Category Archives: News

Rail Transportation Program to Co-host Midwest Conference

Midwest Rail Conference 2017

The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program is among the hosts of the Midwest Rail Conference in August. Co-sponsors include the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and a group of organizers.

Formerly the Michigan Rail Conference, this newly-expanded program now has a regional focus with co-organizers, like the Freight Rail Transportation Committee (AR040) of the Transportation Research Board and the National University Rail Center (NURail).

AR040 also is bringing their Summerail 2017 event, and NURail will add their annual meeting to the event. The theme of this year’s conference is “Midwest Connections: Passenger and Freight Rail Look to the Future!” #MWRailConference.

The conference gathers rail industry representatives and supporters to discuss issues and opportunities for Midwest rail activity. This year’s conference will be held from Aug. 15-17, 2017, at the Fetzer Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

There will be technical presentations, panel discussions and a networking reception. Joseph McHugh, senior vice president and chief for Amtrak Government Affairs and Corporate Communications will provide the keynote address.

The conference is open to anyone interested in the rail industry, but should be of particular interest to federal, state and local government representatives, transportation industry professionals, colleges and universities, the interested public, students and the media.

The conference organizing committee is offering students a limited number of scholarships to cover the conference registration and field trip fees. The early bird registration rate has been extended until Friday June, 30.

Detailed conference information and links for registration can be found on the conference website.

For more information regarding the conference, contact David Nelson (CEE) at dannelso@mtu.edu. To register contact alkerttu@mtu.edu.


Pasi Lautala on Interdisciplinary Programs

Pasi Lautala
Pasi Lautala

The pathway to success is paved with more than a little advice. Students, job candidates and employees need public speaking skills, and they also need to learn the craft of salesmanship. In addition, some experts predict that regardless of college major, everyone needs coding skillsFinance and accounting majors need big data analysis skills. If this is starting to sound like a potpourri of requirements, well, that’s the point. In the future, success at work will be characterized by the ability to excel in more than one discipline or area – and an interdisciplinary degree could be vital.

Pasi Lautala, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Rail Transportation Institute at Michigan Tech, tells GoodCall®,

If interdisciplinary was a novelty in the past, today it’s becoming a standard.

In fact, Lautala says it should be the expected norm, since it’s rare for anything to be developed or completed under a single disciplinary.

“We’re witnessing that first hand in the development of 21st century transportation, where automated vehicles, trains, drones, etcetera, are all dependent on the interdisciplinary components, such as intelligent transportation systems infrastructure, alternative power and propulsion systems and constant communication/information exchange between vehicles and infrastructure.”

As a result, Lautala says, “Civil, mechanical, electrical, and even materials engineers are all under the same umbrella.”

Read more at GoodCall®, by Terri Williams.


Steel Bridge Team on Facebook

Steel Bridge TeamSchool is out for the academic year. But just like Michigan Tech research, competition knows no season. Summer events are a given for many student organizations including Supermileage Systems, Formula SAE—and Steel Bridge, one of 43 qualifying teams heading to national competition at Oregon State University on May 26-27, 2017. Eleven weeks and 900 hours of work were on the line, along with the commitment to rebound from a disappointing collapse at the 2016 event.

Michigan Tech’s team took first place overall at the 2017 North Central Regional Competition sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction and American Society of Civil Engineers. It also placed first in three out of six subcategories:  stiffness, efficiency and lightness. The other three categories are construction speed, construction economy and display.

The Tech Team finished an impressive 12th among the 43 teams this weekend. Details can be found on Facebook.

Original story by Cyndi Perkins.


MDOT Funding for Leo Liu Group

Zhen Liu
(Zhen) Leo Liu

Leo Liu (CEE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $149,000 research and development contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation. Stan Vitton (CEE), Min Wang (Math) and Michael Billmire (MTRI) are Co-PIs on the project “Develop and Implement a Freeze Thaw Model Based on Seasonal Load Restriction Decision Support Tool.”

This is a two-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.


Michigan Tech Well Represented at 2017 Joint Rail Conference

Pictured: Dr. Pasi Lautala, Aaron Dean, and Soumith Oduru
Pictured: Dr. Pasi Lautala, Aaron Dean, and Soumith Oduru

The Rail Transportation Program Director, Pasi Lautala, undergraduate research assistant Aaron Dean (MEEM) and graduate research assistant Soumith Oduru (CEE) presented four papers at the conference. Oduru also received the ASME Rail Transportation Division (RTD) Graduate Student Conference Scholarship of $1100 and Dean received the ASME Rail Transportation Division (RTD) Undergraduate Student Conference Scholarship of $800.

The paper titles were “Incorporating Life Cycle Assessment in Freight Transportation Infrastructure Project Evaluation” (Oduru, Lautala), “Effectiveness of Using SHRP2 Naturalistic Driving Study Data to Analyze Driver Behavior at Highway-rail Grade Crossings” (Dean, Lautala, David Nelson (CEE)), “Selection of Representative Crossings Database for the Evaluation of Driver Behavior Over Highway-rail Grade Crossings” (Modeste Muhire, Lautala, Nelson, Dean) and “Sensor Fusion of Wayside Visible and Thermal Imagery for Rail Car Wheel and Bearing Damage Detection” (Hanieh Deilamsalehy, Timothy Havens (CEE), Lautala).


Ashley Hendricks Recipient of the David Dolan Scholarship

Ashley Hendricks

Ashley Hendricks, a master’s student in Environmental Engineering, was recently awarded the David Dolan Scholarship by the International Association for Great Lakes Research.  This scholarship is awarded to a deserving graduate student conducting research using applied environmental statistics or modelling to study the Great Lakes.  Because of the large number of applicants this year, Ashley is sharing the award with a student at another university.  The scholarship is awarded based on an application submitted by the graduate student and the supporting recommendations for the student.

Congratulations Ashley!


Tim Colling Appointed to Governor’s Advisory Board

Tim Colling
CTT Director Tim Colling

Tim Colling, director of Michigan Tech’s Center for Technology and Training, has been appointed to the Governor’s Infrastructure Asset Management Advisory Board. Other than Colling, the board is made up of infrastructure owners: government agencies and private telecom, power and gas utilities.

“This gives the University a unique opportunity to advise on policy for infrastructure in Michigan, which will likely become the template for other states,” Colling said. “So far the early discussion relates to linear (pipe, road and data cable) assets and has not gone the path of facilities.”

Colling said that over the next year, Michigan Tech will be involved in meetings with the board and Governor’s office to outline a framework and process for integrated asset management, similar to what Tech has done with roads and bridges. The board’s activity is expected to result in legislation that will codify asset management practices for these other assets, and it is likely there will be a spending package related to the bill, either directly or indirectly, Colling added.

In the short term, he said, the University will be involved with the two pilot programs in the state.

By Jenn Donovan.


Roadsoft Tech Assist in Lower Michigan

Roadsoft

Center for Technology and Training (CTT) Software Engineers Byrel Mitchell, Andrew Rollenhagen and Mike Pionke traveled in lower Michigan providing Roadsoft on-site technical assistance at the cities of St. Louis, Vernon, Laingsburg and Kalamazoo, and the Calhoun and Kent County Road Commissions during the week of April 17.

This is the fourth year CTT has conducted the semi-annual Roadsoft Tech Assist visits, which are hands-on sessions with agency-specific topics. Besides helping Roadsoft customers, the sessions provide CTT software engineers with valuable information about client workflow and challenges. Roadsoft is a roadway asset management software suite for collecting, storing and analyzing data associated with transportation infrastructure.

Roadsoft is developed and supported by the Center for Technology and Training with principle funding from the Michigan Department of Transportation.


Michigan Tech Concrete Canoe & Steel Bridge Teams Take First Place at Regional Competition

2017 Team Barn Picture - Resized

The Michigan Tech Concrete Canoe Team placed first at the North-Central regional concrete canoe competition held at Lawrence Tech last weekend.  The 35-member team swept the competition in all four categories:

  •  Technical Paper: The team writes a professional quality design paper detailing the engineering that went into designing our concrete mix proportions, hull design, management techniques, testing procedures, and construction methods.
  • Technical Presentation: A group of presenters summarize the Technical Paper into presentation which can be no longer than 5 minutes. The challenge is to condense an entire year of work into a concise and dynamic presentation.
  • Races: There are 5 races: 2 person Women’s Sprint, 2 person Men’s Sprint, 2 person Women’s Endurance, 2 person Men’s Endurance, and a 4 person Coed Sprint. Michigan Tech has traditionally excelled in the Race Category and successfully defended all 5 Regional race titles.
  • Final Product: The canoe is displayed and judged for aesthetics and compliance with official rules of competition which detail dimensions and materials used in construction.

The team will now move on to the national competition to be held June 17 – 19, 2017 at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO.

2017 Steel Bridge

The Michigan Tech Steel Bridge Team also placed first overall at the 2017 North Central Regional Competition.  They also placed first in three out of the six subcategories including: weight, stiffness, and efficiency.  The goal of the competition is to design a 20′ long bridge that optimizes weight, constructability, and deflection under a 2500 lb load. The team will now be headed to Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon to compete in the National Student Steel Bridge competition in May.

ASCE and the American Institute of Steel Construction co-sponsor the national competition, which began in 1992 at Michigan Tech University.

Congratulations to both teams on a fantastic job and good luck at the National Competition!


Dave Hand Receives Outstanding Faculty Award

Hand

David Hand was the recipient of the Fraternity & Sorority Life 2017 Award for Outstanding Contributions as a Faculty Member at Michigan Tech present on Sunday, April 9, 2017.  In her nomination, Ashley Baldes writes:

Dr. Hand is deserving of this award because he shows more dedication to his department and students than I thought possible.  I have had the opportunity to have Dr. Hand as a professor in an intro to environmental engineering class and my senior lab, an advisor for Concrete Canoe, and just someone to say hi to when I’m walking through DOW and I see his office door open.  As a student, Dr. Hand has shown me what it means to be a good engineer, how great it is to learn, and where that knowledge can take you.   When I was a freshman, I took my intro to environmental engineering class with Dr. Hand and he really helped me succeed in college by having professionals talk to us about life in the real world.  Now 5 years later, Dr. Hand is still helping us by teaching our senior lab and offering endless chances to meet with him for questions.  He has an open line of communication between student and professor and that  makes the class content an learning so much more enjoyable.  Outside of the classroom, Dr. Hand is just as helpful.  He traveled to Traverse City with a group of alumni to show Michigan Tech pride in the Cherry Festival parade and he is always willing to stop and talk.  I always feel like I can stop in, say hi, and come out 10 minutes later with a lifetime of knowledge.  When I think of my professors here at Michigan Tech, I think of Dr. Hand as he has had such a strong impact on my learning and career choices.  Because of that, I believe he is an outstanding faculty member.

Congratulations to Dr. Hand!

Hand Certificate of Appreciation