Category Archives: News

Michigan Tech Receives $5 Million from Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to Reform Middle-School Science Education

Young children are naturally curious about everything around them. They want to know how and why things work. Then, around middle school age, many of them lose that natural attraction to science and engineering.

A team of university and public school educators in Michigan say they know what’s wrong with middle school science education. And, with a $5 million, three-year grant from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, they intend to develop and test some solutions.

“In Michigan and most of the nation’s schools, STEM instruction consists of a series of seemingly unrelated courses that require students to memorize large numbers of facts but fail to engage them in the practice of using science as a tool to address real-world problems,” says Jacqueline Huntoon, a geology professor, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School at Michigan Tech.

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, based in Midland, Mich., has funded the Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform (Mi-STAR) program to develop a model for reforming middle-school STEM education that will include a new curriculum supported by updated teacher education and teacher professional development strategies.

The program focuses on integrating the sciences, using a problem-based approach, cutting across the traditional disciplines of biology, physics, chemistry and earth science to emphasize core ideas and show how science can be used to address society’s needs. For the full story, see Michigan Tech News.

ASEE Ranks Michigan Tech 10th in Nation for Engineering Doctorates Earned by Women

In its latest Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology Colleges, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) ranked Michigan Tech 10th in the nation in the percentage of engineering doctoral degrees awarded to women. Engineering doctorates earned by women at Michigan Tech totaled 31.9 percent of all engineering doctoral degrees awarded in 2013.

To be ranked, a school had to award a minimum of 25 doctoral degrees in engineering. A total of 117 engineering schools qualified for ranking.

See at ASEE Papers and Publications, page 13.

Graduate Student’s VISTA Broadens as She Earns a Degree Through Volunteer Service

A graduate student at Michigan Tech, Rhianna Williams, is earning a master’s degree far from the ivory tower of the classroom. She’s working as a volunteer with the US Office of Surface Mining VISTA program, helping residents of the Uncompahgre Watershed learn about protecting their water resources.

“I joined for the opportunity to practice what I’d learned in the class out in the field,” she says.

Williams conducts watershed education programs in the schools and monthly water sampling for Riverwatch, a group that monitors the river’s conditions along a 10-mile stretch of the Upper Uncompahgre River.

“I’ve enjoyed working with kids,” she says. “We work with local third-grade teachers to take the class out water sampling every month. They were really excited to know that the data they collected would be used to make decisions about their river.”

VISTA, originally Volunteers in Service to America, was founded in 1965 as a national service program designed to fight poverty in the US. In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs.

The OSM/VISTA and Peace Corps Coverdell programs offer graduate students the opportunity to combine academic study with supervised, practical field experience and research. Michigan Tech has partnered with OSM/VISTA programs since 2012

For the full story, see Michigan Tech News.

Graduate Student Government Travel Grant Award Winners for Summer 2014

Travel Grants for Summer 2014 have been awarded. The full list of Graduate recipients can be seen at Travel Grant Results.

Travel grants are awards that help subsidize cost of attending and presenting at conferences. These awards are sponsored by the Graduate Student Government (GSG) and the Graduate School. For more information on Travel Grants, please see Graduate School Travel Grants.

Should you have any questions, contact the GSG Treasure–Jennifer Winnikus at jawiniku@mtu.edu.

ICAD 2014 ThinkTank (Doctoral Consortium) Scholars

PhD students Maryam Fakhr Hosseini and Steven Landry, both in the Mind Music Machine Lab, applied cognitive science and human factors graduate program, have been selected as ICAD 2014 ThinkTank (Doctoral Consortium) Scholars. They will present their research at a special pre-ICAD 2014 ThinkTank Symposium with leading scholars in the field of auditory display and sonification. The students will receive generous travel support for the conference from the National Science Foundation.

Houghton Held Chemistry for Thai Undergraduate Interns

Nattasak Sukkasam and Tapee Saowalakkul left hot, humid Bangkok, Thailand, in March for a two-month internship at Michigan Tech. They landed in Houghton in a snowstorm.

But their mentor, Parinya “Prince” Chakartnarodom, had prepared them, with snow survival tips—and coats and boots. Prince is a Michigan Tech alumnus and the Thai undergraduates’ materials engineering professor at Kasetsart University in Bangkok.

The interns were invited to Tech by Komar Kawatra, chair of chemical engineering. The idea for the exchange program arose when Jennifer Donovan, director of news and media relations at Michigan Tech, spent a month at Kasetsart University on a Fulbright specialist grant last November. She returned to Michigan Tech determined to help develop some exchanges between the Michigan and Thai universities. This was the first of what she hopes will be ongoing student and faculty exchanges.

Read the full news story.

Toward Smarter Underwater Drones

Nina Mahmoudian, second from right, and her team of student researchers on the Michigan Tech waterfront, prepare to launch their underwater drone, ROUGHIE, in Portage Lake.
With better brains, underwater drones would spend less time searching and more time finding what they’re looking for, including missing airliners believed lost at the bottom of the ocean.  If Michigan Tech’s Nina Mahmoudian has her way, the next generation of autonomous underwater vehicles will have a much better chance of getting it right.

The full story is available online.

Published in Tech Today by Marcia Goodrich, senior content specialist

Michigan Tech’s Industrial Research Gains Stature

Known for hands-on education and leading-edge research, Michigan Tech’s stature among institutions has earned another important distinction: its proportion of industry-sponsored research, compared to other schools in the state and nation.  According to National Science Foundation Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) data, Michigan Tech ranked second in the state among public institutions and is in the top 15 percent in the nation among 650-plus universities.

Why is this important?

“It means that, in addition to finding some of the next greatest discoveries, we do research that is relevant,” said Jim Baker, executive director of Innovation and Industry Engagement at Tech “And these same industry partners hire our graduates.”

Read the full news story.

Published in Tech Today by Dennis Walikainen, senior content specialist

Grad students co-authored research published in Scientific Reports

Graduate students Ankit Vora (ECE) and Jephias Gwamuri (EMSE) co-authored “Exchanging Ohmic Losses in Metamaterial Absorbers with Useful Optical Absorption for Photovoltaics, in Scientific Reports” with Anand Kulkarni, Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) and Durdu Güney (ECE). It is available online at Scientific Reports.

Published in Tech Today.

Michigan Tech Alumnus, Apps Turn Ordinary People into Hydrologists

Adam Ward’s got a lot of helping hands as he tries to determine stream and lake depths in Iowa. Through CrowdHydrology.org, anyone can read the water level off a ruler (more scientifically, stream stage off a staff gauge) and text the numbers to an online database.

The citizen scientists are helping researchers elsewhere, too—New York, Wisconsin, Utah and Michigan—and it’s all the brainchild of Ward’s colleague, Chris Lowry, an assistant professor in the Department of Geology at the University of Buffalo.

“With budget cuts proliferating, I had to figure out how to measure streams in a cheap fashion,” says Lowry. “I got a giant ruler, laminated a sign at Kinko’s and set up the first gauge using Google voicemail and help from the USGS for the texts. It worked.”

For the full news story, see CrowdHydrology.

Published in Tech Today by Dennis Walikainen, senior content specialist