Midyear 2021 Student Speaker at commencement

Midyear 2021

Commencement Speaker

John U. Bacon

Mike Pulick Jr.

Our Commencement speaker, Mike Pulick Jr., built an exceptional career through developing the business leadership skills he first learned at Tech. The 1986 electrical engineering (EE) graduate also knows about following in family footsteps — and in his case, those steps led to extraordinary family ties with Michigan Tech.

A man smiles in a suit and tie with a neutral plain background.
Mike Pulick Jr. is MTU’s Midyear Commencement speaker.
A native of Livonia, Michigan, Pulick credits Tech as the portal to the leadership skills he developed in a career that began at General Electric (GE). There, the former MTU Blue Key President, who led the massive organizational effort to stage Michigan Tech’s iconic Winter Carnival, took the next step in his career by completing GE’s Manufacturing Management Program.

“The combination of those two experiences in leadership and management really helped me in my career. I would go on to take on future roles and situations that involved leading a wide variety of people,” said Pulick, who later earned his MBA from The University of Chicago.

After 12 years in numerous GE divisions, in 1999 Pulick joined W.W. Grainger Inc., ascending from vice president of product service management to president of Grainger International. In 2015, Pulick joined the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, where he was executive in residence for the industrial and business service sector through 2019.

Current chairman of the Michigan Tech Fund Board of Directors, Pulick also serves on the Wencor Group, Kano Laboratories and Wittichen Supply boards of directors, and is an adjunct professor at Florida Gulf Coast University in the Lutgert College of Business. He also served on the Michigan Tech College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council for five years.

In keeping with his commitment to expose STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students and professionals to business, financial and leadership experiences, Pulick also previously served on the Illinois Institute of Technology Board of Trustees and the board for Junior Achievement of Chicago.

Pulick has more than his own graduation to reflect on as he takes the speaker’s podium Saturday. Three of his siblings graduated from Tech with engineering degrees. His older sister majored in mechanical engineering, his younger sister in environmental engineering and his brother in civil engineering.

But wait. It gets better.

“My older sister, younger sister and I all married MTU engineers,” Pulick said.

Pulick’s favorite Michigan Tech memory is meeting his wife, Liz. “I was a junior, she was a freshman,” he said. “Our first date was at the theater in Hancock.” The couple of 33 years married in June 1988, shortly after she earned her mechanical engineering degree.

Liz and Michael Pulick live in Naples, Florida. The couple enjoys northern Michigan summers in Petoskey, Michigan and spending time with family, including their two adult children, Eric and Rachael, and spouses Kelsey and Matt.

Student Speaker

Jay Czerniak

Jay Czerniak

An electrical engineer whose mastery of business skills supercharged his career and a graduating civil engineer on his way to an MBA are featured speakers at Michigan Technological University’s 2021 Midyear Commencement.

Czerniak’s Michigan Tech story is built on a foundation of family and faith. He found a second family at Tech as a member of St. Albert the Great University Parish, known for its close-knit, welcoming community and its steadfast and stellar MTU Winter Carnival participation through the years — including the relatively new tradition of building an ice cathedral for outdoor services on Carnival weekend.

“I will be forever grateful to St. Al’s and for all those who have helped me grow not only as a professional but as a human being during my time at Tech,” said Czerniak, whose time at MTU isn’t over. He returns to campus in spring semester 2022 to pursue a master’s in business administration (MBA). In June, he plans to return to Wisconsin to start his career as a project manager with Miron Construction, where he previously interned.

"I hear often that faith is lost in college but at Michigan Tech, with the mystery of science and wonders of a gorgeous natural world, there is ample opportunity to grow and mature in one's faith."Jay Czerniak, Midyear Commencement Student Speaker

“Michigan Tech was my dream school,” said Czerniak, who learned about Tech from introductory engineering courses at his high school offered through Project Lead the Way. “It topped the list for schools in the Midwest. My love for snow, the outdoors and a desire for a small-town atmosphere made Tech the perfect place for me. Picking a major was also easy. My grandfather operated his own small excavating company. From a young age he helped expose me to the world of construction. I was instantly hooked. Civil engineering is the perfect major to exercise my passion for construction and design as well as my desire to engineer and problem solve.”