Category Archives: Research

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 Researches Feasibility of Drone Use in Transportation

Everyone knows what drones are, right? They have gained visibility for use in military and monitoring applications, but have a wide variety of more ‘friendly’, useful applications here at home, such as helping understand the condition of our transportation infrastructure. They are flying machines, operated for a given purpose either autonomously or remotely, that have uses well beyond their better-known reputation.


Supercomputer Helps Model Lakes, Oceans and Much More

By his barren office in the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC), one can tell that Pengfei Xue is new to campus. The assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering just started Oct. 1, but he’s already hard at work, beginning to model Great Lakes and coastal US regions using Superior, Michigan Technological University’s new supercomputer.

He claims the horsepower within Superior is great.


From Sustainability Demo to Fish Taco: Aquaponics at Michigan Tech

Rob Handler is about to harvest his research. Typically, that means the gigantic kale and nice-sized onions and basil he’s growing nine stories up in the Dow Environmental Science and Engineering greenhouse. Today, though, it means the key ingredient for fish tacos, to be served at a residence hall.

“We have been growing tilapa,” he says. “They are a hardy fish that grows well in a controlled environment.”


MTRI’s Global Research Featured at Michigan Tech

The staff of the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) in Ann Arbor was on campus on Friday, Sept. 20, to conduct a poster session in the Dow Atrium (sixth-floor campus entrance). MTRI scientists and engineers were also available to discuss projects, collaborations with Michigan Tech departments and staff, and areas of research interest. The session is intended to outline the institute’s current activities and to explore opportunities to develop new working relationships.

MTRI, a research center of Michigan Technological University, is a recognized leader in the research, development and practical application of sensor and information technology to solve critical problems in national security, protecting and evaluating critical infrastructure, bioinformatics, earth sciences and environmental processes.

Videos of MTRI Visit

Photos of MTRI Visit

More information:

Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Awarded the Fulbright-VTT Grant

Associate Professor Yue Li (CEE) has been awarded the Fulbright-VTT Grant in Science, Technology and Innovation to conduct research in Finland for the duration of six months during 2013–14. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is the largest multidisciplinary research organization in Northern Europe. Li will conduct research on structural design for improving earthquake performance of nuclear power plants at the VTT in Espoo, Finland. Continue reading

Brian Barkdoll New Co-Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering PCMI

Associate Professor Brian Barkdoll (CEE) is joining Professor David Watkins (CEE) as co-coordinator of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Peace Corps Master’s International Program (PCMI). Barkdoll will replace Associate Professor Kurt Paterson (CEE), who is leaving Michigan Tech to head the Engineering Department at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

Paterson founded and built the Civil and Environmental Engineering PCMI program, the largest of Tech’s eight PCMI programs and the first PCMI Civil and Environmental Engineering program in the nation. Barkdoll has been advising students in this program for some time, adding his unique perspective as a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Nepal.

“We are grateful to Kurt for his numerous contributions to our PCMI program over the years and look forward to working closely with Brian as the new department co-coordinator,” said PCMI Campus Director Kari Henquinet (SS).

Rail Collaboration: “CN Engineering Challenges”

David Ferryman, Vice President System Engineering for Canadian National Railway visited Michigan Tech on Tuesday, April 2nd, and led a discussion concentrating on “CN Engineering Challenges”. CN is one of the greatest supporters of Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program and Mr. Ferryman visited Michigan Tech to review the facilities and to discuss future collaboration and activities with students and faculty. Continue reading