Student Spotlight Series—Stephen Butina

Stephen Butina is a fourth-year student at Michigan Tech currently majoring in Management with a concentration in Supply Chain & Operations. Stephen is currently working as a Logistics co-op in the Logistics department at Greenheck Fan in Wausau, WI. While at school, Stephen works in the Office of Continuous Improvement as a Student Process Improvement Coordinator.

According to Stephen, “no day is typical” as far as his job in the Improvement Office is concerned. There are a multitude of tasks and projects that are a part of his job. In the mornings, Stephen checks the Improvement Office’s Kaizen event board to make sure he is up to speed with what he will be doing for the day as well as checking for different events on campus that people are working on to see if they need help coordinating their Lean event. He then goes on to check his emails and to check his personal Kanban board. Stephen’s personal Kanban board includes recurring tasks, various deadlines, and items that need to be checked at a later time. Using this tool helps Stephen organize his thoughts and spend more time doing “value-added” work for the Improvement Office, rather than wasting time trying to figure out what he is supposed to do. Lastly, he finishes up any blog post detailing the Improvement Office’s work that he publishes on the website.


Originally from an area ten minutes south of Houghton, Stephen has had the opportunity to explore the Keweenaw a great deal before coming to Michigan Tech. Stephen enjoys golfing, snowboarding, hunting, walking his dog, and hanging out with his family. Stephen is also an active member of the Leaders of Continuous Improvement. Stephen’s favorite thing about Michigan Tech is that he has met so many new people and feels as though he has grown as a person. Finding “friends that will be around forever” and getting to see new faces every day and meet new people has made Tech the perfect place for him.

From his time working for the Improvement Office at Tech, Stephen has had the opportunity to meet a number of great people dedicated to Lean. Lean has “opened my eyes to a lot of good people.” Having heard about Lean through his classes, Stephen has been learning as much as he can about Lean processes and continuous improvement theory, going to as many Lean events and training sessions as he can participate in. Stephen has also been reading books about Lean such as Andy & Me: Crisis & Transformation on the Lean Journey by Pascal Dennis, a book where the reader learns that Lean is more than just a collection of tools; it entails a new way of thinking and behaving. Stephen has been using Lean methods to help improve his grades and reduce his stress levels along with helping him become more organized. He is currently using a personal Kanban board for everyday use as well as an occasional Affinity diagram and 5S for small fixes. From using these different tools, Stephen has been able to keep himself organized by focusing on what is “value-added” towards his studies rather than stressing about various menial tasks. He has been able to organize himself to the point where he is comfortable relying on his Google Calendar and personal planner to effectively perform in both his personal and professional life which has shown significant improvements in his academic performance.

Michigan Tech Safety Manual

Michigan Technological University’s mission is to “prepare students to create the future” this requires students to be involved in the use of a wide variety of hazardous materials and processes that require special training and control measures to protect students, employees, and the environment from harm. To oversee this mission, Michigan Tech has created their University Safety Manual. This manual is to be referenced for the university’s policy on responsibilities, action plans, committees, and safety procedures including electrical, equipment, laboratory, and in general. At Michigan Tech, all students, faculty, and staff are all responsible for their individual safety performance and for the protection of the environment, it is the responsibility of all to maintain and prevent damage to the environment and follow the guidelines laid down by the university to achieve that.

mtu safety manualThe Safety Manual includes ten chapters on various procedures and protocols that may arise while working or studying at Michigan Tech. The first chapter begins with the Responsibilities of each university employee, faculty, or student on campus in regards to their own safety and the safety of others; the manual then goes on to specify Emergency Action and Fire Prevention; Safety Health and Environmental Policies; Safety Committees; General Safety; Storage and Handling of Hazardous Materials; Environmental Protection; Electrical Safety; Equipment Safety; and, finally, Laboratory Safety.

To review the Safety Manual please visit:

If you have questions on safety protocols, situations, or procedures please contact the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) at 906-487-2118 or email

Heart Rate Monitor Lab

The Directors in the Vice President for Administration met with Glen Archer, Principal Lecturer and Associate Chair, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Faculty Advisor, Blue Marble Security Enterprise, who led them through a heart rate monitor lab. The purpose of the lab was to introduce basic electrical engineering components and concepts, as well as function as a team building exercise. The group explored the basics of using a soldering iron to finish assembling a pre-designed circuit board. The participants plugged their amp into an adapter to finalize the board and confirm that all of the previous steps had been accomplished correctly, at the risk of damaging their adapter if they were not successful. After taking the final steps, and with the addition of a 9V battery at the end of the lab, each participant had a fully assembled heart-shaped circuit board with mounted LEDs that blink at their heart rate. If the circuit board assembly was unsuccessful and the LEDs did not blink at their heart rate, participants were given “debugging” tips to attempt to correct any mistaken steps.

The lab was successful and the Directors learned a great deal from Glen Archer and thank him for his time and energy with this lab.

Bob with a circuit board

Continuous Improvement Courses this Fall

Muda (waste), mura (unevenness), and muri (overburden); these are known as the “three Ms” that Lean works to eliminate. Originally developed by Toyota in an attempt to reduce waste and inefficiency in manufacturing operations, Lean principles are being adopted by organizations across countless fields in the name of continuous improvement. Lean principles are finding their way into our own university in the form of the Office of Continuous Improvement and—as of last year—a series of classes meant to introduce students to Lean concepts and to cultivate the Lean mindset. In the Fall semesters, ENT 3982 – Continuous Improvement Using Lean Principles, describes the evolution of the basic principles, methods, and tools Lean provides to continuously improve the workplace. The following spring semesters discuss a culture of continuous improvement based on humility and respect in ENT 3983 – The Culture of Continuous Improvement. After the first offering of these classes last year, students are already taking Lean methods and tools to other projects. About one such tool, the kanban board, team leader Kush Shah comments, “(the kanban board) brought collaboration, responsibility, and quality work back into our (Supermileage Systems Enterprise) team.”

Learn more about Lean at or register for a class on Banweb!


Standing Committees Website Changeover

The Vice President for Administration’s Business Operations Office is changing the Standing Committees webpage from the HTML webpages that it lives on now to the new CMS that UMC is working to standardize across campus.

Currently found here:

If you or your department has any standing committees or task forces on this website, please review:

  1. Who the committee reports to
  2. The committee charge
  3. Membership requirements
  4. Currently listed members

If there are any edits that need to be made, please email Business Operations at

2017 Policy Number Updates

The University Policy Office announce the issuance of new Policy Numbers for all University Polices currently in effect. In correspondence with the transfer of policy page from HTML to CMS, the policy numbering convention was simplified. For example: “2.1000 General University” was renamed to “1.00 General University”. The changes have been noted in each of the policy’s “Revisions” sections.

Please review your website for the old policy numbering convention, for any broken hyperlinks, and to make the appropriate changes to the policy names, numbers, and URLs.

If you have questions about the new policy numbering convention, please feel free to contact the University Policy Office at 7-2148.

Ski Area Safety Board Meeting

Michigan Tech’s Nick Sirdenis, General Manager of the Mont Ripley Ski Area attended the The Ski Area Safety Board bi-annual meeting that took place on June 1 in Lansing, MI. The meeting focused on adopting the 2011 ANSI code to replace the one currently in use from 2006. The meeting went into detail on how organizations will be able to adopt the 2017 ANSI code when it becomes available. The board also discussed changing a Michigan Code concerning trail closure. The Michigan Ski Area Safety Board meets twice a year, in the spring and the fall. All decisions made by the board run through legislation to become part of The Ski Area Safety Code of Michigan.


Wads Safety Pilot Project

In an effort to continuously improve the safety processes and procedures, The Vice President for Administration (VPA) is launching a Safety Initiative within the Wadsworth Dining area. Wadsworth Dining has made excellent strides to create and maintain a safe working environment for the staff and student workers. VPA’s Business Operations Office worked with the Safety Office and Wadsworth Dining management to brainstorm a plan to improve Wadsworth Dining’s safety features. The new safety initiative will include the standardization of the safety signs that are hung in the working areas within the dining center. Using American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sign standards, Business Operations created signs to replace the old signs in Wadsworth Dining.

The old signs (shown below-left) were cluttered with too many words and warnings on a single sign. They didn’t draw the eye and failed to communicate the message in a efficient way.

New signs (shown below-right) have a clear “Warning”, “Caution”, or “Notice” label across the top. They also have a pictorial representation of what the sign is communicating and clear and concise wording to let people who what needs to be done. Business Operations separated each warning into it’s own poster to better display the various potential hazards in the area.

Through the use of these signs, VPA hopes to increase awareness of the potential hazards in a standardized and consistent manner. By maintaining a constant safety presence through these signs, training, and safety outreach, Wadsworth Dining will foster a growing safety culture and take strides in reducing accidents and injuries.


Sully—In Print

Michigan Tech’s Campus Store Merchandising Operations Manager Shane “Sully” Sullivan, was interviewed for an article in the June Issue of The College Store Magazine, published by the National Association of College Stores. The article, titled “A Two-Way Street”, explored the benefits of empowering senior staff to “lead by example” in order to guide their department into a more productive and engaging mindset. Sully encourages staff to engage in a variety of volunteering opportunities, such as being a Lean Facilitator, sitting on a committee or working group, or joining a national association. Sully attributes volunteering on and off campus for the increased levels of customer out-reach, collaboration between departments, and personal and professional growth he’s seen in his department, his staff, and himself.



The Monberg Family Clock

The Monberg Family, long time patrons of the Portage Lake Golf Course (PLGC), have generously gifted Michigan Tech with the funds to install an 8-foot Exterior Time Clock at the Golf Course. The gift from the late Warren and Joan Monberg came with a letter from their son, Eric:

“Warren Monberg was born in Chicago, Illinois. He served in WWII, where he commanded a tank in the European Theater of Operations. Joan was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin and was in the Women’s Army Corps during WWII. In 1948, Joan and Warren married—one year before their first child’s birthday.

After the war, Warren attended the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago with the help of the GI bill. While attending college, Warren studied architecture with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. After graduation, Warren worked for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), an American architectural, urban planning, and engineering firm formed in Chicago in 1936. He worked at SOM until he met Herman “Winks” Gundlach who hired Warren to design his Woodland Road home which was once the Michigan Tech president’s residence until being converted into a sustainability demonstration house. Winks reportedly liked the house so much that he offered Warren a job as a Vice President in 1955. Warren moved to Hancock with his wife, Joan, and three children, and started playing golf at the Portage Lake Golf Course shortly thereafter. His father, Otto, was a golfer and an architect so “it was in the genes.”

All told, Warren and Joan had five children; Eric, Nicole, Mike, Dan and Marc. Of their children, Dan is described as the best golfer; he was on the varsity golfing team at Winona State University and may have been club champion at PLGC.

Warren and Joan were good friends with Verdie and Ginnie Cox and they both were active in the men’s and lady’s leagues. Warren’s regular partners were Forrest “Old Blue” Wilson, Jim Tormala, Bob Ellis, Evan Hughes, Dan Hackmeyer, Verdie Cox, and Herman “Winks” Gundlach. Warren and Joan loved to participate in the series of Short Stop tournaments that were held in Ontonagon, PLGC, Ishpeming, Iron River and other sites in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula. When the Monbergs were attending, the Short Stop Tournaments were big social events with dinner, dances, friendly betting on Calcutta’s (an open auction held in conjunction with a golf tournament, horse race or similar contest with multiple entrants) and some very competitive golf. Galleries of hundreds of people followed the championship nine hole match which often featured one the members of the Tizziani family, Pete Lenz, or Tom Cox from Houghton, Michigan.”

Eric Monberg goes on to say, “I have fond memories of playing during the summer, after work at Gundlach’s, with my father and one of our many Golden Retrievers. The dog always went for a swim in the pond on the second hole! At any rate, they really loved the life they led that involved PLGC and I can’t think of a better memorial for both of them than the starter’s clock.”

Eric and his brothers hope to relive some of the joy they remember from their youth, while visiting the memorial clock at the Portage Lake Golf Course this summer.

Clock Drawing