Category Archives: Research

Pasi Lautala Interviewed on Rail Trainsportation

Pasi Lautala
Pasi Lautala

Pasi Lautala (CEE), director of Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program, was interviewed on Michigan Radio. He talked about the upcoming Michigan Rail Transportation Conference in Marquette Aug. 17-18. Listen to the interview.

From Tech Today.

WLUC TV6 (NBC), WBUP Channel 10 (ABC) and WJMN Channel 3 (CBS) all reported on the Michigan Rail Conference held this week in Marquette and organized by Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation program. A radio station in Marinette, Wisconsin, also reported on the conference.

From Tech Today.

Michigan rail leaders get on track at annual conference

“We are a little bit remote from the rest of the market,” explained Pasi Lautala, assistant professor at Michigan Technological University in the department of environmental engineering and director of the rail transportation program. “We need to have very efficient and cost effective transportation modes, especially when you consider that a lot of the Upper Peninsula depends on natural resources and other commodities that are heavy weight and sometimes fairly low values.”

Read more and watch the video at WLUC TV6, by Blair Caldwell.

Pasi Lautala

EPA Funding for Colling Group

Timothy Colling (CEE/MTTI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $112,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

John Velat (CEE), Eric Seagren (CEE), Jennifer Becker (CEE), Ralph Hodek (CEE), Dave Hand (CEE), Jonathan Leinonen (SBE), Paul Nelson (SBE), Tom Merz (SBE) and Robert Handler (ChE) are Co-PIs on the project “EPA Environmental Finance Center for the Great Lakes Region (EPA Region 5).”

This is the first year of a potential six-year project totaling $4,727,879.

From Tech Today.

CTT and TTAP Staff Attend National Conference

Staff from the Center for Technology and Training (CTT) and the Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) both, part of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, attended the 2016 National Local and Tribal Technical Assistance Programs (LTAP/TTAP) Conference held in Madison, Wisconsin, July 18-21 hosted by the Great Lakes Region LTAP and TTAP centers.

Read more at Tech Today, by the Center for Technology and Training.



David Hand Quoted on Flint Water

David Hand
David Hand

David Hand, chair of the department of civil and environmental engineering, was quoted in the article “Flint Water: Where Science Took a Backseat to the Money.”

The article, by Seth Augenstein, was printed in Laboratory Equipment.

From Tech Today.

Flint Water: Where Science Took a Backseat to the Money

General Motors had a problem. The engine blocks in their Flint, Mich. plant were corroding as fast as they came off the production line. In the few months since the city had switched from Detroit water to the supply of the nearby Flint River, everything the factory produced was rusting over.

Tests quickly revealed the cause: elevated levels of chlorides were allowing the water to more-easily oxidize the metal.

The city switched to the river water in April 2014. GM reported its problems within months. After more months of inaction from the city leaders, the company alone switched back to Detroit water in December 2014.

“GM did inform the city,” said David Hand, chair of the civil and environmental engineering department at Michigan Technological University, in an interview with Laboratory Equipment. “No doubt (the city) should have realized they should evaluate the water.”

Read more at Laboratory Equipment, by Seth Augenstein.

Environmental Engineering Students are Seeking Solutions to Lake Ontario’s Cladophora Problem

Anika Kuczynski, a PhD candidate in environmental engineering, shows Cladophora growing in Lake Ontario
Hayden Henderson, an environmental engineering undergrad, shows some of the green alga collected from Lake Ontario
Hayden Henderson, an environmental engineering undergrad, shows some of the Cladophora collected from Lake Ontario


Michelle Nitz, an environmental engineering undergrad, is studying samples taken from Lake Ontario

Cladophora is a filamentous, green alga that grows to nuisance levels in areas of the Great Lakes receiving phosphorus enrichment.  Anika Kuczynski, a Ph.D. candidate in environmental engineering working under Dr. Marty Auer, recently received an Editor’s Choice Award for her paper entitled, “The Cladophora resurgence in Lake Ontario: Characterization and implications for management” published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.  Anika is back on Lake Ontario this summer seeking engineering solutions to this problem plaguing the Great Toronto waterfront.  Anika was accompanied by environmental engineering undergrads Hayden Henderson and Michelle Nitz on her most recent trip to Lake Ontario in July.  Results from the field and laboratory studies performed there will be input to a 3D model developed by Anika, Chenfu Huang (also a  Ph.D. student in environmental engineering) and CEE’s Dr. Pengfei Xue to test management strategies to reduce nuisance growth of the alga.

Roadsoft Trip for Thorpe and Pionke

The Center for Technology & Training (CTT), part of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, sent Software Engineers Sean Thorpe and Mike Pionke to provide Roadsoft on-site technical assistance to the Livingston, Eaton, Barry and Missaukee County Road Commissions and the cities of Rochester Hills and Auburn during the week of April 18, 2016.

Read more at Tech Today.

Michigan Tech/TUFTS Team Wins Prestigious ASCE Award

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has announced that Steven C. Chapra, Rasika K. Gawde, Martin T. Auer, Rakesh K. Gelda and Noel R. Urban will receive the Society’s 2016 Horner Award for their paper entitled, Sed2K: Modeling lake sediment diagenesis in a management context, published in the
Journal of Environmental Engineering in 2015. The Horner Award is made annually, recognizing the paper, published in an ASCE journal making the most valuable contribution to the environmental engineering profession. The award-winning paper is based on a mathematical model (Sed2K) developed by Dr. Chapra, the Louis Berger Chair in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tufts University. Application and testing of the model was led by Rasika K. Gawde who recently received the Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Tech and is now a post-doctoral fellow at the Horn Point Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Rakesh Gelda, also received the doctorate in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Tech and is presently a Research Scientist with the Bureau of Water Supply, Water Quality Science & Research at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Drs. Auer and Urban are faculty in the Michigan Tech Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

D80 Conference 2015: Making Connections

d80-logo-v1The 9th Annual D80 Conference, Making Connections: The Past, Present and Future of Design, was held Saturday in the Dow Building.

As a dialog and celebration of student efforts to solve issues that confront the world’s poorest 80 percent, this year’s conference featured presentations by the following: Pavlis Institute, Engineers Without Borders, Peace Corps Master’s International, Efficiency through Engineering and Construction Enterprise and International Senior Design. In addition, a faculty panel discussed the history of appropriate technology and design.

View Pictures of the 2015 D80 Conference on Flickr Photo Gallery

  • Welcome: Dr. Lorelle Meadows, Dean, Pavlis Honors College
  • Into India 2015 (J. Barker, S. Curtis, J. Cavins, E. Fernandez, Pavlis)

  • Quebrada Pastor Water Distribution System (D. Benoy, C. Carbary, A. Crispo, M. Ziols, iDesign)
  • Water Supply for Guatemalan Communities (R. Dougherty, EWB)
  • Water Sources in Valle Escondido, Panama (K. Blodgett, H. Henderson, K. Jung, D. Oldani, iDesign)

  • Our Experiences in Ghana and Tanzania (M. Cromie, J. Seaser, Pavlis)
  • Bridge Design for Quebrada Caracol, Panama (S. Lopez, J. Mathieu,, A. Romenesko, J. Schmitt, Y. Zeng, iDesign)
  • Houghton County Energy Efficiency Team (K. Abbott, L. Artman, ECET)
  • Keynote Panel: How Does Change Happen? Cases in Technology and Design

    • Sarah Fayen Scarlett – Introduction
    • Jonathan Robins – “175 years of Appropriate Technology: The West African oil palm industry in historical perspective”
    • Steve Walton – “The Rise and Fall of Appropriate Technology? How the social impacts the technical”
    • Laura Walikainen Rouleau – “Designing a Public Privacy: The Social and Cultural Construction of Public Restrooms in the United States”
    • Kari Henquinet – Comments and Q/A
  • Clean Water for Quebrada Caracol, Panama (M. Cherng, N. Rademacher, S. Stoolmiller, iDesign)

  • Water Supply in Quebrada Pinzón, Panama (J. Mack, R. Sachar, S. Thakur, N. Wienold, iDesign)
  • Workshop: Drill, Baby, Drill: Water Wells in Developing Contexts (E. Kunik, A. Wohlgemuth, PCMI)

Lorelle Meadows, Dean, Pavlis Honors College with David Watkins, CEE
Lorelle Meadows, Dean, Pavlis Honors College with David Watkins, CEE

Jonathan Robins, Kari Henquinet, Sarah Fayen Scarlett, Steve Walton,  Laura Walikainen Rouleau: D80 Keynote Panel: How Does Change Happen? Cases in Technology and Design
Jonathan Robins, Kari Henquinet, Sarah Fayen Scarlett, Steve Walton, Laura Walikainen Rouleau: D80 Keynote Panel: How Does Change Happen? Cases in Technology and Design
Workshop: Drill, Baby, Drill: Water Wells in Developing Contexts (E. Kunik, A. Wohlgemuth, PCMI)
Workshop: Drill, Baby, Drill: Water Wells in Developing Contexts (E. Kunik, A. Wohlgemuth, PCMI)

View Pictures of the 2015 D80 Conference on Flickr Photo Gallery

Videos of the 2015 D80 Conference

Visit online more information.

An archive of past D80 Conferences








News Briefs from CEE


Michigan Tech’s Tribal Technical Assistance Program has won a Tribal Excellence Award from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The award will be presented at the Wisconsin Tribal Transportation Conference on Nov. 3 in Green Bay. Award recipients are recognized for providing exemplary contributions and services to building and enhancing partnerships with the Wisconsin DoT and Wisconsin’s tribal communities. TTAP provides technology, training and information on tribal roads and bridges, tourism, recreation and related economic development to tribal transportation and planning personnel. It is part of a nationwide program sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Alex Mayer (CEE/CWS) is the principal investigator on a research and development project that has received a $599,590 grant from the National Science Foundation. The three-year project is RET Site: PLACE-Promoting Learning About Computational Tools and the Environment. Noel Urban (CEE) is the co-PI for this project.

John Velat (CEE) is the principal investigator of a project that received $18,000 from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The public service project contract is for the 2015 Minnesota Tribes and Transportation Conference. Amanda Kerttu (CEE) is the co-PI on the project.

Martin Auer (CEE) is the principal investigator on a project that received $33,200 in additional funding from Ajax, Ontario. His team has been examining the nuisance growth of Cladophora, a filamentous green alga, in Lake Ontario.
The large quantities of rotting alga on the shoreline has been a growing concern for the community. Auer and his team have been studying the problem in Ajax since 2013. The project has totaled more than $320,000 in external sponsored funding. The primary objective is to identify and quantify the contributions of phosphorus from various sources to the nutrient environment that supports nuisance growth of the alga. Pengfei Xue (CEE) is a co-PI on the project.
Tess Ahlborn (CEE) was an invited key note speaker at the Fourth Asian Conference on Ecstasy in Concrete hosted by the Indian Concrete Institute and the 1st International Symposium of the Asian Concrete Federation on Ultra-High Performance Concrete, Oct. 8-10 in Kolkata, India. As a Fellow of the American Concrete Institute and the Chair of ACI 239- UHPC, she served as the ACI Ambassador.

Tim Colling (CEE/MTTI), is the principal investigator on a project that has received $446,685 from the Michigan Department of Transportation for the “2016 Michigan Local Technical Assistance Program.” John Kiefer (CEE) and Christine Codere (CEE) are Co-PIs on the project.

Colin Brooks is a senior research scientist for the Michigan Tech Research Institute. His background is in remote sensing and GIS, and his area of expertise is in satellite imagery analysis, aerial imagery analysis and integrating geospatial data. Read more at Roads & Bridges

The U.S. DOT first approached Brooks to do environmental assessments on highway bypasses and look at vehicle crossing times at international borders under the agency’s Commercial Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Program.

Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program led the organization of 3rd Annual Rail Conference that took place in Grand Rapids in August. The event was supported by the Michigan Department of Transportation and the National University Rail Center (NURail). The event attracted a record-breaking 170 participants and 16 industry sponsors and included a half day of field visits to local rail facilities, followed by a full day of technical sessions and panel discussions. The keynote speech was delivered by Joseph Szabo, the executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (past Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration). Pasi Lautala (CEE/MTTI) co-chaired the event and organization team was led by David Nelson and Amanda Kerttu. Two students, Sumanth Kalluri and Aaron Dean were also at the location to assist in the organization. Next year, Michigan Tech will bring the Michigan Rail Conference for the first time to the Upper Peninsula. The conference will take place on August 17-18, 2016 in Marquette. For more information, visit the conference website.

The Detroit Free Press quoted Pasi Lautala (CEE) in an article on a plan to create a special logistics and supply chain district near the new bridge to Canada and downtown Detroit.

A story “Michigan Tech project looks to improve U.P. roads” related to research work by Dr. Zhanping You appeared on TV6. Another story “Rubber to the road: Tech’s experimental pavement put down for testing” related to research work by Dr. Hand and Zhanping You also appeared on the Daily Mining Gazette.

WNWN-FM, WHTC-AM, WKZO and WVIC radio all covered the 3rd annual Michigan Rail Conference in Grand Rapids last week, hosted by Michigan Tech and the Michigan Department of Transportation.

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