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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Do You Have a Future in Hurricane Disasters Prevention?

What are Atmospheric Sciences?

NASA defines atmospheric science as “the study of the physics and chemistry of clouds, gases, and aerosols (airborne particles) that surround the planetary bodies of the solar system.” It comprises a number of specialties, including climatology; dynamic meteorology; cloud physics, atmospheric chemistry; atmospheric physics; aeronomy; and oceanography.

Graduates with degrees in atmospheric sciences can be found working in a broad range of environments, including for the government, private weather services, the media, commercial airlines, state governments, colleges and universities, public utility companies, consulting firms, and aircraft and instrument manufacturing companies across areas comprising field research, laboratory studies, and computer analysis and modeling.

Why Atmospheric Sciences Matter

Barring the opinions of climate change disbelievers, hard science tells us that climate change is not only very real, but it’s packing a wallop in the form of extreme and unprecedented weather.

Explains Dr. Antti Lauri, Programme Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Master’s Programme at Finland’s University of Helsinki, “Hurricanes get their energy from condensation of water vapor over warm tropical oceans. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases act to warm the atmosphere and the oceans. This leads to larger evaporation from the ocean and stronger condensation of water vapor in the atmosphere. Therefore, in suitable conditions, hurricanes can grow more intense, with stronger winds and more precipitation.”

As a result, there is a critical need for experts with a multidisciplinary education in atmospheric and earth system. And as knowledge continues to expand and as new regulations and directives are implemented, people who understand this complex issue from a scientific point of view will be tasked with navigating the challenges ahead.

What, specifically, can atmospheric studies do to mitigate hurricane disasters? Continues Lauri, “In the short term, the simplest way is to discourage building in areas most prone to hurricane disasters. It is of course also possible to adapt by building stronger structures, introducing new alarm systems based on more accurate scientific results about the forming and evolution of hurricanes, and ultimately by introducing climate engineering methods such as injecting cooling sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere.”

As far as the long-term goal of preventing stronger and more threatening hurricanes from developing, Lauri calls for a strong decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, which can be achieved through strategies including the use of renewable sources in energy production and afforestation.

Be at the Forefront of Hurricane Disaster Prevention….in Finland?

Finland may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of hurricanes, but the University of Helsinki is not only home to a national center of excellence in the field of atmospheric sciences, but also plays host to global experts in the field.  Students in the program are exposed to word-class teaching and cutting-edge research while also having the unique opportunity to collaborate with dozens of research groups from around the world.

Equally as important, insists Lauri, is the programme’s multidisciplinary approach across physics, chemistry, meteorology, geophysics of the hydrosphere, and biology. “Our master’s programme in atmospheric sciences focuses in the holistic understanding of the earth system,” he says. “We work on different levels, from sub-atomic processes to understand the chemical reactions in the atmosphere to models describing the whole earth system.”

Still wondering why you’d undertake tropically related studies in a decided non-tropical location like Finland? You don’t have to live in a hurricane-impacted area to understand these storms and to play a role in defending the earth and its people from their devastation they cause. Explains Lauri, “Hurricanes obey the same physical laws as other meteorological phenomenal. We teach meteorology and convection on a level, which allows the student to concentrate on different phenomena related to convection, such as a hurricane.”

Tips to Pick The Right Student Loan

 1. Federal v. Private

First thing you need to do is decide whether you want federal loans, private loans, or a combination of both.

If you’re an undergraduate borrowing on your own, go for a federal loan.  Federal loans are generally safer than private loans—they’re less expensive and they have flexible repayment options.  You can also avoid defaulting on them, which will protect your credit score.

How do they work?  Put simply, the federal government pays the interest on federal subsidized loans, like the Stafford and Perkins loans.  The government may also pay the interest during certain periods of deferment. And, depending on your loan and career choice, you may qualify for a loan forgiveness program.

Why would you choose a private loan?  If your credit score is high—at least 740—and you have a co-signer, then some private loan options might work better for you than federal loans.

Compare fixed and variable rates—if you plan on paying off your loan longer than its term, some of those variable rates might be appealing to you.  The other thing to consider?  Loan fees.  Run a compare and contrast of your options.

Feeling unsure?  Contact your university’s loan office and ask to speak to a Financial Aid officer.

2. Loan Calculator

Use one.  These are especially helpful when you’re comparing and contrasting rates and fees for private and federal loans.

The Repayment Estimator on StudentLoans.gov is helpful because it tracks your monthly payment based on all the variables and types of loans involved.  Get a clear sense of what you’ll pay, how often, and for how long.

Make sure that your numbers are similar to the statement from your Financial Aid office.  If they’re not—ask.  Figure out why before you sign anything.

3. How much $$?

Decide how much you want to borrow—because that will be the amount you owe, plus interest, fees, and any other loan-related expenses.

Beware the variable interest rate, typically found in private loans.  Variable interest rates do as their name implies.  They change.  They increase over time.

Borrowing a lot of money from a private lender can work, even with a variable interest rate provided you know that you’ll have the resources to pay it back quickly—don’t let that interest rate vary too much.

4. Loan Repayment Plan

That loan calculator (see #2) will start the process of thinking about this.  For private loans, your repayment is often decided before you take the loan.  Be sure to read the fine print before you sign anything on a private loan.

Your goal?  Pay as little interest as possible.  What does this mean?  Pay down your loans quickly, so less interest accrues.

For federal loans, there are three main types of loan repayment plans:

a.     Income-based: pay 10-25 percent of your discretionary income over 25 years

b.     Pay-as-you-earn: pay 10 percent of your discretionary income over 20 years

c.     Income contingent: pay a combo of a and b

You can also prepay your federal student loans provided you have sufficient income, or access to funds.

Deferring is another option—but a potentially dangerous one.  You can apply to put off paying back your loans for reasons like illness, further education, major injuries, and unemployment.  Deferring doesn’t erase interest, though.  Deferring often increases your debt burden.  Better not to defer, unless you can’t avoid it.

Confused?  Don’t be.  While the loan process is daunting, go step-by-step, and make sound decisions.  Ask questions when you have them.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If the people you ask don’t give you clear answers, find someone else to work with.  It’s your money—and your future.

Why You Should Do a Multidisciplinary Master’s Degree

 The 411 on Multidisciplinary Master’s Degrees

“The knowledge economy requires an adept workforce and cadre of leaders to help address the many challenges and needs facing companies, governments and societies worldwide,” according to a recent piece published in the academic journal, Palgrave Communications: “Many of the challenges we face today are new and there will undoubtedly be others arising in the future that will require innovative approaches and solutions to overcome them. No longer are higher education institutions able to train graduates to address all of the current and emerging challenges from a singular disciplinary source.”

Enter multidisciplinary studies. Rather than teaching students to look at a problem within one intensive yet narrow context, this growing field encourages them to draw on a broad range of sources and subject matter. Explains thePalgrave Communications article, “Higher education disciplinary approaches often tend to focus only on a set of trees within a great forest. While disciplinary experts are essential for understanding particular ways of knowing within specific fields of study, their perspectives in addressing larger and more complex issues is often limited.”

In other words, the ability to solve complex problems ultimately relies not on extensive knowledge of a single focus area, but on the ability to apply critical thinking skills to make connections, synthesize different perspectives, and acquire new knowledge — all toward supporting the development of invaluable holistic perspectives. After all, what good is a solution if, in its lack of a broader context, it only creates new problems elsewhere? In giving students the freedom to roam outside the conventional constraints of a single discipline while tailoring their own degree programs to meet their academic visions, multidisciplinary programs open new doors (and windows) for today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders to devise new, comprehensive and lasting opportunities.

And contrary to common misconception, multidisciplinary studies aren’t just for students who don’t know what to study. Rather, a master’s degree in multidisciplinary studies can expand a student’s potential both within a specific area and also in terms of transferring that knowledge in the most meaningful and impactful ways (Note: if you aren’t yet sure of your career objectives, meanwhile, multidisciplinary studies can play a vital role in helping you narrow down your options).

An added benefit of allowing students to create and follow their own paths? They also develop a vested interest in their studies and are therefore more highly motivated.

Why Choose Multidisciplinary Studies at Hanze University?

Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Hanze UAS) in Groningen, the Netherlands sets the standard when it comes to multidisciplinary studies thanks to nine internationally recognized Master’s programs in business, communication, art,music and engineering.

For example, the aim of Hanze UAS’s European Master in Renewable Energy is to develop professionals capable of filling the gap between the growing industry demand for specialized renewable energy expertise and the skills currently available on the job market. An urgent demand also exists for trained staff specializing in renewable energy technology. Therefore the European Master in Sustainable Energy System Management’s focuses on the business aspect of energy transition and also offers an interesting career perspective.

The Master in Sensor System Engineering, meanwhile, prepares students for bright futures in the world of sensor technology, a subject area that is rapidly growing and which will provide all kinds of interesting career opportunities for ambitious engineers.

Lastly, the Master in International Business & Management offers a double degree with our partner university in Cambridge and has a unique boardroom concept that prepares students for complex decision making in a dynamic international business environment. (Interested in where the Master in International Communication will lead you? Watch this video to find out in which parts of the world some of our alumni have ended up.)

What do all of these programs share in common? They aren’t just focused on educating students, but also on cultivating tomorrow-ready leaders. With society facing more challenges than ever due to the increasing rate of globalization and digitalization, the demand for multidisciplinary teams of flexible and innovative experts in their fields is growing. Hanze UAS trains students to see issues and problems in their rightful context and from there to transform them into opportunities. Its Master’s programs build on the knowledge and abilities students have acquired during their undergraduate studies and encourage them to deepen their understanding within their areas of expertise while linking this knowledge to other relevant areas.

An added benefit of choosing Hanze UAS? Groningen is the place to be for students. A dynamic, innovative, thought leader in areas such as culture and technology, Groningen was recently crowned “Best Student City of the Netherlands 2016” by Dutch news magazine Elsevier and research firm ResearchNed. This vibrant city scored highest on measures of cultural hotspots, nightlife and restaurants, and relative student population.

In fact, what truly sets Groningen apart from other cities in the Netherlands is its low average age. Almost 25 percent of its 200,000 citizens are students! The 40,000 students who call Groningen home during their studies at the University of Groningen and Hanze UAS bring the city to life. The two universities also share facilities and collaborate — meaning exponentially larger opportunities for students at both schools. The takeaway? Choosing Groningen means choosing the best student experience you can get!

In sum, choosing to pursue a Master’s at Hanze UAS offers the following amazing benefits:

– Obtaining a MSc, MA or MBA title in 1 to 1.5 years

– Pursuing interests in greater depth

– Gaining a multidisciplinary perspective

– Building and expanding professional networks

– Experiencing life in the diverse, student-centric community of Groningen

For more information on how multidisciplinary studies in one of Hanze UAS’s international Master’s programs can help you reach your academic and professional goals,  download a brochure, check out the school’s Facebook page, or visit on Open Day this Friday, April 7th or  the Master’s Market on Tuesday May 2nd to take a tour of the campus and the city while also meeting with lecturers and students from the programs.

STEM, STEAM, and Where Creativity Fits into the Mix

 STEM Versus STEM

STEM is an acronym which brings together the four basic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math. While educators have been combining these subjects in classrooms and curricula for decades, the STEM branding first emerged in the early 2000s. Countries all over the world have since established clear priorities aimed at inspiring more students to pursue STEM studies and the necessary skills they represent for the workforce.

Somewhere along the way STEM transitioned into STEAM. Now a widely adopted movement among schools, businesses, and individuals,  STEAM proposes that artists — and the creativity they embody — are the key to driving innovation. Says STEM to STEAM, “In this climate of economic uncertainty, America is once again turning to innovation as the way to ensure a prosperous future…Yet innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. Art + Design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century.”

The “Secret Sauce”

The website Edutopia, meanwhile, goes so far as to describe creativity as “the secret sauce in STEM.” Ainissa Ramirez, PhD, author of the TED Book Save our Science, recipient of MIT’s “Top 100 Young Innovators Award,” and self-proclaimed Science Evangelist, says of creativity, “It is a STEM virtue. While most scientists and engineers might be reluctant to admit that, and to accept the concept of STEAM (where A is for Art), I’ve witnessed that the best of the best are the most creative.”

Ultimately, insists Ramirez, “Creativity breaks the ice to enable learning….the skills of the 21st century need us to create scholars that can link the unlinkable. These scholars must be willing to try many combinations before finding the right answer. They must be comfortable with concepts that they can play with in new ways. We want smart-thinking creative people. This is the formula for a better tomorrow.”

In other words, while science, technology, engineering and mathematics may indeed go hand and hand, it is creativity that elevates them toward innovation.

Are You Unknowingly Creative?

The good news? While scientists may not think of themselves as creative, a growing body of evidence suggests that the best of them are. In fact, a study which appeared in the August 2013 Economic Development Quarterly links childhood exposure to the arts with successful STEM entrepreneurship in adulthood.

And while the jury is still out regarding whether the relationship is causal and, if so, in which direction (i.e., “Do STEM-inclined students have lots of interests outside science or do the arts boost science ability?” asks a Science 2.0 blog), the study reaffirms the role creativity plays in STEM.

Which begs the question: Why? Continues Science 2.0, “Such activity fosters out-of-the-box thinking, the researchers said. In fact, the group reported using artistic skills – such as analogies, playing, intuition and imagination – to solve complex problems.”

The overall takeaway, as Michigan State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development director Rex LaMore told Science 2.0 is clear: “Inventors are moSTre likely to create high-growth, high-paying jobs in our state, and that’s the kind of target we think we should be looking for. So we better think about how we support artistic capacity, as well as science and math activity, so that we have these outcomes.”

Innovation Means Creation

Need more proof that creativity counts when it comes to STEM? Think of it this way: What would Apple have been without the incredibly creative mind of Steve Jobs, who himself was a passionate advocate for the integration of technology and the arts and who once said, “Picasso had a saying. He said, ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas and I think part of what made the Macintosh great was that the people working on it were musicians and poets and artists and zoologists and historians who also happened to be the best computer scientists in the world.”

But Jobs also pointed to a disconnect between the two, telling the Wall Street Journal, “People from technology don’t understand the creative process that these companies go through to make their products, and they don’t appreciate how hard it is. And the creative companies don’t appreciate how creative technology is; they think it’s just something you buy. And so there is a gulf of understanding between the two of them.”

A recent report, “Ready to Innovate,” from global, independent business membership and research association The Conference Board looked into the question of whether educators and executives were adequately aligned when it came to the creative readiness of today’s workforce. Its conclusion? “In this new environment, innovation of products, services, and processes is essential if companies hope to create competitive advantages, satisfy increasingly powerful global consumers, and prevail economically in a sustainable fashion. This emphasis on innovation will depend on strong creative skills from new entrants to the workforce. As businesses seek out this creative talent and as schools recognize the importance of cultivating creative abilities, both sectors see involvement in the arts and other work experience as markers of creativity, along with cultural diversity and self-employment.”

It’s easy to get tripped up in the sometimes contentious debate over STEM versus STEAM. However — given the increasing body of evidence pointing to the inextricable intertwining of STEM and creativity and regardless of your personal.