TRAVERSE CITY — Michigan Technological University has an articulation agreement with Northwestern Michigan College.
Officials from the four-year college are putting an emphasis on what happens before and after students arrive at the Upper Peninsula university.
Members of the MTU communications team stopped in Traverse City recently to discuss some of the university’s science and technology programs. Among the topics was the idea of instilling an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs before students think about higher education.
“The interest in science really falls off after elementary school,” said Stefanie Sidortsova, executive director of communications at Michigan Tech.
Michigan Tech has a Center for Pre-College Outreach to bring STEM to K-12 students. Pre-College Outreach is a combination of three approaches: Summer Youth Programs, Mind Trekkers and College Access Programs.
According to its website, Mind Trekkers is Michigan Tech’s flagship program for the Center for Pre-College Outreach. Undergraduate and graduate students deliver hands-on demonstrations to K-12 students.
Mind Trekkers will participate in the annual Super Science Saturday, Oct. 19, at Traverse City Central. The free event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Participation in the Traverse City event is one of the ways Tech is trying to get more area students to articulate to the university — for two or four years — despite the 388-mile distance between TC and Houghton.
“We’d like to grow it,” Sidortsova said. “We’d like to grow that pipeline.”
An even bigger way to attract students from northern Michigan to the base of the Keweenaw Peninsula is the agreement signed this summer so engineering students can transfer two years of NMC credits to Tech. Students in seven engineering tracks will be able to transfer 66 to 75 credits.
Another tool in STEM education is Michigan Science Teaching and Education Reform (MiSTAR), a program founded in 2015. According to MTU officials, more than 130 school districts use MiSTAR educational products involving more than 700 teachers and 70,000 middle school students.
“It’s a very, very different way of teaching,” said Cyndi Perkins, a feature writer at Michigan Tech.
The communication team highlighted some of the new avenues it offers students enrolled at Tech.
Michigan Tech launched a College of Computing July 1. The college encompasses several different disciplines like cyber security, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
All are becoming big global issues.
“Cyber security is a challenge the world over,” said Allison Mills, associate director of research news at Michigan Tech.
MTU also is bringing back its mining engineering degree. Shelved in 2004, the major of study embraces sustainable practices and new technology like autonomous vehicles and drone usage.
“It’s no longer how quick can we get it out and how much money we can make,” Mills said.
“We joke that it’s not your father’s mining engineering degree,” Sidortsova said.
Michigan Tech boasts a 92 percent placement rate within six months of earning an undergraduate degree. Officials said placement includes a full-time job, military enrollment or entrance into graduate school.
Michigan Tech has about 7,200 students on campus, of which 1,700 are graduate students.
Mechanical engineering is still the most popular major on campus, but computer science has climbed to No. 2. The MTU contingent visiting Traverse City spoke about the varied technological applications into other areas like health care.
“We don’t make the doctors, but we make the tools doctors use,” said Kelley Christiansen, Michigan Tech science and technology publications writer.