Category Archives: News

Rail and Intermodal Transportation Program Begins this Week

5985253957_f178f2acac_oThe Rail and Intermodal Transportation Program (RTP), a one-week course for outstanding high-school students, is taking place this week, July 28–August 1.

The program’s 24 participants will spend the week exploring many aspects of intermodal transportation–from high-speed passenger train systems to international container shipping.

Students will have technical, hands-on tours of rail and intermodal facilities in Ishpeming/Marquette and Duluth/Superior as well as classroom and lab courses on Michigan Tech’s campus.

“This program gives students a really good intro to the field,” says David Nelson, RTP coordinator. “It introduces them to both engineering and workforce jobs in transportation. The students we see run the gamut from just getting introduced to the field to already being trainspotting and train history experts.”

Participants will also get a taste of college life on two college campuses (Michigan Tech and UW–Superior) by staying in residence halls, eating in university dining halls, exploring campus and meeting diverse peers.

Research News from CEE

PI Daisuke Minakata (CEE) was awarded $330,000 from the National Science Foundation for his project, “Coupling Experimental and Theoretical Molecular-Level Investigations to Visualize the Fate of Degradation of Organic Compounds in Aqueous Phase Advanced Oxidation Systems.”

Progressive Railroading magazine featured Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program in an article on universities adding rail education to the curriculum.

PI David Hand (CEE) and Co-PIs Zhanping You and Zeyad Ahmed (CEE) were awarded $336,214 from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for their project “Scrap Tire Market Development Grant Program: Assessment of Emissions of Crumb Rubber Modified Asphalt.”

Associate Professor Amlan Mukherjee (CEE) is spending his sabbatical year, August 2014 to July 2015, consulting for the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) in Washington, D.C, to develop an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for asphalt mixes. His research, teaching and entrepreneurial efforts focus on integrating life-cycle thinking into the design, construction and maintenance of civil infrastructure systems. He serves on the Federal Highway Administration’s Sustainable Pavements Technological Working Group. He is also a specialty editor for the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Journal of Construction Engineering & Management and is currently serving on ASCE’s Digital Project Delivery Committee.

Research by CEE Chair David Hand on treating ballast water was referenced and Gary Fahnenstiel, a research scientist in the GLRC, was quoted extensively in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal article “Park Chief Puts Foot Down on Invasive Species”. Fahnenstiel discusses how ocean-going ships have been importing invasive exotic species into the Great Lakes and the importance of treating ships’ ballast water to prevent further invasions.

Assistant professor, Myounghoon “Philart” Jeon (CLS) presented a project, done with assistant professor Pasi Lautala (CEE), “Driver Response to Various Railroad Grade Crossings and Hazard Detection” at the 2014 Global Level Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention Symposium (GLXS2014), held at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 3-8 August.

A NASA article about the Landsat 8 satellite and how it is being used for various coastal research features a section about Michigan Tech scientists who are using the satellite data to track the spread of Chladophora, a hair-fine algae that attaches to shallow-water rocks or the shells of dead invasive zebra and quagga mussels. Sometimes storms in the Great Lakes cause the algae to wash off the rocks or shells and cover the beach in green decaying material. Bob Shuchman, co-director of the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI); Colin Brooks, senior research scientist at MTRI and Professor Marty Auer (BioSci) are working together on the research. See Taking NASA-USGS’s Landsat 8 to the Beach.

Dave Nelson (CEE) and Bill Sproule (CEE) were guest presenters at the three-day “Railway Engineering Education Symposium” (REES2014) at the BNSF Technical Training Center in Overland Park, Kansas last week. The symposium is a bi-annual event that is organized by the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA).
Nelson presented a session on “Railway Engineering Design Case Studies” and Sproule did a module on “Intercity Passenger and Urban Rail Transportation” and was a participant on two panels–one on “Rail Program Development” and one on “Student Chapters.” Michigan Tech’ s Rail Transportation Program is recognized as one the leading programs in the country and the Railroad Engineering Activities Club (REAC) was AREMA’s first student chapter. Nelson, Sproule and Pasi Lautala were also members of the Symposium’s planning committee. Also Nelson coordinated the content committee for the event.

PI Pasi Lautala (CEE) and Co-PIs Paul Sanders (MSE), Tim Havens (ECE), Thomas Oommen (GMES) and Myoundhoon Jeon (CLS) have been awarded $113,411 from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, for “NURail – Tier 1.”

Proceedings from the 2013 Community and Partner Workshop Proceedings: Managing Impacts of Global Transport of Atmosphere-Surface Exchangeable Pollutants (ASEPs) in the Context of Global Change are now available online on the project’s webpage.
This project is part of an ongoing NSF-funded project with PI Judith Perlinger (CEE).

Pasi Lautala, director of the Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program, and 11 students from across the campus attended the 2014 Joint Rail Conference in Colorado Springs recently. The conference was jointly sponsored by ASME, ASCE and IEEE. Lautala presented “High Speed Rail Learning System (HSRLS)–Taking Advantage of Online Technologies in Railway Education,” and the students presented their senior design, enterprise and research project findings from the past year.

Jianqiu Zheng, a PhD candidate in the atmospheric sciences, who is under the advisement of Paul Doskey (CEE), recently traveled to the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany to attend the first PhD Conference on Earth System Science. Zheng presented her research on soil emissions of nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide. She was the only attendee from a US University.

The April/May/June 2014 issue of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) magazine, Coastal Services, includes an article featuring the Great Lakes Research Center’s studies of dangerous coastal currents. The data collected by GLRC scientists will help improve beach safety on the Great Lakes.

Ralph Hodek (CEE), associate professor and director of the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI), was sought by Upper Michigan’s Source TV 6 News for his expertise in soil mechanics and foundational engineering in regards this year’s record winter weather. Hodek provided an explanation of the mechanics of pavement heave and ground thaw and the potential damage to area roads which may occur due to the record number of freezing days encountered. A transcript of Hodek’s interview and video clip of the news item can be found at

John Kiefer, Chris Codere, Christopher Gilbertson and Belle Wirtanen, staff at the Center for Technology and Training (CEE),coordinated and managed the on-site operations of the 2014 Michigan Bridge Conference and Bridge Workshop: Introduction to Element-Level Bridge Inspection, held March 18-19 in Bay City. The event attracted over 200 engineers, inspectors and other bridge construction and maintenance professionals, making it the most attended in its 18-year history. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering hosted an alumni reception following the Bridge Workshop that was attended by approximately 70 graduates from recent years back to the class of 1952.

Tribal technical assistant program (TTAP) director John Velat (CEE) participated in the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Strategic Planning Committee meeting for the Local and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs (LTAP/TTAP) recently in Atlanta. The FHWA Strategic Planning Committee (SPC), a representative group of Center staff from across the LTAP/TTAP community, serves to analyze current and future trends in the program and advises FHWA on responsive program management. This work was conducted as part of TTAP’s contract with the Federal Highway Administration to advance tribal transportation issues, transportation safety, cultural awareness and tribal self-determination. TTAP serves 64 tribes in 31 Midwestern and Eastern states and cooperates with tribal transportation initiatives nationwide.

The February 2014 issue of the Urban Transportation Monitor, a monthly publication featuring transportation policy and research, published a feature article about Michigan Tech’s research into using drones to monitor roads infrastructure.

Two CEE graduate students traveled with Joan Chadde, education/outreach program coordinator, Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, and presented an activity called “Packaging Bananas” that they helped to develop. The students were Irfan Rasul, graduate research assistant (advisor Pasi Lautala) and Adriano Rothschild, graduate teaching assistant (advisor Jeff Lidicker).

Pasi Lautala (CEE) traveled to Lansing on Feb. 11 to participate in the inaugural meeting of the Commission for Logistics and Supply Chain Collaboration in Lansing. Lautala is the only member from the Upper Peninsula in the seven-member commission appointed by the Governor. The commission is housed within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and will advise state agencies on freight transportation and supply chain management issues.

Alex Mayer (CEE) has received $151,846 of $295,893 for a four-year research project “Experimental Frameworks for Evaluating the Net Effects of Hydrological Service Payments on Coupled Social-Ecological Systems in Mexico,” from the University of New Hampshire.

PI David Hand, Co-PI Zeyad Ahmed, Co-PI David Perram (CEE) have received a $49,275 grant from the Water Research Foundation for the one-year project, “Removal of Volatile Organic Contaminants (VOCS) from Drinking Water Via Multi-Stage Low Profile Aeration Technology.” Continue reading

Michigan Tech at MI Construction Career Days

Last week the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the School of Technology participated in the MI Construction Career Days in Howell MI. This is an event sponsored by FHWA, MDOT, Mita, Operating Engineers Union Local 324 as well as others. According to the event web site , “MICCD is Michigan’s premiere construction career exploration event. Based on the National Career Day model, MICCD provides Michigan’s young people a chance to experience construction up-close, getting the chance to use real tools, materials and heavy equipment under the direct guidance of construction professionals from all sectors of the industry.”

On Thursday morning Governor Snyder visited the event and had his picture taken with our MTU students that were meeting with the high school students attending the event.

Governor Snyder with Michigan Tech students at Construction Career Days
Governor Snyder with Michigan Tech students at Construction Career Days

CEE Alumni News

Flint-based Rowe Professional Services selects new president: Leanne Panduren, a 1993 Michigan Tech University graduate hired by Rowe as an assistant engineer in its Flushing office, is set to take over as CEO in January 2016. More details

Engineering & Surveying Excellence Awards Gala recognizes top projects and honors individuals
On February 22, 2014, the American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan (ACEC/M) honored firms for engineering and surveying excellence during the association’s 49th annual Engineering and Surveying Excellence Awards ceremony at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids. Outstanding Michigan engineering and surveying projects from the past year, as well as engineering professionals who have significantly contributed to the profession, were honored.

Great Lakes Engineering Group – ACEC Small Firm of the Year
Great Lakes Engineering Group (GLEG) is the 2014 Small Firm of the Year and specializes in bridge inspection – one of only three firms in the state to obtain MDOT prequalification for underwater bridge inspection. The firm’s founder and principal, Amy Trahey PE, a 1994 civil engineering graduate of Michigan Tech University, was instrumental in obtaining this prequalification. Mrs. Trahey has served on the ACEC/Michigan Board of Directors since 2009. She was Treasurer for two years and will become ACEC/Michigan’s first female president in 2015.

Great Lakes Engineering Group - ACEC Small Firm of the Year

GLEG employees hold memberships with ASCE, MSPE and MCA and actively participate in local schools and zoning boards, along with youth baseball teams. GLEG encourages students to pursue careers in engineering through mentoring, internship programs, and job shadowing. Employees serve on the Michigan Technological University Civil and Environmental Advisory Board and routinely support the ASCE steel bridge competition.

GLEG is a woman-owned civil and structural engineering firm dedicated to providing full engineering services to private and public clients primarily in Michigan. The company was founded upon the need for structural engineering services that specialize in the field of bridges.

Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering – Eminent Conceptor Winner
This year’s engineering Eminent Conceptor Award winner was Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering, Inc., Grand Rapids, for the West Bay County Wastewater Treatment Facility upgrades. A number of Michigan Tech civil engineering alumni worked on the project including: Rich Grant – 1984, Bruce Sabin – 1979, 1981, Eric Griffith – 2007, Gary Bartow – 1976, Steve VandenBrink – 1978, Bob Wilcox – 1999, Carey Bond – 1992 and also a couple of chemical engineering alumni: Elaine Venema – 2006 – ChE, and Brian Schanhals – 2009 – ChE

Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering - Eminent Conceptor Winner

The West Bay County Regional WWTP (WBC) provided wastewater service to six communities. In 2009, the City of Essexville and Hampton Township requested to connect to WBC and provide them with 2.3 million gallons per day (mgd) capacity. WBC would need to move quickly since they would have to have this capacity available before the wastewater service contract with another municipality expired.
While WBC wanted to accommodate these neighboring communities, WBC already needed to mitigate Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) overflows for up to 25 year storm events. The added 2.3 mgd flow would complicate the solution. Before additional customers could be connected, MDEQ required WBC to create additional treatment capacity, mitigate both WBC’s SSOs, and the customer community Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs).
Critical project needs included significant WBC plant capacity expansion, add flow equalization, address odors and inadequate biosolids storage capacity, and improve on the chlorine contact time for disinfection.
Fleis & VandenBrink (F&V) completed a capacity study, design and construction engineering as part of an expedited schedule to complete the project within about 15 months. F&V also was the inter-community consensus builder while provided funding assistance, construction management, and start-up and operations assistance.

This year’s ACEC/M Vernon B. Spalding Leadership Award was presented to Melvin “Ernie” Orchard, PE, founder and past president of OHM Advisors, to honor his outstanding leadership roles in ACEC and several community organizations.

When Ernie Orchard became president of the consulting firm Orchard, Papke, Hiltz & McCliment, Inc. in 1972, he immediately engaged with ACEC/MI. Energetic in his support of ACEC, Ernie later held leadership roles at the state and national levels. In the mid-70′s, he helped to organize the first Political Action Committee in Michigan’s Chapter of ACEC and the first Legislative Day in Lansing to bring attention to issues impacting the design profession.

The ACEC/M Felix A. Anderson Image Award was presented to Richard Anderson, PE, of Somat Engineering, Inc. for his actions and contributions to enhance the image of the profession.

Mr. Richard O. Anderson, a 1971 civil engineering graduate of Michigan Technological University (MTU), is a Principal Engineer and former President of Somat Engineering, Inc. in Detroit, Michigan.

As a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), he is a nationally known expert for his innovative and cost effective solutions to infrastructure projects and engineering education. During a distinguished career spanning over 42 years, he has worked on over 6,500 projects including airports, high-rise office structures, health care facilities, transportation facilities and many others.

Professor Tess Ahlborn hosts STEM opportunities

Professor Tess Ahlborn (CEE) hosted two “Bridging the Gap” workshops and a “Michigan Tech College Corner” at the Tech Savvy–Powered by AAUW event held April 26 in Gaylord. The event brought together 155 middle school girls and 55 caring adults to introduce and explore STEM opportunities, including concepts needed for designing and constructing bridges. Attendees also gained insight from women mentors who pursued degrees and careers in typically male-dominated STEM fields, and how persistence played a key role in success.

CEE Senior Design Colloquium

Senior Design Colloquium Civil and Environmental Engineering Department;
Friday, May 2, 2014: Presentations will be in Dow 641 and 642

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is pleased to invite the University community to attend the Spring 2014 senior design team presentations. This semester students in four sections have undertaken a wide range of interesting projects to fulfill the Department’s design project requirement. Refreshments will be served.

CEE Senior Design Colloquium Schedule PDF

Dow 641; 8:05 am
Digital As-Builts for the City of Houghton Pipe Networks
Instructor: Dr. Amlan Mukherjee
1. BNB Consulting
Bryan Daavettila, Brian Kernstock, Nathynn Mitchell
2. ADT Engineering
David Auricchio, Tyler Tomlinson, Ashley Smokoska
3. MED
Zhongyue Mao, Eric LaBelle, Duane Burfield
4. Three Star Consulting
John M Ferry, Derek Collar, Yubin Tan

Heavy Lifting Device (HLD) at Kiewit
Dow 642; 8:05 am
Offshore Services Yard in Ingleside, Texas
Instructor: Mike Drewyor
1. HLD Foundation Design by ACE Engineering
Tim Johnson, Project Manager
Dan Becker, Alex Philips, Lan Shi
2. HLD Mast Erection by Upright Engineering
Pat Spalding, Project Manager
Kyle Chouinard, Jiayi (Joe) Ding, Zack Weber
3. HLD Boom Load out onto Barge by BSF Construction
Evan Feinauer, Project Manager
Tom Briggs, Aric Souilliere
4. HLD Lift of Production Module – Rigging Design by BWYD Engineering
Doug Burmeister, Project Manager
Justin Wigand, Greg Donajkowski, Tianye Yang

Dow 641 9:30 am
Michigan Tech Trailhead Lodge
Design Competition
Instructors: Bill Leder, Bill Baxandall
1. TDWS Consulting
Kelcey Traynoff, Project Manager
Allyssa Demers, Eric Simmons, Kevin Wilks
2. BBY&B
Ben Bryant, Project Manager
Jared Belovich, Alex Bomstad, Kaili Yue
3. Team NRAM Rod
Nicholas Lanoue, Project Manager
Ryan Anderson, Michael LaFerve, Adam Suokas
4. I.S.S.I.
Alice Flanders, Project Manager
Evan Kryzske, Wen Tao Liu, Casey Holvenstot

Dow 642 9:55 am
Evaluation of Sludge Process Train
Alternatives for Class A Biosolids
Production at the Gogebic-Iron Wastewater Authority (GIWA) Treatment Facility
Instructors: Dr. Eric Seagren & Dr. Jennifer Becker
1. DESM Engineering
Mitchell Murphy, Project Manager
Dominic Davis, Wesley Ellenwood, Courtney Sian
2. Sustainable Biosolids Solutions
Keith Anderson, Project Manager
Justin Kosmowski, Ryan Leveille, Jonathan Witham
3. ABCK Consulting
Anna VanderKooi, Project Manager
Brogan Beyette, Collin DePrekel, Kaitlin Hannum
Shawn Conard, Project Manager
Kyle Slavik, Will Ashbaugh, Mike Polkinghorn

CEE 2014 Awards

Adriano Rothschild received the The Danielle Ladwig Award for Graduate Excellence is made annually to a graduate level civil or environmental engineering student in recognition of outstanding achievement in academics, research, and service, in memory of our friend and colleague, Danielle F. Ladwig.

Adriano Rothschild received the The Danielle Ladwig Award

Tia Scarpelli received the The Nicole Bloom Award for Environmental Sustainability is made annually to an undergraduate civil or environmental engineering student who has demonstrated leadership, passion, and activism for effecting environmental sustainability at the local, national, or global level.

Tia Scarpelli received the The Nicole Bloom Award

Xu Yang received the Graduate Research Excellence Award

Xu Yang received the Graduate Research Excellence Award

Tess Ahlborn was voted the Howard Hill Faculty of the Year of Chi Epsilon students presenting her with the award.

Tess Ahlborn was voted the Howard Hill Faculty of the Year

Graduate Teaching Assistants Recognized
Concrete Canoe team
F. William Baxandall Adjunct Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

CEE National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship

Three graduate students have received Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Christa Meingast in environmental engineering and Gregory Hardy and David Diesenroth in mechanical engineering won the competitive fellowships. Benjamin Winter in civil engineering received an honorable mention.

“NSF Graduate Research Fellowships are one of the oldest, most prestigious and competitive programs nationally,” said Jodi Lehman, assistant director for research development at Michigan Tech. “It is the fellowship program that other federal programs such as the Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy use as a benchmark,” she noted.

“The Graduate School is happy to see our students honored for their scholarship and achievements in and out of the classroom,” said Debra Charlesworth, assistant dean of the Graduate School and coordinator of the NSF Graduate Research Fellows program at Michigan Tech. “These prestigious awards recognize not only our students, but the faculty and staff who have provided opportunities and mentoring for them to reach their potential. They join an outstanding group of Michigan Tech NSF scholars who are conducting research around the world.”

Charlesworth herself is a former NSF Graduate Research Fellow.

“The recent awards and honorable mention demonstrate the quality of a Michigan Tech education at all levels and disciplines,” said Craig Friedrich, director of graduate studies for the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and Richard and Bonnie Robbins Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “Our students are on par with the top research institutions in the US, and the support provided by Jodi Lehman helping students prepare fellowship applications continues to grow our success and recognition with the National Science Foundation and other agencies.”

Engineering on Alcatraz: Alumna Involved in Restoration and Stabilization

Certain names bring forth visceral associations. Alcatraz is one, but the notorious prison of the past is also a place for a Michigan Technological University alumna to use some of her civil engineering skills in the present.
Debra Campbell, a 1976 graduate, works for the National Park Service on Alcatraz, perched on an island in San Francisco Bay. She has been involved in four recent projects on the iconic island.


ASCE Publishes Textbook by David Watkins

Water Resources Systems Analysis through Case Studies: Data and Models for Decision Making by David W. Watkins Jr., Ph.D. consists of 10 case studies suitable for the classroom to demonstrate engineers’ use of widely available modeling software in evaluating complex environmental and water resources systems. Simulation and optimization models, visualization tools, and spatial analysis tools are applied to real-life situations. Each case study includes background on the geography, hydrology, and natural resources of the area as well as relevant social, economic, developmental, and political issues. A series of active-learning exercises is provided, along with additional resources for instructors. Software is not included, but all programs and data sets are freely available online.

Primarily intended for students in upper-level undergraduate and graduate level systems analysis courses, this book may also be of interest to practicing engineers in the field of water resources planning and management.

Contents of book