Tag Archives: BME

Biomedical Engineering

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.”


More Than 350 Companies Recruiting Engineers

Career Fair Fall 2017
Blizzard at Career Fair Fall 2017

Thousands pack MTU for annual Career Fair

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – Michigan Tech was packed with students and business alike as they hosted their annual Fall Career Fair.

More than 350 companies from across the country were recruiting engineers from Michigan Tech University Wednesday. Hundreds of them were from lower Michigan or other parts of the Midwest.

“It was my first choice to come here. I was so happy when I was accepted,” said Bioengineer Student Alex Undlin. “This is well-known as one of the best engineering schools in the country.”

I would not trade my experience here for anything. Alex Undlin

Read more and watch the video at TV6 FOX UP, by Eric DoBroka.

MTU students network with 340 companies

“Today, we have 340 recruiting organization, over 1,100 recruiters and students are here in troves. Here at Michigan Tech, we are a STEM-focused university, so these companies are looking for students in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Assistant Director for Experimential Learning & Career Development Kirsti Arko.

MTU hosts two career fairs annually. Wednesday’s turnout makes this the third largest Campus Career Fair in the country.

Read more and watch the video at ABC 10 News, by Lee Snitz.

Employers seek ‘best’ at Tech’s Career Fair

While engineering dominated the event, companies sought a diverse field of interests. According to Tech’s Career Services department, more than 30 companies were seeking business administration majors, more than 60 are looking for students in computer science, and at least 25 companies were looking for students in mathematics.

Infinity Machine and Engineering was looking for jobs including electrical and mechanical engineers, programmers and service technicians.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.


First-Year Engineering and First-Year Computer Science Lecture Fall 2017: Libby Titus

First Year Lecture

First year engineering and computer science students attended a lecture on September 17, 2017, in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. This year’s speaker was Libby Titus, Environmental Health and Safety Specialist at Novo Nordisk. She is a ’96 Michigan Tech alumna, with a BS in Environmental Engineering and BS in Scientific and Technical Communication.

Her talk was entitled Secrets of Talking (and Writing) Nerdy. The talk was introduced by Jon Sticklen, Chair, Engineering Fundamentals, and Wayne D. Pennington, Dean, College of Engineering. There was a reception after the lecture.

Elizabeth (Libby) Titus is a licensed professional engineer who assists companies with identifying, understanding, and adhering to the environmental, health, and safety rules that apply to their operations. With 20 years of substantive experience, Libby knows that the key to moving projects forward is often effective communication of technical knowledge across the primary stakeholders. Solid engineering designs and high intelligence are irrelevant without good communication skills.

Due to venue capacity, the event was open only to first year engineering and computer science majors.

Sponsored by Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series (VWMLSS), Novo Nordisk, College of Engineering, Department of Engineering Fundamentals, Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, and the Department of Computer Science.

Funded by a grant to the Office of Institutional Equity from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.

VIEW THE PHOTO GALLERY

Students in the audience at Rozsa
The lecture takes place in the James and Margaret Black Performance Hall of the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.
Students in audience
Engineering and computer science students are in attendance.
Wayne Pennington
Wayne Pennington, Dean of the College of Engineering, introduces the speaker.
Libby Titus
Libby Titus is an EHS Specialist at Novo Nordisk.
Libby Titus Lecture
Libby Titus lectures on Secrets of Talking Nerdy.
Engineering Faculty
Engineering and CS faculty are among the attendees.

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.”


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

Accelerated healing—Understanding physical and chemical cues in tissue repair

Rajachar Research

Rupak Rajachar
Rupak Rajachar
Biomedical Engineering

Made of fibrous connective tissue, tendons attach muscles to bones in the body, transferring force when muscles contract. But tendons are especially prone to tearing. Achilles tendinitis, one of the most common and painful sports injuries, can take months to heal, and injury often recurs.

Rupak Rajachar is developing a minimally-invasive, injectable hydrogel that can greatly reduce the time it takes for tendon fibers to heal, and heal well.

“To cells in the body, a wound must seem as if a bomb has gone off,” says Rajachar. His novel hydrogel formulation allows tendon tissue to recover organization by restoring the initial cues cells need in order to function. “No wound can go from injured to healed overnight,” he adds. “There is a process.”

Rajachar and his research team seek to better understand that process, looking at both normal and injured tissue to study cell behavior, both in vitro and in vivo with mouse models. The hydrogel they have created combines the synthetic—polyethylene glycol (PEG), and the natural—fibrinogen.

“Cells recognize and like to attach to fibrinogen,” Rajachar explains. “It’s part of the natural wound healing process. It breaks down into products known to calm inflammation in a wound, as well as products that are known to promote new vessel formation. When it comes to healing, routine is better; the familiar is better.”

“To cells in the body, a wound must seem as if a bomb has gone off.”

– Rupak Rajachar

The team’s base hydrogel has the capacity to be a therapeutic carrier, too. One formulation delivers low levels of nitric oxide (NO) to cells, a substance that improves wound healing, particularly in tendons. Rajachar combines NO and other active molecules and cells with the hydrogel, testing numerous formulations. “We add them, then image the gel to see if cells are thriving. The process takes place at room temperature, mixed on a lab bench.”

Hydrogel
SEM image of the fibrinogen-based hydrogel

Two commonly prescribed, simple therapies—range of motion exercises that provide mechanical stimulation, and local application of cold/heat—activate NO in the hydrogel, boosting its effectiveness.

“Even a single injection of the PEG-fibrinogen-NO hydrogel could accelerate healing in tendon fibers,” says Rajachar. “ Tendon tissues have a simple healing process that’s easier to access with biomaterials,” he adds. Healing skin, bone, heart, and neural tissue is far more complex. Next up: Rajachar plans to test variations of his hydrogel on skin wounds.


Opportunities in Forest Biomaterials Research

Biomaterials Research
Video: Biomaterials Research

According to Mark Rudnicki, a professor of practice in forest biomaterials at Michigan Technological University, Michigan ranks ninth in the nation in acres of forest cover. It’s also home to several forest-related industries, including forestry and logging, wood products manufacturing and paper manufacturing. In 2013, Michigan Tech initiated the development of a broad coalition – with members from Michigan industry, government and academia – to facilitate the cultivation of new ways to use forest biomaterials.

The initiative has evolved into the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute (MiFBI) and Rudnicki is its executive director.

Read more and watch the video at Unscripted: Science and Engineering Research, by Stefanie Sidortsova.

The mission of the Michigan Forest Biomaterials Institute (MiFBI) is to enhance quality of life in Michigan by fostering sustainable forests, communities, and economies through innovative and responsible production, use, and recycling of forest biomaterials.

MIFBI invites individuals and corporate entities (businesses, institutions, associations and government agencies) supportive of developing a forest bioeconomy in Michigan to join MIFBI as a Regular or Associate member.


2017 Research Excellence Funding

ResearchThe Vice President for Research Office announced the 2017 REF awards and thanked the volunteer review committees, as well as the deans and department chairs, for their time spent on this important internal research award process.

Infrastructure Enhancement (IE) Grants
Dan Seguin (MSE/IMP)

Research Seed (RS) Grants
Daisuke Minakata (CEE)
Radwin Askari (GMES/EPSSI)

Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Mid-Career (MC)
CK Choi (MEEM)
Megan Frost (Bio Med)
Jeremy Goldman (Bio Med)

Original article by VPR.


Michigan Tech Biomedical Engineers take 2nd place at Stryker Engineering Challenge

BME Team Robot
Congratulations to Zac, Peter, Ana-Lisia, and Sterling: the first all-BME team from Michigan Tech to compete at the 7th Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge; and the first Michigan Tech team ever to take 2nd place.

A team of biomedical engineering undergraduates from Michigan Technological University earned 2nd place at the 7th Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge competition in Kalamazoo, Michigan on March 30th and 31st.

Each year Stryker invites engineering student teams to its global headquarters to show off their engineering prowess while competing against 6 rival schools. During an overnight competition, they spent 14 hours planning, designing, prototyping and testing to prepare for a challenge created by Stryker engineers. This year’s challenge consisted of a superhero theme where each team had to design and construct a “semi-autonomous super-vehicle” using a robotics kit and other miscellaneous components.

Ana-Lisia Powdhar, Zachary Vanderstelt, Peter Beach, and Sterling Korstadt made up the Michigan Tech team. Associate Professor Keat Ghee Ong traveled with them and served as mentor. They competed against teams of mechanical and electrical engineering students from Purdue University, Notre Dame, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, and the Michigan Engineering Alliance (a combined team from Andrews University and Hope College). The team from Purdue took first place.

“It was the first time that biomedical engineering students from Michigan Tech have competed in the Stryker challenge,” says BME department chair, Sean Kirkpatrick. “Students have competed in the past, but this is the first time a Michigan Tech team has earned 2nd place. It demonstrates the way we approach biomedical engineering education at Michigan Tech—we focus first and foremost on rigorous engineering skills.”

The competition was comprised of three parts: Tech Challenges, a series of rapid-fire Jeopardy-style questions, with points going to the fastest correct answer among the teams. Then came “homework” given to the teams to do on their own time—various word problems pertaining to engineering, computer science, and design team dynamics. And finally, the main challenge: to design, build and test a robot able to complete a variety of specific tasks on Stryker’s challenge course. These tasks— all aimed towards collecting LEGO action figures to earn points in the competition—ranged from activating a magnetic sensor at a specific frequency to completing a circuit using components on the robot.

The teams were given 12 hours to construct their robots. “We worked hard from 8 pm to 2 am, and again the next day from 6 am to noon,” says BME student Peter Beach.

“We had a list of tasks that needed to be accomplished and no base to start from,” adds Ana-Lisia Powdhar. “Everything was built from scratch. Due to time constraints, we built our thoughts instead of writing it out first. The Stryker engineers helped us find flaws and we kept improving what we were doing.

“Sterling was constantly messing with the drive train design. Zac seemed to be downloading a new code every 10 minutes. And Peter and I never stopped working on the robot arm. Even after the challenge, we were all talking about what we would have done differently if we’d had the time.”

“The best part was having a functioning robot at the end of two stressful days,” adds Zac Vanderstelt. “We managed not only to effectively compete, but to also place second ahead of all of the Universities I grew up hearing about like Western Michigan, U of M, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Michigan College Alliances.”

Simplicity was the key to their success. “We learned it was better to think of a viable solution and go for it instead of debating every step of the way,” says Vandersteldt.

Sterling Korstadt agrees. “The most challenging part of the experience was trying to make sure to keep the design simple and not overthink the situation.”

Korstadt says he would consider Stryker as a possible career choice. “They are on the cutting edge of medical device development, and truly care about helping other people. Stryker also emphasizes team work and collaboration, something I believe is essential to developing a successful product.”

Powdhar’s take away from the experience: “I learned to just try it. If it fails, figure out why, fix it or try something else. Ask ALL the questions no matter how dumb they sound. And don’t give up, as cliche as that sounds. We were vigilant and determined,” she says.

“And I’d like to add that Dr. Ong was great. We were very happy that he was with us and we would do it again with him if we could.”

Stryker Corporation, active in over 100 countries, is one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, offering products and services to help improve patient and hospital outcomes.

BME Robot
Michigan Tech’s 2nd place robot at the 7th Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge
BME Team
L to R: Michigan Tech’s all-BME team: Sterling Korstad, Peter Beach, Ana-Lisia Powdhar, advisor Keat Ghee Ong, and Zachary Vanderstelt
BME Stryker Second Place
The points board at the 7th Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge. Michigan Tech was proud to earn 2nd place.
BME Stryker Engineering Challenge
Testing the robot at the 7th Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge
Styker Engineering Challenge 2017
Teams competing at the 7th Annual Stryker Engineering Challenge

Michigan Tech Design Expo is Thursday, April 13, 2017

Design Expo

VIEW THE PHOTO ALBUM

What do a satellite tag anchoring system for humpback whales, a pandemic ventilator for third-world countries, a 793 mpg supermileage vehicle and an innovative, low-cost avalanche beacon have in common?

They’re all student projects on display at Michigan Tech’s 17th annual Design Expo from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday (April 13, 2017) in the Memorial Union Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

At the Expo, you’ll have a chance to explore the breadth and depth of undergraduate project work with more than 1,000 students from Michigan Tech’s Enterprise and senior design programs participating.

Projects and posters will be on display throughout the day. A panel of judges comprised of corporate representatives and University faculty and staff will critique the projects. Many of the projects are sponsored by industry.

Design Expo event sponsors include ITC Holdings, Black & Veatch, American Transmission Co, Code Blue, Kimberly-Clark, Miller Electric, as well as Michigan Tech Career Services, the University’s Office of Innovation and Industry Engagement and the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship.

Michigan Tech’s innovative Enterprise program is open to all majors and facilitates interdisciplinary learning, leadership development, and team-based project work. Diverse teams of first-year through graduate-level students develop products, processes, and services within their market space, with multiyear participation.

Senior Design challenges teams of highly dedicated senior-level students to explore and address real-world design challenges in their final year. The program connects students and industry sponsors through open-ended projects where teams follow the complete design process from ideation to realization.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the Design Expo website.