Michigan Tech Formalizes Commitment to Grand Traverse Region

An aerial shot of Traverse City by Getty Images
An aerial shot of Traverse City by Getty Images
Michigan Tech and representatives from Michigan's Grand Traverse have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Photo by Getty Images.

Michigan Technological University signs Memorandum of Understanding to explore and develop collaborative opportunities in northern Michigan’s Grand Traverse area.

For more than a year, representatives from Michigan Tech and community leaders in the Grand Traverse (GT) region have discussed ways to partner and collaborate. For the GT community, a strong relationship with a world-class research university would attract new businesses, entrepreneurs and families. For Michigan Tech, a presence in the tech-forward, creative and industry-rich Grand Traverse area would attract new students, faculty and staff to the University.

Earlier this month, they made it official. The two communities entered into a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines their commitment to communicating and coordinating on collaborative educational and research projects.

“This is an exciting time for Michigan Tech and those in the Grand Traverse area,” said Les Cook, Michigan Tech’s vice president for strategic University partnerships, “as we embrace opportunities that will add value and strength to the work we do, those we serve and the impact we have on our communities, the state of Michigan and our world.”

The MOU outlined five areas of mutual interest the parties agree to explore: K-12/pre-college engagement, higher education, industry, economic development and community development. Specifically, Michigan Tech and members of the Grand Traverse Area Michigan Tech Steering Committee will collaborate to develop research and technology commercialization partnerships, tailored talent development programs and student-teacher placements.

They will also explore ways to provide educational opportunities and services with and through Northwestern Michigan College (NMC), a public community college in Traverse City. Founded in 1951, NMC enrolls approximately 4,000 students and offers associate degrees and professional certificates, along with bachelor degrees, through the Great Lakes Maritime Academy and the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute.

The MOU outlines potential collaborative opportunities in business development, entrepreneurial training in association with 20 Fathoms and community development projects related to health and wellness, mobility and health technology.

“The Grand Traverse Region is intentionally creating a vibrant ecosystem to incubate and grow businesses that create value through innovation,” said Bill Myers, chair of the Grand Traverse Area Michigan Tech Steering Committee and chief executive officer of Promethient, a Traverse City start-up that specializes in human scaled climate control technology.

“Traverse City was the birthplace of the third industrial revolution and digital manufacturing with the invention of numerical control by John Parsons and Frank Stulen in the late 1940s,” Myers said. “Businesses are now grappling with the challenges and opportunities presented by the fourth industrial revolution, including autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and sensors. Given their capabilities in these fields, it is the right time for an internationally recognized research institution like Michigan Tech to help our community build on its legacy of innovation.”

The Committee is an ad hoc, volunteer group of individuals interested in fostering Michigan Tech’s engagement in the GT region. Members will meet with representatives from Michigan Tech four times a year to evaluate the partnership and the status of projects and initiatives. The MOU does not empower the Committee to enter legally binding relationships. It also does not commit funds or other resources from either party.

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, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 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.