Category: Alumni

Excellence Begets Excellence

By Rick Koubek, President

It’s always a delight to watch campus spring back into action as new students move in, faculty return, and classes resume. As I talk with our new students and meet with new faculty each year at this time, I am all the more cognizant of the excellence that this institution attracts and creates.

Rick Koubek
Rick Koubek, President

Over the past four years, Michigan Tech has pursued a path of excellence to become a premier national university positioned to lead the US in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Evidence suggests we are on the right track. The University has experienced unprecedented demand from prospective students, federal research agencies, employers, and the community at large.

In fall 2022, our incoming first-year student class is on track to be the second largest since 1984 and is on par for the most academically proficient on record (back to 1991) measured by high school GPA and SAT. And, thanks to the efforts of faculty researchers like Raymond Shaw, who received over $3.5 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy, the University’s research expenditures hit a historic high. Accomplishments like this punctuate the need for growth.

The Vision 2035 Campus Plan, which was completed in early 2022, ensures that Michigan Tech remains equipped for the academic and research demands of tomorrow. In April, the University broke ground on our new H-STEM Complex, which will support integrated educational and research programs in health-related technological innovations. Future capital projects include the Center for Convergence and Innovation, renovations to our academic spaces, and new on-campus residential housing, along with others.

But, Michigan Tech’s reach extends beyond teaching and research in the Keweenaw. In fall 2021, we met demand from our community partners by opening a satellite office in Traverse City. These efforts complement Michigan Tech’s existing partnerships with Northwestern Michigan College and collaborations with Traverse City’s K-12 educational system, to better meet the economic development needs of the region.

This is on top of employers’ growing demand for Michigan Tech graduates. Job placement rates six months post-graduation average 94 percent. Payscale reports midcareer earnings of $120,900 annually for Michigan Tech graduates. And hiring managers say many of their brightest engineers are from MTU.

Our graduates go on to become the world’s leading CEOs and business leaders. In 2021-22, our supporters graciously donated a near all-time high of $47.01 million—6.87 percent more than last year’s impressive total of $43.98 million and the second-largest fundraising year in MTU history. Their vote of confidence in our programs, students, and research supports our move into an era of growth for Michigan Tech.

As a result, our community and state will enjoy innovations that make life better through our Tech Forward research. Our campus community will enjoy the modern conveniences of updated facilities, classrooms, and technologies. Our students and faculty will reap the benefits of donor support through scholarships, professorships, endowed chairs, and other forms of philanthropy. And finally, we will all be part of a more inclusive and diverse community by growing our student and teaching populations.

The state of Michigan, our region, and our country should demand nothing less.

Thank you for your continued support of Michigan Tech.

Remember Lecturer Robert K. Snortland

Robert K. Snortland, 87, passed away Thursday, August 18, 2022, at Portage Pointe in Hancock, MI.

He was born a twin on April 6, 1935, in Sharon, ND, son of the late Olaus E. and Ethel (Kloster). He was raised in Sharon and then graduated from the University of North Dakota. He moved to California to begin his life-long passion for teaching. He also worked as a design draftsman in the Aerospace Industry in California.

Robert K. Snortland
Robert K. Snortland, Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

In 1960, he was united in marriage to Edith Mellor. They moved to North Dakota, where Bob received his Master’s Degree from UND. He had an illustrious career as an educator, winning awards, chairing a national committee, and completing two sabbaticals. His career took him to Michigan Technological University as a lecturer, where he retired in 1997.

Bob was passionate about life, not letting a single moment pass him by. His zest overflowed to everyone he met, as he brought a smile to all. Bob led by example, modeling compassion, love, and tolerance to all. He enjoyed woodworking, leather crafting, vegetable gardening, games, pets, music/dancing, snowshoeing, and friends. Bob was a man of deep faith, teaching Sunday School and serving as grandparents (with Edith) at Fortune Lake Bible Camp. Throughout his life, Bob was a member of the Masons, Eastern Star, Sons of Norway, ASEE, and many other organizations.

Bob is survived by his wife: Edith; daughter: Karin (Donna) and son Karl; His grandsons: Chad (Haley), Eric, and twin, Richard.

Google Drive Changes for MTU Alumni Effective January 1, 2023

As a reminder, Google has made some changes regarding storage that will affect Michigan Tech Alumni. On January 1, 2023, Michigan Tech alumni will no longer have access to Google Drive and Google Photos. Starting January 1, 2023, any files stored in Drive or Photos under your @mtu.edu account will be marked for deletion.

This does not affect your @mtu.edu email address. Your email account will continue to work as it does today.

Between now and January 1, 2023, there are several options for moving your content, whether it’s by downloading or transferring to another Google account.

If you have any questions about these changes or need assistance, we can help. Contact IT at it-help@mtu.edu or call 906-487-1111.

Scholarship In Memory of Rachel Wussow

On May 27, 2021, Michigan Tech’s beloved Student Affairs colleague, mentor, and friend of so many, Rachel Wussow, passed away after spending over half her life fighting the effects of cancer. Rachel worked at Michigan Tech from 2006-2014 in housing and student activities. For all that knew Rachel, she was a bright light who loved the students she worked with and supervised.

Jen Julien from Houghton, MI, wrote on May 28, 2021
Rachel touched so many lives during her leadership roles at Michigan Tech. Many of us were influenced so heavily by her spunky personality, “get it done” attitude, and genuine care for student success. So many lives are better served by having been influenced by her.

A scholarship fund has been set up for students who best demonstrate their ability to participate in leadership development programs and community service, two areas of campus that Rachel cared deeply about. This is just one more way for the legacy of Rachel Wussow to continue to support the students she loved.

To make a gift to The Rachel Wussow Memorial Scholarship, please make a gift to fund 5619, or use the pre-populated giving form here.

Remember Professors Beck, Mendenhall, and Stottlemyer

Donald Beck

Donald Beck

Donald Richardson Beck passed away at his home in Greer, South Carolina. He was 82 years old. He had emergency surgery in March and spent several weeks in the hospital and in a rehab facility before returning home on May 10.

Don was born in Patterson, New Jersey in 1940 to Richard and Eleanor Beck. He and his family lived in several different places in New Jersey and summered in Island Heights near grandparents. Don graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dickenson University with a major in Physics. He then went to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, where he earned a doctorate in Physics in 1968. The day before, he married Susan M. Gilbert of Allentown. They were the loves of each other’s lives.

During the summers that he was in school, Don worked for the Navy in Bethesda, Maryland. When he finished his doctorate, Don and Susan headed to Boulder, CO, where he went to work for E.U. Condon at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics at the University of Colorado. When E.U. Condon retired, Don went to do teaching and research at Yale University in the Chemistry Department. During the Yale period, his son, Richard, was born. After several years, Don became an assistant professor at the Yeshiva University in New York City, maintaining contact with colleagues at Yale. In 1976, Don moved his family to Athens, Greece where he was employed by the National Hellenic Research Foundation to train young scientists and to continue his research. He was an instrument for positive change there. In 1978, he moved to Champaign, Illinois to teach Physics at the University of Illinois.

Finally, in 1980, he found a home in Houghton, Michigan at Michigan Technological University. Much of his work at Tech centered on computational atomic physics applied to transition and rare-earth metal ions. He was passionate and persistent about his research. He was an MTU research awardee in 1999 and named a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2001 in recognition of his seminal work on relativistic correlation methodologies in electronic structure theory. He published over 150 scientific papers over the years. He received funding from many sources, perhaps most notably for his ongoing work on Lanthanide ions which received continuous NSF funding for over 30 years.

He always played an active role in the department, college, and university. Most notably, he helped to develop, and provide leadership for, the graduate programs in the department. As principal advisor, he graduated ten PhD and six MS students. His students remember him for his humor, his stories and, even more, for his humility and kindness. He served on the MTU Senate, where he was an advocate for the library and for improved faculty benefits. Over the years, he was a friend, colleague, and mentor to many in the Physics department and beyond. He retired in 2016, a Professor Emeritus of Physics.

Don loved the Upper Peninsula of Michigan—particularly South Range. He served on the Village Council for thirty-three years, and always thought that the council was a wonderful balance of people who truly cared for their community. He loved his wonderful neighbors there.

Don was a great dad and an amazing GPA for his grandchildren who enjoyed his company. He was always a hard worker who had unusual insights into nearly any situation. He was a positive example for academic achievement, being a global citizen and kindness to others. His grandchildren call him a “master of history” and a “master of Go Fish.” He loved most music, but particularly enjoyed the music of Buddy Guy and other rhythm and blues virtuosos. He loved a good murder mystery.

Don is survived by his wife, Susan, best friend and love of 54 years; his greatly valued son, Richard (Esther); his three wonderful grandchildren: Skyler, Mason, and Mia; also, by his sister, Marylin “Lin” A. Beck (William “Bill” Pardee) of Westport Point, Massachusetts; as well as his cousin, Janet Arnold of New York City; niece, Katharine ”Katie” Barbee (John Eric), great nephew, Elijah “Eli,” great niece, Madelin “Maddy,” of Clancy, Montana; niece, Caroline ”Carrie” Klute, of Cascade Locks, Oregon, and niece, Laura Cahoon (Brendon), and great nieces, Thea and Amelia Cahoon of Austin, Texas; brother-in-law, R. William “Bill” Gilbert of Bethlehem, PA. He is preceded in death by his sister Virginia “Ginny” Kluthe, his brother, Stephen “Steve” Beck, and his parents, Richard, and Eleanor.


David Mendenhall

David Mendenhall died June 9, 2022 in New York City at the age of 77. He was born to George and Eathel Mendenhall February 12, 1945 in Iowa City, Iowa. Since his father was in the US Navy at that time, he did not meet his father until he was almost one year old.

David, as he was known to friends and family, was the eldest of five sons, and lived in Springfield, Ohio until his parents moved permanently to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1952. David excelled in his academic pursuits in high school and college; earning a national Merit scholarship, winning the southeastern Michigan High School science fair, and was the high school class salutatorian. During his high school years, he performed basic chemical work at Parke Davis in Ann Arbor, and was proud of the fact that he bicycled to work, a distance of over 12 miles one way.

After high school he attended the University of Michigan, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 1967. After matriculating from the University of Michigan, he pursued a PhD in chemistry from Harvard where he received his degree in 1970. After receiving his PhD he obtained a post-doc fellowship to work at the National Research Council in Ottawa, Ontario, where he met his future wife, Yvonne Hendricks, whom he married in 1972. The couple then moved to California where he worked at the Stanford Research Institute and moved to Columbus, Ohio to work at Batelle Labs in 1975. His two children, Catherine Astrid and George Stuart were born in Columbus.

In 1980, David received a professorship at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, where he taught and performed research until 2001. After retiring from teaching, he founded Northern Sources, a chemical manufacturing and research company based in Hancock, Michigan. Shortly after this venture was started, his wife Yvonne of 28 years died of cancer. David’s next chapter was a move to New York, where he renamed his company “Eastern Sources” and married Ying Dong in 2006. His life-long fascination with chemical preparations continued in his manufacturing of compounds and materials that were too complicated and complex for most other companies to make.

David’s keen mind and analytical skills were second to none. David developed multiple myeloma and various other afflictions in the last three years which impacted his company’s production. The successive treatments for his cancer led to a stroke earlier this year, and then he was overwhelmed with an infection which eventually led to his death. David will be remembered for his keen mind, wonderful wit, generosity, and charming personality.

As the member of Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran and the tallest member of the Chinese church that he regularly attended with his wife, David was fondly remembered by the congregants. He was an internationalist, having lived in Jerusalem, Jordan, Freiburg, Germany, and having travelled frequently to China and east Asia. As a professor, David mentored hundreds of students in chemistry whose careers were impacted by his generosity and insight.

David is survived by his wife, Ying Dong, children, George Stuart of San Diego and Catherine Astrid (Brownstein) of Boston, step-daughter Jennifer Schumacher and her husband Scott Schumacher, son-in-law John Brownstein, grandchildren Jackson and Caroline Brownstein, and brothers Lauri, Stanley, Gordon, and Stephen.


Bob Stottlemyer

John Robert (Bob) Stottlemyer, a faculty member at Michigan Tech from 1979-1990, died unexpectedly of natural causes May 31 on a research expedition at a remote field site along the Agashashok River in northern Alaska. 

He is survived by his dear friend of 43 years, Carla (Char) del Mar, and his sister Laura. He remained an adjunct professor with the Department of Biological Sciences until his death.

Stottlemyer’s three decades of research at the Agashashok River site were just a small part of his remarkable career studying environmental issues in northern landscapes and his incredibly full life of eight decades.

He was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, on June 19, 1940, and grew up in a family with two brothers and a sister. His boyhood was spent running around the local woods, while family trips to national parks set the stage for his professional focus. He majored in forestry at Pennsylvania State University, with summer jobs fighting wildfires as a smoke jumper in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and working as an interpreter in national parks. He studied forest ecology for his Ph.D. at Duke University under the supervision of Professor Bill Ralston, focusing on forest soils and water quality. His Ph.D. research at the Fraser Experimental Forest in the Colorado Rockies was one of the first to combine the hydrology of mountain streams with water quality and nutrient budgets, an approach that persisted in his research over the next five decades, providing some of the best long-term records of forests and streams in the world.

After graduating from Duke, Stottlemyer voyaged the world as a professor with Semester at Sea (then called World Campus Afloat), and then joined the freshly created White House Council on Environmental Quality. The CEQ was responsible for documenting the state of the nation’s environment, providing the core information needed for implementing new environmental laws, including the National Environmental Protection Act, Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Stottlemyer transitioned from the CEQ to become the lead environmental scientist in the Washington office of the National Park Service, and then served as the regional chief scientist for the Philadelphia office of the NPS. His heart was more in science and research than administration, and he relocated within the NPS to Houghton, beginning decades of collaboration with Michigan Tech. He focused on hydrology, chemistry and processes influencing water quality in remote watersheds from Calumet to Isle Royale National Park, Denali National Park and Noatak National Preserve.

Stottlemyer’s commitment to science was so strong that he self-funded his research for decades following his retirement. His scientific legacy goes well beyond his impressive long-term records for watersheds — he influenced the lives and careers of many colleagues, postdoctoral scientists and students. All of Stottlemyer’s projects served as schoolhouses for his collaborators and students, providing unique experiences that shaped careers and continue to bring insights to environmental issues. His legacy also includes a vast trove of professional photographs documenting the beauties of wild landscapes and some of the changes that developed through his long life.

Stottlemyer’s loss leaves emptiness in many lives, but each time he comes to mind, we all find ourselves smiling with so many grand memories of our unique colleague and friend.

In Memoriam

April 1 – June 30, 2022

Class Full Name Degrees
1950 James A. Johnson P.E. BS Civil Engineering
1950 Gordon J. Voelz BS Mechanical Engineering, MS Mechanical Engineering
1951 Robert L. Knutilla BS Civil Engineering
1951 John C. Linton P.E. BS Mechanical Engineering
1952 Marshall G. Pierotti BS Civil Engineering, MS Civil Engineering
1954 Felix Mickus BS Mechanical Engineering
1955 Charles D. Knauer Jr, PE BS Mechanical Engineering
1955 John F. MacDonald BS Civil Engineering
1956 Charles L. Lamoreaux BS Mechanical Engineering
1957 Dr. Richard J. Arsenault BS Metallurgical Engineering
1957 Raymond L. Merrifield BS Metallurgical Engineering
1958 Janet A. Locatelli BS Medical Technology
1959 James R. Falge BS Forestry
1960 Theodore M. Kero BS Mechanical Engineering
1960 William J. Lubitz BS Electrical Engineering
1960 Bruce P. Mitchell BS Chemistry, MS Chemistry
1960 George W. Phillion BS Geological Engineering, MS Geological Engineering
1960 Raymond A. Reynolds BS Business Administration
1961 Rodney L. Hartung BS Mechanical Engineering
1961 Allan A. Johnson BS Civil Engineering, MS Business Administration
1962 Alan R. Besola BS Electrical Engineering
1963 David C. Anderson BS Business Administration
1963 Maj. Gary C. Atkins BS Business Administration
1963 Paul F. Haertel BS Forestry
1964 John P. Goudreau BS Civil Engineering
1964 Dr. Wayne Holbrook BS Electrical Engineering
1964 Norman P. Wimmer BS Business Administration
1965 James A. Pietila BS Forestry
1965 George M. Pintar BS Business Administration
1965 David W. Stallard BS Electrical Engineering
1966 Robert E. Brooks BS Business Administration
1966 David E. Brusseau BS Business Administration
1966 Thomas W. Immonen BS Forestry
1966 Edward J. Strong BS Metallurgical Engineering
1970 Samuel A. Leonard BS Electrical Engineering
1972 Thomas M. Neuville BS Chemical Engineering
1972 Gerald F. Riutta BS Mechanical Engineering
1974 Dr. Jeffrey G. Ronn BS Biological Sciences
1976 Karen B. Hawke BS Mathematics
1977 L/Col.Kenneth R. Moser  MS Business Administration
1978 Lawrence W. Albaugh BS Forestry
1978 Edward M. Mills BS General Engineering
1979 John M. Kelly BS Business Administration
1981 Terrance L. Horvath BS Electrical Engineering
1983 Prakash K. Mirchandani MS Metallurgical Engineering, PHD Metallurgical Engineering
1984 Jody A. Miller BS Electrical Engineering
1987 Todd R. Rose BS Mechanical Engineering, MS Mathematics
1989 Robert M. Bouwma BS Mechanical Engineering
1989 Charles J. Christy BS Civil Engineering
1990 Dianne Maynard BS Metallurgical Engineering
1998 Donald D. Arnold BS Mechanical Engineering
2008 Thomas W. Ernst MS Electrical Engineering

In Memoriam for January 1 – March 30, 2022

2016 Alumnus Spends Summers Leading Adventures in the Keweeenaw

Tyler Sykes is a senior kayak guide for Keweenaw Adventure Company. His work includes spending time on the water and trails in the Keweenaw.

What was your major/what did you study at Michigan Tech?
I majored in Mechanical Engineering, then came back to get a teaching certificate to teach secondary science.

What was your favorite class or professor at Michigan Tech?
I enjoyed a lot of the biology classes. Casey Huckins was a favorite. He taught a marine biology oceanography class that was engaging and relatable.  

How did Michigan Tech prepare you for working at the Keweenaw Adventure Company?
I’m from Grand Rapids and chose Michigan Tech after high school. I got into kayaking in and around Lake Superior. It’s just a perfect setting to get out and explore. Once, I kayaked from Houghton to Copper Harbor with some college friends over a few days. It drove me to explore the sport more.

I currently have a job as seventh grade teacher in Calumet and work at KAC for the summer. It’s a good balance to do both. Calumet is a great part of the state to teach science as its relatable with the local ecology, history, culture, and biology.

What do you want people to know about what you do?
I’ve spent seven summers guiding kayak tours, five of those at KAC. My favorite tours are the Agate Harbor and Bette Gris tours, as well as Isle Royale.

As part of the team at KAC, I have guide bike tours, fix bikes, and work in the shop. This year, you’ll most likely find me on the water or driving the bike shuttle to Brockway Mountain.

My favorite mountain bike trail in Copper Harbor is the Red Trail.

When not working, I like to bike and kayak with old college friends that have moved back to the Keweenaw.

Changes Coming to Google Drive for MTU Alumni

Due to a policy shift by Google, changes are coming that will affect Michigan Tech Alumni. Starting January 1, 2023, Michigan Tech alumni will no longer have access to Google Drive and Google Photos. On that date, any files stored in Drive or Photos under an alumni @mtu.edu account will be marked for deletion.

Between now and January 1, 2023, there are several options for moving content, whether it’s by downloading or transferring to another Google account.

This does not affect @mtu.edu email addresses. Email accounts will continue to work as they do today.

If you have any questions about these changes or need assistance, we can help. Contact IT at it-help@mtu.edu or call 906-487-1111.