2013 ECE Student Awards

Each year five student awards are given by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Nominations are received from ECE Faculty and Staff and voting is conducting. We are pleased to announce this year’s recipients.

ECE Departmental Scholar

Adam Funkenbusch, BSEE, BSECP

Adam Funkenbusch is a double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering with a GPA of 3.96.  Adam is a member of the Aerospace Enterprise, an interdisciplinary enterprise hosted in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, which won the AFRL University Nanostat competition in 2011 (a major point of pride for Michigan Tech), working toward launch of the Oculus ASR in 2014. Adam is a Software Team Leader, responsible for a group of ten CpE and CS students doing both software and hardware development and carrying out project management.

The morning of the Spring 2013 Career Fair, Adam delivered a polished 5-minute presentation to a group of industry recruiters on the Aerospace Enterprise as part of the “ECE Showcase” which the Department hosted in the Student Development Complex.

Adam spent two summers as an intern at 3M ESPE (Dental Products Division) working on 3M’s True Definition Scanner, an electronic device for recording and creating a high-resolution 3D digital model of patient oral cavity. Adam was fortunate enough to be involved in the project from early development to product launch, contributing on both the software side and in the design of a solid calibration target housing.

He is the Corresponding Secretary of Eta Kappa Nu (EE honor society). His other contributions of service to Michigan Tech include a presentation to the sophomore circuits class on EE areas of specialization and he is the Webmaster for the Research Scholars Program.

Adam plays mellophone in the Michigan Tech Pep Band and participates in intramural frisbockey, flag football, broomball, bowling, and floor hockey. He speaks English (native), German (intermediate) and Spanish (beginner). Adam also participates in BonzAI Brawl and ACM‐ICPC programming competitions and is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Honors Institute.

ECE Woman of Promise

Rachel Swaney, BSECP

Rachel Slabaugh (Swaney) is an Electrical Engineering major with focus in Power and a GPA of 3.96. She is also working towards a Power Certificate. Rachel is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Institute of Electrical and Electrical Engineering (IEEE). She serves as a committee head for Tau Beta Pi and as treasurer for Eta Kappa Nu (EE honor society). She acted as VP of Public Relations for Blue Marble Security Enterprise as well as project manager for the Enterprise’s Heart Rate Monitor project where she managed a team of engineers who design a circuit board and corresponding instruction set as an EE lab for middle school outreach activities. She also serves on the ECE Undergraduate Advisory Board. Rachel had a controls focus internship with Paper Converting Machine Company where she organized and set up a rental replacement program for Human Machine Interface (HMI) systems and developed HMI screens. Rachel is also active in her local church where she teaches a toddler Sunday school class.

Carl S. Schjonberg Award for Outstanding Undergraduate ECE Student

Andrew Hoekstra, BSEE, BSECP

Andrew Hoekstra is a double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering with a GPA of 3.98. In addition, he has achieved an International Spanish Minor. Andrew is the president of the Honors Institute, a Student Ambassador, was on the Oculus ASR team of the Aerospace Enterprise where he has designed a circuit board and power supply for the Oculus Communication System, is an officer of Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), and is a Co-President of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Enterprise. Andrew is also an assistant Karate instructor (black belt) and is certified as a Medical First Responder.

Andrew has been extremely helpful to the ECE department and is always willing to help when asked. He has volunteered with Preview Day, ECE annual phone campaign, and the Fall Open House. He has put together multiple initiatives as an HKN member including organizing the first ever “ECE Showcase” as part of the 2013 Spring Career Fair events, presenting information on concentrations to EE and CpE sophomores, and efforts to obtain corporate sponsorship for HKN.

Jonathan Bara Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA)

Jennifer Winikus, PhD candidate in Computer Engineering

Jenn Winikus is currently pursuing her degree PhD in Computer Engineering. Her advisor is Prof. Wayne Weaver. Jenn has been active in many aspects of our graduate program and overall success of our department. Her contributions may be best described in her nomination for the award by ECE Associate Chair Glen Archer as he states:

[Jenn] has been a stalwart in one of our most challenging labs, EE3306, where she has shepherded many sections through the mysteries of the Motorolla HCS12 microcontroller.  In addition to her performance in the microcontroller lab, she has created and delivered our summer youth program for Women in Engineering, the Engineering Scholars Program, and both the EE and CpE week long explorations.   She has extended herself for her students by setting open lab hours on the weekends and evenings to allow them to complete their work.  She routinely receives high marks on the student surveys and glowing remarks in the written comment sections.

Matt Wolfe Award for Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)

Himanshu Bahirat, PhD EE

Himanshu Bahirat earned both his PhD and MSEE at Michigan Tech. In both degrees, he has distinguished himself, the ECE Department, and Michigan Tech, and drawn praise from his research sponsors and collaborators.

Himanshu entered the PhD program in Jan 2009, supported by a GRA on a $1.15M collaborative MTU-NTNU project, http://www.doe.mtu.edu/news/2010/mork.pdf. He took a 10-month research exchange at NTNU in 2011-12, working with two other faculty-PhD student pairs there and taking a leadership role throughout. He has advanced state of the art in computer modeling of offshore wind farms and developed new high-voltage dc collector system topologies and technologies.  Related to this work to date, he has 1 published journal paper, 1 journal paper under review, 2 journal papers being submitted, and 3 more in progress. A patent application is in progress. He has published 4 refereed conference papers (2 are IEEE PES). He successfully defended in August 2013.

Himanshu completed his MSEE in Dec 2009. He was supported as a GRA and quickly became an expert in computer simulation of transients in high-voltage power systems.  Responding to a NERC (North American Electric Reliability Council) mandate to retrofit a failure-prone high-voltage equipment installation design, Himanshu and I worked with the research sponsor to address the 72 instances in their system.  Himanshu led the effort to develop a lower-cost more robust design modification, carried out the mathematical development, implemented the simulation model, and performed an exhaustive set of performance simulations. This resulted in a conference paper, a journal paper, and a recommendation to the IEEE stds committee to modify their existing standards.  The sponsor estimates that utilizing this new approach has saved them $3.5M compared to prior common practice.

At the time of his nomination, Himanshu had published two journal papers, one journal paper under review, two journal papers being submitted and three more in preparation, four peer-reviewed conference papers, two conference papers, and is the holder of three patents with one more under review.

IProf. Mork stated in his nomination that “in addition to the capabilities Himanshu has developed as a researcher, he possesses great professional skills, is excellent at teaming, and is a good role model and mentor of younger students.  As evidence, he is continuing at MTU this academic year as a postdoctoral research fellow and instructor, teaching EE5200 and EE5220, co-advising MSEE and PhD students, and writing research proposals. He is an outstanding representative of Michigan Tech and is highly deserving of this award.”


Alumni Gifts Fund Two Major Learning Initiatives

Michigan Technological University is launching two major initiatives aimed at improving student success and providing faculty with new tools for enhancing student learning.

Both efforts are made possible through generous gifts from alumni. An $876,000 bequest from the estate of Waino Wahtera, who earned a BS in Chemistry from Michigan Tech in 1942, will fund the Wahtera Center for Student Success. The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning is supported by an outright gift of $1 million. The president of CableAmerica, William G. Jackson graduated from Michigan Tech in 1958 with a BS in Electrical Engineering.
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BSEE Senior Ali Haidar Earns Daktronics Midwest All-Region First Team Honors

Michigan Tech men’s basketball player Ali Haidar has earned Daktronics Midwest All-Region first team honors. He was a second team selection in 2011-12.

Haidar, a BSEE senior in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was named GLIAC Player of the Year for the second straight year and has broken four GLIAC records and seven school records this season. The Windsor, Ont., native broke the league record for points (541) and field goals made (188) in a season. He also established season records for free throws made (158) and attempted (209).

His school records include season scoring (698) and rebounding (273), rebounds in a career (881), most 20+ point games in a season (22) and free throws made (18) and attempted (20) in a game.

Haidar, who ranks fifth in career scoring (1,927) at Michigan Tech, ranks third in the nation in scoring (24.9 ppg) and 16th in rebounding (9.8 rpg).

Original story by Ian Marks, assistant director, athletic communications and marketing posted in Tech Today, 3/18/13.

For more information regarding Ali Haidar see http://www.mtu.edu/umc/services/pr-news/magazine/winter1112/stories/star-east/


The Circuit – Newsletter 2011-2012

ECE 2011-2012 newsletter The Circuit is now available. The publication highlights recent activities in the department including: 

  • ECE Education in Tune with Industry – electrical and computer engineers in demand at Fall 2011 Career Fair 
  • The Changing Face of Engineering – Women in ECE
  • Establishment of the Dennis Wiitanen Professorship in Electric Energy Systems – “Doc” Wiitanen to be honored at May 4 retirement celebration
  • Paul and Susan Williams Center for Computer Systems Research Dedicated
  • Student’s Winning Satellite to be Launched into Orbit
  • Senior Design: A Renaissance Approach

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.


Railroad Night Coming Up

The Rail Transportation Program (RTP) and the Rail Engineering and Activities Club (REAC) announce the seventh annual Railroad Night from 7 to 10 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Shelden Grill in the Magnuson Hotel, Houghton.

This year’s keynote speaker is Kevin Kesler, chief engineer in the operating practice division for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Student admission is $3 for the event (or $5 for admission plus REAC membership). REAC is open to all students of any discipline. For more information, see Rail.

Tickets will be on sale through Feb. 17 for students:

Feb. 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.–Dillman

Feb. 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.–ME-EM

Feb. 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.–Dow

Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.–Fisher

There is no fee for faculty or administrators, but an RSVP to Pam Hannon at prhannon@mtu.edu is required by Friday, Feb. 17, as well.


Railroad Engineering and Activities Club Meeting

The Railroad Engineering and Activities Club (REAC) will hold a business meeting from 6 to 7 p.m., today, in Dillman 214.

Alumnus Chad Hewitt ’99, chief engineer from Remprex Engineering Services LLC, will give a presentation, “Rail Intermodal Yard Terminal Development–From Design to Operation.”

REAC is open to members of any discipline who have an interest in finding out more about REAC activities and the rail industry.

Pizza and pop will be provided.

For more information, contact Pam Hannon, coordinator, MTTI, at 487-3065 or at prhannon@mtu.edu .


Scholarship Opportunities for Engineering Juniors, Seniors and Grad Applicants

The Michigan Tech Sustained Support to Ensure Engineering Degrees (SSEED) program (funded by NSF S-STEM) is in its second year of four. In 2011-12, the program awarded 33 scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to engineering juniors and seniors. The program awarded five fellowships of $8,000 each to first-year engineering graduate students.

The purpose of the undergraduate scholarships is to improve the retention of upper division engineering students who have financial need and other risk factors that make it difficult to complete their degrees. The purpose of the graduate fellowships is to improve the recruitment of women and minorities to graduate study in engineering.

In 2012-13, the program will again award up to 35 undergraduate scholarships and five graduate fellowships. The program also features mentoring and professional development opportunities. The application deadline is March 15 for undergraduate scholarships and May 1 for graduate fellowships. Share this information with qualified students.

For more information, see SSEED, or contact Michele Miller at 487-3025 or at mhmiller@mtu.edu .


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