Category Archives: Education

Michigan Tech Society of Women Engineers Students Attend WE17 Conference

WE17

Fourteen members and an adviser of the Michigan Tech Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Section attended the annual National SWE WE17 Conference from October 25-29, 2017, in Austin, Texas.

Participants attended sessions on a variety of topics, networked with company representatives at the Career Fair with over 300 STEM based companies and celebrated women in Engineering. Michigan Tech members volunteered at Invent It! Build It! (an outreach activity for middle and high school girls).

Gretchen Hein, SWE Section adviser and faculty in Engineering Fundamentals, presented on two topics: the results of a survey of SWE Women in Academia members and whether or not there are gender differences in student performance first-year engineering courses.

Whether it was learning about making SWE more inclusive to women of color or learning to be a grateful leader in the workforce, the conference provided members with a variety of opportunities. They eagerly anticipate another opportunity to grow, network and celebrate women in STEM at SWE WE18 Conference next fall in Minneapolis.


Three Student Teams Chosen for Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition

3D PrintingThree Michigan Tech student teams have been chosen to compete in the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in Detroit on Nov. 16, 2017. The student teams will compete for a total of $21,000 in funding.

Statewide, 27 teams were selected through submission of a one-minute video and a brief write-up about the company product or service, revenue model and team capabilities.

The Tech student teams are Looma, Makerhub and FitStop. Looma is a food and nutrition app that helps users eat healthier by providing preference-based recipe suggestions with integrated calendaring for preparation time and grocery lists for shopping. Makerhub is a web application that connects individuals who own 3-D printers with others who need 3-D printed parts. FitStop is a web application that connects people who are traveling for business or leisure with gyms or fitness centers in the city they are traveling to.

Three Michigan Tech-affiliated start-ups will also participate in the competition. They are StabiLux Biosciences, Goldstrike Data and Orbion.

By Jenn Donovan.


The Secrets of Talking Nerdy, Part 2

Libby Titus Presentation
Libby Titus Presents Her Communication Secrets

More than 1,200 first-year engineering and computer science students learned the “Secrets of Talking Nerdy” from Michigan Tech Alumna Elizabeth (Libby) Titus ’96 at Michigan Tech’s annual First-Year Engineering Lecture on September 6.

According to Titus, engineering and computer science are group activities: it won’t matter how smart you are if you can’t communicate your ideas. She offers these writing tips for engineers and scientists:

Be clear. “First thoroughly understand the subject yourself, then be a filter and interpreter for your audience. Strip away all complexity so others can understand with minimal effort.”

Make it attractive. “Organize your writing for the reader’s benefit. Use lots of white space. Make it easy to skim. Be consistent with your style choices for format and punctuation, and stick to one or two fonts at the most.”

Proofread. “Your boss or client should never have to correct your writing. Grammar police are everywhere, and we will scrutinize what you write! You will be earnestly judged. No matter how tight your deadline is, you have to proofread!”

Focus on your reader. “If your reader feels smart, you win. Use simple language, so your audience can understand the first time. Any reader might not read past the first two sentences.

Get to the point. Keep it brief. Words don’t bleed. Cut them!”

Don’t write the way you talk. “If you do that, you’ll add too many words. No one likes that. Ask yourself. How can I make it easier for my audience? The answer is simple: Get to the point.”

Creature comforts are crucially important. “To write well, you have to put yourself in a state of deep work. The cost of distraction is high, and it’s about the switch itself. For instance, switching from your project to check texts then back again, no matter how quickly, taxes your productivity much more than the duration of the time spent distracted. I used to think writing was persecution, then I realized I needed to have a grateful attitude. Make sure you have everything you need. Clear space. Natural light. Solitude, or with others working diligently. Ice water in a cup. Everyone’s different. Regular exercise helps me.”

Motivate yourself. “When I feel unmotivated, I remind myself why my work is important. I once had a job watching potatoes on a conveyor belt. All day long.”

Be grateful it’s not fiction! “As technical writers, we should all be grateful of the gift of content.”

Break up the writing into small chunks. Give yourself a deadline for each chunk. Just get started. After a break, it’s much easier to get back to something, rather than a blank page.

Remember, every first draft sucks. In your first draft, you’re just telling yourself the story.

Follow the Growth Mindset (Carol Dweck)
Embrace challenges.
Persist in the face of setbacks.
See effort as the path to mastery.
Learn from criticism.
Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.

Keep yourself in the chair. You need willpower until the clock runs out, or your document is perfection! Staying in the game is a huge part of winning the game.

Get feedback. Tell lots of people. Crowdsource for ideas. See criticism as a gift. Try rejection therapy to desensitize. (She recommends googling “rejection therapy” to find a game invented by a Canadian Entrepreneur).

DO read user manuals! And more—read everything and skim everything you come across.

Tips for conciseness:
Try not to verbalize the scientific method.
Lead with the conclusion.
Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
Drop unnecessary words.
Write nothing longer than a page.
Read it one last time to slash as many words as possible.


Titus’s lecture was part of the Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series (VWMLSS), funded by a grant to the Office of Institutional Equity from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative. The event was sponsored by Novo Nordisk, and Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering, Department of Engineering Fundamentals, Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, and Department of Computer Science.


The Secrets of Talking Nerdy, Part 1

Libby Titus Giving the First-Year Lecture
Libby Titus Giving the First-Year Lecture, Fall 2017

Are you an engineer or a scientist? Then you’re a writer and communicator, too. Libby Titus tells how to be an amazing geek who can also write.

More than 1,200 first-year engineering and computer science students learned the “Secrets of Talking Nerdy” from Michigan Tech Alumna Elizabeth (Libby) Titus ’96 at Michigan Tech’s annual First-Year Engineering Lecture on September 6. Here are some highlights from her talk.

It was 1990. Libby Titus was deciding where to go to college. She knew she wanted to get as far away from home as possible without incurring out-of–state tuition. That put Michigan Tech, a 12-hour drive, into the running. “Also, at the time, the only person in my family who had gone to college was my uncle Bob, and he had gone to Michigan Tech. After graduation, he was happily designing kegerators and brewing craft beer. I like beer, so I chose Michigan Tech,” Titus admits.

It turned out to be a much bigger decision than she realized. Titus met her former husband, the father of her two children, while walking across campus the very first day. She earned two bachelor’s degrees from Michigan Tech in 1996—one in environmental engineering and the other in scientific and technical communication.

After graduation, Titus packed up a U-Haul and headed West, taking a job in Salt Lake City for ASARCO, a mining company. “I was the first entry-level engineer and the only woman in the group. I quickly discovered that my ability to communicate equaled survival,” she recalls.

The job felt like torture. A friend, also an engineer, said to her, “Engineering is the easy part. Dealing with people is the hard part.”

She had read that for her resume to be taken seriously, she needed to stay in her first job for three years. “I made it three years and one day.” That’s when Titus moved to Seattle, where she lives now, to begin a new career as a consultant, helping clients with their environmental, health, and safety (EHS) obligations.

“I feel lucky,” she says. “My work is important, I feel appreciated, and I like my colleagues.” Titus currently manages EHS regulatory compliance for Novo Nordisk, a biopharmaceutical research center founded 9 years ago. Her job is to ensure her group of 120 Seattle researchers–Novo Nordisk has over 6,000 worldwide–meet all its compliance obligations for federal, state, and local EHS regulations and permits. She does a lot of training, and a lot of writing.

I decided to become a licensed professional engineer solely so I could command respect as a writer.”
Libby Titus

Professional engineers typically spend at least half of their day communicating, notes Titus. With 20 years of substantive experience now under her belt, she offers important advice for anyone entering the field.

“Engineering and science are group activities. It’s very rare for someone to be by themselves on a project,” she says. “No one wants to work with someone who can’t communicate.”

While at Michigan Tech, Titus took an improv class. “We all formed a circle and had to introduce ourselves and pass around some object made of air. It was pure hell, but it helped me. Take every chance you can get to engage with other people,” urges Titus. “Engineers are known for avoiding opportunities to connect with people. If you are not a confident writer or are afraid of public speaking, more writing and more speaking are the only solutions,” she says. “Confidence comes from practice!”

Adds Titus, “In business, written communication is often more important than what you say verbally. Writing is the greatest engineering challenge of all. It’s amazing how much business effort is wasted to fix poor writing. In one of my previous consulting jobs, we called our product ‘The BHB’, which stands for ‘Big Honking Binder’. The longer it takes to write, the more it costs the client.”

Clients are known to fire engineering consultants who cannot write well. “No matter how smart you are, your great ideas mean nothing until they can be effectively communicated. People will judge you by how well you speak and write.”


Michigan Tech Joins Academic Consortium at the American Society for Mobility

Semi-Autonomous VehicleDetroit News reported on the American Society for Mobility’s  self-driving research site in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and its new partnership with 15 Michigan universities, including Michigan Tech. The partnership will lead to training, courses, recruitment, internships, co-ops and work-study programs. The article was featured in First Bell, a daily science and engineering newsletter published by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

In addition, Michigan Tech is one of three Michigan universities whose students have been invited to participate in a three-year autonomous vehicle competition sponsored by General Motors and SAE.

The topic of autonomous vehicles was addressed during the inaugural Mobility Summit at Michigan Tech in April 2017. The event brought together interdisciplinary teams and keynote speakers to discuss the whole vehicle system, the larger infrastructure, and the human systems in which it is embedded.

The summit was organized by Michigan Tech’s mobility-affiliated research centers and institutes, the Vice President for Research, and the College of Engineering.

Colleges partner with Willow Run mobility center

Ypsilanti — Leadership at the American Center for Mobility here plans to cultivate high-tech talent from 15 Michigan colleges and universities through a partnership aimed at preparing and retaining new engineers to work on the vehicles of the future.

The self-driving research site at Ypsilanti’s Willow Run will open in December, President and CEO of the center, John Maddox, said. Maddox and Gov. Rick Snyder want to make sure local students graduating from the state’s colleges and universities are ready to work on the high-tech, high-demand connected and automated technology that will be developed, prototyped and tested by automakers and suppliers on the 500-acre facility.

Maddox, Snyder and representatives from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech, University of Detroit Mercy, Grand Valley State University and Wayne State University, among others, signed a memorandum of understanding to form the academic consortium at the American Center for Mobility.

Read more at The Detroit News, by Ian Thibodeau.

Mich. universities push ahead on autonomous vehicles

Southfield — On the small campus of Lawrence Technological University, a few students are on the cusp of programming one of the nation’s first autonomous vehicles as a class project.

Many other colleges are involved in autonomous vehicle research, testing and training, including Michigan State University and Oakland University. Three Michigan colleges, Kettering University, Michigan Technological University and MSU, are part of a three-year North American autonomous vehicle competition.

Read more at The Detroit News, by Kim Kozlowski.


More Than 350 Companies Recruiting Engineers

Career Fair Fall 2017
Blizzard at Career Fair Fall 2017

Thousands pack MTU for annual Career Fair

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – Michigan Tech was packed with students and business alike as they hosted their annual Fall Career Fair.

More than 350 companies from across the country were recruiting engineers from Michigan Tech University Wednesday. Hundreds of them were from lower Michigan or other parts of the Midwest.

“It was my first choice to come here. I was so happy when I was accepted,” said Bioengineer Student Alex Undlin. “This is well-known as one of the best engineering schools in the country.”

I would not trade my experience here for anything. Alex Undlin

Read more and watch the video at TV6 FOX UP, by Eric DoBroka.

MTU students network with 340 companies

“Today, we have 340 recruiting organization, over 1,100 recruiters and students are here in troves. Here at Michigan Tech, we are a STEM-focused university, so these companies are looking for students in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Assistant Director for Experimential Learning & Career Development Kirsti Arko.

MTU hosts two career fairs annually. Wednesday’s turnout makes this the third largest Campus Career Fair in the country.

Read more and watch the video at ABC 10 News, by Lee Snitz.

Employers seek ‘best’ at Tech’s Career Fair

While engineering dominated the event, companies sought a diverse field of interests. According to Tech’s Career Services department, more than 30 companies were seeking business administration majors, more than 60 are looking for students in computer science, and at least 25 companies were looking for students in mathematics.

Infinity Machine and Engineering was looking for jobs including electrical and mechanical engineers, programmers and service technicians.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.


Railroad Night XIII is Oct. 3, 2017

Railroad NightRegistration is now open for Railroad Night XIII. This year’s Railroad Night will take place from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 3, 2017, in the Memorial Union Ballroom. Students may meet industry professionals from 5 to 6 p.m. and participate in a social hour from 6 to 7 p.m. Dinner will begin at 7 p.m. Kevin Riddett, president and CEO of RailWorks, will provide the keynote address this year.

RailWorks is a leading rail industry company, offering infrastructure design and construction services, as well as signals and communication services, for both the freight and transit rail markets. Railroad Night provides a relaxed, dine-with-industry atmosphere, designed to encourage discussion of rail industry opportunities for students interested in the industry. Students, faculty, staff and interested community members are invited to attend. Registration for the event is open online.

We are charging a $5 fee to all participants, which will be used to fund door prizes for student participants. Students should use the Student Registration option, and faculty, staff and community members should use the Guest option. Contact David Nelson, or 7-1734 if you have questions.

By David Nelson.

Michigan Tech Rail Day and Student Expo

The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program (RTP) and Railroad Engineering and Activities Club (REAC) will host a two-day event series for rail industry guests, community members, Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff. Everyone is welcome.

Railroad Night XIII runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m. today in the MUB Ballroom. The evening starts with an industry panel from 5 to 6 p.m. that is free and open to any and all students. From 6 to 8:30 p.m. is the ticketed Railroad Night, including a social hour, raffle prizes, dinner and keynote speaker Kevin Riddett, president and CEO of RailWorks Corporation. Dinner begins at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by Herzog Railroad Services Inc. and RailWorks. There is a $5 registration fee for the Railroad Night event. Register here.

Rail industry representatives will participate in Rail Day Expo from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow (Oct. 4) on the campus mall. The campus community is invited to see the latest technologies in the rail industry. Students from all disciplines across campus can learn about jobs in rail communications, power systems, computers, construction, operations and more, as well as internships and co-op opportunities.

Companies attending include: Bergman Associates, BNSF Railroad, CN Railroad, Herzog Railroad Services, Kiewitt/Mass Electric Construction Company, Lake Superior and Ispheming Railroad, Quandel Consultants, Pettibone, Railworks, Remprex LLC, Schneider Logistics, Surveying Solutions, ViaRail Engineering and WSP.

“We’ve got a great line-up of rail industry representatives ready to demonstrate all that the industry has to offer in careers and internships. Come on out and see us!” says David Nelson, of the event organization team.

Learn more about the event here. Contact Nelson by email or call 7-1734 with any questions.

By Career Services.

Rail pros offer students inside career advice

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University students thinking about pursuing a career in the rail industry got to hear about it from industry insiders Tuesday night.

A panel of 10 railroad representatives, including some Tech alums, answered moderator and student questions Tuesday.

Some questions delved into what jobs were open in the rail industry for specific majors. Others were more general, such as one about what the panelists would have liked to do in college that would have helped their career.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.

Railroad Night XIII and Expo 2017 in Review

The Rail Transportation Program (RTP), in conjunction with the Railroad Engineering and Activities Club (REAC) and with support from the RTP Program Partner, CN Railway, were proud to host Michigan Tech’s 4th Annual Rail Expo and 13th Annual Rail Night on Oct. 3 and 4.

Dual showcase events, Railroad Night and Expo, bring together industry professionals and students interested in the industry. The unique blend of panel discussion, social hours, dinner, keynote and displays on the campus mall catalyzed relationships between the students of Michigan Tech and the Railroad Industry. These marquee events are a cornerstone of our mission to develop leaders and technology for the 21st century in railroad transportation.

Railroad Night XIII was held on the evening of Oct. 3, kicking off our showcase events where railroad industry professionals and Michigan Tech students mingled and discovered the possibilities of a career in the railroad industry. Starting out with a “Meet the Industry” panel of 10 industry professionals, a battery of questions from both the moderator and audience allowed students to discover the railroad industry, take advice and hear some interesting stories out of the industry.

Afterwards, students and professionals mingled for the social hour, which was a great opportunity for students and the industry to get to know each other further, with discussions about internships, full-time positions or points about the industry in general. This more relaxed atmosphere is always conducive to productive discussions in an industry-focused environment, a perennial favorite of Michigan Tech Students. Following the social hour was dinner and the keynote address by Kevin Riddett, the CEO of Railworks. Speaking of his career and experiences in multiple roles throughout various industries, Riddett imparted sage advice and plenty of stories to the audience over a dinner filled with more interaction between the industry and Michigan Tech students interested in a career in rail.

Special thanks to Railworks and Herzog Railroad Services, for sponsoring the Railroad Night XIII 4th Annual Rail Expo on Oct. 4. The fourth Annual Rail Expo was held on the Campus Mall, allowing the industry to demonstrate their companies and technologies, and to recruit Michigan Tech students.

For students, the event offered a great chance to discuss opportunities in the industry with representatives and recruiters, with more than a dozen companies on display and twice as many industry professionals ready to discuss who they are and what they do. While many Michigan Tech students are already interested in a career in rail, the Expo provides a catalyst for new students to get interested and involved within one of the nation’s most diverse and thriving transportation industries.

Exhibitors and sponsors included Canadian National Railway-RTP Program Partner, Herzog Railroad Services Inc, WSP, Quandel Consultants, Schneider, Railworks, Surveying Solutions Inc, Remprex Engineering Services, Bergman Associates, Via Rail Engineering, BNSF Railway, Kiewit & Mass. Electric Construction Company, Pettibone Traverse Lift, and Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad.

Every year, Michigan Tech’s Rail Night and Expo events culminate in a number of internships and full-time careers. With nearly 200 students passing through the Expo or attending Railroad Night, this year’s events continued the success initiated almost a decade ago.

We look forward to next year and continuing our mission to grow and develop students for careers in the railroad industry. We would also like to thank our sponsors and industry supporters for their generous contributions.

By Pasi Lautala.


Steel Steals the Spotlight

Steel DaySteel companies take center stage today, September 20, 2017, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. under the CareerFEST tent. Companies on campus include Nucor, Caterpillar, Arcelor Mittal, Gerdau, Steel Dynamic and Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc.

The steel industry directly employs 2 million people worldwide and is the second largest industry in the world, next to oil and gas.

At today’s event, students can throw golf balls at steel and aluminum panels from Arcelor Mittal, take a virtual tour of the Nucor Hickman Facility, and see Caterpillar’s 938M wheel loader.

Tech’s Advanced Metalworks Enterprise and Materials United Student Organization will also be participating.

By Career Services.


Engineering Faculty on Managing Multigenerational Teams

Scientific teams are more diverse than ever and are often populated by people of varying ages. Understanding how to modify management styles according to the needs of different generations ensures enhanced group productivity, creativity, and collaboration.

Joshua Pearce
Joshua Pearce

Joshua Pearce

At 41, Joshua Pearce, professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, is a member of Generation X. He leads the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab at the university, which includes a multigenerational team of visiting industrial scholars (whose children are older than Pearce), Baby Boomer research staff, and Millennial or Generation Y interns. Over the years, Pearce has gained insight into how to facilitate a more productive and creative ecosystem for everyone—and it starts with acknowledging the value that each generation brings to the team.

Adrienne Minerick
Adrienne Minerick

Adrienne Minerick

Adrienne R. Minerick, 41, associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Engineering and assistant to the provost for faculty development at Michigan Tech, found that to coordinate a team with professors who are older than her—sometimes by over 30 years—she has to adapt and ensure effective communication.

Read more at Science, by Alaina G. Levine.


Tomorrow is Manufacturing Day

ManufacturingEleven innovative companies leading the market in product design, robotics and controls, advanced manufacturing, construction and building design, and sustainability are taking part in Michigan Tech’s Manufacturing Day tomorrow (Sept 19, 2017).

Miller Electric is bringing a 25-foot show trailer and will run live welding demonstrations throughout the event. Students will also have the opportunity to weld their own laser-cut souvenirs.

If students are curious about manufacturing machine controls, Kimberly Clark is bringing two electrical control displays that mimic those used to drive manufacturing machines in their company—one with physical controls, buttons and knobs, and one with touchscreen controls.

Whirlpool has a UR5 collaborative robot, a thermal IR camera and virtual reality goggles that illuminate in-plant technologies and the sustainability work being developed. Systems Control also plans to have augmented reality glasses available to try.

Additionally, students will get a firsthand look at what companies like 3M, Plexus, Georgia-Pacific and Greenheck are currently working on and developing.

In addition, there are five Enterprise Teams participating in Manufacturing Day; Velovations, Boardsport Technologies, Open Source Hardware Enterprise (OSHE) Wireless Communications and Innovative Global Solutions.

Manufacturing Day is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow (Sept 19) in the center of Michigan Tech’s campus.  It is the second largest industry-sponsored event hosted by the University during CareerFEST, a series of informal events leading up to Fall Career Fair, Wednesday Sept. 27.