Category Archives: News

Professor Emeritus Duane Thayer Dies at 81

IMG_3514_3dArticle by Mark Wilcox

Michigan Tech Professor Emeritus Duane “Dewey” Thayer, a professor remembered by colleagues and alumni for his devotion to his students, has passed away. He died unexpectedly Friday at Dickinson County Memorial Hospital in Iron Mountain of an apparent heart attack. He was 81.

A native of Kingsford, Thayer came to Michigan Tech for a year, left and served in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years and was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant.

Following his service, he returned to Tech where he earned bachelor’s, ’59, and master’s, ’62, degrees in metallurgical engineering.

He spent his career at his alma mater and retired from Tech as a professor of Materials Sciences and Engineering in January of 1997 and became an emeritus professor in the fall of that year. He was inducted into the Department of Materials Science and Engineering Academy in 2008.

Stephen Kampe, chair of Materials Science and Engineering, called Thayer, “one of a kind.”

“He had a large personality in the classroom,” Kampe said. “With a style and humor that was very memorable and the subject of considerable lore among his students. To many, Dewey Thayer exemplified the Michigan Tech of his era.”

Kampe said colleagues enjoyed the sincerity of his friendship and the wisdom that he freely shared. “He will be missed,” Kampe said.

Komar Kawatra, chair of chemical engineering has fond memories of his long-time friend and colleague.

“Duane Thayer was one of the most unforgettable people I have met,” Kawatra said. He said Thayer cultivated an image of taking no nonsense and settling for nothing but the best from his students, but in reality he cared deeply about them and made them the focus of his life.

“He would give them money, food, advice, job leads and references and anything else they needed,” Kawatra said. “He was affectionately known by the students as ‘Dewey.’ Even years after graduating, our alumni still talk about him as one of the professors who had the greatest impact on their lives.”

One of those former students is Mike Gregory, ’69, a vice president at North American Coal. More than four and a half decades after his time at Tech, Gregory has vivid memories of the man who made a deep impact on his education, his career and his life.

“Dewey, was a hard-charging man, a task master who expected a lot out of his students. He expected us to perform, but treated us fairly, and that’s all you can really ask for.”

Gregory said, in addition to being an outstanding educator, Thayer was a forward thinker. “What most people don’t realize is that Dewey was way ahead of environmentalists. It was the 1960s, and he posed metal recycling concepts to his students, long before they became part of the conversation.”

Thayer’s impact was so significant on Gregory that in 1993, he and fellow alumni Ken Brunk, ’69 and Jim Graham, ’70, established a scholarship named in Thayer’s honor for students majoring in the earth science and resource engineering curriculum with a focus of study in mineral processing.

In addition to being an educator, Thayer was an innovator and engineer, serving as an international consultant in mineral processing and extractive metallurgy.

He was active in the Copper Country community serving on the Quincy Mine Hoist Association Board of Directors, the Society of Mining Engineers, the American Legion and the Vets Club.

His survivors include his wife Mary, and daughters Cecile Cloutier, Martha Thayer, Mary Hoffman, Therese Hunwick and Susan Liebau, who is director of Michigan Tech’s Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success.

Private funeral services will be held Saturday followed by a public wake from 4-6 p.m. at the Douglass House in downtown Houghton.

The family suggests memorial gifts be made to the Michigan Tech Fund, directed to the Duane Thayer Honorary Endowed Scholarship or to the Salvation Army. A complete obituary can be found at the O’Neill-Dennis Funeral Home’s website.

Michigan Tech wins Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) grant

The Ford Motor Co. fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Co., is awarding $250,000 in Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) grants for student-led projects.

The program is in its eighth year of supporting sustainable efforts to address urgent community needs focused on “Building Sustainable Communities.”

Ford C3 winners are required to present proposals for sustainable projects with significant student input, involvement and leadership. Water conservation, renewable energy, urban gardening, recycling and mobility are among the proposals submitted by these creative teams of students. Each of the winning projects will receive a $25,000 grant to support their project.

Michigan Technological University: Plastic Recycling to 3D Printer Filament. The MTU team will work with the local community to incorporate a wider variety of plastics into recycled filament, and upgrade machinery to use this recycled product to produce the filament. See the article “A Call to Change Recycling Standards as 3-D Printing Expands

Michigan State University, University of Michigan,a and Wayne State University won for other projecs.
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MSE News Briefs


Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) co-authored “Photovoltaic System Performance Enhancement With Nontracking Planar Concentrators: Experimental Results and Bidirectional Reflectance Function (BDRF)-Based Modeling” published in the IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics.
Graduate students Negin Heidari (ECE) and Jephias Gwamuri (MSE) co-authored a paper with Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) titled “Impact of Snow and Ground Interference on Photovoltaic Electric System Performance,” published in the IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) co-authored “Feeding Everyone: Solving the Food Crisis in Event of Global Catastrophes that Kill Crops or Obscure the Sun” in the journal Futures. Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) was interviewed for CBC in October on feeding everyone in the event of catastrophe. Pearce’s research in low concentration solar photovoltaic technology was also covered widely by the international media including the Epoch Times and the EE Times in Europe and India.

Research on distributed manufacturing with 3D printers in isolated communities co-authored by undergraduate mechanical engineering student Nick Anzalone and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE), was quoted extensively in Vedomosti (Ведомости, translated literally “The Record”), the largest Russian financial newspaper.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) gave a plenary presentation “Making Open Hardware the New Standard in Science” at the 2015 Open Hardware Summit, Saturday in Philadelphia. The summit was sponsored by the Open Source Hardware Association.

Graduate students Tony Pinar (ECE) and Bas Wijnen (MSE) collaborated with Jerry Anzalone (MSE), Tim Havens(ECE), Paul Sanders (MSE) and Joshua. Pearce (MSE) on a paper titled: Low-cost Open-Source Voltage and Current Monitor for Gas Metal Arc Weld 3-D Printing published in the Journal of Sensors.

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MSE Team wins Michigan Tech Design Expo

The “Aluminum Corrosion Study—Automotive Electrical Systems” team placed first for Senior Design in the annual Michigan Tech Design Expo.

Aluminum Corrosion Study Team Members: Annie LeSage, Jacob Gerdt, Kyle Myszka,and Alexandra Glover, Materials Science and Engineering
Advisor: Steve Kampe, Materials Science and Engineering
Sponsor: Yazaki North America

Aluminum Corrosion Study Team Members: Annie LeSage, Jacob Gerdt, Kyle Myszka,and Alexandra Glover, Materials Science and Engineering
Aluminum Corrosion Study Team Members: Annie LeSage, Jacob Gerdt, Kyle Myszka,and Alexandra Glover, Materials Science and Engineering

Project Overview:
The switch from copper to aluminum in automotive electrical systems is advantageous to U.S automakers and automotive component suppliers because it has the potential to decrease vehicle weight and raw materials costs. This switch also poses several challenges. This senior design project characterizes the galvanic corrosion rate of an aluminum substrate with a metallic plating when exposed to an electrolytic solution. This mimics the exposure of electrical components to a fluid containing salts or automotive chemicals. The results of this testing are critical to the success of the copper-to-aluminum substitution in automotive electrical systems. This is because they inform automotive component designers about the expected lifetime of such systems when exposed to a corrosive environment.

Video Clip about the Aluminum Corrosion Study

Aluminum Corrosion Study Team at Design Expo
Aluminum Corrosion Study Team at Design Expo

2015 Design Expo Image Contest Entries

Congratulations to MSE senior design team members Jordan Pontoni, Calvin Nitz, Shane Anderson and Austin DePottey for their first place image of a team member at work in the foundry. The image illustrates the team’s project, Casting 357 Aluminum, sponsored by Eck Industries. The team’s advisor is MSE engineer/scientist Thomas Wood.
Team 150, Title: “E357 Alloying to Increase Elongation and Maintain Mechanical Properties”, the foundry shot.

MSE senior design team members Jordan Pontoni, Calvin Nitz, Shane Anderson and Austin DePottey for their first place image of a team member at work in the foundry.
MSE senior design team members Jordan Pontoni, Calvin Nitz, Shane Anderson and Austin DePottey for their first place image of a team member at work in the foundry.

2015 Design Expo Summary Report

Paul Sanders presented with an Outstanding Faculty Award

sandersPaul Sanders was presented with an Outstanding Faculty Award on Sunday, about 250 students gathered for the 9th Annual Greek Life Awards Ceremony in the MUB Ballroom. In addition to the many student awards presented, Order of Omega, the Greek Life Honor Society that coordinates the awards, also took the time to recognize some exceptional faculty and staff.
There are more than 500 students in fraternities and sororities at Michigan Tech, and Order of Omega really wanted to emphasize that these awards (Outstanding Faculty Award and Outstanding Staff Award) would be coming directly from the students.
Link to Tech Today article