Engineering Professor and Author Offers Fresh Perspective on Learning

sep10Barbara Oakley, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at Oakland University and author of several books, will be at Michigan Tech Sept. 10-12 as part of the Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series. She will give a public talk on “Learning How to Learn” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, in Fisher 135. A presentation for the First Year Engineering Classes only will be at the Rozsa Center at 6 p.m. on Wednesday September 10.

Oakley’s latest book is “A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra).” She will give a presentation on Wednesday for first-year engineering students: “Engineering a Mind for Numbers: How to Start Your Education in a STEM Field.”

Thursday morning, Sept. 11, Oakley will present “Learning How to Learn” at Finlandia University. She will have lunch with Michigan Tech’s Engineering Fundamentals faculty and host a coffee chat at 3:30 p.m., Thursday in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library. The coffee chat is sponsored by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.

On Friday morning, Sept.12, Oakley will participate in “Meet the Math Department,” organized by Ann Humes, senior lecturer and director of first-year math.

Oakley herself has learned from experience to apply the perspectives of many fields to learning and to life. Originally intending to become a linguist, she earned her bachelor’s degree in slavic languages and literature. After working for the Army as a signal officer, she returned to school to study engineering so that she could better understand the communications equipment that the Army used.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and worked as a translator on Russian trawlers in the Bering Sea. Oakley also spent a season as the radio operator at the South Pole Station in Antarctica, where she met her husband, Philip. They moved to the Detroit area, where she earned a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering and a doctorate in systems engineering. She has been teaching at Oakland University ever since.

The Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar series is supported by the President’s Office, the College of Engineering, the Dean of Students and a grant to Michigan Tech’s Office of Institutional Equity from the state of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.

Michigan Tech in Global Trajectory Optimization Competition


The Michigan Tech Space Trajectory Optimization Team was ranked 20 in the 7th Global Trajectory Optimization Competition. This Competition is an event that takes place every one-two years over roughly one month during which the best aerospace engineers and mathematicians worldwide challenge themselves to solve a “nearly-impossible” problem of interplanetary trajectory design.

The 7th edition of the competition was organized by Politecnico di Torino – Università di Roma “Sapienza”, Italy. There were 38 participating teams worldwide. The first place in the 7th edition of the competition is the Outer Planets Mission Analysis Group of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA.

The MTU team consists of:
1- Ossama Abdelkhalik, faculty advisor
2- Ehsan Taheri, MEEM PhD student
3- Shangyan Zou, MEEM PhD student
4- Brandon Jackson, MEEM PhD student
5- Jonathan Curtis, MEEM PhD student

The competition subject space mission is a multiple-ship mission to Main Belt asteroids. A mother ship launches form Earth and releases, at proper times, exploration probes, which must rendezvous with one or more asteroids and then return to and rendezvous with the mother ship. This problem may have an interest per se as far as asteroid missions are concerned, but has also similarities with geocentric missions for satellite refurbishment or debris removal. The mother ship employs high-thrust nuclear propulsion. The probes have autonomous electric propulsion systems. The primary objective is to visit as many asteroids as possible using the probes.

The contest is sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA).
According to the ESA website, “To organise the first international competition to find the global optimal of an interplanetary trajectory was a risky idea. We saw it, a bit romantically perhaps, as a sort of “sailing challenge”, with our galaxy as the racing waters and mathematical tools as the competing boats, thus it is referred to as the “America’s Cup of Rocket Science.”

The challenge problem needs to be related to interplanetary trajectory design and its complexity high enough to ensure a clear competition winner. Over the years, the various problem statements and solutions returned, collected in this website, will form a formidable database of experiences, solutions and challenges for the scientific community.

View Video clip about Michigan Tech entry in Global Trajectory Optimization Competition

To view a video of the competition entry See 7th Global Trajectory Optimization Competition – Michigan Tech University solution

Global Trajectory Optimization Competition

List of institutions in the GTO competition and this years 2014 competing teams and the 2014 rankings

 Global Trajectory Optimization Competition
Global Trajectory Optimization Competition
Ossama Abdelkhalik, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics
Ossama Abdelkhalik, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics
Ossama Abdelkhalik, faculty advisor, Ehsan Taheri, Brandon Jackson,  Jonathan Curtis, and  Shangyan Zou,(not pictures) all MEEM PhD students
Ossama Abdelkhalik, faculty advisor, Ehsan Taheri, Brandon Jackson, Jonathan Curtis, and Shangyan Zou,(not pictures) all MEEM PhD students

Active Learning Center (ALC) formerly the “Fishbowl”

IMG_9813vInformation Technology invites you to attend the Active Learning Center’s open house on Friday, Aug. 22, from 1 to 4 p.m. in ME-EM 120. The Active Learning Center (ALC), formerly known as the ME-EM “Fishbowl.” has been completely transformed into a technology-rich collaborative learning space, featuring 72 student computer stations, three instructor stations and 29 collaboration LCD monitors hung from the ceiling. Staff will be on hand to provide tours and demonstrations.

Unlike the traditional learning space, the “front” of the classroom has been eliminated, allowing faculty to facilitate both heads-down concentration work and group collaboration, as well as provide hands-on technology for their students. In addition, when this room is not scheduled for classes, it will be available to all students as a computer lab.

Active Learning Center (ALC
Active Learning Center (ALC
Active Learning Center (ALC
Active Learning Center (ALC
Active Learning Center (ALC
Active Learning Center (ALC

See a Video Clip about the Active Learning Center

Alex Mayer appointed Charles and Patricia Nelson Presidential Professor

image56405-persMichigan Tech has appointed Alex Mayer as the Charles and Patricia Nelson Presidential Professor. Mayer, who holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, is recognized for his outstanding efforts to bring water-related research, education and outreach to the forefront at Michigan Tech.

“Charlie and Pat were staunch supporters of Michigan Tech and spent a lifetime working with managers of natural resources,” said President Glenn Mroz. “Alex’s career accomplishments and appointment are a fitting tribute to their memory.”

Mayer holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Brown University and master’s and PhD degrees in Environmental Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He joined the Michigan Tech faculty in 1992 and has been a full professor since 2001. Between 2005 and 2011, he also served as the director of the Center for Water and Society.

“Alex is one of the most active researchers on campus, an accomplished scholar, an outstanding teacher and caring adviser, and a highly valued University and department citizen. He is truly one of Michigan Tech’s best,” said Dave Hand, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

John Gierke, chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, added, “Throughout my career here as a colleague of Alex’s, I have been so impressed by his record of scholarship and collaborative nature, especially his propensity to involve a diverse group of faculty in large research efforts. This appointment is both fitting and long overdue.”

As principal investigator, Mayer has secured $8.5 million in federal funding and $1.3 million from other sources during his time at Tech. His teaching interests include groundwater flow and transport and subsurface remediation. His current research projects include “A Research Coordination Network on Pan-American Biofuels and Bioenergy Sustainability”; “Environmental CyberCitizens: Engaging Citizen Scientists in Global Environmental Change through Crowdsensing and Visualization”; and “Virtual Water Accounting: A New Paradigm for the Adaptive Management of Great Lakes Water.”

In 2009, Mayer was recognized with the Rudolf Hering Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers. In the same year, he also received Michigan Tech’s Distinguished Faculty Service Award. The Huron Mountain Wildlife Foundation recognized him in 2010 with the Manierre Award.

Article in Tech Today by Max Seel, provost and vice president for academic affairs

One of Greatest Places to Live in America: Houghton

IMG_9635bOutside magazine named Houghton among the 16 best places to live in America, mentioning that Michigan Tech students double the town’s population during the school year. The article also notes Tech as one of the largest employers, praises the Nordic ski trails and mentions that Tech will host the National Cross-Country Skiing Championships in 2015 and 2016. See The 16 Greatest Places to Live in America.

“Wings of Angels” Film Includes Michigan Tech Capstone Design Team

Wings of Angels1bThe documentary film Wings of Angels” will be Shown During Alumni Reunion.
The public can view “Wings of Angels,” a documentary film featuring Michigan Tech mechanical engineering students, in the lobby of the MEEM building during Alumni Reunion. The movie will be shown on the hour, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 7-9.

Recently the original opening screening and reception of “The Wings of Angels” documentary film was held at the U.S. Navy Memorial & Naval Heritage Center, in Washington, DC. The film is about Michigan Tech’s ME student capstone design teams working with wounded veterans to design a competitive handcycle so these vets can compete in marathons.

Invitees included Achilles athletes (wounded veterans), Michigan Tech ME students, GM Executives, DC policymakers, DC-based military representatives, veteran’s organizations, select media, about 200 invitees. Dr. William Predebon was there representing Michigan Tech and the ME-EM Department.

It was an evening about how Michigan Tech ME students in the senior capstone design program worked hand-in-hand with the wounded veterans to design and build a competitive handcycle so these wounded veterans can complete in the Achilles sponsored marathons (Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Vets:

Predebon said “It is a heart-moving film about our students and how they made a difference in the lives of our courageous wounded veterans. Although it started as their senior capstone design project it became much more for them- it became their passion.”

Several GM Executives spoke at the screening including former Chairman and CEO, Dan Ackerson. Featured speakers included Travis Wood, wounded veteran, Chad Zunich, student member of the first handcysle senior capstone design team. Travis is one of two wounded veterans featured in the film and worked closely with the senior capstone design teams. He also rode the student designed prototype handcycle in the Detroit marathon, which is featured in the film.

Watch the Video

Watch the Video
The video can be seen at

Former GM Chairman and CEO Dan Ackerson
Former GM Chairman and CEO Dan Ackerson
Chad Zunich, Travis Wood, Achllies Coordinator Chad was an ME student, who was on the first handcycle senior capstone design team and now   works at General Motors
Chad Zunich, Travis Wood, Achllies Coordinator
Chad was an ME student, who was on the first handcycle senior capstone design team and now works at General Motors
Handcycle at screening
Handcycle at screening
Chad Zunich and Joe Traum (Achilles Director)
Chad Zunich and Joe Traum (Achilles Director)

Lake Superior Joint Monitoring Program

IMG_8027 (1280x853)Great Lakes Research Vessel NOAA RV 5501 at Michigan Tech: Lake Superior Joint Monitoring Program July 2014

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provided the boat and crew and Michigan Tech provides the people who do the sampling as part of NOAA’s Great Lakes Monitoring program. Michigan Tech and NOAA share in the analysis and discovery.

Crew: Beau Braymer, Captain of RV5501; Bob Harvey, Mate of RV5501; Dr. Gary Fahnenstiel, Senior Scientist, Great Lakes Research Center and Michigan Tech Research Institute; Dr. Foad Yousef, Post doctoral research Michigan Tech and Erin Cafferty Michigan Tech Research Institute, research in freshwater biology phycology.

Other projects that will using the research vessel include Marcel Dijkstra (CEE), North Entry offshore transect with water samples; Colleen Mouw (GMES), NASA Optical Propertiesa and Transects from North Entry and Keweenaw; Mike Aboott (GLRC), buoy maintenance; and Amy Marcarelli (BioSci), Coast Sediment Exchange and the River mouths around Keweenaw.

RV 5501 is a vessel of the NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL); The Boat Engineering Branch of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Engineering Logistics Center designed the 55′ ANB (Aids to Navigation Boat). The Coast Guard Yard completed the detailed design and contracted the initial production of 55′ ANB. The 55′ ANB is designed primarily to service aids to navigation within the inland waters, bays, sounds and harbors of the United States. It is capable and equipped to support multi-mission operations.

View more Photos or slide show

View the Video Lake Superior Joint Monitoring Program at the Great Lakes Research Channel

Great Lakes Research Vessel NOAA RV 5501 at Michigan Tech: Lake Superior Joint Monitoring Program July 2014
Great Lakes Research Vessel NOAA RV 5501 at Michigan Tech: Lake Superior Joint Monitoring Program July 2014

Celebration of Lake Superior Day 2014

IMG_7713 (1280x853)Copper Harbor community volunteers, along with the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Organized the second annual Lake Superior Day Festival, Sunday, July 20, with lots of special activities at the 6th Street Dock along the Copper Harbor Boardwalk (near Isle Royale Queen boat dock).

UPDATE: See Photo Gallery from 2014 Lake Superior Day in Copper Harbor Michigan

Lake Superior Magazine featured photos of the Michigan Tech Research Vessel Agassiz and other activities at Lake Superior Day at Copper Harbor last Sunday. See photos 23-27 at Lake Superior Day.

Copper Harbor activities included:

* Enjoy fish stew (Kalamojakka), homemade pies, rieska (Finnish flatbread) and more for a community picnic ($5 donation suggested).
* Canoe races and kayak demonstrations
* Interactive art (paint the model freighter)
* ROV (remotely operated vehicle) demonstrations by the Dollar Bay High School S.O.A.R. team
* Learn about the health of Lake Superior from a presentation by Great Lakes scientist Marcel Dijkestra from Michigan Tech Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
* Live music, poetry, and more.

From 1 to 4 p.m., attendees found out how scientists study the Great Lakes by taking a 25-minute scientific excursion in the harbor aboard Michigan Tech’s research vessel the Agassiz. These excursions were offered as part of the Ride the Waves Program with funding from General Motors. The Agassiz left the Isle Royale Queen dock every half-hour beginning at 1 p.m.

Lake Superior Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in July in many communities around Lake Superior. The event, now in its 11th year, is spearheaded by the Lake Superior Binational Forum to highlight the special connections people have to this unique world treasure.

For more information about the event, contact Lake Superior Day lead organizer, Don Kilpela, Isle Royale Queen captain in Copper Harbor

To learn more about Lake Superior Day events around the lake, visit the Lake Superior Binational Forum. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Office of the Great Lakes also provides information on Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes at the Department of Environmental Quality, or visit
EPA’s website.

See Photo Gallery from 2014 Lake Superior Day in Copper Harbor Michigan

Summer Youth Engineering Programs

Several Summer Youth engineering programs are held at Michigan Tech Engineering Dpartments. The Engineering Scholars Program (ESP) and Women in Engineering (WIE) are weeklong competitive scholarship programs to introduce engineering careers in areas like mechanical, computer, environmental, electrical, chemical, biomedical, civil, geological, and materials.
Some of the activities may include:
• Explore engineering by constructing a building strong enough to withstand an earthquake, create an artificial intelligence army, and much more.
• Get inside info from role models working in engineering fields.
• Work in teams to tackle awesome group projects.
• Learn about the college application process and tips for succeeding in university engineering programs.
• Experience college life-stay in a residence hall, explore campus, and meet others with similar interests.
• Enjoy team competitions, a variety show, and tons of outdoor activities in Michigan’s beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula.

Photo Gallery Summer Youth Program in Engineering: Women in Engineering and Engineering Scholars Program

News article from UpperMichigan Source WLUC TV6High School students learn about engineering at Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech’s National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) is a two-week residential program that allows you to explore today’s transportation industry. Find out more these and other programs:

Engineering Scholars Program

• Women in Engineering
• National Summer Transportation Institute
• Rail and Intermodal Transportation
• Women in Computer Science

Great Lakes Investigations Aboard Michigan Tech Research Vessel Agassiz

Great Lakes Investigations Aboard Michigan Tech Research Vessel Agassiz for Students in Grades 4-12 ~ Fun! FREE! Educational!

Ride the Waves with GM (General Motors) invites Copper Country youth in Grades 4-12 to join scientists from Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center in the exploration of Lake Superior, Portage Waterway and Torch Lake. There are four different programs to choose from, each 4 hours in length, that will accommodate 14 youth/chaperones:

Aquatic Food Web & Lab Investigation (4 hour session, 2 on boat & 2 in lab; July 1, 3, 24, Aug. 1, 4-7) Find out how scientists investigate water quality and collect samples to examine in the lab to find out “what makes a lake trout?” All ages.

Mine Waste Remediation & Torch Lake Restoration (4 hour session, 2 on Agassiz & 2 in Lake Linden; on July 1; Aug. 4-7) The history of the “Copper Country is explored by land and water as students visit historic copper milling sites, reclaimed mine waste sites, and the bottom of Torch Lake. Ideal for middle school students.

Investigate the lake with a Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) (2-3 hour session on Agassiz on July 21, 23, 30 departing from various locations; optional shuttle available from MTU)
Unless you’re a diver, few get to see what lies beneath the waves without a remotely operated vehicle. What surprises await you? Ideal for middle/high school students

Lake Superior’s Ring of Fire (4-hour session on Agassiz on Aug. 18-22) Explore an area in Lake Superior where the shrimplike organism Diporeia is up to 20 times more abundant than in any other part of Lake Superior! How does this affect the Lake Superior food web? Ideal for high school students.

REGISTER ONLINE: Ride the Waves Registration Form
Please list all dates and times that work for you and we will reply and fit you into the earliest available slots. Groups of 5 or more students will be given preference in scheduling, so get with your friends and form a group!

See PDF Flyer Great Lakes Investigations Aboard Michigan Tech’s Research Vessel Agassiz for Students in Grades 4-12

The Ride the Waves Program is funded by GM (General Motors) and Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center.

For more Information or to make reservations:
Contact Joan Chadde ( or Lloyd Wescoat ( or call 906-487-3341.
Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach
Great Lakes Research Center

Great Lakes Investigations Aboard Michigan Tech Research Vessel Agassiz
Great Lakes Investigations Aboard Michigan Tech’s Research Vessel Agassiz