Ask the Dean

Dr. Wallace Southerland III

According to the H-STEM website, the new facility will focus on “the application of science, technology, engineering, and math to improve human health and quality of life.” The project will also “permit teams of researchers and students from Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Biology, Chemistry, Cognitive and Learning Sciences, Computer Science, and Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology to work together in collaborative spaces with shared equipment.”




I am not sure if “changes” is the best word, but I am hoping for a few things with the construction of the new H-STEM building. For example:



 A problem-solving engine. The world’s problems are incredibly complex, and we need our best minds to come together to find grand solutions to grand problems. The H-STEM building will probably be a “laboratory” for interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinarity scholars and scientists to tackle and unpack global challenges to the human condition. Students should be working alongside researchers so they can learn methods that will enable them to leave Tech and solve problems.




A discovery engine. The new H-STEM building could also provide space for community and statewide practitioners to come together to hear and learn about the latest Tech discoveries that will serve as the fiery engine that fuels positive social change within our region and throughout Michigan. The H-STEM facility could be another bridge of hope and possibility between Tech and the state of Michigan…and the world.




A symbol of collaborative excellence. Michigan Tech is a STEM-focused university. We get it. We also have students interested in jazz studies, English, American Studies, Anthropology, art, automotive systems, accounting, diversity studies, communications, languages, journalism, leadership, and other non-STEM disciplines – all of which also make Tech an exceptional university. I would love it if the new facility was a model of intentional collaborative excellence between STEM and non-STEM disciplines. Probably won’t be easy, but what a dream!