SWE Students Travel to WE Local, Milwaukee

WE LocalMichigan Tech students Katie Buchalski (Environmental Engineering), Emily Crombez (Computer Science Graduate Student), Hannah Daavettila (Mechanical Engineering), Veronica Lynch (Civil Engineering), Jocelyne Denhof (Mechanical Engineering), and Erin Murdoch (Mechanical Engineering Technology), and faculty adviser, Gretchen Hein (Engineering Fundamentals) attended the Society of Women Engineers WE Local Conference in Milwaukee from Friday through Sunday, March 9 through 11, 2018.

They participated in the conference career fair, and attended professional development sessions and networking activities. Gretchen Hein and Rebecca Reck, Kettering University, as part of the SWE Women in Academia Committee, presented on the various career paths available in academia. The students and adviser were especially moved to hear about the challenges and accomplishments of Sonia Sanchez, professor of Physiology and Biomedical Sciences and assistant dean of Research at the Creighton University School of Dentistry. She spoke about her life journey from a small town in Brazil to her career in Nebraska. The group left her talk inspired and ready to work towards their goals regardless of obstacles.

The group thanks the College of Engineering for their support, and their departments for allowing them to leave early for Spring Break to participate in the SWE WE Local Conference.

Bill Jackson ’58, Provided Lasting Impact to Michigan Tech

William Jackson
William Jackson

Michigan Tech is mourning William G. “Bill”  Jackson, who passed away peacefully March 1, 2018, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Jackson graduated from Michigan Tech in 1958 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. His generosity is a perfect example of the impact a single individual can have. Jackson made multiple transformational gifts that continue to make a lasting and dramatic positive impact on campus.

Jackson’s first gift to Tech was made in July of 1973. He and his wife, Gloria, continued supporting the University with numerous gifts over the years. These gifts supported departments and initiatives including the Annual Fund, the Class of ’58 Endowed Scholarship, the Industrial Archeology Program and the Rozsa Center.

The couple made their first major gift when they established the William and Gloria Jackson Endowed Scholarship in 1998. This provided scholarships for undergraduate students majoring in electrical engineering, with preference given to graduates of Calumet High School, which provided Jackson, who remembered his roots, with a start in life that he continued to value.

In 2006 Jackson was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Alumni Board of Director’s highest honor, for his professional achievements, for being a model of the entrepreneurial spirit, for being a champion of higher education and for bringing distinction to Michigan Technological University.

And still Jackson continued giving. Another major gift, given with his late wife Gloria in 2007, established the William and Gloria Jackson Professorship Endowed Fund which focused on bridging information technology and entrepreneurship. The gift arose from Gloria’s strong belief in the power of endowments and Bill’s strong respect and appreciation of the the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The generous gift both established and provided recruiting funds for the endowed professorship now held by Timothy Havens, associate professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science and director of the Data Sciences graduate program and ICC Center for Data Sciences.

Havens says the William and Gloria Jackson position is invaluable. “It provides funds for the Jackson Fellowship that I use to recruit exceptional graduate students. These students are able to work on higher risk/higher reward research, which is beneficial for both the student and also myself. Brian Flanagan, an accelerated master’s student, is the Jackson Fellow and is investigating how advanced data science can be used to predict maintenance in large fleets of vehicles.” This project has allowed Havens to build a new collaboration with Ford.

But Jackson wasn’t done yet. Another major gift made dramatic changes almost immediately and continues to support students and instructors. The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning, on the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s second floor, was constructed. It includes spaces and equipment for faculty training on new teaching methods and technologies including assessment, recorded lectures and the Canvas learning management system. Though novelties at the time, all now enjoy widespread, effective use in Michigan Tech classes, and more than half of Michigan Tech instructors connect with the Jackson CTL annually for training and support.

In 2013, Jackson’s gift established a secure testing center that allowed local administration of the fundamentals of engineering and other commercial exams as well as support for accommodated exams. Demand for the use of this center has grown exponentially resulting in a summer 2016 expansion (also supported by the gift). In its first fall semester, about 70 exams were administered; today, it’s not uncommon for the center to give that number in a single day, with semester totals approaching 3,000.

Jackson’s gift helped to install lecture-capture capabilities in 20 University classrooms, another trend that has continued to grow. (There are now 38). During fall 2017, more than 5,000 hours of video was reviewed by students, with captures in over 100 different sections. The Jackson gift has provided much needed technology upgrades in several university classrooms, and fully supported the creation of the 60-seat Jackson Active Learning Center in the basement of Rekhi Hall which is tailored to the blended-learning classroom model.

Jackson believed the most important impact were the opportunities his gifts created for people. In addition to providing initial full support of the testing center coordinator position, the gift has funded more than 20 blended learning and online curriculum development grants for instructors in almost all Michigan Tech departments. His gift provided the basis for an equipment loan program, and the impetus to begin a program that helps instructors learn how to teach online.

When Jackson visited campus in July, 2014 to celebrate the opening of the Center that bore his name, Director Mike Meyer was especially struck by his humility, his desire to make a lasting difference and his people focus.

“Bill brought two of his grandchildren along to the open house event,” Meyer says. “It was clear that his family was of paramount importance to him, and he wanted the kids to see the Center and understand his legacy. After a tour of both the CTL and the Testing Center his gift had created and a chance to visit with many of the instructors supported through grants, I tried to thank Jackson formally for his gift. Bill’s humble response? ‘It’s just great to have good people to put the money to work.’”

Bill Jackson and his family can rest assured Michigan Tech will continue to treasure his legacy. His transformational gifts will help students and instructors at Michigan Tech for many years to come.

By Michael Meyer, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.

Michigan Tech Students at Road America

Autonomous Group by the VehiclELKHART LAKE, Wis. (WLUK) — Students at Michigan Technological University took to the grounds of Road America near Elkhart Lake Thursday to put the finishing touches on a car that literally drives itself.

The autonomous vehicle is part of a contest designed to move the technology forward.

“Well, I’m not driving. It’s an interesting feeling. I’ve been driving for 15 years. Now I get behind the wheel, and the wheel turns, and pedals move, and I don’t have to do anything,” said Spike, a graduate student at Michigan Tech.

Read more at FOX 11 News, by Eric Peterson


Huskies Hit The Road

Minakata and Coscarelli Publish on the Use of UV for Breaking Down Contaminants

Mechanistic Insight Graphic of Molecular Orbitals

Dr. Daisuke Minakata and his graduate student, Erica Coscarelli, published an open access paper, Mechanistic Insight into the Degradation of Nitrosamines via Aqueous-Phase UV Photolysis or a UV-Based Advanced Oxidation Process: Quantum Mechanical Calculations, in Molecules. This paper addresses the presence of trace organics in water, focusing on potentially carcinogenic nitrogen-organic contaminants called nitrosamines. Dr. Minakata’s group applied ultraviolet (UV) photolysis and UV-based advanced oxidation technology to degrade these contaminants into a non-toxic form of transformation compounds while studying the degradation mechanisms.

Molecules 201823(3), 539; doi:10.3390/molecules23030539

Dr. Daisuke Minakata is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Erica Coscarelli is a graduate student in Environmental Engineering.

This work, supported by the National Science Foundation, has been published in the Molecules special issue “Radical Chemistry.” Molecules (ISSN 1420-3049; CODEN: MOLEFW) is the leading international, peer-reviewed open access journal of chemistry, published monthly online by MDPI.

NSBE Spreads Message of STEM During Break

NSBE-PCINine members of the National Society of Black Engineers Pre-College Initiative (NSBE-PCI) chapter at Michigan Tech are spending spring break in Detroit, participating in the annual Alternative Spring Break. They will visit six middle and high schools to encourage students to consider college and a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) career.

During the day, the Tech students will make classroom presentations to middle and high school students encouraging them to continue their education after high school, consider going to college or community college and choose a STEM career path. The NSBE students will also conduct Family Engineering events at three K-8 schools for students and their families.

High school students will have the opportunity to apply to participate in a six-day Engineering and Environmental Science Exploration at Michigan Tech from July 21-28 with a $600 scholarship, or apply for a five-day summer STEM internship at Michigan Tech in July. Application information is available through school principals or here.

The goal of the NSBE classroom presentations and Family Engineering events are to engage, inspire and encourage students to learn about and consider careers in engineering and science through hands-on activities.

This outreach effort is funded by the John Deere Foundation and the Michigan Tech Office of Admissions and the College of Engineering, in partnership with Detroit Public Schools Community District, and coordinated by the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

By Joan Chadde.

2018-19 Michigan Space Grant Consortium Awards

Michigan Space Grant Consortium logo

Michigan Tech faculty, staff and students received awards tallying $73,675 in funding through the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC), sponsored by NASA for the 2018-19 funding cycle.

Engineering undergraduates receiving $2,500 research fellowships:

  • Alex Oliver (BME): “Evaluating Biodegradeable Zinc Stent Materials,” with Jeremy Goldman
  • Katie Bristol (Applied Geophysics): “Investigation of the Solar Nebula’s Magnetic Field Strength from the Allende Meteorite Chondrules,” with Aleksey Smirnov

Engineering graduate Students receiving $5,000 research fellowships:

  • Erica Coscarelli (CEE): “Reaction Mechanisms for the Degradation of Trace Organic Contaminants through Advanced Oxidation Processes,” with Daisuke Minakata
  • Sanna Mairet (GME): “Investigating the Relationship between Volcanic Sulfur Dioxide Concentrations and Human Population and Land Use Changes through Geographic Visualization,” with Simon Carn
  • Brandi Petryk (GME): “The Origin of an Archean Batholith – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” with Chad Deering
  • Emily Shaw (CEE): “Mapping the Co-Distribution of Mercury and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Lakes,” with Noel Urban

Engineering faculty and staff members receiving $5,000 or more for pre-college, public outreach, teacher training, faculty seed and/or augmentation programs include:

  • Joan Chadde (CEE): “STEM Career Explorations for Detroit High School Students” (includes augmentation) Pre-college program
  • Brian Doughty (CEE): “Technology and Outdoor Learning” Pre-college program
  • Adrienne Minerick (COE): “Microfluidic Dynamic Cell Concentration Tuner for Medical Diagnostics” Faculty Seed Program

NASA implemented the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in 1989 to provide funding for research, education and public outreach in space-related science and technology. The program has 52 university-based consortia in the United States and Puerto Rico.

As an affiliate of the Michigan Consortium, Michigan Tech has been an active participant in MSGC for approximately 20 years. MSGC funding is administered through MTU’s Pavlis Honors College. For more information, contact Paige Hackney in the Pavlis Honors College, call 7-4371, or visit the MSGC website.

Original story by Pavlis Honors College.

Invent It Build It: Six Questions with Hannah Cunningham

Hannah Cunningham '18 BME, pictured here in the colored-glass walkway at the Aros Art Museum in Denmark. Credit: Taran Schatz
Hannah Cunningham ’18 BME, pictured here in the colored-glass walkway at the Aros Art Museum in Denmark. Credit: Taran Schatz

Hannah Cunningham, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech, has been working with kids since she was in high school. Volunteering several times at the Society of Women Engineers’ annual Invent it Build It event for middle school girls was a natural thing for her to do. She took part while attending SWE conferences in Nashville, Philadelphia, and most recently at the National SWE WE17 Conference in Austin, Texas.

Q: What’s it like to volunteer for Invent It Build It?
A: I’ve had a few different roles. I’ve worked directly with the girls as a table leader, I’ve staged materials during the event, and been a “floater” who simply fills in where help is needed with things like registration, grabbing forgotten supplies from the hotel, or pouring oil into cups.

I had the greatest interaction with the girls as a table leader. My primary job was to direct my table of four or five girls through the two activities during the day, while making sure they were thinking critically about the engineering challenge and developing their engineering skills. Luckily, they were middle schoolers, so it was easy to talk with them and learn more about them.

Q: Do you see yourself in any of the participants?
A: The girls who attend are local to the city where the conference is being held. For the most part they’re very similar. They don’t really have any idea what they want to do, but engineering could be their future. At the event they work together on engineering challenges with varying levels of teamwork, but all are capable of providing something to the challenge.

At that age it can be difficult to see your own contribution. It’s even more difficult to respect your own work without comparing it to everyone else’s. This event gives them a chance to build one thing as a team, with each participating in some way.

I try not to remember myself as a middle schooler, but some of the girls definitely remind me of myself. When faced with the project/challenge, they work at it, and work hard, until they’ve come to final product.

Hannah Cunningham '18 BMEQ: Are you involved in any other engineering outreach?
A: While at Michigan Tech I have taught various courses for first and second graders through the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach led by Joan Chadde-Schumaker. When I teach these classes, even if the topic is not related to engineering, such as wildlife exploration, I always make sure to develop a project to include engineering. I believe engineering projects challenge kids’ creativity, teamwork skills and technical skills. Engineering projects are fantastic for any classroom setting and the supplies can be simple, recyclable materials.

Q: What would you like to do when you graduate?
A: I am due to graduate with a BS in biomedical engineering this Spring (!). I plan to pursue an accelerated master’s degree in Kinesiology next year. I wan to finish my research and learn more about biomechanics. I’d like to become involved in a company or university that will allow me to develop and/or research products that can be beneficial for human health. I’m interested in biomechanics, so anything dealing with treating, modifying, or enhancing human movement is fair game.
Q: How has being involved with SWE impacted your life so far?
A: I’ve learned about the many different roles women can have in engineering. SWE has helped me develop my skills as a professional, by offering networking events with professionals and businesses. My own educational path has slowly directed me away from engineering, but I still feel strongly that I can still be involved even if my job title isn’t “engineer”.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Chad Deering and Bob Barron

Robert Barron
Robert Barron
Chad Deering
Chad Deering

This week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase selection, made by Dean Wayne Pennington of the College of Engineering, is a unique teaching partnership. Assistant Professor Chad Deering and Lab Manager Bob Barron were selected for “deftly leading our students for the past three summers” through the field course in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

GMES Chair John Gierke explains the unique demands and challenges of teaching the field geology course. “While most of us hold a fondness to participate in fieldwork, the glamour wears off when conditions get tough or if the work turns out tedious. Field geology starts a few days after Spring Semester. In addition to the rapidly changing and variable weather, UP fieldwork in May and June is accompanied by hordes of mosquitoes and black flies. The glamour evaporates by the second day. Moreover, field geology is fraught with uncertainty and figuring out the geological setting is tedious. Frustrations with the weather, bugs, and unknown are pervasive. It takes special people to lead students through the five week, all-day, every-day course.”

In addition, Michigan Tech’s field course has non-traditional timing which creates unique learning opportunities, but might make the teaching even more demanding. Pennington explains, “In most institutions, the ‘field course’ in geology is the final course, often following all other coursework. At Michigan Tech, it is usually taken after the second year. This enables students to have a better understanding of the basis for nearly all their subsequent courses … but only if the field course is taught in a way that encourages self-discovery and insight. For many years, Bob and Chad have taken the field course to new levels of integration with the concepts students are exposed to in their courses, helping the students to better master the concepts as well as the practices involved in the various disciplines that are based on these experiences. This approach to field experience is one of the things that makes Michigan Tech unique, and our students more successful upon graduation.”

Deering and Barron’s co-nomination for the Dean’s Showcase is based not on one particular innovation but their collective skills for success in developing students’ field skills in geology. Their complementary styles and knowledge have been an ideal pairing for leading the course, and student evaluations of instruction confirm their effectiveness. They approach each new site with a sequence that includes background literature, field observations, measurements and sampling, then further study in the microscopy lab.

They find ways to reinforce the mineralogy, petrology and structural geology skills developed in prerequisite courses, and insist on frequent individual and small-group interactions in the field to help the students persist, guiding them to an appropriate explanation for each site.

Intermingled through the learning experience are barbecues, brief periods of shooting the breeze in picturesque locales and other recreational activities. The fieldwork activities culminate with students creating geological maps and reports describing their findings. At this point in their studies, students span a spectrum of abilities for scientific writing and creating maps, which require artistic skills along with technical competence.

Gierke articulates the unique teaching challenges of the field course, saying “Achieving a balance of being critical of quality and yet maintaining morale is a knack that I have never mastered—I, unfortunately, excel at the being-critical part. Yet Bob and Chad have somehow figured out how to take students who are exhausted, sunburned and fly bitten and keep them sufficiently motivated to produce maps that could be framed (for some) and develop writing skills that help them through the rest of their curriculum.”

Deering and Barron will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and the team is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

By Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

National Engineers Week 2018

2018 Eweek Poster FrontPlease join us in celebrating National Engineers Week at Michigan Tech. All are welcome!

National Engineers Week is celebrated at Michigan Tech this week with a variety of events on campus. It began yesterday and runs through Saturday (Feb. 24).

Events at Michigan Tech during Engineers Week, also known as Eweek, are sponsored by Tau Beta Pi, the local chapter of the Engineering Honor Society, and the College of Engineering. .

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951, EWeek is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers.

The week’s first event will be held this afternoon. How to Make a DIY Composter will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. today (Feb. 19) at Dillman 320. The Green Campus Enterprise will help you learn about composting and show you how you can start doing it yourself.

Additional Eweek events at Tech include:

  • Engineers Week Cake: Enjoy a free piece of cake with the Department of Engineering Fundamentals. Cake will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow (Feb. 20), at Dillman 112.
  • Engineering Though the Ages Presentation. Learn about the marvels of the past with Chelsey Rock. 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 22) in Fisher 138.
  • Build a Heart Rate Circuit Board. Build your own circuit board with Blue Marble Security Enterprise. 4 – 6 p.m. Friday (Feb. 23) in EERC 622.
  • Free showing of “The Martian.” Enjoy a free showing of “The Martian” on behalf of the College of Engineering and Film Board. The film will be shown at noon Saturday (Feb. 24) in Fisher 135.

National Engineers Week celebrates the positive contributions engineers make to society and is a catalyst for outreach across the country to kids and adults alike. For the past 60 years, National Engineers Week has been celebrated each February around the time of George Washington’s birthday, February 22, because Washington is considered by many to be the first US engineer.

Solar Farms, Not Tobacco Fields

Big Think Story HeadlineResearch by Electrical Engineering alumnus Ram Krishnan ‘16 and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) on converting tobacco farms to solar photovoltaic farms was covered widely in the media including; Modern FarmerPopular Mechanics and the Weather Channel.

An article about Joshua Pearce’s research on replacing tobacco fields with solar arrays was recently featured in IEEE Electronics 360Popular Mechanics, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the Fifth Estate (Australian business newspaper), Solar Thermal MagazinePV MagazineScience Daily, the Weather Channel and Big Think.


Farm Sunshine, Not Cancer: Replacing Tobacco Fields with Solar Arrays
Saving Lives and Money: The Potential of Solar to Replace Coal