Author: Sue Hill

Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program Hosts Midwest Virtual Rail Conference 2020

MRC Midwest Rail Conference

On Aug. 11-12, The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program, in cooperation with the NURail Consortium and TRB Committee AR040, hosted the Midwest Rail Conference on a virtual platform.

Originally planned for Schoolcraft College, the conference was forced to an on-line platform by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In spite of the issues, the conference moved forward with a slate of more than 30 speakers, covering issues from across the rail industry.

The final tally included nearly 300 participants. Trains Magazine produced an article recognizing the conference and one of the 10 conference sessions.

Given the short time to switch from a live to virtual format, this conference was a huge success.

By David Nelson, Civil and Environmental Engineering.


NSF Funding for Daniel Dowden on Seismically Resilient Mass-Timber Buildings

Daniel Dowden
Daniel Dowden

Daniel Dowden (CEE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received $204,514 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project is entitled, “NHERI Tailwood 10-Story Test Building Shake-Table Payload Research Project: Low-Damage Uplift Friction Damper for Seismically Resilient Mass-Timber Buildings.” This is a two year project.

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This award will investigate a low-damage solution for cross-laminated timber (CLT) seismic force-resisting systems (SFRSs) using a novel uplift friction damper (UFD) device for seismically resilient mass-timber buildings. The UFD device will embrace the natural rocking wall behavior that is expected in tall CLT buildings, provide stable energy dissipation, and exhibit self-centering characteristics. Structural repair of buildings with these devices is expected to be minimal after a design level earthquake. Although CLT has emerged as a construction material that has revitalized the timber industry, there exists a lack of CLT-specific seismic energy dissipation devices that can integrate holistically with the natural kinematics of CLT-based SFRSs.

Project data will be archived and made available publicly in the NSF-supported NHERI Data Depot.


Built World Enterprise Team Wins National Competition

Built World Enterprise logo.

A Michigan Tech team, Built World Enterprise (BWE), earned first place in the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) student design competition. The team’s winning submission in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions design category was “Runway Intersection Marking.” 

In making the announcement, the ACRP said “The students’ innovative design brought many technologies together in an affordable system for mid-size and general aviation airports.”

The selection was made from 63 entries by a panel of industry, FAA and academic experts. For its winning entry, BWE will receive a $3,000 award which will be divided among the student team members.

First-place teams will receive their awards and present their work at the Keck Center of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC, October 19, 2020. The students will also present their designs at the Airport Consultant Council’s Airport Technical Workshop as a keynote presentation. In addition, they will be given the opportunity to present their winning proposal at an industry professional conference or workshop in fall 2020.

Additionally, Michigan Tech received a second-place award in the Airport Environmental Interactions Challenge, with a $2,000 prize. A list of all winners can be seen on the ACRP website.

BWE addresses challenges typically solved by civil and environmental engineers, including designing infrastructure and solving waste management problems. The team’s advisor is the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair Audra Morse.

Morse said the win was a strong start for the new Enterprise team and for the University

“All BWE teams strove to create realistic design alternatives to address airport issues; however, this team excelled in understanding the true root causes of runway incursions. The winning team members, Lindsey Anderson, Skylar Callis and Kaitlyn Wehner, moved beyond purely technical to incorporate human factors into their design, which is why I believe their design was so well received. Thanks to Bill Sproule, Kelly Steelman, and Brett Hamlin for assisting the team on their win. They could not have done it without their help.”

The Transportation Research Board is a program unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.


Former CEE Chair Vernon Watwood Passes Away

Vernon Watwood
Vernon Watwood

Professor Emeritus Vernon Bell Watwood Jr. passed away suddenly June 4 in Tucson, Arizona.  He taught in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 1973 until his retirement in 1997. In addition, Watwood served as CEE Department Chair.

According to his obituary in the Daily Mining Gazette, Watwood was born in Opelika, Alabama, in 1935. After graduating from Auburn University, he served in the Navy and continued his education at Cornell University and the University of Washington. Watwood’s research involved finite element modeling, equilibrium finite elements with present emphasis on 3D applications, force method procedures, and mining machinery structural analysis.

His wife of 62 years, Patricia, three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild are listed among the survivors. A private prayer service was held Saturday (June 13) at the Christ Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona, with the family on Zoom.


NSF Research Funding for David Watkins on COVID-19 Project

David Watkins
David Watkins

David Watkins (CEE/SFI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $190,764 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The project is titled “RAPID: COVID-19, Consumption, and Multi-dimensional Analysis of Risk (C-CAR)“. Chelsea Schelly (SS/SFI), Robert Handler (ChE/SFI) and Charles Wallace (CS/SFI) are co-PIs on this one-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed household dynamics and dramatically changed food, energy, and water consumption within the home. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing has caused U.S. households to shift to working and schooling from home, curtail outside activities, and stop eating in restaurants. Furthermore, as many households face job loss and increasing home utility and grocery bills, U.S. residents are experiencing the economic impacts of the crisis, while at the same time assessing and responding to health risks. The project team has a unique opportunity to study these shifting household consumption and behavioral responses and quantify the associated economic and environmental impacts. The team will collect household food, energy, and water consumption data as well as survey response data from 180 participating households in one Midwestern county and compare it to data collected before the stay-at-home orders were put in place.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.


2020 STEM for ALL Video Showcase: Belle Isle Aquarium

Creating STEM Pathways in Detroit

For the past four years, the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach has collaborated with Wayne State University and the Belle Isle Conservancy to promote an interest in science and science careers among elementary and middle school students in Detroit Public Schools. The project includes a summer teacher institute, field trips to the Belle Isle Aquarium, and mini grants for teachers. Classes come to the Belle Isle Aquarium to see fish, turtles and frogs, and leave with knowledge and excitement about what they could do in the world of science.

View our entry in the 2020 STEM for ALL Video Showcase, a three-minute video about the Belle Isle Aquarium NSF ITEST project, and VOTE for the Belle Isle Aquarium video for the Public Choice Award. Take a look at some of the other videos, too!

Please also view the newly created Virtual Field Trip and Ecology Lesson at the Belle Isle Aquarium. Before COVID-19, every fifth grade student in the Detroit public school system could visit the aquarium during the school year. The new virtual field trip allows anyone in the world to visit the United States’ oldest aquarium — the Belle Isle Aquarium!

Article by Joan Chadde, a leader in the organization of our teacher professional development summer workshops, Joan is an expert at “educating our educators.” As Director of Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, Joan was recently (2020) named Informal Science Educator of the Year by the Michigan Science Teachers Association.

Dr. Ram’s ‘Creating STEM Pathways at Detroit’s Aquarium’ named an NSF Facilitators’ Choice Video

Jeffrey Ram, Ph.D., professor of Physiology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, in collaboration with Wayne State’s College of Education, the Belle Isle Conservancy and Michigan Technological University, leads a $1.2 million National Science Foundation-funded project that aims to promote the interest of Detroit children in science and science careers.

A video produced by Dr. Ram, “Creating STEM Pathways at Detroit’s Aquarium,” that describes the project, was selected as a Facilitators’ Choice video in the 2020 SEM for ALL Video Showcase. Only 10 of 171 videos entered in the showcase received the honor.

Read more at WSU School of Medicine News.


Michigan Tech Student Awarded Virtual Internship

A Michigan Tech second-year student whose summer plans were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic has been named one of six recipients worldwide of a scholarship for a prestigious online program.

Malina Gallmeyer, an environmental engineering major from White Lake, Michigan, is a winner of a fully funded program scholarship from Virtual Internships. The scholarships are designed to assist students who are unable to participate in study abroad or in-person internships this summer. Through offering these scholarships, Virtual Internships hopes to support students in accessing global professional experiences while navigating recent challenges.

Gallmeyer is one of only two scholarship winners from the United States. Three are from the U.K. and one recipient is from New Zealand.

This program was established to ensure that all students have access to important learning opportunities and can continue to boost their employability and global networks, even during the current circumstances.

All six scholarship winners will get full access to Virtual Internship programs and all inclusions. Virtual Internships aims to work with all students to identify their skills gained and apply the experience to their employment outcomes.

Gallmeyer said, “A remote internship through Virtual Internships will offer me the same chance to gain experience, which as an engineer, is vital to employability after graduation, but with the bonus of working with people from around the world. Additionally, it would not only allow me to gain experience in my field, but also to understand and participate in the global economy and to learn the best way to connect with people.”


Audra Morse and Alumni Present at MITA 2020

Audra Morse
Audra Morse

Audra Morse, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, along with Michigan Tech alumni Taylor Rudlaff and Michael Prast, presented at the MITA 2020 Annual Conference about the Line 5 Tunnel.

The conference took place January 21-24 in Mount Pleasant. The Michigan Tech and Line 5 Tunnel Design session demonstrated Michigan Tech’s critical involvement regarding the feasibility of the Line 5 tunnel. It also provided insight regarding the role of the U.P. Energy Task Force in the process.

MITA is the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, a statewide construction trade association consisting of over 500 Michigan companies representing construction disciplines.

Read more at MITA Crossection. See page 14.


Chadde Receives Award from Michigan Science Teachers Association

Joan Chadde-Schumaker
Joan Chadde-Schumaker

Joan Chadde, director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, has received a prestigious award from the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA).

Chadde accepted the 2020 Informal Science Teacher of the Year Award at the MSTA’s annual conference held March 6-7 in Lansing.

The Board of the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA) announced in December that Chadde was chosen for her unique and extraordinary accomplishments, active leadership, scholarly contributions, and direct and substantial contributions to the improvement of non-school based science education over a significant period of time.