Golden M Club at Reunion 2019

There are no dues. No officers. But this VIP group is as exclusive as it gets. Welcome to the club, Golden Ms! We honor you and all Michigan Tech alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago. We recognize and applaud your half-century milestone with a pinning ceremony to recognize your achievements and show how much you are appreciated, valued, and cherished as part of the Michigan Tech family.

Our 2019 inductees hail from the Class of 1969. This year we also celebrate the 60th reunion of the Class of 1959.

Where Has Life Taken You?

Share your Tech memoriesDon’t forget pictures!

 


April Is for Fools!

By Emily Riippa | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Michigan Tech students drove a Jeep into Douglass Houghton Hall in 1951.

April brings with it April Fool’s Day pranks, but Michigan Tech students have been known to get up to some mischief all year round. In June 1951, the men of Douglass Houghton Hall drove resident Guenther Frankenstein’s Jeep up the stairs of their dormitory and into the hallway. Although the guys thought the prank was a riot, Frankenstein recalled that the college administration wasn’t laughing and wanted to expel him. They eventually settled for probation.

The next year, fourteen Tech students–also residents of DHH–spent the night in jail for a risque joke that maybe wouldn’t fall into the category of “crazy smart”: along with more than fifty of their peers, they besieged the student dormitory at the St. Joseph School of Nursing in Hancock, hoping to come away with lingerie. Standing outside the school’s Ryan Hall, they shouted their demands for underwear to the young women residing within. Some even wandered into the furnace room before police arrived and arrested members of the group for their disorderly conduct. Eventually, a judge ordered that all charges against the men be dropped.

A set of computer punch cards.

We’ve heard rumors about other pranks that have taken place on Tech’s campus over the years, including some involving tweaks to computer programs on punch cards, but the files of the archives are remarkably bare. Do these tales bring back memories of your own college escapades, whether they took place five years ago or fifty? We’d love to hear your stories!


What you said in February about Tech

All comments from our Michigan Tech Alumni Network on Facebook

Michigan College of Mining & Technology sweatshirt

“I almost threw this away recently since it is in such poor condition, but just could not do it. I got it soon after arriving in my first year. I think the shirts were sold at the Union or book store. I was pleased to be enrolled in ‘The Michigan College of Mining and Technology.’ The name was changed to Michigan Technological University soon after I graduated. It could still be called ‘Michigan Tech,’ however.”  –Brian K.

“I was part of the Dec. 2, 1985 snowbound students trying to make it to MTU through the storm. I had to wait it out in Marquette.”  –Don G.

“Being really intimidated going into a really bad job market in 05-09… the job market today gives graduates all the leverage… these companies should be eating out of your little hand! Be confident and make us Huskies that came before you proud! My MTU degree put me ahead of my counterparts and you have a lot to bargain with amongst companies!”  –Matthew D.

“It is fun and interesting to talk with new prospects. Most young people seem so much better prepared than I was at that age. Love the energy and the vibe.” –Michael D.

“I was there — section 207. Go, Huskies! Go, Red Wings!!” –Todd H.

“Standing outside the Admin building early in the frigid weather waiting to get in and sign up for interviews in 1981!! Well worth it in the end!!” –Jeff N.

This is Huskies helping Huskies! From Jonathan A., who received 18 replies. “Are there any folks that work in automotive casting processes? Would you know what simulation software is used in that industry and why? I’m writing a report for some grad school work and knew that a number of Tech grads probably work in this area.”


Cynthia H. posted this question and got 112 comments  …

“On the MTU Parent fb group, parents are concerned because their students are unhappy with the dorm food. What were some of your favorites from your MTU era? Also, what was awful?”

A sampling of responses…

“Fish bites were the epitome of disgusting dorm food. Tomato soup and grilled cheese were the best.” –Monica H.

“The ‘vat’ of peanut butter with the oil congealed on top (1980 Wads hall).” –Tina S.

“BLT day was the absolute BOMB. You can choose as much bacon as you desire.” –Brittany H.

“Loved the pasties & liver & onions were a fast gone item on the days they were served.” –Ellie C.

“We’d pile cheese sandwiches on top of the ceiling lights (hot, incandescents) in the Wadsworth elevator. What a smell! 😋” –Stan S. ’65 ’69

“Slimy hot dog day boiled in green water day.” –Jeff R.

“Beef tips were so bad (2008-2012) there was a students against beef tips Facebook group.” –Emma Z.

“They did not get better in 2013 😄” –Maggie S.

“Maybe not everything was amazing, but there was no lacking for options. I remember making my own paninis and frequenting the salad and pasta stations. Just wait till they graduate and have to cook for themselves.” –Amy D. Wads 07-08.

“Students complaining about food is a timeless tradition. When they move out into apartments, they BEG for dorm food. I’d always have an extra swipe or two and would bring a friend once or twice a week.” –Ward R.

“I didn’t eat the hot food in Wads ever. But the sandwich, salad, and stir fry/omelet area were fine. And the staff did great accommodating my food intolerances.” –Rachel S.

“Just had a mini reunion with friends from Tech and we were talking about the food in the dorms. The Egg McTech was the crowd favorite.  Alumni from circa 1990-1994.” –Roberta W.

“I appreciated the salad bar, but the free Nutella and pb toast with hot chocolate definitely contributed to my freshman 15.” –Taylor F.  

“I remember telling my mom how great the dorm food was (DHH 1980-81). She made it clear that she considered that news insulting which surprised me since I thought she’d be happy for me. I tend to be naturally optimistic and thought it was pretty cool that you could show up, take whatever you wanted, finish every meal with ice cream, eat with friends, and you didn’t even have to do any clean up. Honestly, I don’t remember thinking there was any problem with dorm food.” –Kathy H.

“My son is very happy with the food (guess that tells you how good a cook I am …or as the case might be…am NOT!). I was in Wadsworth 1980 – 1981. They had a suggestion box on the wall. I remember someone stuffed a “tuna surprise” in the suggestion box. Tuna surprise was basically a tuna fish sandwich but on a hot dog bun.” –Molly B.

“I don’t know, I just graduated last year and to be honest the food in McNair was really really good. High quality food, prepared well, and there were a great variety of options for any diet. I’ll admit though that the food is noticeably less quality in the other dining halls, especially Wads.” –Hal H.

“Keweenaw Bowl, tacos, homemade pizza all great. Whatever “Greek food” they tried to make (gyros) were completely awful.” –Brittany K.

Dorm pizza in the 1970s.

“With proper installation, the Pizza we had in the 70s would double as a 10 year residential roof shingle. But…it was pizza and we always looked forward to it!! 😄😄” –Jim R.

“DHH’s greasy rotisserie hotdogs couldn’t hold a candle to Wads’ boiled doggies. Just like mom used to make…” –Matthew C.

When I was student cook in Co-Ed in early 70’s everything was Wonderful, 😄” –Randy S.

 

 

 


A Brief History of Women at Tech

By Emily Riippa | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Photo from the 1980s of a Michigan Tech mining engineering student.

Huskies of yesterday and today will often mention “the ratio,” referring to the disproportionate number of male students compared to their female counterparts. According to the most recent statistics published by Undergraduate Admissions, women constitute some 28.2 percent of the Michigan Tech student body. This number may seem small, but it disguises a mighty tradition of accomplishment, innovation, and trailblazing. In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a whirlwind tour through how the lives of women at Tech have looked and changed over the years. Unfortunately, in such a small space as this, we can never do true justice to their stories!

Michigan Mining School admission record for Mary Louise Bunce dated Oct. 15, 1889.

Just four years after the Michigan Mining School was founded, at a time when coeducation was uncommon, the first women enrolled. Both Margaret McElhinney and Mary Louise Bunce taught in the public schools of Houghton, and in 1889 they became students themselves again, taking classes in chemistry and geology on a part-time basis. The number of women enrolled  remained small for many years, but their presence, once established, persisted. In 1933, Margaret Holley broke new ground for female Huskies by becoming the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree from what was then called the Michigan College of Mining and Technology. Just a year later, she followed up her degree in general science with one in chemistry, then proceeded to a master’s program in general science again. So significant were Holley’s steps at Tech that she later served as a trustee and, under her married name of Margaret H. Chapman, helped to start a long-running scholarship fund in her name to support women’s education at Tech.

Women in a Michigan Tech lab.

The year that Margaret Holley finished her first bachelor’s degree, Tech enrolled a record-breaking number of fourteen “co-eds,” the nickname given to female students at the time. World War II changed not only the number of women at Tech but also the nature of what the college permitted them to study. Historically, women had been admitted to programs in science and some facets of engineering; Ilmi Watia, for example, received a civil engineering degree in 1938. Tech discouraged women from enrolling in certain mining engineering courses and highly technical programs. With young men away at war in vast numbers, however, the United States and Tech both found a need for women to step into roles that they had not otherwise filled. In 1943, the college promoted a new war training program for women that started to break down some of these barriers. The courses were intended for “all young women who wish to serve their country in this emergency by training themselves for essential jobs that carry pay commensurate with their vital importance,” according to a marketing brochure. Women completing the program–whose length varied from eight weeks to a year, depending on the course of study chosen–could immediately enter government or industrial work in roles ranging from the more traditional secretary to engineering technician, full professional practitioner (if they already had degrees in other subjects), and airplane ferry pilot. All courses carried college credit, and women who did not find the curricula of the war training programs to their fancy were encouraged to pursue the full range of coursework at MCMT, including technical fields.

The Smith House, which was used by female students.

From there, slowly and steadily, the population of Tech women continued to grow and blaze trails. In 1945, a women’s dorm opened in the house formerly occupied by Kappa Delta Psi. In the years that followed, the former residence of the Fred Smith family was converted to women’s housing, and, at various times, female students also resided in houses known by the names of Pryor and Robinson. The first woman to earn a degree from Tech in metallurgical and materials engineering graduated in 1947; the first female mechanical engineer at the college finished her program in 1948. By 1952, the college had begun efforts to recruit women in earnest, publishing pamphlets explaining the scientific and mathematical careers open to them with a degree from Tech. Women answered the call and enrolled in many courses of study, including forestry, biological sciences, and all varieties of engineering. By 1968, 8.5 percent of Michigan Tech students were female, rendering the college officially coeducational by the metrics of the time. That year, Co-Ed Hall (now known as McNair) opened to alleviate a shortage of on-campus housing for women. A few years prior, Wadsworth Hall had begun to offer a few spaces to female students. Douglass Houghton Hall, on the other hand, remained all-male until 1973.

Women at 2009 commencement.

Women’s involvement and visibility on campus continued to grow through the remainder of the 20th century. In the 1970s, for example, the first female cadets joined the Air Force ROTC program, and the first national sorority and women’s teams in nordic and alpine skiing came to campus. From 1975 to 1982, Michigan Tech’s nursing program graduated nearly 300 hundred women, representing a larger proportion of female enrollment than perhaps any other degree program on campus. Groups like Woman Sphere and Tech Women’s Connection formed to advocate for women’s issues and initiated important dialogues in the Michigan Tech community. Meanwhile, in 1993, a team of Michigan Tech women won the Intercollegiate Mining Competition, demonstrating both their prowess at mining techniques and the college’s historic roots. How appropriate for Michigan Tech women to literally break ground.

Michigan Tech student climbing.

In 1969, Dean Harold Meese wrote to the women of Tech that, in spite of being vastly outnumbered by men on campus, “you traditionally have more than overcome these odds academically by earning better grade point averages. This, I feel, is due to your above average intelligence and your strong desire to become a well educated person and to find a meaningful way of life.” Whether they joined the Husky family in 1889, 1959, 1999, or 2019, women at Michigan Tech have always exemplified a passion for knowledge and a dedication to leaving their mark on the world. They are making history, one day at a time.


What you said in January about Tech

From Facebook:

“Funny thing we live in a small town in Wisconsin. I am shooting pool and just met a 2014 mechanical engineer grad from Mich Tech that is an engineer at Sea Grave, a local fire truck manufacturer.” -TS

“My husband and I were at the bear sanctuary in Minnesota last summer. A Husky was doing an internship there. She knew my son. Also met an alum who was in his 80s. Small world.” -DB-A

“You can find Huskies everywhere! Especially if you’re wearing MTU gear or sporting a decal on your vehicle. We were at a bar in the small town of Crivitz, WI where I grew up and we found a Husky!” -CD

“We are in Pound. We were visiting our Husky out in Washington state this summer for his internship. We ran into probably 10 alumni. Amazing.” -JM

Always a favorite week at Tech. The sculptures look like they continue to be amazing” -Dawn F.

“One day in winter ’82-’83 I think. Not completely positive. Those details are are a little foggy. However, Jim’s food mart remained open that day, and I recall trekking over there with a sled and returning home with cases of survival essentials (of the liquid form)😂. We didn’t have fancy video games then, so we played euchre and poker and later on when we were really glowing we sledded down Agate Street from the top. Now that was a real thrill! Thankfully we had trustworthy spotters at the bottom waving us off if a car was coming down College Ave!” -Pete J.

“Back in 61–64 we closed once. The president looked out at Mt. Ripley and saw all the students over there skiing. ‘If they can make it to Mt Ripley they can make it to class! I’ll never close again.’” -David H.

“Sure did! Having Rosa Parks as the speaker at my graduation ceremony was one of many highlights of my time at MTU!” -Mary C.

“I was in my cap and gown. I think in the 4th row. I remember thinking at the time how petite she was. But yet, she had such a powerful presence.” Julie V.

“I always rode on my sorority’s dog sled. So much fun!” Tiffany M.

“White out so bad it was terrifying to try to cross 41. Would have probably been ‘81” -Mark C.

“ It was -35. My car was the only one that would start, so I had a car full of students from the apartments. We went to school. ’84 or ’85.” -Dan H.

“ Yes! Spring 1985, first day of spring term, I was at the Admin Building, changing some of my classes, signs everywhere that classes were canceled at noon. I went over to a friends house and NO ONE believed me! “Oh”, they said, “Tech never cancels”. So they went to class and I stayed in and watched TV!” -Sue G.

“When I was a Tech there was a story that the school was closed once and all the students took trays and went sledding.” -John H.


History of Tech’s Library (Yes, the actual library)

By Emily Riippa | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Van Pelt and Opie Library in 2017.

Classes are back in full swing at Michigan Tech, and that means that students are hitting the books. Huskies can be spotted deep in concentration around lab equipment, state-of-the-art computers, well-decorated whiteboards, and, of course, library tables. Drive past the Van Pelt and Opie Library late at night, or walk through the first floor reading room in the afternoon, and you’ll find students meeting with friends and powering through problem sets with help from classmates. In recognition of the importance of the library to Tech students, the building closes completely only once a year, the night of Winter Carnival’s all-night snow statue competition. Though the library and its resources have been powering Huskies for decades, the space dedicated to the library and what it provides have seen significant changes. Let’s journey back into the Michigan Tech Archives to see the life of the library over more than a century.

Michigan College of Mines Library circa 1920s.

The library of the Michigan Mining School began with a gift of 3,000 bound volumes coordinated by J. Sturgis, a member of the Houghton County Historical Society; materials owned by the school’s faculty apparently supplemented these holdings. As enrollment grew and the Michigan Mining School became a college, the library blossomed. In 1912, to help students and professors alike make best use of the burgeoning collection, the Michigan College of Mines helpfully produced a “Handbook of the Library” to inform students about available materials, special features, and etiquette for this hallowed ground. By this point, the college’s books and other publications resided in a “fire-proof structure” that also housed the MCM geological and mineralogical collection. College business and executive offices shared the space, as well. As the Academic Office Building, the old library continues to host office spaces for various departments to this day.

Michigan Mining School stacks.

Those visiting the library were advised that the now “26,000 volumes, 14,000 pamphlets, and 1,450 maps” were “largely scientific and technical in character,” befitting the college’s curriculum. Future mining engineers could find “complete sets of all the important mining and engineering publications,” as well as “journals of scientific lines allied to mining engineering.” So patrons would be able to successfully navigate the two-winged brick building, the handbook included a useful sketch of the floorplan, showing the locations of books, newspapers, minerals, and the “modern equipment” of which library staff were proud. To clarify the availability of materials, the handbook explained that, while “the Library is intended for free reference use[,] the privilege of borrowing books for home use is accorded to all officers of instruction and to all registered students. This privilege is extended to all responsible persons who apply to the librarian for it.” Now, faculty and students are joined by all Michigan Tech staff members in enjoying the ability to check out books, and community members may also apply for courtesy cards allowing them the same opportunity.

Michigan Tech library in the academic office building.

A growing library with a diverse collection needed able workers to sustain it. In 1940, the Daily Mining Gazette published a profile of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology that explored its staff and the special collections in their charge. Librarian Madeleine Gibson, an alumna of Wellesley College and the University of Wisconsin who remained at Tech for 35 years, led the trio. Under her worked two library assistants, Florence McGee (who also served as a cataloger) and Lillian Combellack. The three women oversaw holdings that had grown to 39,000 “books and bound serials, and a collection of pamphlets on scientific and engineering subjects.” Gibson, McGee, and Combellack also cared for a depository of documents produced by the federal government and the Michigan state government. The Gazette noted that a special display case had been designated as housing for the “John M. Longyear Spitzbergen collection, consisting of books, magazine articles and pamphlets on Spitzbergen.” The eponymous Longyear, a lumber baron and former member of the university’s Board of Control, had established a coal mining company on the remote Norwegian island territory of Spitzbergen (also known as Spitsbergen), and materials pertaining to the company logically found a home at the MCMT. Students whose interests bent more to music than Norwegian mining could check out a set of musical books “donated by the Carnegie corporation of New York City.” Patrons could peruse the shelves during the extensive reading room hours held six days a week.

New library “snowbreaking” in 1965.

By the 1962-1963 academic year, the library building was bursting at the seams. Campus boasted over 2,700 students in more than twenty fields of study, and the library, built to accommodate a much smaller collection and student body, now housed 78,000 volumes. Governor George Romney requested $750,000 in planning funds for a new library from the state legislature, a decision that Tech president J.R. Van Pelt credited with expediting the construction by two years. Herman Gundlach, Inc., submitted the successful bid for the general contract, and work began shortly thereafter, with a “snowbreaking” held on February 11, 1965. The building, situated just east of the Memorial Union Building on College Avenue, totaled 80,000 square feet over four stories, offered space for 225,000 volumes, and seated 1,000 students. According to a December 1964 press release, each of these figures represented a six-fold increase of the prior capacity. The design of the library also emphasized “flexibility provided by a modular plan of construction,” simultaneously reducing the number of interior walls, and created private study areas “around the periphery of the stacks.” Graduate students and faculty enjoyed designated study spaces, and new homes were made for the Michigan Tech Archives, microforms, and typing stations. In a move that might seem confusing to modern eyes, the design prominently incorporated a smoking room for patrons. On October 29, 1966, dignitaries gathered at a large dedication ceremony for the completed new facility, which architect Ralph Calder characterized as “the most inspiring” of campus buildings “because it is the intellectual focus on campus.” The library subsequently received the name of J.R. Van Pelt, in honor of the president who led Tech during its construction.

Van Pelt Library in 1999.

Time marched on, and campus growth and development once again compelled changes to the library building. When the North Central Association made a university accreditation visit in the 1997-1998 school year, reviewers suggested that Tech “plan to increase the size and scope of library resources” and find funding for future improvements of the library physical plant. A proposal in 2000 to create a Center for Integrated Learning and Information Technology (CILIT), which would help to provide some of the improvements and connect the library to Fisher Hall, met with some resistance from staff writers at the Lode, and the building, as proposed, never came to fruition. Instead, the suggested CILIT structure became Rekhi Hall. Meanwhile, a $5 million donation from John Opie (class of 1961) and his wife Ruanne funded the most extensive renovation and expansion of the library since the mid-1960s construction. The Opie Library expansion to the Van Pelt Library, dedicated in April 2005, created a soaring new reading room with a prominent glass front, two dozen study rooms for team projects and collaboration, and “the latest technologies, including an information wall” to provide “the latest on library and campus activities, as well as a steady stream of news and weather.” In the 54,000 square feet of additional space, students also had access to a large number of public computers. Meanwhile, visitors to the garden level would find the archives had been moved from their place on the second floor to a new, purpose-built facility that expanded reading room seating and provided secure, climate-controlled storage for irreplaceable historical records.

Postcard of the Van Pelt Library.

The building may be different, from its style to its location; the collection may have grown from 3,000 to several hundred thousand volumes; the smoking room may, thankfully, have given way to computer labs and cafes. Despite the changes over the years, it’s undeniable that the library has always been and remains a cornerstone of Michigan Tech.

What memories of the library stand out for you?


University Cancellations

Instances Michigan Tech closed campus / cancelled classes.

Information sourced from alumni comments, past issues of Tech Alum Newsletter and local media. Comment below and help us fill in the blanks!

Date Reason Closed
Jan. 26, 1938 Snow/Wind
Nov. 22, 1963 Half Day; President Kennedy assassination
Nov. 25, 1963 President Kennedy funeral [per Kenneth Kok]
1964 Half Day; Snow
Fall 1967 Half Day; Power Outage [per Delbert Eggert]
Nov. 27, 1967 Snow (road closures prevented students from returning from break) [per Tom Porritt]
May 1970 Student Protests (following shootings at Kent State) [per John Baker]
Jan. 25, 1972

Snow (perhaps only some professors canceled [per Jim Rosteck])

Nov. 10, 1975 Half Day; Power Outage (Day of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald) [per Garth Bayette]
Nov. 11, 1975 Power Outage (storm/high winds) [per Garth Bayette]
1979 Rain/Flooding [per Michael Sprague] 
1979 Snow
Jan. 18, 1982 Cold/Snow
1983 Half Day
Dec. 2, 1985

“Thanksgiving Drive” Many roads closed – students unable to return to campus following Thanksgiving break.

Jan. 19, 1994 Half Day; Cold (campus closed at noon)
Jan. 20, 1994 Half Day; Cold (campus opened at noon)
Jan. 18, 1996 Snow (also the day of the bank robbery/hostage situation at MFC-First National Bank in Houghton)
Potentially a second day of closure that month [per Dulci Avouris and Brian Juopperi]
1997 Cold/Snow/Wind
2000 Cold/Wind
Sept. 11, 2001 Half Day; 9/11 (maybe not an official closure)
Nov. 5, 2001 Partial Campus Closure; Bomb threat at U.J. Noblet Forestry Building
Nov. 14-15, 2002 Power Outage (electrical cable failure) [per J Haapala and Becky Ong]
Summer 2003 Power Outage (Squirrel ate wires in a transformer)
Mar. 2, 2007

Snow

Jan. 30, 2008

Snow/Wind

Feb. 29, 2012 Half Day; Snow/Wind
Feb. 19, 2013 Half Day; Snow/Cold — Career Fair still held
Feb. 20, 2013 Snow/Cold — Career Fair Interviews still held
Feb. 21, 2014 Half Day; Snow/Wind
July 22, 2016 Power Outage (repairing transformer problem in Daniell Heights)
June 18, 2018 Flood — Day after Father’s Day Flood
Jan. 30, 2019 Cold/Snow
Jan. 31, 2019 Cold/Snow 
Feb. 25, 2019 Snow/Wind (25+ inches and gusts up to 68 MPH)

Winter Carnival Memories and Traditions

By Allison Neely | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Participants in the 1955 Beard Contest
Participants in the 1955 Beard Contest. Courtesy of Michigan Tech Archives

Michigan Technological University’s Winter Carnival began in 1922 as a one-day ice carnival presented by the Student Organization. Students performed traditional circus acts–but with students in costumes instead of live animals. According to an article in the Michigan Tech Lode from 1978, the first carnival was held at the Amphidrome and featured four or five student-constructed and manned bucking broncos on ice skates. An even bigger event was held the following year, again with the circus theme, and featured a giraffe made by the Kappa Delta Psi fraternity, a buffalo made by Sigma Rho, and a camel and elephant created by Theta Tau. The Michigan College of Mines band was also featured but only played two songs, a march and a waltz. According to the article, the event garnered wide community attention with approximately 1,100 people in attendance at the 1924 carnival. The carnival proved so popular that the students took their show on the road to Calumet and Marquette.

The carnival was so well-received among the community and students that by 1927 it was established as an annual event. By then, the festival had expanded to a two-day affair and included a formal parade with floats, a dog-sled race, a snowshoe race, and foot races on ice. While college students were the primary participants in the Winter Carnival activities, since the event was a joint venture between the college and the local towns, there were also categories for high school students. Among the highlights of the 1927 carnival was a ski ride behind an airplane on the Portage Canal at 60 miles per hour.!

The very late 1920s and early 1930s saw a hiatus for the Winter Carnival, and by 1930 festivities were suspended in the aftermath of the stock market crash. In 1934, the University’s student chapter of the Blue Key Honor Fraternity resurrected the winter celebration and introduced not only a three-mile snowshoe race, a Snow-Ball dance, a hockey game, and the event’s best known tradition: snow statues. The establishment of the Mont Ripley Ski Hill in 1940 brought festivities across the Portage with ski meets, including the Michigan State Amateur Ski Championship meet, held to coincide with Winter Carnival.

Winter Carnival was again suspended during World War II until 1946. When it was restarted, the carnival saw the inclusion of a stage revue in which fraternities, sororities, and other campus organization presented skits for the enjoyment of the crowd and performers alike. A beard contest was also established in the 1940s.

Carnival grew and evolved over the next couple of decades with attempts at establishing a Fun Night in 1954, which included various student organization booths set up at the Dee Stadium, much like we see at K-Day each year. The Student Council replaced the Fun Night two years later with a concert by groups like the Four Preps or the Limelighters, and in 1961 the Winter Carnival welcomed the inclusion of the popular Broomball event. The Flare Pageant, which had been done in previous years, was restarted in 1962 and featured “skiers carrying colored torches at night down Mont Ripley, forming intricate patterns of light” on the ski hill.

The first place snow sculpture for 1974
The first place snow sculpture for 1974

While Winter Carnival today looks much different from its early years, for the most part Winter Carnival has largely retained its current format since the early 1970s. The snow sculptures, crowning of a Winter Carnival Queen, and annual broomball tournament continue to be staples that have come to define this major Tech tradition. Other events have made fleeting appearances. Highlights of the last fifty years have included some quirky activities unique to the Michigan Tech carnival, including shipments of snowballs sent to Southwest Texas State University for an annual snowball fight. For over two decades, Copper Country snowballs were packed in dry ice and flown to Texas, much to the delight of the Southwest students. Occasionally, the shipment posed some unusual problems like when the 1971 shipment, carefully packed by members of Blue Key, arrived hard as rocks in Texas. Their solution to the problem? A snow cone machine! That’s right, Southwest Texas State students settled for sweet frozen treats instead of a snowball fight that year.

Over the decades, Tech students have competed in everything from snow volleyball and tug-o-war on ice to ice bowling, snoccer (snow soccer), and human dog sled races. One highlight of recent years coinciding with Winter Carnival has been Tech students and community members coming together for a collaborative competition: working together to achieve winter glory in the form of Guiness Book of World Record titles. Since 2013, Tech has held the record for the largest snowball. The snowball, measuring 10.04 m (32.94 ft.) in circumference. was rolled on March 29, 2013. Within the last couple of decades, Tech has also earned titles for most snow angels made simultaneously in one place, largest snowball fight, and most snowmen built in one hour.

Today, the Winter Carnival continues into its 97th year on the Michigan Tech campus and remains an important part of the campus tradition, bringing alumni, students, staff and faculty, as well as a wide range of local and regional community members to Houghton for its annual winter celebration. Once again, students will be back in the swing of spring semester classes and beginning the exciting task of building snow statues on and near campus — so much to look forward to in the coming weeks at Michigan Tech.

Winter Carnival certainly has and continues to have a rich history on the Michigan Tech campus. Interested in learning more? The Michigan Tech Archives holds a wide range of collections and resources pertaining to Winter Carnival at Tech. Included in the Archives’ holdings are records of the Blue Key Honor Society, pictorials, photographs, ephemera, and a plethora of great newspaper coverage in the Copper Country Vertical Files collection.


What you said in December…about Tech!

From Facebook

“Graduation morning, December 2005…I was showing my now husband the necklace and earrings my parents gave me for graduation and he said, “maybe we should complete the set.” We had our reception at the MUB the following September! I should add, I know I graduated but I remember nothing of the ceremony!! :):) love you, Andy B.!!!” -Megan B.

“I proposed to my wife in our apartment off campus. We met at Tech through Mu Beta Psi music fraternity, so technically I married my Brother. (All members are referred to as Brothers)” -Jason Y.

“My husband proposed to me in Wadsworth Hall kitchen on Thanksgiving morning. He was making Thanksgiving dinner for students who stayed up for break. This was back in the day when very few stayed over and the building was essentially closed.” -Chris P

“Moving back is the dream!” -Tee E.

“My husband, a Tech grad, proposed to me on Brockway Mountain.” -Ann O.

“My husband of almost 25 years proposed at the top of Brockway. We met on our first day on campus. His roommate and my roommate were transfer students from the same high school/community college.” -Danette U.

“Oh, I’m an oldster! My husband proposed at the top of Lac Labelle fire tower in 1979. That was at the top of what is now Mt Bohemia! We both graduated in 1977.” -Holly S.

Hearing Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” blasting from speakers out of the Wadsworth Hall windows on my way into Fisher 135 for my freshman chem final.” -Mak M.

“Drove home after May exams after freshman year – in the snow. When I got to the Big Mac I realized I didn’t have $1.50 for the toll. After a little thought I turned around, went to the Shell Station, and cleaned out 15 empties from the dark resources of my Blazer! Score!” -Dannette U.

“Fisher 135 when someone stood up and said all these questions are tricks and walked out…come to think of it, this may have been winter carnival (reasons this may have happened unknown…).

But 3 back to back to back finals (thank God for the Tech rule of no more than 3 in a row) suck so so so bad.

But here I am 4.5 years into my career thankful for such an amazing place, education, and friend network.” -Eric S.

“Yeah it was stressful but nothing compared to the daily stress of working full time as a design engineer of large machines and pressure vessels” -Steve S.

“2 pots of coffee and 2 packs of No-Doz” -Louis C.

“My husband graduated in chemistry in December but walked on June 8th in his cap and gown…the same day we walked down the aisle in church 55 years ago. A double happy day” -Irene W.

“BS in Chem.Eng.1959 .31 years in oil industry.Now at 83, 28 years retired” -Enzio M.

“I remember when the Zilwaukee Bridge was under fire in the 80s, some wags made a “Not Built by Tech Engineers” t-shirt. Perhaps we need same for Line 5 pipeline.” -Victor V.

“As I was finishing my Ph.D at Tech in 1999, I used my student worker and his trusty yard stick for this picture. I used the pic during my interview at Mississippi State for a faculty position in the forest Department. Showing just how happy I was to be moving to the deep south, and out of the snow! In true forestry fashion, I talked about how you can measure major snowfalls in the snowbank, like counting rings on a tree. Light fluffy snow was a snowstorm, then the dark dirty snow was in between those storms.” -Andrew L.

From the inbox

Thank you Michigan Tech for preparing me for a great career! I obtained my BSME in 1956 and was then employed by what was Bendix Automotive Brake Systems in South Bend Indiana. I had a career total of 48 patents as inventor or co-inventor. My greatest achievement occurred when Chrysler upper management decided to switch from their in-house designed and built “Centerplane” brakes to Bendix duo-servos. It was my job to adapt our brakes to the entire Chrysler line – 9” dia. for Valiant 10” for Plymouth and Dodge, 11” for Chrysler and 12” for Dodge light truck. Of course with four wheel disc brakes they are now all gone. –Don J.


The Future of Michigan Tech: A Summary of the Tech Forward Conversations  

Over the past several months the campus community engaged in a series of conversations regarding the future of Michigan Tech within the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  Last week, President Koubek and members of the leadership team presented a summary of those conversations and the initiatives the campus will pursue in the coming years. President Koubek began the reception by acknowledging the more than 500 faculty and staff who participated in the conversations as well as the deans who provided thought leader pieces.

Following, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academics Affairs Jackie Huntoon and Vice President for Research Dave Reed further explained how the campus community arrived at nine initiatives.

According to Huntoon, “The Tech Forward conversations we’ve had this semester have been very productive. People from across the University, members of the community, and alumni have all contributed and provided their insights regarding the future of Michigan Tech. We listened carefully to all the different voices and are excited about how the all of the conversations converged throughout the semester. We now have a framework that will help us to focus our efforts as we begin to plan for the future.”  Reed added, “There are a number of critical issues for society to address. Michigan Tech is already working on many of these, but the initiatives will allow us to do even more. We can bring our expertise in the data revolution and sensing, for instance, to contribute to global efforts to address these critical issues.”

Three campus-wide initiatives garnered wide support throughout the conversations, the first being a new college focused on computing. Dan Fuhrmann will lead the planning for this initiative. The second is to propagate the Pavlis Honors College educational outcomes across Michigan Tech’s core curriculum. Lorelle Meadows will spearhead this effort. The third initiative is to enhance Michigan Tech’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. Kellie Raffaelli will lead this initiative and has been appointed Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion.

There are six additional initiatives for which the following individuals have agreed to lead a committee in developing proposals on behalf of the University:

  1. Advanced Materials and Manufacturing: Gregory Odegard
  2. Autonomous and Intelligent Systems: Jeff Naber
  3. Health and Quality of Life: Caryn Heldt
  4. Natural Resources, Water and Energy: Andrew Burton
  5. Policy, Ethics and Culture: Jennifer Daryl Slack
  6. Sustainability and Resilience: David Shonnard

Each working group, yet to be assembled, will host a series of meetings early in the New Year to develop their respective proposals for consideration by the review committee, consisting of two members of the president’s council and two from University Senate, who will make recommendations for funding beginning in fiscal year 2019-20.   

To learn more, please visit www.mtu.edu/techforward.