By Emily Riippa | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
If there’s something you take seriously in college, it’s food. Whether it’s driving to Marquette to get some Buffalo Wild Wings or strategically planning a day around which presentations or campus orgs are offering free meals, you don’t get between a college student and food. At Michigan Tech, sometimes that meal takes on a special local flavor. You’ve seen them around town; you’ve eaten them at your desk, on the beach, or maybe even in the dining halls. How much do you really know, though, about the famous pasty?
A good old song from the English region of Cornwall proclaims, “There’s something about a pasty that is fine, fine, fine!” Huskies and friends know the truth of those words. The delicious dish nourishes the body and warms the spirit with its blend of meat, potatoes, and rutabaga, all nestled inside a flaky crust. It’s the kind of meal that gets you ready for a day of cross-country skiing on the Tech Trails or a hike up Mount Baldy. Nothing is quite like the smell of a pasty baking; nothing tastes quite like that first bite. But how did a meal synonymous with Cornwall become a staple of the Upper Peninsula?
Let’s take a quick peek back into history to answer that question. Cornwall’s long track record with copper and tin mining led the rest of Great Britain to remark wryly, “Wherever you find a hole in the ground, you’ll find a Cornishman at the bottom of it.” Life in the mines of England often meant low wages and back-breaking labor, but it also cultivated a skill and knowledge of the work that made the Cornish miners a gold standard. When Michigan’s copper mines–the very ones whose ruins now lie in Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties–were first being opened for industry, their founders looked to Cornwall for able laborers, and the people of Cornwall, whose mines were tapering off, looked to Michigan for a new hope. One scholarly article on the history of the pasty noted that twenty Cornishmen were already at work in the Copper Country in 1844, just one year after industrial mining began here. With them came their favorite workday meal, which was subsequently adopted en masse by colleagues of all backgrounds.
We don’t know for certain who invented this tasty pocket of joy, which has seen considerable changes over the years, but we do understand why it was so appealing to the men who worked in the mines and the women who prepared their dinners each day. The pasty’s hearty fillings can be prepared in a large batch and energize a person for a day of hard work; the meal can be held in the hand and eaten without utensils; and it’s easy, relatively speaking, for a miner to reheat a pasty over his candle far underground. By the time the mines of Michigan closed, the pasty had become a staple that the Copper Country was determined to keep. Nowadays, you’ll find them around the local lunch table, sold at community fundraisers, eaten at picnics by the shores of Lake Superior, or on parade at places like Calumet’s annual Pasty Fest.
Let’s raise a pasty toast to the Cornish who brought us a meal worth celebrating!
What food brings you back to your college days? Was a special meal in particular that you drove to Marquette (or further!) to enjoy? Who makes the best pasties in the UP? And, do you like ketchup or gravy with your pasty?
Just curious—my grandmother Sylvia Combellack used to feed boys from Tech. She lived in the red house on the corner of Houghton Avenue and Garnet. She cooked for boys from 1945-1986. I was wondering if anyone had a family member eat there. –Debbie
“I went there 84-85. Awesome home cooked meals! Great couple.” –Scott Z.
“Yes, I ate there.” –Dennis L.
“Yes I did. 80 through 83. Great food. Turkey meal and steak meal once a quarter. She told us a story about some foreign students who told her they didn’t like her soup because it was too rich. She said what soup, we had gravy. –Frank L.
I tried my hand at a vegan pasty. Does anyone remember Funky’s Karma Cafe or Conscious Stomach at MTU? Anyone remember Marie’s Deli in Houghton? It was where I first tasted hummus and falafel. Marie remembered all of us MTU grads when we visited her Grand Rapids restaurant. Her son is writing a cookbook and is looking for photos of her days in Houghton if you have any to share. –Cynthia H.
“I remember meeting her during orientation at Tech. A group of us from my high school class were walking across the bridge and we met Marie. She stopped and talked to us for about 10 minutes and then told us to come to her deli. We did go and I went with other groups of friends off and on but she always remembered who I was and when we met. Marie’s Deli had the best food! –Anne C.
“Of course!” –Mary H.
“The hummus and Turkish coffee! I doubt I have any pictures and if I did they’re in a shoe box somewhere!” –Stacey K.
“I don’t have any pictures but I remember her deli fondly. I lived above the Lode and had many delicious cheesecakes over the years! I would totally recognize her if I saw her in person. She left a huge impression in my years at Tech.” –Dino F.
“Went on my first real date with Mike Simon at Marie’s, and 27 years later we still remember her and our meals at her restaurant fondly. Her son was sometimes there with her, such a cute little guy! Wish I had thought to take a photo at the time. –Beth S.
In 1976 four “almost” geophysicists decided that we should attend the SEG(Society of Exploration Geophysics) convention in Houston….but like most Tech Grads, we had NO money!
So the rest of them sent ME to Ray Smiths office to ask him to pay for our way.
He was a great negotiator….and he did end up giving all of us enough grant money to fly from Chicago to Houston and back and for us to share the cheapest hotel rooms we could get. Lloyal Bacon, our Geophysical Advisor, also went to the convention, and made sure all of us met all the oil companies that were there… to tell them that we were graduating as well as to make sure that we all were taken out to dinner every night….
We traveled to Chicago in the winter in the back of a non-heated camper pickup….I told Ray all of this a few years back at a Husky Hockey Game and thanked him as it launched all of our Oil Careers!! He remembered me and we had a good laugh. Ray Smith was very influential on my career success, which continues to this day!! Ray Smith…RIP…and thanks!
Patricia Henderson ‘77
His son, Martin, was a graduate of Michigan Tech and both he and I were on the faculty of the Univ. of Idaho. The image is when Ray and his wife visited us c. 1995. Shown in the photo are: left to right: Alison Sturgul (my wife), Ray’s granddaughter, his son Martin, Ray and his wife.
Prof John R Sturgul ’61
School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering
The University of Adelaide, Australia
President Ray told us to ALWAYS put you name tag on your right shoulder so when meeting someone they have a clear view of your name when shaking hands!
This is from 1960, it has always stuck with me, and has served well through the years.
Thank you –
Dick Walrath ‘64
My wife’s parents, Holly and Gerald Caspary (Prof. of Civil Engineering and 1st Dean of MTU’s School of Technology) had a cottage on Half Moon Beach next to Ray and Bea Smith’s summer home. During many summers, Ray taught Holly, my wife Dona, and my daughter Cecily how to water ski. I fondly recall watching Ray ski with 5-yr old Cecily on his shoulders. We will miss his brilliance and humor.
Tom Gould (’63 & ’64)
I was a transfer student to Michigan Tech’s Metallurgical Engineering Dept. in 1962. My first day on campus I met with Dr. Ray Smith in his office. Needless to say I was a bit nervous meeting the department head expecting him to quiz me on my academic knowledge. Instead he was very welcoming and right away I knew I had made the right decision coming to Tech.
Years later at the 25th anniversary since graduating, I met Dr. Smith once again at a dinner. He immediately knew me and related a couple stories from my time at Tech. He was a wonderful instructor, mentor and human being. I’m sure he will be missed by friends and family.
Terry Hardie BS Eng’g ’64; MS Bus Admin. ‘67
My wife and I were fortunate to attend Ray’s 100th birthday party. We had reacquainted with him a few years earlier here in Arizona and had kept in touch. I marveled at the array of books on display that he had authored on subjects far removed from his academic field. Ray was a brilliant man, and I was truly privileged to know him.
Jim Cote. BSEE 1962
Ray was a remarkable combination of using his creative side with his logical side. He approached me one day with a beautiful bust of an elderly lighthouse keeper & wondered if I could photograph it for him. It was a snap. It was so realistic, all I had to do was find the most appropriate lighting & angle, and there it was.
Sometime later, he gave me an impressive book of original essays and poems by him, including poetic comments with regard to the keeper – and on the cover of the book was my photograph! That gesture of thanks remains with me yet, and each time I leaf through the book again I’m impressed with the perceptive, sensitive person hidden within him.
Some time later, he decided he wanted to surprise his son who had a summer job working underground in one of the remaining mines still in operation. He picked me up around 6pm, said he’d just had breakfast with his son, said goodbye to him, then headed up to the mineshaft with a handful of us – me with my camera. We had the thrill of being dropped to the 27th stope into the strange world of strange noises and even stranger lighting. Ray found his son in busy occupation, tapped him on the shoulder, & when the fellow turned in shocked surprise, I luckily captured the moment – the surprised son and the chuckling father. Ray was like that, possessed an amazingly human touch in so much of what he did.
I learned that he also water-skied barefoot and was able to prove it one day at his place on Half Moon Bay. Like a trouper, he got behind a motorboat wearing skis, then at top speed let them fall off and took a series of what I’d consider death defying twists & turns for about 10 minutes before returning with that characteristic mix of smug satisfaction and pure nonchalance. I have photos to prove it.
Remembering Tech’s President Ray Smith–It was the middle sixties and the era of James Bond and his famous Aston Martin DB5. Tech gets a new president, Ray Smith, and he is driving an Aston Martin! That gave me an inspirational lift to keep keep pushing forward through the winter gloom to finish that Tech degree so I could aspire someday to get a car like that.
Al Stevens 1966
Dr. Smith was my graduate school advisor in 1963 and 64. He was the best professor and leader I have had the pleasure of knowing. He was a busy man transitioning from advisor and department head to Univ. President, but always had time to help me thru Grad school.
When I entered Tech in 1960, I attended a seminar hosted by Dr. Smith. He was recruiting for the Metallurgical Engineering school and I joined the program after hearing his discussion about what kind of career one might expect in that discipline.
He was right on target. I left Tech with a BS and MS in metallurgical Engineering and had a very successful career ending up in middle management for IBM.
I will always be thankful for his help and guidance and consider it an honor to have known him.
Mel Gardner (63)
As a freshman in 1968, I remember the last line from President Smith’s welcoming speech. He apparently loved his car and he told us that, when we see him driving around campus, it is not an “Austin” Martin. It is an “Aston” Martin!
Jim Accetta ‘73
Dr Smith officiated at my graduation in 1979, Ray Meese gave me my diploma. I am so proud to have in the presence of these 2 men, MTU is one of the highlights of my life, Dr Smith was a HUGE influence on this University.
My deepest condolence to his family, he was a great influence at MTU and thank them for their support of the system.
RIP Dr Smith
Hilary Dussing ‘79
I was there from ’73 to ’76. He was a constant presence on the campus at that time. We always referred to him as Yukon Ray for some unknown reason. This was a time of building and positive image of the university, and a lot of it was attributed to his hard work and promotion at the time. A class act, and sorry to hear of his passing.
Mike Brandt ‘76, 356 WWH.
I am saddened to hear of the passing of former MTU President Raymond Smith, who was President when I was an undergraduate at MTU from 1975-1980. I remember he was always visible at various sporting events and other functions.
Linda M. Hensel (Wieczorek) Geol. Eng., Go To Consulting LLC
Ray was an icon in the business and educational arena. He was a strong believer in the principles of life while being a dynamic and natural leader. Ray was appointed to our Board of Directors while I was an officer of Lake Shore Inc during the 1980’s. He was always inquisitive and looking for solutions thereby actively and effectively participating in the Company’s success and development. A great person who was loved and respected by all those that knew him.
Bruce R. Clark 1969 BSME
When I was the manager of the combined computer center after we moved to the Ad building I was riding up in the elevator with Ray when we stopped at the first floor and a student got on with us. After the doors closed Ray turned to the student and said “so, why did you call this meeting”? The student turned ash white and looked like he was going to die. Ray had a great sense of humor and we often talked about aviation, both being pilots.
Ray Smith was my Metallurgical Engineering instructor the first year I spent at the Houghton Campus. I was impressed with his dog sledding stories at the university of Alaska as well as his teaching abilities, of course, but mostly, I was impressed with the fact that he knew me and every one else in our class and made it a point to know all 40 of us by the end of our first week. He eventually became my graduate school Advisor as well, which offered even more opportunities to learn from him. Yes, he was a great President, but that was after I graduated.
George M. Goodrich
Class of ’63 & ’65
I have a couple memories of Dr. Smith from my days at Tech. The first involves his installation ceremony, which was a grand affair held along with a banquet in the Wadsworth Hall dining hall. I was manager of the student employees at the time as was responsible for setting up the room and organizing the student staff involved with serving the food and clearing and washing the dishes. The event was on a Friday. The high muckity muck organizers wanted to have only one entre to keep it simple, and they wanted it to be roast beef. The complication was that at that time, Roman Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays. A call to the Bishop in Marquette resulted in a “dispensation” from the rule for those attending the ceremony, and it all went off without a hitch.
My other memory involved Dr. Smith’s approach to decision-making. In 1966-ish the Auditor General of Michigan recommended changing our method for allocating funds to student activities such as The Lode, the yearbook and many others. Dr. Smith could easily have just ordered the change. He didn’t. He recognized that the change might be controversial, and that broader input might result in more commitment to the change and a smoother implementation process. Thus, he created a blue-ribbon committee comprised of the Comptroller and other administrators, and student leaders of which I was one.
After much info gathering and discussions with affected parties, we agreed with the change, and we had a plan for implementing it that was broadly satisfactory.
While attending the Alumni Reunion in 2007 I was able to chat with Dr. Smith and told him how his approach was a lesson for me that I used many times over the years to good effect. He was very pleased to receive this feedback; and I was pleased to be able to tell him, for seldom do we get or make the opportunity to do so.
Don Ingersoll ‘67
Thanks for the opportunity to express my appreciation for the influence Dr. Dr. Smith had on my career.
Dr. Smith was one of the three most influential people in my life. As a 17 year old 1959 graduate of Republic High School, 5th in a class of 16, my older brother Kenny, a graduate of Tech, convinced me to apply for admission, and to study metallurgy. Dr. Smith had just become Head of the Department. During the Fall term of my sophomore year, I took my first metallurgy class, taught by Dr. Smith. It was a course in extractive metallurgy, which I didn’t find very interesting and wasn’t doing well. On an early exam, he wrote a note, “Come to my office, you should be doing better than this”. I went to his office not knowing what to expect. He said that based on my high school records, I should be doing better. It impressed me that he would even consider teaching a sophomore level course, let alone review high school records of sophomores. I told him the class wasn’t very interesting and if this is what metallurgy is all about, I would consider transferring into nuclear engineering. He said do me a favor, hang in there for two more terms, and if you still want to transfer, I’ll personally walk with you to the nuclear department and help you transfer. That inspired me to work much harder, and eventually earned an A grade, and then took my first class in physical metallurgy, and was hooked.
After graduation, he selected me as one of five students to stay on as a graduate student in the M.S. program (Tech had not yet offered a PhD). I eventually earned a PhD in Metallurgy at the University of Illinois, and after graduation I accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, responsible for developing a Materials Science degree program. I met Dr. Smith several times in Arizona over the years and appreciate those memories.
I know my life would have taken a much different turn without his advice and his sincere interest in the success of his students.
Lester E. Hendrickson, Ph.D.
Fulton College of Engineering
Arizona State University
Two strong memories: Ray was straightforward. Of Michigan Technological University he said, we will be Michigan Tech. For me in Humanities, I understood him to say that the Humanities program would be one suited to Michigan Tech, unique in the state, recognizable in the nation. That was direction enough.
And a three or four day retreat, Department Heads, Deans, Ray and Dean Stebbins, at a lake in Canada. Work in the morning, fishing in late afternoon or after dark. He led us one afternoon by boat to a second lake, a sort of portage across sandbars and through reeds between the two lakes, too shallow for our boats to cross. Ray was the first one out of a boat into the water to drag a boat across a bar. The season was late fall, Canada, the water cold and colder.
Someone else will remember better than I do the story of Ray opening a state appropriations hearing by doing magic tricks — the only way to manage a proposed appropriation.
The last time I saw Ray was a Saturday morning, 1999 or 2000. I was in my office doing some work. Ray came in. He’d come over from Metallurgy. Seeing who was up to what. A rare treat. A remarkable man.
Innovators and entrepreneurs from across the country will gather at Michigan Tech to share their views about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and discuss how they think it will change our work, communities, organizations, and economy. They also will share how they best believe Michigan Tech can prepare graduates to lead and be successful in this era.
A panel discussion with these leaders will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 16 at the Rozsa Center. This is the fourth conversation in the Tech Forward series as innovators and entrepreneurs come to campus to share their insights on the disruptive forces driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“Innovation is rapidly changing the world around us. As such, the university must be cognizant of the disruptive forces that will revolutionize how we educate students and then plan accordingly.” said Rick Koubek, President. “As we map out the future of Michigan Tech, we are honored to host such an esteemed panel of entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders to help inform and guide us through this process.”
The speakers are Michigan Tech alumni who are part of the 14 Floors program, which focuses on fostering entrepreneurism and high-tech innovation in the context of global culture and economy. Fourteen Floors is designed to be—an infinitely expandable structure analogous to the floors of a building, with something different happening on every floor, providing virtual suites of experiences for Huskies that connect them to innovators, entrepreneurs, mentors, and potential employers. The 14 Floors program also includes bi-annual visits to campus by alumni and week-long immersive student trips to places like Silicon Valley.
“Companies, people and communities all need dramatically different skills and capabilities to succeed in the 4.0 world,” says Jim Fish ’90, who is an innovation consultant, and technology evangelist with roles at Wayne State University, New Hammer LLC, Lemur, and Innovatrium. “The changes required are increasing and accelerating. The lifespan of a public company continues to shrink as 4.0 technology enables disruption at unprecedented speeds. At Michigan Tech, we’ve succeeded by changing; the Quincy Mine is an inspiring monument to our successful adaptation of the past–and we are now faced with another opportunity to embrace our best days that lie ahead.”
Dave House ’65, who worked at Intel for 23 years, retiring as a senior vice president and general manager, said the change we are seeing is happening globally, regionally, locally and personally.
“It will impact everyone,” he says. “Michigan, the UP, the Copper Country, Houghton, each family and each individual will feel this impact. There is no question that Michigan’s largest and most important industry—the automotive industry, is facing disruption—from Tesla, Google, Apple, Uber, etc. Those we see lead the change are rewarded; those who don’t are at serious risk. There is an opportunity for the city, county, and state in which we live. Michigan Tech needs to lead this change.”
David Shull ’15, an entrepreneur and Handshake university partnerships team lead, says technology will change everything from the nature of our work to how we move. “Self-driving cars will let students go to sleep in lower Michigan and wake up on Michigan Tech’s campus. The next generation of Tech students will never know the eight hour drive I loved to hate during my time there.”
“Automation, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality are poised to challenge every industry and job function,” Shull says. “Michigan Tech, with its student talent and history in preparing students for industry, is uniquely positioned to define the model of how higher education prepares students for the industrial revolution we’re already in.”
Innovator and Entrepreneur Speakers for October 16 event
- Jim Fish ’90 is an innovation consultant, and technology evangelist with roles at Wayne State Univ, New Hammer LLC, Lemur, and Innovatrium.
- Paul Fulton ’84 is a visionary entrepreneur and CEO – currently leading Nwave, a smart-parking pioneer. Formerly with startups Zentri and Cloudsona, Fulton was also an executive who has worked at Cisco, HP, and 3Com.
- Dave House ’65 worked at Intel for 23 years, retiring as a senior vice president and general manager, before leading Bay Networks, Nortel, and Allegro – then eventually becoming the chairman of the board for Brocade Communications.
- Nicholas Lumsden ’02 is the vice president for product strategy and technology at Online Tech and focuses on hybrid cloud management products and services.
- Kanwal Rekhi ’69 has a passion to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. He co-founded Inventus Capital Partners to build a leading Indo-US venture franchise.
- John Rockwell ’79 is a venture capitalist and consultant and has served as the leader of five technology companies. He is currently CEO of Accelergy Corporation.
- John Soyring ’76 ’06 worked for 36 years for IBM and was involved in business leadership for the company during that time. He currently is the owner of Sisukas Consulting LLC.
The 14 Floors Campus Visit is a mini-conference set of activities on Michigan Tech’s campus in the spring and fall semesters. The visit is comprised primarily of Michigan Tech alumni who have leadership positions in, and rich history with high-tech innovation and entrepreneurship. Currently led by Dave House ’65, the group spends nearly four days on campus helping lead discussions, mentor students and faculty, and participate in a variety of activities following 14 Floors’ two primary tracks; entrepreneurship and high-tech innovation. These activities include:
- campus and community networking events
- broad-topic discussions with centers and programs
- focused, topical lectures to the campus community
- entrepreneurial business plan pitch events
- one-on-one sessions with campus leadership
- undergraduate, capstone and enterprise project judging
• advisory board meetings
The fall visit takes place October 16 to 18. Michigan Tech will host more than a dozen innovators and entrepreneurs from California’s Bay Area and southeast Michigan. Notable activities during their stay will be a Tech Forward discussion at 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 16 in the Rozsa where some of the group will share their insights on the disruptive forces driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The group also will be key to the Idea Pitch Competition at 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 17 in M&M, Room U113. Students will have two minutes to pitch their favorite innovative and disruptive idea in an interactive community setting.
By Emily Riippa and Allison Neely | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
What parent wouldn’t be impressed with a Tech child’s newfound studiousness after yet another story of long hours spent at the Library? How often did a distant girlfriend call Wadsworth Hall or Douglass Houghton Hall in the 1970s, only to hear that her boyfriend was at the Library yet again? To graduates of other schools, it was a place one went for books. For Tech alums, it was a hot spot for good food and better brews. The Library Restaurant and Brew Pub holds a storied place in university lore and culture.
You might be surprised to learn that space that The Library now occupies has a long history as a place to dine. In November 1899, the adjacent Shelden-Dee Block first played host to a restaurant named “Board of Trade,” which largely catered to rail passengers at the nearby depot. The Board of Trade offered two private dining rooms and a spacious “Palm Garden Room.” Imagine Venetian marble, gold trimmings, green velvet, and rich red wainscoting–the works. With its reputation for opulence and a wine cellar that would please the most discriminating of sommeliers, it quickly became known as one of “the most exclusive eating establishments of the area.” Over time, however, the splendor of the Board of Trade faded.
The first iteration of the Library, soon to be beloved of Michigan Tech students, opened in 1967 under the ownership of Jon Davis. The little pub on Isle Royale Street in downtown Houghton began as a place to hang out and enjoy favorite beverages. The Daily Mining Gazette in 1972 went so far as to say that the Library boasted the largest selection of fresh cold draft beer in the Copper Country at that time. A Sunday pizza buffet also proved a smashing success. By 1978, Davis had added a spiral staircase of barnwood that led to an upstairs dining room with red carpeting and drapes that subtly hearkened back to the Board of Trade’s bold style. Custom stained glass windows added another elegant touch. At roofed tables and a circular bar in the upstairs room, dubbed “the Homonym,” diners enjoyed a wide range of dishes, including escargot, beef tartare, and Jon’s own famous chili.
The business evolved over the decades that followed but remained popular with the student body. In 1989, James (“Jim”) Cortwright, Linda Beeckman, and Jerry Mostek assumed ownership of the business; in 1995, they secured a loan to purchase new brewing equipment and transform the cozy bar into a thriving brew pub. On September 5, 1995, however, disaster struck. The operator of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge spotted smoke billowing from the Library shortly before 5am and quickly called the fire department. The fire, which is believed to have ignited in the kitchen area, quickly spread throughout the cherished building, collapsing ceilings and threatening the adjacent block. Through more than twelve hours of concerted effort, firefighters managed to spare nearby businesses and apartments from the worst of the fire, although smoke and water damage proved extensive. The Library, on the other hand, was a total loss.
In some places, this might have been the end, but this is the Copper Country, where sisu abounds. A little over two years later, the Library reopened, and it has remained as much a staple in the community as ever. The old brick walls and famous sign continue to greet patrons daily.
What memory does the Library bring back for you? What was the best item on the menu? Did your friends and family fall for the old “I’m at the Library” line?
By Emily Riippa | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
In almost any circumstances, a person would have serious second thoughts about getting in a boat made of cardboard. These aren’t just any circumstances, however, and these are no ordinary cardboard boats.
Those who may have missed this part of homecoming tradition should know that cardboard boat races–dare we call them regattas?–have been a part of Michigan Tech’s homecoming activities for well over a decade. The intrepid crafts seem to have first joined the Friday night fun in 2005, when students gathered at what is now Kestner Waterfront Park in Houghton for the big launch. A pep rally got Huskies fired up about getting wet before, in caulked and duct-taped cardboard splendor, teams of students took to the Portage Canal and hoped to stay afloat. Unfortunately, the record of which team took first place honors in this inaugural race does not seem to have been preserved.
By 2006, the cardboard boat race had been thoroughly embraced by the student body, and organizers had codified the rules for competition. An article in the Michigan Tech Lode that year explained that at least eight team members had to be in the boat for the entry to be legal. Judges awarded points on the basis of design qualities and speed in completing the race–or, in the event of “large variety of things that go entirely wrong,” portion of the course completed.
Over the years, cardboard boating at homecoming has seen some tweaks and the introduction of new elements. A 2007 race saw teams, in the words of the Lode, “man-power[ing] their way through a watery obstacle course.” Spectators that year witnessed a thrilling four-way tie as Sigma Tau Gamma, Healthy Living House, Midnight Express, and Shangri-La all secured the grand prize. The location of the cardboard boat races has also jumped around, from Houghton to Hancock and back to Houghton.
What’s remained constant? Husky spirit and ingenuity, for one. It isn’t every school that could manage to fashion cardboard and home supplies into a craft that actually floats, but Michigan Tech students do it year after year. The sheer audacity of the competition is another pillar: It takes a certain kind of guts to be willing to sail a cardboard boat on a lake not known for being warm and gentle. Last but not least of all, the fun never changes. As long as there’s cardboard to be had and Upper Peninsula water to launch it into, Huskies will be grabbing their friends and racing their way toward the finish line, sparking laughter and creating memories that will endure long after graduation day.
In September, 13 new members were inducted into the Council. They are:
- Jessica S. Chlopek ’06 BS Business Administration
- Kristina M. Fields ’96 BS Civil Engineering,’98 MS Civil Engineering;’06 PhD Civil Engineering
- Raine L. Gardner ’05 BS Civil Engineering
- Joan M. Heil ’83 BS Mechanical Engineering
- Caryn L. Heldt ’01 BS Chemical Engineering
- Mary A. Herrmann-Foley ’83 BS Geological Engineering
- Loree K. Kalliainen ’87 BS Biological Sciences
- Emily C. McDonald ’12 BS Environmental Engineering
- Brenda M. Moyer ’84 BS Mechanical Engineering
- Heidi A. Mueller ’83 BS Mechanical Engineering
- Danielle K. Rickert ’04 BS Materials Science and Engineering
- Jennifer J. Shute ’96 BS Mechanical Engineering
- Linda S. Vanasupa ’85 BS Metallurgical and Materials Engineering