All posts by hlherman

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
  • SmartAsset ranked MTU # 1 in the state for Best Value.
  •, a financial news website, ranks Michigan Technological University 12th in the nation for public universities whose graduates earn the highest mid-career salaries.

Live and Learn Takes On A Whole New Meaning at Michigan Tech

At Michigan Tech we believe that every opportunity is an opportunity to learn. Which is why in 2018, the Department of Housing and Residential Life implemented a residential curriculum to reinforce the ideals of creating a 360 degree campus learning environment.  

The residential housing curriculum is structured to promote well-being, learning, and mindfulness in a manner consistent throughout all of the residence halls. The residential assistants (RAs) work with seven live-in professionals to deliver both passive and active content over the fall and spring semesters. Topics range from learning communication skills, personal goal setting, and self care. According to the Associate Director of Residential Life, Alexandra Marshall, “Implementing a residential curriculum has allowed us to engage with students in a different way, helping them connect to the staff living in their building, the students in their community, as well as resources throughout campus as soon as they arrive. We want students to become prosperous, resilient, and conscientious members of the Tech community, and we hope they take what they learn with them upon graduation.”

Each week, the RAs follow a thorough engagement plan, which includes themed bulletin boards, intentional meetings and group activities. Additionally, the professional staff will meet regularly with students in need of additional assistance to ensure they are connected with the resources they need to succeed. “Having a curriculum means that we are holding ourselves accountable to giving students an education in the residence halls. It’s not just about giving students a great living experience, the curriculum means that they are learning skills for life,” says Benjamin Petrie, one of the Residence Life Coordinators.

Thus far, the RAs have completed more than 1,000 intentional conversations with the residents living in the halls. According to Anna Browne, RA of Hyrule II, “The residential curriculum, although in its early stages, has already paved the way for me to connect on a deeper level with my residents. The best example of this is the intentional conversations, which are a group of questions asked three times over the semester to check in on residents. These intentional conversations help ensure that all the questions are asked, and that the residents feel like they don’t need to hide it, whether it be about grades, financial aid, family issues, or mental health.”

The program was fully implemented this fall to all first year students and the plan is to scaffold the learning each year to reinforce the learning outcomes. Next year, the program will expand to upper class students, as well as those living in themed communities. As the program matures, Marshall plans to partner with other units on campus to better collaborate on learning outcomes.  She says, “One of the challenging, but exciting parts, of the program is that it will never be done.”


Did you know?

  • Michigan Tech ranks in the top one percent of best colleges in America for your money based on net price and alumni earning as reported by Business Insider.
  • According to, the mid-career average earning of a Michigan Tech graduate is $64,700 — higher than many private schools.
  • 57% of our students learn about Michigan Tech from their friends and family.  Help us recruit the next class of huskies by participating in our recommend a husky program.
  • Studies show that students who use Michigan Tech’s Learning Centers earn better grades.  Encourage your student to visit one of the 15 discipline specific learning centers and the Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success to receive specialized coaching and general studying and test taking tips.  Most centers offer weekly appointments for long-term improvement, walk-in hours for short-term help with an immediate problem, and team/peer learning. 
  • Michigan Tech is offering a free workshop series to help your student learn positive life strategies, cope with the roadblocks the semester will bring, and connect with fellow students.

O’ What A Week!

"The bonds they have created with each other are going to last a long time."
“The bonds they have created with each other are going to last a long time.”

the week of August 25th, Michigan Tech welcomed more than 1,400 new students to campus to participate in the longstanding Tech tradition known as orientation week.

Since recovered, our 2018 student orientation student leaders share their best stories from this year’s activities and a little bit of advice for parents new to the college experience.

Cora Taylor, Orientation Training Coordinator

  • Major: Mechanical Engineering
  • Hometown:  Charlevoix, MI
  • Year in School:  Fifth

Best story from this year’s O week:

The first big event for orientation week is the University Welcome and Family Social. This is an exciting, yet nerve wracking event. As I was walking around the social following the welcome I spoke to several students and families. I would ask them where they were from, how their drive was, and how they were feeling about this new journey. I could sense the nerves and enthusiasm in each of the people I spoke to. One of my favorite parts of the social this year was that I got to share some of my transition stories with students and their families. The changes in their body language and facial expressions really said it all. My stories made a difference, for they were all feeling more comfortable, and more excited about this new journey.

This excitement transcended to when the students first met their OTLs and team members on main campus. As OES I had the opportunity to ride around in the golf cart making sure all of the OTLs and students were finding their way. As I drove around I constantly would get stopped by people saying “hey, can I have a ride?” or “how do I get your job?” You could feel the excitement in the air. There were so many smiles among all of the students, and I couldn’t have been more happy to see all of mine and the other OES members hard work come to fruition.

Advice for parents:

Remind your students to laugh. College is challenging (especially at Michigan Tech), and you are more likely than not going to receive a phone call about a bad exam grade or a mishap with the washing machine. Remind them to laugh it off, learn from it, and do better the next time.

Sam Willard, Orientation Logistics Coordinator

  • Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cheminformatics (Double Major)
  • Hometown: Forest Lake , MN
  • Year in School: Fifth

Best story from this year’s O week:

The end of orientation Week filled me with mixed feelings. It was the end of an amazing week for us, which is always disappointing. On the other hand, seeing over 1,400 incoming students transition from the anxious, often shy people they were at the university welcome to the excited Michigan Tech Huskies that they had become by the end of the week filled me with pride and respect. Respect for those who I had worked with this past year and for those who had planned every other Michigan Tech orientation Week.

At our final staff meeting with the orientation Team Leaders (OTL), all of these emotions and more were practically palpable. With little official business to discuss, our meeting was filled with stories of their and their teams experiences throughout the week. These ranged from funny to happy to inspiring. My favorite stories of all are those where a student approached their OTL to thank them. Being part of a group of people who can make such a difference for so many students is why I chose to be apart of orientation Executive Staff.

Advice for parents:

Be patient and supportive with your student. This first semester is a huge change everyone and not everything works out the first time.

Cally Meixner, Orientation Team Leader

  • Major: Chem Engineering (Environmental Engineering Team)
  • Hometown: Somerset, WI
  • Year in School: Third

Best story from this year’s O week:

This year my group and I became a tight group of friends. The first day, they were all so quiet and unsure. However, by the third day they were singing Taylor Swift together, created their own Snapchat group chats, and were going to events together. I saw a group of them at the MUB board concert front and center having a blast. On Friday, the last meeting went on as usual, and at the end, half the group stayed back to hang out and say their goodbye’s. I was doing fine, until one of them came up to hug me in which I just started crying, which lead to more hugs, and then more crying. They were an amazing group that I still see hanging out together. I still see them occasionally as they usually yell out “Mom!” to me as they deemed me so during O-week. The bonds they have created with each other are going to last a long time.

Advice for parents:

The first few weeks your student is at college can be the toughest part of the transition. Your student is learning how to do laundry, balance their social and academic lives, and how to study. It can be overwhelming for them, and while they know you are there for support, it is important to give your student space. After a few weeks they will start to appreciate an occasional check in from you and letters in the mail from family more, so don’t worry too much if your student hasn’t called you everyday. However, if your student has been calling with concerns, assure them there are resources on campus to help with specific classes, balancing their schedule, and dealing with stress. Your student will need some time to adjust.

Dining Services Delivers In More Ways Than One

“The quality of the food is very good and dining services tries to provide a variety of options so you can pick your favorite ones.”


If the college experience is new to you, you probably have many questions about life at Tech. Questions about living on campus, courses, tutoring, student organizations, academic deadlines, friends, midterms, etc. But, today, let’s talk food, because that’s one of the first questions we ask our student when they finally call home. What did you have for lunch today? How are the dining halls? Are you eating enough?

First, a few dining facts:


  • 5,500 meals served daily
  • Three dining halls and seven food service locations
  • Hours of operation: Dining options available from 7 am to 1 am weekdays and 9 am to 1 am on the weekends
  • Most popular menu items: Keweenaw Bowl and Build Your Own Stir Fry
  • The man behind the menu:  Eric Karvonen. Eric is a certified executive chef from the American Culinary Federation.  To receive this certification one must have 10 or more years as a professional chef, extensive training and pass a rigorous practical and written exam.

Michigan Tech is one of a few universities in Michigan that has yet to outsource their dining services to a national vendor.  This allows our campus to keep costs low, locally source ingredients, practice sustainability and explore new dining options. It also allows staff to tailor meal options and services based on the needs of our student body.  Here are just a few examples of how dining services delivers:

“My RA, Logan, knew that I was not feeling well and was unable to make it to the dining hall. The policy in place allowed him to take my Husky ID and bring me food. This is an excellent policy for those who are sick and unable to walk distances.”

–Ryan Kern, Computer Network and System Administration first year student

“The staff in the dining halls have been gone out of their way to help me get food that supports my dietary restrictions. They frequently go into the freezers to get food, such as rolls, to make sure I’m able to have food to eat and enjoy daily.”

–Allison Calder, Mechanical Engineering first year student

So, rest easy parents — there are many ways for your student to stay healthy and live well at Michigan Tech.  But, one sure way is to send them a dining services student care package. Click here and choose one of our delicious bakery items, baked fresh for your student, and delivered directly to their residence hall.  Your student will thank you.