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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”.

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.

NSF Video Showcase features Geoheritage Field Education

photo by Jim Belote
photo by John Belote


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, #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

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.


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 “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!

National Engineers Week 2016 at Michigan Tech

scaffoldPOSTER4Time to celebrate the 65th annual National Engineers Week
February 21-27, 2016

Happy Eweek, everybody! National Engineers Week celebrates the positive contributions engineers make to society and is a catalyst for outreach. For the past 65 years, National Engineers Week (Eweek) 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 engineer in the US. This year Michigan Tech will celebrate Eweek with ten different engineering events on campus for all to enjoy. National Engineers Week at Michigan Tech is hosted by the Michigan Tech chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society.

Eweek 2016 events include a kick-off event on Monday Feb. 22 with Mind Trekkers in Fisher Lobby from 11 am – 1 pm.  Eweek cake will be served in Dillman 112 on Wednesday afternoon Feb. 24, courtesy of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals. Last but not least, on Thursday evening Feb. 25 at 8 pm, Tau Beta Pi will put on a high-tech music and light show at the Michigan Tech Husky Dog statue.

Please check out the full lineup of Eweek events below. Any questions? Contact Alex Reichanadter, Tau Beta Pi, Hope to see you there!


Mind Trekkers
See electricity travel. Play a banana piano.
Create a tornado, and much more.
Fisher Lobby, 11 am – 1 pm


Clean Snowmobile Challenge
Check out a zero emissions sled and more.
ME-EM Lobby, 10 am -11 am

Consumer Product Manufacturing
Quantify knife sharpness w/the CPM Enterprise.
Fisher Lobby, 11 am – 3 pm

Formula SAE
Take the 5-second seat harness challenge.
ME-EM Lobby, 1 pm – 3 pm


Eweek Cake
You’re invited! All are welcome!
Dillman 112, 11 am – 3 pm

Am. Institute of Chemical Engineers
Try the “Minute to Win It” trivia contest.
Chem Sci Lobby, 12 noon – 1:30 pm


Check out the new Naval Systems Enterprise.
ME-EM Lobby, 10 am – 3 pm

Society for Environmental Engineering
Clean water via simple filtration.
Fisher Lobby, 12 noon – 3 pm

Tau Beta Pi
Enter the Rube Goldberg competition.
Wads Annex, 6 pm – 8 pm

Tau Beta Pi
Enjoy a technicolor light & music show.
Husky Statue, 8 pm

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS – Win a Free 6-day trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!


You Could Win A FREE 6-Day trip to explore environmental science & engineering majors at Michigan Technological University in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!!!

Monday – Saturday, June 20-25, 2016 (includes free transportation, meals, and lodging)

OPEN to all High School students in Detroit & Wayne County who want to explore environmental science careers: forestry, natural resources, wildlife, engineering, water quality, more!

Up to 20 high school students will be selected to participate. (This will be our 2nd annual trip!)

What YOU will do …

  • In the forest: identify and measure trees, and collect frog data;
  • On the water: sample aquatic life aboard a research vessel in Lake Superior;
  • In the lab: examine plankton, drive a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), and design a process to clean water
  • Tour a college campus, stay in a dorm, eat in dining hall;
  • Experience national and state parks, wildlife refuges, nature sanctuaries with experts in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula!


Mike Reed, Curator of Education, Detroit Zoological Society
Lisa Perez, U.S. Forest Service ~ Detroit Urban Connections


  • Complete online application form 2016 Michigan Tech-Upper Peninsula Trip Application
  • Write 500-word essay describing what you hope to gain from this experience;
  • Mail or email 2 letters of recommendation (both from non-family members; one from a teacher) to:

Joan Chadde
115 GLRC
Michigan Tech
1400 Townsend Dr.
Houghton, MI 49931

A selection team of teachers, university faculty, and resource specialists will review applications and announce winners by March 18th. A mandatory Parent Meeting and Student Outing will be scheduled in April & May.



Mike Reed, Detroit Zoo
Cell: (313) 595-9729

Joan Chadde,
Michigan Tech
Office: (906) 487-3341

Coordinated by the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach, with funding from School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science, College of Engineering, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, Michigan Tech Transportation Institute, Michigan Tech Admissions, Michigan Tech Housing & Residential Life, and the US Forest Service.

Active Learning Center (ALC) formerly the “Fishbowl”

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