A buoy in the water with the Mackinac Bridge in the background.

Data Revolution and Sensing

Wired for the Future

The human race has progressed from machine production to mass production to computerization and automation. The computers of the third industrial wave are now intelligent and connected, fueled by data and machine learning. They communicate with each other and make independent decisions. The Internet of Things (IoT) is both reality and future: Experts predict that in the next several years, there will be more than 20 billion IoT devices, 90 percent of automobiles will be connected to the internet, and the smart home appliance market will reach nearly $40 billion.

Computing and data science are no longer subfields of engineering, math, or science; they’re embedded in nearly every discipline and have taken on their own creative elements. Technology has reshaped fields like archaeology and the arts. Researchers in forestry and other natural resource domains use satellites, robots, and drones to collect and analyze data. Communications professionals must be digital media experts.

“Technology is Michigan Tech’s middle name. Computing and its breadth of applications are the connective tissue between engineering, science, and humanities. Technology enables cross-pollination and in turn, many of the innovations that shape our society today.“

Adrienne Minerick portrait.
Adrienne Minerick
Dean of Pavlis Honors College & Former Dean of the College of Computing

No matter a student’s major, computational skills are a job-market requirement. It’s estimated that more than 80 percent of middle-skill jobs—those that require more education or training than a high school diploma—require digital skills, and digital literacy is a minimum standard in nearly every middle-skill sector. The job market for computer and information systems managers is projected to grow 12 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than average for any other occupation.

At Michigan Tech, we recognize and embrace cyber technology’s role in our lives. With campus-wide initiatives and the establishment of a new academic unit, we’re building a stronger institution and ensuring that every one of our students is wired for the future.

Person wearing a virtual reality headset overlaid with code.
Internet of Things: The interconnection of machines, devices, and everyday objects via the internet, allowing the items to “talk” to each other. Think turning on your car engine remotely, then think bigger

Michigan's Only College of Computing

What do you think of when you see or hear the name Michigan Technological University? For many, the answer contains some form of the word engineering—since 1885, Michigan Tech-trained engineers have been among the best in the world.

More than a century ago, the American educational system evolved to recognize engineering as an academic discipline, and we were among the hundreds of universities to turn out thousands of engineers into the workforce.

As a technological university in the 21st century—responsible not only for technological development, but workforce development—we must be flexible and innovative in a landscape where technology is constantly changing. We cannot remain static. Each new set of tools that we develop, and each set of problems we solve, creates new opportunities.

Just as engineering became a recognized discipline more than 100 years ago, we must now acknowledge the central role cyber technologies play in industry and society; we must pivot around how we teach and do research.

Silhouette of a person looking at a large screen.
Michigan Tech’s College of Computing leads a campus-wide initiative to incorporate computational thinking and essential coding skills into all Michigan Tech degree programs.

On July 1, 2019, Michigan Tech launched a new College of Computing. The first and only college of its kind in the state of Michigan, the College of Computing will meet the technological, economic, and social needs of the 21st century—and answer industry demand for talent in AI, software engineering, data science, and cybersecurity.

The College of Computing is not an insular academic unit—it serves the entire University. To ensure our graduates are agile and adaptable in the job market, courses that build computing skills and computational thinking abilities are increasingly wired into the University’s core curriculum.

The College’s priority learning, teaching, and research areas include:

  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
  • Cybersecurity/Cloud Computing/Internet of Things
  • Human Factors/User Experience
  • Modeling and Simulations (Digital Twin Technologies)
  • Robotics, Automation, and Control (Real-Time Operating Systems)

Overarching each of these priority areas is our commitment to sustainability, ethics, and well-engineered software.

To meet the needs of students with multidisciplinary or cross-disciplinary academic goals, a key feature of education in the College of Computing will be our convergence programs—academic programs with flexible, fluid boundaries between the College of Computing and at least one other academic unit.

For example, students enrolled in a computer engineering program could take core and elective courses in both the College of Computing and the College of Engineering. We envision convergence programs in data science, computational science and engineering, computational mathematics, computer engineering, and robotics.

Planning is underway for X + CS (computer science) programs, where the X is up to the student: literature, art, health, engineering, natural sciences, social sciences, business. The X + CS model is not a double major, but a hybrid program at the intersection of disciplines, expanding the use and application of computing and computational thinking in a diverse set of domains.

The College is also home to Michigan Tech’s Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC)—a computing-focused research center with membership spanning 14 academic units. Like the College of Computing, the ICC looks beyond its own boundaries to seek new avenues where computing research can break new ground in building collaborations between diverse disciplines, and prepare for the future challenges of the new industrial revolution.

“Computing visionaries today are considering things that will be made possible by essentially unlimited and free storage and bandwidth—it’s an entirely new world.”

Dan Fuhrmann portrait.
Daniel Fuhrmann
Dave House Professor in Computer Engineering

To support students, faculty, and staff with computing resources related to academic courses and research, the College of Computing will equip and staff a University-wide Computing Learning Center (CLC). The CLC will assist with programming, algorithms, software engineering, and other computing areas, with the goal of raising the overall skill level of the Michigan Tech community in the application and appropriate use of cyber technologies.

College of Computing researchers and staff will also serve as liaisons between research-active faculty and Michigan Tech’s High-Performance Computing (HPC) facility. This could take the form of short courses in the use of supercomputers, graduate courses in software engineering for scientific computing, and consulting services for research faculty who wish to migrate their large-scale computing projects to the HPC.

With a mission to prepare students for lifelong prosperity and employability through relevant, contemporary academic programs in computing and cyber-technologies—and to support and drive cutting-edge, market-centered research in computing fields—the College of Computing is helping to transform the University into an academic institution that reflects the technological, economic, and social realities of the 21st century.