Tag Archives: CEE

Where rubber becomes the road—Testing sustainable asphalt technologies

Zhanping You research team
A Michigan Tech research team led by Zhanping You tests a new, cooler way to make rubberized asphalt.

Over 94% of the roads in the United States are paved with asphalt mix. Each year, renovating old highways with new pavement consumes about 360 million tons of raw materials. It also generates about 60 million tons of old pavement waste and rubble.

Zhanping You, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Zhanping You, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Recycling these waste materials greatly reduces the consumption of neat, unmodified asphalt mix and lowers related environmental pollution. But blending recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) with fresh asphalt mix presents several challenges, potentially limiting its usefulness.

Not to Michigan Tech researcher Zhanping You. “One noticeable issue of using RAP in asphalt pavement is the relatively weaker bond between the RAP and neat asphalt, which may cause moisture susceptibility,” he explains. “Modifying the asphalt mix procedure and selecting the proper neat asphalt can effectively address this concern.”

You tests a variety of recycled materials to improve asphalt pavement performance. Crumb rubber, made from scrap tires, is one such material. “Crumb rubber used in asphalt reduces rutting and cracks, extends life, and lowers noise levels. Another plus—building one mile of road with crumb rubber uses up to 2,000 scrap tires. Hundreds of millions of waste tires are generated in the US every year,” he adds.

Adding crumb rubber to asphalt mix has its own share of problems. “When crumb rubber is blended into asphalt binder, the stiffness of the asphalt binder is increased. A higher mixing temperature is needed to preserve the flowability. Conventional hot-mix asphalt uses a lot of energy and releases a lot of fumes. We use a foaming process at lower temperatures that requires less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Building one mile of road with crumb rubber uses up to 2,000 scrap tires. Hundreds of millions of waste tires are generated in the US every year.”

—Zhanping You

You and his team integrate state-of-the-art rheological and accelerated-aging tests, thermodynamics, poromechanics, chemical changes, and multiscale modeling to identify the physical and mechanical properties of foamed asphalt materials. With funding from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, they have constructed test sections of road in two Michigan counties to monitor field performance.

Another possible solution is asphalt derived from biomass. You’s team used bio oil in asphalt and found it improved pavement performance. They’re also investigating nanomaterial-modified asphalt. “Soon we’ll have mix recipes to adapt to all environmental and waste supply streams,” he says.


Three Student Teams Chosen for Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition

3D PrintingThree Michigan Tech student teams have been chosen to compete in the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in Detroit on Nov. 16, 2017. The student teams will compete for a total of $21,000 in funding.

Statewide, 27 teams were selected through submission of a one-minute video and a brief write-up about the company product or service, revenue model and team capabilities.

The Tech student teams are Looma, Makerhub and FitStop. Looma is a food and nutrition app that helps users eat healthier by providing preference-based recipe suggestions with integrated calendaring for preparation time and grocery lists for shopping. Makerhub is a web application that connects individuals who own 3-D printers with others who need 3-D printed parts. FitStop is a web application that connects people who are traveling for business or leisure with gyms or fitness centers in the city they are traveling to.

Three Michigan Tech-affiliated start-ups will also participate in the competition. They are StabiLux Biosciences, Goldstrike Data and Orbion.

By Jenn Donovan.


Working Luncheon, MDOT Call For Research Ideas

MDOT PavementThe MDOT Office of Research is soliciting research priority ideas for their upcoming funding years FY19/20/21. This is a great opportunity for Michigan Tech researchers from various departments to expand their research portfolio into transportation topics.

The topics are very versatile, from hard core pavement engineering to water and environmental aspects, life cycle cost engineering, even workforce development. Details on MDOT research priorities can be found here.

In the past, Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI) has submitted Tech’s research ideas to MDOT as a combined package for a stronger, unified presence. Our plans are to do so again.

From noon to1 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 9, 2017), in Dillman 309A, MTTI will be hosting a lunch meeting for discussions, gathering of ideas and to provide a setting for collaboration on the research idea topics listed. We will also share a couple of past ideas that were later turned by MDOT to RFPs and we’ll provide some insight from discussions with MDOT.

We’ve created a spreadsheet to gather information on topic ideas you’re interested in providing to MDOT. Email Pam Hannon to get a link to the spreadsheet. Contact Pam also, if you’d like to join us in the meeting by Tuesday (Nov. 7).


Lake Superior Water Festival 2017

Lake Superior Water FestivalThe Water Festival provides an opportunity for students to learn about and celebrate our most precious natural resource – the Great Lakes! A wide variety of topics from science and engineering to creative writing will be presented. Students attend four 35-minute activities. Some of the topics to be presented include Remotely-Operated- Vehicles, Leave No Trace Outdoors, cleaning wastewater, U.S. Coast Guard careers, Lake Sturgeon ecology, atmospheric research in a cloud chamber, and more.

2017 Water Festival Presenters and Descriptions

Lake Superior Water Festival Haiku

Haiku: 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables

The beautiful five Great Lakes
Sparkling below the sky.
Nothing else compares.
Lake Superior
A gentle breeze and waves
Brings back memories.
Over on the shore
I see the waves crashing in
I feel the cold breeze.
Lake Superior
Causing sailors to fall below
Greatest of all lakes.
Rushing and foaming
Dangerously storming now
Lake Superior
The cold moving water
Crashing on the rocky shore
Icy gray water.

Water study: Students spend day learning at Lake Superior Water Festival

HOUGHTON — High school students from five Upper Peninsula counties learned more about the Great Lakes and the research being done on them at the sixth annual Lake Superior Water Festival Wednesday.

The goal is to get students thinking about Lake Superior in an interdisciplinary way, said Joan Chadde, director of the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach at Michigan Technological University.

Held at Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, the day included 15 sessions led by Tech researchers, students and staff as well as members of organizations such as the Keweenaw Land Trust and U.S. Coast Guard.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.

Lake Superior Water Festival at Great Lakes Research Center

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – High school students from across the Western UP got a new perspective on Lake Superior today.

The Great Lakes Research Center hosted their 6th annual Water Festival today. Nearly 500 high school students learned about a variety of challenges and careers surrounding Lake Superior.

“The goal is for the students to get exposure to science and engineering challenges here in Lake Superior and its watershed, as well as to gain some background in history, communication skills and management,” said Joan Chadde, director of the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

Read more and watch the video at TV6 FOX UP, by Mariah Powell.

Lake Superior Water Festival 2017


The Secrets of Talking Nerdy, Part 2

Libby Titus Presentation
Libby Titus Presents Her Communication Secrets

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.

According to Titus, engineering and computer science are group activities: it won’t matter how smart you are if you can’t communicate your ideas. She offers these writing tips for engineers and scientists:

Be clear. “First thoroughly understand the subject yourself, then be a filter and interpreter for your audience. Strip away all complexity so others can understand with minimal effort.”

Make it attractive. “Organize your writing for the reader’s benefit. Use lots of white space. Make it easy to skim. Be consistent with your style choices for format and punctuation, and stick to one or two fonts at the most.”

Proofread. “Your boss or client should never have to correct your writing. Grammar police are everywhere, and we will scrutinize what you write! You will be earnestly judged. No matter how tight your deadline is, you have to proofread!”

Focus on your reader. “If your reader feels smart, you win. Use simple language, so your audience can understand the first time. Any reader might not read past the first two sentences.

Get to the point. Keep it brief. Words don’t bleed. Cut them!”

Don’t write the way you talk. “If you do that, you’ll add too many words. No one likes that. Ask yourself. How can I make it easier for my audience? The answer is simple: Get to the point.”

Creature comforts are crucially important. “To write well, you have to put yourself in a state of deep work. The cost of distraction is high, and it’s about the switch itself. For instance, switching from your project to check texts then back again, no matter how quickly, taxes your productivity much more than the duration of the time spent distracted. I used to think writing was persecution, then I realized I needed to have a grateful attitude. Make sure you have everything you need. Clear space. Natural light. Solitude, or with others working diligently. Ice water in a cup. Everyone’s different. Regular exercise helps me.”

Motivate yourself. “When I feel unmotivated, I remind myself why my work is important. I once had a job watching potatoes on a conveyor belt. All day long.”

Be grateful it’s not fiction! “As technical writers, we should all be grateful of the gift of content.”

Break up the writing into small chunks. Give yourself a deadline for each chunk. Just get started. After a break, it’s much easier to get back to something, rather than a blank page.

Remember, every first draft sucks. In your first draft, you’re just telling yourself the story.

Follow the Growth Mindset (Carol Dweck)
Embrace challenges.
Persist in the face of setbacks.
See effort as the path to mastery.
Learn from criticism.
Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.

Keep yourself in the chair. You need willpower until the clock runs out, or your document is perfection! Staying in the game is a huge part of winning the game.

Get feedback. Tell lots of people. Crowdsource for ideas. See criticism as a gift. Try rejection therapy to desensitize. (She recommends googling “rejection therapy” to find a game invented by a Canadian Entrepreneur).

DO read user manuals! And more—read everything and skim everything you come across.

Tips for conciseness:
Try not to verbalize the scientific method.
Lead with the conclusion.
Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
Drop unnecessary words.
Write nothing longer than a page.
Read it one last time to slash as many words as possible.


Titus’s lecture was part of the Visiting Women and Minority Lecturer/Scholar Series (VWMLSS), funded by a grant to the Office of Institutional Equity from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative. The event was sponsored by Novo Nordisk, and Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering, Department of Engineering Fundamentals, Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, and Department of Computer Science.


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.”


Geology Field Trip and Tours for Brimley Area Students

Copper HarborTed Bornhorst, executive director and professor, A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum and Joan Chadde, director of the Center for Science & Environmental Outreach, hosted a second group of students from Brimley Area Schools Sept. 20 to 22, 2017. Last year a similar special field trip organized by Bornhorst with Brimley teacher Mary-Beth Andrews was so successful that the Brimley school board funded a return visit. The student interest was twice as great this year with 45 eigth graders and 15 ninth and tenth graders participating, as compared to a total of 30 students last year.

The three-day field trip included an all-day geology field trip in the Copper Harbor/Eagle River area led by Bornhorst. In the evening, the group took a guided boat trip on the Isle Royal Queen, located in Copper Harbor, funded by the GM Ride the Waves program. Erika Vye, geoheritage specialist with the Center for Science & Environmental Outreach, was the tour guide on the boat. On campus, the group visited the mineral museum, did STEM tours/activities including presentations by Mark Rudnicki (SFRES) and Parisi Abadi (MEEM). The high school students did an exploration aboard the Agassiz led by environmental engineering students Aubrey Ficek and Marr Langlais. As part of their Keweenaw experience, the Brimley students did an underground tour of the Quincy Mine and took a visit to Keweenaw Gem and Gifts foundry.

By A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum.


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.


Railroad Night XIII is Oct. 3, 2017

Railroad NightRegistration is now open for Railroad Night XIII. This year’s Railroad Night will take place from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 3, 2017, in the Memorial Union Ballroom. Students may meet industry professionals from 5 to 6 p.m. and participate in a social hour from 6 to 7 p.m. Dinner will begin at 7 p.m. Kevin Riddett, president and CEO of RailWorks, will provide the keynote address this year.

RailWorks is a leading rail industry company, offering infrastructure design and construction services, as well as signals and communication services, for both the freight and transit rail markets. Railroad Night provides a relaxed, dine-with-industry atmosphere, designed to encourage discussion of rail industry opportunities for students interested in the industry. Students, faculty, staff and interested community members are invited to attend. Registration for the event is open online.

We are charging a $5 fee to all participants, which will be used to fund door prizes for student participants. Students should use the Student Registration option, and faculty, staff and community members should use the Guest option. Contact David Nelson, or 7-1734 if you have questions.

By David Nelson.

Michigan Tech Rail Day and Student Expo

The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program (RTP) and Railroad Engineering and Activities Club (REAC) will host a two-day event series for rail industry guests, community members, Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff. Everyone is welcome.

Railroad Night XIII runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m. today in the MUB Ballroom. The evening starts with an industry panel from 5 to 6 p.m. that is free and open to any and all students. From 6 to 8:30 p.m. is the ticketed Railroad Night, including a social hour, raffle prizes, dinner and keynote speaker Kevin Riddett, president and CEO of RailWorks Corporation. Dinner begins at 7:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by Herzog Railroad Services Inc. and RailWorks. There is a $5 registration fee for the Railroad Night event. Register here.

Rail industry representatives will participate in Rail Day Expo from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow (Oct. 4) on the campus mall. The campus community is invited to see the latest technologies in the rail industry. Students from all disciplines across campus can learn about jobs in rail communications, power systems, computers, construction, operations and more, as well as internships and co-op opportunities.

Companies attending include: Bergman Associates, BNSF Railroad, CN Railroad, Herzog Railroad Services, Kiewitt/Mass Electric Construction Company, Lake Superior and Ispheming Railroad, Quandel Consultants, Pettibone, Railworks, Remprex LLC, Schneider Logistics, Surveying Solutions, ViaRail Engineering and WSP.

“We’ve got a great line-up of rail industry representatives ready to demonstrate all that the industry has to offer in careers and internships. Come on out and see us!” says David Nelson, of the event organization team.

Learn more about the event here. Contact Nelson by email or call 7-1734 with any questions.

By Career Services.

Rail pros offer students inside career advice

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University students thinking about pursuing a career in the rail industry got to hear about it from industry insiders Tuesday night.

A panel of 10 railroad representatives, including some Tech alums, answered moderator and student questions Tuesday.

Some questions delved into what jobs were open in the rail industry for specific majors. Others were more general, such as one about what the panelists would have liked to do in college that would have helped their career.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.

Railroad Night XIII and Expo 2017 in Review

The Rail Transportation Program (RTP), in conjunction with the Railroad Engineering and Activities Club (REAC) and with support from the RTP Program Partner, CN Railway, were proud to host Michigan Tech’s 4th Annual Rail Expo and 13th Annual Rail Night on Oct. 3 and 4.

Dual showcase events, Railroad Night and Expo, bring together industry professionals and students interested in the industry. The unique blend of panel discussion, social hours, dinner, keynote and displays on the campus mall catalyzed relationships between the students of Michigan Tech and the Railroad Industry. These marquee events are a cornerstone of our mission to develop leaders and technology for the 21st century in railroad transportation.

Railroad Night XIII was held on the evening of Oct. 3, kicking off our showcase events where railroad industry professionals and Michigan Tech students mingled and discovered the possibilities of a career in the railroad industry. Starting out with a “Meet the Industry” panel of 10 industry professionals, a battery of questions from both the moderator and audience allowed students to discover the railroad industry, take advice and hear some interesting stories out of the industry.

Afterwards, students and professionals mingled for the social hour, which was a great opportunity for students and the industry to get to know each other further, with discussions about internships, full-time positions or points about the industry in general. This more relaxed atmosphere is always conducive to productive discussions in an industry-focused environment, a perennial favorite of Michigan Tech Students. Following the social hour was dinner and the keynote address by Kevin Riddett, the CEO of Railworks. Speaking of his career and experiences in multiple roles throughout various industries, Riddett imparted sage advice and plenty of stories to the audience over a dinner filled with more interaction between the industry and Michigan Tech students interested in a career in rail.

Special thanks to Railworks and Herzog Railroad Services, for sponsoring the Railroad Night XIII 4th Annual Rail Expo on Oct. 4. The fourth Annual Rail Expo was held on the Campus Mall, allowing the industry to demonstrate their companies and technologies, and to recruit Michigan Tech students.

For students, the event offered a great chance to discuss opportunities in the industry with representatives and recruiters, with more than a dozen companies on display and twice as many industry professionals ready to discuss who they are and what they do. While many Michigan Tech students are already interested in a career in rail, the Expo provides a catalyst for new students to get interested and involved within one of the nation’s most diverse and thriving transportation industries.

Exhibitors and sponsors included Canadian National Railway-RTP Program Partner, Herzog Railroad Services Inc, WSP, Quandel Consultants, Schneider, Railworks, Surveying Solutions Inc, Remprex Engineering Services, Bergman Associates, Via Rail Engineering, BNSF Railway, Kiewit & Mass. Electric Construction Company, Pettibone Traverse Lift, and Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad.

Every year, Michigan Tech’s Rail Night and Expo events culminate in a number of internships and full-time careers. With nearly 200 students passing through the Expo or attending Railroad Night, this year’s events continued the success initiated almost a decade ago.

We look forward to next year and continuing our mission to grow and develop students for careers in the railroad industry. We would also like to thank our sponsors and industry supporters for their generous contributions.

By Pasi Lautala.


Steel Steals the Spotlight

Steel DaySteel companies take center stage today, September 20, 2017, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. under the CareerFEST tent. Companies on campus include Nucor, Caterpillar, Arcelor Mittal, Gerdau, Steel Dynamic and Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc.

The steel industry directly employs 2 million people worldwide and is the second largest industry in the world, next to oil and gas.

At today’s event, students can throw golf balls at steel and aluminum panels from Arcelor Mittal, take a virtual tour of the Nucor Hickman Facility, and see Caterpillar’s 938M wheel loader.

Tech’s Advanced Metalworks Enterprise and Materials United Student Organization will also be participating.

By Career Services.