ROTC Commanders Complete Their Time at Tech

image109785-persThis spring, the commanders of both the Army and Air Force ROTC detachments will complete their tours of duty on the Michigan Tech campus.

Lieutenant Colonel Adam Melnitsky arrived in 2013 to direct the Army training program, while Major Jason Engler took over the Air Force detachment a year later. It is unusual for both commanders to depart at the same time, although regular rotations are part of the plan for all military officers.

It is a bit more out of the ordinary that both will retire from their services after twenty years on active duty. The College of Sciences and Arts is marking their retirement from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday (April 24) in the conference room in the ROTC Building.

Melnitsky entered the Army after completing the ROTC program at Norwich University in New York in 1997, and served in a number of positions with the First Cavalry Division, before serving in a recruiting position in Salt Lake City and in the Boston Military Entrance Processing Station. Subsequently he deployed to Iraq in 2008 and again in 2011 — the latter with one of the last units in Iraq.

Engler joined the Air Force through ROTC at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Phoenix, with a degree in space studies. He began his career as a “missileer” at Vandenberg and later served as a missile officer at an ICBM base in Montana.

Among his later appointments was time at NORAD headquarters in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. The connection to space remained a part of Engler’s efforts in various Air Force staff assignments before coming to Tech.

Bruce Seely, dean of the College of Sciences and Arts said, “Adam and Jason have been marvelous leaders of the ROTC units under their command, which at times can be a difficult task of serving the Army, Air Force and the University — they have done so with distinction. Both have academic appointments to match their military rank — Adam as Professor of Military Science and Jason as Professor of Aerospace Studies. The length of their appointments was longer than the normal two-year tour, which was a good thing for Tech and for the cadets, as we gained additional stability from the continuity of their leadership. We will miss their steady hands and commitment to training the next generation of military officers.”

Melnitsky and his wife Teresa intend to move to Salt Lake City, while Engler and his spouse Leah (who works as a grants analyst in the Sponsored Programs Office) are heading to Arizona to launch a brew pub.

Both couples say they’re excited at the prospect of having their own homes.

We extend best wishes from everyone at Michigan Tech to them and their families in their future endeavors, as they transition from military to civilian life.

Army/Air Force ROTC Cross Country Ski Race Saturday

ROTC_Ski20150327_0022On Saturday (March 18) the two great ROTC programs here at Michigan Tech will compete head-to-head at the Tech Trails to prove which group of cadets has the most stamina and, dare I say it — tenacity — to survive winter and come out on top.

Blair Orr of the Nordic Ski Club has enthusiastically offered to host a cross-country ski race, a 2.2K paired sprint, classic style, beginning at 12:15 p.m. The Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC programs are both very successful, dedicated and proud, as well as intense friendly rivals. The mood promises to be exciting as the cadets give their best effort to prove their mettle in the (hopefully) waning days of winter.

The public is welcome to attend and cheer for their favorite service.

Tech Honored with Military Friendly Schools Silver Award

Michigan Tech has received a Silver Award from Military Friendly Schools. The award recognizes Tech for being a small public school with outstanding programs and support for military personnel, veterans and their families.

The awards are new this year and are meant to highlight schools that go beyond federal requirements to offer exceptional programs for military personnel, veterans and their families.

Of the 1,160 universities recognized as Military Friendly, 541 won special awards for excellence.

Last month, Michigan Tech was named a Military Friendly School for the third time. Read more here.

Michigan Tech Named a Military Friendly School

image152256-fshorizwMichigan Tech has been named a Military Friendly school by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs, STEM Jobs and Military Spouse. Michigan Tech is one of 1,160 schools to receive the Military Friendly designation.

First published in 2009, Military Friendly Schools is a resource for veterans and their families, helping them select the best college, university or trade school to receive the education and training needed to pursue a civilian career. Institutions earning the Military Friendly school designation were evaluated using public data sources and responses from a survey. More than 1,600 schools participated in the 2017 survey.

This is the third time Michigan Tech has been named a Military Friendly school.

“Once again we are honored to be recognized for our ongoing efforts to provide useful educational opportunities and needed support services for our veterans and their families,” said President Glenn Mroz.

Read the full story.

Michigan Tech Veteran Returns to Help Struggling Vets

1478803878In July, Michelle Kovachich began her duties as a readjustment counselor with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Her new job brought the Calumet native, a Michigan Tech alumna and US Army veteran, home after more than a decade that took her from Alaska to the Middle East and back again.

Kovachich says she loves to travel and when she graduated from high school she entertained opportunities to pursue her education far away from home. She chose Michigan Tech not necessarily because it was close to home, but because it had exactly what she wanted: a military education.

“I wanted a school with a strong ROTC program and a good relationship with the military. That’s exactly what Tech had and why I chose to go there.”

Her choice turned out to be a good one. Following graduation in 2005 with a degree in social sciences and completion of the ROTC program, Kovachich was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.

She credits Tech’s ROTC program for preparing her for life in the service. “It wasn’t a surprise,” she says of her transition from college student in Houghton to the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division of the 725th Support Battalion at Fort Richardson, Alaska, near Anchorage.

“Tech’s ROTC program provided the best training and structure. When I went into the military I had an idea of what to expect because of Tech’s ROTC. It wasn’t a surprise because they fed you the information you needed.”

During her five-year service, she experienced the Artic cold of Alaska and war in the Middle East. In 2006 she was deployed to Iraq for 15 months as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2009 she served 13 months as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Read the full story.

Artic Warriors Back in Broomball

The Artic Warriors are back in another season of hard hitting, goal scoring, and action packed broomball. So far the Artic Warriors have played two games and lead the Wads West Conference 3 with impressive stats. The team has scored 22 goals, 3rd most in all of broomball,  in two games and played shutdown defense by not allowing any goals so far this season, 1st in all of broomball. The Artic Warriors are lead by their Captain, MSIII Amato, who has recorded 2 goals and 5 assists. The powerful offense has seen a power surge in MSII VanWert who has scored 6 goals and has 7 assists. MSIII St. Arnaud leads the team with 12 goals and 4 assists and has been seen in opposing goalies nightmares all season long. The stellar defense has protected MSIV goalie Pscheid by only allowing 13 shots so far this season. The defense is lead by enforcer MSIV Abbott who has recorded more penalty minutes (5) than points (4). Also protecting the net minder is MSIII Johnson who has a knack for stealing the ball and dishing it to the powerful offense recording 8 assists on the young season.  Despite being smaller in size MSIII Witteveen plays a defensive style of a large speed bump by ferociously taking out opponents before they can even think about shooting.

The Artic Warriors look to keep their winning ways this Saturday at 1015 where the square off for their third game of the season which can be seen through the broomball webcams at

Michigan Tech is 7th in the Nation for ROTC Participation

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Washington Monthly magazine’s newly released College Guide ranked Michigan Technological University 7th in the nation for its ROTC program and 15th for faculty receiving significant research grants.  The magazine’s latest rankings also placed Michigan Tech in the top 25 percent of all national universities and the top 18 percent for students earning bachelor’s degrees who go on to earn PhDs.

The magazine ranked 1,540 colleges and universities that award bachelor’s degrees.  Of that number, 279 are national universities, which offer PhDs as well as baccalaureate and master’s degrees.  Michigan Tech ranked 68th overall among those 279 national universities.

Service, which the magazine editors define as encouraging students to give something back to their country, looks at the size of each school’s Air Force, Army, and Navy ROTC programs, relative to the size of the school; the number of alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps, relative to the size of the school; the percentage of federal work-study grant money spent on community service projects; the number of students participating in community service and total service hours performed, both relative to school size; the number of full-time staff supporting community service, relative to the total number of staff; the number of academic courses that incorporate service, relative to school size; and whether the institution provides scholarships for community service.

Army ROTC Spring Awards Ceremony

As the Spring Semester comes to a close, Cadets of the 1st Arctic Battalion at Michigan Technological University were rewarded for their hard work all year with the final awards ceremony. After the awards ceremony came to a close, the Change of Command ceremony began as C/LTC Alec Bigalke, C/CSM Alexandria Van Duzer, and the MTU ROTC Graduating Class of 2015 handed the Battalion over to C/LTC Nicholas Jones, C/CSM Alexander Abbott, and the Graduating Class of 2016. Best of luck to the new Battalion leadership and congratulations to our Spring Graduates: 2LTs Michael Braun (SC), Kevin Erkkila (EN), William Price (FA), Raymond Stetter (EN), and Dillon Wilkins (OD).


Awards Presented are as follows:

Gold Medal Athlete

-Cadets: Fitzpatrick, Herzog, Grifka, Pionke and Standing

Platinum Medal Athlete

-Cadets: Carey, Youngblood, Garner, Spicuzza, Abbott, Doering, Jones, Kinder, Shuler and Weeks

FTX – Fitzpatrick, Crapsey, Jung

Drill Team – Ruotsala, Carey

Most Improved Pt Award – Cadet: Simmering

Battalion Commander’s Athletic Award – Cadet Kinder

Benjamin Hall Cadet of the Semester Award – Cadet Chaney

Michigan Chapter of the National Society Daughters of Founders & Patriots of America – Cadet Carey

Society of the War of 1812 – Cadet Dallas St Arnaud

Reserve Officers Association – Cadets Grossman, Abbott and Pionke

Military Order of the Purple Heart – Cadet Weeks

The Military Order of the World Wars– Cadets: Bigalke, Jones, McLaughlin and VanWert

Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. – Cadet Grifka

Retired Officers’ Association (MOAA) ROTC Medal – Cadet Kinder

Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association (AFCEA) ROTC Honor Award – Cadet Shuler

AUSA ROTC Activities Award – Cadets Pscheid

American Veterans of World War II – Cadet Garner

Veterans of Foreign Wars Medal – Cadet Coon

American Legion Awards – Cadets Van Wert and Lackey

Sons of the American Revolution – Youngblood

Daughters of the American Revolution Award – Cadet Rouse

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War – Cadet Kinder

Superior Cadet Citiation – Cadets: Van Wert, Kostick, McLaughlin, and Weeks


Greater Michigan Awards

-Cadet Van Wert was presented the BAE Systems Award

-Cadet McLaughlin was presented the AM General Award

-Cadet Pscheid was presented the Munro and Associates Award

-Cadet Bigalke was presented the Lockheed Martin Award

-Cadet Grossman was presented the AUSA Award

-Cadet Jones was presented the General Dynamics Land Systems Award

-Cadet St Arnaud and Cadet Bigalke were also recognized for their hard work and dedication as Cadet Battalion Commanders for the Arctic Warrior Battalion.

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Army Cadets Build Strength

Some people lift weights to relieve stress and others do it to work on their beach bods. Army ROTC Cadets at Michigan Tech lift to condition their bodies because they know they will soon be responsible for leading Soldiers into battle. These dedicated Cadets have been participating in intense workouts at CrossFit Hakkapeliittain Hancock, MI. The Hakkapeliitta coaches do an excellent job facilitating workouts and ensuring Cadets get the most out of the session. Workouts usually consist of two parts, a more traditional strength exercise and a WOD (Workout of the Day) which is a grueling, timed circuit workout. The meaning behind the WOD’s is what motivates the Arctic Cadets even more. Each workout is a tribute to a fallen American service member.

This week’s workout was dedicated to U.S. Army Speci alist Scott Morrison of Blue Ash, Ohio. SPC Morrison died from wounds suffered in battle on September 26, 2010 when insurgents in Kandahar, Afghanistan attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device on September 25th. The grueling workout devoted to SPC Morrison consisted of 50-40-30-20-10 reps of: Wall balls with a 20lb ball, box jumps on a 24 in. box and 50 lbs. kettlebell swings. All of that had a 20 minute time limit, if all the reps had not been completed. As the first group of Cadets finished this extreme challenge, the next group anxiously awaited their turn to honor the fallen Soldier.

Written by Cadet Justin Pavliscak and Cadet Jack Youngblood