Category Archives: Uncategorized

Interventional devices: Improving quality of life

A section of BSC’s drug-eluting Eluvia stent system, designed to restore blood flow in the peripheral arteries above the knee.
A section of Boston Scientific’s drug-eluting Eluvia stent system, designed to restore blood flow in the peripheral arteries above the knee.

As an R&D director at Boston Scientific Corporation, Heather Getty works with a cross-functional team of experts to develop products and solutions for treating diseases using minimally invasive surgical techniques.

Heather Getty '84, R&D Director, Boston Scientific, earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech
Heather Getty, an R&D director at Boston Scientific, earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech in 1984.

The scope of these medical devices includes catheters, stents, and other devices for patients with peripheral artery disease, or PAD, a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs. PAD affects more than a quarter of a billion people worldwide. Patients with PAD can suffer significant health consequences, including gangrene, amputation, and triple the risk of heart attack and stroke. Boston Scientific is a market leader in less-invasive treatments for PAD.

“As a medical products company, we rely heavily on the experience and wisdom of the physicians who utilize our products,” says Getty. “A big part of my job is understanding the treatment of PAD from the physician’s perspective. We gain knowledge about customer needs by meeting with physicians, observing clinical cases, and having physicians use our products during development.”

Product development can be extremely challenging. “Taking an idea, and moving it from concept to commercialization while navigating through technical challenges as well as financial and time constraints can be daunting,” says Getty. “A product properly commercialized can stay in the market for over 30 years. Despite that realization and pressure, at the same time, it is also our job to recommend cancellation of any idea that can’t meet expectations.”

A critical part of her job: ensuring compliance with regulations across the globe. “We work very closely with our quality engineering department but it is also critical that everyone contributes to the quality and compliance of our products,” she says.

“ A big part of my job is understanding the treatment of PAD from the physician’s perspective.”

– Heather Getty

Getty graduated from Michigan Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, and immediately began working at Honeywell. While on the job she completed an MBA from St. Thomas University. After six years in manufacturing she moved into Honeywell’s Material Test and Analysis (MTAC) group, and later began working on the development of demilitarization concepts, including exploring options to reclaim materials from ammunition dumps around the world. After 11 years, she leapt at the chance to join the R&D group at Schneider, now part of Boston Scientific, to follow her passion of improving lives.

Now, with more than 21 years total at Boston Scientific, Getty leads a team of 60 managers, engineers, and technicians who develop new products for the company. “It’s rewarding to be with a company that offers opportunities to improve patient lives but that also manages to do so with integrity and a respect for work-life balance,” Getty asserts.

“Launching a product and having it do well in the market is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work. I love that our products can help improve a person’s quality of life as well as make a physician’s job easier.”


Phosphorus eaters—Using bacteria to purify iron ore

eiseleresearchMany iron ore deposits around the world are extensive and easy to mine, but can’t be used because of their high phosphorus content. Phosphorus content in steel should generally be less than 0.02 percent. Any more and steel becomes brittle and difficult to work. 

Tim Eisele
Tim Eisele
Chemical Engineering

Beneficiation plant processing, which treats ore to make it more suitable for smelting, only works if the phosphorus mineral grains are bigger than a few micrometers in size. Often, phosphorus is so finely disseminated through iron ore that grinding and physically separating out the phosphorus minerals is impractical.

Tim Eisele is developing communities of live bacteria to inexpensively dissolve phosphorus from iron ore, allowing a low-phosphorus iron concentrate to be produced. “For finely dispersed phosphorus, until now, there really hasn’t been a technology for removing it,” he says.

Phosphorus is critical to all living organisms. Eisele’s experiments are designed so that organisms can survive only if they are carrying out phosphorus extraction. He uses phosphorus-free growth media.

“We’ve confirmed that when there is no iron ore added to the media, there is no available phosphorus and no bacterial growth.”

– Tim Eisele

Eisele is investigating two approaches, one using communities of aerobic organisms to specifically attack the phosphorus, and another using anaerobic organisms to chemically reduce and dissolve the iron while leaving the phosphorus behind. He obtained organisms from local sources—his own backyard, in fact, where natural conditions select for the types of organisms desired. Eisele originally got the idea for this approach as a result of the high iron content of his home well water, caused by naturally-occuring anaerobic iron-dissolving organisms.

On the right, anaerobic bacteria dissolve iron in the ferrous state. On the left, recovered electrolytic iron.
In the beaker on the right, anaerobic bacteria dissolve iron in the ferrous state. On the left, recovered electrolytic iron.

Eisele cultivates anaerobic and aerobic organisms in the laboratory to fully adapt them to the ore. “We use mixed cultures of organisms that we have found to be more effective than pure cultures of a single species of organism. Using microorganism communities will also be more practical to implement on an industrial scale, where protecting the process from contamination by outside organisms may be impossible.”


The healing power of seaweed—Shedding new light on alginate microgels

Bull Kelp, a brown seaweed used to produce alginates, can grow as much as 2 feet per day. Photo credit: Jackie Hindering, www.themarinedetective.com
Bull Kelp, a brown seaweed used to produce alginates, can grow as much as 2 feet per day. Photo credit: Jackie Hindering, www.themarinedetective.com

Using seaweed to treat wounds dates back to Roman times. Alginate extracted from kelp and other brown seaweeds are still used in wound dressings today for skin grafts, burns and other difficult wounds. Biocompatible and biomimetic, alginate forms a gel when exposed to a wound, keeping tissue moist to speed healing, and reduce pain and trauma during dressing changes.

Microgels, a biodegradable biomaterial formed from microscopic polymer filaments, has broad and powerful applications in cell analysis, cell culture, drug delivery, and materials engineering.

Putting the two together to form alginate microgels could enable scientists to make important new inroads in the field of tissue engineering. But when it comes to forming microgels, the gelation process of alginate literally gets in the way.

Chang Kyoung Choi Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Chang Kyoung Choi
Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Michigan Tech researcher Chang Kyoung Choi has found a way around the problem. He creates alginate microgels by photocrosslinking the two in situ to form a bond. He uses ultraviolet (UV) light to easily cure microdroplets into microgels, a process known as photopolymerization. Curing the alginate microgels using UV light takes just tens of seconds. The result: alginate microgels that shrink or swell depending on their surrounding ion concentration, temperature, pH, and other external stimuli.

Perhaps more importantly, Choi is able to control the rate that alginate microgels break down. “A tissue scaffold should degrade at a rate proportional to the formation of new tissue, but until now, uncontrolled degradation of alginate has really limited its usefulness,” Choi says.

“Working in microfluidic devices, we can start applying UV light after the microfluids become steady, and turn off the light if necessary to stop the reaction,” he explains. “This solves the chief problem associated with previous ionic methods of making alginate microgels. Until now, the alginate phase of flow would cure before steady state was achieved, resulting in alginate microgels that clogged the microchannel.”

“Until now, uncontrolled degradation of alginate has really limited its usefulness.”

– CK Choi

Choi’s photocrosslinking technique also simplifies current methods of forming nonspherical alginate microgels that are better for observing objects, like cells, encapsulated inside. “Our preliminary results suggest that such high intensity UV does not reduce cell viability,” notes Choi.

Choi and graduate student Shuo Wang use oxidized methacrylated alginate (OMA) developed by their collaborator, Eben Alsberg at Case Western Reserve University. The team fabricated the microfluidic channels for this research at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


What’s in the air? Understanding long-range transport of atmospheric arsenic

Coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation near Page, Arizona
Coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation near Page, Arizona

Once emitted into the atmosphere, many air pollutants are transported long distances, going through a series of chemical reactions before falling back to the Earth’s surface. This makes air pollution not just a local problem, but a regional and a global one.

Shiliang Wu
Shilliang Wu, Geological & Mining Engineering & Sciences, Civil & Environmental Engineering

“If you’d been living in London in December 1952, you’d probably remember what air pollution can do—in just a couple of weeks, a smog event killed thousands of people,” says Michigan Tech researcher Shilling Wu.
“Today, photos of air pollution in China and India flood the Internet,” he adds. “Air pollution remains a significant challenge for the sustainability of our society, with detrimental effects on humans, animals, crops, and the ecosystem as a whole.”

An assistant professor with a dual appointment in Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, and Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wu examines the impacts of human activities on air quality, along with the complicated interactions between air quality, climate, land use, and land cover. Using well-established global models, he investigates a wide variety of pollutants including ozone, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, aerosols, mercury, and arsenic.

Wu’s research team recently developed the first global model to simulate the sources, transport, and deposition of atmospheric arsenic including source-receptor relationships between various regions. They were motivated by a 2012 Consumer Reports magazine study, which tested more than 200 samples of rice products in the US and found that many of them, including some organic products and infant rice cereals, contained highly toxic arsenic at worrisome levels.

“Our results indicate that reducing anthropogenic
arsenic emissions in Asia and South America can significantly reduce
arsenic pollution not only locally, but globally.”

– Shilliang Wu

“Our model simulates arsenic concentrations in ambient air over many sites around the world,” says Wu. “We have shown that arsenic emissions from Asia and South America are the dominant sources of atmospheric arsenic in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, respectively. Asian emissions are found to contribute nearly 40 percent of the total arsenic deposition over the Arctic and North America. Our results indicate that reducing anthropogenic arsenic emissions in Asia and South America can significantly reduce arsenic pollution not only locally, but globally.”

Wu’s model simulation is not confined to any region or time period. “We can go back to the past or forward to the future; we can look at any place on Earth. As a matter of fact, some of my colleagues have applied the same models to Mars,” he says, adding: “In any case, the atmosphere is our lab, and we are interested in everything in the air.”

 


Michigan Tech Celebrates National Engineers Week

HELP US CELEBRATE EWEEK 2017! 

     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.

     Tech’s events during Engineers Week, (Feb. 18-25), are again sponsored by Tau Beta Pi, the local chapter of the Engineering Honor Society.

     National Engineers Week, also known as Eweek, begins on a sweet note at Michigan Tech with an ice cream social from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 18) in the Wadsworth Dining Hall.

     Things get rolling at noon Monday, (Feb. 20) with the pep band in front of the Husky statue. The iconic statue will be dressed in a lab coat and bow tie all week. The Green Campus Enterprise will have a rocket stove demo from 12:45 to 3 p.m. outside of Fisher Hall. The Mind Trekkers will be in the Dow Atrium from 1 to 3 p.m. with hands-on demonstrations. From 6 to 7 p.m. the Blue Marble Security enterprise will present a heart rate circuit board.

     Questions? Contact Morgan Herzog, Tau Beta Pi public relations officer, and/or Julia Zayan, president.

 

2017 Engineers Week_2
National Engineers Week 2017

 

Upcoming E-week events at Michigan Tech:

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Tau Beta Pi
Ice cream social
Wadsworth Dining Hall

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20

12:00 PM – 12:15 PM
Pep Band
Husky Statue

12:45 PM – 3:00 PM
Green Campus Enterprise
Rocket stove demo
outside Fisher Hall

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Mind Trekkers
Dow Atrium

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Blue Marble Security
Heart rate circuit board
EERC 722

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Railroad Engineering & Activities Club
Fisher Lobby

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Advanced Metalworks Enterprise
Foundry demo
Husky Statue

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23

12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
AIChE, Chem E Car stop reaction demo
Fisher Lobby

5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
American Society of Engineering Management
Company panel
Chem Sci 101

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Engineers Without Borders
Presentation & meeting
Fisher 328

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Formula SAE
Chassis demo
MEEM Lobby

11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Engineering Fundamentals,
E-week cake, stop by for a piece!
Dillman 112

12:45 PM – 3:00 PM
Green Campus Enterprise,
Winterization demo
Dow A
trium

8:30 PM – 11:00 PM
Film Board, Apollo 13
Fisher 135

 


NSF Video Showcase features Geoheritage Field Education

photo by Jim Belote
photo by John Belote

image53799-scol

Dr. Erika Vye, who earned her PhD in Geology at Michigan Tech just last month, together with her PhD advisor Professor Bill Rose, have created interpretative videos about the geological underpinnings of the Keweenaw. One such video, “Geoheritage Field Education in Michigan’s UP”, which features beautiful aerial drone imagery, is live now on the NFS Video Showcase, http://videohall.com/p/791 #stemvideohall. Please watch and vote. Public choice voting will end at 8:00 pm Monday, May 23. 2016, but the video will remain online.

Vye and Rose aim to connect people more personally to the the science of Keweenaw geology. Learn more at geo.mtu.edu/KeweenawGeoheritage.


Congratulations Sarah Rajala ’74 – Recipient of the 2016 AAES National Engineering Award!

Sarah-Rajala-March2014Dr. Sarah Rajala, Dean of the Iowa State University College of Engineering, has earned the National Engineering Award from the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES) – representing 17 multidisciplinary engineering societies from industry, government and academia. Rajala received the award on April 18 at a ceremony in Washington D.C. Rajala earned her bachelor’s degree from Michigan Technological University in 1974 and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Rice University.

The AAES National Engineering Award recognizes Rajala’s outstanding service in three key areas: 1) inspirational leadership at the institutional, national and international levels; 2) innovations in engineering education and assessment; and 3) her tireless efforts to promote diversity in the engineering field.

“It is indeed appropriate that Sarah Rajala receive the AAES National Engineering Award,” said Joseph J. Rencis, president of the American Society for Engineering Education, one of the AAES member societies. “She is a trailblazer and embodies the criteria of inspirational leadership and devotion to engineering education, advancement of the engineering profession and promotion of public policies.” Rencis also praised Rajala’s diversity efforts, adding “Sarah has recognized the engineering profession cannot achieve full success without full participation of the rich diversity of talent in our global population.”

From Michigan Tech, Rajala received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008; was inducted into the Electrical and Computer Engineering Academy in 1997; became a charter member of the Presidential Council of Alumnae in 1997; and earned the Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 1986.

Rajala joined Iowa State in 2013, after having served as the first female dean of the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. Before she became dean, Rajala was the first female tenure-track professor in the engineering department at North Carolina State University, where she organized networking activities for the college of engineering women faculty and helped create a maternity leave policy for tenure-track faculty members where none had existed.

In the classroom and through professional organizations, Rajala has worked to improve engineering education for students. She has received numerous teaching awards, provided key leadership related to reform engineering education, and was elected president of the American Society for Engineering Education [ASEE] in 2008-09.

The focus of Rajala’s research is the analysis and processing of images and image sequences and engineering educational assessment. She has directed numerous master’s theses and doctoral dissertations, authored and co-authored nearly 200 publications, and secured a patent on image sequence compression.


Dr. Denise Sekaquaptewa: Strategies to Strengthen Inclusion

Visiting Women and Minorities Lecturer/Scholar

All are welcome at an upcoming presentation by Dr. Denise Sekaquaptewa, University of Michigan Professor of Psychology, Associate Chair, and Associate Director, ADVANCE. Dr. Sekaquaptewa’s presentation will take place this Thursday, April 21, from 3:30-4:30 pm in MUB Ballroom B2. Afterwards there will be an open forum discussion on advancing a positive climate at Michigan Tech.

Dr. Sekaquaptewa’s experimental research program focuses on implicit stereotyping, prejudice, stereotype threat, and effects of category salience on test performance and academic motivation. Her current projects include studies of how environmental factors influence women students in math and science, and how stereotypes affect interracial communication.

This event is hosted by Michigan Tech Women in Science in Engineering (WISE) and the Pavlis Honors College. It is partially sponsored by the Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series (WMLS) which is funded by a grant to Institutional Equity and Inclusion from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez Parks Initiative. Refreshments will be served.

RSVP http://goo.gl/forms/Nw3zBFT5ZK

visiting women and minority lecture seriesweb


Greenhouse gas emissions vary by region – GE alumnae Deborah Huntzinger

 

Dr. Deborah Huntzinger
Dr. Deborah Huntzinger

Deborah Huntzinger, who earned her BS and PhD in Geological Engineering at Michigan Tech, is now an Assistant Professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ.

During her post-doc at the University of Michigan, Huntzinger was involved in research recently published in the journal Nature, “The terrestrial biosphere as a net source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.”  Huntzinger is a coauthor in the research, which for the first time ever quantifies how greenhouse gas emissions vary by source sector and region.

“The comprehensive approach used to compile, synthesize, and interpret the data has led to results that bolster the understanding of human contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and point to regions where more attention is needed to manage emissions,” notes John Gierke, Huntzinger’s graduate advisor and chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech.

The group’s research suggests that a reduction in agricultural methane and nitrous oxide emissions, particularly in Southern Asia, may help mitigate climate change.

Read more at Eurekalert.org: “Greenhouse gas bookkeeping turns on its head”, and Nature: “The terrestrial biosphere as a net source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere”.

Huntzinger’s research interests focus on improving the understanding of complex environmental systems and our ability to forecast their future variability. Her current research interests are in the integration and comparison of environmental remote sensing products, model estimates, and in situ data to advance the understanding of biospheric contributions, both spatially and temporally, to land-atmosphere carbon exchange.

 

 


Congratulations, Dr. Brett Hamlin!

image63428-persPlease join us in congratulating Dr. Brett Hamlin for his fall 2015 teaching performance. Dr. Hamlin was identified as one of only 91 instructors who received an ‘exceptional’ (average of 7 dimensions) student evaluation score. Brett’s score was in the top 10% of similarly sized sections across all courses/sections on campus; only 109 out of more than 1200 sections university-wide were rated as highly. This achievement reflects Brett’s dedication to teaching and service to Michigan Tech and the community.

Congratulations, Dr. Brett Hamlin!