Meet Neffertia Tyner…

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Neffertia Tyner (second from the right) is a student staff assistant for the Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

 

By Amy Karagiannakis

Neffertia Tyner transferred to Michigan Tech in 2014 from Wayne County Community College in Detroit, MI. She grew up in Detroit and identifies as an “inner-city kid.” Maybe not how some would perceive an inner-city kid though. Unfortunately, for many people the phrase inner-city kid brings to mind negative stereotypes. Neffertia wants to change the way people think, “I see inner-city kids as ambitious, head-strong and courageous. We should not be ashamed or embarrassed of where we came from or how we grew up.”

Neffertia is a Psychology major and is planning to graduate in the Fall of 2017. As a Custom Pathways student in the Pavlis Honors College, Neffertia has chosen to focus on service. She volunteers at Dial Help which she believes complements her minor in Diversity Studies. Dial Help is a crisis and helpline service that provides immediate assistance over the phone or via text that attempts to relieve the stress that a caller might be experiencing from a crisis or critical situation. Neffertia receives calls from a diverse number of community members that vary in age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, culture and socioeconomic background while volunteering at Dial Help. Being exposed to such a diverse group of individuals has helped her to better understand the issues and problems that face people that are different from her.

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DSC_0108DSC_0135Working as a student staff assistant for the Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion has inspired Neffertia to stand up for social justice within the campus community and beyond. Following the results of the presidential election, many on campus, particularly members of underrepresented communities, were feeling confused, hopeless and even scared. Within a week, Neffertia organized a silent march through campus and into town that was meant to offer support, comfort, and reassurance to those that needed it. Several hundred students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered at the Husky statue on the evening of Wednesday, November 16th to march together in solidarity to demonstrate that we will not accept hate on our campus or in our community.

Neffertia participated last April in an event organized by the new student organization, SAVE which stands for Sexual Assault and Violence Education. The purpose of this new student org is to raise awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence. Neffertia along with other volunteers, drove around campus in the SAVE “Cash” Cart giving away prizes such as brownies and candy to help raise awareness about the resources Tech and our community have for sexual assault victims. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The “It’s On Us” initiative took root in 2014 and has been gaining momentum across college campuses nationwide. The campaign is dedicated to making a concerted effort to raise awareness and put an end to campus sexual assault.

 

20161014_095322Neffertia is a Big Sister for the UP KIDS Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. This nonprofit organization matches children with caring adults in the Keweenaw who encourage them to reach their full potential. Many children involved in the program are already facing adversity in their very young lives. Big Brothers and Big Sisters provide support, friendship, and guidance to a child that may otherwise be lacking a strong role model in their lives. Neffertia has been with her Little for a year now and believes that having a role model that shares similar interests is important. “My Little and I talk about our aspirations in life and the issues we are going through. More importantly, we always support each other.”

This past summer Neffertia worked as an Activity Counselor for the Michigan Tech Summer Youth Program (SYP). She worked closely with the student participants engaging them in STEM-related activities and other camp events. Neffertia’s work with the CDI, Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success, and the SYP along with her volunteer work has culminated into a growing interest in working with young people and providing them with the guidance and support they need to succeed. Whether this interest leads to a career in higher education or working with at-risk youths in Detroit area high schools, Neffertia is passionate about helping others reach their full potential. “We should not try to prove to others that we are not a stereotype, but strive to prove to ourselves that we are perfectly capable of being successful. We should work towards empowering and supporting one another. While I am standing on my pedestal of success, I am going to turn around, reach out my hand, and welcome the next in line to join me. Then I want them to turn around, reach their hand out, and welcome another inner-city kid to join us.” Neffertia Tyner is redefining what it means to be an “inner-city kid.” 

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Meet Shelby Marter…

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By Amy Karagiannakis

Shelby is passionate about breaking down complex ideas for a variety of audiences to understand. “I like being the necessary ‘middle-man’ between technically-minded people and everyday folks,” explains Shelby. She knows that communication, problem solving and creativity all play an important role in being able to accomplish this successfully, which is why she became interested in technical communication at Tech.

Hailing from a small farming community in Pinconning, MI, Shelby is now in the fourth year of her BS in Scientific and Technical Communication. As she prepares for graduation and the next chapter of her life, she reflects back on her experiences here in the Keweenaw as well as her travels.

“As I look for a career, I’ve realized how important travel is to me; I really want to incorporate it into a future profession, and I think the Pavlis Institute helped push me in the right direction.”

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Shelby, along with five other Tech students, traveled to Malta last summer with the Pavlis Institute for Global Technological Leadership to carry out human-centered design projects with local community organizations and individuals. Through her team’s work, a research team from the University of Malta was able to connect with Michigan Tech students over solar water desalination units and their potential use in other Pavlis Institute project sites.

While in Malta, Shelby also worked with a local startup 3D printing company called Thought3D to develop a social media marketing plan as well as promotional ideas to help increase visibility throughout the community about their new product, Magigoo.

MagigooThis is similar to what Marter is now working on through her current technical writing internship for the Center for Technology and Training (CTT) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering here at Michigan Tech. Roadsoft, a GIS-based transportation-infrastructure mapping software, is used by local agencies and road commissions to collect, store and analyze data. Shelby works with civil engineers, software developers, and a team of technical writers to deliver this software product & make sure that documentation and tutorials meet the needs of their customers. Through strategic marketing, promotional material production, and logo design, Shelby is putting her technical writing and communication skills to work before graduation.

27115281955_6cdd78ba86_hShelby has been the Business Analyst of the ITOxygen (ITO) Enterprise since Fall 2016. Housed within the Pavlis Honors College, Enterprise is student-driven, multidisciplinary teams that work like companies on real-world client projects, whether the deliverable is an innovative product, a pioneering solution, or a much-needed service. The hallmark of the Enterprise Program is the experiential education it provides to students. Currently, Shelby is working with her ITO team and the Work Life Committee at Michigan Tech to create a “Snow Day” app that will connect Michigan Tech faculty with local babysitters in the event that schools close due to snow. As the Business Analyst, Marter acts as the “bridge” between technical experts and the clients to make sure that the solutions ITOXygen develop truly help meet the client’s need.

In addition to her academic commitments, Shelby also works and volunteers in the community. Thanks to Shelby’s work with Canterbury House Campus Ministry, they won a United Thank Offering (UTO) grant from the Episcopal Church to further develop the organization’s English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring program. Through her volunteer work at the Michigan Tech Multiliteracies Center as a writing coach, Shelby was able to help students prepare essays, presentations and other writing materials by providing supportive feedback. “This experience really helped me develop stronger editing skills, as well as learning how to deliver critical feedback to people who might be sensitive about my response.”

After Shelby’s five-week immersion experience in Malta with the Pavlis Institute came to an end, she spent an additional 7 weeks backpacking across Northern Europe exploring Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. Shelby spent many sleepless nights on trains and buses navigating unfamiliar places and meeting new people. She stayed at Airbnbs and hostels which she found to be a very rewarding way to interact with locals and to learn insights about historic places that you can’t get from a guidebook.

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“It wasn’t really a vacation but traveling with a purpose; I was challenging myself to learn, absorb, and experience. The most important takeaway was that I became comfortable being uncomfortable,” reflected Shelby.

PorcupineIMG_1627While in the Keweenaw, Shelby enjoys running, hiking, watercolor painting, cheering on the Huskies at hockey games, and exploring the natural beauty of the U.P. Some of her favorite spots around the area include Bare Bluffs, Montreal Falls, and Redridge Dam.

Shelby was one of two students who traveled with Dean Meadows this past weekend to meet with PHC benefactor, Frank Pavlis in person. Dean Meadows, along with Shelby and Brad Turner paid a visit to Mr. Pavlis’ home in Allentown, PA.

 

 


Find Your Community, Follow Your Passion

By Kari B. Henquinet

When I was in college, I knew I wanted to make an impact somehow to address poverty in the world. I never imagined I would one day be a university faculty member or have a Ph.D. in anthropology. Now looking back, the path I took makes sense. But sometimes we can’t yet see the big picture, and step-by-step we try to follow our hearts mixed with a hardy helping of advice and support from those who have gone before us.

IMG_1929About 21 years ago, you could find me in a small town just outside of Arua, Uganda (East Africa) living in a mud hut with no electricity and learning to carry water on my head from the community bore hole. On one of my first trips to collect water there, I tried to engage in conversation with some of the young women I walked with. “Do you like school?” I asked. No response. “Are you in school?” I asked. No answer. Awkward moment. I smiled and kept walking, wondering what just happened. Later as I learned more, I realized that they had understood and responded to my questions, but I had failed to recognize the “yes,” which was communicated with raised eyebrows in this culture.

For six months of my senior year, I lived in this community with a Ugandan family, interned at a primary health care program, and conducted anthropological research for my senior project on health beliefs and practices in rural households in the area. This was a huge stretch for a girl who had grown up in a comfortable, largely white middle class suburb of Chicago. As you might imagine, my stint in Uganda was a life changing experience. I learned in ways that would have never been possible in a classroom environment or in my home society. I had been taking classes for three years at Wheaton College focused on international development, poverty, cultures, and health. Outside of the classroom in Uganda, though, I learned with my whole person, not just my head. Through many moments of frustration, I eventually accepted that I was going to be like an infant for a while, who did not know how to do the most basic things in life like communicate! I messed up a lot. I got sick sometimes. But I also laughed a lot (many times at myself!). I gained a lot of humility and confidence at the same time. I made some incredible friends in Uganda and was impacted by communal values of hospitality, respect, and cooperation that I carry with me to this day. I learned a lot about myself and the world through this experience.IMG_1930

At my undergraduate institution, I was part of a learning community called the Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) Program that was in addition to my major. This program required me to write regular reflections on what I was learning and to conduct research while abroad. It was this combination of building a community of scholars, diving into total cultural immersion, and doing reflection and research around my major fields of study (anthropology and biology) that made this experience so impactful and my learning go deeper than it ever had before. I carried the model of immersive experience and reflection with me as I went on to work as an international development professional in Niger (West Africa) and later conducted research in Niger through cultural immersion for my Ph.D.

I know from my own life that the model of building a community of scholars, immersive experience, reflection, and carrying out research or projects in one’s major field are powerful. But I am not alone. The Association of American Colleges and Universities researchers have identified a set of now widely recognized high impact educational practices that have been demonstrated to increase student retention and engagement as well as correlate with deep learning. Among them are: diversity and global learning, service learning, community-based learning, internships, capstone projects, undergraduate research, and learning communities. These practices are central to the Pavlis Honors College curricula. You can find your community here and stretch yourself in new directions. Our honors communities can be that support you seek to follow your heart and develop your passions into a fulfilling and impactful career path.

 

 


The DHS HS-STEM Summer Internship Program

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sanpakit-tnThe Department of Homeland Security sponsors a 10-week summer internship for students majoring in homeland security related science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

The program provides students with quality research experiences at federal research facilities located across the country and allows students the opportunity to establish connections with DHS professionals. The ultimate goals of the program are to engage a diverse, educated and skilled pool of scientists and engineers in HS-STEM areas and to promote long-term relationships between students, researchers, DHS and research facilities to enhance the HS-STEM workforce.

Undergraduate students receive a $6000 stipend plus travel expenses and graduate students receive $7000 plus travel expenses.

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) administers this program through an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ORISE is managed by ORAU for DOE. ORISE will be responsible for the application and review process, notification and implementation of the program. Deadline to apply is December 7th, 2016.


“He Named me Malala” Film Screening

In recognition of International Education Week, Michigan Tech is screening the critically acclaimed documentary, “He Named me Malala,” at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11 in Fisher 135. A reflection discussion will follow the film. Admission is free.

The film is an intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. She miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund.

The event is sponsored by Michigan Tech Provost Office, International Programs and Services and Michigan Tech Film Board.

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Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows Program

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The Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows program is a competitive five week long summer leadership program that takes place just outside of Washington, D.C. at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The program offers a small, select group of rising college juniors unparalleled opportunities in the nation’s capital and on the famous estate of the first President of the United States. The program is fully funded and offers a $500 weekly stipend plus room, board and transportation expenses. During your five week fellowship you will engage in dynamic leadership education curriculum, interact with nationally recognized corporate, government, and military leaders in the nation’s capital, and discover how to change the world through self-reflection, exciting experiential activities, and a community service-focused capstone project.

Apply today and take advantage of this amazing opportunity to develop a network of professional contacts and become a lifelong member of an engaged community of fellowship alumni. This year’s program runs from June 4th, 2017 – July 14th, 2017. Please visit the application site for more information and deadlines.


DOE Scholars Internship Program

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Scholars Program offers unique opportunities that introduce students or post-graduates to the agency’s mission and operations. Participants in the DOE Scholars Program gain a competitive edge as they apply their education, talent and skills in a variety of scientific research settings within the DOE complex.

Areas of focus may include energy security, nuclear security, scientific discovery and innovation, environmental responsibility, and management excellence.

Applications are open through December 15th, 2016. Students from all academic levels of study are encouraged to apply. Click here to learn more and apply.

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Society of Women Engineers Team Shines at WE16

By Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Michigan Tech’s Blue Marble Security (BMS) Enterprise team CAT/SWE took first place in the WE16 Team Tech Competition (sponsored by Boeing) in Philadelphia over the weekend. Members of the Blue Marble Security team include: Ester Buhl, Sandra Cvetanovic, Cody Kovar, Johnathan Boik, Andrew Tallman, Alex Gall, Alexis Dani and Eman Jazayeri.

The team’s project “Wheel Tractor Scraper Bowl Optimization System,” a joint venture between BMS and Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise, was sponsored by Caterpillar, Inc. The Consumer Product Manufacturing team members include: Anna Marchesano, Brianne Anderson, Johnathan Quinn, Jennifer Dzurka and Harley Colburn.

Blue Marble Security is a virtual company of undergraduate students focused on securing the future through thoughtful use of technology. The student-led company combines a rich educational experience in engineering design, team building, project management and original product development.

Blue Marble Security’s win wasn’t the only good news for Tech at the conference. Elizabeth (Cloos) Dreyer, BSEE 2011, was selected SWE Outstanding Collegiate Member for outstanding contribution to SWE, the engineering community and their campus. Dreyer is an electrical engineering PhD candidate at the University of Michigan.

WE16 is the world’s largest conference and career fair for women in engineering and technology. Hosted by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a number of corporate sponsors, WE16 provides inspiring and invaluable ways to connect, discover career opportunities and pursue professional development.


Michigan Tech Students to Compete in the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition

AccelerateMichiganphotoThe Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is one of the largest business competitions in the country celebrating its seventh year highlighting the best and brightest early-stage business to regional investors. The competition continues to showcase the state as a powerhouse for business opportunity and the next generation of technology.

Paul Jacques, Director of Community and Student Engagement at Spartan Innovations said, “Student Accelerate is an incredible opportunity for Michigan’s young entrepreneurs to step out and take risks. Today’s semi-finalists come from colleges and universities all across Michigan and represent the top student-based startup ideas. I’m honored to announce our 2016 Student Accelerate Michigan Class.”

Seventy student companies applied to compete in this year’s competition from universities across Michigan including Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Northwestern Michigan College, Northwood University, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Western Michigan University.

Out of the 27 semi-finalists that were selected to compete for up to $20,000 in cash prizes, two of the teams were from Michigan Tech and both have ties to the Pavlis Honors College. Kyle Ludwig, a University Innovation Fellow and PHC Custom Pathway student, is a member of the team of student founders for Tru, which is developing tools to enable healthy meal planning. Emmet Eurich is a member of Vacu-Shot which is developing archery technology suitable for disabled people and safer for everyone. Emmet and team member Sankalp Benwa are both members of the Consumer Products Manufacturing Enterprise.

The competition will take place in Detroit, MI this Thursday. We wish Kyle, Emmet and Sankalp the best of luck this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for live updates throughout the day.


Meet Aaron Dean…

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Aaron, a third-year Mechanical Engineering major, spends most of his free time supporting the Railroad Engineering & Activities Club (REAC), the Michigan Tech Student chapter of the American Railway Engineering & Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA). An active member of REAC and newly elected 2016-17 President, Aaron has visited numerous rail industry sites and volunteers locally at the Quincy Mine & Hoist Association (QMHA) and the Houghton County Historical Society.

REAC trip to Union Pacific Railroad Headquarters in Omaha, NE
REAC trip to Union Pacific Railroad Headquarters in Omaha, NE
Volunteering at QMHA Cog Railway
Aaron volunteering at the Quincy Mine Hoist Association (QMHA) Cog Railway

It was through his participation in REAC, that Aaron came to be hired as an undergraduate research and administrative assistant for the Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program (RTP). His interest in research allowed Aaron to shift from administrative tasks to research activities in a new area related to driver behavior at highway-rail grade crossings. Aaron’s work with the RTP has had a great influence on their ability to advance that research area from an internally funded initiative to an externally funded project by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Aaron’s initial work focused on reducing data from the Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study (SHRP2 NDS) through a Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI) minor initiative. Just last summer, he received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) to investigate the use of automated head rotation data as an indicator of driver behavior at railroad grade crossings, and his results are showing great promise for the approach. Aaron attended the AREMA conference in Orlando, FL this past August, and won best undergraduate student poster. Following this success and the growing interest in his work, Aaron was invited to present at the 2017 Joint Rail Conference in Philadelphia this coming April and is busy preparing for the opportunity.

AREMA 2016 Conference Orlando FL
AREMA Conference 2016 in Orlando, FL

Aaron was recently selected as a DeVlieg Foundation Fellow for the Undergraduate Research Internship Program (URIP) through the Pavlis Honors College. This will allow for continued research and could potentially lead to published works in a notable transportation journal. Aaron’s URIP mentor, Pasi Lautala, Director of the RTP and an Assistant Professor for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, shared, “Aaron Dean got involved in our highway-rail grade crossing research almost immediately after we hired him as an undergraduate assistant for the Rail Transportation Program (RTP). He quickly became our leading student researcher. With his help, we were able to secure a small internal grant from the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI) which also led to Aaron’s successful proposal for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). It was due to his work that we were able to write a successful proposal for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a two year study. Aaron is truly a role model for our other students in taking a task and making it his own, and the results are evident from the awards he’s already received.”

Lake Superior FishingAaron is also an active member and Public Relations Manager for the Michigan Tech Men’s Basketball Club. His team travels all over the Midwest to play in tournaments with other club teams from other universities. In his spare time, he also enjoys hunting, fishing and playing the guitar.

Aaron competing with the Michigan Tech Basketball Club in the Bucky Classic Tournament at the University of Wisconsin - Madison
Aaron competing with the Michigan Tech Basketball Club in the Bucky Classic Tournament at the University of Wisconsin – Madison