In Fall 2018, Michigan Tech hosted a series of campus conversations designed to position the University as an internationally recognized academic thought leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. More than 500 faculty, staff and students engaged in healthy dialogue centered around the following question: How will Michigan Tech influence and adapt to five disruptive forces?
“The Tech Forward conversations we've had this semester have been very productive. People from across the University, members of the community, and alumni have all contributed and provided their insights regarding the future of Michigan Tech. We listened carefully to all the different voices and are excited about how all of the conversations converged throughout the semester. We now have a framework that will help us to focus our efforts as we begin to plan for the future,” said Jackie Huntoon, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Nine institutional initiatives emerged around the following themes:
solutions to natural resource, water, and energy problems.
innovative autonomous and intelligent systems.
technological solutions to enhance human health and quality of life.
culturally receptive leaders for a diverse world.
education for the next generation.
In Spring 2019, nine team presented their committee's work to campus. The president extends his deepest congratulations and thanks to all of the Tech Forward initiative teams who continue to advance each of the initiatives on campus.
1) Advanced Materials and Manufacturing
The Advanced Materials and Manufacturing team will establish Michigan Tech as a global leader in research and education associated with advanced materials and manufacturing for a global circular economy. The project consists of two phases. In the first phase, the team will look to build partnerships and expertise, which will serve as a catalyst to develop a strategy for the initiative. In the second phase, the team will put the plan into action. This plan will include the development of education programs (e.g. enterprise teams, minors, graduate certificates) and a strong research footprint (labs, faculty working groups).
2) Autonomous and Intelligent Systems
The Autonomous & Intelligent Systems initiative builds upon the unique aspects of the university targeting land and water systems. It leverages our strengths in research and education, distinctive assets, our climate, terrain, and marine environments. We see Michigan Tech as well positioned to be a leader in research, development, testing and education specifically in unstructured environments and in extreme conditions. First year funding will support the development of both land and aquatic remote-controlled vehicles.
3) Data Revolution and Sensing
Thanks to the work of the Data Revolution and Sensing Task Force, Michigan Tech launched the College of Computing in July 2019. The mission of the new college is to advance education and research in computer science and computing-related fields for the benefit of the entire university and its stakeholders. Central to the mission of the new college is the creation of a number of “convergence” academic programs, which are defined as academic programs for which there are shared responsibility and shared credit among two or more academic units including the College of Computing. Similarly, the research activity in the College of Computing has both a core and an interdisciplinary component, which is closely aligned with the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems, a computing-focused research center at Michigan Tech with membership spanning 14 different academic units.
4) Diversity and Inclusion
The Diversity and Inclusion initiative supports the promotion of equity, inclusion, and collegiality to increase diversity and provide a welcoming and rich cultural environment. Michigan Tech is achieving these goals through targeted recruitment efforts utilizing out-of-the-box thinking and retention programs designed to impact a sense of belonging and campus climate. The University also recently hired its first Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion.
5) Education for the 21st Century
Changes in student expectations, the workplace, and the market are creating a highly competitive environment for higher education. In this new era, students are looking for engagement and value, employers are seeking agility and lifelong learners, and competition for efficient delivery of new content and skills is driving unresponsive universities and colleges out of business. Year one projects included the creation of the Innovation, Design, Engagement and Arts Hub, the design of a flexible self-discovering first year experience, the creation of a Tech Forward Pathways Program and the development of a Next Generation General Education Model.
6) Health and Quality of Life
Our goal is to create a vibrant campus where students, faculty and staff engage in research, learning and living. The result will be students that are resilient, manage stress, and create healthy habits with the underlying goal of increasing student retention. To increase the intellectual vibrancy of our campus, we will support faculty and staff through programs developed within the Health Research Institute (HRI). This initiative will create a reciprocal loop of engagement where engaged faculty help create engaged students, who in turn keep faculty engaged in exciting and meaningful intellectual endeavors.
7) Natural Resources, Water, and Energy
The Natural Resources, Water and Energy (NRW&E) initiative builds interdisciplinary collaborations to integrate and strengthen research efforts across natural, urban, and post-industrial landscapes. To help facilitate collaboration and organize our working teams, we've created Centers of Excellence in the areas of environmental restoration, remote sensing, and energy systems.
8) Policy, Ethics, and Culture
The Institute for Policy, Ethics, and Culture (IPEC) addresses the policy implications, ethical considerations, and cultural significance of the massive technological changes and disruptive forces currently underway worldwide.
9) Sustainability and Resilience
Sustainability is a powerful and transformative concept with the potential to change the way we educate students, conduct research, and address societal needs through the generation of new transdisciplinary knowledge and its translation into new technologies. Both sustainability and resilience are essential concepts and practices for students and the university, as we aim to be at the cutting edge of innovation and education for the 21st century. To address sustainability at Michigan Tech, the university recently launched a search for a full-time director of sustainability.