Tag Archives: lake superior

Inspired by nature—Getting underwater robots to work together, continuously

Nina Mahmoudian, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Nina Mahmoudian, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Imagine deploying multiple undersea robots, all in touch and working together for months, even years, no matter how rigorous the mission, brutal the environment, or extreme the conditions.

It is possible, though not quite yet. “Limited energy resources and underwater communication are the biggest issues,” says Michigan Tech Researcher Nina Mahmoudian. Grants from a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the Young Investigator Program from the Office of Naval Research are helping Mahmoudian solve those issues and pursue her ultimate goal: the persistent operation of undersea robots.

“Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are becoming more affordable and accessible to the research community,” she says. “But we still need multipurpose long-lasting AUVs that can adapt to new missions quickly and easily.”

Mahmoudian has already developed a fleet of low-cost, underwater gliders, ROUGHIEs, to do just that. Powered by batteries, they move together through the water simply by adjusting their buoyancy and weight. Each one weighs about 25 pounds. “ROUGHIE, by the way, stands for Research-Oriented Underwater Glider for Hands-on Investigative Engineering,” adds Mahmoudian.

“My most exciting observation was a Beluga mother and calf swimming together. It’s very similar to our recharge on-the-fly concept.”

Nina Mahmoudian

“The ROUGHIE’s open control architecture can be rapidly modified to incorporate new control algorithms and integrate novel sensors,” she explains. “Components can be serviced, replaced, or rearranged in the field, so scientists can validate their research in situ.” Research in underwater control systems, communication and networking, and cooperative planning and navigation all stand to gain.

Mahmoudian observes Mother Nature to design robotic systems. “There is so much to learn,” she says. “My most exciting observation was a Beluga mother and calf swimming together. It’s very similar to our recharge on-the-fly concept. The technology is an early stage of development.”

Mahmoudian’s students apply and implement their algorithms on real robots and test them in real environments. They also give back to the community, by teaching middle school students how to design, build, and program their own low-cost underwater robots using a simple water bottle, called a GUPPIE.

“As a girl growing up, I first thought of becoming an architect,” says Mahmoudian. “Then, one day I visited an exhibition celebrating the 30th anniversary of space flight. That’s when I found my passion.” Mahmoudian went on to pursue aerospace engineering in Iran, and then graduate studies at Virginia Tech in the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. “Underwater gliders share the same physical concepts as airplanes and gliders, but deal with different fluid density and interactions,” she says.

Now at Michigan Tech, Mahmoudian’s work advances the abilities of unmanned robotic systems in the air, on land, and under sea. “Michigan Tech has easy access to the North Woods and Lake Superior—an ideal surrogate environment for testing the kind of autonomous systems needed for long term, challenging expeditions, like Arctic system exploration, or searching for signs of life on Europa, Jupiter’s moon.” She developed the Nonlinear and Autonomous Systems Laboratory (NAS Lab) in 2011 to address challenges that currently limit the use of autonomous vehicles in unknown, complex situations.

More than scientists and engineers, Mahmoudian wants simple, low-cost AUV’s to be available to anyone who may need one. “I envision communities in the Third World deploying low-cost AUVs to test and monitor the safety and quality of the water they use.”


Lake Superior Day 2016

Lake Superior Day
Lake Superior Day in Copper Harbor

Celebrate the beauty and bounty of Lake Superior from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 24, 2016. Copper Harbor community volunteers, along with the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, are organizing the fourth annual Lake Superior Day Festival with lots of special activities at the 6th Street Dock along the Copper Harbor Boardwalk (near Isle Royale Queen boat dock).

The Agassiz will depart every 45 minutes from the Isle Royale Queen dock beginning at noon. Space is limited to 17 persons per excursion. Participants must be at least seven years old and children must be accompanied by an adult. All participants should wear closed-toe shoes. Interested participants may pre-register by calling 7-3341 or email Lloyd Wescoat at lwescoat@mtu.edu. Space will be available for on-site participants. For more information about the event contact lead organizer, Don Kilpela, Captain of the Isle Royale Queen, at 289-4735.

Read more at Tech Today, by Lloyd Wescoat.


2016 Summer Michigan Tech University Summer Teacher Institutes

Attention Teachers Grades 4-12! Register now for the 2016 Summer Michigan Tech University Summer Teacher Institutes!

Global Change Teacher Institute, June 20-24  (ED5641); Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research Teacher Institute, June 27-July 1  (ED5601); and Designing a Sustainable Future Teacher Institute, July 11-15  (ED 5640).

The application deadline is May 1, 2016. Please complete teacher institute applications online. See link after each description below, or visit http://wupcenter.mtu.edu/

To register for Michigan Tech credits: Michigan Tech Cognitive & Learning Sciences will contact you with registration information (Tel: 906-487-2460)

For more information: Joan Chadde, Institute Coordinator (jchadde@mtu.edu or 906-487-3341)

ED5641 Global Change Teacher Institute (for Grades 4-12 Teachers)
Date: M-F, June 20-24, 2016
This 5-day Institute will prepare you to engage your middle and high school students in a real-world study of the effects of global change on ecosystems, including the impacts of climatic change on forests— elevated carbon dioxide and ozone levels, nitrogen saturation, acid rain, and invasive species. Teachers will participate in the MEECS Climate Change workshop and receive the NEW MEECS Climate Change Unit. Cost: $400 off campus includes five lunches, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and instructional materials. $700 on campus includes 5 nights lodging & meals from Monday morning through Friday lunch, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and instructional materials.
Link to register: 2016 Global Change Teacher Institute Application
Link to Global Change flyer

ED5601 Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research Teacher Institute (for Gr. 4-12 Teachers)
Date: M-F, June 27-July 1, 2016
Teachers gain skills in designing original research, rather than merely conducting cookbook experiments. Teachers will learn research design methods and procedures, and participate in a variety of research field and lab studies. Cost: $400 off campus includes five lunches, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and instructional materials. $700 on campus includes 5 nights lodging & meals from Monday morning through Friday lunch, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and instructional materials.
Link to register: 2016 Engaging Students in Science Research Application
Link to Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research Flyer

ED 5640 Designing a Sustainable Future Teacher Institute (for Grades 4-12 Teachers)
Date: M-F, July 11-15, 2016
The institute will introduce teachers to the field of sustainability through examination of product life cycles, product recycling, repurposing materials, renewable energy sources of wind, solar, and biomass, designing energy- and resource-efficient buildings, site designs to reduce storm water runoff and increase biodiversity, and efficient transportation systems and vehicles. The institute will address the Next Generation Science Standards and be taught by a variety of Michigan Tech University faculty and graduate students, along with community and teacher experts. Cost: $400 off campus includes five lunches, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and instructional materials. $700 on campus includes five nights lodging & meals from Monday morning through Friday lunch, 2 Michigan Tech graduate credits and materials.
Link to register: 2016 Designing a Sustainable Future Application
Link to Designing a Sustainable Future Flyer


Lake Superior Day

img_0099by Joan Chadde

The beauty and bounty of Lake Superior was celebrated Sunday at the Third Annual Lake Superior Day in Copper Harbor. Community volunteers, along with the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, organized the festival with lots of special activities at the 6th Street Dock along the Copper Harbor Boardwalk. Activities included:

Community picnic
Canoe races and kayak demonstrations
Interactive art (paint the model freighter)
Remotely-Operated-Vehicle demonstrations by Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center
Presentation on the health of Lake Superior by Great Lakes scientist Martin Auer (CEE)

Live music, poetry and more
From 1-4 p.m. a special highlight was the opportunity for festival attendees to find out how scientists study the Great Lakes by taking a 40-minute scientific excursion aboard Michigan Tech’s research vessel, Agassiz. The excursions are part of the Ride the Waves Program funded by a grant from General Motors.

Lake Superior Day is celebrated throughout the Lake Superior basin on or close to the third Sunday in July in many communities around Lake Superior. Learn more about Lake Superior Day events around the lake.

Lake Superior Day (2014)
Lake Superior Day (2014)

MORE PHOTOS from 2014 Lake Superior Day


Keweenaw Geoheritage Tours by Water and Land

geoheri2The Keweenaw Peninsula is a place of natural beauty with a fascinating mining history. Join local expert Bill Rose in reading the landscape to learn how the Copper Country came to be the way it is today.

Each one-day field trip explores one of four major events in Earth’s history that make up the strong geoheritage of the Keweenaw: Lavas, the Keweenaw Fault, the Jacobsville Sandstone and Copper Mining Waste of Lake Superior. Participants can expect to cover a lot of ground and be outside all the time.

The trip dates are as follows:

TRIPS ARE ALL FULLY BOOKED

July 27 – Lavas and the Keweenaw Rift
July 28 – The Keweenaw Fault
July 29th – Jacobsville Sandstone
July 30th – Copper Mining Waste of Lake Superior Today

Travel is a combination of van transport, short walks and trips aboard Michigan Tech’s research vessel, the Agassiz. Trips are limited by boat capacity to 17 people. Each day trip costs $145 and includes lunch and snacks, boat and van transport.

For more information, trip descriptions and registration please visit the Keweenaw Geoheritage website. For specific questions, please email Erika Vye at ecvye@mtu.edu.


STEM Immersion on Isle Royale

IMG_0702 (2) (1280x853)A group of 13 Keweenaw Bay Indian Community youth took part in an immersion experience in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and careers, May 26 to 30, 2015 on Isle Royale. The program, entitled “MAAMAADIZI II”, was co-sponsored by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Cedar Tree Institute of Marquette, the Isle Royale Institute and Michigan Tech’s Ride the Waves with General Motors Program. MAAMAADIZI, meaning “the Journey begins” in the Anishinaabe language, sought to immerse students in a wilderness environment rich in both scientific and spiritual content. A diverse community participated in the Journey, including spiritual advisors, artists, scientists, chaperones, graduate student mentors and KBIC drummers … a grand party of 32 travelers. Isle Royale National Park provided an ideal wilderness setting for this important work.

The Michigan Tech team of 6 members traveled to Isle Royale aboard the R/V Agassiz with Captain Stephen Roblee at the helm; the rest of the party came across on the MV Ranger III. Once on the island, the R/V Agassiz provided transport to campsites, ferry service for on-island field trips and served as a platform for STEM offerings. KBIC students, MTU graduate student mentors and chaperones camped for two nights at Daisy Farm, with the entire party moving to Tobin Harbor Cottages for the last two nights.

STEM Science was presented through water quality measurements (light and temperature sensors, Secchi disk transparency) and collections (plankton and bottom organisms) made in Moskey Basin and in the open lake from the R/V Agassiz. Samples were examined on board using microscopes and dissecting scopes. The STEM Science program was led by Dr. Marty Auer of Michigan Tech supported by graduate student mentors Varsha Raman, Aubrey Scott and Nathan Zgnilec.

STEM Math was presented within the context of mass and compass (on land, Jon Magnuson, Cedar Tree Institute) and vessel navigation (on the water, Stephen Roblee, MTU). Hikes to Mount Ojibway and an R/V Agassiz cruise around ice-encrusted Blake Point to a shipwreck site on the Palisades provided the venue for STEM Math offerings.

Students also participated in Art and Spirit Projects led by artist and illustrator Diana Magnuson of the Cedar Tree Institute. Ken Vrana, Director of the Isle Royale Institute, guided students on hikes and on field trips to Rock Harbor Lighthouse, Edisen Fishery and the Island home of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project hosted by MTU’s Rolf and Candy Peterson.

The Journey was wrapped up with a Feast prepared by the Rock Harbor Lodge, a Ceremony hosted by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Drum and an evening campfire with S’mores.

The KBIC, particularly Lori Sherman and chaperones Richard Wickstrom and Katrina Ravindran, deserves special thanks for logistical and financial support. The Isle Royale Institute contributed financial and made other contributions which greatly enriched the experience. The R/V Agassiz and Captain Stephen Roblee were made available through Ride the Waves with General Motors. Wilderness STEM experiences with KBIC youth were originated in 2013 by Jon Magnuson of the Cedar Tree Institute and Marty Auer of Michigan Tech and, with support from General Motors are now in their third year.

Group at Mott Island, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group at Mott Island, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group on board RV Agassiz, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group on board RV Agassiz, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group at the the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project hosted by MTU’s Rolf and Candy Peterson
Group at the the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project hosted by MTU’s Rolf and Candy Peterson
On board the RV Agassiz
On board the RV Agassiz

See More Photos of the STEM Immersion on Isle Royale



Great Lakes Investigations Aboard Michigan Tech Research Vessel Agassiz

Great Lakes Investigations Aboard Michigan Tech Research Vessel Agassiz for Students in Grades 4-12 ~ Fun! FREE! Educational!

Ride the Waves with GM (General Motors) invites Copper Country youth in Grades 4-12 to join scientists from Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center in the exploration of Lake Superior, Portage Waterway and Torch Lake.   Continue reading


Lake Superior Water Festival Shows Students Careers in STEM

2013 Lake Superior Water Festival at Great Lakes Research Center on Thursday, October 17

High school students from the five western UP counties will spend today at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, learning about the Great Lakes, water research and careers they might consider in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The Water Festival is sponsored by the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, based at Michigan Tech. Continue reading


2013 Ride the Waves with GM on Michigan Tech’s Research Vessel Agassiz

General Motors Corporation is siupporting the Summer 2013 “Ride the Waves with GM”. This is an educational program that invites Copper Country youth in Grades 4-12 to explore Lake Superior and adjacent waters aboard Michigan Tech’s research vessel, the Agassiz. Explorations are led by a member of Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center with expertise on the topic, assisted by undergraduate student mentors.

Find out more about 2014 version of Ride the Waves with GM