Exploring majors is a good thing! Not being sure what you want to major in means you’re open to exploring options and finding what is best for you. Join academic advisor, Sylvia Mathews, for an overview on the benefits of being undecided and the many options available at Michigan Tech to help you find a major that best suits your interests, talents and values without delaying graduation or losing money pursuing a major that isn’t right for you. Questions? We’ll be happy to answer them live!
Professor Charles Kerfoot (BioSci) has received the 2015 IAGLR Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association for Great Lakes Research. The award recognizes important and continued contributions to the field of Great Lakes research for 20 years or more. In a letter notifying Kerfoot of the award, Douglas D. Kane, president of the IAGLR, congratulated him on an “incredibly productive and significant career.”
The Department of Social Sciences invites the campus community to recognize Pat Martin for his 38 years of service to Michigan Tech as Professor of Archaeology. The department will hold a reception to recognize Pat from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, May 15, on the 2nd floor of the Annex to the Academic Office Building.
Pat, who has served as the Chair of Social Sciences for the last six years, was instrumental in the creation of the department’s Industrial Archaeology graduate program. After his retirement, Pat will remain active as a research professor, initiating projects and advising students, as well as serving as the Executive Secretary of the Society for Industrial Archeology and as the President of The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage — so “retirement” is slightly misleading.
It takes place in Gwinn on June 19, 2015. SHF is proudly partnering with Child & Family Services of the U.P. on the event, with Child & Family Services using their portion of the net proceeds to address homeless adolescents in the U.P. There are 11 teams signed up, with 22 being the cutoff.
Registration and sponsorship forms are online at SHF.
Dean Bruce Seely of the College of Sciences and Arts has chosen to recognize David Olson, a senior lecturer in mathematical sciences as the final Dean’s Teaching Showcase member for spring 2015.
Dean Seely commented on this selection by saying, “Up to this point I have selected younger faculty whose ideas and approaches seem naturally to align with the national patterns of past practices in the class room. For the third selection, however, I am focusing on a person whose demonstration of sustained excellence in teaching and instruction should motivate everyone–David Olson. He has been a leader in teaching in a department noted for excellence. He has taken on the task of adding the necessary knowledge and the external certifications of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) that allow him to guide the department’s actuarial sciences concentration. He has helped advise majors and served on numerous curricular committees. But the most important reason for recognizing Olson is the length of time he has been so good.”
Olson’s initial reaction to Seely’s nomination was “Yikes, I’ve been here 20 years. How did that happen?” But his second reaction was more serious and significant, for it signals the reality of the challenge university faculty face in the classroom. “Teaching technology is progressing so rapidly that I’m hopelessly far behind,” he noted, before adding “If anyone is not hopelessly far behind, they’re not paying attention. I’m sometimes on the bleeding edge, like when Canvas came out, but mostly I look for items where the process just got simpler, like recording class for student-athletes. BIG change, and one that will make it much easier to put together videos.”
Seely sees this technology question as “an obvious conundrum for faculty today.” He and Olson agree that it’s not enough just to know “what the newest ideas and approaches are.” Instructors need to find out “…which ones make sense for the needs at Michigan Tech.” Seely emphasizes, “Novelty for its own sake almost never makes sense in such a dynamic environment. DavidO’s key understanding is that technology needs to facilitate student learning.”
In order to help with this process, Olson focuses on interaction. “My biggest trick is that I listen to students, face-to-face. How is the class going? Concerns? Are there any issues that aren’t clear? What’s really helping you learn? Do you have a good study group? How’s life? What’s your favorite movie? Every now and then a student tells me that some random classroom activity really helped, and so I’ll do more of it, and ask other students whether it’s helping them.” Moreover, Olson notes the vital necessity of talking to other faculty members as well to find out what they are trying, what’s working, and what’s not.
The point is that Olson is never satisfied. “In that last desperate 15 minutes before class, I’m usually asking myself the following questions: ‘What am I trying to accomplish? What activities might work?’ Experiment. Tweak, tweak, tweak.”
The final gauge of this desire to always seek better outcomes can be found in Olson’s last comment. “I have dreams of a revolution, a new STEM sequence that takes advantage of what’s now possible with multimedia and the internet: Scientific Modeling with Calculus and Computers.” Seely indicates that this goal matches nicely with some ideas circulating within the department, so he fully expects to see such a class take shape in the near future. Seely emphasizes, “But at root, this initiative will grow from Olson’s constant drive to do things better to help students learn.”
Olson will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon during 14th week. Please join Dean Seely and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Olson for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Sciences and Arts.
Bruce Seely, Dean of the College of Sciences and Arts, provided significant context for this week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee, Andrew Galerneau. Andrew, a lecturer in the chemistry department, is primarily responsible for teaching Organic Chemistry, which, according to Seely is “one of the more dreaded foundational courses for majors and non-majors.” Seely knows that student evaluations are generally lower in classes that are “large, required and foundational”, and Organic Chemistry is all three of these.
But according to Seely, Andrew “sees this situation as a challenge, not a limiting factor.” By making use of research-based active learning strategies and motivational techniques like gamification, Andrew helps students “really learn the material”. At the same time, Andrew’s enthusiasm and excitement helps him “bring students – even those who are initially reluctant – to see material as interesting and important.” Andrew’s passionate commitment to helping students learn keeps the course positive in this challenging environment.
Andrew demonstrates this passion as he describes his teaching methods. Speaking about his technique of having students answer three open-ended pre-lecture questions before each lecture, he says: “ I personally grade at least of third of these questions prior to lecture and deliver direct feedback on my student’s assignments. I want them to know that I am reading what they write and that I am actively interested in how they are learning the material.” He also provides small incentives for discussion board participation and uses an “achievement system” to recognize students using anonymous monikers and Canvas announcements for perfect performance in certain elements of the class. His goal is to “foster a community of students who are passionate to engage in peer-to-peer learning.”
Seely sees Galerneau as the latest committed faculty member to bless the chemistry department, placing him on a list with people like Fredrick Williams (for whom the instructional innovation award was named) and Paul Charlesworth (an instructional innovation award winner who has extensively developed content and methods in the introductory chemistry course.) Seely feels “very lucky to have people who possess such passion and excitement about, and dedication to, teaching.”
Andrew will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Seely and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Andrew for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Sciences and Arts.
The Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee for this week comes from the College of Sciences and Arts. Dean Bruce Seely has chosen to recognize Scott Kuhl, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science with an adjunct appointment in Cognitive and Learning Sciences. Dean Seely values “what Scott Kuhl attempts to accomplish as a teacher mainly for the mindset he employs, and less for the specific teaching techniques has adopted.” He notes that Scott “does not differentiate between regular classes, summer youth and support for Enterprise activities as educational venues—but approaches all with the goal of creating a fun and motivating environment.”
In his more traditional courses, Scott does attribute his teaching success to specific techniques, like providing detailed assignment descriptions with numerous tips to “help get students going in the right direction.” He also provides numerous examples, some of which he walks through in class in detail, and encourages students to share additional examples with each other. Finally, he emphasizes prompt feedback for his students. He has accomplished this by creating an automatic grading program which provides a “provides a transparent, well-defined set of expectations for assignments” and a score that can be adjusted by an instructor or grader as necessary. He’s even willing to share this tool with those interested.
Kuhl is also focused on continual improvement. Though the Husky Game Development (HGD) Enterprise he leads is focused on games, he attributes its dramatic growth under his leadership to a careful cycle of feedback, change and evaluation. He sees the value of interdisciplinary teamwork, communication, development and management for students in HGD, and has led the group in both publishing academic papers and receiving sponsorship from both Chrysler and the Department of Labor.
Scott will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Seely, computer science chair Min Song and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Scott for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Sciences and Arts.
Ten Michigan Tech AFROTC Detachment 400 cadets in their second and third academic years competed in a national selection board to attend the annual summer field training encampment at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. They competed against all other 144 AFROTC detachments in the nation for limited slots, and all ten cadets were selected—a rare honor for any AFROTC detachment.
This year’s selectees are: Horatio Babcock, Micah Ball, Jacob Carley, Adam Cottrell, Caleb Dann, Reed Deemer, Cy DeLeeuw, Nicholas Fisher, Brian Nance and Logan Sheffield.
Each will attend one of five four-week encampments throughout the coming summer. Their training will include leadership and followership skills, problem-solving, time management, decision-making under pressure, teamwork, marksmanship, physical fitness, drill and ceremony, military ethos and knowledge, confidence building, cultural competency, survival skills and operating in austere deployment environments.
These ten cadets have been preparing all spring semester in an intense training program led by AFROTC cadet trainers Nicholas Grygleski and Jacob Ahles. This is a significant milestone in AFROTC; attendance is required to proceed in the program and become a commissioned officer in the Air Force. The ten cadets will return next fall to become the new cadet leadership in the 400th Cadet Wing here at Michigan Tech AFROTC. The Det 400 cadre and staff are immensely proud and eager to see them in action when they return.
During a recent visit by U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, a tour of the Advanced Technology and Development Center was arranged to discuss the doctor of physical therapy program coordinated between Michigan Tech and Central Michigan University (CMU). Dr. Jason Carter, Chair of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, met with Dan Benishek in person while CMU was represented via videoconference.
Benishek visits Copper Country
Benishek said, “Many of the local hospitals contributed to the creation of this facility so that they would have students training here in Northern Michigan and know what Northern Michigan is like, grow to love the area and be able to have more of those people stay here in Northern Michigan and work here and provide for the care of the people living here.”
Benishek pays visit to Michigan Tech
The program shares CMU faculty with Tech and gives undergrads at Tech access to CMU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
“We have a cohort of 12 students per year that enroll into that program and graduate with a doctorate in physical therapy from Central Michigan, and hopefully stay here in our Upper Peninsula to become physical therapists.” said Jason Carter, Department Chair of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology.
Benishek Tours U.P.
Tuesday began with a tour of the Doctor of Physical Therapy space at the Advanced Technology Development Center on the campus of Michigan Tech.
Benishek pays a visit
Carter said both universities have given their full support to the program.
“I think it’s a great example of universities being more efficient with resources,” he said.
During Tuesday’s stop, Benishek and Carter talked via videoconference with program head Pete Loubert and professor Tim Zipple.
The College of Sciences and Arts is very pleased to announce the appointment of Linda Ott as associate dean for special initiatives, focusing on diversity in computing. Ott’s appointment signals a renewed effort to increase the diversity of students in computing and information. The under-representation of women and ethnic minorities has been little affected by significant national efforts to introduce changes—indeed, there has been some backsliding on earlier gains.
National attention for the difficulties came from recent attention to the poor record of largest firms in Silicon Valley in recruiting and retaining women in these firms. Michigan Tech, like many universities, has worked steadily to increase the number of women enrolled in computer science, software engineering and computer engineering, but the five-year average enrollment of women stands at only 7.5 percent of the total student population in computer-related degree programs. Morevoer the situation has changed only a little since 2009. Clearly, progress is elusive.
Ott’s appointment will bring much more energy to efforts to recruit a more diverse population of students into computing fields. Bruce Seely, dean of the college, notes how the appointment builds off Ott’s long-standing commitment to addressing the lack of diversity in the field. Over the past two years, Linda led the effort to bring Michigan Tech into the Pacesetters progam of the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT). And for a much longer time she has engaged in activities with the Summer Youth Program and other outreach efforts at the state-level to raise the awareness of female students concerning the opportunity in computing. Seely noted that “Linda is perfectly positioned to explore and help implement ways to bring more students from diverse backgrounds to campus. This is her true passion.” She will continue these programmatic efforts and outreach initiatives while also studying the lower retention and persistence rates for all students—not just women—pursuing Tech degrees in computer science, computer engineering, network and systems administration and software engineering. In addition, she will compare and benchmark Tech’s efforts against other schools and national patterns, understand the retention of students in computing-related fields and seek external funding to support programs to address these issues.
Because many groups on campus are working on these questions, Ott will collaborate with different groups on campus, including academic departments, schools and colleges, admissions, development, alumni relations, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and WISE.
By allowing her to devote all of her time and effort to these tasks, Seely added, he hopes Michigan Tech can make real progress on diversity. “I am thrilled Linda is going to devote her time and energy to these important and challenging problems.”
She will begin her efforts Monday, March 16.
Tech appoints Ott as Associate Dean for Special Initiatives
Though the job title may be new, Linda Ott, Associate Dean for Special Initiatives in the College of Sciences and Arts at Michigan Technological University, is no stranger to promoting diversity in computer-related programs.