Things I Learned at Michigan Tech

A thread on Facebook allowed Michigan Tech Alumni to share nuggets of wisdom acquired in the Copper Country. Below are some of those responses. Add yours in the comments below!


Nerds rule … Numbers don’t lie … “Because research has proven it” is an acceptable answer … People with toolboxes have a lot of acquaintances … Make friends with the people with the keys … Euchre is an art form … Invest in quality jumper cables. 
—Jerry Myers

Snowbanks at the end of your driveway somehow become magnetic, and will suck cars into them … Hiking boots are always in fashion. So is flannel … It is possible to walk uphill, both ways, to school.
—Carla Martinek

Brooms are meant to be clipped, taped, and used on ice.
—Rebecca Miner

F=MA … Physics is fun … You can’t push a rope.
—Brian Hobbs

Chemistry says if you soak the rope and freeze it, you can push it just fine.
—James Learman

Keep a snow shovel in the car at all times.
—Megan Kreiger

“It depends” is a legitimate answer for many engineering questions (courtesy of Jim De Clerck).
—Ross Hogan

Anyone with a Michigan Tech sticker on their car is a friend I have not yet met … Pizza and a beer is always an acceptable dinner choice … Chili is good over rice.
—Caryn Turrel

Taco Bell tastes better when you drive 100 miles for it.
—David Wressell

“Pank” is a real word.
—Jim Desrochers

Floormats make great traction aid devices … Always supervise friends “borrowing” your garage and insist on the use of jackstands.
—Alicia Steele

Cafeteria trays are actually sleds.
—Robin Book

When shoveling, throw snow back as far as you can in the beginning of the season.
—Tanya Bedore


61 Comments on "Things I Learned at Michigan Tech"

  • Michael Ward
    September 15, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    You can drive a motorcycle around Houghton as long as you’ve got a snowsuit on.

  • Bob Burgin
    September 15, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    In the U.P. you don’t cut firewood, you go out into the bush and make wood. And, Physics is spelled Phun !!

  • Ed foy
    September 15, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    while engineers think business school grads are failed engineers or hockey players, the truth is you always come to the finance/tax guys in the end.
    Ed, CPA, class of 1975

  • Bharath Sadashivaiah
    September 15, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    When someone asks if i CST or EST? I follow Tech time….

  • Michael Cleveland
    September 15, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    Snow banks are your friend……. when the roads are slippery or you are going too fast. Then a friend with a truck and toe strap become your friend.

  • Loree Kalliainen
    September 15, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Pizza delivered to the ROTC while studying for finals tasted even better. It was a miracle if snow melted before the end of May. Engineers don’t tend to sabotage pre-meds’ chem projects.

  • Ray Manning
    September 15, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Though I did not realize it at the time, I finally learned that MTU gave me a SUPER FUNDAMENTAL grasp of engineering principles that could take me a long way.
    Later, at UCLA for a PhD, I realized how well prepared that I was.
    We ended up building satellites to monitor the earth’s environment. (NASA’s EOS Aqua and EOS Aura satellites)
    What MTU and my own experience DID NOT prepare me for was how I fit into the overall picture of building satellites (or automobiles or buildings or ag equipment or robotics or etc).
    I was shy. That was my mistake. So to younger students, don’t be shy! Ask questions, try to see the bigger picture, try to see where you can contribute, try to see where you fit it. It will pay HUGE rewards in the future!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Regin Johnson
    September 15, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    You can’t be a geek without a “double E”

    There’s no such thing as a free lunch, “except one time, in the summer of ’83…”

  • Bob Gilreath
    September 15, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Had a professor that was going to teach us that “MTU was more than Hockey” So he scheduled an exam on purpose the Friday Morning of the 1981 NCAA Hockey Finals in Duluth.

    So what I and 5 others learned, is its very exhausting to drive to Duluth for the semi finals on Thursday, Drive all night back to Houghton for his 8 AM Exam and then drive back To Duluth to See Tech defeat NMU 5-2 in the Third place game.

    Go Huskies!

  • Tony Williams
    September 15, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    You learn what a Yooper Scooper is.

    BSEE class of 1986

  • Roger Harris
    September 15, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    A sauna is a great cure for a hangover.
    You should not do Bob sledding while naked.
    Studded snow tires were a gift from Heikki Lunta
    The worlds BEST friends come from MTU

  • Jack Dick
    September 15, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Two pickled eggs downed with a beer is a preferred post study snack.

  • Richard Strahl
    September 15, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Don’t drive down the Agate Street hill in winter unless you want to end up going backwards.
    Don’t fall asleep or come in late to one of Metallurgy Professor Gilly Boyd’s classes.
    Marry a coed.

  • Rick Williams
    September 15, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Parties at the Bogue House after Saturday night hockey games were great.

  • Kenneth G Hafeli
    September 15, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    I learned that Natural Resource History was not a major field for too long. I made the switch from Forestry in September 1975 but after a year I was still the only person in the program. Stayed with History and ended up with a 39 year career with the National Archives. Now I just have to figure out why my website is not a valid URL.

  • Mark Lathrop
    September 15, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    If you are desperate, snow works as toilet paper while on a long run training for cross-country and track.

  • Tom Falk
    September 15, 2020 at 4:07 pm

    If you want to slow down on the big hills in Houghton/Hancock during the winter inch you way into the snow banks. If you wanted a good pizza go to the Library bar or the Ambassador. When your mother calls asking what you are doing tell her you are at the Library with friends but, don’t mention the bar part.

    MTU has the best pep band on the planet, their entrance into the ice arena is one of a kind!

  • M. Brown
    September 15, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    While driving around the town of Gay, remember that roads have snowbanks, snowmobile trails do not.
    Class of ‘78

  • Donald Wait (63)
    September 15, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    You can impress your future wife at K-day. Clipping snow banks is fun but jams up your suspension. Most of our favorite restaurants don’t exist today. Quincy mine was a lot more fun before it became a museum. On occasion great pies came out of Smith House kitchen. Hockey games on the rail at Dee Stadium was a good way to get close to coeds. The asphalt is 18” below the roadway in mid winter. Never store your brandy in a snow bank just before the Sno-Go goes through.

  • Kerry Irons
    September 15, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Not sure what the ambient temperature was, but the grease in the T-bar at Mont Ripley definitely froze when the wind chill reached -56 F. And the hood on your ski jacket lets you tolerate much lower temperatures on the hill.

  • Tom Falk
    September 15, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    On a serious note, Michigan Tech is an awesome University. Lot’s of smart students with a good work ethic. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I went to college. I started out as a Math major, switched to Business and ended up being a software developer when I got of out of college. I knew all of my Business School professors well and worked during the summer as a programmer for the university. I learned that you need to be serious in your study habits, fun comes after you have everything done. Don’t stay up so late studying that you miss a final exam first thing in the morning.

    I didn’t know anything about hockey when I started at MTU, but became a huge fan and player in Intramural hockey teams. I could already skate well but, never played hockey.

  • Philip C. Ellsworth
    September 15, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    You can live a long time on pasties and (free) ketchup.

  • Jeffrey H Dillon
    September 15, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    You can get pretty accurate answer on a slide rule, but calculators are faster.

  • martha allen
    September 15, 2020 at 4:54 pm

    Doc Berry has not been forgotten!

  • Eric Kalis
    September 15, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Snowshoeing cures hangovers

  • Doug Ritter '79
    September 15, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    I learned that Charlie Eshbach could sense a Husky goal 3.5 seconds before it happens. I also learned that you could sneak your girlfriend into the GLI at Olympia if she carried a trumpet case full of Molsons (only worked if you were in the Pep Band).

  • Delainy Spencer
    September 15, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    Get help BEFORE you need it!

  • Thomas Tallon
    September 15, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    I learned that I not only appreciated this school and what it gave me but a love of the country. So i never wanted to leave but a wife and child to support said other wise. But 24 years ago I was able to return with my wife never to leave again

  • Jeff Paulson
    September 15, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    The MTU Pep Band is the heart and soul of your experience going to Tech.

    Always expect there to be a snow storm when leaving or coming back for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, and some times graduation week too! Leave early and maybe arrive in time for your first class!

  • Patrick Parker
    September 15, 2020 at 6:32 pm

    I thought K Day was better in Copper Harbor.
    Trying to drive the Seney Stretch in less than 10 minutes usually leaves the city of Seney a sudden but expected cash flow!
    Does anyone besides me remember what a slide rule is and how to use it?
    E to the x dx, E to the Y dy, secant, tangent, cosine, sine, 3.14159!!!! That is the only way I could remember PI !!!

  • Richard Bayerl
    September 15, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    From day one in 1953 I learned how to use my slide rule and knew how it worked. And still do.

  • Fred Uhlig bsme, bsea 1957, 1958
    September 15, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    A riddle from the 1950’s. Who wears a black mask and flies around the U. P ? , Bat Mananen of course

  • Mike Wilson
    September 15, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    snow flurries means 6 inches of snow, great place to watch the northern lights

  • Don Moore
    September 15, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    How to think

  • Gregory Switek
    September 15, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    Most people say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Engineers say no matter how good it is, it can be made better.
    The most important thing I learned at Tech was how to become a student. Too bad it took me as long as it did. I’m proud of being on both Dean’s Lists. Fortunately the honors list came after academic probation.

  • Fred Krueger
    September 15, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    After successfully completing a forestry summer camp surveying assignment that took me through a nasty swamp, with mosquitoes covering my arms and face, I realized that I could accomplish anything.

    Fred J. Krueger 71

  • Pete Dohms
    September 15, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    I agree with Mr. Strahl; I also married a coed – 53 years, 4 children, 6 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild, 7 houses, and all my hair ago. I learned at Tech that hard work pays off; the first day on campus President Van Pelt addressed us: “Men!” (safe to say at MCMT in September ’63 – the ratio was 35:1) “Look at the man on your left and the man on your right; in 4 years, one of you will graduate.” I looked at Tom on my left and Paul on my right and decided then and there that I was going to be in that one-third group.

  • Marietta Ehlers Johnson
    September 15, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    If you are a high school math teacher, a math minor at MTU is as good as a math major at most colleges.

    Always read and follow each and every direction…especially on a Fortran Final…

  • Kathy Larimer Dudrick
    September 15, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    A warm day is above zero degrees Fahrenheit. A heat wave is above freezing.

  • Gary Brougham
    September 15, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    Don’t hitchhike from Tech to Lansing after classes in March to watch the High school basketball tournament. Worst 16 hours of my life

  • WILLIAM BENDICK
    September 15, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    The north wind is cold no matter what direction it comes from.
    Friday the13th is bad luck no matter what day of the week it’s on.

  • Rich Herbert
    September 16, 2020 at 12:59 am

    Snow is measured in “feet” not inches.
    Don’t take your winter clothes home on Spring break (that was when Tech was on Quarters)
    If a vehicle starts, the heater/defroster works, and the tires aren’t bald, you’ve got a good student vehicle.
    Find a good place to study as early in the year as possible, there’s more than your dorm room, frat house, or library.
    Whenever you go home for a weekend or break, always plan on coming back a day early ( otherwise the Snow gods will get you).

  • Andrew Dohm
    September 16, 2020 at 5:50 am

    Some things are just “beyond the scope of this course”.
    BSME ‘96

  • tony cooper
    September 16, 2020 at 9:29 am

    Mount Ripley is a Great place to spend your spare time and burn off excess energy so you can study all evening. A happy place!!!
    After skiing Bosch Beer and a Pasty with brown gravy filled you up!!!

  • Kerry Irons
    September 16, 2020 at 10:21 am

    I learned that when the wind chill hits -56F, the grease in the T-bar at Mont Ripley freezes and the T’s won’t retract. I also learned that using the hood on your ski jacket makes it possible to make three runs before heading inside for hot chocolate. Otherwise only one run is possible at that temp.

  • James Ombrello, 1958 ME
    September 16, 2020 at 10:45 am

    While living in the Barracks with 16 Canadian hockey players, I learned not to step out of my room without looking because there could be two guys shooting pucks the length of the building. Tough on the shins.

  • Marty Oldford, 1964 CE
    September 16, 2020 at 11:41 am

    Dating a local coed is an good way to avoid the hassle of importing one for Winter Carnival and a lot cheaper too until she decides that you are her ticket out after graduation. Actually, that is a plus too in many cases.

  • Joseph Ricca
    September 16, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    If you hitchhike from Houghton/Hancock to Calumet, you will always get a ride right away if it’s snowing.

  • Bard Hoff
    September 16, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    Snow can actually fall from a clear blue sky, but I’ve only seen it happen in da UP. Also, shovel out your car every couple days even if you know you’re not going to drive anywhere for weeks.

  • Onni Perala
    September 16, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    I learned that there are whole fields of study that I don’t even know the name for.

  • Scott Randall
    September 16, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Doc Berry’s verbatim response in a 300 person lecture hall to a student who asks, “what if the exam falls on the day after K-day and we are too hung-over to take it?”

    Instead of answering directly, quote 1Cor 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I understood as a child. I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

    I’ll never forget this… ever.

  • Dan Converse
    September 16, 2020 at 7:31 pm

    Never knew what an engine-block heater was until I had to install one my car for UP winter’s!
    My Finnish landlord admitted to me that ‘SISU’ bumper stickers (from the late 70’s?) that were supposed to mean ‘determination, bravery, resilience, and hardiness’, was a word that more closely meant ‘stubburn’! It fit!
    “You go Tech, eh?” “Ya, you betcha!”

  • Jon Landis 82 Mining
    September 16, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    Among other things, I discovered the following

    you can pass the Civil PE with a Mining Degree

    the “Hunters Special” @ Schmidts Corner Bar… a shot and and shell for a buck. multiple purchases allowed.

    they actually will close school despite everyone already being on campus/in class (twice in the same year)

    you xc ski from Dodgeville to town down Bridge Street after they close school/roads when you are out of IMPORTANT supplies

    when its 20 mph winds, you should walk backwards to prevent frostbite.

    hockey players were all business majors in the 70-80s because that was the easiest then. apparently now they can take exercise science…

    people (others) routinely stand in line outside at the drive-up window at Taco Johns after the bars close. no McD yet.

    the mining club is the only student organization that served beer at their monthly club meetings at the Ripley Fire House. obviously it was served AFTER the speaker finished their presentation

    Remember EXACTLY where the car is parked if you leave it at school over Christmas break. Leave the shovel in your room.

    when you water ski in Portage Lake in May you need to watch out for ice

    HP > TI

    the engineer moto ” the minimum wouldn’t be the minimum if it wasn’t good enough”

    the engineer song ” in heaven…”

    no more questions are allowed after the when mining cost economics prof delivers his favorite phrase ” believe me, I must be right”

    and most important: sum forces = 0, sum of moments = 0, and you can’t push on a rope

  • Erich Miller
    September 16, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    For the Hobo Parade, I learned how to use a chop saw and remove the roof of a barely running large sedan to make room for a large group of students, fully equipped with water filled fire extinguishers to hose down the spectators. While living at Wadsworth Hall on the La Maison floor, I learned the meaning of a “Viking Dinner”. I learned about a new sport called Broomball and still play the sport today in the state of Indiana. I learned that dorm life helped educate me about many things that I didn’t learn at home, and for good reason, but certainly made dorm life entertaining. I learned how to build a loft and design a system to hang-up on those unwanted late night prank calls without climbing down from the loft. I also learned that my one year at Michigan Tech created many memories that continue to remind me of how much fun I had while being a Husky.

  • Phil Kilkenny '68
    September 17, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    A great dorm prank. Fill large envelope with shaving cream, seal, cut off corner, slip partially under door, lay drawing board on envelope and jump on board. It leaves a nice coating. Finnish girls are good kissers. Later in life- Do you wear briefs or boxers? “Depends.”

  • Mark Aubel
    September 18, 2020 at 9:35 am

    If you are riding in a car traveling 55 mph on the Seney stretch returning from winter break and your car ends up in the ditch, you won’t be able to see the engine when you open the hood. The compartment will be filled with snow that you have push out before trying to restart the engine.

  • Linda Hagopian - '75
    September 18, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    MD 20/20 is a great anti-freeze when building snow statues. If you hit your face with the business end of the hose while building snow statues, the blood will freeze rather quickly and you don’t have to rush over to the Health Center for a butterfly: you can take your time and try to sober up first. K-Day is a holiday you observe even if you’re not in the Keweenaw anymore. No matter how many years go by, a little piece of your heart will whisper “Michigan Tech!” and the nostalgia will be sweet.

  • Kathy Davies
    September 18, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    The Yooper snow scoop is the only way to remove snow from sidewalks and driveways – we’ve had three shipped to northern B.C. Canada.
    Sauna once a week, whether you need it or not. Just built ours. Only took 50 years and 3 months.
    Da U.P. stays with you forever, no matter where you go.
    A MTU education is the best! What a ride!
    Kathy (Fisher) Davies, BScMedTech, ’70 (Retired)

  • Wayland Bugg
    September 21, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    I learned all about rawks in GE2000. You should never take a schist for granite!

  • Jim Blevins '72
    September 23, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    I learned not to have Pat Paulson as the act for Winter Carnival but do go see all the skits. they are great
    get good grades as a Freshman, you will need the cushion the next 3 or more years
    Participate in building a snow statue. It will be a memory for life. You will make friends for a lifetime
    Best to buy a car with a block heater for the engine

  • Geraldine Hartley Robbins
    October 15, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    I learned to enjoy classes of every kind, whether they were required, or demanding, or extra choices my future husband and I made if we felt we had time to add another class! I appreciated the helpfulness of the professors. Being in the band was a special treat of fun and relaxation and for keeping up with the musical instruments we had learned and enjoyed in junior and senior high school. In fact, it was in band that I met my future husband with whom I had two sons. Our younger son also attended Michigan Tech and earned his degree in Mechanical Engineering as did his father William D. Hartley (Bill). Bill and I graduated in 1954. Bill worked 30 years in his field for U.S. Steel. Having sons and advancing my degree, I found teaching 5th grade science and math exciting with my metallurgical engineering degree. Students often told me they liked the science classes with actual items I had kept and showed them as I told the history of the items.

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