A Message to Our Alumni and Friends

Greetings Fellow Huskies: 

The past several months have brought out the best in Michigan Tech. I am quite proud of our faculty and staff for the time and energy they’ve devoted to creating a safe return-to-campus plan. I am equally inspired by our students and how they have embraced new expectations and operating procedures on campus.

2020 has been a year of change and a transformative period in Michigan Tech’s history. We’ve learned that we can adapt to changing work environments and expectations as a result of COVID-19. We also better appreciate the difficulties in trying to replicate the Michigan Tech experience remotely, and we remain committed to providing the very best Michigan Tech experience possible for our students, in spite of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19.  

I would like to thank the many alumni who have reaffirmed their commitment to the University through philanthropy. We are grateful to those who donated to the Husky Emergency Assistance Fund, the Graduate Student Emergency Fund, and many other scholarships and programs. Alumni support gives us the impetus to press forward. Together, we continue our work in advancing MTU as a premier national university positioned to lead the nation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

While it may seem like COVID-19 has been all-consuming, I am pleased to share a few other campus updates. NASA has slated Michigan Tech’s second student-built satellite for a March 2021 deployment from the International Space Station (ISS). Stratus, named for its cloud-imaging mission, will be carried to the space station, 200 miles above Earth, in a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule on a Falcon 9 rocket. The Tech Forward initiatives are entering their second year and making great progress. Thanks to the hard work of our faculty and researchers, external sponsored funding increased 7 percent this past year. Prospective student tours have resumed with appropriate safety protocols in place. Our four Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion finalists visited campus this past week. And, 14 new faculty members joined our campus community this fall. 

Thank you again for your support of Michigan Tech. We look forward to the next time we can gather with our alumni and friends, be it at the Alumni Reunion, the Great Lakes Invitational, or one of the many other alumni events planned in the future.


Rick Koubek

Information for parents, families, and guardians of current MTU students

Dear Michigan Tech parents, families, and guardians: 

In light of the aggressive spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implied that Michigan Tech should leverage the timing of the University’s spring break in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus in our campus community. Therefore, the University made the decision to temporarily transition from face-to-face classes to an online format and allow students to remain off campus while completing classes virtually, if they choose. This does mean that Michigan Tech’s educational delivery method will change for a period of time. However, we believe that our faculty, staff, and students deserve the widest possible breadth of options to prioritize their health and safety.  

I thought I might take a moment to provide you all with answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we are receiving relevant to our student experience. Please keep in mind that this is a fluid situation and circumstances can change rapidly. The most up-to-date information is available at mtu.edu/covid-19.

I will keep you updated as the situation evolves.  


Bonnie Gorman 
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students



How long will it take to stand up online learning environments? Are students required to participate or can they opt to withdraw from the University and re-enroll next semester? 

Virtual classes will be available to all students by Wednesday, March 18, including labs and seminars. Students may opt to withdraw from Michigan Tech and re-enroll next semester, if they choose. The deadline to withdraw from the University with a grade of “W” has been extended to week 14. 

What quality controls are in place for online instruction? 

For many years, Michigan Tech has been offering more and more classes online. Currently, about one-quarter of our instructional staff have received intensive training on how to deliver online classes. These individuals are a great resource for the University and their colleagues. For others who need additional assistance, the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) will be working with faculty to transition their courses to an online format in the next few days. 

Faculty will be using a variety of tools and platforms to deliver courses—these include Google Collaborate, Zoom, Canvas, and other platforms already in use across campus. Much of the software faculty and students need for courses is available for free download thanks to Michigan Tech’s IT group.

For lab-based courses, instructors may video and narrate demonstrations. Others may choose to use simulations. And others may ask students to conduct experiments at home. 

What should I do if my student has not received instructions for online course delivery from their professor? 

Faculty are to notify students by Wednesday, March 18, 2020, regarding online course delivery. If your student has not received instructions from their faculty member by that time, please send an email to deanofstudents@mtu.edu. Please include the course, section number, and name of the professor in your email.

Will Michigan Tech provide prorated refunds on tuition, housing, or dining plans if my student withdraws or is no longer living on campus? 

Normal policies apply with regards to refunds on tuition and room and board. If your student remains enrolled at Michigan Tech, but chooses not to return to campus, no prorated refunds on room and board will be offered at this time. Should the University resume face-to-face instruction in the coming weeks, all students will likely return to the residence halls for the remainder of the semester. 

Why did Michigan Tech decide to keep the residence and dining halls open? 

Michigan Tech made the decision to keep the residence and dining halls open because most of our students travel a significant distance to attend the University and our hope is that this will be a temporary situation. In addition, some students have nowhere else to live. However, as indicated in President Koubek’s email, Michigan Tech strongly advises high-risk populations to not return to campus and remain at their permanent place of residence.  

How are you keeping our students safe? 

We understand there is some concern about large student groups congregating in the dormitories or dining halls. Our facility services staff underwent additional sanitation training on Thursday, March 12, 2020, and will implement stringent cleaning protocols throughout campus beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020. Additional hand sanitizer stations and disinfectant wipes are being installed in strategic areas. Dining Services is preparing to transition to disposable food serviceware as well as offering takeout service and grab-and-go food kiosks in our dining halls to minimize personal contact. Appropriate social distancing and enhanced preventive public health and hygiene measures will also be expected of our students. To reinforce this behavior, the University has installed additional hygiene protocol signage around campus. We are implementing a revised on-campus visitor protocol that prohibits anyone who fits in the following categories from being on campus: 

• Are infected with COVID-19

• Believe they may be infected with COVID-19

• Believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 within the last 14 days

• Travelled internationally within the last 14 days

In addition, specific buildings, laboratories, and residential housing may have even stricter protocol that applies given the nature and use of each individual space.

If my student’s roommate falls ill (regardless of the sickness), will you allow my student to move rooms? 

Students in this situation should contact housing@mtu.edu for additional guidance. 

Will you continue with commencement? 

Commencement is still scheduled as planned. The University will reconsider this decision in early April in consultation with local health officials and CDC guidance.

Will the library and other student support offices remain open? 

Currently, the library and other student support offices are operating normally. Hours of operation and services offered may change as the situation evolves. These decisions will be made based on the health, safety, and well-being of our students and employees. 

Will Michigan Tech offer academic support services such as career and counseling services for students who do not return to campus? 

Yes. Student support services, counseling services, and case management will be provided virtually, where they are feasible. If students are ill, we will request they participate in counseling via telephone or video. More information about virtual support services will be provided at mtu.edu/covid-19 as information becomes available.  

My student lives in a county or has visited a county with confirmed cases of COVID-19.  Will he/she be allowed to return to campus? 

Students who live in a county with confirmed cases will be allowed to return as long as they self-monitor for 14 days. Self-monitoring includes checking for a fever twice per day and remaining alert for a cough or difficulty breathing. Any student or employee who has completed travel internationally OR believes they may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus will not be allowed to return to campus for a 14-day period. The 14-day period commences from their date of return or their last day of suspected contact. 

A Message to Families from President Koubek

Each year at the Michigan Tech Alumni Reunion, the University hosts a special Golden M ceremony to honor those who graduated 50 (or more) years ago. A part of the ceremony that has become a favorite of mine is when the inductees reminisce about their time at Tech.  While many colorful and remarkable tales are told, most often the stories are laced with notastalia of a “special faculty” member who went the extra mile and made a lasting impact on their lives. While much has changed over the last 50 years here at Michigan Tech, our faculty’s enthusiasm and commitment to student success remains steadfast.  

A most recent example of this is evidenced through the Tech Forward initiatives our campus launched last July. The nine initiatives focus on themes that Michigan Tech faculty and staff identified as essential keystones necessary to position Michigan Tech as an educational and research leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. One of the initiatives that has the potential for profound impact is Education for the 21st Century led by Lorelle Meadows, dean of the Pavlis Honors College

Recently I had an opportunity to visit with the faculty and staff working group to hear not just their creative ideas, but see and feel the intensity of their commitment to provide the very best, forward-leaning, educational experience for our students. Their goal is audacious—to revolutionize how we deliver higher education, while remaining uniquely Michigan Tech.  Audacious, but they are right. Status quo is not our answer to preparing students to enter the workforce at the very forefront of their professions. We envision an experientially based education that prepares our graduates to adapt to the constantly changing needs of the future workplace, that enables them to define their individual definition of post graduate success and that satisfies our parents’ and families’ want for their student to be challenged and supported throughout their college experience.

Michigan Tech is fortunate to have faculty and staff who are highly creative and are directing that creativity toward re-envisioning the student experience at Tech. I encourage you to check out their website (www.mtu.edu/ideahub) throughout the year as they tackle this challenge.

It’s still too early to tell where this will end up exactly, but after talking with the group, a bit of advice a mentor once gave me came to mind, “Tell me who is working the problem and I can tell you how it will end before it starts.” With this group of Michigan Tech faculty and staff leading the charge, I believe it will end up very well indeed.

Pitch Perfect!

By Husky Innovate

Congratulations to Husky Innovate Idea Pitch contestants and winners. Twenty-six students and 19 teams participated in an Idea Pitch competition held at the Great Lakes Research Center late last fall. Contestants pitched innovative ideas by reframing problems as opportunities. Judges from across campus voted to select Idea Pitch winners, and 14 Floors alums acted as a panel of experts.

Seven cash prizes were awarded. Prize winners include:

  • First Prize – Jacob Soter with Cellular Beach Network, $200 cash award
  • Second Prize – Kyra Pratley with PowerPendants, $100 cash award
  • Third Prize – Mitch DeLong with FreightMate, $50 cash award
  • Honorable Mention – Morgan Flynn with Adult Atlas, $25 cash award
  • Honorable Mention  – Baillie McGirk and Brandon Oja with CartSkis, $25 cash award
  • Honorable Mention – Harrison Shields with Shields Hydrotech, $25 cash award
  • Audience Favorite  – Baillie McGirk and Brandon Oja with CartSkis, $25 cash award

The Pavlis Honors College, Office of Innovation and Commercialization, and College of Business sponsor the Husky Innovate Event Series – a succession of workshops and events that build on each other with the intention of guiding students through key phases of innovation or business development while emphasizing evidence-based strategies for success.

Dress for Success

by Heather Herman, Presidential Communications

“I believe that we not only transform the students’ external appearance with new clothing, but an amazing transformation occurs internally as well—they stand taller, hold their head up higher, and look more confident! I am so grateful to be a part of this transformation in our students during every career clothing event!”  

— Susan Amato-Henderson, Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences and founder of the Michigan Tech Career Closet

With Career Fair quickly approaching, now’s the time for students to not only polish up their resume but also their wardrobe. Unbeknownst to most students, Michigan Tech opens the Career Closet boutique prior to both the fall and spring Career Fairs. This service allows students to shop (free of charge) for gently used professional attire. Faculty and staff volunteers also provide free coaching sessions on how to dress appropriately for all types of interviews and offer interviewing tips and advice on proper etiquette in social settings. 

The Career Closet is open the Saturday before each Career Fair in the Meese building. In addition, students may also contact Susan Amato-Henderson at any other time to browse the inventory (contact information below). 

Approximately 200 students utilize the service each semester, but recently there has been an uptick in interest due to the lack of retail stores in the area, according to Amato-Henderson.  Because of an expanding interest by our students, the Career Closet committee encourages families to support the program by donating gently used professional clothing or by volunteering to collect clothing from their place of work. They are in particular need of accessories like shoes, ties, belts, jewelry, tights, dress socks, etc. In addition, they work with students to make small sewing repairs and alternations to the clothing, so donations of sewing supplies (needles, thread, pins, etc.) are needed. People interested in donating should contact Susan Amato-Henderson at slamato@mtu.edu or via phone at 906-281-0231.

President Koubek’s Fall Letter to Families:

Welcome class of 2023!

A Message to Families from President Koubek 

The following message is a written adaptation of a speech given to students and families by President Koubek at Michigan Tech’s first year student welcome night on August 24, 2019.  

“Good evening! First, pep band, I am a fan. Thank you. Second, welcome class of 2023. I can tell you that this week campus has been abuzz with excitement about you joining us today because we know the incredible talents you are going to bring to our campus. This incoming class has the highest academic credentials in the history of MTU. Congratulations! 

As you were comparing other universities with Michigan Tech during your college search, I am sure you came to realize just how special Michigan Tech is among the approximately 4,600 universities in the United States. Of the 4,600 new freshman classes engaging in orientation activities just as you are, Michigan Tech is one of two universities in the United States where you have your own ski hill. There is no other university that can lay claim to its very own Mushing team. Your university is the only one in the state of Michigan that has its own College of Computing. And, Michigan Tech is the only public university in the state with a varsity esports team. It’s by no accident that we have been ranked the safest college campus in America. And, lastly – I can suspect that no other university lets classes out early so students can build life-size ice sculptures in the middle of February. Truly, there is no other place like it. 

As mentioned, I’ve been the president of Michigan Tech for a year now. And you will find, like I did, that Michigan Tech is indeed a special place. I talked about the many things that I think are unique, but I will tell you what I believe to be the secret of success at our university. It is not what we are as an institution, but rather who we are. The people are what define our institution. You saw all of those people in yellow shirts today. Those folks came out and volunteered because they are excited for you to be here and they want to help you. What you are going to find at Michigan Tech is that our faculty, our staff, and our students are committed to your success in a special way.  

As I was preparing for tonight’s talk, a colleague asked, “So, are you going to give them the speech? You know…the look to your left, look to your right…only one of us will graduate speech.” 

I said, “Yes, but I am going to give the Michigan Tech version…which is look to your left, now look to your right…because we want all of you to be together at graduation four years from now.” And, that is what this institution is committed to do. That in four years all of you are sitting here again. Only this time, it’s to celebrate graduation. 

So, I have one request for you. 

That is to ask. Everyone here is oriented toward you succeeding. If you are having an issue with your roommate, ask. If you are not sure how to solve a math problem, ask. If you are missing home and need to talk to someone, ask. If you don’t know where a building is, ask. 

Please know our entire university is set up for you to succeed here. All you have to do is ask.” 

MTU’s Moonshot!

Click the image above to watch the Keweenaw Rocket Range team’s amazing journey to liftoff.

The Michigan Tech student organization Keweenaw Rocket Range — aptly named after an isolated NASA launch pad once located on the northern tip of the peninsula — participated in their first Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Challenge at Spaceport America in New Mexico this past June. The rookie team of ten’s hard work definitely paid off as they successfully launched and recovered their rocket. Click to watch their amazing journey to liftoff.  

It Takes A Village…

By Amber Bennett, Counseling Services

The modern day interpretation of the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” suggests that an entire community of people must interact with children for them to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment. And, yes, while technically Michigan Tech students are now young adults, we realize the importance of creating an inclusive, caring environment for our students to thrive. As a counseling professional, I know that the years spent in college are typically among some of the most tumultuous times an individual experiences in their lifetime. Normalizing these stressors and validating the feelings that come with these experiences is a simple, but critical component that families can provide. 

We find many students begin to struggle with confidence, sadness, isolation, and academic distress between weeks four to seven. This is typically when their first exams are scheduled, and it may be the point when material in classes is more challenging than anticipated. First year and transfer students are not always prepared for the difficulty of the course material and exams, and therefore may receive lower grades than anticipated. Sleep schedules and healthy diets are often sacrificed to complete homework and study for the next round of exams. 

Families are encouraged to keep a constant dialogue going with their students via regular texts, calls, and video chats. Initiating an open and honest conversation with your student about how they are doing and encouraging them to let you know how they are handling the stressors of college life may set the stage for later conversations when they are struggling. Here are a few questions to help jumpstart those conversations. 

How are you sleeping?

How is your appetite? Are you finding enough to eat in the dining hall?

Tell me about the best part of the semester: What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far? What is your favorite part of the day? 

Signs of distress may include: 

Difficulty getting to class or completing academic work. 


Difficulty falling or staying asleep, trouble getting out of bed, forgetting to eat, lack of appetite, eating too much or too little, or facing challenges to complete the daily activities necessary to take care of themselves (showering, brushing teeth, doing laundry, etc.). 


Difficulty feeling connected to others, believing everyone else is making friends more easily than they are and expressing a lack of belonging on-campus. 

You know your student best. If you feel their behavior has changed significantly or you have cause for concern, encourage them to make an appointment with Michigan Tech’s Counseling Services or you may use the Report a Concern tool to express your concerns to us.  We are happy to assist. 

Tech Forward: Policy, Ethics, and Culture

By Heather Herman, Presidential Communications

Ever wonder just exactly how Amazon knows what “you might also like?” It’s all thanks to big data and algorithms. For those wondering, an algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. And big data—well, that’s simply a warehouse of the world’s data transmitted through the internet. Computer scientists and programmers are putting all of this data to good use through complex algorithms to give consumers a pretty accurate picture of “what they might like,” along with thousands of other applications such as predicting future health outcomes and crimes. But what about the policy and ethics behind it all?   

This July, Michigan Tech will begin planning for the launch of a new institute that will explore the policy implications, ethical considerations, and cultural significance of the massive technological changes and disruptive forces currently underway worldwide. The Institute for Policy, Ethics, and Culture (IPEC) will address such issues as algorithmic culture, medicine and biotechnology, technology and autonomy, surveillance and privacy, and reconfiguring human relationships in and with the environment.

The mission of IPEC is threefold: research, policy, and teaching. Through research, the IPEC will serve as a hub for innovative research and collaboration on policy, ethics, and culture. Through policy, the institute hopes to counsel policy and lawmakers on the societal and ethical implications of innovation. Lastly, through teaching, IPEC will design a University-wide curriculum component that provides students with the tools to act and work effectively, ethically, and proactively in this emerging technological environment.

“I am excited about the future of Michigan Tech’s new Institute for Policy, Ethics, and Culture,” said Rick Koubek, president. “This new institute has the potential to position Michigan Tech as a national leader in this regard, and the knowledge that comes with the curriculum changes will certainly differentiate our graduates amongst their peers.”


What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

By Heather Herman, Presidential Communications

I think it was around the age of two, when I first asked my children what they wanted to be when they grew up. They are now 15 and I still can’t get a straight answer. Perhaps you can relate. I mean, after all, a career is for life and making the wrong choice—well, that’s not such an easy fix. But fear not. Michigan Tech’s Career Services office can help, thanks to their Career Cruising aptitude assessment program. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jennifer Wall in the Career Services office to talk about the program.

What is Career Cruising?

Career Cruising is an online self-assessment that lets students explore careers based on their education, interests, skills, and abilities. Anyone with a Michigan Tech email address has free access to the program. Login information can be found on Career Services website.  

Taking the assessment

After students login and create a personal profile, they can begin taking the Matchmaker assessment in two parts. Part one asks students to examine their likes and dislikes with questions like:

How would you like a career that includes…

  • working in an office
  • understanding and using physics
  • presenting ideas and information in writing
  • operating machines

The first section is 39 questions and takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Students then see a list of career options that meet their interests after part one.

Section two asks students to evaluate skills they already have or skills they would like to develop.This section asks 61 questions and takes less than 20 minutes to complete.  

After completing both sections of the assessment, students receive a ranked list of careers that suit their interests and skill set. Each career listing has an associated link that lets students explore job descriptions, work environments, salaries, and education paths for that specific career. Students can also utilize a job search tool that lets them find available jobs with that job title in any given zip code.

When should a student use Career Cruising?

We recommend students take the assessment early in their college education and before they start exploring internships and job opportunities. We also advise students to utilize Career Cruising if they are struggling with multiple courses and are questioning their chosen major.

The assessment can be taken countless times and throughout a student’s college experience.

What will a student learn?

Career Cruising is an idea generator. The right career may be one you’ve dreamed of your whole life or one you’ve never heard of before. The Matchmaker tool builds self-awareness and lets students explore options.

Can a student meet with an advisor to discuss their test results?

Career Advisors are available by appointment to review results with students year round. The role of an advisor is not to tell students what to do, but instead, help them make informed decisions for themselves. Advisors help students talk through their assessment answers and discuss how they relate to careers that top their interests list. Advisors can also give students tips and tools to move forward in their career journey.  

If a student’s career interests and skills don’t match their declared major, advisors will work with students to find out why.   

Jennifer’s Two Cents

Career Services did extensive research before purchasing Career Cruising for Michigan Tech in January 2018. I was thoroughly impressed with Career Cruising. My job title was ranked number one on my Matchmaker, and career counselor was listed in the top 20. The staff and faculty who have also taken the assessment found similar results. It’s also fun to take and easy to navigate. Reviewing assessment results and exploring career options with students is so rewarding. It’s one of my favorite appointment types, second only to job offer acceptance letters!

To learn more or access the Career Cruising website at Michigan Tech, click here.