Category Archives: Research

Meet Adam Augustyniak…

By Amy Karagiannakis

Adam(3)

Every summer, approximately 100 undergraduate and graduate students from top universities across the country become interns at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. MIT’s summer research program offers their interns the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a cutting-edge research environment. The application and selection process is extremely competitive. Participants contribute to projects in fields such as mechanical engineering, aeronautics, molecular biology, and many more. PHC student, Adam Augustyniak, was recently notified of his acceptance into MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory for this summer’s research internship program as part of the Mechanical Engineering Group. Adam will be working as an intern this summer at the lab in Lexington, MA. Just 14 miles from Boston and a short trek from New England’s beautiful seashore, mountains and Cape Cod, Adam will be able to spend some of his free time this summer enjoying the outdoors. As a paid student intern at Lincoln Laboratory, Adam will have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment to solve real-world technical problems. At the conclusion of the internship, students present the results of their research to national experts in the field.

AdamCleanRoom

Adam believes that it his curiosity and interest in learning that drove him to become an engineer. He is in his third year at Michigan Tech and is majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Adam is very involved in Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise. Michigan Tech Enterprises are student-driven, multidisciplinary teams that work like companies on real-world client projects. Adam currently serves as the Structures Systems Engineer for the Aerospace Enterprise. Current projects include the Stratus CubeSat, funded by NASA, and the Auris Microsatellite, funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory. In his student position, he is responsible for a team of 12 student structural engineers that design and test the structures of the satellites. Before acting as lead engineer for these two projects, Adam worked on the Oculus-ASR Microsatellite mission. This nanosatellite was designed and built by Aerospace Enterprise students for space situational awareness research. Oculus-ASR is due to launch sometime in the next couple months aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Following graduation in 2018, he plans to attend graduate school to further his knowledge in Aerospace Engineering.

AdamSnow

Adam is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and currently sits on the Pavlis Honors College Undergraduate Student Advisory Board. The USAB facilitates the engagement of undergraduate students in the improvement of their living and learning environments by working closely with the College administration, with student organizations and groups and with University and College offices to identify and implement solutions to critical problems. The PHC Board is a self-directed, collaborative body designed for discussion and raising awareness of key issues. In addition to Adam’s involvement on campus, he has also held internship positions with BACA Systems and Fiat Chrysler while working over the summer in 2015 and 2016. As the supervisor to the base tradesmen at the Fiat Chrysler Warren Truck Assembly Plant, Adam was pushed out of his comfort zone to lead people twice his age. This experience helped him grow as a leader and as an engineer.

What motivates Adam, is the desire to become the best possible version of himself. If he is not constantly working to improve himself, he cannot be satisfied with where he is in life. “I must always strive for self-improvement when it comes to academics, physical activity, and any other aspects to life. The Pavlis Honors College nicely compliments my engineering education. Through reflection, I have been able to determine what I want and do not want to do with my career,” Adam shared. Similar to most students at Michigan Tech, Adam enjoys spending his free time outdoors. He spent some time backpacking and hiking the trails of Isle Royale National Park.

Adam(2)


Meet Karin Wolken…

By Amy Karagiannakis

Karin3

Karin Wolken believes that research is vitally important to understanding the altering circumstances Earth continues to undergo. She is honing her data analysis skills as she works on a project concerning the fate of carbon in forest residues, a study that could have implications for carbon cycling and climate change. Karin began working as a research assistant in the Forest Biometrics Lab shortly after beginning her education at Tech in 2014. A Forestry major, on par to graduate in just three years, her current project work involves assessing the fate of carbon present in logging residues. During the summer between her first and second year Karin worked as a crew leader in the field collecting samples from red pine and aspen all over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Since Fall 2015, Karin has been diligently working through processing the collected samples and analyzing and managing the data. Potentially, logging residues could be used as a source of biofuel, a prospect that would have significant impact on the energy industry. Karin presented her team’s findings at the Society of American Foresters National Convention in Madison, WI last fall. The time and commitment Karin has put into this research project has strengthened her ability to lead a team, as well as improved her communication skills, prowess that she will certainly use in future work.

Karin4

Karin lived in Seattle her entire life and came to Michigan Tech to experience something completely different from the urban Northwestern bubble she grew up in. The rugged, unlandscaped Upper Peninsula of Michigan seemed like a drastic but welcome change from the temperate rainforests of Northwestern Washington. Karin’s love of the outdoors and the hope that one day her research may contribute to reversing the effects of climate change is what drew her to Forestry.

“I want to be part of something that can help draw the line between coexisting and overusing the world around us. I want to explore what we don’t understand and help get the necessary information to not only survive in our changing world, but thrive.”

Shifting from recreationally enjoying the large trees of the Pacific Northwest to studying the fate of logging residues in the stands of UP forests seemed like a natural transition for Karin. Outside of what she does academically, Karin enjoys knitting, cooking and visiting the Copper Country Humane Society. Karin is currently playing flute in the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra and tries to spend as much time enjoying the outdoors as she can.

1973548_4028939258409_1781407452_o

Being involved with the Pavlis Honors College has given Karin the opportunity to meet and work with people across departments and disciplines. Her focus is in forestry research, but the Honors College has allowed her to branch out and collaborate with similarly driven people of various majors and interests.

Karin’s Honors project is to improve the Forestry Learning Center (FLC) at Michigan Tech by shifting to a more peer-focused learning platform. The center, in comparison with other learning centers on campus, has lacked the proper attention, funding and support. Karin believes that peer tutoring is extremely effective to learning and understanding. An acting tutor herself, Karin coordinates the current tutoring system at the FLC and focuses on one-on-one and group sessions. Her goal is to identify ways for the center to become more effective in helping SFRES students and implement these practices for future undergraduate classes.


Meet Randy Wilharm…

RandyWilharm

By Amy Karaginannakis

Randy came from the suburbs of Chicago to Tech in the Fall of 2013. He was excited to move someplace different from the urban home he had grown accustomed to and looked forward to new experiences in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. His love of music led him to join the Superior Wind Symphony and the Michigan Tech Pep Band shortly after arriving to campus. Randy plays the clarinet and will graduate Tech this coming Spring with a Major in Chemistry and a Minor in Music. He spoke fondly of his time at Tech, but most memorably enjoys attending the hockey games. In addition to Randy’s passion for new experiences, it was Tech’s reputation as a cutting-edge research university that drew him to the Keweenaw.

wilharmAs a Research Pathway student in the Pavlis Honors College, Randy has been involved in various research projects across campus. During his second year on campus he conducted research with Dr. Bruce Lee and contributed to the article, “Modulating the movement of hydrogel actuator based on catechol-iron ion coordination chemistry” in the scientific journal, Sensors and Actuators B. Over this past summer, Randy worked alongside Dr. Rudy Luck, an Associate Professor for the Department of Chemistry, here at Tech. This experience served as Randy’s Immersion that would fulfill one of the key components of his Honors education. While working in the lab over the summer, Randy synthesized and tested different complexes to learn their properties and determine potential uses. Randy is currently working to produce a catalyst that will improve the process of electrolysis. The process is currently very energy intensive and the complexes him and his fellow researchers are working with may allow electrolysis to occur with just UV light. Randy continues to forge his legacy on campus and beyond.

 

1064226_10203173494759398_713905516_oRandy is always up for a challenge and has never been satisfied with just fulfilling the minimum requirements. That’s part of the reason he decided to apply to the Pavlis Honors College. Always motivated to be his best, no matter what the task, Randy does not accept mediocrity in his daily life. He also enjoys engaging in service projects that afford him the opportunity to help others. He continues to donate his time to service projects in the local community and travels to Florida for his Spring Break every year with Cru, a national Christian community of college students.

 

12719197_10153556594761365_8902995734081003632_oRandy wants to do something no one has ever done before and believes that should be the goal of every scientist. The Pavlis Honors College has fueled his passion for learning and continues to prepare him for graduate school and life after graduation. When asked about his experiences in the Honors College, Randy reflected, “The PHC has pushed me that extra step beyond my classwork to clarify and work to achieve my goals as an independent person. Because of this, I feel more confident and prepared to enter the world after college.” Following graduation this Spring from Michigan Tech, Randy plans to attend graduate school to pursue a PhD in Chemistry.