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.


Dear Classmate,

Welcome to the Class of 1959’s 60th reunion web page! It’s a special year for the members of the Class of ’59 as we will celebrate a milestone Michigan Tech anniversary! During Michigan Tech’s Alumni Reunion—this year August 1, 2, and 3, 2019—select classes will celebrate special anniversaries. Included in this group is this year’s sixty-year reunion class—the Class of 1959! Special tables/sections will be set aside at events to encourage class members to gather. It’s a chance for us to share stories and remembrances, and catch up on each other’s lives since our days in the Copper Country!

This web page will serve as a way for us to communicate with you during the months leading up to the reunion. We can share specific plans with you or let you know when reunion registration information will go out in the mail. Hopefully, this page will also encourage enthusiasm for the reunion and convince people to return to campus in August for the celebration. In addition, the 60-year class traditionally conducts a special fundraising project throughout the year to commemorate this noteworthy reunion. This page will also provide information on this class reunion gift effort. If you haven’t made a contribution in 2018–19, please consider doing so now. While all gifts (no matter the designation) will count in our reunion gift total, we are placing special emphasis on securing gifts for our Class of 1959 Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Included here are some items specific to the class of 1959—several gift statistics, as well as a current class donor honor roll. Please check this web site from time to time between now and August to stay up-to-date on reunion news and activities!

Here’s to Michigan Tech!

Mel Visser


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.  

 


13 Days Left Until 2019! Make Your Gift Today!

As we approach the end of the 2018 calendar year, we want to take a moment to remind our alumni and friends that there is still time to make an annual contribution in support of Michigan Tech.

You can phone the Michigan Tech Fund at 906-487-2310 or toll-free at 877-386-3688 to make your gift with a credit card. You also have the option of making a credit card gift via Michigan Tech’s secure online gift page. These online gifts can be made up until 11:55 p.m. (EST) on December 31 to ensure a 2018 contribution.

The Michigan Tech Fund offices will be closed on December 24 and 25, but will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EST) December 26, 27, and 28 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (EST) on December 31.

 


Your Summer Youth Program Experience: Nathalie Osborn ’93

Nathalie Osborn ’93

From tomboy attending the Women in Engineering Program (WIE) in the 80s, to presenting as a guest speaker for the 2018 WIE attendees, this energized leader, coach, director and co-author is sure leave a positive impact on everyone she meets. Here is her story.

We love hearing back from those who are alumni of both Michigan Tech and Summer Youth Programs. Whether you attended in 2012 or 1985, we want to hear from you! Please share your story with us!

Hometown: I grew up in Mount Pleasant, Michigan which is a university town. My dad was a college professor at Central Michigan University (CMU), so I was familiar with university life and my mom volunteered in schools but stayed at home.

Siblings: I am the oldest of three, with one brother and one sister.

Childhood Hobbies: We always went to CMU games, and my family was very active. We participated in cross country skiing, and I played softball and ran cross country. I also did enjoy reading a lot. In grade school, I always loved reading the biographies about people’s life and adventures, like Amelia Earhart and Teddy Roosevelt.  

Favorite subject in School: Math, because it always had right answers. I also liked science. My high school physics professor was one of my favorite teachers. My school also had a vocational training program, so I had the opportunity to take architectural drafting and electrical wiring. I really loved the style of learning by doing.

Role models: My grandfather and I were super close and I could talk to him about anything. He was hands-on and a techy person, and he taught me many things. I was a tomboy growing up and he embraced that and encouraged me to learn. Even at a young age I remember him telling me “I could be anything, have anything, or do anything I wanted.” He really was a great role model for me, and I am not sure I would have been as confident going into engineering without his support.

How did you learn about WIE and why did you attend: My father found out about the Women in Engineering Program and he knew I liked math and science so he  encouraged me to attend. I thought why not! I will say I didn’t know how far north it was going to be! I remember that it was a great summer. I went to the program but we also took time to explore the UP. I remember hiking, seeing waterfalls, and it was just a great chance to see the beauty of the UP.

What do you recall about your week at WIE? The whole experience, especially being on a college campus, staying in the dorms, and eating in the dining hall helped me to see what the college experience would be like. I remember being excited to get to know women from other schools with the same interests. It was such a fun and energetic environment and a chance to explore all engineering disciplines and learn in a hands-on way.

College: I attended a 2+2 engineering program with Michigan Tech and Central Michigan University for mechanical engineering. I went to CMU from 1990-92, maybe because the distance from home to Michigan Tech did scare me a bit. The 2+2 program was great. We had about 15-20 people in that program and most transferred to Michigan Tech after the first few years. We took all the pre-engineering courses together so we became close. I recall heading up to Michigan Tech with three others from the program piled into a car, to check out campus.

Once I did get to Michigan Tech and I started classes, I remember wishing I would have come up here for all four years! My favorite memory at Michigan Tech was winter carnival. I remember that one group had a life size search and rescue scene, with an ambulance and all! The atmosphere of that carnival, all the people engineering statues together, building and have fun. I love how this school embraces winter.

What are some milestones or great moments in your career you’d like to share? My first job was at Automotive Perception and a few other Michigan Tech grads were working there too. It was a job where we traveled the country and went into auto plants and installed laser cameras and windshields on cars. What I think is unique about this job is that I am still friends with a lot of the people I worked with and it overall was a unique experience. I also worked with Ford and helped with the hydrogen fuel cell in a car they were unleashing at an auto show in 2001. Then, I went into the energy industry and worked on the California Solar Initiative with the California Public Utilities Commission to help launch that program. It was a huge project and I feel grateful to have been a part of it. I am currently the Director of Smart Grid Initiatives at NextEnery Center, a nonprofit in Detroit.

Michigan Tech did a great job preparing me to be an adaptable and versatile engineer. I went into mechanical engineering but have been able to have flexibility in my roles through that field.  

You are the co-author of a book. What is it about and what was that experience like? I am the co-author of “Ignite Your Leadership: Proven Tools for Leaders to Energize Teams, Fuel Momentum, and Accelerate Results.” I always thought it would be fun to write a book and wrote a chapter for this book. In the book, I use engineering terms to showcase how I  power myself, the “kW” of leadership – know who you are, what you want, and why you want it. I was also shocked and humbled that the book made the bestseller list in US and Canada.

You came back to Michigan Tech as a guest speaker during the 2018 WIE etiquette dinner. What was that experience like? I really loved it and welcome the opportunity again. It was amazing to come full circle and talk to a group of young women who are learning about engineering programs.  They are in a great place with so many paths in front of them. I enjoyed crafting a message talking to them about how an engineering degree is great to get, but even if you don’t pursue that path, you can power your life however you want.  I am very fortunate for all the opportunities I have had in life both based off choices and encouragement from others.


A Look Back at Tech’s Residence Halls (or Dorms)

By Emily Riippa | University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

What makes the college experience special? For some, it’s getting to dive deeply into studying what matters to them. For others, it’s the friends made over late-night study sessions, midnight adventures, or even more colorful escapades not to be described here. It’s forming a broomball team, setting off the fire alarm with burnt popcorn, pranking a buddy. Whatever it might be that sets college apart, the odds are good that the residence halls had a hand in it.

So many memories are formed in college dorms, and student housing at Michigan Tech is no exception. Over the years, a variety of residence halls have offered Huskies a place to sleep, study, and socialize on campus. Let’s take a look at three long-running dorms still serving students today: Douglass Houghton Hall, Wadsworth Hall, and McNair Hall.

Douglass Houghton Hall (DHH)

Douglass Houghton Hall in its earlier years.

Douglass Houghton Hall, more commonly known these days as DHH, is the oldest residence hall at Michigan Tech. From day one, DHH stood out: it was the first building constructed as a dorm at the college and provided brand-new accommodations for some 204 male students when it opened in 1939. The following June, the hall received a formal dedication as Douglass Houghton Hall in a speech given by A.E. Petermann, the chairman of Tech’s Board of Control. This name, Petermann told his listeners, would remind the students that Houghton had made the most of his youth, achieving considerable success as a geologist, physician, and investor before drowning in Lake Superior at the age of 36.

 

In an article published in 1941, the Daily Mining Gazette sang the praises of DHH in rhapsodic terms to alumni arriving for that year’s reunion. The building was “of Tudor-othic style, and constructed of red brick, with stone trim, copper roof, and metal casement windows,” as well as solid local oak. Alumni and their guests would “appreciate particularly the lounge facilities,” of which there were two. “Mellow paneling, a large fireplace, davenports, reading-chairs, and a piano make each lounge a pleasant and homelike gathering place,” wrote the Gazette reporter. An infirmary, laundry, “student valet room,” kitchen, and dining room rounded out the offerings of DHH. Another article, this one in the campus paper, likewise noted that students could be buzzed to the hallway telephones; the luxury of room lines had not yet reached the dorm. From rooms facing the front of the building, lucky residents could look out at “a beautiful, tree-shadowed lawn,” in the words of the Gazette, and know that they were “but a stone’s throw from the college athletic field, and only a five-minute walk from the westernmost of the college buildings.” Best of all, students in the new dorm were not subject to a curfew, unlike their contemporaries at other colleges.

Of course, the relatively light supervision that DHH students enjoyed in those days was not always used wisely and well. In 1957, a pair of residents decided to transform their room into a chemistry lab, but their experiment ended with a minor explosion. Fortunately, the two were not seriously injured. On another occasion, a resident advisor asked a student to explain what had damaged a single globe light in his room. “A sonic boom,” the young man replied. The RA almost dismissed the incident on the basis of the student’s chutzpah. Then, of course, there was the time in 1951 that a group of students guided freshman Guenther Frankenstein’s massive Jeep up the stairs of DHH and parked it in front of Room 151. Fifty years later, Frankenstein recalled that the administration “wasn’t too happy regarding the event” and that the dean “wanted to expell [sic] me for good” but ultimately settled for a lengthy period of probation.

Students driving the Jeep up the DHH stairs. Guenther Frankenstein, the car’s owner, is shown at right, helping to steer it in the right direction.

It cost the college $350,000 to build and furnish Douglass Houghton Hall. Unfortunately, despite the Gazette’s glowing reviews, the building quickly ran into issues. Insulation had to be added and the roof repaired within a year. Space also soon became a problem: in 1942, DHH housed 20 percent more students than it was designed to hold. World War II delayed construction of a new addition, which eventually opened in 1948. Some further renovations occurred in 1966, 1969, and 1991. Through it all, DHH has been a little historical gem in a campus looking to the future.

 

 

 

 

Wadsworth Hall

An earlier incarnation of Wadsworth Hall, featuring the athletic fields and Sherman Gym.

Wadsworth Hall is the longest dorm on campus, spanning more than a quarter mile on US-41. Ever since it first opened in the fall of 1955, “Wads” has attracted interest for its statistics. Writing about the dorm following a 1958 expansion, the Gazette noted that its construction required the removal of 100,000 cubic yards of excavated material, included 750 tons of reinforcing steel, and paid out $1.6 million in wages to the local community. Also remarkable was how dramatically the new residence hall expanded on-campus living: 70% more students could be accommodated in college housing.

Demand for dorm space at Tech was so high in 1955 that the first 356 residents moved in before their rooms were painted. Wads featured “ultra-modern living” in double rooms, each of which, the university boasted, featured a picture window, huge desk lights, and expansive closets with sliding doors. Common spaces also became a point of pride, including a sizable lounge and “a recreation room almost as large,” a ping-pong room, and a laundry room with all the trimmings. On the ground floor, Tech students needing medical care could visit the infirmary, which featured “five completely-equipped hospital rooms.” The Michigan College of Mining and Technology alumni magazine made a point to note that one of the rooms was “separated from the rest to serve the coeds.” The construction of the new Wadsworth infirmary relieved another building on campus, the Smith house, of its medical role, freeing up that building as residential space for women enrolling at Tech.

All of these amenities were housed in what is now just the eastern wing of the residence hall; the other portion, which included more student rooms and a dining hall, opened in 1958. Herman Gundlach, who had been the contractor on the second phase, submitted the successful bid for the final 200-bed expansion in 1965. Like historic DHH, Wads has also received its tune-ups over the years. The most ambitious of these took place in 2004, while students remained in residence. Remodeled shower stalls provided more privacy, and kitchens and lounges were extensively renovated. New carpeting and furniture moved into dorm rooms, replacing the much-applauded closets from the 1950s and building in lofts that students had come to love. Finally, the large dining hall received a “bright and modern look,” with “restaurant-style seating” replacing the “long, brown, institutional tables reminiscent of ‘Cool Hand Luke.’”

Residents of Wads before the renovation might recall one memorable way that their dorm-mates showcased their creativity in the building’s corridors. Beyond choosing imaginative names for their halls–which continues to this day–residents would paint murals in audacious style in celebration of their theme. The art coming out of the 1971 Winter Carnival was a good example: medieval scenes lined the hall that year, including an impressive painting of knights on horseback riding toward a castle. Who said that engineers couldn’t be artists?

Medieval paintings in the corridors of Wadsworth Hall, 1971

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McNair Hall

If you attended Tech in the 1960s through the 1980s, it might still seem odd to hear Co-Ed Hall referred to as McNair. Tech broke ground on the new dorm, which has since been renamed in honor of former college president Frederick Walter McNair, in December 1965. McNair as we know it, however, almost didn’t happen at all. In the early 1960s, with enrollment of students and especially of female students (“co-eds”) steadily increasing, the college found itself facing a housing crunch. It needed on-campus rooms for women, so administrators set aside a number of spaces in Wads. That provided only a temporary remedy to the problem, as students asking for campus housing continued to enroll. Tech went to the drawing board and came up with a plan to build a new residence hall for sixty women. After that had been completed, three more dorms would be built, including one with a “meals services division.” In the end, Tech scrapped these plans in favor of a more compact, two-phase residence hall complex.

A model of Co-Ed Hall before construction

Each section of Co-Ed Hall was designed to house 300 students. A dining facility seating all 600 would connect the two. Contractor Herman Gundlach once again took on the job, starting with the construction of “a heated tent like structure composed of scaffold rings and Vis-Queen, which enabled crews to work in relative comfort despite the severity of Northern Michigan winters.” Gradually, scaffolding gave way to masonry, and in just ten months the first phase of Co-Ed Hall was open for occupancy. Phase I–called West McNair today–stood three stories high and, like its neighbor Wads, featured a large lounge, a sizable recreation room, and an apartment for a counselor-in-residence. As in DHH, the university took pride in offering each floor of double rooms “telephone service in the corridors.” Construction on Phase II, described as a “high rise type dormitory building,” began in 1966 and wrapped up the following year. “Suite-type rooms,” noted one advertisement at the time, “with connecting baths and some single rooms are being considered.” Between the two–both physically and chronologically–was placed the cafeteria, which offered not only a dining area but another lounge, post office, telephone switchboard, and office space. Mercifully for students fighting a Copper Country winter, the plans called for enclosed corridors to take residents from each wing of Co-Ed Hall to the dining room.

What stands out for former residents, whether they called their home Co-Ed Hall or McNair? Many would point to the scenic views. While there’s no such thing as poor scenery in the Copper Country, this dorm enjoyed more than most a beautiful vista, perched as it is on what students call McNair Hill. With its expansive walls of windows, the dining hall invites students to enjoy their meals with a little Keweenaw flavor, whether ablaze in fall colors or gently cloaked in winter snow.

Construction photographs of the eastern part of Co-Ed Hall (East McNair)