Tag Archives: MEEM

Vital signs—Powering heart monitors with motion artifacts

Electrocardiogram research Ye Sarah Sun

More than 90 percent of US medical expenditures are spent on caring for patients who cope with chronic diseases. Some patients with congestive heart failure, for example, wear heart monitors 24/7 amid their daily activities.

Ye Sarah Sun
Ye Sarah Sun, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Michigan Tech researcher Ye Sarah Sun develops new human interfaces for heart monitoring. “There’s been a real trade-off between comfort and signal accuracy, which can interfere with patient care and outcomes,” she says. Sun’s goal is to provide a reliable, personalized heart monitoring system that won’t disturb a patient’s life. “Patients need seamless monitoring while at home, and also while driving or at work,” she says.

Sun has designed a wearable, self-powered electrocardiogram (ECG) heart monitor. “ECG, a physiological signal, is the gold standard for diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, but it is a weak signal,” Sun explains. “When monitoring a weak signal, motion artifacts arise. Mitigating those artifacts is the greatest challenge.”

Sun and her research team have discovered and tapped into the mechanism underlying the phenomenon of motion artifacts. “We not only reduce the in uence of motion artifacts but also use it as a power resource,” she says.

Their new energy harvesting mechanism provides relatively high power density compared with traditional thermal and piezoelectric mechanisms. Sun and her team have greatly reduced the size and weight of an ECG monitoring device compared to a traditional battery-based solution. “The entire system is very small,” she says, about the size of a pack of gum.

“We not only reduce the influence of motion artifacts but also use it as a power resource.”

Ye Sarah Sun

Unlike conventional clinical heart monitoring systems, Sun’s monitoring platform is able to acquire electrophysiological signals despite a gap of hair, cloth, or air between the skin and the electrodes. With no direct contact to the skin, users can avoid potential skin irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, too—something that could make long-term monitoring a lot more comfortable.

Ye Sarah Sun self-powered ECG heart monitor
Sun’s self-powered ECG heart monitor works despite a gap of hair, cloth or air between the user’s skin and the electrodes.

AV START Act May Boost Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Gary Peters and Jeff Naber
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and Jeff Naber

HOUGHTON — Testing of autonomous vehicles, such as that being done at Michigan Technological University, could get a boost with legislation working its way through Congress.

The American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in October. U.S. Sen.

Gary Peters, D-Mich., sponsored the bill along with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

In March, Peters visited Tech’s Advanced Power System Research Center to get informed of Tech’s research and development efforts into autonomous vehicles.

Jeff Naber, director of the center, said the bill will enable the advancement of autonomous vehicle functions.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.


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.


Orbion Space Technology is an Accelerate Michigan Finalist Company

Orbion Space Technology

Three startup companies with Michigan Tech roots have been named semi-finalists in this year’s Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

Goldstrike Data, a big data analytics firm founded and headed by Michigan Tech alumna Ashley Kern ’15, was selected as one of 36 semi-finalists, as were StabiLux Biosciences (Novolux Biosciences) and Orbion Space Technology. StabiLux Biosciences( Novolux Biosciences) was founded by Yoke Khin Yap, a professor of physics at Tech, and Orbion Space Technology was founded by L. Brad King, the Ron and Elaine Starr Professor in Space Systems in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

The semi-finalists are innovative startups from a variety of high-growth sectors including advanced materials, manufacturing, alternative energy, business services, consumer products, information technology, life sciences/healthcare, media, mobility and more. On Nov. 16, 2017, 10 finalists will be selected and the winner will be chosen from among the finalists that night at the Detroit Masonic Temple. Since the competition’s inception, participating companies have generated more than 1,000 jobs in Michigan and raised more than $550 million in capital.

“We are extremely impressed with the diverse and creative entries that came to us from across the state and we’re excited to unveil an outstanding new crop of competitors,” said Martin Dober, vice president of Invest Detroit and managing director of Invest Detroit Ventures. “This competition has the potential to be life changing for these businesses. It is truly rewarding to help put promising young startups on a trajectory toward success.” Each year, the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition showcases the startup innovation throughout Michigan and provides startups with the exposure, funding and mentorship they need. The first place company will win $500,000. The total value of all prizes is almost $1 million.

By Jenn Donovan.


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.