Humanities Alumnae Finds Work in High Tech

A small fish in a big pond – that’s what being a humanities major at Michigan Tech can feel like.

There don’t seem to be as many job offers for humanities students as there are for engineers at Career Fair. Humanities courses are often considered “filler classes” by other students who ask the infamous question “Tech has a Humanities Department?” all too often.

Yes, Tech has a Humanities Department, and its students are just as crazy smart as the others. For example, meet Kayla Herrera.

Herrera graduated from Michigan Tech’s Humanities Department in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication, Culture and Media (CCM). She also earned a minor in journalism and a certificate in writing. Even without a degree in engineering or technology, today she works for one of the most recognizable names in the tech industry.

Herrera says being a humanities major at Tech was interesting because of the feedback she received from people. Often, she heard she wouldn’t be able to do anything with her major. She also notes that venturing into a Career Fair that was centered around engineering was difficult. “I received my share of negative feedback.”

Maria Bergstrom (HU), an advisor in Tech’s Humanities Department, says “Although humanities students sometimes feel like there aren't as many jobs for them at Career Fair, the reality is that every one of those companies likely has someone working in communications, writing, marketing, media or other related jobs. I am really proud that almost 50 percent of humanities majors attended the Fall 2016 Career Fair.”

Majoring in CCM gave Herrera the career flexibility to move from journalism to social media. After graduation, she started as a journalist for All Day Media, a news and media website, and then worked for CinemaBlend, a popular entertainment website. “My switch from journalism to social media happened somewhere while I was working as a Games Editor for CinemaBlend, when I took over their Facebook page,” she says.

Today, Herrera is the head of social media for Google Play. She started out as a journalist but then made a leap into the world of social media.

Last August, she was hired as a social media strategist for Google. In this position, Herrera is in charge of the Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr pages of Google Play. Everything that gets posted on these social media platforms must be approved by Herrera first. “I also uphold partnerships with movie studios, television studios, game developers and book publishers,” she says.

When asked about the success of humanities students, Bergstrom says, “Our students learn how to sell themselves and their skill sets to employers. The ability to write well, communicate with both customers and fellow employees, see the world through a global perspective, understand and make connections between different types of information, these are all really valuable skills. Michigan Tech humanities students often work in positions that help bridge the gap between technical professionals and the general public."

Herrera’s advice to humanities students at Michigan Tech is to brush off any negative feedback you may receive. She also recommends choosing a versatile major and emphasizes the importance of showcasing your skills outside the classroom.

For example, Herrera did freelance work for various publications in order to build her résumé. “Employers expect you to have experience when you graduate. It’s impressive, and it shows you’re a hard worker,” she says.

Herrera notes it was her father, a mechanical engineering alumnus from Michigan Tech, who pushed her to pursue her passion. He told her to never settle in a career and to strive for what she wanted to do in life. “He taught me to not be afraid, to never doubt myself and to keep trying, no matter what.

“When you sit in a job interview and you can talk extensively and passionately about what you are doing or want to do, you’ve found your passion.”

While her career options appear limitless, each day Herrera brings her passion to the social media platforms of Google Play.

Those who want to find out more on Herrera and her career are invited to a special CCM event from 1 to 2 p.m. tomorrow (April 14) in the Peterson Library on the third floor of the Walker Fine Arts and Humanities Center. Herrera will interact via Skype from San Francisco. 

Winners of the ESC Annual Student Research Forum

The Ecosystem Science Center announced the winners of the Annual ESC Student Research Forum held last Friday. The winners are:

Grand Prize Winner — Graduate Student

  • Kelsey Carter (advisor Molly Cavaleri [SFRES]), "Plant Physiological Thermal Acclimation of Understory Shrubs in a Puerto Rican Rain Forest."

Merit Prize — Graduate Division:

  • Ryan Van Goethem (advisors Amy Marcarelli, Casey Huckins [Bio Sci]), "Seasonal Dynamics of Littoral Primary Production and Effects of Invasive Macrophytes on Littoral Primary Producers in North-Temperate Lakes." 
  • Taylor Zallek (advisors Erika Hersch-Green, Huckins and Marcarelli [Bio Sci]), "Herbicide Susceptibility and Genotype Community Composition in Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)."

Grand Prize Winner — Undergraduate Student

  • Michelle Kelly (advisors Kevin Novorski and Marcarelli [Bio Sci]), "Within-reach Variation in Nitrification and Denitrification Rates in Streams of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan."

Merit Prize Winner

  • Sarah Frederick (advisor Marcarelli [Bio Sci]), "Measuring the Effects of Nitrogen and Phosphorus Concentrations on Ecosystem Production in the Portneuf River."

The ESC thanks all the participants and judges for a good forum. The student's research posters will remain on display in the Noblet Forestry building atrium for the next two weeks.

Parking Lot Closure to Make Way for Motorcycle Stunt Show

The Full Throttle Motorcycle Club will host a motorcycle stunt show during Spring Fling tomorrow (April 14) in the Pay Lot (Lot 27, between the Memorial Union Building and Admin Building). This parking lot will be closed all day for the event.

Shows will begin at 1 and 3 p.m. One group will perform: Sick Air FMX, a premiere freestytle motorcross stunt performance team. The event is free for everyone.

For more information, contact Jeff Staten.

Change in Today's C-Cubed Menu

There is a change to today's C-Cubed menu that was published earlier this week in Tech Today. 

C-Cubed (Conversation, Community, Collegiality) University lunches are offered from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays throughout the school year in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge. Faculty and staff, along with their guests, are invited.

Lunch is $10 (cash, credit and C-Cubed Gift Certificates accepted); attendees may bring their own lunch instead of purchasing the buffet. Coffee, tea, fruit-infused water, cookies and fruit are available for all.


  • Roasted Honey Glazed Ham (GF)
  • Pesto Pasta (GF, V)
  • Flamed-roasted Sweet Potatoes (GF, VE)                
  • Caprese Salad (GF, V)


  • Hummus and Feta Lavash Wraps (V)
  • Roasted Vegetable and Balsamic Chicken Lavash Wrap
  • Tomato and White Bean Soup (GF, VE)

V — Vegetarian, VE — Vegan, GF — Gluten Free

Send any suggestions to Christina Fabian or fill out a feed-back form online.

Campus Store Customer Appreciation Sale

Michigan Tech Campus Store and University Images would like to show their appreciation and thank you for your continued patronage by once again offering the annual Customer Appreciation Sale from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday (April 19).

Nearly everything in the stores will be 25 percent off. There is a great selection of sporting apparel, outerwear, school supplies and souvenirs. Clearance racks are full and career wear is still 75 percent off.

STEAM Event for Youth at Cirque Mechanics: Pedal Punk

All faculty, staff and community members with children in middle or high school are invited to sign students up for "STEAM Punk: The Science Behind the Cirque."

Mind Trekkers, the Rozsa Center, FIRST Robotics, and Cirque Mechanics are teaming up to show area 6-12 graders the science behind the Pedal Punk show.

Cirque Mechanics describes themselves "Cirque Mechanics, although inspired by modern circus, finds its roots in the mechanical and its heart in the stories of American ingenuity. The shows, rooted in realism, display a raw quality, rarely found in modern circus, that makes their message timeless and relevant.  The stories are wrapped in circus acrobatics, mechanical wonders and a bit of clowning around."

Not only will this be a show that the whole family will enjoy, middle and high school students will have an opportunity to go behind the scenes of the show.

Students will meet the pro-BMX biker and creator of Pedal Punk during a behind the scenes visit. They will also spend an hour with Mind Trekkers and FIRST Robotics engaging in hands-on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) demonstrations. A pizza dinner and a ticket to the show is included.

The event begins at 3:30 Saturday, April 22 with a backstage tour of the Rozsa. After this is when we will have our STEAM demonstrations with Mind Trekkers and FIRST Robotics.

Then the students can enjoy a pizza dinner right before the show starts at 7:30pm. Parents are asked to drop their students off for the STEAM part (students only), and can meet up with their children for the start of the show.

More information and ticketing info is available here.

(Note the event is now open to 6th-12th graders not just 6th-8th graders as stated on the flyer).

Green Film Series to Show "The Messenger" on Monday

The next offering in the Green Film Series is "The Messenger" (2016). It will be shown at 7 p.m. Monday (April 17) in Hesterburg Hall in the Noblet Forestry Building, room G002. 

Coffee, facilitated discussion and refreshments provided by Keweenaw Land Trust. There is no admission, but a $3 donation is suggested.

Based upon the award-winning book, "Silence of the Songbirds," by Bridget Jones Stutchbury, The Messenger is an investigation into the causes of songbird mass depletion, and the people who are working to turn the tide. 

The film takes you on a visually stunning, emotional journey revealing how issues facing birds also pose daunting implications for our planet. (89 min.)

Discussion facilitator is David Flaspohler (SFRES). The showing is cosponsored by Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center, Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and the Keweenaw Land Trust.

 More on the Green Film Series is available online.

Former Huskies on NHL Playoff Rosters

Former Michigan Tech forwards Tanner Kero and Jujhar Khaira get their first taste of the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs this week.

Kero and the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators for Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series at 8 p.m. tonight (April 13) at the United Center.

Kero, a native of Hancock, has played in the last 47 games for the Blackhawks, tallying six goals and 10 assists. He signed a two-year contract extension near the end of March and has played on numerous different line combinations this year.

Khaira and the Edmonton Oilers began their Western Conference First Round series against the San Jose Sharks last night. The Oilers are the second seed and host the first two games at Rogers Place.

Khaira was called back up to the big club on Monday (April 10) from the Bakersfield Condors. The Condors are currently out of the AHL playoff picture so the Oilers brought Khaira up to add depth to the playoff roster. 

To read the full story and find out more about Michigan Tech sports visit

The Enterprise Program: Interdisciplinary, Multi-semester, Experiential Learning at Michigan Tech

There will be a SFRES Friday Forum at 3 p.m. tomorrow (April 14) in the Noblet Forestry Building G002. A social will follow from 4 to 5 p.m. 

Rick Berkey, director of the Enterprise Program, will provide a brief overview of the program followed by an interactive discussion and question and answer session on opportunities for increasing SFRES student involvement in the program.


Design Expo Today

What do a satellite tag anchoring system for humpback whales, a pandemic ventilator for third-world countries, a 793 mpg supermileage vehicle and an innovative, low-cost avalanche beacon have in common?

They're all student projects on display at Michigan Tech's 17th annual Design Expo from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. today (April 13) in the Memorial Union Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information on the Expo, read this Tech Today article.


Senior Research Colloquium

Physics will host a Senior Research Colloquium from 3 to 5 p.m. today (April 13) in Fisher 139. A total of seven presentations will be given:

  • Floyd Johnson — "Free-standing and Substrate-Supported Cytosine Molecules: Molecular Dynamics Study"
  • Austin Hermann — "Quantum Confinement Effect in Silicon"
  • Colin Sheidler —"Unidirectional Emission from Microring Lasers"
  • David Russell — "A Search for Exotic Particles Using AUGER Data"
  • Michael Foetisch — "Iron Electrowinning: Proof of Concept and Optimization"
  • Nick Videtich — "Pico-second Pulsed Laser System Using Neodymium-doped Yttrium Vanadate Crystal"
  • Kelci Mohrman — "Searching for Emission from the Geminga Pulsar Wind Nubula in GeV Engines"


Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar

Timothy Scarlett (SS) will present "Preservation Engineering and Industrial Archaeology: Geotechnical Problems and Restoration Engineering Heritage Sites" from 4 to 5 p.m. today (April 13) in Dow 642.


Faculty member Has Art Exhibit in Hancock Art Center

The Copper Country Community Arts Center presents "Gestures and Facture," recent work by Hancock artist and Michigan Tech faculty member Tomas Co in the Kerredge Gallery until April 29.

A gallery talk is scheduled for 6:20 p.m. today (April 13). Co's recent work includes sculpture in stone and bronze as well as sumi-e (black ink) paintings.


Undergraduate Anthropology Thesis Presentations

Save the date for the anthropology undergraduate thesis presentations. They will be presented at noon tomorrow (April 14) in AOB 201.

The following students will present:

  • James Wezensky
  • Jakob Williams
  • Patrick Gilman


ECE Seminar: Zhengya Zhang

Zhengya Zhang, associate professor in the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan, is the speaker at the next Electrical and Computer Engineering Spring Seminar.

The title of his presentation is "Sparse Spiking Neuromorphic Hardware for Computer Vision" and will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. tomorrow (April 14) in Dow 642.

Green Talks

Green Campus Enterprise will host an on-campus series of "green conferences" called Green Talks that will highlight the green and sustainable efforts taking place in groups all over campus.

This will be a two-day event. Talks will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (April 14) and 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday (April 15) in the Noblet Forestry Building G002.

Both events will be followed by a poster reception with snacks and refreshments. For more information, read previous Tech Today post.

In Print

Iosif Pinelis (Math) published a paper, "Optimal-order Uniform and Nonuniform Bounds on the Rate of Convergence to Normality for Maximum Likelihood Estimators," in the Electronic Journal of Statistics.

In the News

The publication "Aligned Nanofibrous Cell-Derived Extracellular Matrix for Anisotropic Vascular Graft Construction" by the research team of Feng Zhao (Bio Med) was featured in the blog of Synthecon, Inc. The company is focused on 3D cell culture technology.

The article concerned vascular graft tissue engineering in the RCSS (rotary cell culture system).


The panel discussion "Economics of Climate Change" held April 6 at Michigan Tech was covered by the Daily Mining Gazette. The panel discussion was hosted by Michigan Tech's Economics Club and was advised by Latika Gupta (SBE).

Panelists included Gary Campbell (SBE), Sarah Green (Chem), Nancy Langston (SS), Jessica McCarty (MTRI) and Craig Waddell (HU). The article can be found using this link.

CTL Tip of the Week

Submit Grades via Banner or Canvas and Coursetools

Instructors have two choices for submitting grades. They can be submitted online either via Canvas and CourseTools, or via Banner Self Service. Banner Self Service is the simpler of the two systems. Instructors can simply enter their grades directly into BanWeb, click submit and be finished.

Grade submission through Canvas requires just a couple extra steps. It is often most beneficial for larger classes, and for courses where grades are already entered in Canvas or another spreadsheet program. Grades need to be entered or uploaded in Canvas first, and then extracted from Canvas and submitted to Banner using the Grade Wizard on “Coursetools.” Those who have the correct letter grades for their students in their Canvas Total column can choose that column in the first step of the Grade Wizard by choosing "final_grade" from the Change Canvas Grade Book Column menu (click here for directions), so there’s no longer any need to copy scores out of the Total column, unless you want to “tweak” them.

Instructors can contact support, access online guides and tutorials, get hours and location for eLearning Walk-In Hours, and access eLearning’s Grade Submission Information and Resources page for information and instructions on Canvas One Stop. Instructors and instructional staff can also attend one of the two grade submission workshops near the end of week 14 and the beginning of finals week.

The CTL Tip of the Week is brought to you by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL).