Science is Spelled Excitement during STEM Awareness Month

Children running around with huge smiles on their faces, the sound of laughter and tons of exclaimed “whoas” is typically a scene from an amusement park. Or in Michigan Technological University’s case, a Science and Engineering Festival.

October is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Awareness month in Michigan. All month long, events have been held across the state, and right here in the Copper Country, to help youth become more interested in STEM subjects.

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar:

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar
Thursday, October 31, 4:00 pm, 641 Dow

Speaker: Xiao Sun

Title: Effects of Internal Curing on Permeability of Interface Transition Zone in Cement Mortar

Due to its high porosity, prewetted lightweight aggregate (LWA) is widely used as the internal curing medium to supply water for hydration or to mitigate moisture lost induced by self-desiccation or evaporation, thereby enhancing the sustainability of infrastructure. This research focuses on the pore structure and transport physical properties of the interface transition zone (ITZ) in cement mortar with internal curing. Mortar samples with and without LWA were made with the same water-cement ratio, which was 0.35. After curing for 28 days, the samples were polished, vacuum impregnated with fluorescent dye and cut into thin sections. The microstructures were characterized through scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging technique to exam the real differences of ITZ pore structure between two types of mortar. From those images, the two-dimensional digital samples contain pores, cement particles and fine aggregates were generated in micron scale. Based on the same porosities, the three-dimensional digital microstructures were generated using 3D image reconstruction technique. The permeability analysis was conducted on the 3D reconstructed pore microstructure. The permeasolver code developed by Dale Bentz and Nicos Martys at NIST was applied. The finite-difference method was conducted based on image pixels with artificial compressibility relaxation algorithm to solve the Stoker equation. Once the solution of the average velocity at four different depths converges to a fixed value, the permeability can be obtained from Darcy equation based on that velocity. A comparison of permeability between samples with and without internal curing was made. This study will demonstrate the effect of internal curing on the pore microstructure and transport properties at ITZ.

Xiao Sun is a second year PhD student of Michigan Tech. He works as a Research Assistant for Dr. Dai. His previous research topic is the microstructure and transport properties of concrete material. He received his undergraduate and graduate studies of fluid mechanics and hydraulic concrete structure from the universities in China.

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar: A Study of Vibrations and a Method to Suppress Them

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar:
Thursday, October 24, Room 641 Dow Building, 4:00-5:00 pm

Title: A Study of Vibrations and a Method to Suppress Them

Presenter: Benjamin Winter

Vibrations developed during drilling present challenges in an array of industries including mechanical, medical, structural, and oil extraction. Velocity weakening, intracranial vibrations, large amplitude standing pressure waves in material cavities, and failure of drill strings are prominent issues among these fields. Stick-slip (torsional) and bit-bounce (axial) vibrations have been found to be particularly problematic in precision drilling jobs such as machining to tight tolerances, dismantling vibration-sensitive devices, and surgical work. Current technologies to detect and suppress systematic vibrations have several shortcomings including malfunctioning, complete failure, complexity, and high power consumption. This paper proposes a method to suppress vibrations of drilling material surfaces using adaptive positive position feedback (APPF) control for efficient tunable damping. An experiment-based parametric study has been conducted to determine the relationship of force, rotational velocity, and acceleration on both drill vibrations and drilling material surface vibrations. Results of a parametric study and Rational Polynomial Fraction method are used to estimate fundamental behaviors of the drilling system to create a refined numerical model for simulating the drilling process. An APPF controller together with the model provided a method to evaluate new actuator designs for vibration suppression and has shown a 69.8% reduction of displacement vibrations.


Benjamin Winter is starting his second year of his PhD program in Civil Engineering at Michigan Tech. He is a student member of ASCE and AISC. During the school year, he works as a Research Assistant for his advisor Dr. R Andrew Swartz. During the school year he also mentors undergraduate students beginning research in structural control and system identification while preparing for K’nex bridge competitions. This fall he is continuing his interest in mentoring and teaching students as a Teaching Assistant for the undergraduate Structural Steel Design course and as a tutor for students for statics MEEM 2110.

Lake Superior Water Festival Shows Students Careers in STEM

2013 Lake Superior Water Festival at Great Lakes Research Center on Thursday, October 17

High school students from the five western UP counties will spend today at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, learning about the Great Lakes, water research and careers they might consider in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The Water Festival is sponsored by the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, based at Michigan Tech.

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar: Asset Management Basics

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar
Thursday, October 17, Room 641 Dow Building, 4:00-5:00 pm
Speaker: Dr. Timothy Colling

Title: Asset Management Basics

Civil engineers that work in public infrastructure are ultimately responsible for managing assets. This includes the long term operation and maintenance of these assets for the public good. Managing large networks of assets such as roads or bridges can be overwhelming for an engineer unless there is a structured “system” or method for analyzing condition, predicting need and allocating resources. This lecture will provide an overview of asset management concepts that can be applied to the management of any large network of assets. The discussion will focus on specific examples relating to pavement management, as well as providing illustrative examples for asset management for other more familiar assets such as cars and houses.

Tim Colling, PhD., P.E.- Director, Center for Technology and Training

Tim joined Michigan Tech in 2002, having spent the previous 9 years working as a consulting engineer for various firms in the Midwest. Tim is the Director of the Center for Technology and has been involved in a number of pavement management research projects as well as outreach and technology transfer projects including:

  • Tim is the primary instructor that teaches distress identification for
    the State of Michigan’s annual public road condition survey, where he
    develops training material and instructs classes annually for over 450
    practicing engineers and technicians that collect pavement distress data.
  • Tim developed training materials for several professional development
    classes focusing on pavement management and asset management that have
    been presented over 50 times over the course of the last three year to an
    audience of over 1,000 transportation agency staff.

  • In 2011 Tim was one of a ten member team representing the United States
    on the FHWA International Scan on Pavement Management. During the Scan
    Tim traveled to five countries and met with pavement managers from twelve
    countries learning about pavement management best practices.

7th Annual D80 Conference

The D80 Conference is a celebration of our efforts to solve issues that confront the world’s poorest 80%. Together we are creating a better future: Learn. Engage. Contribute

The Michigan Tech campus hosts this annual conference in the fall every year to give a platform to the voices of university students serving communities-in-need both domestically and abroad. Our conferences highlight service and research work done by students from Michigan Tech and elsewhere, and are open to anybody interested in development, design, and delight for the poorest 80% of humanity. The public is always invited to join us. This year’s conference was held during Family Weekend at Michigan Tech so many of our D80 students can share their experiences, stories, and motivations with the people who support them the most. 2013 theme: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability Continue reading

Civil Engineering Seminar: Intelligent Transportation Systems

Civil Engineering Seminar: Thursday, October 10, 2014, 4-5PM, Dow 641
Speaker: Jeffrey Lidicker, PhD., Assistant Professor in Transportation Engineering at Michigan Technological University

“What is ITS? All about Intelligent Transportation Systems, Michigan, and the current state of the technology imported directly from the US Department of Transportation meeting in Washington DC”


An introduction to ITS (intelligent transportation systems) will be presented along with information about employers in ITS. Did you know the state of Michigan’s involvement with ITS historically? You might be surprised. The talk will then cover wireless connected vehicle technology, its possible benefits, pitfalls, and what are the barriers to implementation. A meeting in Washington DC was just hosted by the United States Department of Transportation where the very current state of the technology was reported and our speaker was there in person along with all the auto manufacturers, state DOTs, and many equipment manufacturers. The talk will conclude with how MTU can fit into ITS?

Jeff Lidicker holds a doctorate in Transportation Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, a Masters degree in statistics and another Masters in mathematics. Professionally he was manager and statistician at the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, was director of Statistical Consulting Services at the Center for Statistical and Information Science at Temple University in Philadelphia. Before that he worked in the private consulting sector for the pharmaceutical industry. His current research interests are in Asset Management, Sustainable Transportation, Alternative Fuels, Life-cycle Assessment, Transportation Energy and Emissions, and ITS. In summary he has over 25 peer-reviewed publications including EV economics, pavement maintenance optimization with a life-cycle metric, hydrogen vehicle human factors, car-share, and transportation asset management.

Rail Transportation News

Governor appoints RTP Director Lautala to Commission: Pasi Lautala, director of the Rail Transportation Program (RTP) and assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering (CEE), was recently appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to the Commission for Logistics and Supply Chain Collaboration. The newly formed seven-member commission is housed within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and expected to work with MI local, state and regional governments and the Canadian government regarding supply chain issues such as economic development, trade and commerce, transportation, and industrial affairs. Continue reading