(mostly) 3rd Thursdays each month, January – May 2018
Location: G002 Hesterberg Hall, Michigan Tech Forestry Bldg.
Time: 7:00-8:30 pm; enjoy coffee, dessert, and facilitated discussion
Cost: FREE, $3 suggested donation
William Bulleit is a structural engineering professor at Michigan Tech. He says, “The more complicated the roof the more difficult it is to decide what you should do with it.”
There are things you can look out for that may be a sign there’s too much snow on your roof.
Bill Sproule (CEE) has been appointed by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to be an Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Ambassador for a two-year term.
ACRP is an industry-driven, applied research program that develops practical solutions to problems faced by airport operators. It is managed by TRB and sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
ACRP Ambassadors are volunteers who serve as liaisons between the TRB and ACRP, the research community, and airports operators at conferences and industry events and will make presentations on the ACRP research process and products, and other airport topics, and promote opportunities for others to be involved in ACRP research panels and projects.
Michigan Technological University, a leading public research university and key educational leader in Michigan, will soon begin implementing a 2-year project titled, Creating Great Lakes Stewards to Promote Clean Drinking Water & Healthy Urban Watersheds in Detroit, under the leadership of Joan Chadde, Director of the MTU Center for Science & Environmental Outreach. The project is funded with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education grant of $91,000. Grant recipients are required to award $4550 to each of five non-profits who will participate in the project. The following sub-grantees will assist with the project: Belle Isle Nature Center/Detroit Zoological Society (DZS), Detroit Math & Science Center/Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), Wayne State University’s Healthy Urban Waters, Detroit Audubon, and Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision. These collaborating agencies will contribute staff time and or cost share: U.S. Forest Service Urban Connections Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and DPSCD.
The overall project goal is to build student and teacher capacity to steward the urban water resources of Detroit now and in the future. The project will engage 32 teachers at 16 schools, reaching 960 middle school students over 2 years, in becoming stewards of their community’s drinking water. Teachers will participate in five workshops during the school year to enhance their environmental education teaching skills and knowledge of their local water resources. Students will participate in 3 field trips during the school year which includes: visiting the Detroit drinking water treatment plant, conducting stream health or ecosystem monitoring, and completing a stewardship project. The 2013-14 student body demographics of Detroit schools are: 80% qualify for free / reduced lunch, 83.9% are African American, 12% Hispanic, 2.36% White and <2% other, with a 71% graduation rate in 2014. (2013-14 Data from NCES).
The following Michigan Tech faculty and staff are contributing their time as cost share on the project: Dr. Audra Morse, CEE chair; Dr. Daisuke Minakata , CEE; Dr. Hugh Gorman, Chair, Dept. of Social Sciences; Gerald Jondreau, School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science; and Dr. Kathryn Perrine, Dept. of Chemistry.
Interlochen Public Radio and Michigan Public Radio aired a story about toxic chemicals in fish in the Great Lakes, particularly their impact on indigenous peoples, quoting Noel Urban (CEE) and Jerry Jondreau (SFRES).
If you eat wild caught fish from Michigan, you might know about fish consumption advisories. They’re recommended limits on safe amounts of fish to eat, and they’re necessary because toxic chemicals build up in fish in the Great Lakes and inland lakes and streams.
Around this same time, an invisible problem emerged: toxic contamination of fish by chemicals like methylmercury and poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Noel Urban is a professor at Michigan Technological University who studies pollutants cycling through the environment. He tells me the chemicals that build up in fish are still being emitted around the world.
“So mercury’s primary sources are coal-fired power plants, mining, metal processing. PCBs are emitted from landfills, from wastewater treatment plants, from transformers that are still in use that have PCBs, agricultural chemicals are also in this so there’s a wide variety of sources,” he explains.
“When can we eat the fish?”
That’s what the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wants to know.
In 2008, Valoree Gagnon was still an undergraduate student at Michigan Technological University. She learned that toxic chemicals like mercury and PCBs build up in fish in the region. And she learned that not everyone limits their fish intake, especially tribal communities.
“They were consuming fish at rates that were above human health criteria, and that was a really big concern for me,” she says.
Houghton Middle School has done it again for the third time. Their team of eight students has won the 2017 Lexus Eco Challenge. Their project titled “Backyard Backlash” investigates how to prevent nitrate-laden water from reaching Lake Superior, largest of the Great Lakes by surface area.
Much of the surface and groundwater contamination comes from nitrate-rich fertilizers and topsoils (due to lawn and garden care, roadside grass seeding projects, and agricultural practices) and will eventually reach Lake Superior.
In the Lexus Eco Challenge, student teams tackle environmental issues related to land, water, air, and climate, and create practical solutions while competing for amazing prizes. The Lexus Eco Challenge gets students involved in project-based learning, teamwork, and skill building as they identify an environmental issue that affects their community, use their critical-thinking and research skills to come up with a solution, and report on the results by way of an Action Plan. Teams of 5-10 students are led by one or two Teacher Advisors—who are full-time teachers employed at the school.
Houghton Middle School won in 2014 with their invasive species education project, and again in 2015 with their project to identify a grass species that could grow on copper-laden stamp sands.
Teacher Advisor Sarah Geborkoff has participated in the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) since 2014. She receives biannual grants to support projects that incorporate environmental monitoring and stewardship in the Huron River watershed. “LSSI has been critical to helping me prepare my students to compete in the Lexus Eco Challenge.”
Joan Chadde, Geborkoff’s mentor for the LSSI project, is equally elated at HMS’ success. “Sarah Geborkoff is a phenomenal teacher who continually goes above and beyond for her students. They start these projects during the summer. These are truly student-led projects. Sarah is an excellent teacher and student mentor.”
Learn more about their project here.
HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – Biosolid spreading at the Mason Stamp Sands has local residents still concerned but experts from Michigan Tech are speaking up on the subject.
“It’s not surprising that people have questions about biosolids because most people don’t think about the whole wastewater treatment process,” said Jennifer Becker, Civil and Environmental Engineering professor.
Top questions include impact on water supply and wildlife.
“We can’t say there is absolutely no risk because there is nothing I can think of that we do that has no risk,” said Becker.
But biosolids are processed to the point where experts says health risks are very low, even in unlikely cases of high contact with the material.
“So, for example, for many of the metals this would be a child actually eating the biosolids. This gives you a feel for the regulations. They are based on a very extreme case,” said Eric Seagen, also a Civil and Environmental Engineering professor at MTU.
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.
The winners of the Cleaning Dirty Water Competition are no surprise! They are three members of the Society of Environmental Engineering student chapter at Michigan Tech–seniors no less— Joseph Doyle, Kyle Mischler, and Jeremy Luebke.
They had stiff competition from the runner up team “The Insolubles”— three students from a high school chemistry class at Hancock High School (Mike McParlan, Murphy Mallow, Shannon Nulf) taught by a Michigan Tech grad.
Other teams that competed included Quantum Huskies, a group of international students from MTU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Whiz Kids– a group of three 8th graders from Lake Linden-Hubbell Middle School, and three members of the Copper Country Recycling Initiative task force.
The competition was held in recognition of World Water Day, March 22, 2017. This year’s theme is wastewater, hence the competition!
Event coordinator, Joan Chadde, made the wastewater right before participants’ eyes, as they listed all of the household items that go down the drain. Each team was given a cup of wastewater and directed to clean it as best they could using only the materials provided– screen, sand, gravel, activated charcoal and alum. After 20 minutes, the results were in!
Chadde is the director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach and a member of the World Water Day planning committee.
Dr. Marty Auer, a local wastewater treatment expert from Michigan Tech, served as judge.
All members of the winning team received $25 MTU gift certificates, which they generously handed off to the 2nd place Hancock High School students, explaining ‘they didn’t have time to spend it, since they’d be leaving Houghton soon with graduation just a few weeks away!’
Globally, 2 billion people are without clean drinking water and 3 billion are without wastewater treatment.
After treatment, wastewater is a valuable resource that can be returned to cities for drinking water!
Michigan Tech’s World Water Day events are sponsored by the following Michigan Tech departments and research centers: The Great Lakes Research Center, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, the Ecosystem Science Center, the Sustainable Futures Institute, Visual and Performing Arts, and The Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.
High school students in Detroit & Wayne County will have the opportunity to explore environmental science & engineering majors at Michigan Tech this summer. This will be the 3rd consecutive year that this program will be offered to up to 20 students selected to participate.
Students will participate in many outdoor activities during their 6 day trip to the UP, including: ID and measure trees, collect frog data, sample aquatic life aboard a Lake Superior research vessel, examine plankton, drive a ROV, design a process to clean water and touring the campus of MTU.
The program will be held from June 26 – July 1 and the deadline for students to apply is March 20th.
How to apply
Joan Chadde email@example.com
115 GLRC – Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
Coordinated by Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach