# Tag: mtu

## Linear Algebra Bridge Course Returns for Fall 2024

On Monday, September 16, 2024, Teresa Woods is once again teaching her ten-week, noncredit, asynchronous, online course: Linear Algebra: A Bridge Course for Prospective Applied Statistics Students.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term bridge course, it is a short, intensive, preparatory course. Bridge courses help learners acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to enter advanced study, which might mean an undergraduate program, graduate degree, or graduate certificate. Often, these courses are meant for students who have been provisionally accepted into a program.

Woods’ course is an effective, low-cost option for prospective students who need the linear algebra requirement to enroll in MTU’s Online Master of Science in Applied Statistics program. However, those interested in brushing up on their linear algebra, so that they can later apply to the MSAS program could also take it.

The course’s very practical curriculum covers the fundamentals of linear algebra as they are used in applied statistics. Some of the topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

• systems of equations
• vectors
• matrices
• orthogonality
• subspaces
• the eigenvalue problem

Students will benefit from an interactive learning experience that will make the concepts stick. That is, the course involves helpful instructor-led videos, extensive auto-graded exercises in Pearson’s MyLab Math, periodic review assignments, and regular instructor feedback.

## What is Linear Algebra?

Algebra is a broad field encompassing the study of mathematical symbols and the rules for manipulating them. It includes various sub fields, such as elementary algebra, abstract algebra, and number theory.

Linear algebra, a specialized branch of algebra, focuses on the study of vectors, vector spaces (or linear spaces), matrices, eigenvalues and eigenvectors, linear transformations, and systems of linear equations. This foundational area of mathematics has applications in several fields, such as physics, computer science, engineering, economics, and applied statistics.

• In physics, experts use linear algebra to describe physical systems, including quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, and relativity.
• In engineering, those working in control theory, signal processing, and structural analysis recruit linear algebra tools.
• Computer scientists use this branch of algebra in computer graphic creation, machine learning, data mining, and optimization problems.
• Also, those in the field of economics apply linear algebra when modeling economic systems, analyzing input-output models, and optimizing resource allocation.

## What is the Relationship Between Linear Algebra and Applied Statistics?

And, of course, linear algebra plays a key role in applied statistics.

Applied statistics is the implementation of statistical methods, techniques, and theories to real-world problems and situations in science, engineering, business, medicine, social sciences, and more.

It involves collecting, summarizing, analyzing, interpreting, and presenting data to make informed decisions, analyze scenarios, solve problems, and answer questions.

Applied statisticians also use advanced techniques, such as machine learning algorithms, to extract insights and patterns from large datasets. They work in a wide range of places: research institutions, the government, business and finance, universities, healthcare systems, and more.

These experts regularly apply linear algebra, primarily because of its ability to handle large datasets and complex calculations efficiently.

## What Are Some Real-World Examples of Linear Algebra and Applied Statistics?

Here are a few scenarios in which linear algebra and applied statistics work together:

• A statistician working for Netflix might collect and then simplify data on user ratings for various movies. Next, they would represent that data as a matrix and train the model. By uncovering patterns in the ratings, they could then use the model to generate an effective recommendation system. This approach is also widely used in e-commerce sites and music streaming services.
• Furthermore, a real estate agent might use linear regression, a common method for determining outcomes, to predict how housing prices will increase or decrease in the next year. This information would help them price houses in their portfolio, estimate their commission, and so on.
• In the healthcare sector, professionals use linear algebra and applied statistics. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) helps reduce the complexity of a large dataset by identifying key patterns and relationships between variables. Through this approach, health officials can then predict and intervene on disease outbreaks more effectively.
• And, of course, linear algebra and applied statistics work together in several processes involving elections. These include voter segmentation and targeting, predictive modeling, analyzing voting patterns, polling analysis, and redistricting and gerrymandering.

Teresa Woods, associate teaching professor in Mathematical Sciences, is helming this course. Woods also advises students and serves as assistant to the department chair.

Woods’ received her Master’s of Science in Mathematical Sciences from Michigan Tech in 2017. Her master’s report “ANALYSIS OF ALEKS MATHEMATICS PLACEMENT TEST DATA” combined her two areas of expertise (and passions): mathematics and educational assessment. That is, she holds both an MS in Mathematical Sciences and an MS in Education (with a focus on adult learning.)

If you take this course, you’ll benefit from an instructor who has considerable experience in teaching, a wealth of enthusiasm for elementary linear algebra, and a rich history in designing and delivering online courses.

Need advice on whether this course is right for you? If so, please contact Teresa Woods at tmthomps@mtu.edu. Or if you have questions about our online MSAS program, contact Amanda at globalcampus@mtu.edu.

## Foundations of Cybersecurity: New Certificate From MTU.

Michigan Tech is offering both a in-person and online certificate in the Foundations of Cybersecurity. In nine credits, students will learn how to identify and describe the foundational principles of securing both a computer system and a computer network. They’ll also study the fundamentals of secure software development and apply them effectively.

This credential addresses cyber crime, a costly and dangerous global problem.

## Brief Case Study: The WannaCry Ransomware Attack

Flash backward to seven years ago.

In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware worm spread rapidly across computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system.

This worm first encrypted files and then demanded ransomware payments–first 300\$ and then 600\$ in bitcoins. Unfortunately, even those who paid the ransom, such as a friend of this writer, still lost their files.

How did this attack happen? The worm wriggled its way in through a vulnerability in Windows’ Server Message Block (SMBv1) protocol (EternalBlue), used for file and printer sharing on Windows networks. Then, it installed DoublePulsar as the “backdoor” on compromised computers.

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had previously disclosed the Eternal Blue weakness. Then, a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers leaked it onto the web and cyber criminals took lurking in the shadows took notice. Within a few days, WannaCry affected at least 200,000 computers and 300,000 devices in more than 150 countries. The attack caused widespread disruption, particularly in critical sectors such as healthcare, telecommunications, and manufacturing. One of the most notable victims was the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), which canceled both appointments and operations, turning patients away.

Microsoft quickly released security patches for versions of Windows with the Eternal Blue vulnerability. However, it had actually sent security patches two months earlier, which hadn’t taken effect because many organizations hadn’t taken the time to update their systems. Oops!

## Training in the Foundations of Cybersecurity is Needed Now More Than Ever.

This attack, then, not only underscored the importance of updating systems regularly to install timely security patches, but also the need to quickly implement protocols of backup and recovery. Even more so, WannaCry revealed the demand for more well-trained, cybersecurity professionals from government agencies, private sector companies, and other organizations who could collaborate on and react quickly to global cyber crime incidents.

Along with ransomware, cybersecurity professionals must be ready to battle Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), Phishing and Social Engineering, Zero-day attacks, high-profile data breaches, DDoS attacks, and many other types of cyber crime. The changing nature of cyber threats also requires organizations to continually improve their defenses and adapt to new attack vectors.

And digital transformation, vehicle electrification, robotic workplaces, and Industry 4.0 pose new challenges as well. That is, as organizations move to cloud environments and the IoT (Internet of Things) continues to proliferate, cybersecurity professionals must safeguard infrastructures and predict possible vulnerabilities.

More troubling news: In the last decade or so, cyber attacks have grown in sophistication, frequency, and size. In fact, according to US News, “Data breaches and ID theft are still hitting records.” Recently, on July 4, while this blog was being drafted, Cybernews reported that a file containing 9,948,575,739 plain text passwords was posted on a hacker site by the user Obamacare. This file, known as the RockYou24 leak, was a compilation of passwords that were collected from 4000 databases over the last two decades. (Previously, the RockYou21 leak contained 8.5 billion of these same passwords.)

With these passwords, Cybernews explains that “threat actors could exploit the RockYou2024 password compilation to conduct brute-force attacks and gain unauthorized access to various online accounts used by individuals who employ passwords included in the dataset.”

## The Cybersecurity Talent Gap is Expanding.

But perhaps one of the biggest challenge that cybersecurity professionals face is that there are not enough of them. That is, many organizations are struggling to fill critical positions. The global cybersecurity employment gap, which reached 4 million workers in 2023 (ISC2 2023), is expected to expand to 85 million by 2030.

The United States is one of those countries facing a shortage of cybersecurity professionals.

Between September 2022 and August 2023, 572,000 US jobs opened up in the cybersecurity industry. This number is up 74% from 2010.

And in the US, there were 1.18 million cybersecurity professionals employed between September 2022 and August 2023, which is also an an increase of 59% since 2010.

To help address this talent shortage, Michigan Tech is offering both online and in-person certificates in the Foundations of Cybersecurity, which start in Fall 2024. Students can complete this certificate or use the credits to dive deeper into cybersecurity and progress towards a master’s degree. They can choose from either Michigan Tech’s MS in Cybersecurity or the MS in Computer Science.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must have earned an undergraduate degree in computer science, computer engineering, or software engineering. The online application is free and requires no GMAT or GRE.

This certificate adds to the roster of MTU’s already respected cybersecurity research program, recognized nationally for its academic and research excellence. In fact, the US National Security Agency designated MTU as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Research (CAE-R). This CAE-R designation, establishing that Michigan Tech has met the rigorous requirements set forth by the NSA, extends through the 2029 academic year.

## The Future Looks Bright for Those with Skills in the Foundations of Cybersecurity.

When it comes to cybersecurity professionals, there are several possible career paths.

Take the career of Information Security Analyst, for instance. A person in this role will have several responsibilities. They must use and maintain software, such as firewalls and data encryption programs, to protect sensitive information. In addition, they must check for vulnerabilities in computer and network systems; research the latest information technology (IT) security trends; and prepare reports that document general metrics, attempted attacks, and security breaches.

Being vigilant and proactive are also essential traits of this cybersecurity professional as they strive to develop security standards and best practices for their organization and timely recommend security enhancements. And they are also heavily involved with creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan, which IT employees must follow in case of emergency.

Because of the importance of these tasks, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a need for several tens of thousands of these analysts, with a career growth of 32% (much faster than average.) And these jobs way well, too: the 2023 median salary of an information security analyst was \$120,360.

### Other Top-Paying Cybersecurity Jobs

• Cybersecurity Analyst: \$114,306
• Cybersecurity Manager: \$150,943 per year
• Penetration and Vulnerability Tester: \$124,424
• Cybersecurity Architect: \$147,142 per year
• Cybersecurity Engineer: \$131,768
• Incident and Intrusion Analyst: \$103,639
• Cybersecurity Consultant: \$124,275
• Cyber Crime Analyst: \$103,198

## Educate Yourself to Meet the Growing Need for Cybersecurity Professionals.

The estimated loss of that 2017 WannaCry incident was about four billion dollars. That bill was just a drop in the bucket.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, cyber crime is expected to grow by 15% a year in the next three years. What this prediction means is that cyber crime will cost the world \$10.5 trillion annually by 2025. This figure includes damage and destruction of data, stolen money, lost productivity, theft of intellectual property, and other costs.

Professionals with training in the foundations of cybersecurity can not only save organizations a lot of money, then, but even save lives.

Yes lives. When a 2020 ransomware attack on Dusseldorf University Hospital (Germany) caused its IT systems to fail (30 servers!), the hospital could not admit emergency patients. As a result, staff directed a critically ill woman who needed immediate care to another hospital about 20 miles away. This delay in treatment, which contributed to the patient’s death, is often cited as the first death resulting from a cyber attack.

It is obvious that the costs of cybercrime , which are immense, multifaceted, and global, impact economies, organizations, and individuals. Because of these costs, cybersecurity professionals are needed across every sector and industry. But there is a particularly urgent need for them in financial services, health care, government, national security, manufacturing, and retail.

And the growing sophistication of cyber threats and the increasing reliance on digital technologies suggest that these costs will continue to rise, highlighting the crucial demands for both robust cybersecurity measures and the highly skilled and trained professionals to enact them.

## Three Ways Statistics Impact Elections

125: that is the number of days until US Election Day, 2024. On November 5, the 47th president of the United States will be decided. So while campaigns are in full swing, and pollsters are making predictions, this blog focuses on the role of statistics in the election process.

At their most basic, elections allow citizens to exercise representative democracy by selecting individuals to occupy public office. Those selected then make critical decisions that impact citizens. And these ballots that officials tally are then transformed into statistical data, ultimately determining the election’s result.

However, statistics play a part in the election process long before voters cast their ballots. That is, officials use statistics to forecast election results, inform campaign strategy, and micro-target individuals.

An understanding of how statistics are used in elections, then, can enhance transparency for voters, as well as encourage all citizens to advocate for data privacy and security. Additionally, those interested in mathematics, statistical applications, and political science might be interested in learning about how statistics impact elections.

## Statistics in Politics

Throughout history, statistics have played an important role in politics. Government bodies used statistics in the election process to support the formal decision-making processes that determine who will fill offices in the legislature. However, technological advancements, the accumulation of data, and the maturation of statistical models have made elections increasingly complex.

For example, in the past, politicians and their supporters would cast a wider net when campaigning for votes. But today, data analytics and digital resources allow parties to collect information about the public and then hyper-personalize campaign targeting. As a result, modern elections require statistical experts who can manage and leverage data while maintaining ethical standards related to trust, security, and privacy.

Below are the most obvious three ways that statistics impact elections.

## Election Forecasts

Those creating election forecasts use legally available data and statistics to inform the public about the probable outcome of an upcoming election. Political statisticians recruit this data, along with reporting, historical patterns, and academic research to create a detailed account of the Senate and House forecasts.

In the United States, this process includes disclosing the favored party, estimating the number of seats in each House, and predicting whether the outcome will result in a majority government. In short, statisticians use a forecasting model to transform large data sets into meaningful predictions for future outcomes

### How to Build an Election Forecast Model

• Create a national database.
• Clean and layer the data.
• Plug the data points into a predictive model for forecasting.

### Forecasting in Action

The popular website FiveThirtyEight, created by American statistician Nate Silver, is a staple of ABC News. The website’s primary objectives are advancing public knowledge and promoting transparency around voting outcomes.

To achieve these aims, it uses polling, economic, and demographic data to explore likely election outcomes. It also employs statisticians to build empirical statistical models for accurate election forecasts.

After the data is collected, experts then input it into Nate Silver’s forecast model. This model, which combines polling, economic, and demographic data, aims to provide an informed prediction rather than an unskilled guess.

And the website regularly updates its predictions too. For instance, on June 26, 2024, the site, after running 100 simulations, predicted that President Joe Biden and Donald Trump each had a 50% chance of winning the election. However, on July 2, 538 changed the prediction to 50% for Trump and 49% for Biden. And as the election nears, and uncertainty decreases, 538 claims its predictions will grow more accurate. This site exemplifies just one popular election forecast tool.

## Election Campaign Strategy

The use of statistics in election campaigning has also changed dramatically. That is, historically, the only data that politicians and their supporters used to garner insights was that derived from the polls. In recent years, however, data and statistics have revolutionized election campaigns.

Today’s data-driven world offers campaign strategists a surplus of data points about past elections, voter preferences, and geopolitical influences. In addition, new communication platforms, such as social media, allow campaigns to profile their voters’ identities and needs. Statisticians can also harness publicly available data to inform campaign messaging, political priorities, and outreach.

Campaign research allows parties to investigate target audiences’ behaviors, attitudes, values, and beliefs to test campaign messaging, creativity, and delivery. According to The Commons Social Change Library, statisticians use the following quantitative and qualitative research methods to inform campaign strategy.

### Quantitative Campaign Strategy Research

• Benchmark Polls
• Issue Polls
• Longitudinal Surveys
• Member Surveys
• CATI (computer-assisted telephone interview) polls
• Dial-testing

### Qualitative Campaign Strategy Research

• Deep dive interviews
• Face-to-face focus groups
• Online focus groups
• Online communities

Once the previous research is complete, campaigners then test various messages. Alternatively, they might test the gap between their voters’ current stances and the desirable action. This job is a laborious one. Campaigners must strive for creating winning messages that make impactful arguments, define important issues, expose the opposition’s weak points, and tell compelling narratives.

Statisticians with a marketing background may excel in this area of research and persuasion. Why? They already have the foundational skills needed to create data-driven campaign strategies, from initial research to distribution.

## Microtargeting in Elections

Before advanced data and statistics, campaigns often involved grass-roots approaches. These included direct mail, home visits, radio, television, and out-of-home marketing campaigns (ex., billboards, posters, etc.). Today, campaigns can leverage social media, digital marketing, and advanced data analytics to reach voters on their devices and tailor personalized messaging. This latter strategy is otherwise known as microtargeting.

In microtargeting, the audience is segmented into specific groups, with each group receiving a message that speaks to their likes and needs. This profiling, though, is not new.

Consumers are already accustomed to online stores such as Amazon, as well as social media (TikTok, Facebook) understanding their preferences.

For instance, you purchase one book and Amazon recommends a similar one. You buy running shoes (a lot) and you’re now in a fitness/running channel.

Similarly, political parties and election campaigns use microtargeting to communicate with voters about their initiatives. The goal is influencing voting outcomes in their favor.

### How Microtargeting Works

Micro-targeting uses statistics in a similar manner to that of election forecasting. First, statisticians collect and clean data points from a national database. Then, they layer on publicly available information, including email addresses, phone numbers, employment, education, purchasing patterns, IP addresses, etc.

Next, statisticians use predictive models to indicate for whom a voter is likely to vote and how likely a voter is to change their voting preference. These models also predict how lifestyle choices, such as being single or married, might affect voting behaviors. Statisticians also investigate how voters’ values align with topical issues like gun control, the climate crisis, abortion, immigration, and so on.

After the analysis comes the categorization. Each group is sorted into different channels. Each audience (channel) then receives personalized campaign messaging based on their beliefs and inclinations. The purpose is delivering the right campaign message, to the right voter, at the right time. (At its roots, microtargeting is a very deliberate form of kairos. In rhetoric, kairos is the identification of the critical moment to deliver a finely tuned persuasive message or to take an action.)

### The Risks of Microtargeting

Advanced microtargeting, of course, has its downsides. Take the most famous example, which began in 2014. Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, obtained the private Facebook data of tens of millions of users. It then unethically sold psychological profiles of American voters to political campaigns.

How did this microtargeting scam work? 270,000 Facebook users played with the supposedly innocuous personality profile app called “This Is Your Digital Life.” This app, created by scientist and psychologist Alexsandr Kogan, allegedly collected 5,000 data points from each participant.

What’s worse: participants didn’t read between the lines. When users gave this third-party app permission to acquire their data, they also gave the app access to their friends’ networks. The more friends = the more data exposed.

Kogan then sold this data to Cambridge Analytica. As a result, the company illegally compiled the data of about 87 million users who had not explicitly given Cambridge Analytica permission. The firm then used up to 50 million profiles for their predictive modeling. At the very least, the app developer breached Facebook’s terms of service by giving the data to Cambridge Analytica. After investigations began, the incident started a heated, nationwide conversation about the ethical principles of data, political targeting, and power. And about Facebook, data security, and cybersecurity.

## Study Applied Statistics at Michigan Tech.

Election campaigning and increased microtargeting are very much still with us. Therefore, firms that generate value from personal data must consider the ways they acquire it, share it, protect it, and profit from it. Statisticians who work for these firms must also stay in line with ongoing legislative efforts that respect users’ privacy and security.

Curious about how statistics make a difference in elections? Are you fascinated by the data-driven side of political science? Do you want to ensure statistics are collected ethically? Alternatively, maybe you’re interested in developing the skills for collecting data and using applied statistics in business, government, finance, insurance companies, and more.

If you answered yes to these questions, Michigan Technological University’s Online MS in Applied Statistics offers students foundational knowledge in statistical science and methods while utilizing the latest industry-standard statistical and data analysis software. After graduation, you can set yourself apart in the competitive workforce with not only specialized skills, but also the accountability to act with integrity, honesty, and diligence.

And statistics jobs pay well, too. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, as of 2023, the median annual wage for a statistician was \$104,860. Furthermore, the projected average growth rate through 2032 for jobs in these fields is 30%. That’s four times higher than the projection for all occupations in the same timeframe.

Upskill for the future with Michigan Tech’s Online MS in Applied Statistics.

## Rev Up Your ICE Knowledge With New Program From MTU and USCAR

Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) Are Definitely Sticking Around.

Very Important Note: The author constructed this blog with the helpful, substantive input and the important, factual content (and snappy title) from these two Michigan Tech staff, writers, and people: Kimberley Geiger, director of Communications for the College of Engineering; and Donna Jeno-Amici, coordinator of Research and Marketing at the Department of Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

## Discover the Latest Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) Breakthroughs.

Michigan Tech is proud to announce an expansion of graduate-level course offerings in the specialized area of internal combustion engines (ICE). These courses will be available on campus at Michigan Tech, as well as online at MTU Global Campus.

Students can enroll in these courses individually if they require expertise in a certain ICE area. Or they can take several to create a graduate certificate that provides more advanced, specialized knowledge in internal combustion engines. Currently, the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics is developing a 15-course ICE graduate certificate. Alternatively, those interested may pursue an MS in Mechanical Engineering with a focus area on ICE.

And as with all graduate programs, the online application is free. And no GRE is required.

## Enroll in Summer Classes.

Wasting no time, the ME-EM department is offering these courses right away. In fact, there are a few graduate-level offerings on deck for Summer 2024 and one brand-new course for Fall 2024.

### Summer 2024 Courses

• SI Engine Fundamentals (MEEM 5201): June 19-21, 2024, lab course
• SI Engine Controls (MEEM 5203): July 10-12, 2024, lab course
• Online Thermodynamics Refresher (MEEM 3990): June 10 – Aug. 8, 2024

### New Offering for Fall 2024

• Thermodynamics for Engine Systems (MEEM 5990) is available, along with our existing courses.

These courses could fill soon, so we recommend that you contact Jeff Naber at jnaber@mtu.edu for more information.

## Learn From ICE Industry Experts.

These courses have been developed in collaboration with Dr. Andrea Strzelec, Sr. Research Scientist at USCAR. Strzelec, FSAE, holds a Ph.D. in Combustion Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Engine Research Center. She specializes in transportation and fuels, as well as engine research. Formerly the program director of Masters of Engineering in Engine Systems at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering, Strzelec is lending her substantial expertise to Michigan Tech to launch this new engines-focused program.

USCAR, the United States Council for Automotive Research, is an umbrella organization facilitating pre-competitive research and development collaboration for Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis. Its main objective is strengthening the U.S. auto industry’s technology base. It does so by promoting cooperative research efforts, reducing costs, supporting regulatory compliance, and accelerating the development of advanced technologies. Another of USCAR’s goals is keeping the U.S. automotive industry globally competitive.

This new graduate program will not only provide Michigan Tech students with both foundational and specialized ICE knowledge and skills, but also prepare them for advances in the US automotive industry.

## Acquire Practical ICE Expertise and Skills.

Despite the move towards electrification and advances in battery technology, the world still needs internal combustion engines. For those unfamiliar with the technology, ICEs generate power by burning fuel inside a confined space (combustion chamber). The combustion process then releases energy, which is converted into mechanical work to move a vehicle or operate machinery. These engines generally run on gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and biofuels.

ICEs are known for their low cost, broad availability, durability, and high performance. They also have a rich research and development history. That is, ICEs have been improved and refined over several years. Besides working on lowering emissions and increasing fuel efficiency, researchers and engineers have made advances in engine design, control systems, and fuel compatibility.

Most importantly, these engines reliably provide high power and torque, features especially important in military, industrial, and other heavy-duty applications. The US military, in fact, uses diesel engines (one type of ICE) in nearly all of its ground vehicles because diesel fuel is less flammable and has a high energy density.

Furthermore, IC engines still feature prominently in automobiles, marine vessels, and aircraft. They also power a lot of portable equipment (lawn mowers, chainsaws) as well as some standby generators. And many hybrid vehicles still use ICEs in conjunction with electric motors, leveraging the benefits of both technologies to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

For instance, take the new Formula 1 proposed post-2026 regulations. Along with cars that are 30% lighter as well as more aerodynamic and agile, FIA is proposing a power unit redesign that is “an even split between internal combustion engine and electric power plus the use of 100% sustainable fuels.” That is, even a plan for the sustainable future of elite race car driving involves ICEs.

## Reach Out About the New ICE Program.

In short, for several applications, ICEs are likely to remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

To learn about all MS online programs, please visit MTU Global Campus.

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

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

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.

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.

## 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.

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

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.

## Michigan Tech Global Campus: A Great Fit for Amanda Irwin

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.

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?

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.

### 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.

### Anything else you’d like to add?

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. You’ll get friendly service from someone who knows our programs and the application process inside and out.

## Make a Difference With These Alternative Public Policy Jobs.

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.

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.

### 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.

### 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.

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.

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.

## Why Does Public Policy Matter?

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.)

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
• Implementation
• Evaluation
• Policy Maintenance, Succession, or Termination

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.

## 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.

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

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.

## 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!

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

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

## ChatGPT: Friend or Foe? Maybe Both.

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

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

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

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

## Training Our AI Writing Helper

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

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

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

## Using ChatGPT for Mundane Writing Tasks

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

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

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

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

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

## Recognizing ChatGPT’s Limited Knowledge

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

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

And it reveals these gaps, often humorously.

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

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

### Creating Errors

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

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

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

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

### Passing Along Misinformation

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

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

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

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

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

### Revealing Biases

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

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

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

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

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

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

## Letting Robots Do Your Homework

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

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

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

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

### Sounding the Alarm About ChatGPT

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

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

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

### Incorporating ChatGPT in the Classroom

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

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

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

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

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

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

## MAHLE and MTU: Moving Forward Together

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.

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.

## 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.

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.

## 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.”

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