Not really. It’s more of a metaphoric rain.
The weekend before last was Homecoming, you see, and it’s also the time of year when that persistent, damp drizzle can hang around for days at a time. It didn’t this year—which was great—and was in fact plenty warm enough for cardboard boats to mostly float and the fall colors to almost be at their peak.
And for anyone who has been here, just to the area even once, we all know how important Lake Superior is to us. The Great Lakes Research Center is a hub of water investigation. It made me realize just how centered around H2O our celebrations are.
K-Day is at McLain State Park, one of a very small handful of my favorite places on the planet—Great Sand Bay, Cannon Beach, Oregon, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver are also on that list—makes for a beautiful backdrop to a cacophony of student activities. The salt freighter came through the Keweenaw Waterway last week, a kind of annual landmark for the end of summer, hundreds of feet worth of ship dropping off what we need for when the water it glides on becomes ice on the ground and in the air.
And then Homecoming, with cardboard boat races, and Winter Carnival, with everything, celebrate this same molecule. When Alumni Reunion comes around, boat cruises are a popular affair. It reminds me of what we value here: hard work, new ideas, and making the absolute best use of the materials we have. It’s part of being remote, part of being within an environment. But somehow, it’s a deeper thing than that. And it’s something I’m reminded of each morning, over the bridge—which has its own festival, let’s not forget—as I watch that ribbon extend to the sun and slowly turn to ice.
I’ve heard it and you’ve heard it: so many people who come to school here would love to stay. Of course we would. The inevitable problem has been the small size of our community—it’s tough to support a lot of the industries our majors fall into with our location.
But that’s changing.
I got an email from David Rowe at Systems Control yesterday, highlighting the fact that they’re expanding their Iron Mountain facility in addition to moving into the Michigan Tech Smartzone offices here in Houghton not too long ago. It’s a trend we’re seeing more and more: the employers are coming to us now.
David and I have exchanged a few emails over the last little while about the local job market, and with the way Career Fair is overflowing more and more each time and Systems Control is expanding, I wanted to share this part of his message with you:
Given our markets, and the nature of our business, we could be located anywhere in the USA. Our decision to open an office in Houghton was largely driven by our desire to provide an opportunity for MTU students, who have interned/co-op’d with us in Iron Mountain, to continue to work for us on a part time basis when they return to school at Tech. We also want to attract more Tech graduates for full time employment with us, either in Houghton, Iron Mountain, or Pewaukee, WI.
Many people come to Tech seeking a quality education and find themselves falling in love with the area. They seek ways to stay here or return here. I spent the majority of my professional career growing a group of business based primarily in Denver, CO. Upon my return to the area a couple of years ago, I was pleased to find a growing and vibrant hi-tech business environment blossoming in the Copper Country. We seek to add to that growth.
With our graduate enrollment increasing and plans for further increases, I wouldn’t be surprised to see us become a high-tech outpost up here. I’m trying to think of a name that hasn’t been taken already. Maybe the Silicon Tundra?
We’re just past midterm season if you can believe it. I’ve watched my students doing their best to survive calculus and chemistry exams. I’ll freely admit to not envying them. It’s intense, not something I think I could do at this point.
It’s also the hard grind now to Thanksgiving, what I think is probably the longest stretch of putting heads down and getting to it we have during the school year. If you know a current student, now’s probably the time for any encouragement or advice you can offer.
And finally, I was thinking of the map that is outside of International Programs and Services here in Admin. It has pins in it representing each place in the world where our students have come from. I’d love to build a second map. All of the places our students have gone after their time at Tech. Barring that, are there any places you’ve been that you never could have imagined?
Thanks for reading.