Category Archives: Alumni

FWF: A Special 50th Anniversary

ECE Academy inductee Patricia (Pat) Anthony, BSEE 1967
ECE Academy inductee Patricia (Pat) Anthony, BSEE 1967

Welcome to another Monday morning edition of FWF. As was the case earlier this month, all the action last week took place at the end of the week, so I needed the weekend to catch my breath. But what a week it was: final exams, commencement, and a very special recognition ceremony in the ECE Department.

The spring commencement ceremony was held Saturday morning in the hockey arena at the Student Development Complex. This is always a wonderful celebration and I love being a part of it. This spring the department sent off 7 PhD students, 76 MS students, and 92 undergraduates, and most of them were there to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. These are some pretty big numbers for us, especially the graduate students, and that contributed a little bit to the ceremony being some 3 hours long this year. Here’s a little confession: on Friday a number of guests in the department asked me how many students we were graduating, a number that someone in my position would know, one would think. This happens every year and I am always caught short. I usually don’t know until I open my commencement program and start counting!

One of those students was Marco La Manna, my first PhD graduate at Michigan Tech. Marco did his PhD dissertation in radar signal processing, and is now a post-doc at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was a very nice moment to be a part of Marco’s hooding ceremony, and I know the same is true for all of our other PhD graduates and their advisors. Growing the PhD program is a key component of our departmental strategic plan, so being able to make an individual contribution to that effort was very gratifying. The personal and professional relationship that I have developed with Marco and his wife Samantha over the past few years is equally satisfying.

The main event for me this year was not commencement itself but rather a special event that took place the day before and rolled right into commencement. This year we recognized the first woman graduate of the ECE Department, Patricia Anthony, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her graduation in 1967. Pat was inducted into the ECE Academy on Friday afternoon, in a well-attended ceremony in the social area on the 5th floor of the EERC.

Pat came to Michigan Tech in 1963 following graduation from high school in Grandville, Michigan. She entered with interests in math and science, as one might imagine, and while here she was VP of the Lambda Beta sorority, a DJ at the Wadsworth Hall radio station, and was a member of the U.S. Army ROTC auxiliary, the Silver Stars. She graduated from Michigan Tech in 1967 with the degree Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, the first woman to do so at Tech. Immediately after graduation Pat took a position with IBM, where she spent most of her career. Her first assignment was in Kingston, NY, as a diagnostic engineer for large mainframe computers. She later transferred to Detroit as a systems engineer working in data communications. She become well-known within IBM as an expert in the area, and later took on responsibility for teaching data communications management to IBM customers. Her later assignments were in Dallas, Tampa, and Midland. Throughout her professional career Pat found time for community service activities, including Junior Achievement, United Way, and the Girl Scouts.

Again, one would think that someone in my position would have been aware of Pat’s story for a long time, but in fact I did not know about it until I received an e-mail this past January from her brother, Col. Stephen Anthony (USAF retired), nominating her as a distinguished graduate. At first I did not believe that the first woman graduate of the department would have been as late as 1967, but I checked with Brenda Rudiger, head of Michigan Tech Alumni Relations, and indeed it was true. Brenda also pointed out that this was Pat’s 50th anniversary year. That set everything in motion which eventually led to this weekend’s events. Not only was Pat honored in the ECE Department, she was recognized briefly by the provost during the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday morning, and she attended commencement in the presidential skybox and got a shout-out from President Mroz in his opening remarks.

Pat was inducted into the ECE Academy on Friday afternoon, in a ceremony that was unusual for us for recognizing a single individual. We had a number of speakers lined up, all of whom were insightful, inspirational, and brief: Jackie Huntoon, Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs; Wayne Pennington, Dean of the College of Engineering; Martha Sloan, Professor Emerita in ECE and the first woman president of the IEEE; Linda Ott, Professor and former Chair of the Department of Computer Science; Glen Archer, Associate Chair of the ECE Department; and Rachel Kolb, Treasurer of the Michigan Tech student branch of the Society of Woman Engineers. In one way or another, everyone spoke to the value of pioneers like Pat in paving the way for other women in STEM fields. Pat herself got the last word, and recounted her experiences at Tech, her experiences in industry, and in an emotional closing she touched on the importance of service activities like Junior Achievement that encourage young people of all stripes to pursue their dreams.

One thing that really struck me about Pat’s remarks was how extraordinarily generous she was to the male professors in the EE Department in the 1960s who simply did not know what to make of a women engineering student. It would be easy to dismiss these men as dinosaurs, but Pat chose a different path. She realized that these were men who were raised in an earlier generation by both their fathers and their mothers to treat women in a certain way, and a woman in the engineering classroom was disruptive to their worldview. Pat was able to persevere in spite of their resistance, and in the end her talent and skill won the day. One could probably make the argument that being able to see the world through the eyes of another is a highly valuable interpersonal skill, and one that Pat used to her advantage as she moved up through IBM. (Note: I realize full well that one should only take this argument so far.)

An event like this, recognizing the first woman graduate of the EE Department, gives us the opportunity to reflect on where we have come in the past 50 years with regard to women enrollment in STEM fields. To this day we still struggle in the ECE Department, with undergraduate female enrollment hovering around 10%. I believe in my heart that we can and should do a better job of attracting more young women into ECE. At the same time, however, I have a deep admiration and respect for the pioneers like Pat who have struggled against the odds and have come out ahead. I feel the same way about the extraordinary women that I have met in the Presidential Council of Alumnae, the advisory group to President Mroz, all of whom have become leaders in industry and civic affairs. Female students at Michigan Tech are represented in student leadership positions campus-wide in numbers much higher than their proportion of the undergraduate population, and that has been true in the ECE Department as well. There is a spirit of Sisu in the Husky women students and alumnae that sets them apart, on campus and in their careers, and being here in small numbers probably has a lot to do with that. I am not suggesting for a second that we should slow down our efforts to bring more women into ECE, nor should we ever tolerate ANY attitude that would make the ECE Department less than fully welcoming, inclusive, and comfortable for all students (that goes for faculty and staff too.) I guess I am just being somewhat wistful and counting myself as lucky for having had the opportunity to get to know the amazing women like Pat who have been, and continue to be, on the leading edge of the movement to change the face of electrical and computer engineering.

– Dan

Daniel R. Fuhrmann
Dave House Professor and Chair
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological University


Jacob Staniszewski on Job-Stealing Robots

Jacob Staniszewski
Jacob Staniszewski

This story is the second in a four part look at ‘Robots and Michigan.’ Check back next week, when we’ll bring you part three.

Jacob Staniszewski is always looking for trouble.

I strongly believe that within the next 20 to 30 years, everything that can be automated, will be,

Staniszewski says.

Armed with an electrical engineering degree from Michigan Tech, he’s signed on to his first post-college gig with FANUC (FAN-uck) – the juggernaut Japanese company behind most of the industrial robots on American assembly lines today. Now it’s Staniszewski’s duty to stir up trouble with the factory-working robots of the future.

A born-and-raised Michigander, Staniszewski’s one of a growing number in the Great Lakes State looking towards a future in industrial robotics.

Read more at Forbes, by Hilary Brueck.


ECE Alumnus Dr. Paul Juodawlkis Named IEEE Fellow

juodawlkis-pDr. Paul Juodawlkis, assistant leader of the Quantum Information and Integrated Nanosystems Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and ECE alumnus, has been named a Fellow of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

Fellow is the IEEE’s highest grade of membership and only one-tenth of 1 percent of the entire membership can be awarded the honor in a given year. The Fellows program honors “those who have contributed greatly to the advancement of engineering, science, and technology.”

Juodawlkis is recognized for his contributions to optically sampled converters and waveguide amplifiers.

“I am happy and deeply honored to be named an IEEE Fellow,” says Dr. Juodawlkis. “I’ve been a member of the IEEE since my undergrad days in electrical engineering at Michigan Tech. Those days were critical to sparking my technical interests in solid-state devices and optoelectronics through classes taught by faculty like Professor Emeritus Anand Kulkarni. More recently, I’ve truly enjoyed having a front-row seat to watch the development and growth of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering over the past 16 years as a member of the department’s External Advisory Committee. When I am on campus, I am sometimes jealous of the opportunities and resources available to today’s Michigan Tech students, and wish that I could go back and do it all over again. Well, maybe except for finals. When I get a chance to offer advice to today’s students, I usually recommend that they make time to meet with their professors even if they don’t need help to learn the course material or to get the grade that they want. One of the main advantages of Michigan Tech is that most of the faculty care about teaching the students, and this teaching involves both explaining the course material and sharing the life lessons that they have learned outside of the classroom.”

Dr. Juodawlkis is also a Fellow of the Optical Society (OSA). He has authored or coauthored more than 130 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications. He has participated on a number of technical program committees, including serving as program co-chair (2010) and general co-chair (2012) of the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO). He was an elected member of the IEEE Photonics Society Board of Governors (2011–2013), served as vice president of membership for the society (2014-2016), and is currently secretary-treasurer for the society. Juodawlkis holds a BS degree from Michigan Technological University, an MS degree from Purdue University, and a PhD degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, all in electrical engineering.


Former Professor Theodore Grzelak Passes Away

Ted Grzelak
Dr. Theodore Alan ‘Ted’ Grzelak
1938-2016

Retired Michigan Tech Professor Theodore “Ted” Grzelak of Dollar Bay passed away Sunday at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids following a lengthy illness. He was 78.

He was born in Detroit and earned his bachelor’s of science in electrical engineering from the Michigan College of Mining and Technology in 1960.  While at Tech, he was involved with Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He received his master’s and PhD degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He married the former Mildred Savalox in 1959 and in August the couple celebrated their 57th anniversary.

In 1965 he accepted a position with Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory near Buffalo, New York. According to his obituary, concern about heavy local pollution at the time convinced him to accept a position in the department of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech.

He taught here from September of 1966 until his retirement in 2000. He was a coach for the Copper Country Junior Hockey Association, a member of the the Copper Country Ski Club and an official of the Central Division of the United States Ski Association. He was Dollar Bay’s Little League and Senior League baseball coach for several years.

He was an active member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock where he sang in the choir for nearly 40 years.

He is survived by his wife, Mildred, his three sons and eight grandchildren.

Funeral Services for Ted Grzelak will be held at 11 a.m. Friday (Nov. 18) at Gloria Dei in Hancock. Friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Hancock and Friday from 10 a.m. until the time of the service at the church.

A complete obituary can be found on the Memorial Chapel website.


Elizabeth (Cloos) Dreyer ’12 receives SWE Outstanding Collegiate Member

Elizabeth Dreyer (l) receives award from Britta Jost '05
Elizabeth Dreyer (l) receives award from Britta Jost ’05

Elizabeth (Cloos) Dreyer, BSEE 2012, was selected SWE Outstanding Collegiate Member by the Society of Women Engineers for outstanding contribution to SWE, the engineering community and their campus. Dreyer was honored at the WE16 conference held in Philadelphia, PA this past week.

Elizabeth is an electrical engineering PhD candidate at University of Michigan.

The ECE Department at Michigan Tech congratulates Elizabeth for this well-deserved recognition!


Alumni Reunion and ECE Academy, Class of 2016

Charles Rogers '78 (left) and Richard Ford '77, ECE Academy, Class of 2016. Missing from photo is Shankar Mukherjee '86.
Charles Rogers ’78 (left) and Richard Ford ’77, ECE Academy, Class of 2016. Missing from photo is Shankar Mukherjee ’86.
Welcome to a special Monday edition of Fridays with Fuhrmann!

Last week was the week of alumni reunions at Michigan Tech. In the ECE Department we began Wednesday evening with our biennial induction ceremony for the ECE Academy, which is our “hall of fame” for ECE alumni who have distinguished themselves in their careers, whether through technical contributions, business and entrepreneurship, or professional service. We inducted three new members into the Academy this year. Shankar Mukherjee, MS ’86, is an entrepreneur who lives in Cupertino, California, and is currently very busy with his latest venture, Dhaani Systems. In fact, Shankar is so busy that he had to cancel his trip to Houghton at the last minute and attend to an emergency situation with potential buyers in India! Fortunately, we were able to Skype him in (at 5:30am his time) and the ceremony moved forward smoothly. Rich Ford, BS ’77, is a power engineer who spent his entire career with Consumers Power, now Consumers Energy, in downstate Michigan. Rich started out as an engineer and moved his way up through the ranks, finishing his career with stints at VP of Energy Delivery, VP of Generation Operations, and VP of Transmission. Charles Rogers, BS ’78, also spent his career with Consumers Energy. (They must take good care of their employees.) Charles’ many contributions were more in the areas of standards and compliance, and he spent a fair amount of time in service activity on task forces and committees on standards for system protection and maintenance. We are of course very proud of our new Academy members and will be very happy to see their smiling faces on the wall in the entryway to the EERC.

Thursday was a day with lots of university-wide activities for returning Huskies. This normally includes a pasty picnic in the late afternoon, on the grounds between the EERC and the ChemSci Building. For the first time in my memory the picnic was moved indoors based on the prediction of violent thunderstorms with almost 100% certainty, but in a cruel twist of fate, 4:00 p.m. rolled around and there was not a cloud in the sky. It’s been a while since I have seen a weather prediction that wrong. The irony is that, for the most part, this summer has been fabulously beautiful in the Copper Country. We all enjoyed our picnic in the MUB anyway. I got to wander around, eat too much (who eats a big meal at 4pm?) and make lots of new friends.

Friday afternoon we had an open house in the ECE Department for alumni interested in our educational and research activities. After some opening socializing in our 5th floor lounge, we took the group on a tour of our teaching labs and research facilities in the EERC, with the tour led by ECE undergraduate academic advisor Judy Donahue (thank you Judy!). I like to think that everyone came away with a good impression of what we are trying to do here.

Why do we go to all this effort? Obviously, like a lot of universities, we want to keep our alumni connected with Michigan Tech, socially and emotionally. It makes us all feel part of a larger community, a community with a sense of history and mission. We depend on our alumni in a lot of ways, not only for the generous charitable contributions that support our students and help us to grow our programs, but for the generous gift of their time and valuable advice. Showing off what we do for people who have been out in the world, for 20, 30, even 50 years or more, really helps us to focus our efforts. We are quick to remind our alumni that they carry the Husky brand with them wherever they go, so that our continued success is their success as well, just as their success is a positive reflection on the university. We like to brag to our alumni, of course, but at the same time we are inspired by them. Seeing all the wonderful things they have accomplished gives us a lot of motivation to get up in the morning and do it all over again, preparing the next generation of engineers. Having those same alumni come back to Houghton, and express their gratitude to us for the difference we have made in their lives, makes these events that much more special.

To all our Husky alumni – thank you for everything you have done to make us look good! Keep up the good work!

– Dan

Daniel R. Fuhrmann
Dave House Professor and Chair
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological University