Class is back in session! The much-anticipated, upcoming semester(s) have educators and students alike brimming with excitement and anticipation. Not only will class formats closely resemble the style of years past, schools will be offering new programs, curricula and grand openings. MCM reached out to our local colleges for an overview of what’s new for the 2021-22 academic year. Take a look at what each one has to offer … what a great time to be a student!
Kettering University Bright Future
Having established itself as a global leader in STEM education during its first 100 years, Kettering University is now positioning itself and its students to be key players in the fast-paced world of mobility for its next century.
In Spring 2021, University President Dr. Robert K. McMahan outlined Bright Future, a vision for the University that aims to redefine educational delivery to meet the demands of emerging technology and industries – while ensuring institutional and student success for the next century.
Part of this includes the development of two new academic departments: the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Natural Sciences (launched in Summer Term 2021).
The Department of Chemical Engineering is part of the College of Engineering. The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering has been one of the fastest-growing degree programs at the University since its initial offering in 2008.
The Department of Natural Sciences encompasses the former departments of chemistry/biochemistry and physics and their programs.
As we move into its final year of construction (completion expected by Fall 2022), the Learning Commons is more than 50 percent complete. The University officially broke ground on the four-story, 105,000-square-foot structure on February 5, 2020. The state-of-the-art facility will serve as the academic hub on campus, housing a digital library, auditorium, dining facilities, media resource centers, multiple collaboration spaces, a guest suite and more.
Designed by world-renowned architectural firm, Stantec, the $63 million building project is facilitated by Clark Construction of Lansing and multiple Flint community contractors and made possible by contributions from alumni and community donors. Not funded in any way by the students, it is FOR the students.
New Courses / Degree Programs
Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE)
In a direct response to emerging industries’ need for engineers who can innovate and work across traditional discipline boundaries, this new multidisciplinary engineering program combines elements of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering and computer science.
Careers BSE students could focus on are multidisciplinary. They may work in intelligent manufacturing or apply their mechatronics or robotics skills toward mobility, healthcare, energy or communication. The program provides a foundation in computer, electrical, industrial and mechanical engineering principles. After completing the foundational courses, students can choose concentrations in Manufacturing Systems, Mechatronics Systems or Robotic Systems. Concentrations including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Artificial Intelligence will be added in the future, as new needs are identified.
Math for Social Justice Elective (Fall 2021)
This combines math and communications to show how the subjects can work together to address topics including climate change, human trafficking, elections and voting, and racial justice utilizing math modeling, statistics and data.
Esports Scholarship for Fall 2021
Kettering’s new – and only official – varsity sport, esports – celebrated its first year since launching in January 2020 with one of the state’s largest rosters and the April 2021 announcement of a scholarship for incoming students ($4,000/annually, renewable). As of July 2021, two students are already receiving scholarships for Summer Term and more will be eligible/available.
“Our curriculum has to shift to reflect the realities of the technologies that are going to be foundational in the future. So, the University has to reevaluate what it’s doing and how it’s doing it; what the curricula are, what curricula we need to add, what curricula we need to eliminate or rethink. And then, we need to act. All of these things are part of grand revisioning of what it takes to be the best at educating great leaders and innovators – something we are known for the world over.”
Dr. Robert McMahan, President
Mott Community College
Changing Lives for a Changing World
It is a changing world out there – not just because of the COVID pandemic and the restrictions it imposed on everything and everyone for more than a year – but because global connections influence every aspect of our lives. Being prepared to compete in a global marketplace is key to individual success and to the success of our local, state and national economies.
Mott Community College is ready to help students prepare for a changing world with a supportive learning environment and degree and certificate programs that will open more opportunities for success for everyone from current high school students who want to dual enroll, to recent high school grads ready to get started, or for people already in the workforce who want updated skills and a credential.
“There has never been a better time to go to college,” states Jason Wilson, Vice President for Student Academic Success. “Two new statewide scholarship programs are making community college free for frontline workers and those 25 and older, so earning a college credential just got easier for a lot of people.”
The two state-funded programs offering free community college tuition are Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect. Frontline workers who worked through the pandemic, and Michiganders 25 and older, who do not already have a degree, have an opportunity to earn an associate’s degree or skills certificate. While Futures for Frontliners has closed its application process, Michigan Reconnect is still accepting applications at michigan.gov/reconnect/.
Frontliners like Brandon Wesley, 26, of Flint, jumped at the chance to return to college after stepping out to work full-time in health care. “The Futures for Frontliners program was the deciding factor in my return to college,” Wesley says. “I told myself I would do it right this time, go to completion and earn my degree.” His goal is to earn a nursing degree at MCC and then transfer to UM-Flint to become a nurse practitioner.
Wesley is on track to join one of the fastest growing career fields. Demand for healthcare occupations is projected to grow 15 percent by 2029, adding about 2.4 million new jobs to the economy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
When classes resume in September, Wesley will join his fellow frontliners and more than 500 Michigan Reconnect students at MCC, for a combination of in-person, hybrid and online courses. The College will continue to require masks indoors for the fall semester, and encourages students and staff to get vaccinated to help protect themselves and others.
“We are looking forward to engaging with our students face-to-face again,” Jason Wilson says of the upcoming fall semester. “We have some great things planned for Student Life this coming academic year to make our students’ college experience special,” he says, adding “as we have learned to appreciate in the past year and a half, it’s better when we’re together.”
Michigan State University Extension
Family Enrichment Series
Happy Kids, Happy Parents, Happy Home
A year ago, the MSU Extension began offering a program – the Family Enrichment Series – created with the goal of helping families live happier lives. The series has been very successful, according to Anne O’Rourke-Bean, Parenting Instructor and co-founder of FES. Also on the team are co-founder and nutrition instructor Lynette Kaiser, Playtime Instructor Patricia Marrs and Kevin Zoromski, who handles the data collection and evaluation of FES.
O’Rourke-Bean explains that the FES provides guiding principles for effective parenting including the importance of establishing routines, the Thinking Time Spot, consequences, nutrition education and playtime. “We are there as a support system for families,” Kaiser adds. Sessions are currently presented virtually, but they expect to go face-to-face in September or October of this year. It is available to families in Flint and Genesee County.
Kaiser’s nutrition classes include ways families can eat healthy on a budget. “We teach parents about how important nutrition is for children,” Kaiser states.
“And we show them how to make it happen in their everyday lives.”
O’Rourke-Bean teaches parents the importance of establishing a routine. In the Thinking Time Spot segment, she shares techniques that parents can use to help kids find a spot where they can sit, calm down, and identify their feelings and emotions. She also teaches parents how to talk about consequences (natural, logical and imposed) of their children’s actions. “This teaches kids how to solve a problem and learn from their own mistakes and choices,” O’Rourke-Bean explains.
Playtime is also an important aspect of FES. There are two groups – one for infants-age two, and regular playtime for children aged two and a half to age five. “Playtime with Patti is making a big impact with both the parents and the children,” says O’Rourke-Bean. The playtime instructor also works with kids of any age.
FES Zoom sessions have been held at various locations including Hamilton Community Health clinics, Flint Unity School and World of Wonder Preschool in Fenton. They also received a grant for virtual sessions at Neithercut Elementary School that were held in May and June. The Neithercut Family Enrichment Series included virtual sessions about parenting skills for parents of kids of all ages and nutritional education for the whole family. The families each received a Flint Fresh Box, $50 grocery card, a kitchen utensil and a cookbook.
Kevin Zoromski says the feedback about FES has been positive. Program participants complete pre- and post-evaluations of their experiences. “I wish I would have had this available to me as a young mother,” Lynette Kaiser shares. “It’s a big deal for us to be doing this. It has been a very important mission for all four of us,” O’Rourke-Bean adds. “We’re excited that we have had the opportunity to be a support system to families and see them discover that they can help themselves and help their children to succeed – not just in the family, but in the world, as well.”
NEW Sleep Education for Everyone
Each Zoom session is designed to last about 30 minutes each. The modules include a short (2-3 minute) educational video designed to deliver key concepts. The remainder of the time is spent discussing the topics, brainstorming solutions to possible obstacles to improving sleep, and goal setting.
University of Michigan-Flint
New Curriculum, New Building, New Possibilities
This year will mark UM-Flint’s 65th anniversary – and what a time for students! The much-anticipated College of Innovation and Technology (CIT) will open for students and faculty for the first time. The CIT will fill a gap in the technology and workforce that exists between vocational technical training and the science-based degree programs in engineering and computer science. Built for collaboration, the expansion that houses the CIT is cutting-edge. (For an inside look, visit the March 2021 issue of My City Magazine.)
Starting with the 2021 fall semester, the University is offering two new degree programs for aspiring students:
- Data Analytics – use data to solve real world problems and become a valuable asset to any organization. Possible job titles include: Data Engineer, Market Research Analyst and Financial Analyst.
- Urban Science – explore the science of cities. This interdisciplinary program provides expertise in qualitative, quantitative and geospatial methods to analyze social, political and built-environmental challenges facing cities and their metropolitan regions. Graduate and give back to the city that you love.
For campus resident students, four new learning communities are offered for the fall 2021 semester:
- Promise Scholars Residential Learning – is offered as a support system for students selected for the EOI Promise Scholars Program.
- Global Learning – will allow students to prepare for life in a globalized world through cross-cultural interactions and experiences.
- Innovation and Technology – partnered with the CIT, this will allow students interested in innovation and technology to explore ways to help our collective future.
- Gender and Sexuality – will offer students who are interested in deepening their awareness an understanding of issues impacting members of women, survivors, and the LGBTQIA+ communities.
With two new (to UM-Flint) programs, the University has become more affordable to students:
- Go Blue Guarantee – beginning in the fall, full-time, undergraduate, in-state students will automatically qualify for the award if they have a family income of $65,000 or less and assets below $50,000. Incoming students will also need a high school GPA of 3.5 or above to qualify for the Go Blue Guarantee and be eligible for up to eight semesters of free tuition (four semesters for transfer students). Returning students will be eligible and must have a GPA of 3.0 or above.
- Blue For You – UM-Flint wants all their students to succeed academically and financially. With Blue For You, more scholarships, stipends and grants are available than ever before. Expert support is offered to help students navigate their many opportunities.
To take everything one step further, UM-Flint, the City of Flint and GST Michigan Works! have recently entered into a partnership that combines each of their job training and education programs into a single effort to help city residents find jobs and earn degrees. New resources include: financial assistance for returning to school, childcare, technology and transportation assistance, and guidance from professionals.