Today’s Materials Day Features Working Foundry

Materials DayYou may think college students are too old for a sandbox, but this isn’t your average sandbox. Today (Sept. 12, 2017), a 12 x 24 foot sandbox will be constructed in the center of Michigan Tech’s campus.

The sandbox will be filled with two and a half tons of sand, for a pouring of liquid metal by Waupaca Foundry, Inc.

Tuesday is Career Services Materials Day formerly known as “Foundry Day,” where students are invited to explore careers in foundry, steel, biomaterials and ceramics.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., between labs and classes, students can design souvenir sand molds, engage with company reps and see innovative products and technologies.

The event is sponsored by Whirlpool, Neenah Enterprises, Winsert, Waupaca Foundry, Inc. and Roberts Sinto Corporation.

Materials Day is one of seven industry-related events hosted by Michigan Tech Career Services in the month of September that prepares students for the fall Career Fair.  Find out more about Career Fest online.

By Career Services.


Automotive Partners take over Campus Today

Automotive DayThirteen automotive manufacturing and supply companies embark on campus today and invite students to engage with them.

Eighty-six percent of college students find it easier to engage with company reps in an informal and interactive environment, as opposed to a formal Career Fair.

For this reason, Career Services developed CareerFEST, an interactive event series on campus that encourages students to explore industries, discover careers, ask questions and meet employers before the Fall Career Fair.

Automotive Day kicks off the first of seven industry-related events in September. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today (Sept. 7, 2017), in the center of campus, company reps showcase their latest innovations and technologies through live demonstrations.

This year’s Automotive Day theme is Autonomous. Nexteer Automotive has a simulator that allows students to experience what it will be like in an autonomous world. The Michigan Tech Autonomous program and Jeremy Bos (ECE) have partnered with General Motors to display their latest autonomous vehicle build called “Buck.”

Oshkosh Corporation is on hand with a JLG Scissor Lift, LATV (Baja Truck), Pierce 100ft Aerial Fire Truck and a HEMTT Wrecker.

A Grand Cherokee with Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist is on display from FCA. Other display vehicles include a Ford Mustang, Ford Taurus, Audi A8 and an QSK 10 L engine.

Automotive Days sponsors include: Ford, Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America, Cooper Standard, General Motors, Cummins, Continental, Oshkosh, FCA, HUSCO International, ArcelorMittal, Yanfeng Global Automotive Interiors, Nexteer Automotive and Faurecia.

Representatives from the Advanced Power System Lab at Michigan Tech and additional Enterprise programs will also be on hand during the event. Last year, 68 percent of our students participated in CareerFEST events and 460 companies attended.

By Career Services.

Enterprise Team shows off product

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – Michigan Technological University students showed off their experience at Automotive Industry Day last week.

The Formula SAE Enterprise Team caught attention with their formula-style racecar.

MTU seniors choose between senior design class or one of five enterprise teams.

The formula team I knew I wanted to be a part of before I even got to Tech. Formula SAE Enterprise Team president Cora Taylor

Read more at TV 6 Upper Michigan’s Source, by Mariah Powell.


Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Labs Available to Harvey Displaced Researchers

March for ScienceFour Michigan Tech labs, so far, have responded to a request by scientific honor society Sigma Xi and the March for Science for researchers to open their labs to scientists displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Rudy Luck (Chem), David Shonnard (ChemEng), Paul Sanders (MSE) and the Great Lakes Research Center all have invited researchers and students impacted by Harvey to work in their labs.

In its call for lab space, Sigma Xi wrote, “some researchers in the storm’s path will be displaced from their laboratories for an extended period. These individuals may require extraordinary measures to continue their work. Sigma Xi is joining with March for Science to assemble a list of research laboratories nationwide that are willing to accommodate faculty, postdocs and students who need to temporarily relocate.”

Nationwide, 290 labs have signed up so far. To see the list of labs click here.

By Jenn Donovan.

Biofuels Conversion, Biochemical & Thermochemical

Shonnard Lab @ Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI
David Shonnard
drshonna@mtu.edu

Alloy Research

Sanders Alloy Research Lab @ Michigan Technical University
Houghton, MI
Paul Sanders
sanders@mtu.edu
Al, Fe, Ni, Cu, Mg alloy development; modeling, casting, thermo-mechanical processing, mechanical testing, SEM/TEM
may be able to provide basic housing (basement bed, bath)


Incoming Engineering Students Interviewed

Michigan Tech welcomed more than 1,400 freshmen Sunday at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

Students chose Michigan Tech for a number of reasons, some for academics.
Benjamin Syznowski

I heard it’s a really good engineering school. I was in Gross Point Robotics for four years and it kind of instilled in me that engineer spirit. Freshman Chemical Engineering Major Benjamin Syznowski

Some for the opportunities Michigan Tech offers off campus.
Tyler Arthur

I like the area, I don’t know, it’s a really nice place, just kind of suited me I guess. Just kind of getting out and exploring, learning new things, meeting new people. Freshman Computer Engineering Major Tyler Arthur

Read more and watch the video at WLUC TV-6/UpperMichiganSource by David Jackson.

Huskies Fall 2017

Michigan Tech welcomes newest huskies

Hundreds of new students met on Walker Lawn this evening to become acquainted with Michigan Tech traditions. Some of the activities were broomball and making boats and statues.

Read more and watch the video at WJMN TV3/UPMatters by Rebecca Bartelme.


NASA Funding on Lake-Effect Snowstorm Models

Pengfei Xue
Pengfei Xue

Pengfei Xue (CEE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $104,168 research and development grant from NASA. Mark Kulie (GMES/GLRC) is the Co-PI on the project, ” Evaluation and Advancing the Representation of Lake-Atmosphere Interactions and Resulting Heavy Lake-Effect Snowstorms across the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin Within the NASA-Unified Weather Research and Forecasting Model.”

This is the first year of a potential four-year project totaling $327,927.


DENSO Foundation Grant to Michigan Tech

DENSO Collaboration Communication
DENSO Collaboration and Communication Space in the Mineral and Materials Building.

Supporting the communities DENSO serves and providing resources for the next generation of technical workers to succeed are core to DENSO’s success. To fulfill these promises, DENSO’s philanthropic arm – the DENSO North America Foundation (DNAF) – funds programs across the continent each year, providing hands-on learning opportunities in areas from robotics and thermodynamics to design and materials development. Recently, the DNAF board confirmed its 2017 college and university grants, totalling nearly $1 million in overall funding for 22 institutions and educational programs across North America.

DENSO is a global automotive supplier of advanced technology, systems, and components in the areas of thermal, powertrain control, electronics, and information and safety.

Read more at Progressive Engineer, by Tom Gibson.

Some of the DENSO educational grants for Michigan Tech supported:

  • Dust Collection System
  • Enterprise Future Truck
  • Enterprise & Youth Outreach
  • Challenge X Enterprise
  • Chassis Dynamometer
  • Automotive Enterprise / Plasma Cutter and ops
  • Student Design Center
  • Keweenaw Research Center and Enterprise Program

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.


NSF Funding on Deep Learning in Geosystems

Zhen Liu
Zhen Liu

Zhen (Leo) Liu (CEE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $227,367 research and development grand from the National Science Foundation.

Shiyan Hu (ECE/MTTI) is Co-PI on the project “Image-Data-Driven Deep Learning in Geosystems.” This is a two-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.

Abstract

Breakthroughs in deep learning in 2006 triggered numerous cutting-edge innovations in text processing, speech recognition, driverless cars, disease diagnosis, and so on. This project will utilize the core concepts underlying the recent computer vision innovations to address a rarely-discussed, yet urgent issue in engineering: how to analyze the explosively increasing image data including images and videos, which are difficult to analyze with traditional methods.

The goal of this study is to understand the image-data-driven deep learning in geosystems with an exploratory investigation into the stability analysis of retaining walls. To achieve the goal, the recent breakthroughs in computer vision, which were later used as one of the core techniques in the development of Google’s AlphaGo, will be studied for its capacity in assessing the stability of a typical geosystem, i.e., retaining walls.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.


Verification and validation—Predicting uncertainties early on

Shabakhti Research

Mahdi Shabakhti
Mahdi Shahbakhti
Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics

The verification and validation (V&V) process for a typical automotive vehicle and powertrain electronic control unit takes approximately two years, and costs several million dollars. V&V are essential stages in the design cycle of an industrial controller, there to remove any gap between the designed and implemented controller. Computer modeling has brought about improvements over the years, but the gap remains.

Michigan Tech researcher Mahdi Shahbakhti has made significant progress to remove that gap, using system models to easily verify controller design. His solution features an adaptive sliding mode controller (SMC) that helps the controller deal with imprecisions in the implementation of the system.

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation GOALI program, or Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry. Shahbakhti’s team and fellow researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Toyota USA in Ann Arbor, Michigan are nearing the end of their three-year collaborative GOALI project.

“Analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) is one of the main sources of controller implementation imprecisions, mostly due to sampling and quantization,” says Shahbakhti. “Our approach mitigates ADC imprecisions by first identifying them in the early stages of the controller design cycle. We first developed a mechanism for real-time prediction of uncertainties due to ADC and then determined how those uncertainties propagated through the controller. Finally we incorporated those predicted uncertainties into the discrete sliding mode controller (DSMC) design.”

“Analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) is one of the main sources of controller implementation imprecisions, mostly due to sampling and quantization.”

Mahdi Shahbakhti

Shahbakhti and his team tested an actual electronic control unit at Michigan Tech in a real time processor-in-the-loop setup. Their approach significantly improved controller robustness to ADC imprecisions when compared to a baseline sliding controller. In a case study controlling the engine speed and air-fuel ratio of a spark ignition engine, the DSMC design with predicted uncertainty provided a 93 percent improvement compared to a baseline sliding controller.

Toyota works closely with the research team to integrate GOALI project results into the design cycle for its automotive controllers. The company provided team members with an initial week of training on its V&V method of industrial controllers, and also participates with Shabakhti’s team in online biweekly meetings. “The concept of this project is fundamental and generic—it can be applied to any control system, but complex systems, such as those in automotive applications, will benefit most,” notes Shahbakhti.


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 Shilliang 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.”