Students Journey to Lansing for Graduate Education Week

Graduate students, all from Michigan, ventured to Lansing last week for Michigan Graduate Education Week in the Capitol Building.

The students met with legislators and discussed the importance of graduate education in Michigan, the nation and the world.

“We stressed the significance of Michigan Tech and how graduate education contributes to the Michigan economy and goes well beyond,” said Jacque Smith, director of marketing and advancement for the Graduate School. “The legislature was in session, and they took time out from their busy day to talk with us.”

Attending from Michigan Tech were Alicia Sawdon, a PhD candidate in chemical engineering from Lapeer; Natasha Hagadone, a PhD candidate in applied cognitive science and human factors from Central Lake; Joseph Hernandez, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering from Port Huron; and Kaitlyn Bunker, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering from Canton.

Students had a chance to meet their legislators, too, and presented plaques to Representative David Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti) and Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) for sponsoring Michigan Graduate Education Week.

“I was honored to represent Michigan Tech and my department,” said Hagadone. She spent time with Senator Howard Walker (R-Traverse City), telling him about the DeSciDE (Decision Sciences and Decision Engineering) lab at Tech and her research in personalized decision support.

Sawden concurred. “Being able to talk with a representative (Kevin Daley, R-Lapeer) about my research and school, see the capitol, and meet students from other departments made this trip worthwhile,” she said. “I hope in future years more students can experience Graduate Education Week!”

“It was a real privilege to meet and have one-on-one time with Senator [Phil] Pavlov [R-St. Clair],” said Hernandez. “We were able to discuss why I chose Michigan Tech and how my research is important to Michigan.”

Smith stressed the significance of graduate education’s impact on Michigan, the region and the nation. “$61 million in research funding at Michigan Tech comes from sources outside the state,” he said. “That’s bringing monies into the state with research done, in great part, by graduate students working with faculty.”

In addition to the research dollars, he said, the more than 850 graduate students live, pay taxes and spend money in the local economy, Smith said. “In a town of 7,000, that’s a large economic impact.”

Graduate education also contributes to Michigan’s economy by creating a highly skilled workforce, technology transfer with cutting-edge research, and future faculty to teach in Michigan schools, from K-12 through universities, Smith said.

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor
Published in Tech Today


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