Online Structural MSCE Graduates it’s First Student

The Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering is honored to congratulate Hoss Yaqoub for being our first online MSCE graduate.  Hoss is graduating with his online MSCE in the area of Structural Engineering and will continue on to obtain his Ph.D. from Michigan Tech.  

From Hoss – “My name is Hoss Yaqoub. I earned my BSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Alexandria in 1995. Throughout the last 25 years, I worked in five international enterprises in four different countries which paved the way to shape my career and provided me with comprehensive experience. I conducted several front‐end engineering reviews, in addition, I gave technical support to the management which led, in most cases, to significant savings. Proudly, I had the chance to prepare the construction work design packages for several projects which in turns, strengthened my technical abilities superimposed by refining  my engineering capabilities. Currently, I’m working as an engineering facilitator in Calgary, Canada.

In these hard times due to COVID, a lot of effort was conducted mutually with a lot of Jogging, reading, classical music and boxing in my free time that lead my desire to get better opportunities to enhance my technical capabilities and scientific bases. This was the major lead to graduate from the MSCE online program in structural engineering in Fall 2021. With great passion, I was able to complete the program in two years. The program sets my eagerness to explore new aspects of structural design and civil engineering. It gave me the opportunity to gain and improve some skills and increased my consciousness about engineering in general. 

Now I do have the momentum to take one step forward, I’m planning to join the Ph.D. program at MTU to achieve more in-depth exploration for my favorite science of civil engineering.


Judith Perlinger is an ISR Faculty Research Fellow

Judith Perlinger
Judith Perlinger

The Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability and Resilience (ISR) is happy to announce the selection of two Sustainable and Resilient Communities Faculty Research Fellows!

Judith Perlinger is a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE) and an established scholar working in the realm of sustainability and resilience.

Ana Dyreson is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM) who works in the realm of energy systems transitions and the energy-water-climate nexus.

Perlinger and Dyreson will both be relieved of one course for the fall 2022 semester in order to focus on developing and submitting research funding proposals that will enhance Michigan Tech’s leadership in impactful sustainability and resilience research.

Perlinger will be working on new proposals for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Coastlines and People (CoPe) program, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Dyreson will be working on proposal submissions for NSF programs, including the NSF CAREER award program, and for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

With this fellowship program, ISR aims to support researchers in developing new collaborations and opportunities to grow research activities that address contemporary research challenges in sustainability and resilience. This program will propel research leaders at Michigan Tech to pursue new opportunities and increase impactful research activities. ISR is delighted to support these dedicated scholars through the Faculty Research Fellows program.

For more information or with any questions, please contact Chelsea Schelly at cschelly@mtu.edu

By Tech Forward Initiative for Sustainability and Resilience.


C2E2 Awards for Dai and Seagren

The Vice President for Research Office (VPR) has awarded Century II Campaign Endowed Equipment Fund (C2E2) awards at the recommendation of the C2E2 Committee. In Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, the recipients were:

Qingli “Barbara” Dai (CEGE) — Purchase of Freeze-Thaw and Internal Frost Damage Test System

Eric Seagren (CEGE) — The VisiSens TD System for 2-D In Situ Measurement of O2, CO2, and pH Using Optical Chemical Sensors: Opportunities for Research and Education

Qingli Barbara Dai
Qingli Barbara Dai
Eric Seagren
Eric Seagren


Great Lakes Investigations Aboard Michigan Tech’s Research Vessel Agassiz for Students in Grades 4-12

Dr. Noel Urban aboard the Agassiz with students

The Ride the Waves program completed its 8th year of offering scientific excursions aboard Michigan Tech’s research vessel Agassiz for students in grades 4-12 and the community. Twenty-four excursions for 374 adults and students were conducted during the summer and fall. The Agassiz was a popular attraction at two community events (Strawberry Festival in Chassell and Lake Superior Day in Copper Harbor) during the summer where participants learned how scientists assess the health of the Great Lakes. Students in grades 5-8 participated in nine scientific excursions.

School classes could choose from two programs offered—Aquatic Food Web in the Portage Waterway and Torch Lake Mine Waste & Remediation in Torch Lake.

The Aquatic Food Web & Lab (3-hr program: 1.5 hrs lab & 1.5 hrs Agassiz) investigates water quality (depth, clarity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen), and students collect benthic and plankton samples that they bring back to examine in the lab to find out “how do you make a lake trout?”Dr. Cory MacDonald and PhD student, Kenny Larson, along with graduate students in the lab—all from the CEGE Department– led these investigations.

Torch Lake Mine Waste Remediation (4-hr program: 2 hrs Agassiz; 2 hrs remediation assessment on land) presents the history of mining & milling copper and its impacts on the land and water. Students visit a historic copper milling site, evaluate a reclaimed former Superfund mine waste site along Torch Lake, and compare sediment cores from healthy and impacted parts of the lake. Dr. Noel Urban, in the CEGE Department led the Torch Lake investigation, along with Joan Chadde leading the land remediation assessment.

Thank you notes from students

Some of the students’ observations included:

I didn’t know there were so many types of zoo and phytoplankton!

I learned a lot of new things—what a Secchi disk measures and looking for organisms in mud.

I learned how activities on the land affect life in the water.

Now I know that fish smell like algae!

I sincerely appreciate learning about local history.

We are so grateful that we got to do this field trip!

The Ride the Waves Program is made possible with a generous grant from General Motors (GM). Logistical support is provided by Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center. More than 3000 youth have benefited from GM’s support since 2013.

For more information, contact Joan Chadde, Director, Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach at the Great Lakes Research Center: 906-487-3341 or jchadde@mtu.edu


Summer Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Nick Kampfschulte
Undergraduate researcher Nick Kampfschulte hard at work “His past experience as a competitive rower was an asset in the field” – Dr. Cory McDonald

CEGE Undergraduates Awarded Summer Research

Five Michigan Tech civil and environmental engineering undergraduate students were selected to participate in undergraduate research over the summer.  The students selected were awarded funding with a 1:1 match from the Department and their faculty advisor.  All of the applicants considered were outstanding in advancing new research as well as providing an exceptional research opportunity for our undergraduate students.  The following were selected: 

Michelle Bollini, advised and nominated by Dr. Judith Perlinger – Michelle worked with her research advisors and mentors Dr. Judith Perlinger and graduate student Enid Partika on the convergence research project, “Bridging Knowledge Systems and Expertise for Understanding the Dynamics of a Contaminated Tribal Landscape System (TLS)”. She assisted in developing methods for the analysis of concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyl compounds and other persistent organic pollutants in fish collected from Lake Superior and Upper Peninsula inland lakes.

Nicholas Kampfschulte, advised and nominated by Dr. Cory McDonald  – Nick worked on a paleolimnological study to understand the effects of anthropogenic nitrogen deposition on aquatic ecosystems.  They collected sediment cores from three remote lakes in the Huron Mountains in May, and Nick has been performing a variety of laboratory analyses to measure radionuclides and stable isotopes in these samples.  Nick and Dr. McDonald are using this data to reconstruct the history of these lakes.  Nick is continuing his work in the lab during the academic year.  Nick says of the experience:  “The opportunity to visit the Huron Mountains was truly a once in a lifetime experience and the knowledge/ experience I’ve gained in the area of radiometric dating is not only invaluable to me as it has grown into a new personal interest of mine, will also be invaluable to me in my career search

Bobbi Hulce, advised and nominated by Dr. Qingli Dai – Bobbi conducted mechanical performance tests of both recycled plastic-rubber modified and tire steel fiber-reinforced plastic-rubber modified mortar samples. Recycled plastic-rubber aggregates, with mesh sizes from #10 to #18 partially replaced the fine aggregates with three-volume percentages of 10%, 15%, and 20%. Control mortar, mortar with recycled plastic-rubber, and mortar with tire steel fiber reinforcement and recycled plastic-rubber were prepared. The compressive and indirect tensile strength were measured and compared. Fracture strength and fracture energy were measured with the single-edge notched beam test to evaluate the effects of recycled plastic-rubber aggregates and tire steel fibers. The mortar test results will be further improved and connected with the durability performance evaluation. This study will facilitate the recycling of plastics and tire rubbers with concrete production.

Other undergraduate students conducting research this summer were Emily Bergstrom, advised and nominated by Dr. Jake Hiller and Joshua King, advised and nominated by Dr. Zhanping You.

MICUP Program

In addition to the above awards, George Vicente, a civil engineering student at Penn State University, participated in flood hazard mitigation research with Professor David Watkins.  Specifically, George tested the flood hydrology tools in FEMA’s HAZUS software to evaluate the ability to simulate the impacts of local flooding, such as the damage resulting from the 2018 Father’s Day Flood.  George’s program was co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and during his time on campus, he also participated in a course and activities with students in the Michigan College/University Partnership (MICUP) Program.


Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative provides place-based professional learning for teachers this summer

Since 2008, the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) has brought together schools and community partners in a 5-county area of the western Upper Peninsula to prepare K-12 students to become knowledgeable citizens concerned about the Lake Superior watershed and actively engaged in stewardship projects in their community. A partnership between Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD), LSSI has provided place-based professional learning opportunities for teachers. This summer, a 2021 NOAA B-WET grant awarded to the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, in partnership with the Western UP MiSTEM Network and others, afforded meaningful watershed educational experiences for K-12 teachers at schools in the western Upper Peninsula.


Freeze Thaw Project Wins AASHTO Sweet Sixteen Award

Zhen Liu
Zhen Liu

Congratulations to Zhen Liu (CEGE) for his MDOT Freeze Thaw project winning an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Sweet Sixteen Award.

According to the press release, the Sweet Sixteen Award highlights high-value research from four regions across the country, with four awards possible per region. 

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) received the award for Liu’s research project, “Develop and Implement a Freeze Thaw Model Based Seasonal Load Restriction Decision Support Tool.”

fact sheet and video summary of Liu’s project are available on the AASHTO award page.

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.


First Place for Michigan Tech Team on Runway Safety or Incursions Challenge

A team of undergraduate students from the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE) were recognized in a press release from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) announcing the winners of the 15th annual University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs competition. The Huskies earned first place in the runway safety or incursions challenge.

Read more at AOPA News, by David Tulis.

The team’s proposal was entitled Graphical NOTAM Interface for Improving Efficiency of Reporting NOTAM Information. The team developed an Electronic Flight Bag user interface that provides a graphical representation of a notice to airmen (NOTAM) and weather information to improve how pilots receive condition changes at airports.

Undergraduate Team Members: Matthew Bacon, Gregory Porcaro, and Andrew Vega

Faculty Advisor: Audra Morse.

Enterprise Team: Built World Enterprise


Michigan Tech: Where Global Changemaking Engineers are Made

At Michigan Technological University, each researcher strives to design and apply solutions to society’s most pressing problems. Take the recipient of the 2019 Michigan Tech Research Award, Zhanping You. As a professor of transportation engineering, one of his most impressive projects involves turning old tires into new roads.

“You’s funding record underscores the impact of his work in civil engineering materials and his publication record further demonstrates his ability to communicate to a wide range of audiences, to advance the use of asphalt and bituminous materials in civil engineering applications,” says Audra Morse, chair of the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

You has hosted 30 international scholars in his lab so far, earning a reputation as a great mentor for undergraduates and graduates alike. “More than 90% of my papers include undergraduate and graduate authors; they can be a part of these research endeavors because I am making sure they get the coding experience and software skills they need to be successful professionals and researchers,” You shares.

For example, students are helping monitor his scrap tire innovation, which is being tested on local roads and highway tracks. They have been gathering results and samples from different testing sites over the past two years, enabling You to prove how the new asphalt mix improves road performance. In this way, each Michigan Tech student gets to play a part in engineering the future — one that they will soon inherit.

Paving the way for a smarter, sustainable future

It’s no secret that sustainability drives the development and application of critical research today, including in connected and autonomous vehicles. Associate Professor Kuilin Zhang knows that smart cities require more than self-driving cars; hence he studies vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication to optimize road safety using real-time data.

“In my vision of the future, we have more predictable, more robust, and safer transportation systems — and it’s based on being connected and the data we can gather,” Zhang shares. “The whole idea of cooperative driving automation is that the signals in the intersection tell your car what’s happening ahead. The sensor at the intersection can benefit all connected vehicles passing through the intersection. The automated eco-driving algorithm improves the driving decisions of the connected and automated vehicles.”

His transformative work has earned him the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award, which grants US $500,000 over a five-year span. Zhang uses model predictive control (MPC) and congestion games to study vehicle communication in the lab, then tests his findings in Michigan Tech’s robust mobility testing facilities. His research extends beyond campus to five traffic signals in Houghton, facilitated by industry collaborations with the Michigan Department of Transportation, APS Labs, and HERE Technologies.

Another leader in Michigan Tech’s lineup of expert faculty members is Associate Professor Amlan Mukherjee, a renowned figure in professional bodies. Not only did he help write the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) guidelines for sustainable highway construction practices, Mukherjee also founded a company called Trisight LLC that commercializes his research outcomes. It was the first in the highway construction industry to develop an online system for generating ISO-compliant Type III Environmental Product Declarations for the North American asphalt mixtures industry.

Civil and environmental engineers make a genuine difference to the world through scientific observation and mathematical modeling. Source: Michigan Tech

Understanding and optimizing natural processes

Given its proximity to the Great Lakes and coastal oceans, Michigan Tech is at the forefront of aquatic research, too. Associate Professor Pengfei Xue is on a mission to help save these wells of life; his research in the Great Lakes region applies machine learning techniques to analyze atmosphere, lake, ice, wave, sediment, land surface, and biological components. Xue uses data assimilation techniques to predict how the lakes respond to climate stressors, modeling on Michigan Tech’s high-performance computing infrastructure, Superior.

“The beauty of data assimilation is to use the information of the misfits between the model results and observations, which are only known at limited observation locations, to correct model bias in a 3D space beyond the observation locations. Hence, it improves model accuracy for the entire simulation field,” he explains. Xue’s work optimizes sampling locations, thus supporting the Great Lakes Operational Forecast System.

In the same way that civilizations have grown from rivers and lakes, modern life relies on the effective treatment and management of water. Since most water treatment facilities in the US cannot remove chemicals from pharmaceutical and personal care products, such as opioids, dioxins, pesticides, flame retardants, and plastics, Associate Professor Daisuke Minakata developed a tool to trace and remove organic chemicals from the water we use everyday.

By investigating how these harmful chemicals are rejected in reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation processes, Minakata is able to optimize water reuse — which is especially critical for communities in dry, arid regions of the world, as well as astronauts at the International Space Station. Over the past few years, his research team has included nine undergraduate research assistants, all supported either through their own research fellowships or Minakata’s research grants.

Minakata has also created a sunlight simulator at the university, which benefits multidisciplinary research beyond his area of aquatic photochemistry. “By encouraging and enabling undergraduate students to pursue research, Dr. Minakata is helping to develop a vibrant intellectual community among the students in the College of Engineering,” opines College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan.

Launch your transformative career at Michigan Tech

As much as research is future-focused, the science being practiced at Michigan Tech also helps us better navigate current concerns. Associate Professor Jennifer Becker’s project is one prime example: it tracks and treats the COVID-19 coronavirus in human waste.

Her team works with local wastewater treatment facilities to ensure SARS-CoV-2 virus particles are no longer infectious when spread in biosolids. “We all think of food and water as being essential to life. They are, but waste is also a critical part of life. If any of the virus particles stay in the wastewater stream during treatment, what happens when wastewater is discharged to the environment?” she asks.

Solving such issues are key to the educational experience at Michigan Tech. With over 7,000 students from 54 countries, the university’s Upper Peninsula campus is home to a vibrant community of changemakers with a global, multidisciplinary outlook on scientific innovation. Every day, their discoveries in one of the numerous research centers and institutes bring mankind one step closer to progress.

Keen to launch a career in civil, environmental, and geospatial engineering? Apply now to begin your undergraduate degree or graduate degree in 2021-22.

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