Tag: online learning

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.

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.”

Global Campus Grows

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

Recent Online Programs at Global Campus

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

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

President John F. Kennedy

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

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

Global Campus Bridge Courses

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newer Professional Development Opportunities

Fundamental Courses and Bootcamps

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upcoming Professional Development Courses

Python for Modern GIS

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

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

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

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

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

Civil Asset Management

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

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

Keep Up With Global Campus as We Learn and Grow

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

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

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

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

Henry Ford

Online MBAs Grow in Popularity

Potential online TechMBA® students sharing data visualizations.

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

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

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

So Why Earn MTU’s TechMBA®?

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

Accreditation

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

Stem Focus

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

Flexibility

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

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

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

Smaller, Tighter Class Community

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

Career Advancement

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

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

Strong Return on Investment

Investopedia has noted that MBA graduates who specialize in consulting, finances, and technology management earn the most. And according to one Fortune article, the median salaries for those with MBA degrees are substantially higher than those without them.

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

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

Other Benefits of the TechMBA®

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

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

Learn More About the TechMBA®.

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

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

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

Online Learning: Not New, but Definitely Improved

The hands of a student working at a computer, working on an online course.

Online Learning Has A Long History

A few weeks ago, this author made a Global Campus Facebook post about one of Michigan Tech’s online programs. Almost immediately, one of my husband’s friends sarcastically piped in: “What is this place? University of P—-ix?” At first, his comment confused me. Surely he knew that Michigan Tech, which began as a brick-and-mortar mining school, is obviously very different from that other for-profit online university. But his words also annoyed me. His tone implied that online learning is new, less credible, and less effective than traditional learning. These claims are all untrue.

Online Learning: From Correspondence Courses to MOOCs

Online learning is definitely not new; it has its roots in early distance education. In fact, you could trace its origins all the way back to 1728 when a struggling teacher, Caleb, offered to teach shorthand to students by exchanging letters. Over 150 years later, in 1892, the University of Chicago offered its first correspondence course. Then came radio-broadcasted, televised, and even phone-based courses. Admittedly, some of these first distance courses were “canned” and quite text-heavy. They involved little creativity, self-pacing, or instructor interaction. These instructor-focused courses had the goal of transmitting as much information as possible.

Both synchronous and asynchronous online learning sped up in the 1990s. Huge players such as Michigan State, CAL-Campus, and the UK’s Open University blazed the way. Michigan Tech also stepped in; its current Online Hybrid Electric Vehicle Engineering Certificate, in fact, is based on a 1990’s distance-learning course initially developed by Tech, General Motors, and AVL. This is just one of the online automotive programs offered by Tech.

Improvements in online learning were enhanced by e-learning and learning management systems, such as Blackboard (1997). WebCT, YouTube, and MOOCS further transformed online education. Theories of online learning and best practices for designing and teaching online courses also improved both teaching and learning experiences. For instance, Michigan Tech’s own William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning offers resources for designing, teaching, and reviewing online courses. Combined, these changes helped to make online education more accessible, interactive, and student-focused.

The Pandemic: Forcing a Shift

The pandemic made universities offer hybrid and online options. Students, teachers, and employers suddenly experienced the benefits of online learning. The result: more visibility and credibility for online courses. According to a recent New America poll, the belief in the quality of online learning actually increased by 16% during the pandemic.

A CNN survey also confirmed that 83 percent of the hiring executives said that an accredited online degree is as credible as one earned through a traditional on-campus program. Michigan Tech, continuously accredited since 1928, and which offers over 40 online certificates and degrees, is obviously a smart choice for your online education. And we’re working hard to develop new online programs, such as the recent TechMBA® and the Public Policy Certificate.

Other Benefits of Online Learning

The reputation of online learning probably suffers from the designs of early distance courses. These mainly consisted of students working through massive mail-ordered materials and contacting their instructors only periodically. Things have definitely changed since then.

That is, research has shown that online learning is as good as and, for some students, better than face-to-face instruction. In a recently published systematic review of thirty-two studies that analyzed both online teaching and learning, the authors found no significant difference in reduced effectiveness for online courses. The study did recognize, though, that for online courses and programs to succeed, courses needed to be well-designed, provide very structured online discussions, and incorporate interactive content and timely instructor feedback.

Others have commended online courses for enhancing learning and retention. The Research Institute of America puts this increase at 25-60% more. Why? For many students, the structure, multimedia content, frequent discussions, and flexibility of online courses maintain their attention. Involved students are then more likely to keep going and not drop their programs. IBM even found that in online courses with multimedia content, students learn five times more material than those in traditional face-to-face classes. There is also the freedom of working at your own pace. That is, for those students who feel bored or rushed in a traditional classroom setting, online courses allow them to move slowly through some challenging materials while skimming easier ones.

Young woman reading a book and taking notes at a desk, in front of a window in an open online setting. This image demonstrates that online learning  can happen anywhere.

We need to bring people to learning rather than learning to people.

Elliot Masie

Rich Classroom Communities, Greener Learning

Online courses also offer the opportunity to learn from students with a plethora of perspectives, interpretations, and solutions. And, from the author’s own research and experience, online courses often have this benefit: richer, more engaging discussions that include more learners, especially those who might not be as vocal in the face-to-face classroom.

And for those concerned about the environment, online learning is also the greener option. According to the Open University, students in online courses “consume 90% less energy and release 85% less CO2” than those in traditional in-person courses.

Time Management is the Key to Success

Despite its various benefits, online learning is not the easier option. Students must work hard, make a plan, and dedicate time to study. They must be self-motivated and organized. They must stay connected with other students and regularly interact with their instructors. Thankfully, Michigan Tech has several resources and even a self-paced course, which can help students tackle the challenges and receive the benefits of online programs.

As someone who has been both a student in and teacher of online courses, I’d advise that earlier guy, as well as others, to give online learning a try. Instead of having something to lose, you have a lot to gain: the flexibility and freedom to work in your own space and at your own pace; and the opportunity to learn what you love while fulfilling personal and professional goals. If you think that online learning is right for you, check out Michigan Tech’s online certificates and degrees.