Tag Archives: CHEM-ENGG

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.


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.”


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.


Engineering Faculty on Managing Multigenerational Teams

Scientific teams are more diverse than ever and are often populated by people of varying ages. Understanding how to modify management styles according to the needs of different generations ensures enhanced group productivity, creativity, and collaboration.

Joshua Pearce
Joshua Pearce

Joshua Pearce

At 41, Joshua Pearce, professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, is a member of Generation X. He leads the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab at the university, which includes a multigenerational team of visiting industrial scholars (whose children are older than Pearce), Baby Boomer research staff, and Millennial or Generation Y interns. Over the years, Pearce has gained insight into how to facilitate a more productive and creative ecosystem for everyone—and it starts with acknowledging the value that each generation brings to the team.

Adrienne Minerick
Adrienne Minerick

Adrienne Minerick

Adrienne R. Minerick, 41, associate dean for research and innovation in the College of Engineering and assistant to the provost for faculty development at Michigan Tech, found that to coordinate a team with professors who are older than her—sometimes by over 30 years—she has to adapt and ensure effective communication.

Read more at Science, by Alaina G. Levine.


Energy on Display and a Power Bus for Hands-on Play

Energy DayCareerFEST continues with Energy Day today, September 15, 2017. Eight companies representing electric, petroleum and alternative energy resources are here to greet students under the tent. CE Power brought their Power Bus, a traveling demo facility and a 6,000 pound, modified Ford Transit 350 for students to see and experience.

The Power Bus includes a retrofill breaker (MV), three LV circuit breakers, SEL relays, AC Pro trip units and GE Multilin Relay. Hemlock Semiconductor (HSC) will display various distillation tray styles used at HSC and will also showcase their raw material and final products using acrylic suspension trays.

HDR is bringing a 3D Oculus Virtual Reality Viewer for students to experience.

Displays and representatives from Systems Control, ITC Holdings, Marathon Petroleum, Flint Hills Resources, Black & Veatch and Michigan Tech’s Alternative Energy Enterprise are also features of this year’s event.

By Career Services.


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 another rewarding aspect 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.”


Phosphorus eaters—Using bacteria to purify iron ore

eiseleresearchMany iron ore deposits around the world are extensive and easy to mine, but can’t be used because of their high phosphorus content. Phosphorus content in steel should generally be less than 0.02 percent. Any more and steel becomes brittle and difficult to work. 

Tim Eisele
Tim Eisele
Chemical Engineering

Beneficiation plant processing, which treats ore to make it more suitable for smelting, only works if the phosphorus mineral grains are bigger than a few micrometers in size. Often, phosphorus is so finely disseminated through iron ore that grinding and physically separating out the phosphorus minerals is impractical.

Tim Eisele is developing communities of live bacteria to inexpensively dissolve phosphorus from iron ore, allowing a low-phosphorus iron concentrate to be produced. “For finely dispersed phosphorus, until now, there really hasn’t been a technology for removing it,” he says.

Phosphorus is critical to all living organisms. Eisele’s experiments are designed so that organisms can survive only if they are carrying out phosphorus extraction. He uses phosphorus-free growth media.

“We’ve confirmed that when there is no iron ore added to the media, there is no available phosphorus and no bacterial growth.”

Tim Eisele

Eisele is investigating two approaches, one using communities of aerobic organisms to specifically attack the phosphorus, and another using anaerobic organisms to chemically reduce and dissolve the iron while leaving the phosphorus behind. He obtained organisms from local sources—his own backyard, in fact, where natural conditions select for the types of organisms desired. Eisele originally got the idea for this approach as a result of the high iron content of his home well water, caused by naturally-occuring anaerobic iron-dissolving organisms.

On the right, anaerobic bacteria dissolve iron in the ferrous state. On the left, recovered electrolytic iron.
In the beaker on the right, anaerobic bacteria dissolve iron in the ferrous state. On the left, recovered electrolytic iron.

Eisele cultivates anaerobic and aerobic organisms in the laboratory to fully adapt them to the ore. “We use mixed cultures of organisms that we have found to be more effective than pure cultures of a single species of organism. Using microorganism communities will also be more practical to implement on an industrial scale, where protecting the process from contamination by outside organisms may be impossible.”


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)