of Covid-19. For example, the symposium began with the long research project of Dr. Jeremy Prokop (MSU, Corewell Health) on genotyping various Covid variants. Then, he shifted to how the immunosuppression connected to Covid-19 is associated with the emergence of other viruses, such as Epstein-Barr (EB) and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Throughout the symposium, several experts also assessed the leveraging of artificial intelligence and computational approaches to address health ailments. Dr. Hoda Hatoum (MTU, Session 1) presented on experimental and computational approaches to model cardiovascular diseases and therapies.

There were also presentations on more low-tech, but nonetheless impressive, methods for improving patient outcomes. Dr. William Cooke (MTU, Session 3) demonstrated how using a rather simple impedance-threshold breathing device can reduce hemorrhaging. Using Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) to increase exercise intensity without taxing joints (MTU, Session 3) was the topic of Dr. Steve Elmer’s presentation.

Dr. Matthew Harkey (MSU, Session 3) presented research on using ultrasound and biomechanics to assess arthritis.

Steve Elmer's poster at the MSU / MTU Symposium
Dr. Steve Elmer (MTU, Session 3) delivered both a talk and a poster.

Targeting the Youth Mental Health Crisis in Michigan

CHI Program Director Dr. Guy Hembroff spoke on using AI to improve the mental health of youth (MTU, Session 2). He began by stressing some startling statistics from Youthgov on suicide in the 15-24 age group. Most striking was the fact that “taking one’s life is the second leading cause of death for youths.”

Dr. Guy Hembroff in Session 2.

Hembroff proposed a number of strategies for using artificial intelligence to track, intervene on, and improve the mental health of youth.

First, he articulated that AI may be employed to not only enhance preventative mental health measures, but also provide safe, responsive data.

Or to put it another way, through wearables, daily mental health check-ins, and user feedback, youth could have personalized, responsive mental health treatment delivered right to them. In short, Hembroff outlined a protocol for providing inexpensive, effective tools that quickly monitor and respond to at-crisis youth, reduce the need for reactionary care, and prevent mental disease from spiraling into suicide.

There is another positive effect of this AI-assisted mental health plan: gamifying the activity of tracking one’s mental health. Youth are known for always interacting with their phones. Thus, this gamification could help reduce the stigma associated with reporting depression, anxiety, and other mental diseases.

Symposium Goals: Promoting Networking and Sharing Research

Hembroff’s talk captured one of the main threads of the symposium: using ingenious, cost-effective, computational approaches to solve crucial health issues. However, all of the research was impressive. That is, there were several expert scientific communicators, such as Zhiying “Jenny” Shan (MTU, Session 5), who walked the audience through her research on extracellular vesicles and blood pressure regulation.

But you can learn more about the depth and breadth of the research by examining the event schedule.

In the closing remarks for the symposium, Dr. Christopher Contag (MSU) further elaborated on the connections between these presentations and the opportunities for collaborative research. First, he summarized some commonalities, such as further analyzing cardiovascular disease, studying extracellular vesicles as diagnostic markers, developing strategies for early intervention, and creating a Long Covid research center.

In addition, Dr. Contag focused on the importance of learning the language of cells and communicating with them: that is, this research is about “not just asking them what they’re saying, but telling them what to do.” He saw this communication as central to modulating the immune system and to controlling disease states.

Dr. Contag delivers the closing remarks.
Dr. Christopher Contag (MSU) delivers the closing remarks.

“I think we’re all focused on distributed healthcare and using our approaches and innovation to reduce health disparities. It’s a theme that’s shared between the two universities.”

Dr. Christopher Contag, Director of the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering (IQ) and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering (MSU)

Moving Beyond This Symposium

For Engineering the Future of Human Health II, MTU’s cosponsors were David Lawrence, vice president for Global Campus and continuing education; Dr. Sean J. Kirkpatrick, professor and department chair, Biomedical Engineering; Dr. Caryn Heldt, professor in Chemical Engineering and director of the Health Research Institute; and Dr. William H. Cooke, professor and department chair, Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology. And for MSU, Dr. Adam Alessio, Departments of Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Radiology; and Dr. Bin Chen, associate professor, Department of Pediatrics and Human Development took on the roles of cosponsors.

This collaborative symposium is crucial to the MTU Global Campus mission of helping Michigan Technological University grow partnerships with other higher-ed institutions and participate in multidisciplinary research that tackles pressing biomedical challenges.

The next step, then, is instituting these collaborative working research groups. Furthermore, the two universities hope to pool both talent and resources to build a MSU / MTU translational research center in Grand Rapids, MI. Of this center, David Lawrence further articulated its two main objectives: “first, developing cutting-edge health technologies through advanced applied biomedical research; and, second, but equally important, ultimately improving the health of the citizens of Michigan and those of the nation.”

Readers can also learn more about this event in the coverage by TV6.

Calumet Electronics and Michigan Tech Praised

Calumet Electronics in Calumet, Michigan, with the help of incredible engineers from the Michigan Technological University up in Houghton, is doing incredible work on advanced packaging, particularly by making very advanced circuit boards for defense applications. And they’re expanding their capacity. 

Senator Gary Peters
Senator Peters, who spoke at the CHIPS and Science Implementation and Oversight Committee, praised Michigan Tech and Calumet Electronics for their semiconductor initiatives.
Senator Peters speaks at the hearing.

Gary Peters (D), Michigan’s United States senator, recently gave a well-deserved shout-out to both Michigan Technological University and Calumet Electronics. Peters spoke at the US Senate’s full committee hearing on “CHIPS and Science Act Implementation and Oversight,” held on October 4, 2023.

The hearing focused “on the implementation and oversight of the CHIPS and Science Act by the Department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation.” In short, it summarized the rollout of programs, research and development, and other semiconductor manufacturing initiatives.

The senator recalled that one of the main goals of the CHIPS and Science Act is onshoring semiconductor production. Then, he asserted the need for dedicating some of the Act’s R & D funds to supporting the advanced packaging industry. This industry is essential to securing the supply chain.

He pointed to Calumet Electronics as crucial to meeting US semiconductor advanced packaging needs. That is, Calumet Electronics is using the great alumni from Michigan Tech (engineering graduates) to grow this industry on-shore, right here in the UP. 

Calumet Electronics: Leading in Advanced Packaging

If you haven’t heard of Calumet Electronics, it is a leading commercial and non-traditional defense contractor. CE specializes in the research, design, engineering, and manufacturing of high-quality printed circuit boards (PCBs) and, more recently, organic substrates.

As an award-winning American-owned and operated company, Calumet is known for its thought leadership and innovative engineering and manufacturing. Also, CE is an SBA HUBZone certified small business that conducts all its operations domestically. Furthermore, it has established itself as a pure play manufacturer with a focus to support and grow its local economy and the surrounding communities in Michigan’s rural Upper Peninsula.

Calumet Electronics applauds Senator Peters for his ongoing commitment to domestic semiconductor chip manufacturing. During the recent Commerce Committee hearing, he cited the ‘incredible engineers’ of Calumet Electronics and our partnership with Michigan Tech in making advanced PCBs for defense applications. We’re very grateful for his confidence and support, and his tireless efforts to prioritize additional funding for this critical work.

Meredith Labeau, PhD, CTO of Calumet Electronics

Labeau continued, “Calumet Electronics and Michigan Tech have forged a remarkable partnership, producing a synergy that showcases the exceptional quality of engineers they graduate. Together, we are shaping the future of innovation and electronics right here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.”

David Lawrence, vice president for Global Campus and continuing education, recently visited Calumet Electronic, and was impressed by its facilities. He affirmed that “Michigan Tech’s relationship with Calumet Electronics is robust and the future is bright. We continue to work with industry partners to support the semiconductor initiatives.”

Securing US-Based Semiconductor Production

At the hearing, Secretary Gina Raimondo (U.S. Department of Commerce) and witness, acknowledged that keeping advanced packaging in the US is crucial. In short, it is important not only to the supply chain but also to National Security. Accordingly, the committee, which has “a plan in the works,” will soon release an advanced packaging strategy.

This hearing occurred just over a year after the US government rolled out the bipartisan 2022 CHIPS and Science Act . The Act implemented previous programs under the 2021 CHIPS for America Act (January 2021). Also, it authorized nearly $250 billion in semiconductors and scientific research and development.

The CHIPS and Science Act responded to both the decline in American microchip fabrication and semiconductor shortages. These shortages caused serious supply chain problems, especially for Michigan’s automotive industry. 

Responding to the semiconductor shortage, Michigan Tech has taken on projects that focus on onshoring semiconductor production. For instance, in 2022, MTU collaborated with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) on the Semiconductor Talent Action Team (TAT). The TAT had several goals: developing Michigan-created semiconductors, onshoring both legacy and advanced semiconductor systems, creating well-paying manufacturing jobs, reducing semiconductor shortages, and securing the supply chain.

During this hearing, Senator Raimondo reinforced that the US government is committed to stimulating both R & D and job training in semiconductors. Our goal is to have “a whole ecosystem that we want to deepen in the United States.” And a significant part of this ecosystem is the advanced packaging for which Calumet Electronics is known and respected.

We look forward to seeing Michigan Tech and Calumet Electronics as vital components of and important players in this ecosystem.