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Dennis “Doc” Wiitanen Announces Retirement

After 42 years of distinguished and dedicated service to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Michigan Tech, Professor Dennis O. Wiitanen announces his retirement, to be honored May 4, 2012. Prof. Wiitanen is a nationally recognized leader in electric power and energy systems. His most significant impact and his lasting legacy, though, is in undergraduate education. Thousands of Michigan Tech students have completed his classes in power system design and analysis, and have gone on to take their place in the workforce.

Dennis was, and continues to be, a tireless team member and advocate for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. No one knows more about the inner workings of the Department. He has served as the Associate Chair for the Department for twenty-five years and for five different chairs. For many of those years he was Chair of the Undergraduate Programs Committee, guiding the evolution of our educational programs to keep pace with ever-changing technology and workforce needs.

We invite you to participate in a very special initiative being put forward by the ECE Department, an initiative to honor Dennis Wiitanen on the occasion of his retirement. In recognition of everything that “Doc” has done, the Department is establishing the Dennis Wiitanen Professorship in Electric Power Systems. The funding to make this professorship a reality is 70% in place, but we need your help to finish the job. Our goal is to raise $300,000 to bring the total endowment to $1 million. Endowments are private gifts invested to produce income annually for use as faculty support, scholarships, or other needs. In this case, the income would be used to support the Wiitanen Professorship holder and to provide funds for supporting ECE students, purchasing equipment, and funding travel. Your gift can make it happen.

This will be a unique professorship on the Michigan Tech campus, in that it will be named in honor of one of our own rather than a single external donor. Several years ago, a fund was established for a professorship in electric power systems; gifts were solicited from several industry partners, with the primary contributors being Detroit Edison, Consumers Energy, Northern States Energy (now Xcel Energy), Upper Peninsula Power, and Wisconsin Public Service. The account has sat dormant, accumulating investment income, but the time has come to put the money to its intended use. Because the funding sources are so diverse, the ECE Department decided that the best title to put on the position is the name of the one person with a common connection to all of these entities, someone who has had a bigger role in the education of power engineers than anyone else at Michigan Tech: Dennis Wiitanen. For more information or to make a gift or pledge.

It is our goal to have everything in place by the time of Prof. Wiitanen’s retirement dinner, which will take place on the Michigan Tech campus on Friday, May 4, 2012. Please join us in celebrating the many accomplishments and contributions of Dennis O. Wiitanen to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Michigan Tech University. See Wiitanen Celebration for event details and to purchase tickets.


Annual ECE Faculty vs. Students Hockey Game

Faculty school Students 11-8 in the annual ECE Faculty vs. Students Hockey Game held on Saturday afternoon, December 10, 2011 at the John J. MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Team captain, Jeff “Bad Dog” Burl lead his team to a narrow win against the youthful 18-player student team. Leading the scoring for the faculty was Guy “We Needed a Fast Guy” Hembroff; goalies Scott Geverink and Chris Carrier kept it all together between the pipes.

The teams were cheered on by fans of all ages including a visit from the Huskies Pep Band. Prizes and pizza were enjoyed by all after the game in the SDC’s Blue Line Room.


2011 ECE Student Awards

Dr. Daniel Fuhrmann presents the 2011 ECE Departmental Scholar Award to Elizabeth (Liz) Cloos

The 2011 ECE Student Awards Banquet was held on Thursday, April 14, 2011 in the Memorial Union Building Ballroom on the Michigan Tech campus. The banquet is held each spring to honor ECE senior students and senior design/enterprise teams. It is also a time to recognize those who have gone above and beyond in their contribution to academics and the community. This year the ECE department was proud to present the following awards.

  • Elizabeth (Liz) Cloos: 2011 ECE Departmental Scholar
  • Nicholas Oberski: Carl Schjonberg Award – Outstanding Undergraduate Student
  • Michael Blaser: Jonathan Bara Award – Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant
Dr. Daniel Fuhrmann presents the 2011 Carl Schjonberg Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student to Nicholas Oberski
Dr. Daniel Fuhrmann presents the 2011 Jonathon Bara Award for Outstanding Teaching Assistant to Michael Blaser

As part of its spring meeting agenda, the ECE External Advisory  Committee (EAC) observes the department’s senior design presentations and poster displays to select a team that best meets or exceeds their specific criteria related to today’s industry needs. This year’s EAC Industry Innovation Award went to Team 5 for their Power Assisted Door Safety for Armored Vehicles project sponsored by BAE Systems Global Tactical Systems. Team members Ryan Anderson, Bradford Johnston, Matt Klotzer, Callin O’Farrell, and Alex Puestow each received a $150 cash prize for their work.

Jon Jipping, Chief Operating Office and Executive VP of ITC Holdings and EAC Chair, presents the Industry Inovation Award to Senior Design Team 5 (Ryan Anderson, Bradford Johnston, Matt Klotzer, Callin O'Farrell, and Alex Puestow)

Another highlight of the awards ceremony is the presentation of the Eta Kappa Nu Honor Society “Outstanding Professor of the Year” award. This year’s recipient was Dr. Chris Middlebrook, Assistant Professor in the area of Photonics. Dr. Middlebrook began teaching at Michigan Tech in fall 2007.

Liz Cloos presents the Eta Kappa Nu Honor Society, "Outstanding Professor of the Year" award to Dr. Chris Middlebrook