Tag: David Lawrence

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.

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.

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.

ITC Signs Education Fellowship Agreement

Leaders of MTU and ITC at the Corporate Fellowship Program Signing Event.

(Leaders and employees of MTU and ITC at the official signing event for the Corporate Education Fellowship. In the center is Linda Apsey, CEO and president of ITC Holdings Corp. To her left (our right) are Michigan Tech President Richard Koubek; and David Lawrence, vice president for Global Campus and continuing education. Contracts Specialist Felicia Milam stands on Apsey’s right. Directly behind her is Brian Slocum, senior vice president and chief operating officer of ITC Holdings Corp.)

Michigan Technological University recently signed a Corporate Education Partnership Agreement with ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company.

ITC owns and operates high-voltage transmission infrastructure in Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. It has more than 700 employees and 1,000 contractors. The company provides transmission grid solutions to improve reliability, expand access to markets, allow new generating resources to interconnect to its systems, and lower the overall cost of delivered energy.

The signing ceremony took place at ITC’s headquarters in Novi, Michigan, on Tuesday, August 22, 2023. In attendance were Michigan Tech President Richard Koubek; David Lawrence, vice president for Global Campus and continuing education; Linda H. Apsey, president and CEO of ITC; and Brian Slocum, senior vice president and chief operating officer of ITC. Other leaders from both organizations, MTU alumni, and fellowship recipients were also present.

Making Advanced Education More Accessible

The Corporate Education Fellowship was spearheaded by David Lawrence. This program supports ITC employees in their pursuit of online graduate education through Michigan Tech’s Global Campus. That is, current employees will receive fellowships to enroll in one of Michigan Tech’s online graduate certificates or master’s degree programs. These fellowships are available for up to four years, provided the recipients continue to be employed by ITC and that they meet Tech’s eligibility requirements.

The program allows employees to acquire further industry-needed skills, follow areas of professional interest, and meet the evolving demands of next-generation energy infrastructure.

The fellowship program is part of Global Campus’s dual missions of building relationships between academia and industry; and making quality online education more accessible to diverse adult learners.

President and CEO of ITC Holdings Corp., Linda Apsey; and President Richard Koubek sign the fellowship agreement.

Preparing ITC Employees For the Future

Linda Apsey, president and CEO of ITC, reflected on the fellowship and on collaborating with MTU. “We’re at this really pivotal moment in time, as we are on the cusp of an energy transformation. And innovation, new skills, new experiences, leadership: all of those things are so important now more than ever.”

Apsey also spoke highly of ITC employees who are Michigan Tech graduates: “What we observe and experience is that Michigan Tech grads come to ITC ready and prepared day one. They also come with the right skills and technical knowledge. And I would say even more importantly, that they arrive with the demonstrated desire to continue and to learn and grow in an organization like ours.”

Moira Morgan, director of organizational learning and development of ITC, affirmed that this fellowship helps employees be “prepared not just for today, but tomorrow. What they learned two years ago, three years ago, may not be applicable today.” So, thanks to this program, “they’re preparing themselves for the future.”

Supporting Industry in Michigan

At the ceremony, President Richard Koubek referred to MTU’s founding charter that mandates its support of industry, particularly in Michigan. He also addressed the importance of alignment between education and industry for both innovation and growth in organizations.

ITC CEO and President, LInda Apsey and President Koubek shake hands.
ITC CEO and President, LInda Apsey and President Koubek shake hands.

There is a change, transformational times, certainly in the energy industry. Also, there are a lot of transitions, tectonic shifts, happening in higher ed. In my opinion, having a close relationship with industrial partners is going to be key for universities succeeding in the future.

President Koubek

President Koubek also added, “It’s so important that what the students are learning in the classroom is directly relevant to what they’re going to do once they graduate. And I think having a tight feedback loop between industry and the academic institution makes that so.”

Continuing Its Relationship with Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech and ITC have a long-established relationship. For instance, ITC recently instituted the Jon E. Jipping Annual Scholarship for undergraduates. Jipping (MSEE ’91), who was one of ITC’s first employees, retired as executive vice president of ITC Holdings in 2023. He is now a member of the Michigan Tech Board of Trustees.

Following in his footsteps, several current ITC employees are Michigan Tech alumni. Additionally, many MTU students join ITC for summer internships, with several interns becoming full-time employees upon graduation.

Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of ITC Holdings Corp. Brian Slocum confirmed that “the impact from Michigan Tech students on ITC has been longstanding. Over the years, we’ve heard from many, many Michigan Tech students that ITC and Michigan Tech share a similar mindset and culture, which is why our relationship has endured. What they [Michigan Tech students] continue to bring to the table is an ability to solve problems from a technical standpoint and a deep knowledge about the power industry, which gives them a kick-start on their career at ITC. I’m excited to see how that will grow as we move forward with our relationship.”

Brian Slocum, senior vice president and chief operating officer of ITC Holdings Corp.; and David Lawrence, vice president for Global Campus and continuing education sign the fellowship agreement.

Moving Forward with MTU

One of the fellowship recipients is Liz Martin, an engineering project manager. When asked about why she is pursuing the online TechMBA program, Martin asserted that she’s an “engineer through and through; it’s huge part of who I am. So I love that their [Michigan Tech’s] MBA program marries aspects of engineering with business, which is exactly what I was looking for.”

Then she enthusiastically added, everyone at ITC “loves Michigan Tech. We’re a big Michigan Tech company. I’ve always heard about how amazing it was. Most of my friends went to Michigan Tech. So I couldn’t miss an opportunity to also be a husky and join the fandom.”

Michigan Tech is proud to work with ITC, an organization committed to solving next-generation energy infrastructure challenges.

Lean Expert Dr. Ruth Archer Represents MTU

Lean Mind Map for Michigan Technological University
Lean Mind Map for Michigan Technological University

As you can see from the Mind Map above, Lean definitely matters to Michigan Tech.

“Start somewhere and learn from experience.”

“Helping people create more value on their own represents on of the highest forms of respect.”

John Shook, Lean Expert

Helping people learn from experience, equipping them with both the skills and habits of mind to create value, and instructing them in Lean thinking and practices are gifts that Ruth Archer has enthusiastically provided to the Michigan Tech community for over a decade.

Director of Continuous Improvement for Michigan Tech since 2014, Archer “is responsible for facilitating improvements that close the gap between current state and the university’s strategic goals, fostering the continuous process of people development, and promoting collaborative partnerships and sharing Lean expertise in the state, the nation, and the global community” (Faculty Profile).

Dr. Ruth Archer, Director of Continuous Improvement at Michigan Tech

And in just over a month, she will be contributing her leadership and Lean skills to the 2023 Lean Solutions Global Summit. The summit will be held October 2 – 4 at the VanDyk Mortgage Convention Center in Downtown Muskegon, Michigan. This event includes tracks for the LEAN presence in four industries: healthcare, government, business, and higher-ed/non-profit.

At the summit, Ruth and Debra Levantrosser will share a session for the higher ed track. Debra is a lecturer at the University of Michigan, founder and lead advisor for Arbed Solutions, and chief executive at Shimmy Shack. In this session, Debra will discuss what is being taught to our future Lean leaders whereas Ruth will provide advice and plans for implementing Lean in a higher ed institution.

Putting Down Lean Roots

Ruth (what she prefers to be called) is also an MTU Alum (BSEE ‘86) and multifaceted thinker who combines her engineering experience and Lean expertise with a rich, interdisciplinary education. After acquiring her MBA in 1991, she went on to earn a PhD in Business Administration (2016). For her doctorate, she specialized in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (Northcentral University). You can read more about Archer’s accomplishments and credentials at her MTU page.

And her Lean roots go way back. That is, they were seeded in her work as an aircraft mechanic for the United States Air Force (USAF) in the 80s. There, she quicky discovered how “visual management, standard work, 5S, and more were integral to our everyday work.”

Michigan Tech, too, has a long history with continuous improvement.

The PCDA cycle, which is essential to Lean.
The PCDA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) Cycle

That is, in 2008, President Glenn Mroz brought in a Lean consultant to train and coach a Lean Implementation Staff.

Shortly afterwards, that same year, Michigan Tech held its first on-campus kaizen (continuous improvement) event.

Since that time, Lean has expanded across the university; there have been over 210 events involving more than 750 people.

Ruth, in fact, has always been a significant driving force behind Michigan Tech’s commitment to continuous improvement. Along with others, she has helped bring Lean to life.

She also lends her leadership and expertise to two student organizations: Leaders in Continuous Improvement and Silver Wings.

Sharing Her Skills in the Classroom

I believe in the Starfish principle; I might not be able to help everyone but I can make a difference to one! When I support others in learning and practicing the Lean fundamentals–respect for people and continuous improvement–they use their skills to improve their situation, reducing stress and releasing creativity in an upward spiral of changing their lives for the better.

Dr. Ruth Archer

What many might know Ruth for the most is her work in the classroom, both in-person and online. She graciously teaches several courses on Lean principles, teamwork, and communication, which are always well attended and received. And it is largely because of these courses that Michigan has a wealth of Continuous Improvement facilitators and implementation leaders.

Furthermore, anyone who has ever taken a class with Ruth can speak to her limitless knowledge, incredible organization, and boundless energy. That is, she keeps students on their toes with her quick pace, insightful commentary, probing questions, and interactive exercises. If you take one of her courses, your head will be full, I promise.

Helping Her Students Embrace Lean Culture

I make these claims from experience. That is, thanks to generosity of my supervisor, VP David Lawrence, I enrolled in Archer’s online vigorous 7-week course in 2022-2023. From my perspective and that of many others, Archer never seemed to flag (or lose her patience) as she guided us through essential Lean concepts and applications. She made us think about our assumptions, the importance of adding value to our jobs and our workplaces, and the significance of continuous improvement everywhere. With her, we learned about the forces that help and impede change management.

Ruth once asserted, “You can’t unsee Lean.”

She was right. To this day, for instance, I can’t unsee the waste encountered on my job: whether it is sending ten emails to get one answer, searching through six tabs on a webpage to cull essential information, or noticing redundancies (and gaps) in people’s roles. Her course made me analyze and work to ameliorate waste, inefficiency, and unnecessary work.

Throughout the course, Ruth always encouraged all students to take the opportunity (or maybe the gift) to reflect, to challenge themselves, to use continuous improvement principles in their own ways.

Joining Ruth at the Summit

Series of workshops offered at the Lean Solutions Global Summit.
The Variety of Workshops at the Lean Solutions Global Summit

Michigan Tech is excited to be a track partner for the Lean Solutions Global Summit.

If you would like to see Ruth in action or participate in the Lean Solutions Global Summit, you can register below.

Along with talks, the summit also includes teambuilding activities and several workshops. In addition, there are fun, educational tours of Zingerman’s and Menlo Innovations, where people can see Lean in Action.

Use the code SUMMIT500 to save $500.00 on your registration fee.

Global Campus Grows

Whether it’s been covering new education fellowship partnerships, reporting on Michigan Tech’s collaboration with the MEDC, writing about innovative mass timber research initiatives, researching the gifts of adult learners, welcoming new team members, or rushing to keep up with Global Campus Vice President David Lawrence, this blog writer has had a busy year. And while all these initiatives, and more, have been underway, I’ve also had to keep track of Michigan Tech’s new online courses and programs.

Recent Online Programs at Global Campus

For example, in the last year, the College of Business added the online TechMBA and the Master of Engineering Management. Both are accredited, 10-course programs that, in various ways, leverage your STEM expertise. Whereas the TechMBA provides foundational business skills, the MEM allows students to customize degrees that merge engineering and business. To promote these programs, Dr. Mari Buche, David Lawrence, and his Global Campus team graciously led several online virtual interest sessions, which were all well attended.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

President John F. Kennedy

Furthermore, the College of Engineering met the learning and leadership challenge with its Master of Engineering, a professional terminal degree. This degree allows students to focus on either a HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) track or an engineering track. For the engineering track, learners can combine courses from several disciplines. In fact, the master of engineering is ideal for those collaborating with their employer to develop a program to meet specific on-the-job needs.

More recently, the Department of Applied Computing has also added two new programs to its roster: Public Health Informatics and Foundations in Health Informatics. Both certificates can be stacked to form a master’s degree. Like other HI programs, these prepare students for diverse roles in the data-driven healthcare industry. Guy Hembroff, the Health Informatics director, also ensured that MTU’s CHI students have memberships in HIMSS. HIMSS (Health Information Management Systems Society) is a global society. It enables health information professionals to access resources, enroll in seminars, develop networks, search for jobs, and much more. In other words, it gives MTU’s Health Informatics students an edge.

Global Campus Bridge Courses

Bridge courses are short, intensive, preparatory online courses that help learners acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to enter advanced study. This study might mean an undergraduate program, graduate degree, or graduate certificate. Often, bridge courses are for students who are provisionally accepted into a program.

Linear Algebra: A Bridge Course Offered Through Global Campus
Linear Algebra: A Bridge Course Offered Through Global Campus

For instance, in September of 2022, Teresa Woods, Associate Teaching Professor in Mathematical Sciences and Linear Algebra aficionado, taught our first bridge course: Linear Algebra. Her ten-week, asynchronous online course was aimed at prospective students who needed the LA requirement to enroll in MTU’s Online Master of Science in Applied Statistics program.

Woods’ course covered fundamental linear algebra concepts as used in Applied Statistics. Some of the topics included systems of equations, vectors, matrices, orthogonality, subspaces, and the eigenvalue problem.

To learn more about this course, email Teresa Woods (tmthomps@mtu.edu).

Linear Algebra is once again running for the Fall 2023 semester. And there are still a few seats left. Right now, the proposed start date is Sept. 18, 2023.

Newer Professional Development Opportunities

Fundamental Courses and Bootcamps

Global Campus also had the privilege of working with subject matter experts to promote in-demand professional development courses. Also known as continuing education and career training, these courses allow those in the workforce to hone skills, acquire specialized training, develop leadership abilities, and stay up-to-date on current trends.

Currently, Michigan Tech offers both non-credit and for-credit pd courses.

For example, during the summer of 2023, APS Labs rolled out its short, but rigorous course on Diesel Engine Fundamentals. Despite the turn to EV, this course recognized that diesel engines weren’t going anywhere soon. That is, diesel engines are still in light-duty vehicles, medium and heavy-duty trucks; in commercial vehicles (trains, trucks, buses, barges, and boats); in army vehicles; and in generators.

This course was conveniently available in both online and in-person versions. Its goal was educating those pursuing careers in the automotive industry, commercial vehicles, power generation, or related fields.

A Diesel Engine, which was studied in the APS Labs short course for Global Campus
A Diesel Engine

Also, Kevin Johnson, Assistant Teaching Professor, Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering, lent his significant expertise to summer students. He taught an an intense 20-hour in-person hydraulics bootcamp. In his course, students learned about several topics crucial to hydraulics, such as valves, pumps, motors, circuits, and closed-loop hydrostatic systems.

Upcoming Professional Development Courses

Python for Modern GIS

A person working on GIS with Python, one of the courses taught though Global Campus
GIS Workshop

Furthermore, recognizing the need for more Python professionals in the GIS world, Parth Bhatt (Assistant Teaching Professor / Researcher from the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences) is offering a 7-week, asynchronous, online course for Fall 2023.

His Python for Modern GIS and Remote Sensing course will help students learn beginning and immediate-level applications of Python for understanding and writing simple scripts, automating workflows, and solving day-to-day, real-world geoprocessing tasks in the ArcGIS ecosystem and open-source platform.

Dr. Bhatt, a dynamic teaching professor who lives and breathes GIS, is also on deck to develop online for-credit certificates for his department. Stay tuned for more developments.

And, yes, you still have time to register for Bhatt’s course.

Civil Asset Management

As well, the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering has recently added a 3-credit, synchronous online course in Civil Asset Management. This course is taught by Mark Declercq, who brings three decades of valuable, practical civil asset expertise to the classroom. In fact, as Grand Rapids Engineer, Declercq was one of the first experts with boots on the ground during that city’s massive flood event.

Civil Asset Management (CEE 5390) will help students develop long-term plans, as well as the strategic, critical thinking they need to recognize and maintain the value of our all-important civil assets. Declercq also maintains that to develop resilient and affordable solutions and to tackle upcoming sustainability challenges, engineers definitely need Civil Asset Management skills.

Keep Up With Global Campus as We Learn and Grow

In the future, Global Campus plans to offer additional non-credit and for-credit courses and programs. Our goals are advancing the personal development, career goals, and leadership opportunities that come with education. We also recognize the importance of challenging all learners to grow, to think creatively and critically, and to prepare for tomorrow.

We’ll keep you posted as we assist in developing and supporting new programs. For updates, read this blog or follow us on social media.

And remember, regardless of where you are in your educational journey, whether you want to take a course for fun or for your future, it is never too late to start learning.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.

Henry Ford

Civil Asset Management Course Comes to Michigan Tech

Aerial view of the Grand Rapids river as it crested during the flood event.

Five years before the 2018 Houghton Father’s Day Flood presented civil engineers with infrastructure challenges, there was the Grand Rapids Flood Event. This flood, which lasted from April 12 to April 25 2013, affected multiple areas in the city. At that time, the Midwest had been receiving a deluge of rain, with Grand Rapids getting 3.5 inches (89mm) of the wet stuff between April 8 and 15. And upriver, the Comstock Park community received 5.04 inches (128mm). With the latter rainfall, the Comstock Park floodwaters moved from minor to moderate, resulting in the river rising to 13.3 feet (4.1m) by April 13.

Rain continued to fall throughout the city, but on April 19, the tipping point was the 9.1 inches that fell in Grand Rapids, breaking the 109-year record from the flood of 1904-1905. Then, things rapidly grew from bad to worse. On April 21, the Grand River crested at 17.8 feet (5.8 feet above flood level) in Comstock whereas it rose to 21.85 feet (3.85 feet above flood level) in Grand Rapids.

1700 residents were evacuated (1000 from the Plaza Towers alone). Roads were closed. Railroads were impassable. The water in the city core was so high, in fact, that people reported fish swimming by their office floor windows. 429 million gallons of wastewater ended up seeping into the Grand River.

After the flood, the investigations began, not only to determine what went wrong, but also to prepare for future disastrous events.

Experts analyzed the events and identified the city’s risk of flood-prone areas using Geographical Information System modeling. They collected the physical data about the flood protection system assets for contingency planning and resiliency analysis against intense storm events.

Flood waters as seen through an office building window.
Floodwaters as seen through a window in the downtown core of Grand Rapids.

Introducing Mark Declercq

Civil Asset Management expert Declercq.
Civil Asset Management expert, Mark Declercq

One of the leading engineers on the front lines was Grand Rapids City Engineer and Civil Asset Management expert, Mark Declercq, PE and MTU Alum (Bachelor’s and Master’s of Structural Engineering, ’88, ’90).

As City Engineer for Grand Rapids, Declercq was responsible for the enterprise asset management program, capital project delivery, and capital maintenance program for the care of public assets.

These assets included the public transportation systems; water distribution and sanitary collection systems; storm water conveyance systems, pumping stations, retention structures and clean water plants; energy audits on public buildings; and solar array systems design and installation. In other words, he played a major role in Grand Rapids infrastructure.

After the flood, Declercq stepped in to co-lead the Grand River Corridor Strategic and Conceptual Planning for the potential river restoration project and riverbank development. The project, indeed, was a success: the Grand River watershed, low-head dam restoration, and flood protection system were all re-certified by FEMA. This recertification was a crucial part of the update and digitalization of nationwide flood insurance maps.

And this restoration project smartly kept the heart of the city in mind, too. For instance, the impressive amphitheater project in downtown Grand Rapids is a result of that strategic plan. In the 2013 Grand Rapids Flood Event, then, Asset Management was crucial for building resiliency, sustainability, and business continuity. (Fun fact, former MTU professor Dr. Henry Sanford acted watershed hydrology expert for the City of Grand Rapids.)

Sharing His Civil Asset Management Expertise With MTU

Declercq will bring his experience as a City Engineer, his expertise in Asset Management Planning, and his over 33 years in the private and public sectors to Michigan Technological University. In Fall 2023, he is teaching a 3-credit, online Civil Asset Management professional development course for the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Currently, he serves as president of Applied Asset Management Consultants, an entrepreneurial start-up that was launched in 2018.

And his skills and credentials don’t stop there.

Declercq not only holds certifications in Professional Asset Management, LEAN Management, and Emergency Management, but also has memberships in the Institute of Asset Management, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Michigan Society of Professional Engineers. Indeed, his resume is loaded with his accomplishments.

The Grand Rapids flood was one of Michigan’s worst natural disasters. It altered how we worked and lived in the downtown area. It served as a catalyst for a shift in the way we conceived land use and the deployment of resources in order to save our city and construct it in the future.

David Lawrence, Vice President for Global Campus and Continuing Education, who was working in the downtown core during the flood event.
A railroad bridge, an example of a civil asset, inundated with water during the Grand Rapids Flood event.
A railroad bridge, an example of a civil asset, inundated with water during the Grand Rapids Flood event.

Building Connections to Tech

Declercq is no stranger to Michigan Tech either. Previously, he collaborated with Dr. Audra Morse to invite CEGE students and faculty to participate in the IAM Great Lakes Branch quarterly meetings. One goal: exposing students to best practices involved with real-world CEGE challenges. Another goal: introducing students to future employers, such as public municipalities, federal and state regulatory agencies, private sector companies, and engineering consultants.

In addition, at the November 2023 IAM Great Lakes meeting, the CEGE will present the Enbridge Line 5 Risk Assessment under the Straits of Mackinac. This presentation will showcase the work and ingenuity of the CEGE Dept and its students.

So it was only natural that Dr. Morse proposed an Adjunct Professor of Practice opportunity so that Declercq could share his expertise on asset management as it applies to civil infrastructure.

Managing Civil Assets

According to Declercq, all infrastructure has value to its organization, customers, and stakeholders. Thus, in civil engineering, Asset Management is the science and practice (coordinated activity) of managing infrastructure systems and civil assets to realize their value and to achieve the highest levels of services for communities. Asset Management, which is cross-functional, involves several disciplines, such as business management, finance, and risk.

The goal is optimizing the life cycle of the civil assets that shape our lives. Below is just a short list of civil assets.

  • Transportation systems (roads, bridges, tunnels, and all assets within the public right-of-way)
  • Long-span bridge systems (Mackinac Bridge)
  • Potable Water distribution systems (watermain pipelines, groundwater pumping systems, buried and elevated tanks, and water treatment facilities)
  • Wastewater collection systems (underground piping, clean water treatment facilities)
  • Storm water conveyance systems
  • River watersheds and dam structures
  • Flood protection systems
  • Landfill operations
  • Natural assets like trail network system, national and state parks, museums
  • Electrical/Natural Gas generation, transmission, and distribution systems
  • Public-use facilities
Historic Fayette State Park on the Garden Peninsula, an example of a civil asset.
Fayette Historic State Park on the Garden Peninsula, Michigan: An example of a civil asset

Interviewing Mark Declercq

To let him speak, I asked Declercq a few questions about his course and the future of civil engineering.

Q. When is the course running? How is it delivered? What content does it cover?

A. The 14-week, for-credit course “Civil Asset Management” (CEE 5390) will first be available in Fall, 2023. It is delivered in a synchronous online format. That is, classes will run Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00-5:20 pm. Each class will consist of brief instructor-led lectures, followed by student engagement activities. There is also a weekly online laboratory session for applying concepts and working with real-life scenarios.

This course is suitable for all civil engineering students who want to broaden their skills. Civil Asset Management spans a diversity of disciplines including business, finance, risk, supply chain managers, construction managers, facility managers, resource managers, and operational and maintenance managers. CAM, in short, is necessary for the long-term design, maintenance, and sustainability of civil engineering infrastructure and facility asset types in the United States.

The course covers several topics fundamental to Civil Asset Management. Topics include asset data and risk assessment; environmental, social, and governance principles; six working capitals; overview of computerized maintenance systems; sustainability strategies; and funding mechanisms. Central to this course is a rich case study on the 2013 Grand Rapids flood event.

Students will acquire many valuable skills, such as evaluating asset value against cost, risk, and performance in managing the long-term care of civil engineering infrastructure. They will also apply the 10-steps to building an Asset Management Plan. Finally, they will use the A3 Lean Management tool for scenario and business case evaluation.

Q. Why is Civil Asset Management important to civil engineers? What organizations use it?

A. Civil Asset Management is an important and necessary technical and business skill set for today’s civil engineers. That is, civil engineers must learn to be strategic about developing recommendations and formulating decisions. They must be able to optimize the value of asset infrastructure.

This skill set has several societal benefits, too, such as enabling the affordability of and accessibility to basic infrastructure, such as water, wastewater, and multi-modal transportation options. It also equips engineers with the skills to develop strategic plans that incorporate resiliency and sustainability against climate change. And in these plans, engineers learn how to account for disruptors to business continuity.

Most importantly, Asset Management values Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles embraced by many international governments, as well as the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. Also, traditional US civil engineering firms need those with Civil Asset Management expertise to develop plans and frameworks for organizations.

Although early in its journey in the United States, Civil Asset Management has been adopted by several Michigan organizations. These include the Michigan Department of Transportation; the Michigan office of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (E.G.L.E.); and the Michigan Chapters of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Water Environmental Association (MWEA). Asset Management has also been incorporated at the federal level. It is employed by the Department of Defense, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Interior for US Parks, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Q. How does Civil Asset Management help civil engineers prepare for some of the challenges in their fields?

A. Critical thinking is a significant challenge in our civil engineering industry. Or to put it another way, strategy, planning, and the art of “big picture” thinking comprise an undervalued skill set in our industry. This skill set, though, is crucial to both Asset Management and Project Management.

Another challenge for civil engineers is understanding the concept of “value” from the viewpoint of the customer or end user. For example, consider watermain breaks caused by freezing winter temperatures and an unreliable, aged distribution system. The risks are high if the geographical impacts are widespread and felt for a prolonged period of time. Hence, the “value” of the water system in this state is considered less than desirable, especially from users facing affordability challenges with their monthly water rates. Electric outages from recent storm damages throughout Michigan are another example.

Asset Management Planning, then, enables both the strategic thinking and long-term planning to develop scenarios based on data, science, and known risks that improve customer/user outcomes, such as affordable water rates and electrical reliability. Implementing Asset Management’s best practices and tools helps civil engineers do better for their communities and beyond.

Q. Where are those with Civil Asset Management expertise employed?

A. Those with Civil Asset Management experience often begin their careers in a variety of roles: young project engineers, data analysts, engineering technicians, product designers, and project managers. This expertise also opens up opportunities for moving up to positions, such as a CEO, COO, Vice President, or Director of assets and capital project delivery programs.

Additionally, those who have knowledge in managing civil assets might take on the roles of City Managers, City Engineers, Finance Officers, Risk Managers, County Administrative Managers, Water/Sewer/Storm Asset Managers, Public Works/Services Directors, Facility Managers, and other top management and C-, VP-level leadership positions. Furthermore, Civil Asset Management expertise signals an understanding of key business outcomes, a valuable attribute that private and public sectors seek in recruiting leadership talent.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A. My life, both on and off the job has provided me with considerable real-life stories and examples that serve as valuable teaching and mentoring for students. For instance, I love the environment and protecting its value.

I have hiked all the Isle Royale trails, made over a dozen visits to the island. And I have thru-hiked the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail in 2018 over a six-month period, thru-hiked the John Muir Trail in the California High Sierra Mountains in 2022, and hiked the Patagonia W-trek in spring 2023. Next, I plan to thru-hike the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2024.

Civil Asset Management expert Declercq at Baxter Peak.
Declercq finishing another challenging hike on a high note:
at Baxter Peak.
Civil Asset Management expert Declercq at the top of Mount Whitney.
A victorious Declercq at the top of Mount Whitney.

These hiking experiences tell me that we must do more to advocate for and protect our environment, perhaps our most valuable civil asset.

Five Advantages That Adult Learners Have

The letters "learn" on a scrabble board, which represent that education has no limits and that adult learners can still grow,

D—, that was the name of one of my most memorable non-traditional students when I taught writing courses in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Straight out of high school, he was recruited by the Western Hockey League (WHL). (MTU’s own Brian Hannon even remembers playing against him a few times.)

After spending 15 years playing professional hockey, D— had returned to university. At 33 (or maybe 34), he was older than I, his teacher, was. When he walked into the classroom, looking damaged and world-weary from years of playing enforcer, I was, admittedly, a bit scared. Would this guy, who looked like he had his nose broken at least a few times, be a good student? Or would he be a total pain?

He struggled a bit, at first, feeling a bit awkward sharing his voice, getting his footing. His writing was initially rusty, but always truthful. But throughout the semester, he became one of the most enthusiastic classroom participants. The deepest readings of the texts were his. And he could spot bad arguments from a mile away. Recalling his time on the ice, he wrote a brilliant essay sympathizing with Frankenstein’s creation, who, too, experienced the pain and scorn of being made to be ugly.

By the end of the semester, his writing and critical thinking skills had improved more than those of anyone in the class. Sadly, that was the last I heard of him until recently, when I found out he became a lawyer.

There were so many others, too. An older student who barely passed the course, but who joined Doctors Without Borders. And G—–, who took my class at the age of 57. After dedicating her life to being a foster parent for troubled kids, she was pursuing a BS and then an MS in Social Work.

Defining Adult Learners

The previous stories exemplify what many of us have known for a long time: that adult learners, rather than having disadvantages, bring many benefits to the undergraduate and graduate classrooms.

Adult learners bring skills and experience to the classroom.

Put simply, adult learners are those who take on the responsibility of education later in life than do traditional students. These learners, like those students mentioned above, may have been working all their lives. They may have no previous post-secondary education. Alternatively, they may have completed some university education and are now moving on to advanced degrees.

Adult learners are often referred to as non-traditional students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are several characteristics of adult learners. That is, beyond being older, they may be single parents, have dependents, be working adults, and be financially secure. Or they might combine several of these traits.

Adult Learners Improve the Classroom

Admittedly, there is a plethora of articles on tips for succeeding as a non-traditional student. But there are few on the substantial skills and wisdom that adult learners bring to the classroom.

#1 Increased Experience

Adult learners bring diverse skills to the classroom.
Adult learners bring skills and experience to the classroom.

It goes without saying that adult students have the benefit of that extra knowledge that comes with age. They may have decades of on-the-job, real-life, management, leadership, communication, and team-work experiences. They may have acquired unique abilities from their previous roles.

These experiences not only help them succeed in their courses, but also enrich and diversify the classroom for everyone.

For instance, a 57-year-old student who remembers the emergence of the Blackberry will have a much more informed perspective on our current (and some would say, troubling, if not addicting) relationship to digital technology.

Adult learners can draw on their rich histories to understand and apply complex ideas; and assume teamwork and leadership roles in the classroom. Those years or even decades of understanding may help them more deeply interpret and apply course materials. For instance, I fondly recall G—– interrupting and offering her foster-parent perspective when a younger student stereotyped a story character as “just another bad, lazy kid who didn’t deserve to be helped.”

Also, some programs, such as Michigan Tech’s Online MBA , the MS in Health Informatics, and our various MS in Engineering programs (Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical) are very well suited to professionals who have been in the workforce for awhile.

#2 Superior Problem-Solving Skills

This breadth of experience, no doubt, comes with encountering more obstacles. That is, adult learners, simply from being on the planet and in the workforce for longer, have most likely encountered several tricky personal and professional problems. Therefore, they may be better at analyzing and troubleshooting issues, as well as generating practical solutions. Or to put it another way, they have made more mistakes, so they know what works and what doesn’t.

For instance, our Vice President of Global Campus and Continuing Education, David Lawrence, has over a decade of collaborating with industry. He is applying his substantial practical knowledge in his dissertation, which is on the challenges and affordances of industry/higher ed partnerships.

#3 Advanced Focus

Adult learners are often more mature and better able to handle the responsibilities of higher education, whether as undergraduates or graduates.

Why? In their various roles, they have most likely developed time management and organizational skills. These skills enable them to focus and to better juggle their academic and personal responsibilities. This focus, when combined with maturity, often makes adult learners better at handling the challenges of college life.

And if they have ever felt exhausted on the job, they may also recognize when they can no longer concentrate and work effectively. That is, they know when to stop studying and to take a break, resulting in a deeper appreciation of the importance of work-life balance.

#4 Crystallized Knowledge

And even if adult learners may sometimes not seem as quick as their younger counterparts, they are just as smart. In fact, a 2017 study in Gerontology discovered that fluid problem-solving ability increases from early adulthood to about the age of 50. But it’s not game over (as this author can attest) at 51. After age 50, adults rely more on crystallized intelligence, which comes from one’s experiences and stored information. CI, which grows throughout life, includes procedural (practical), declarative (factual), general, and specialized knowledge.

Or to put it another way, older adults maintain performance on many cognitive tasks by relying on crystallized knowledge and experience to compensate for declines in fluid abilities and processing speed.

Here’s an example. In one experiment involving a verbal memory task, young and middle-aged adults relied more on fluid abilities whereas older adults relied more on vocabulary (an index of crystallized ability) for optimal performance. It may take adult learners longer to get the answer, but when get it, they will probably be correct.

#5 The Gift of Perseverance

Last but certainly not least, whether you’re an adult thinking about going back to school, don’t worry. Whether 31 or 51, you will bring the gift of perseverance to the classroom.

Yes, pursuing an education when you have other responsibilities is tough. Juggling a career, a family, and coursework is certainly not easy. But adult students often have most of these challenges figured out. They’ve developed strategies for handling stress and for managing time. They’re often laser-focused when pursuing their goals. Lastly, in their education, they have the perseverance, or as we say in the UP, SISU, to succeed.

Adult Learners and Online Programs

When it comes to advanced education, adult learners often gravitate to online courses and programs because of their accessibility and flexibility. Online education, such as that offered by the Michigan Tech Global Campus, enables adult learners to set their own learning goals, identify their needs, and customize their degrees.

In 2020, approximately 33.5 million people in the United States took at least one online course. This number represented a huge increase since 2018. In that same year, online courses accounted for 32.4% of all postsecondary enrollments in the United States. The most popular online programs are business (22%), health (17%), computer science (14%), and engineering (11%). Of those taking online courses, 31% are between 25-44. The average age of online learners is 33 and that number is slowly moving upward.

And why enroll in these programs? Over half of all online students (51%) reported that they had taken online courses to gain new skills, upgrade their careers, and increase their incomes. Furthermore, returning to school, along with giving adult learners a sense of accomplishment and pride, also provides networking opportunities. Adult learners, that is, get the opportunity to connect with peers who share similar interests and goals, improving their personal and professional lives.

And there are other benefits. That is, for many fields, an advanced degree not only gets applicants that job in the first place, but enables them to keep it, especially during economic downturns.

Explore Online Programs at MTU

In other words, when it comes to graduate education, don’t let age hold you back from accessing these benefits. Check out Michigan Tech’s online programs and start your new learning journey.

PS. By the way, the author is speaking from multiple experiences here. From the perspective of a person who has both taught adult learners and earned her PhD post-50, she thinks that (parden the pun) old dogs can definitely learn new tricks!

Brian Hannon Joins Global Campus

Brian Hannon

Global Campus is proud to welcome Brian Hannon (‘88), former MTU hockey star and long-time coach, as a part-time member of our team.

Currently Director of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances for the Keweenaw Research Institute, Hannon will be offering his expertise to GC for a few days a week.

Getting His Start at Tech

Born in 1965 in Clinton, NY, Hannon set season and career scoring records at Clinton High School. Michigan Tech quickly noticed his talent, putting Hannon to work as a sponsored student athlete in 1983, where he played hard for the university until 1988.

There were several other successes along the way. For instance, in 1983, he was named to the Lansing State Journal CCHA All-Rookie team and the GLI (Great Lakes Invitational) All-Tournament Team.

And in 1984, he was selected to play for the 1985 United States Junior Team in Helsinki, Finland. He performed extremely well, ending up as the 3rd leading scorer for Team USA.

An 1985 article from the Winter Carnival edition of The Lode praised his skills:

Several young players have made their presence known, too. Freshmen Center John Archibald and sophomores Brian Hannon (right wing), and Don Porter (left wing), have been big scorers both in goals and assists. Their game intensity, team work, and explosive styles promise to give Tech some big victories in the next few years

The Lode

Although an injury forced Hannon out of action in 1985-1986, he returned in full form for the 1986-1987 and 1987-1988 MTU seasons. In these seasons, he scored, respectively, an impressive 37 and then 47 points. During these years, he also had several honors. For instance, he was an Assistant Captain, a WCHA player of the week, and a member of the WCHA all-academic team.

In other words, Hannon was a bonafide star for MTU. In fact, he ended his career as the all-time American-born leading goal scorer in Huskies Hockey History and the tenth highest scorer overall.

Turning Pro

After graduating from Tech, Hannon brought his talents to professional hockey in ten different hockey leagues, primarily playing in Germany from 1990-2001.

Several of these years were spent playing for the Bundesliga/DEL, a German elite hockey league in operation from 1965 to 1994.

In 1988-1989, his team, the Carolina Thunderbirds, won the Kelly Cup in the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League). In that same season, Hannon scored a whopping 67 points.

For many of these teams, he also took on the responsibility of assistant coach.

Hannon Hockey Card from his time with The Frankfurt Lions
Hannon Hockey Card from his time with The Frankfurt Lions

Thereafter, Hannon hung up his professional hockey skates.

But he didn’t take a break for long. Coaching and hockey continued to call him. In 2002-2003, he worked as Head Coach for the Springfield Spirit before bringing his talents a little closer to home as Volunteer Assistant Coach for the Finlandia Lions from 2004 to 2023.

This is just a summary of his career.

So, I asked Brian some questions and let him do the talking.

Remembering His Time at Michigan Tech

What is your favorite memory of playing hockey and being a student at Tech?

There is not just one. I fondly remember my teammates (they were a very diverse group), the Greatest PEP Band in the Land, the fans, the GLI tourney, and the Winter Carnival, of course, which is the best festival on any college Campus!

What was it like being an MTU student back in the 1980s?

I think the biggest difference is that we were on trimesters and on an accelerated  summer track. Now there is a Fall and Spring term with a summer session and the students get out around the end of April. But we stayed until almost the end of May. I totally understand the reasoning for the change and feel that MTU has always evolved with the students’ best interests in mind. Also, we didn’t have today’s technology, so you had to go to class and retain what you were learning by getting your work done and studying hard. We relied a lot more on study groups and projects that were more apt to have group or team concepts.

Making Memories in Germany

So, I noticed you played hockey in Germany for a long time. So many games, too! And goals. Can you speak about your experience of playing hockey in Germany. That is, what was it like? What did you enjoy about it?

I had a great experience and still have great memories about my time in Europe. Truthfully, I decided to go to Germany because I wasn’t good enough to make it to the NHL; I mean, I wasn’t big enough for the style of game played during that generation. (Author’s note: in the 1988-1989 season, Brian Hannon was 5’10” and 180 pounds. In that season, the NHL’s top scorer was not, in fact, Wayne Gretzky, but Mario Lemieux, who stood 6’4″ and weighed in at a whopping 229 pounds.)

However, I was fast-skilled and could definitely score. The bigger ice rink in the European leagues was an advantage for me and my particular skill set, which was more in tune with the European game. Initially, I saw hockey as a vehicle to travel and experience the world before getting back to living a traditional life. But that decision actually turned into a pretty fun, long, and amazing career that I wouldn’t change for anything.

While in Germany, I was able to learn a new language and immerse myself and my family into a different culture. The friendships made there are also lifelong. I still have teammates that come to visit me here. And now that my son, Connor, is playing professionally in Germany (defense), I’ve had the opportunity to reunite with some of those same folks. Most of all, I was lucky enough to play on some great teams and win a few championships, which create bonds that you have for for life.

Learning Life Skills Through Hockey

Hockey has been a significant part of your life. Beyond the physical skills, what else can people learn from/through hockey?

No matter who you talk to, hockey is all about the people. It doesn’t matter if they’re your family, teammates, coaches or fans; the people are the ingredient that make the game so enjoyable, so worth playing.

From the first day I stepped on Michigan Tech campus as a student athlete, I quickly learned that no matter how many goals I scored or how well the team was doing, I was responsible for getting good grades and remaining in good academic standing. I think any current or former MTU student athlete will tell you the same thing. Because of the time you miss away from campus for travel to games, practice time, etc., you really learn to manage your time and prioritize your schedule. It takes a lot of work and planning to achieve your academic and athletic goals.

Obviously a team sport requires teamwork, but it also requires leading by example, committing to excellence, and devising a strategy to reach group goals. Looking back on those championship teams, I remember that everyone was playing for each other. Everyone was sacrificing individual success for the good of the group and invested in each other’s well-being. That’s why we were able to achieve our team goals. We were a family! Beyond these skills, hockey also taught me the importance of being self-disciplined and motivated enough to stick with a process until the end.

Returning to the Upper Peninsula

You were born in New York, spent several years living in Germany, but returned to the UP. What drew you back to the Upper Peninsula?

I would say that I never really left the UP. I would say I put down roots right when I started playing hockey in 1983. And then when I graduated on May 22, 1988 and married my wife, Pam, on June 17, those roots grew deeper. (She was also a Michigan Tech student from Houghton.) And even when I started my Pro Hockey career in September, 1988, I was still here for the summers.

Let me explain. Well, during my playing years, the summer usually begins at the last game of the season. That’s about a 4-month period where we didn’t compete, but we trained. So as a student and as a professional athlete, I would stay up here during the summer and train. Remember that 40 years ago, there weren’t many ice arenas in New York state, especially those with ice during the summer months! But Michigan Tech had ice to skate on and other world-class facilities to use.

Those years were wonderful; I could train with my former Huskies, golf, fish, relax, play baseball, work at the hockey school, visit family and friends. So it was a natural when one summer, I bought some property here. At that moment, we made a decision for our children’s future. Next thing, I am building a house with my father-in-law knowing that one day, when my playing days were over, we would raise our family here.

Sharing His Talents

You just mentioned hockey school. What has been your involvement in Summer Youth Programs at MTU?

I am proud to say that I am currently the longest serving on-ice summer youth hockey instructor in the history of MTU Hockey School. I began coaching at the hockey school after graduating in 1988 (old NCAA rule where we couldn’t coach while being a student) and have worked at least one week during every summer since. That is 33 years. It would have been 35, but one year they put a new compressor system in and there was a pause because of COVID.

I’ve always enjoyed coaching, passing on what I know to the next generation. And the kids are great! I am pleased that several of the youth I coached went on to play college or professional hockey. A great example is Hancock-born Michigan Tech’s former standout Tanner Kero, who is currently with The Texas Stars.

It is delight to see many of my corporate alumni contacts bringing their children to this camp, as well as other other great sports or stem-related summer youth programs offered at MTU.

Forging New Partnerships

Vice President for Global Campus and Continuing Education David Lawrence praised you for having impressive connections with Tech Alumni and with local industry. Can you speak more about these? How do you plan to leverage these for Global Campus?

I’ve had over 40 years of being associated with both the Michigan Tech brand and MTU initiatives. For instance, I was involved with the Youth Engineering and Science (YES) Expo. YES evolved into MTU’s nationally acclaimed Mind Trekkers program.

Overall, in various roles, I have had the great pleasure of meeting, interacting, and partnering with our Michigan Tech Alumni and friends, especially in the corporate world. I’ve also made a lot of connections with industry leaders who have relationships with Tech. As a result, I have quite a bit of experience navigating the cultures of various organizations. I am hoping to leverage my skills and contacts to reach out to both alumni and MTU corporate partners to introduce them to Global Campus.

We’re still growing our online offerings, I know. But I think I am well suited to listen to the needs of organizations and connect them to the best MTU online program, project, professional development, and continuing education. I’m just getting my feet wet learning about all our initiatives, such as our role on the Semiconductor TAT, but I believe I can be of value to the team.

Promoting the KRC and Michigan Tech

Along with Global Campus, I am proud, of course, to be a part of the multidisciplinary, Keweenaw Research Center (KRC), which is the UP’s best secret. This center is active across a broad spectrum of vehicle development. KRC also maintains more than 900 acres of proving grounds, specifically developed for the evaluation of ground vehicle systems. For instance, one of our main partners is the Department of Defense, so there are usually very tight security measures in place. Unfortunately, because of our work with DoD, I can’t say too much about my role at the KRC.

I’d like you all to know that on August 4, 2024, Alumni and interested public will be able to experience this amazing research center. As part of the Alumni Weekend, the KRC will be celebrating its 70th anniversary with its very first open house.

I’ll end by saying that I have been very lucky to have a great mentor in Jay Meldrum, whom I continue to work with. Now the Director of the Grand Traverse Area Initiative, he had a wealth of industry experience long before his career in academia. He instilled in me that if I am involved with a certain project, but there is no synergy for the potential partner, don’t give up. Find a way. That is, find out what they are interested in and reach out to a different campus group, program, or project and make a new connection, forge a new partnership.

Because at the end of the day, we all play for Michigan Tech.

Online MBAs Grow in Popularity

Potential online TechMBA® students sharing data visualizations.

45,038 is the number of students enrolled in online MBA programs in the 2020-2021 academic year. For the first time ever, the online student population outnumbered the in-person full-time one (43,740). At last count, in fact, there were 1,095 online MBA programs offered by US higher-ed institutions alone. MTU’s TechMBA® ranks well among this crowd.

Why the rapid increase in both online MBA programs and enrollment? Well, one of the main reasons is that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the education game. At first, universities were forced to offer online and hybrid options. But then they kept rolling these out. In other words, the coronavirus crisis made both prospective students and employers more receptive of online programs. A New America poll also found that the belief in the quality of online learning actually increased by 16% during the pandemic.

Furthermore, 83 percent of the hiring executives in a CNN survey affirmed that an accredited online degree is as credible as an on-campus program. When it comes to online MBA degrees, a survey from the Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy Fund had similar findings. That is, 71 percent of employers now view the quality of business degrees earned online as equal to or even better than traditional in-person programs.

So Why Earn MTU’s TechMBA®?

Back in July 2022, in my first blog, I introduced Michigan Tech’s newest online program: the TechMBA®. This program is still going strong. And there are several reasons for both its popularity and credibility.

Accreditation

Only 248 percentage of the 1,095 online MBA programs (less than 25%) offered by US institutions are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. MTU’s TechMBA® is one of these select programs. In other words, the TechMBA® is not only accredited but also respected by industry, business, and STEM professionals. In fact, MTU’s online MBA program regularly ranks as one of the top in the state.

Stem Focus

Michigan Tech’s online MBA is not just business (adminstration) as usual. The TechMBA® is also one of the 24% of US online MBAs that have a STEM focus. That is, MTU’s online MBA degree allows students to leverage their STEM backgrounds and technological competencies. Students develop the fundamental business administration, project management, and communication skills required for STEM-professional roles. These skills qualify graduates for leadership roles in their chosen engineering fields. Those who complete the TechMBA® program are also adept at taking on project management, technical sales, and entrepreneurship positions in STEM-related workplaces.

Flexibility

The US News reports that when it comes to in-person MBA programs, the average age of students is 27. For online programs, however, that age rises to 33.

And 91% of online MBA students even worked full time while pursuing their degree.

What these numbers mean is that online MBA programs, like the TechMBA®, attract older students seeking flexibility in their education. Online learning, for sure, does involve an adjustment period. But there is no need to relocate, readjust your schedule, or leave your job. (There is also no need to frantically dig out from a snowstorm only to arrive to class a late, sweaty mess.)

Smaller, Tighter Class Community

Online learning often means increased interactivity. Research has shown that online learning is as good as if not better than face-to-face instruction. When it comes to peer-to-peer interaction and discussions, online classes may even surpass the effectiveness of their in-person versions. And in a smaller program, such as that of the TechMBA®, there are even more opportunities to connect with peers and instructors. More opportunities to develop those communication skills that are central to leadership roles.

Career Advancement

As early as 2016, Fast Company reported on how several employers began increasing their education requirements. A later CareerBuilder survey revealed that this trend has continued. In other words, an advanced degree may help you not only get that job in the first place but also move up the corporate ladder more easily.

Then there is the matter of salaries. According to a study done by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, those holding advanced degrees may earn over 30% more over the span of their career than employees with only bachelor’s degrees.

Strong Return on Investment

Investopedia has noted 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.

The Corporate Recruiter Survey survey (Graduate Management Admission Council) also found that the median 2022 starting salary of new MBA hires was $115,000. And that salary, which is a historically high figure, doesn’t include the median signing bonus of $10,500.

And you also get that ROI faster with an MBA. A recent Wall Street Journal analysis of federal student loan data found that 98 percent of MBA programs leave students with more manageable debt loads than graduates of other programs.

Other Benefits of the TechMBA®

The short list of why you might pursue an advanced degree, such as an MBA, includes the following: acquiring the necessary credentials, pursuing your interests, moving into more fulfilling, impactful roles, gaining additional job security,and increasing your compensation.

But there are other, more personal incentives. Whatever your current degree or desired career path, we’ve summarized some of the advantages for pursuing an advanced degree or earning an MBA degree.

Learn More About the TechMBA®.

If you’d like to learn more about the in-demand MTU’s online MBA degree, come listen to the experts.

That is, Mari Buche (College of Business), David Lawrence (Vice President for Global Campus and Continuing Education), as well as members of the Global Campus team will be holding a virtual interest session on the TechMBA®.

This online event will be on April 11, 2023, at 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM. Please bring your curiosity and your questions.