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.

Michigan Tech Researchers Honored for their Contributions in 2017

Researchers in the lab

At the Research Development Day held Jan. 11, 2018, the following individuals were recognized for their research contributions in calendar year 2017.

College of Engineering

Top research expenditures: Jeff Naber (ME-EM), Greg Odegard (ME-EM), Paul Sanders (MSE)


Michigan Tech Automotive Energy Efficiency Research Receives Federal Award of $2.8 Million from US Department of Energy

NASA Taps Tech Professor to Lead $15 Million Space Technology Research Institute

Chemical Engineering

Lei Pan received his first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Hui Yao (formerly CEE) received his first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

David Watkins received an award of more than $1 million.


Household Sustainability: Consuming Food, Energy, Water

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Jeremy Bos, Lucia Gauchia, and Tony Pinar each received their first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Snehamoy Chatterjee, James DeGraff, Mark Kulie, and Matthew Portfleet each received their first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

Materials Science and Engineering

2017 Michigan Tech Research Award: Yun Hang Hu

Bhakta Rath Research Award: Yun Hang Hu and Wei Wei

Joe Licavoli received his first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.


Yun Hang Hu Wins Both Research Award and Bhakta Rath Award

Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Parisa Abadi, Chunpei Cai, Hassan Masoud, and Ye Sun each received their first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

Jeff Naber and Greg Odegard each received awards of more than $1 million.

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.


Ho Ho Home (Sustainably) for the Holidays

Open-Source Hardware Paper Ranks High

Open Source Slide Dryer
Open Source Slide Dryer

Electrical engineering graduate student Shane Oberloier co-authored a paper with Joshua Pearce (MSE|ECE): General Design Procedure for Free and Open-Source Hardware for Scientific Equipment. in the journal Designs. The paper is currently ranked in the top 0.1% on

Designs 20182(1), 2; doi:10.3390/designs2010002


Distributed digital manufacturing of free and open-source scientific hardware (FOSH) used for scientific experiments has been shown to in general reduce the costs of scientific hardware by 90–99%. In part due to these cost savings, the manufacturing of scientific equipment is beginning to move away from a central paradigm of purchasing proprietary equipment to one in which scientists themselves download open-source designs, fabricate components with digital manufacturing technology, and then assemble the equipment themselves. This trend introduces a need for new formal design procedures that designers can follow when targeting this scientific audience. This study provides five steps in the procedure, encompassing six design principles for the development of free and open-source hardware for scientific applications. A case study is provided for an open-source slide dryer that can be easily fabricated for under $20, which is more than 300 times less than some commercial alternatives.

Read more at Designs.

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.

Michigan Tech Exhibits in 2018 AutoMobili-D

AutoMobili-D with cars and people

Michigan Tech will participate in the 2018 AutoMobili-D exposition in Detroit. The event will run from Jan. 12-21. A portion of this program overlaps with the North American International Auto Show.

AutoMobili-D features 150,000 sq. ft. of dynamic display communities in the Cobo Center Atrium overlooking the international waterway and the adjoining Planet M hall.

Michigan Tech will be located in the “Universities” section of AutoMobili-D which will have about 30 universities including MIT, U-M and Carnegie Mellon. Michigan Tech’s booth will feature our unique research capabilities related to automotive research and unstructured environments.

Predebon represents Michigan Tech at Michigan auto show funding new autonomous test track

Bill Predebon (ME-EM) represented Michigan Tech at the Governor’s press conference on the American Center for Mobility (ACM) at the International Auto Show in the Cobo Center for Detroit on Jan. 16. Subaru of America gave a two million dollar sponsorship to the ACM with state, business and education officials on the stage. All of the representatives from the ACM University Consortium were present on stage.

$2M launches new wave of funding for Michigan’s autonomous test track

The announcement at Detroit’s auto show about Subaru’s new connection to the ACM is only the first significant development projected for the site in 2018. ACM officials promise more to come as the site gains traction.

Read more at Mlive, by Paula Gardner.

CloudSat-based Assessment of GPM Microwave Imager Snowfall Observation Capabilities

Giulia Panegrossi, Jean-François Rysman, Daniele Casella, Anna Cinzia Marra, Paolo Sanò, and Mark S. Kulie published “CloudSat-based assessment of GPM Microwave Imager snowfall observation capabilities” in Remote Sensing on December 6, 2017.


The article describes a NASA Global Precipitation Measurement Microwave Imager (GMI) snowfall sensitivity study using CloudSat satellite radar data as evaluation dataset. The study illustrates complex high frequency microwave sensor signatures to snowfall events under different atmospheric conditions and microphysical composition. It defines environmental and snow-producing cloud composition thresholds where the 166 GHz GMI channel is sensitive to surface snowfall, thus providing useful guidance to improve GMI snowfall detection and estimation capabilities.

Figure 2. Snowfall event on 30 April 2014.

Graphs of height versus latitude and longitude for various quantities.
Fig. 2a. From top to bottom, the first panel shows height-lat/lon imagery of Cloud Profiling Radar (CPR) reflectivity (color bar, in dBZ), the freezing level height (blue curve), and total precipitable water (TPW) (black curve, with values provided on the right-hand side y-axis), along the CloudSat track. In this panel, cloud layers where the DARDAR product identifies supercooled droplets are superimposed and shown in magenta. Second panel shows height-lat/lon imagery of 2C-SNOW snow water content (SWC) (color bar, in kg·m−3) and the snow water path (SWP) (black curve, with values provided on right-hand side y-axis). The third panel shows the GMI brightness temperatures (TBs) closest to each CPR pixel along the CloudSat track at 166 GHz (V and H polarization, in red), 183.3 ± 3 GHz and 183.3 ± 7 GHz (in blue). Bottom panel shows GMI TB difference (∆TB) at 166 GHz (V-H, in red), and for the two 183.3 GHz channels (in blue). In the top panel, vertical lines delineate different Sectors (I to V) identified in the discussion (see text for details).
Color graphs of coordinate version temperature.
Fig. 2b. GMI TB imagery: top row from left, 10, 18.7, 36.5, and 89 (H-pol) channels; bottom row from left: 166 (H-pol) and 183.3 ± 7 channels, ∆TB at 166 GHz (V pol−H pol) and at 183.3 GHz (183.3 ± 3 GHz–183.3 ± 7 GHz). The black line segment in each panel shows the CloudSat track. The sectors (I to V) identified in the discussion are also indicated (see text for details).

EP&SE Journal Article on Bio-Jet Fuel Tops Altmetrics Charts

Camelina sativa
Camelina sativa

According to AIChE’s online news site,, “Camelina-Derived Jet Fuel and Diesel: Sustainable Advanced Biofuels,” by Chemical Engineering Professor David R. Shonnard, director of the Michigan Tech Sustainable Futures Institute, Larry Williams of Targeted Growth, Inc., and Tom N. Kalnes of UOP LLC, a Honeywell Company, has an outstanding Altmetric Attention Score of 128. That places it in the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric.

Professor David Shonnard, Chemical Engineering, Michigan Technological University
Professor David Shonnard, Chemical Engineering, Michigan Technological University

Even though published in the AIChE journal Environmental Progress & Sustainable Energy (EP&SE) in 2010, the article is currently trending online. It has been mentioned this year by 14 news outlets, including Scientific AmericanSmithsonian, and Popular Mechanics. Altmetrics track the use and discussion of research from online discussions and forums, including social media, research blogs, public policy documents, news articles, and more.

In the article, Shonnard, Williams, and Kalnes discuss how bio-jet fuels derived from oil-rich feedstocks, such as camelina and algae, have been successfully tested in proof-of-concept flights. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has approved a 50:50 blend of petroleum-based jet fuel and hydroprocessed renewable jet fuel for commercial and military flights.

Honeywell UPO LLC and Targeted Growth, Inc. funded the research on bio-jet fuel derived from camelina seeds developed by a Bozeman, Montana company, Sustainable Oil.

“Camelina, an oil seed crop, can be grown in more arid climates compared to many other plants that oil is derived from,” notes Shonnard. “Targeted Growth Inc. has identified 5 million acres across the country where camelina would be suitable as a rotation energy crop that would not interrupt food production. This could produce approximately 800 million gallons of camelina oil for conversion to renewable diesel or jet.”

In 2010, Shonnard completed a life cycle analysis (LCA) comparing camelina jet fuel with petroleum jet fuel, factoring in the greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizing production and use, growing, harvesting, oil recovery and conversion to jet fuel, and use of the renewable jet in applications. “Conventional camelina, that is camelina grown with current seed stock, can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 70 percent, with no loss of performance for the fuel.  A newer strain of camelina, one that needs less fertilizer and yield more pounds per acre,could cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 84 percent compared with jet fuel from petroleum, says Shonnard. “Next generation biofuels are true hydrocarbons and on a molecular level indistinguishable from fossil fuels,” he notes.

“With expected future gains in yields/acre, camelina oil production and hydroprocessing has the potential to provide the United States an estimated 800 million gallons per year of high-quality, climate-friendly, renewable jet fuel,” the study concludes. Read the Environmental Progress & Sustainable Energy (EP&SE) article for a limited time for free.

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.