Day: May 16, 2019

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.  


Did you know?

  • Michigan Tech alumni have access to the services offered through Career Services for their entire career.
  • Michigan Tech is ranked as the safest college campus in America.
  • Michigan Tech is one of only two universities in the country to have our own ski hill—and we are the only university in the country to offer snow skiing in the winter and surfing in the summer.
  • Michigan Tech’s placement rate for undergraduates is 92 percent (meaning they are employed within their field of study, enlisted in the military, or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation).
  • According to the Washington Monthly magazine, Michigan Tech ranked No. 36 in the nation for its contributions to the public good based on social mobility, research, and public service.
  • Michigan Tech ranks No. 18 in the US for Best Return on Investment, according to BestColleges.com.
  • SmartAsset ranked MTU # 1 in the state for Best Value.
  • Forbes.com, a financial news website, ranks Michigan Technological University 12th in the nation for public universities whose graduates earn the highest mid-career salaries.

President Koubek’s Summer Letter to Families

Greetings and congratulations to our spring 2019 graduates and their families!  

With the spring semester, finals, graduation, and (hopefully) the snow behind us, I wanted to highlight a few examples of our faculty’s forward-leaning research, which includes projects such as:

  • Developing biometric clothing and artificial intelligence that will empower each of us to self-diagnose illnesses before real symptoms appear
  • Discovering techniques to diagnose the presence of cancer, as well as its type and malignancy, in less than two minutes

Yes, Michigan Tech research teams are leading the way in developing these new technologies. But our students will be the ones who decide how they get used. And we will all have to live with the consequences of their decisions.   

Complicating those decisions is the rapid and often disruptive rate of change in which we now live.

As technologies continue to advance, how might we prepare the student of today to address the needs of society at a level that machines and technology cannot?

And how might we align our programs to support the economic wellbeing of our future state?

We all know it’s a race to keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology.  Just as our students have adapted how they express their creativity and talents in new ways, we as educators must adapt and change with the times. Yes, universities have on occasion been characterized as traditionalists, but we are, at our core, about growth and opportunity. This is evidenced in our research and development agenda. It is truly part of Michigan Tech’s DNA.

In July, we will open a new College of Computing. Building on our strong foundation, the new college will help continue the University’s transformation into an academic institution that is poised to nimbly respond to—and even predict—the technological, economic, and social needs of the 21st century. The College of Computing will prepare students to be agile and adaptable in a rapidly changing job market. It will allow our faculty to collaborate on high-impact, translational research in new ways, and it will better meet industry’s insatiable demand for talent in AI, software engineering, data science, and cybersecurity. But most importantly, it will provide the next generation of graduates with the skills needed to lead the industries driving our state and national economies.  

We have also engaged in a process to expand our Pavlis Honors College experience across the entire curriculum…for all students. The curriculum cultivates critical reflection, design thinking, and interdisciplinary collaboration. This approach is critical because we realize we are no longer training students for the jobs of today—but equipping them with the skills and competencies to be successful in the rapidly changing economic environment of the future.

These are exciting times at Michigan Tech, and we thank you for your vote of confidence in our mission and future direction.    

Wishing you the happiest of summers!

Sincerely,

Rick Koubek
President