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Michigan Technological University: Powering the next generation of electrical and computer engineers

Giovana Azzi Lemke travelled from Brazil to the US with one goal: to be the best engineer she’s always aspired to be. She first went to the US in 2012, as an exchange student at Michigan Technological University. One year was not enough — there was something about Michigan Tech that kept drawing her back. “After one year at Michigan Tech, I loved it so much that I decided I wanted to come back for my graduate studies,” Lemke says.

Michigan Technological University

Giovana Lemke – Source: Michigan Technological University

After graduating from her undergraduate programme at a Brazilian university, Lemke set her sights on pursuing a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering with Michigan Tech’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Michigan Tech seemed to have the biggest array of Power courses offered,” Lemke says.

Fast forward a few years later and Lemke is now an accomplished engineer. “The top three hard skills I believe I have gained at Michigan Tech are technical power systems knowledge, presentation skills, and project management skills due to all the deadlines we were expected to meet as a graduate student,” she says. “As far as soft skills go, definitely problem-solving, teamwork and work ethics.” Today, Lemke works as a Protection and Control Engineer in Iron Mountain, Michigan. “All of the skills I believe I have gained at Michigan Tech are widely required in the industry,” she shares.

Michigan Tech has a long established reputation for producing dynamic engineers. It is ranked number 89 in US News and World Report’s Best Engineering Schools ranking. In four of the last five years, it recorded a 100% placement rate for students in one of its top master’s programmes. Starting salaries for graduates are high, at an average of US$78,375.

What’s behind this impressive track record? Start with the department’s deep links with industry and alumni. “This really helps graduates to connect with industrial leaders after graduation,” says alumnus Rashiduzzaman Bulbul from Bangladesh, who is currently employed in Systems Control (located in Iron Mountain, Michigan) as Senior Protection And Control Engineer Lead.

Michigan Technological University

Rashiduzzaman Bulbul – Source: Michigan Technological University

Together with the International Programmes and Services (IPS) office, the department helps them to overcome cultural differences and language barrier, as well as getting accustomed to American professional etiquette policies. This is a big perk for international students. “I believe the skills I learned from Michigan Tech not only helped me to get a job but also assisted me to be successful in my professional career,” Bulbul shares.

A hands-on approach to learning also helps. “The experiences I have received on power systems software (i.e., PowerWorld, ASPEN and Matlab) gave me a high level of confidence in the early stages of my career which helped me to prove that I would be a great asset to my employer in near future,” Bulbul added.

Alumnus Jaya Raghavendra Arun Kumar Yellajosula agrees. “The labs and research projects helped me gain hands-on experience with power system equipment, software, and communication protocols,” says the Integration and Automation Engineer at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. “This hands-on experience helped me to quickly come on board for the R&D projects and deliver the results with the highest quality.”

Another graduate Yachen Tang, from China, says this approach led to him gaining “the most valuable lesson” in his Michigan Tech degree. “The instructor will arrange the project tasks and the knowledge that may be involved,” Tang says. “How to implement it requires continuous experimentation and learning by each student. This is the same as actual work. No one will specifically teach you how to do it but they will give some opinions and suggestions.”

Michigan Technological University

Jaya Yellajosula – Source: Michigan Technological University

In other words, Michigan Tech graduates are well suited to jump straight into their careers — in the US and abroad. Plus, with more than 220 student organisations to participate, laugh, and learn with, they’ll have memories to last for a lifetime. “Apart from having a wonderful curriculum, Michigan Tech has wonderful and helpful administrative staff and numerous events to help you socialise and interact with a large group of multinational students. Make sure to pack extra warm clothes and plan a skiing and skating trip whilst you’re here — trust me, it is the most fun thing to do!” says Yellajosula.

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