As the only college of its kind in the state, Michigan Tech’s College of Computing meets the growing demand for computing skills in the workforce.
On July 1, 2019, Michigan Technological University launched the state’s first College of Computing to meet the technological, economic and social needs of the 21st century, and answer industry demand for talent in artificial intelligence (AI), software engineering, data science and cybersecurity.
This weekend, the College’s first students arrive on campus.
“Launching the new College of Computing represents an inflection point in our trajectory as a premier technological institution, committed to preparing students to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution,” said Michigan Tech President Rick Koubek.
In teaching and research, the College’s areas of emphasis include:
- Artificial intelligence / machine learning
- Cybersecurity / cloud computing / Internet of Things (IoT)
- Data science / big data
- Human factors / user experience
- Modeling and simulations (digital twin technologies)
- Robotics, automation and control (real-time operating systems)
According to Adrienne Minerick, dean of the College of Computing, issues and questions of sustainability and ethics will overlay the College’s work, as will a continued commitment to well-engineered software.
“We want our students and researchers to ask if the solutions they’re investigating are effective, appropriate uses of resources. We want them to consider whether something should be done, not just whether it can be done,” Minerick said.
A Convergence of Interests
Instead of operating as an insular academic unit, the College of Computing serves the entire University. It will provide general education courses that build computing skills and computational thinking abilities. Additionally, to meet the needs of students with multidisciplinary or cross-disciplinary academic goals, the College will offer convergence programs—academic programs with flexible, fluid boundaries between the College of Computing and at least one other academic unit.
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment in computer and information technology occupations to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. These occupations are projected to add about 557,100 new jobs. Demand for these workers will stem from greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data and information security.
- The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $86,320 in May 2018, which was higher than the median annual wage of $38,640 for all occupations. (BLS)
- BLS also projects that, during the period 2010–2020, employment in science and engineering occupations will grow by 18.7%, compared to 14.3% for all occupations; 59% of that growth is in computer/mathematical scientist positions with a 23.1% growth rate.
- One in five jobs in Michigan will be STEM-related by 2020, which is a growth of 11.8% and outpaces the expected 8.5% increase in other occupations. (State of Michigan Bureau of Labor Market and Strategic Initiative)
Some convergence programs exist already. For example, students enrolled in the computer engineering program take core and elective courses in both the College of Computing and the College of Engineering. Other convergence programs include cybersecurity, data science, computational science and engineering, and will likely include computational mathematics and robotics in the near future.
Planning is also in progress 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 will not be a double major, but a new program that intersects disciplines.
The College also serves as home to Michigan Tech’s Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC)—a computing-focused research center with membership spanning 14 academic units. The College plans to expand the CS learning center into a University-wide Computing Learning Center (CLC) that will assist with issues of programming, algorithms, software engineering and other computing issues, 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 also can serve as liaisons between research-active faculty and Michigan Tech’s High-Performance Computing (HPC) facility.
“Our graduates will need to be agile and adaptable in the job market, and our mission is to prepare them for lifelong prosperity and employability through relevant, contemporary academic programs in computing and cyber-technologies,” Minerick said. “We also 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.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.