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HOUGHTON – When Michigan Technological University received word last December that the state legislature had authorized $29.7 million toward the construction of a new H-STEM Engineering and Health Technologies Complex, it was cause for celebration throughout the region. The state’s investment is part of a $44.7 million project that is expected to create jobs and draw top-tier researchers, faculty, and students to the Upper Peninsula. The university will raise the remaining $15 million through grants, contributions, and returns on research. Michigan Tech has already attracted attention throughout the state and across the nation for its strong return on investment and the above-average salaries of its graduates. The new H-STEM Complex will help the university better prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s health technology careers, while further contributing to Michigan’s economic development.
Health-related research and education at Michigan Tech is currently conducted in several different departments scattered throughout the campus. The H-STEM project includes a new space in the central campus area where faculty, graduate students, researchers, and undergraduate scholars can come together to do cutting-edge health technology research. The existing Chemical Sciences and Engineering building will also be renovated, replacing older, more dated research labs with student study spaces, teaching labs, and classrooms. The project is expected to break ground in 2021, with the official ribbon cutting following in 2022.
The new H-STEM Complex is expected to directly contribute to the region’s economy. According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, health-related professions will be among the most in-demand occupations through 2026. That means the state will need a strong generation of well-trained health professionals. And top-notch training requires world-class facilities. –STEM complex HDr. Jacqueline Huntoon, Michigan Tech’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, explains that in order to compete for more significant grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, the university must have outstanding facilities that ensure high-quality research. Those grants directly support the students, who in turn will feed the community and the region as they eventually launch careers and businesses across the U.P.
Dr. Huntoon notes, “Our vision for the future is for Michigan Tech to serve as a driver of economic development for the whole Western U.P. We have an incredible group of scientists and engineers, plus people who are interested in communication, business, and policy. By working together we can make this a hub for economic growth and workforce development. Health is an area where we can make a real difference.”
Several Michigan institutions are already working together to develop the next generation of health industry game-changers. Michigan Tech partnerships with Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, Central Michigan University, and UP Health System are guiding undergraduates who are interested in becoming physicians and physical therapists. A pivotal partnership with Portage Health Foundation has resulted in a $6.7 million investment in health-related research, endowed professorships, and internships for undergraduates, and student scholarships. In addition to guiding entrepreneurs and incubating business start-ups, the MTEC SmartZone joined with Michigan Tech to help establish a Leadership Roundtable for Health Solutions. It brings together leaders from 40 private- and public- sector health, education, and life science organizations who are exploring ways to improve the quality of life in the U.P. through new technologies, improved practices, and innovative approaches to healthcare delivery networks.
Although providing a quality educational experience is the driver behind the new H-STEM Complex, Dr. Huntoon sees another potential benefit. She says, “I think sometimes people forget that we’re up here in the U.P. They may not realize that there are a lot of really smart people here doing some very creative and innovative things. As our faculty start competing more and more successfully for larger dollar grants, people across the country will start paying more attention to Michigan Tech. They’ll be trying to figure out who we are and why we’re doing so well, despite our relatively remote location…or maybe because of it.”
About Michigan Technological University
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.www.mtu.edu
InvestUP is a private sector-led economic development organization keenly focused on driving economic growth across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Founded by the region’s leading private sector businesses and the region’s universities, its mission is to deliver business and job growth across the peninsula. www.investupmi.com