Tag: Michigan Tech

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.

Five Ways Artificial Intelligence is Transforming Healthcare

A cellphone against an image of a heart and a robotic hand, meant to suggest the connectedness of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

In the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s Top Emerging Technologies of 2023 report, the organization nominated AI-facilitated healthcare as the 10th top global trend. After stressing how the COVID pandemic magnified the shortages of healthcare systems around the globe, the report suggested that perhaps one of the most important goals of AI systems is that of improving healthcare. But how, exactly, can artificial intelligence help if not transform healthcare?

1. Providing Diagnostic Assistance

“Errors and discrepancies in radiology practice are uncomfortably common, with an estimated day-to-day rate of 3–5% of studies reported, and much higher rates reported in many targeted studies.”

Adrian P. Brady, Error and discrepancy in radiology: Inevitable or Avoidable

By leveraging machine learning algorithms to analyze medical data and images, whether they are CT scans, X-rays, retinal images, and more, Artificial Intelligence can play a crucial role in interpreting medical images and data.

Although AI can’t replace the expertise of radiologists, it can certainly supplement it. For instance, trained on vast data sets of diseases and anomalies, AI excels at recognizing both patterns and abnormalities in medical images. And it often does so with more efficiency, speed, and consistency than its human counterparts. AI systems also maintain a consistent level of performance regardless of factors like fatigue or distraction, which can affect human radiologists. Therefore, AI may provide more reliable results throughout the day and across different cases. This heightened accuracy could make the difference between life and death in emergency situations.

AI can integrate radiological findings with electronic health records (EHRs) and other clinical data. Thus, it helps to provide a more comprehensive, holistic analysis. It can also help with quality control by flagging potential errors and inconsistencies in medical images that lead to misdiagnoses.

2. Aiding in Drug Discovery and Development

An image of a lab worker who is using artificial intelligence to discover drugs.
Artificial intelligence can help researchers create new drugs.

AI is also transforming drug discovery and development by leveraging advanced computational techniques to analyze large datasets, predict molecular interactions, and streamline various stages of the drug development pipeline.

Algorithms can assess large data sets (genomic, proteomic, and clinical) not only to identify proteins and genes associated with diseases, but also to pinpoint targets that will respond to clinical intervention.

Machine learning can also predict the binding affinity of molecules to target proteins. This prediction allows researchers to prioritize and then test possible drug compounds. In other words, AI can help both streamline and reduce the cost of pharmaceutical research.

For instance in 2020, DeepMind’s AI system (AlphaFold), made headlines by accurately predicting 3D protein structures from amino acid sequences. According to its website, AlphaFold regularly “achieves accuracy that is competitive with experiment.” Why is this accuracy important? Understanding the 3D structure of proteins assists researchers in designing drugs that can interact more precisely with specific proteins. The outcome is more effective and targeted treatments.

Artificial intelligence can also optimize the design of critical trials by analyzing patient data, summarizing biomedical literature, identifying suitable patient populations, and predicting potential challenges. In addition, AI helps investigate drug repurposing, predict drug toxicity, and identify disease biomarkers.

3. Personalizing Healthcare

Personalized medicine, also known as precision medicine, involves tailoring preventive care, medical treatment, and interventions to an individual’s characteristics. These might include such factors as genetics, lifestyle, and environment.

Artificial Intelligence steps in by analyzing large datasets, making predictions and insights that enable more personalized, targeted, and effective healthcare.

An image of diabetes treatment devices to indicate how artificial intelligence can help personalize diabetes treatment.
Precision medicine can help create more effective, individualized diabetes treatment plans.

For instance, for diabetes treatment, precision healthcare considers an individual’s lifestyle factors, such as diet, exercise habits, and stress levels. Then, doctors use AI to create personalized dietary plans and exercise regimens to manage blood sugar levels effectively. Diabetes treatment might involve using wearable devices and health trackers to monitor and adjust lifestyle interventions based on real-time data.

Take Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) systems, which provide real-time data on glucose levels throughout the day. Precision medicine utilizes this data to adjust treatment plans dynamically. Thus, Artificial Intelligence allows for more accurate insulin dosing based on the person’s unique glucose patterns.

In precision medicine, AI may also assess an individual’s genetic makeup in conjunction with their medical records. The goal is predicting how a patient may respond to certain medications and treatments. And in nutrigenomics, AI amasses a wealth of genetic, molecular, and nutritional data to make personalized dietary recommendations. In other words, machine intelligence helps create personalized plans that also better engage patients in their healthcare journeys.

4. Using Predictive Analytics to Improve Patient Outcomes

A smart phone held in front of a computer. In this image, predictive analytics are being used in healthcare.
Predictive analytics is one tool that can improve healthcare.

Predictive analytics uses various statistical algorithms, machine learning techniques, and data mining processes to analyze historical data and make predictions.

The goal of predictive analytics is identifying patterns, trends, and relationships within data to forecast future behavior or outcomes.

PA, then, leverages the power of data so that organizations make informed predictions and better decisions while reducing their risk.

For instance, AI can assess large datasets to identify both patterns and risk factors associated with disease. Thus, it helps healthcare providers estimate the likelihood of certain individuals developing conditions and diseases. They can then suggest preventative measures, such as lifestyle interventions and early screenings.

AI also assists in monitoring patients, such as in chronic disease management. By continuously analyzing patient data, such as vital signs and other health metrics, it can detect deteriorating health conditions earlier. With this data, healthcare providers can intervene more quickly and reduce the risk of complications.

Adhering to taking medication is obviously crucial to patient outcomes. AI can help predict and improve medication adherence by analyzing patient data and identifying factors that may influence a patient’s ability to follow prescribed medication regimens.

In other words, predictive analytics, when combined with early intervention, can improve patient outcomes while creating a more proactive and efficient healthcare system. Learn more about the growing importance of data analytics to healthcare.

5. Acting as Virtual Health Assistants

Artificial Intelligence-powered virtual assistants are also used throughout healthcare. In these roles, they provide information, answer questions, help in preliminary diagnoses, improve patient engagement, and direct inquirers to healthcare services.

Deepscribe is one such trusted medical scribe. After extracting information from the conversation during a doctor’s visit, it uses AI to create a medical note. This note “syncs directly with the provider’s electronic health record system, so all the provider has to do is review the documentation and sign off at the end of the day.”

A smartphone can help you access AI health apps.
AI mental health apps are easily accessed on smartphones.

Artificial Intelligence helpers are used in telepsychiatry and with predictive analytics to identify at-risk individuals. But it is AI’s use in chatbots for mental health support that might be one of its more important functions. Why?

The National Council for Mental Well-Being, which announced a mental health crisis in the US, found that 56% of Americans seek some form of mental health. However, the US has a surprising lack of resources. In the same survey, 74% of people stated that they didn’t believe these services were accessible to everyone whereas 41% said options are limited. And because of high cost and inadequate health insurance, 25% of those surveyed admitted that they often had to choose between getting therapy and buying necessities.

Accessing healthcare is also impacted by a person’s location and income. That is, those who live in rural areas and those with lower incomes are less likely to seek mental health. And, for many, there is also the stigma of getting help. In a recent study, 42% of employees confessed to hiding their anxiety from their employer. They were worried about being judged, demoted, or, at worst, fired.

Accessing Therapy Through Artificial Intelligence

But chatbots, who turn out to be good for things other than writing your term papers, could help in this mental health crisis.

That is, chatbots are often the first line of treatment for those with limited access to and funds for therapy. According to a Forbes Health article, the cost of therapy for those without insurance ranges between $100 and $200, depending on your location. And 26 million Americans (7.9% of the population) don’t have health insurance.

Chatbots, then, assist with therapy cost, accessibility, and patient privacy. These apps are available when people are at work or done for the day: ready when they need them. A study by Woebot, in fact, found that 65% of their app’s use was outside normal hours, with the highest usage rate between 5 and 10 PM. Although there are health hotlines and hospitals, most doctor’s offices and clinics close at 5 PM or earlier. So people who can’t leave their jobs to get help are often left stranded. (And, for employers, it turns out that these apps also reduce work downtime, too.)

A screenshot of Wysa's website, which shows the scale of impact of this artificial intelligence cognitive behavioral therapist.
Wysa summarizes its chatbot’s scale of impact.

Two of the most popular AI-chatbots are Wysa and Woebot, accessible through mobile apps.

Using principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), these chatbots provide mental health support. They help users manage their stress and anxiety by tracking mood, offering coping strategies and mindfulness exercises, and engaging in conversations.

In other words, these chatbots create an anonymous safe space to talk about worries and stressors, working towards deescalating them. Others include Youper, and Replika, the “AI companion that cares.”

Keeping Pace With Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence will continue to integrate (if not infiltrate) healthcare systems, inform new technologies, and guide medical interventions. Indeed, this blog has just scratched the surface of AI’s potential. There is still much to say, for example, about AI solutions for bolstering healthcare infrastructure and services in developing nations.

Those wanting to make a difference in data-driven healthcare, and ensure that artificial intelligence is used responsibly, securely, and ethically require specialized advanced education.

Besides its online certificate and MS in Applied Statistics, Michigan Technological University offers several online health informatics programs through its Global Campus. Along with Foundations in Health Informatics and an Online Public Health Informatics certificate, the Michigan Tech Global Campus has two other certificates and a graduate degree. In these CHI programs, students also get access to HIMSS, an interdisciplinary society that unites people striving to improve the global health ecosystem.

If you’d like additional information about these programs, reach out to the designated Graduate Program Assistant, Margaret Landsberger at margaret@mtu.edu. Or request information about one or more of of MTU’s Health Informatics Programs.

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.

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.

Parth Bhatt Powers Through With Python

 A high-resolution, drone-captured image of seagulls gathering on the beach in St. Ignace, Michigan.

Above: A high-resolution, drone-captured image of seagulls gathering on the beach in St. Ignace, Michigan.

Dr. Parth Bhatt is definitely making his mark at Michigan Tech’s College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. Arriving in only 2016, he quickly earned both his master’s degree and then his doctorate from the CFRES. And on important projects, too. That is, during his PhD, he worked with the Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service to map the Hiawatha National Forest according to its natural habitat communities. To do so, he used both sensing and machine learning techniques.

Parth Bhatt in the classroom teaching a Python with GIS class.
Dr. Parth Bhatt in the classroom.

But this was not his first use of machine learning to depict and analyze complex natural phenomenon. Before coming to Tech, Parth Bhatt worked with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

Currently, Parth (which he prefers to be called) is a Teaching Assistant Professor / Researcher in the CFRES, who has a passion for Python, remote sensing, and more.

Recently, I’ve collaborated with him to help promote his courses and to grow with Global Campus.

Discovering Python’s Capabilities

But let’s take a step back for a second. Despite his current expertise in and enthusiasm for Python , it was at Michigan Tech that Parth first developed his passion for this programming tool.

As an MS student, he took the class Python Programming for ArcGIS. Here, he learned more about Python and applying some of its techniques to automate repetitive tasks. Impressed with this tool, Parth then attended a GIS conference in which he saw people using Python in almost every field. At this event, he thought to himself, “I need to get better at this.” So he buckled down on his studying, taking in several NASA sponsored online webinars.

And get better he did. And quickly!

He ended up teaching several courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. He was enthusiastically in the classroom for Introduction to GIS, Introduction to GIS for Natural Resources Management, GIS Project Management, and Seminar in GIS.

It is obvious that Parth is a very busy and motivated professional. That is, he is currently instructing a non-credit, 7-week course (Python for Modern GIS and Remote Sensing). And while doing so, he is also developing a for-credit graduate certificate for Spring 2024.

Because this programming language is his passion, I asked him to explain it to me.

Q. Summarize Python for a layperson.

A. Python is a popular programming language for making a person’s day to day work/research life easier and efficient. It has gained widespread popularity in the past decade. Overall, it is extremely useful in the field of GIS and Remote Sensing (or any field for that matter) due to its dynamic nature, ease of use, and versatile, large open community support.

Q. What distinguishes Python from other programming languages when it comes to being used in GIS environments?

A. Well, as I said before, Python is easy to use and implement. It is also very efficient and powerful for data visualization and processing.

Due to Python’s open-source nature, it can be combined with all the major GIS softwares like ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, QGIS etc. Therefore, it offers a great amount of working flexibility. And from a developer’s perspective, all the major advances are occurring within Python, as compared to other languages such as R. Over the last decade, Python has emerged as a winner in terms of the most liked and used programming languages by the GIS community.

Q: What excites you about applying Python in GIS environments? What is this tool best used for? How have you used it?

A. The possibilities are endless. Python can be used in anything from opening a simple excel sheet filled with various GIS data to visualizing, manipulating, and handling big data. It also has hundreds of useful libraries that are applicable for various geospatial analysis. To me, any modern GIS and Remote Sensing curriculum is incomplete without this language and tool.

In my work, I have used Python to automate various GIS tasks: updating a dataset attribute table with hundreds of rows and columns (basically data cleaning); classifying complex forest ecosystems using machine learning; as well as analyzing data, making charts, conducting accuracy assessments, and performing various geospatial analysis tasks. Furthermore, I have assessed change in terms of urbanization, detected algal blooms, and calculated fire burn ratios.

Q. You’re teaching a non-credit course “Python for Modern GIS and Remote Sensing.” Please briefly explain what this course is about and who should take it.

A: I’m excited about this course, which is new to Michigan Tech. No one has taught Python for GIS in either an online or non-credit format before.

In a nutshell, this course teaches beginning and intermediate-level Python skills as they are applied in the GIS environment. It is suitable for anyone who deals with (or is planning to deal with) GIS and Remote Sensing on a daily basis. Of course, anyone who wants to add to their skill set and make their work more efficient should take it.

As you know, Coding/Programming is an essential skill set to have in our current times, especially for fields such as GIS, Forestry, Ecology, Geology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Data Science.

For example, right now in my course, I have students from diverse backgrounds, as well as professionals working in the GIS Industry. They are enjoying the asynchronous class format and the assignments. I am looking forward to incorporating their feedback in the next edition of the course, which will be in Spring 2024.

On a broader scale, Python is basically used in every application that’s related to the the five earth elements (Air, Water, Land, Fire, and Space). For example, it’s playing a big part in NASA’s first ever Mars drone application

Dr. Parth Bhatt
Dr. Parth Bhatt in the field, doing GIS work with Python.
Dr. Parth Bhatt in the field, doing GIS work.

Q. How can professionals use Python to manage or solve prevailing environmental and sustainability challenges, such as land use, forest fires, and the effects of climate change?

A. Python offers hundreds of unique libraries, which can be implemented to any/all kind of GIS and Remote Sensing datasets. Developers can make useful tools according to their needs and applications. As a result, they can enhance their decision making processes.

For example, professionals at the multidisciplinary Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) use Python programming to address complex ecological problems, make wildfire prediction models, analyze efficient road networks, asses infrastructure, and map and monitor land use/cover and pristine wetlands.

Overall, this is an exciting time to teach this course. We are living in a world where climate change is happening rapidly and things surrounding us are constantly changing (whether they are environmental, economical, or political).

Q. I agree that we need all hands on deck when it comes to solving climate change and sustainability issues. But what is a personal example of your use of Python to contend with pressing environmental problems?

This image, which shows the extent of the damage after the flood, was created with a change detection algorithm and Python.
This image, which shows the extent of the damage after the flood, was created using a change detection algorithm.

In my own work, I have used this tool to document the effects of the historic flood in Pakistan. The flood, which was in mid-June ’22, affected more than 33 million people and destroyed or damaged more than one million houses.

In fact, the floods affected all four of the country’s provinces or about 15% of the country’s population.

Floodwaters inundated tens of thousands of square kilometers of the country, causing at least 1,100 deaths. Because of the 2023 monsoon season, Pakistan is still struggling to recover from this event.

Q. What motivates you? And what is next on your journey at Michigan Tech?

A. I love teaching, doing research, and solving complex problems. These drives require me stay current with, if not slightly ahead of, my field. Furthermore, I believe that if I am not up to date with my knowledge, I won’t be able to offer anything new and beneficial to students.

As Gandhi so eloquently said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” In other words, I have to keep updating and offering advanced skills, not only for my personal growth, but also for students so they can succeed in their careers.

And for the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences, I’m glad to help grow its online offerings. My non-credit course marks the beginning of our online education program. That is, we are designing other useful and applied courses, such as ArcGIS Online. Also, starting in 2024, we plan to be offering the first ever Master’s of Geographical Information Science online degree certification. Look out for it on Michigan Tech’s Global Campus.

One more thing: I’m holding an information session on Oct. 20 at 10:30 AM for Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The session will introduce the Online GIS programs from the CFRES. However, the Michigan Tech community is also welcome to attend. You will be asked to sign in with your MTU email (or the email associated with your Zoom account) to join the session. If you have any questions about this session or anything else, email me at ppbhatt@mtu.edu.

Q. Any final thoughts?

As excited as I am about learning new materials and tools, the biggest reward of teaching occurs when you run into or hear from a student and they say, “Thank you for teaching me that GIS thing, it’s helping me big time in my job or research.”