HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula and now attending Michigan Tech, one woman is taking what started as childhood fascination and is using that to focus her career path.

“When I was little, I had expressed a light interest in shipwrecks. My grandmother went to an auction. There was a beautiful picture of the Fitzgerald resting on the lakebed. She had gotten it for me and given it to me as a gift. I hung it up in my room and I was kind of entranced by it,” said Maci Cornish.

Cornish turned her fascination into an opportunity during her Summers in Munising.

“A couple of years ago I started working for shipwreck tours, Glass Bottom tours in Munising, I started working in maintenance. I thought that was a great intro into mechanical engineering and I’ll get to work with stuff hands on. Later that summer my boss approached me and asked if I wanted to work on the boat. I thought, why not. I gradually rose the ladder until I worked my way to first mate and narrator,” added Cornish.

Following in her father’s footsteps, Cornish is now a Mechanical Engineering Major at Michigan Tech.

“With years of robotics under my belt I said that’s perfect, I’ll go for mechanical engineering. Then I went to the career fair earlier this year. I talked to somegentlemen who work on shipbuilding in Marinette. I said that sounds really fun, I think I’m going to go for something like that. It tied into my summer job led me to getting my captain’s license and I was like, I can take this a couple steps further and tie it into mechanical engineering. I put my two fun interests together,” Cornish continued.

A young engineering student sits on the bow of the Lake Superior tour boat she works summers on in Munising, Michigan.
Husky Ahoy! Maci Cornish on the bow of the tour vessel Miss Munising. (Image courtesy Maci Cornish)

As she pursues her career path and passion for the water, Cornish is reminded of shipwreck that put her on this course.

“Being up here at Michigan Tech, there’s a lot of talk about the Fitzgerald which is definitely fitting. It’s nice to see the memory of the Fitzgerald is being passed on, even through younger generations.” Cornish continued, “I definitely feel like there is more of a buzz today especially with how dangerous sailing on the great lakes can be.”

Maci Cornish, a first-year engineer studying for her 100-ton captain's license stands by the Great Lakes Research Center on the Keweenaw waterway.
Maci Cornish always planned to go to Tech. Now that she’s here, she plans to make the most of it. Courtesy: Michigan Technological University

From a fascination with the Edmund Fitzgerald to her education and beyond, Cornish says she is supported in her journey.

“Shipwrecks are a bit of a weird niche for a little girl to get into. My family has definitely supported me all the way through and coming to Michigan Tech, getting my captain’s license, getting involved in the GLRC. And growing up in this beautiful area, I’m proud to say I’m a born and raised Yooper. It’s nice to be able to continue to make memories in the U.P. and on the water on Lake Superior.