Category Archives: Education

Free Webinar for Engineering Department Chairs, Faculty, and Change Leaders

Diverse group of people

The Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and Purdue University College of Engineering are offering an evidence-based approach for fostering a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) engineering culture via a series of webinars. The first webinar is 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22.

In this interactive webinar you will learn:

  • Why to engage in DEI-focused change
  • How to lead DEI-focused culture change using the new, evidenced-based TECAID (Transforming Engineering Culture to Advance Inclusion & Diversity) Model
  • Who are other engineering department teams that have applied the TECAID Model
  • What additional resources are available to help engineers lead department culture change

Want to get MORE out of this webinar? Invite colleagues to participate with you by setting up a conference room and setting aside time after the webinar to continue the conversation about ways you can adapt the ideas presented in your own department. Watch this 3-minute 2017 NSF Showcase award winning TECAID Project Overview video.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics was one of five universities that participated in developing the TECAID model. (See this Tech Today article for more details.)

Department Chair William Predebon is one of the presenters in this webinar. Register at this link.

TECAID Transforming Engineering Culture To Advance Inclusion And Diversity

ME Department Teams are OSU, Purdue University, Texas Tech, Michigan Tech, and the University of Oklahoma


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Kris Mattila

Kris G. Mattila
Kris G. Mattila

Dean Wayne Pennington of the College of Engineering has selected Kris Mattila, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), as the second member of the Spring 2018 Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

CEE Chair Audra Morse nominated Mattila because “every student remembers Kris Mattila as a positive influence on their success at Michigan Tech and their career.” She calls Mattila a “highly skilled and innovative teacher,” and praises his unique ability to “connect with and challenge every student, in large or small classes.”

In addition, Morse wanted to recognize the leadership roles Mattila has taken in curriculum development and assessment, especially in courses related to professional practice.

Pennington echoes Morse’s sentiments, saying “Dr. Mattila stands out as a dedicated teaching professor—one who has made a determination to excel in student support and mentoring, and who has volunteered to take on additional challenges in undergraduate education. His work enables students to enter the workforce with a greater knowledge of their potential avenues to success in the ‘real world,’ with a firm foundation in the principles of construction and its practice. We are fortunate to have Kris leading the charge for excellence in teaching in this discipline.”

Mattila’s success as an instructor has made him a member of the Michigan Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence and a five-time recipient of the Howard E. Hill Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award. He has also been recognized for his contributions in construction engineering education, including an American Society for Engineering Education Outstanding Educator Award.

Mattila’s ability to focus on each student is, perhaps, the reason his teaching has been so well received. Morse, when asked to provide more detail about how Mattila connects with students, says: “Kris doesn’t see students in his class. Rather he sees people with individual needs he seeks to fulfill so that they are successful in his class and in our program. He learns students’ names and other details, and he weaves this information into the material he is teaching. He cares about students and increases their self-efficacy. Because he is open and caring, the students reciprocate, ensuring a high positive rapport is created in the classroom.”

Mattila will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 other showcase members. He 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 and outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

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


Tech Students Learn Home Sustainability

From left, Cooper Mineheart, Hannah McKinnon, Mina Kukuk, Rose Turner and Thomas Richter.
From left, Cooper Mineheart, Hannah McKinnon, Mina Kukuk, Rose Turner and Thomas Richter.

HOUGHTON — For five Michigan Technological University students this year, their homework includes their actual home.

This is the first year for Tech’s Sustainability Demonstration Home, where the students are tracking their energy and waste, as well as carrying out projects on how to reduce energy use.

“This semester, we’re kind of working side by side,” said Rose Turner, a fourth-year environmental engineering student and the only of the house’s residents on the Enterprise team.

Cooper Mineheart, a second-year mechanical engineering student, has learned what he can and can’t recycle.

Thomas Richter, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, said his consciousness of how small changes add up will stick with him after he leaves the house.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.

Related:

Ho Ho Home (Sustainably) for the Holidays


Judges Needed for Design Expo 2018

Judges and students mingle in front of posters.We invite you to register to be a judge at the 2018 Design Expo on Thursday, April 19. The Expo highlights hands-on projects from more than 600 students on Enterprise and Senior Design teams.

Although special expertise is appreciated, judges are not required to be technological specialists or engineers. If you like engaging with students and learning more about the exciting projects they are working on, please consider judging.

Who should judge?

  • Community members
  • Michigan Tech faculty and staff
  • Alumni interested in seeing what today’s students are accomplishing as undergrads
  • Those looking to network with Michigan Tech faculty and students
  • Industry representatives interested in sponsoring a future project

Design Expo is co-hosted by the College of Engineering and the Pavlis Honors College.

If you would like to serve as a judge at this year’s Design Expo, registeras soon as possible to let us know you’re coming. Thank you for your continued support.

By Pavlis Honors College.


Three Enterprise Teams Compete in Fifth Annual Rekhi Innovation Challenge

BoardSport Color Gradient GraphicThe Fifth Annual Rekhi Innovation Challenge kicked off on Friday Nov. 10, 2017. Three Enterprise teams are competing for funding this year: Blue Marble Security, BoardSport Technologies and Velovations. The Rekhi Challenge is a crowdfunding competition to help promote and support student innovation and entrepreneurship through Michigan Tech’s crowdfunding site, Superior Ideas. The team that raises the most money will receive a monetary match of up to $5,000.

Monetary awards for total number of unique visitors, total number of unique funders, most social media engagement, most creative marketing plan and the first team to raise $1,000 will also be presented to teams at the conclusion of the competition.

Superior Ideas was established in 2012 to help bring university research and public service projects to life. The site uses crowdfunding to raise money and awareness for university research and public service projects that may not qualify for grant funding.

The Rekhi Innovation Challenge was developed in collaboration with the Enterprise Program Office and the Vice President for Research Office with support from Michigan Tech alumnus and longtime donor Kanwal Rekhi. The Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur, earned his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969.

Enterprise teams that have participated in past challenges include Innovative Global Solutions, Robotics Systems, Supermileage Systems, Aerospace, Blizzard Baja, GEAR and Open Source Hardware. Velovations took first place in the last competition with $2,550 in donations and a match of $2,550 from Rekhi, bringing the grand total to $5,100 in funding for their RENEW-U project.

RENEW-U is an ergometer for wheelchair users to exercise upper-extremity muscles in order to improve strength and mobility. Over the last four years, the Rekhi Innovation Challenge has provided more than $58,000 in support for 23 different student projects, attracting 267 unique donors.

For this year’s Rekhi Innovation Challenge, Blue Marble Security Enterprise is raising money to reach out to various community members and groups to increase interest in STEM fields among middle and high school students, particularly women.

BoardSport Technologies wants to develop a SmartBoard that will track snowboarders via GPS and REECO location to ensure a speedy rescue if caught in an avalanche or lost.

Velovations Enterprise is working with a local trails club to design and build a multi-purpose trail groomer with modular parts that can be swapped in the field to accommodate varying conditions.

If you’d like to learn more about any of these projects or donate, visit Superior Ideas. The Rekhi Innovation Challenge will run through March 31, 2018. Help support student innovation and entrepreneurship at Michigan Tech by making a donation today.


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.