Karl Linderoth never planned to pursue a career in technology—in fact, he actively disliked computers when he was a student. But for the past 22 years, he has taught computer network systems and security (among other technology-related subjects) at Bay College.
Karl graduated from high school at Sault Ste. Marie Area Public Schools in 1983. Later that year, he went to Lake Superior State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in history, which he earned in 1987.
After graduating from LSSU, Karl found work in the area—and started getting interested in technology.
“I actually hated computers in high school, but I was hired by the Boy Scouts of America to organize Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs all over the Upper Peninsula. While I was doing that, I was also the director of Camp Hiawatha, the Boy Scout camp in Munising. There, I realized how much more organized I was using a computer instead of a crate full of papers, and that hooked me,” he said.
Karl went on to get a job at Michigan Works! running summer youth programs across the U.P. During the winter months, he was responsible for setting up small computer networks at local schools. Eventually, he got promoted to director of technology for Michigan Works!.
According to Karl, he worked in this capacity during the mid-to-late ‘90s—which meant he spent a great deal of time helping Michigan Works! prepare for Y2K.
“I learned from the school of hard knocks—they kept buying me things, and I had to keep learning how to use them,” he said.
After his time at Michigan Works!, Karl found employment at Escanaba-based internet startup Innovative Technologies. He worked there for a year and a half before learning that Bay was looking for an operating systems instructor.
“I did that for one year as an adjunct instructor; as luck would have it, they posted the full position during that year,” he said.
Karl has been a Bay College instructor ever since. While he fully refreshes his computer network systems and security program each year to keep up with technological advancements (and rewrote the entire program after earning his master’s degree from Ferris State University in 2004), he said the program’s scope has not changed dramatically.
“It has actually stayed almost entirely focused on computer network systems. However, Bay did pay for me to earn a degree in geographic information systems,” he said, noting that this process eventually allowed him to establish a GIS program at the college.
Still, Karl said the computer network systems program remains his “bread and butter”—and one of Bay’s top five programs.
“Students are smart, and they want to earn a degree that they can make money with. Cybersecurity has been a good degree for that for 20-plus years,” Karl said.
Bay has also recently taken a significant step towards enhancing its computer network systems offerings by teaming up with another Michigan-based community college.
“We just signed articulation agreements with Bay Mills Community College, which has a four-year IT degree that’s entirely online. If you do two years at Bay, you can do the last two years at home and get a four-year IT degree. Plus, Bay Mills’ IT program is excellent,” Karl said.
Karl said he has genuinely enjoyed spending the past two decades as a Bay instructor.
“I’ve love it here—it’s like working with a family all day. The staff and faculty care about students—they enjoy being here, and it shows,” he said.