Author: amkerane

10th Annual Lake Superior Water Festival Goes Virtual This Week!

Image of surface water with small waves

Twenty-one classes totaling nearly 400 students in grades 4-8 attended one or more of the nine different presentations offered over the 3-day Water Festival, March 23-25.  First launched in 2012 when the Great Lakes Research Center opened, in-person attendance has ranged as high as 1000 students from the 4-county area.

“Like so many other programs that had been face-to-face, we had to pivot and figure out how to create an online water festival,” explains co-organizer, Joan Chadde, director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach and a partner in the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative that co-sponsored the event.

Teachers were able to select up to six 45-minute virtual sessions to attend at 10 am and 2 pm each day.

The nine sessions, presenters, and a short description of each are listed below.  

“Become a Sooper Yooper” with Mark Newman. author of the “Sooper Yooper: Environmental Defender of Lake Superior”. Students investigated how to address the challenge of ridding the Great Lakes of invasive species (and other environmental pollution battles).

“Great Lakes Freshwater Feasts!” with Dr. Lauren Jescovich, Extension Educator in Fisheries & Aquaculture from Michigan Sea Grant. Students learned why eating local fish is healthy, how to cook fish, and how to get fish from recreational fishing, aquaculture, or commercial fisheries.  

“US Coast Guard to the Rescue!” with Alan Young from Coast Guard Station Portage near Dollar Bay shared multiple short videos, including a tour of the station, some of their boats, and some search & rescue operations.

“Living on the Edge: Saving Shorelines” with Jill Fisher & Nick Potter from the Keweenaw Land Trust explored the Keweenaw Water Trail and the importance of shorelines and shoreline habitats as corridors for people and animals.

“How Do Our Food Choices Affect the Earth?” with students from the MTU Sustainability House explores all of the ingredients — the grass, water, petroleum, fertilizers, and more — that go into producing and transporting our food and how this affects our planet.

“Striving for Zero-Waste” with students from the MTU Sustainability House explores how we can reduce the 4 pounds/day (1606 pounds per year) of waste that the average American discards each year by making choices about what we eat, packaging, and more, through interactive games.

“Monitoring Water Quality with Dragonflies!” with Park Rangers Zach Gostlin and Hailey Burley from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore explores how mercury, a toxic pollutant that can harm humans and wildlife, enters rivers and lakes, then moves through the food web bioaccumulating up the food chain. Students investigate how we know it’s there and what can we do to stop it.

“Forests’ Important to Watersheds: Trout Are Made of Trees” with Shanelle Saunders, Conservation Education Coordinator, Ottawa National Forest, explores how forests filter runoff and help to clean water that people and animals need.

“We Are Where We Live!” with Dr. Erika Vye, a Geosciences Research Scientist, at MTU’s Great Lakes Research Center, will guide students as they explore the local geology, Lake Superior, and Indigenous histories to discover what makes the place where they live unique.

While attendance may have been lower than in some past years, enthusiasm still ran high!

“They really enjoyed learning about the invasive species!” observed Josh Normand, Grade 4-5 teacher at Chassell Elementary. “A lot of my students informed me that they are going to be on the lookout for them this summer when they are fishing.”

“They liked all of the presentations. They could not agree on one they liked best, but had many favorites,” commented Andrea Lahnanen, Grades 6-8 teacher at Sacred Heart School in L’Anse. “They all told me that they really enjoyed it and would love to do it again!”

“A wide variety of science and engineering topics related to land and water stewardship were presented” adds Emily Gochis, Western UP MiSTEM director, at the Copper Country Intermediate School District.

The 2021 Water Festival is made possible with funding from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium, the Western UP MiSTEM Network, the Great Lakes Research Center, and the Wege Foundation.

 The Festival is coordinated by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative and MTU Center for Science & Environmental Outreach, with support from the MTU Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Copper Country Intermediate School District.

The Water Festival would not be possible without the participation of presenters from the Keweenaw Land Trust, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Ottawa National Forest, Michigan State University Extension, students at Michigan Tech’s Sustainability House, U.S. Coast Guard, Great Lakes Research Center.

For more information, visit the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) webpage:  http://lakesuperiorstewardship.org/water_festival.php  or contact: Joan Chadde (jchadde@mtu.edu).

“The Water Festival provides an opportunity for students to learn about and celebrate our most precious natural resource – the Great Lakes!” explains Chadde.





Michigan Tech’s NSBE Student Chapter Will Reach 1850 Gr. 7-12 Students (Virtually!) in Detroit During 10th Annual Alternative Spring Break

NSBE Spring Break


Eleven members of Michigan Technological University’s student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Pre-College Initiative (PCI) will present to EVERY science class at Chandler Park Academy in Detroit. That is a total of 74 classes and 1850 students during their 10th Annual Alternative Spring Break in Detroit from March 8-10. Their mission– to encourage students to consider going to college and increasing the diversity of those entering the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) career pipeline.

NSBE Pre-College Initiative 2021 Alternative Spring Break will be virtual this year.

The following NSBE students are participating:

Andi Smith – Chemical Engineering andreasm@mtu.edu (248) 937-0248
Jasmine Ngene – Electrical Engineering j gngene@mtu.edu (763) 248-2928
Jalen Vaughn – Computer Engineering j xvaughn@mtu.edu
Kylynn Hodges – Computer Science kbhodges@mtu.edu
George Ochieze – Mechatronics cochieze@mtu.edu
Catherine Rono- Biological Science crono@mtu.edu
Christiana Strong – Biomedical Engineering ctstrong@mtu.edu
Trent Johnson – Computer Engineering trentj@mtu.edu
Meghan Tidwell – Civil Engineering metidwel@mtu.edu
Oluwatoyin Areo*- Chemical Engineering oareo@mtu.edu
Kazeem Kareem* – Statistics kareem@mtu.edu

The NSBE classroom presentations are designed to engage and inspire diverse students to learn about and consider careers in engineering and science by interacting with ‘hometown’ role models (most of the participating NSBE students are from the Detroit area). These programs are designed to address our country’s need for an increased number and greater diversity of students skilled in STEM (math, science, technology, and engineering). This outreach is encouraged by the NSBE Professional Pre-College Initiative (PCI) program which supports and encourages K-12 participation in STEM. 

This MTU NSBE student chapter’s outreach effort is funded by General Motors and the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and coordinated by the NSBE student chapter, with assistance from Joan Chadde, Director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach.

High school students are informed of scholarships available to attend MTU’s Summer Youth Programs and high school STEM internship opportunities at MTU.

For more information about the MTU-NSBE student chapter’s Alternative Spring Break, contact NSB-PCI student chapter coordinator, Andi Smith andreasm@mtu.edu, or Joan Chadde, Director, Center for Science & Environmental Outreach, Michigan Technological University by email: jchadde@mtu.edu or call 906-369-1121.


Michigan Tech: Tradition, innovation and an extraordinary Winter Carnival

Michigan Tech snow sculpture

“We set out as the Michigan Mining School in 1885 to train mining engineers on the Keweenaw Peninsula to better operate copper mines,” says Audra Morse, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Today, our students and curriculum embrace the spirit of hard work and fortitude our founders once had.”

Traditions run deep at Michigan Technological University as does preparing students for future challenges.

Every January, students are busy upholding one of Michigan Tech’s fondest traditions: Winter Carnival. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, referred to around here as the UP and home of Michigan Tech, receives a seasonal thick blanket of snow. It’s a lake-effect from nearby Lake Superior and serves as the inspiration for the annual Winter Carnival. What started in 1922 has grown into one of the biggest annual winter celebrations in the nation. “Not even COVID can cancel this event,” says Morse. “The students at Michigan Tech work around challenges so that our tremendous ‘ode to snow’ can go on.”

The special highlight of Winter Carnival: larger-than-life snow statues —spectacular, elaborate displays of snow and ice. This year, the Winter Carnival theme is “Our Favorite Cartoons for Snow Afternoons.” Student organizations all across campus will hear the call to design and construct a snowy sculpture, with the winner receiving bragging rights for a year.

Ice sculptures and a Michigan Tech education have a lot more in common than meets the eye. Constructing snow sculptures is both a civil engineering and artistic feat. Snow is thought of as a building material, just as civil engineers think of concrete, wood, asphalt and steel as building materials. “Constructing the sculptures requires developing retaining walls to hold the show in place until the shape and size of the sculpture is maintained,” Morse explains. “While some artists shape clay, engineers at Michigan Tech shape snow — into buildings, Earth, superheroes, airplanes and so much more — depending on that year’s Winter Carnival theme.”

Only at Michigan Tech can the love of snow be demonstrated through civil engineering and construction management disciplines — creating unique learning experiences that prepare students for the vagaries of their future workplaces. To take the love of Winter Carnival a step even further, Michigan Tech geospatial engineering students in the Douglass Houghton Student Chapter (DHSC) of the National Society of Professional Surveyors use LIDAR to scan Winter Carnival snow statues, with help from Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center.

LIDAR measures distances of a target using a laser and measures the reflection with a sensor. The time required for the laser to return, together wavelength data are used to make a 3-D representation of the target.

students at Michigan Tech working on sculptures during the Winter Carnival All-Nighter

“Geospatial students work with Michigan Tech snow statue builders, using LIDAR to scan and observe a point cloud of their snow statue, recording it far better than a simple photograph could,” says Joe Foster, a professor of practice in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “LIDAR data collected from this endeavor, literally millions of points, enables us to 3D-print an entire snow creation as a trophy, given to each of the prize-winning snow sculpture teams.”

Foster issues an invitation to all: “If you happen to find yourself in the Copper Country during Winter Carnival, come check out all the Michigan Tech geospatial engineering students hard at work using our FARO LIDAR scanner. It’s their goal to capture these amazing snow sculptures to enjoy long after the snow melts.”

At Michigan Tech we have a tradition of working hard and playing hard,” adds Morse. “It’s our nature to keep pace with the changing needs of technology.” Dr. Melanie Kueber Watkins, an instructor for a civil and environmental engineering course on river and floodplain hydraulics, uses remote sensing and LIDAR to digitally collect river bathymetry and satellite data. Bathymetry is the measurement of depth of water in oceans, seas, or lakes. “These new methods have changed how I think about civil and environmental engineering because of the unlimited data and possibilities they provide,” she says. Kueber Watkins gives her students a cutting-edge experience with big data, just as the industry is emerging. “The endless collection of ground elevation data we can collect via LIDAR using a drone or remote sensing, and bathymetry we can accomplish with an autonomous underwater vehicle, give us much more data than we ever hoped for in engineering.”

At Michigan Tech, students in her capstone senior design class use surface models with LIDAR to design roads and bridges. In other senior design projects focused on river and floodplain hydraulics, students model rivers for new bridges and floodway inundation mapping. Kueber Watkins is excited about a new elective course she teaches, “Water Resources Modelling and Design,” where she and the students use LIDAR. This class evolved from one of her research projects funded by the National Academies of Science, “Highway Hydraulic Engineering State of Practice.” For that projectKueber Watkins partnered with a hydraulic engineer at the Federal Highway Association. “They helped by demonstrating hydraulic modelling using LIDAR, enabling me to bring modelling and big data use into the classroom,” she says. “So far, the response has been excellent, and students have been enthusiastic about using LIDAR for models and design.”

Last fall, Julia Manzano was a student in the River and Floodplain Hydraulics course. “Dr. Watkins introduced students in the class to the kind of modeling software commonly used in industry,” she says. “The models we created in class were relatively complex and utilized various tools and programs.” As Manzano began interviewing for a job just prior to graduation from Michigan Tech, she found employers were very happy to hear she’d already learned new software programs and methods, some even more technical than those they were currently using. “As an entry-level engineer, it’s very valuable to be able to bring new skills to the engineering team you’ll be working with,” she says.

Manzano had a summer internship with a consulting firm in their Hydraulics & Hydrology group, where she applied the modelling skills and theories she learned at Michigan Tech, making a sizable contribution to the hydraulic modelling project. “I knew I wanted a full-time job in water resources engineering after graduation,” says Manzano. “Having this internship on my resume, along with all of the experience from it, made me a much stronger candidate. I was able to get the job I wanted.”

Manzano, now a recent graduate of the Environmental Engineering program, is pursuing a Master of Science in Civil Engineering at Michigan Tech to continue to advance her hydrology and hydraulics knowledge. “Traditions and new advances in technology help Michigan Tech’s civil, environmental, and geospatial engineering graduates prepare for work in the 4th Industrial Revolution,” says Morse. “But it’s more than knowing how to model and use the latest software. The key is understanding the problem you are solving and how it affects those around you.”

Distinguished Professor Dave Watkins teaches an international design class for students who have a strong desire to apply their engineering skills to benefit society. Students travel to different parts of the world, to work with underserved communities on their basic infrastructure, often a highly pressing need. “It’s very rewarding for students to gain an appreciation of other cultures and awareness of different standards of living, he says. “They are highly motivated to complete their project as a service to the community. And although there are often parts of any trip that do not go as planned, it’s always an adventure!”

In addition to applying technical design skills, students in international senior design develop teamwork, communication, and project management skills. “Open-ended design projects require students to ‘plan the work and work the plan’—and that gives them a sense of industry expectations,” says Watkins.

students in Michigan Tech IDesign on location

Many projects also require taking government and regulatory perspectives into account, and for international community projects, students often engage with non-profit organizations as well. “Of course, community-based projects also require ethical considerations, such as finding a balance between the merits of a design, and  a community’s technical and financial capacity—vital in order to ensure project benefits will be sustained over time,” he notes. “Last but not least, we emphasize the importance of lifelong learning, because students must learn new skills and apply new tools to address a problem they haven’t seen before, both during the projects and throughout their future careers.”

Traditions and civil and environmental engineering projects at Michigan Tech are deeply influenced by the area surrounding where we live in. Professor Stan Vitton, a geotechnical engineer and faculty member in the CEE department proudly shares the accomplishments of his most notable senior design class. In that class, students focused on the Redridge Dam, located in Stanton Township, Michigan. “The township board was considering removing both the Redridge timber crib dam, constructed in 1894, and the steel dam, constructed in 1900. The main issue was the timber crib dam. It had been deemed unstable by a previous professional engineering inspection. But during the students’ first field trip to the site, they found that the original engineering inspection missed an important underwater element of the dam.”

The Michigan Tech students determined that a large, stable rock fill in front of the timber crib dam served as the main support element of the dam. Later, stability analysis conducted by the students showed the dam actually had a very large factor of safety. The students presented their findings to the township board. Based on the students’ work the board decided to keep the dam — and gave each student a certificate of appreciation.

Redridge Dam

“In hindsight, there were two very positive results of this particular senior design project,” Vitton shares. “First, a study by the US Fish & Wildlife Service found that the Redridge Dam was a barrier to an invasive species, sea lamprey, making the Salmon Trout River the only river system on the Great Lakes without sea lampreySecond, the Redridge Steel dam provided significant flood retention capacity during a major flood that occurred on June 18, 2018 Father’s Day. The dam prevented the loss of Freda Road just downstream of the steel dam. In 2019, a Michigan Tech senior design team determined that the dam held back about three-quarters of a billion gallons of water that would have overtopped the Freda Road if the dam had been removed,” adds Vitton.

“Our traditions prepare us for the future — for opportunities such as Industry 4.0 and also the inevitable social, environmental, and economic constraints,” concludes Morse. “Traditions are customs passed on from one generation to the next, and in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech, traditions ground the education we provide.”

Apply now to launch your undergraduate degree or graduate degree so that you can be part of Michigan Tech’s traditions.


Sustainability Film Series begins 11th Year!

The True Cost film cover

The Sustainability Film Series and facilitated discussion will begin its 11th year with the showing of True Cost, a film about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. This 2015 documentary film investigates who really pays the price for our clothing? The discussion facilitator will be Dr. Soonkwan Hong, Associate Professor of Marketing, MTU College of Business.

“This seemed like an appropriate film for January, after the consumption spree of the holidays!” explained Joan Chadde, film series coordinator, and Director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach. “Dr. Hong is the perfect discussion facilitator for this film, given his interests in marketing ethics, sustainable lifestyles, and consumer behavior.”

With the pandemic restrictions and not being able to show films on campus, participants need to register HERE and information will be emailed regarding viewing each month’s film, and a zoom link for the facilitated discussion.

Participation is free, but a $5 suggested donation per film is appreciated. Make donation online and put Sustainability Film Series in the comment box. 

“Purchasing public film screening rights can cost $100 to $300 for just one film, so donations are welcomed,” adds Joan Chadde.

Films are selected by a committee comprised of representatives from the sponsoring organizations: Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center, Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Keweenaw Land Trust, MTU Departments of Social Sciences and Civil & Environmental Engineering, MTU College of Forest Resources & Environmental Sciences, and the MTU Sustainable Futures Institute.

The list of films can be viewed here and on the MTU events calendar.  All are invited to attend– MTU faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members.


It’s never been easier to attend the Sustainable Film Series hosted at Michigan Tech!!

The True Cost

It’s that time of year…. No, not for Santa, but to kick off the 11th year of the Sustainable Film Series! The 2021 Sustainability Film Series (formerly Green Film Series) will allow you to participate, no matter where you hang your hat!! There are a few silver linings to the pandemic—you can pretend you’re back on campus with your friends! Once you pre-register on Eventbrite to view a particular month’s film (over the span of a week), you’ll receive a Zoom link to the discussion that will take place on the 3rd Thursday of each month from January to May 2021, led by a discussion facilitator or panel, knowledgeable about the film topic. You will participate in engaging dialogue from 7-8 pm.   See the film line-up below and save these dates in your calendar.

Date & Time: 7:00-8:00 pm, 3rd Thursdays of each month, Jan-May, 2021

Cost:  FREE, donations appreciated (Michigan Tech Fund 1368 EO)

Location: Online (register on Eventbrite and zoom link will be sent via email)

Jan. 21 – True Cost (92 min.)

This is a story about the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. This documentary film pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing? (2015)

Feb. 18Minimalism (78 min.)

How might your life be better with less? The film examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life — families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker — all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less. (2016)

March 18 – Brave Blue World (50 min.) Michigan Tech  World Water Day Event

From reuse to energy generation, new innovations across five continents are explored in this documentary about building a future for sustainable water. (2020)

April 15 – Plastic Ocean (102 min.)                                                  

In the center of the Pacific Ocean gyre, researchers found more plastic than plankton. Plastic Ocean documents the newest science, how plastics, once they enter the oceans, break up into small particulates that enter the food chain where thy attract toxins like a magnet. These toxins are stored in seafood’s fatty tissues, and eventually consumed by us. What can we do?

May 20 – 2040 (92 min.)

What would the world look like in 2040 if we actually implement the solutions for climate change that already exist in 2019? It’s a story that’s less often told than that of future catastrophe, and it’s the premise of a new documentary from Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau, who tells the story by introducing us to his 4-year-old daughter, then visualizing in detail how technology could change by the time she’s 25. “I’m calling it an exercise in fact-based dreaming,” he says in the film.

The films are selected by our cosponsors listed below, along with Jessica Daignault, a PhD student in Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Ande Myers, a PhD student in the College of Forest Resources & Environmental Science.

Cosponsors

Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center, Keweenaw Land Trust,

Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, MTU Sustainable Futures Institute, and MTU Dept. of Social Sciences,

Coordinated by the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach

2021 schedule:  https://blogs.mtu.edu/cseo/  and  http://lakesuperiorstewardship.org/green_film.php

Sponsor logo
sponsors logo

Congratulations Fall 2020 Graduates

CEE Logo

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering would like to Congratulate our fall graduates. Even though the current world events are keeping us from celebrating your accomplishments all together, we still want to raise you up for all to see. We are proud of you and want to wish you the best of luck in your next chapter.

Below is a listing of our fall 2020 graduates:


Stephen Anderson

Stephen is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be working for MSA Professional Services in St. Paul, Minnesota. Stephen will miss living in the Keweenaw and is thankful for the memories and friendships he mad over the last four and a half years.


Chaitanya Ganesh Bhat

Chaitanya Ganesh Bhat

Chait will graduate with a Ph.D. in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be working as a Research Civil Engineer at the Turner Fairbanks Highway Research Centre. Chait will miss the warmth extended by faculty and staff at Michigan Tech and the Houghton community. He is thankful to Michigan Tech for proving an opportunity to advance both professionally and personally through peer interactions and various cultural activities. He would like to acknowledge all the faculty, staff, and peers at the Civil and Environmental Engineering department without whom the experience would have been incomplete. Chait congratulates all the peers who will graduate with him in the fall 2020 and wishes all the best to current students at Michigan Tech.


LeAnn Brinker

LeAnn will graduate with her BS in civil engineering. She will be working for UP Engineers & Architects in Marinette, WI after graduation. LeAnn says she will miss all of the friendly faces and the opportunities to get outside and try new things.


Carly Bulleit

Carly will graduate with her BS in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be moving to St. Louis, MO to work as a Construction Coordinator for Burns & McDonnell.


Clint Campbell

Clint will graduate with a BS in environmental engineering with a minor in law and society. After graduation Clint plans to: 1) PADI Open Water Scuba Training in Kralendijk, Bonaire, 2) Environmental consulting in San Diego, CA, and 3) Have fun, enjoy life and make a difference in the world :). He will miss exploring the UP and is thankful to Michigan Tech for meeting new friends while receiving a quality education. Clint wants to recognize Dr. Jennifer Becker for demonstrating the importance of hard work, professionalism, and communication.


Maria Carpita

Maria Carpita

Maria is graduating with her BS in civil engineering. She will be working as a full-time Civil Engineer 1 for Wightman & Associates in Kalamazoo, MI. When asked what she will miss about Michigan Tech, Maria says ” Something I will miss about Michigan Tech is living in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Before coming to Michigan Tech, I had never been to the UP. I am so happy that I decided to go on a campus tour of Michigan Tech in high school because ever since then, I knew that Michigan Tech was the school for me. I have loved spending time outdoors by hiking, snowshoeing, and exploring all of the nearby waterfalls. I even picked up a new hobby of photography. I would have never experienced these things had I stayed in my hometown. I will definitely be making trips back to the Keweenaw in the future. ” She says she is thankful to Michigan Tech for providing her with an amazing education, and for helping her grow professionally and personally. She says, ” In my time here, I have met many faculty who I know I could reach out to in my future if I ever needed advice. I would not be the person I am today without attending Michigan Tech. Thank you! ” Maria would like to thank her mom, dad, fiance and the rest of her immediate family for their continuous love and support over the last four and a half years.


Adam Cerney

Adam is graduating with a BS in civil engineering with a transportation focus. After graduation, he will return to Minnesota to work towards his PE. Adam will miss jamming away with the Pep Band at Hockey games and is thankful to Michigan Tech for accepting him for the student he was and also for the friends he made along the way. He would like to recognize Dr. Tess Ahlborn and Dr. Jake Hiller for making a difference to him while at Michigan Tech.


Maya Chappell

Maya will graduate with a BS in environmental Engineering. She will be working in EHS at Amazon or 3M after graduation and also plans on obtaining her EIT certification in January. Maya says she will miss the sense of community and is thankful to Michigan Tech for all the support she has received and all the opportunities she has been given.


Caroline Cotter

Caroline Cotter

Caroline will graduate with her BS in civil engineering with a water resources focus. She will be commissioned into the MN National Guard as a 2nd Lieutenant and hopes to accept a job working for a civil company that works in water body restoration or floodplain hydraulics. Caroline says she will miss all of the outdoor activities Tech has to offer. The biking trails, hiking the Porcupine Mountains, swimming in Lake Superior, the fall colors, and so much more. She is thankful to Michigan Tech for all of the friends she has made in both her classes and ROTC, saying ” They are my forever family.” Caroline would like to recognize and thank Ms. Christy Oslund in the Academic Office for being both a mentor and friend to her for several years and being there for her when she needed her most.


Kagen Griffith

Kagen is graduating with his BS in civil engineering. He plans on job hunting after graduation. Kagen says he will miss the opportunity Michigan Tech provided to live in the “best place on earth while advancing my life”. He is thankful to Michigan Tech for four years to mature and grow confidence in professionalism and knowledge.


Travis Havercamp

Travis Havercamp

Travis will graduate with a BS in civil engineering. He will begin working as a Design Engineer at Spicer Group Inc. after graduation. Travis says he will miss the community at Michigan Tech, in particular the St. Albert the Great University Parish. He is thankful for the quality of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty and recognizes Dr. Kris Mattila as someone who has mad a difference to him while at Michigan Tech.


Mary Jarvis

Mary Jarvis

Mary is graduating with her BS in environmental engineering. She says the thing she will miss most about Michigan Tech is the community, saying ” I’ve met so many incredible people here, including classmates, professors, teammates and friends. It’s a sad thought to be leaving, though I know this community exists beyond Tech’s campus”. Mary says she is thankful for the CEE Department’s faculty and staff and their dedication to giving students the best education possible. She says that she has had many great professors in the past four years who are passionate about what thy teach and truly care about their student’s success, in school and beyond.


Richard Juntunen

Richard Juntunen

Richard will graduate with a BS in construction management. He has a job lined up with Bacco Construction after he graduates. Richard says he will miss broomball and is thankful to Michigan Tech for being so active with companies that are recruiting, such as the career fair – saying that “Networking is very important”. He would like to recognize the CMG professors who, he says, were amazing and helpful in more ways than just teaching in the classroom – Lynn Artman, Ron Mauno, John Daavettila, and Mike Drewyor.


Austin Kerby

Austin Kerby

Austin will graduate with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will work as a Construction Engineer at Spicer Group. Austin will miss the small-town atmosphere and friendly people at Michigan Tech and is thankful that the University encouraged getting out there and trying new things.


Cyle Kugelard

Cyle Kugelard

Cyle is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. He will start a full-time job in the Kalamazoo area after graduation. Cyle will miss the Keweenaw and is thankful to Michigan Tech for the opportunities he has received because of attending Tech specifically. He would like to recognize Gretchen Hein for the help she provided him in Thermo, saying “she is easily my favorite professor here.” Cyle says that “this place is really hard, but it’s what makes us special.”


Danielle Lautenbach

Danielle Lautenbach

Danielle will graduate with her BS in civil engineering. She will miss all of the friends that she has made, going to hockey games and the scenery at Michigan Tech.


Tyler LeMahieu

Tyler LeMahieu

Tyler is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. After graduation, he plans to work for the US Forest Service temporarily before beginning a Masters program in hydrology. When asked what he will miss about Michigan Tech, he says ” I’ll miss the people the most when I leave obviously! Of course, I’ll also miss the skiing, broomball, camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, winter, summer, fall, spring, & non-exam seasons. I won’t miss the workload but will miss the learning and professors. I guess that’s what grad school is for!” Tyler is thankful to Michigan Tech for embracing student’s passions.


Sergio Miguel Lopez Ramirez

Sergio Miguel Lopez Ramirez

Sergio is graduating with his Ph.D. in civil engineering. He hopes to bein working in the industry or doing a postdoc after graduation. Sergio says he will miss his friends that he has made at Michigan Tech, saying “MTU creates a sense of community, where we all know each other.” He is thankful for the continuous support and flexibility and recognizes his advisor, Dr. Alex Mayer. Sergio says “I am happy and honored to be a Husky.”


Ronnie Lynch

Veronica Lynch

Ronnie will graduate with an MS in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be moving to Fredericksburg, VA to start her career with RS&H. Ronnie said she will miss the snow and would like to recognize all the professors she had during her undergrad and grad studies, saying ” Each one went above and beyond to make sure I excelled in my courses- from Dr. van Susante sitting in a room with me for two days straight so that I could ace the Statics final to Dr. Hein offering extra Thermo help sessions to those of us who asked.”


Lucas Marion

Lucus Marion

Lucus is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. He will begin working as a civil engineer at Hubbell, Roth & Clark in Grand Rapids after graduating.


Katie Palmcock

Katelyn Palmcook

Katie is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be working for the Norfolk Southern Railroad as a track supervisor trainee. She will be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for 6 months of training and will then relocate elsewhere. Katie says she will miss the community at Michigan Tech and the traditions, saying ” I have so many good memories here and its mainly due to all the people I’ve met and the friends I made while here. Also, our traditions are a part of what sets us apart from other universities and I’m going to miss taking part in them”. When asked what she is thankful for, Katie says ” I am thankful to Michigan Tech for helping me to be more realistic with myself. When I came in I was all about perfection, but after being here I’ve realized that not everything you do is going to be perfect and that’s ok. As long as you do you’re best that is something you can be proud of”.


Taylor Pelton

Taylor will graduate with a BS in construction management. After graduation, he will start his career with Granger Construction. Taylor says he will miss being around all his friends and is thankful to Michigan Tech for the opportunity he was given to further his education and continue to play football.


Tye Pennala

Tye Pennala

Tye is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will get a full-time job in a civil engineering firm somewhere in Michigan. Tye will miss all the activities that Michigan Tech has to offer – the golf course, Tech Trails, Ripley, etc. He is thankful for all the memories and activites and recognizes advisor Julie Ros as a great counselor who listens and helps determine the best path.


Derrick Sullivan

Derrick is graduating with his BS in civil engineering. He will work at Surveying Solutions, Inc. in Standish, MI after graduation.


Yifan Zhang

Yifan Zhang

Yifan will graduate with his BS in environmental engineering. After graduating he will stay at Michigan Tech to obtain his graduate degree. Yifan would like to thank everyone who helped him in his years at Michigan Tech.


Graduates Not Pictured Above

BS in Civil Engineering

Zachery Cole

James Huey

Daniel Jones

Sinwon Lee

Cole Ruohonen

Jared Thiele

Shelby VanAssche

Jack Williams

Meng Wu

BS in Environmental Engineering

William Bailey

Alexander Julson

Andrew Medaugh

Benjamin Reuss

Andrw Tyckoski

BS in Geospatial Engineering

BS in Construction Management

Derek Pietila 

MS in Civil Engineering

Tania Lopez

Qinjie Lyu

Brandi Rajala

MS in Environmental Engineering

JP Harron

Tristan Odekirk

Sarah Peterson

MS in Integrated Geospatial Technology

William Roland

PhD in Civil Engineering

Christopher VanArsdale



After School Classes for K-5 Students Taught Remotely at Two Baraga County Schools

October, a Baraga Elementary student.
October, a student at Baraga Elementary School LOVES engineering. Here she demonstrates how her chute works in class.

The Center for Science & Environmental Outreach is branching into uncharted territory this month! We are kicking off online after-school STEM Clubs (a.k.a. classes) for students in grades K-2 and grades 3-5 at Baraga Elementary (Baraga Public Schools) and CJ Sullivan Elementary (L’Anse Public Schools).

The K-2 after-school class is focused on Michigan Wildlife. In December, they explored Michigan birds, bats, and wildcats, as well as, their habitats and ecosystems. Students made a pine cone bird feeder, a paper bat, and created dot paintings of lynx. K-2 Instructor, Lizzy Barnes, a recent College of Forest Resources & Environmental Science PhD graduate, conducts the K-2 classes using a virtual presentation format that includes short videos and photos, paired with an in-class activity.

Support from BHK staff (who are classroom teachers during the school day) has been critical to the clubs’ success. On one occasion, students went outside with the instructor for a half hour to explore schoolyard habitat using their senses– to hunt for berries, visioning the playground from the eyes of a butterfly, and discovering the trickle of a small intermittent creek– were experiences that would not be possible with solely virtual instruction. For the remainder of the 8-week session, students will take what they observed during their schoolyard nature inventory to plan a hands-on project to create habitat by planting pollinator patches, berry bushes, and tall grasses for thickets.

Students in the grades 3-5 class are tackling Engineering Challenges. They are so engaged, they don’t want to leave when their parents come to pick them up! One student named October (although she is born in June, she told me!) is truly a budding engineer! She told me all about her engineering class last year at her school in Texas—and wishes she had an engineering class this year in school. This after school STEM club is her closest approximation and she LOVES it!

 The 1st week they designed launchers. The 2nd week they competed to design the best ‘seed get-away’!  And the 3rd week, they designed a Chute for a ping pong ball that had to have at least 5 tube parts, 3 different types of tubes (toilet paper tube, paper towel tube, paper cups of different sizes with the bottom removed, etc.), the tubes needed to change direction twice, and land in a cup on the floor. October’s chute is pictured below.

These two school districts are adjacent to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Baraga Schools has a 46% majority American Indian, which is slightly higher than the Michigan state average of 34% (majority Black). L’Anse has a 31% majority American Indian and 58% of students are economically disadvantaged. 

Want to help 5th grade student, October, attend a 1-week Michigan Tech Summer Youth Program (SYP) in Summer 2021? Send your donation to Michigan Tech Fund 340l and put October’s name on the Memo line. A one-week SYP class costs $978.


Be a Part of the Civil and Environmental CommUNITY at Michigan Tech

At Michigan Tech, the faculty know my name. 

No matter which undergraduate degree they pursue in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech, students value the Michigan Tech commUNITY

“We know that the shared experience and valuing differences make us stronger,” says Audra Morse, department chair. “At Michigan Tech we believe in commUNITY, with an emphasis on unity,” adds Morse. “Community is one of the top reasons our students pursue their education at Michigan Tech. Our students, faculty and staff make this a commUNITY where students feel safe and motivated to excel in their studies.”

Kaitlyn Wehner, a junior majoring in civil engineering, says she feels comfortable talking with faculty about coursework, her future, and her campus involvement. 

Support of peers within the department is awesome, too, says Wehner. “I feel at ease talking with fellow students in my classes about coursework even if I barely know them. Everyone supports each other and is always willing to help!”

Kelton Czyzio echo’s Wehner’s praise of the program’s built-in support system. Czyzio cites personal growth as a result of the many positive interactions with his classmates and professors. “There are so many unique people on campus and the mixture of these people leads to some cool experiences,” he says.

A senior majoring in civil engineering, Czyzio says he values those times when his views have been challenged by another student. “It’s a great experience, as I walk away with a different outlook on a policy, subject, law–whatever it happens to be.” Along with that, adds Czyzio, “it’s great that there’s a group of people for every incoming student to be around.”  

Michigan Tech, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
CEE Intramural Soccer Team

Environmental engineering PhD student Kenny Larsen, agrees. “What I like best about Michigan Tech are the other students,” he says. “I like being part of a larger community. Students ask difficult questions and become involved in finding solutions. Students are part of the community and the experience is more than just a classroom.”

Additionally, Larsen notes “My advisor and the faculty/staff is one of the best parts of getting a degree at Michigan Tech. Getting a graduate degree is difficult and takes hard work. It is made a lot easier when you know that everyone wants to see you succeed as a student and person.”

What Dongzhao Jin–who goes by Kobe in honor of his favorite basketball player–loves best about Michigan Tech are its “friendly and patient faculty, staff and students.” Originally from China, Jin is pursuing a PhD in civil engineering. He enjoys the “sense of community” in the civil and environmental engineering department, a feeling he attributes to the “positive energy and comfortable and supportive learning environment.” 

He recalls a specific time that made him feel welcome as an international student new to the U.S. “The first time I ate lunch at Memorial Union Building, and I do not know where the trash can was. I asked for help from an undergraduate student and he patiently led me to a trash can.”  

Jin is now leading others by serving as a Civil and Environmental Engineering representative in Graduate Student Government.  As a GSG representative, Jin shares the interests of CEE graduate students with other GSG representatives to influence policies and programs impacting graduate students. More importantly, GSG hosts professional development opportunities such as the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, grant writing session, and fun activities, such as volleyball tournaments and hiking excursions in the Keweenaw, to provide value to the graduate student commUNITY.

Jin also values the research commUNITY his advisor Dr. Zhanping You creates for students in his research group. Jin notes “I am very happy to be a student and work with my advisor Dr. You.  His humor, lifestyle, rigorous academic attitude, and profound understanding of the asphalt pavement field impact me a lot.”

In addition to a unifying spirit embodying the educational experience at Michigan Tech, students each create their own unique commUNITY experiences that support their personal educational mission. 

Czyzio’s community includes participation in the Steel Bridge Team, a student team that participates in AISC Steel Design Competition. Wehner participates in the Built World Enterprise, a student organization turned classroom experience. Both groups allow students to plan, design and build their future by honing knowledge gained in their classwork through hands-on design experiences.  

To participate in the AISC Steel Bridge Competition, student teams from all over the US design, construct, and build a steel bridge on campus, which is then built all over again under time constraints at regional competitions and depending on the outcome of the regional competition, again at the national competition. Bridges are evaluated using criteria such as aesthetics, construction speed, lightness, stiffness, and construction economy. The Michigan Tech team takes this competition very seriously: they’ve placed among the top 15 in this national competition three times in the last three years.

Czyzio highlights he was treasurer of the team in his second year, and his favorite part of Steel Bridge is the time spent in the shop. “I love welding and the fabrication process in general.” Czyzio adds “Another great part of the steel bridge team is meeting other civil engineering students. Many of the students I do homework with are members of Steel Bridge.”

Michigan Tech, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
First-place winners for the ACRP Design Competition – Skylar Callis, Katitlyn Wehner, and Lindsey Anderson

Wehner has a passion for aviation and airport planning. Through Built World Enterprise, she pursues her passion by participating in the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP). It’s sponsored by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to prepare the next generation of aviation planning professionals.  Wehner and her team took first place this past summer at the 2020 ACRP student design competition in the Airport Runway Safety/ Runway Incursion/Runway Excursions category. She is preparing and excited for the chance to win again in 2021. 

To take her passion for civil engineering and aviation even further, Wehner is Secretary of the Aviation Club at Michigan Tech, a new student organization she helped establish. The Aviation Club hosts events such as drone certifications.  Drones are an important tool used in the civil, environmental and construction industry.  Geospatial engineers also use drones routinely in their work.  Wehner’s extracurricular activities are another example of the possibilities and flexibility to pursue passions at Michigan Tech.  

As President of Michigan Tech’s student chapter of the Society of African American Men, Jemel Thompson participates in extracurriculars to support his own character development and that of his classmates. The Society of African American Men promotes cultural diversity, inclusion, and  awareness throughout the Michigan Tech community. 

Other students, like Avery Barlett, a construction management major, find community within the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula, where Michigan Tech calls home. The Keweenaw Peninsula is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, surrounded by beautiful Lake Superior. 

Barlett participates in extracurricular activities– snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, paintball club, and the Piston Bike Racers club, where he and his friends race bicycles modified with 2-cycle motors. “The Upper Peninsula offers students the ability to explore other passions, too, in addition to their studies,” he says. “This leads to some stellar experiences that friends of mine at other institutions do not have.”

Michigan Tech, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Larsen adds “ I have learned how to downhill and cross country ski, as well as sail.” Larsen is an avid road biker and kayaker and he notes all of those activities are easily accessible at Michigan Tech.

Larsen believes the best part about all of these activities is that he is able to include his partner and daughter in these activities. “I often take my family hiking and rockhounding, as well as visiting the many great beaches in the area.”

Barlett knows a Michigan Tech education creates a community that extends beyond the Keweenaw. Creating friendships and networks enables him to leverage the rest of his career. “I especially value the connections our instructors have with industry,” he says. “ I appreciate their efforts to make the students aware of these opportunities and help us build our own connections, too.”

“I love the fact that companies love Michigan Tech students” he adds. “We have many internship and job opportunities and there’s a lot of choice.”

In addition to network connections sparked by faculty and staff in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, students are encouraged to check out Michigan Tech’s Career Services programming as well as attend the University’s Career Fair, offered each fall and spring semester.

Thompson likes that Michigan Tech is a “blank canvas” for your experience. “There are so many different opportunities and resources available to students. If you’re looking for any type of experience, you can find it.” 

What does he like best about the curriculum? “That great mix of engineering and social sciences, combined with real-world application,” he says.  “At Michigan Tech, I learned what it meant to be an engineer.” 

As a first year student pursuing a bachelor of science in environmental engineering, Thompson had the choice to study civil engineering, geospatial engineering or construction management. However, he found his passion for environmental engineering, which was cemented in a first-year environmental engineering seminar course.  His passion for environmental engineering is affirmed each day and Jemel is now a third year student considering his options of graduating and entering industry or going to graduate school.

Thompson adds “Michigan Tech truly offers a different experience, unlike anything I’ve ever heard of. The campus is in a location where it is easy to focus on your education, but still have the opportunity to have a college experience full of new things and adventure.” 

“Community has a distinct meaning in the students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Department,” adds Morse.  “We welcome you to be part of our commUNITY.”


Senior Design to Present Project to Houghton Planning Commission

Photo by Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette

The students of Dr. Dan Dowden‘s Senior Design class will be presenting their project to the Houghton Planning Commission on Tuesday, November 17 at the commission’s monthly public (virtual) meeting. The meeting will start at 5:30.

The students’ project involves two replacement parking garages (replacing the existing “Vault” and “Ambassador” parking structures downtown) with larger more modern parking structures. This project came about with a conversation with Bill Leder over the summer. Bill and Eric Waara have been the students’ client contacts over the semester. Bill is Vice-Chair of the Houghton Planning Commission. If you are unable to attend the commission meeting, there will be a second opportunity during finals week where all the CEE4905 sections will be presenting their projects.


Can Engineers Save the Word?

Rose Turner by the solar panels on the Michigan Tech campus

“At Michigan Tech, we don’t just talk about sustainability, we incorporate sustainability in all aspects of the educational experience,” said Audra Morse, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University.

Morse points to environmental engineering student Rose Turner, who followed her passion for sustainability by joining Michigan Tech’s Alternative Energy Enterprise soon after she joined the university.

There are 24 Enterprise teams on campus, each working on real projects for real clients.

“They invent products, provide services, and pioneer solutions. It’s an award-winning program entirely unique to Michigan Tech, and it provides an absolutely invaluable experience for our students,” said Morse.

Self-sustaining homes and solar farms: Student projects that make a real-world difference

Turner and fellow team members retrofitted an existing 5,000 square foot house on Michigan Tech’s campus, turning it into a net-zero energy, self-sustaining home.

Named the Michigan Tech Sustainability Demonstration House, it now provides students with first-hand experience in designing systems to reduce the use of energy, water and water in homes.

Due to her hard work and dedication, Turner was selected to live there, serving as house coordinator. Her role was to identify and launch internal projects, plan public outreach events, and seek donations and sponsorships from companies.

Michigan Tech
Rose Turner in front of the Sustainability Demonstration House

“Michigan Tech equipped me with tools, resources, and knowledge,” she said. “I was able to design and construct an aquaponics indoor gardening system, a raised-bed outdoor garden, and a smart rainwater collection and distribution system — all for the house.”

Taking her environmental engineering education further, Turner won a summer internship at Westwood Professional Services, an environmental engineering consulting firm. As an intern, she designed multi-megawatt commercial solar and wind farms across the US, including a 15 MW solar farm in Ulupalakua, Hawaii.

“It was incredibly rewarding to have an opportunity to design clean energy systems to help power our country,” said Turner.

Turner learned about the internship through Michigan Tech Career Services, meeting up with representatives from Westwood for an interview right on campus. Her internship also led to a full-time role there, working on Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy permits for a 300 MW wind farm design for Isabella County, Michigan.

“Michigan Tech’s Career Services does more than help students find a job, they help us find and launch our careers,” said Turner.

She recently returned to campus to earn an MS in Environmental Engineering. Her goal is to pursue a PhD or work in industry. “Either way, I am looking forward to using my sustainability knowledge to make a difference,” she said.

Where sustainability is central to your studies

The “Sustainability and Civil Engineering Practice” course is essential to Michigan Tech’s civil engineering program.

This course introduces students to the tools that engineers use in sustainable design such as “LEED” and the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure Envision “rating tool,” as well as state-of-the art sustainability practices in design and construction.

Sustainability also serves as the cornerstone of Michigan Tech’s environmental engineering degree program. Professor Judith Perlinger teaches “Sustainable Engineering,” another course that plays a vital role in the curriculum.

“Students learn about the triple bottom line, the consideration of profit, people, and the planet, and essential tools they’ll use to advance sustainability from a systems approach,” said Perlinger.

Dr. Judith Perlinger

All courses in both programs include important sustainability components, Morse added.

“But the true strength of a Michigan Tech education is the solid foundation in engineering and science. This knowledge is what allows for the incorporation of sustainability in design.”

Sierra Braun, a senior completing her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, jumped at the opportunity to make sustainability in design come to life.

She joined the Green Campus Enterprise, which focuses on reducing the university’s carbon footprint, when she heard they were planning planned to design and build a tiny house.

“Not only has it allowed me to explore my passion of design and construction, I am able to build a tangible example of sustainability right on our campus through the Tiny House Build project.”

Braun and her fellow team members analyzed sustainable design practices for maximizing thermal performance during the design phase of the Tiny Build project. In construction, they’ll optimize materials to reduce global warming potential. They also seek to increase longevity and minimize environmental impact.

Undergraduate research opportunities like no other

Undergraduate research is another learning opportunity at Michigan Tech.

In the Sustainable Pavement Lab, directed by Professor Zhanping You, students conduct research to find out if traditional asphalt mixed with rubber from scrap tires could make better roads.

Students test recycled asphalt materials to maximize the recyclability of materials, work with  biomass to produce variations of a new asphalt-like material called bio asphalt, and use recycled waste — plastics and glass— in other road applications.

They work in labs and in the field at road construction sites in Michigan collecting data and evaluating material field performance.

Many graduates continue their work in Dr. You’s lab while earning their graduate degree at Michigan Tech or other institutions. Others go on to work in the transportation industry, applying sustainability practices in their job each day.

“Working in Dr. You’s lab has allowed me to understand the bigger picture, and be part of it, too,” said civil engineering major Kagan Griffith.

“This applies to the natural world and the engineered materials we combine to advance society. As we move forward in time, I’ve learned the importance of using new technology —and new understanding — to construct the built world in a safe and sustainable way.”

As for Turner, she is now working to create an even greater shift towards sustainability on campus:

“I have a very strong desire to reduce the production of waste, so one of things I’ve been doing lately is to work with a group of fellow students to establish a full recycling programme for our residence halls.”

Michigan Tech
Results of the Waste Reduction Drive

So, do engineers save the world?

“Absolutely,” said Turner, “Michigan Tech has truly helped to cultivate my love for the earth and my passion for educating others on the importance of sustainability in daily life.

“I will forever be grateful for the plethora of sustainability-related opportunities I’ve experienced at Michigan Tech — as well as the freedom the university has given me to make my dreams a reality.”

Michigan Tech is taking all precautions necessary to keep their community safe from the threat of COVID-19.

For the latest updates, please visit the MTU Flex website.

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