All posts by Sue Hill


Center Receives Grant to Provide Outdoor Science Field Trips for 4000 Area Students

Brian Doughty Nara Nature Center
Science specialist Brian Doughty teaches at the Nara Nature Center.

More than four thousand western UP students will spend time learning outdoors this school year thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Wege Foundation recently provided to the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach. The Center’s Outdoor Science Investigations Field Trip Program is open to elementary and middle school students in all 19 school districts in Houghton, Baraga, Gogebic, Ontonagon and Keweenaw counties. Last year, the Field Trip Program engaged more than 4000 students in 200 classes from 14 schools in outdoor science learning, from physical and earth science, to forestry, wildlife, and stream monitoring.

Two activities are offered for each grade level during each season, led by the Center’s science specialist, Brian Doughty. Activities for younger students focus on exploration and observation. These field trips enhance classroom learning and provide real-world, hands-on experiences for students. All activities are correlated to Michigan Science Standards and connect to the school curriculum. The outdoor classroom allows students to utilize science and math skills, including observing, predicting, data-collection, analysis, and graphing.

During the winter field trip season, students are provided with snowshoes to incorporate physical exercise into their learning. Students investigate topics such as the “wind chill” effect, which materials make better insulators, and techniques used by wildlife to survive our cold, snowy winters. One teacher observed, “My students absolutely loved the program. Their favorite part was looking for decomposers, which made the food web a reality for them. Later on that day, one of my students was very excited because she found the word, ‘carnivore’ in her reading. This is just what we learned this morning!”

The Center’s mission is to enhance the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and promote environmental stewardship amongst K-12 students and teachers. For more information about the Wege Foundation grant or the field trip program, contact Joan Chadde at 906-487-3341 or jchadde@mtu.edu .


Faculty and Students Attend 98th Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting

Students and faculty in pavement materials areas attended the 98th Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting on January 13-17, 2019. Siyu Chen, Xiaodong Zhou, Jiaqing Wang, Lingyun You, Dongdong Ge, Miao Yu, Chaochao Liu, and Junfeng Gao presented at the meeting. Professor Zhanping You presented “The Development of a New Asphalt Mixture Containing Reacted and Activated Rubber and Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement via Superpave Mix Design and Marshall Mix Design.”

Tim Colling, Director of the Center for Technology & Training, attended throughout and served on the ANB 25: Highway Safety Performance Committee.

Professor Eric Seagren attended the TRB meeting as a member of the Geo-Environmental Processes Committee (AFP40) to participate in the committee’s annual meeting.

Assistant Professor Zhen Liu (Leo) attended TRB with a visiting student, Peng Gao. Liu presented at the committee meeting of AFP50: Committee on Seasonal Climatic Effects on Transportation Infrastructure. The title of the presentation was “Data-Driven Predictions of Freezing and Thawing Depths with 3D Models.”

Associate Professor Pasi Lautala chaired the AR040 Freight Rail Transportation Committee. He also presented a poster by himself and Alawudin Salim (MS alumnus of Civil Engineering) “A HUMAN BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS OF HIGHWAY-RAILROAD GRADE CROSSINGS BASED ON ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS AND DRIVER DEMOGRAPHICS.”

Sangpil Ko Poster
Sangpil Ko by his poster.

Research Assistant Sangpil Ko presented a poster co-authored by himself, Pasi Lautala, and Assistant Professor Kuilin Zhang on “Log Movement in the Superior Region – Rate and Capacity Based Analysis of Modal Shares.”

Associate Professor Amlan Mukherjee presented on a recently concluded National Cooperative Highway Research Program project involving the development of a Guidebook for Sustainable Highway Construction Practices at the meeting for the TRB Standing Committee on Construction Management (AFH10).

Mukherjee also presented the Michigan Department of Transportation study on “Workflows for Digital Project Delivery in Transportation Construction Projects” at the sub-committee meeting on Information Systems in Construction Management [AFH10(1)], where he serves as Secretary.

Mukherjee and PhD candidate Chaitanya Bhat co-authored a paper on “Sensitivity of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Outcomes to Parameter Uncertainty: Implications For Material Procurement Decision-Making.” The paper was presented at a lectern session by Bhat. It has also been accepted for publication in the Journal of the Transportation Research Record, to be published in 2019. Mr.Bhat presented his research on “Life-Cycle Thinking” in a 3 Minute Thesis event organized at TRB.

Taking advantage of their time in Washington DC, Mukherjee and Bhat, as part of their ongoing research in pavement Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) funded by the Federal Highway Administration, also organized a stakeholder meeting with fellow collaborators among members of the Federal LCA Commons.

Also in attendance were PhD students Qinjie Lyu and Jiaqing Wang.


Jiaqing Wang Presents on Transportation Topics

Jiaqing Wang presenting at TRB 2019Jiaqing Wang attended the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 98th Annual Meeting at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, January 13–17, 2019, in Washington, D.C. He presented his recent research work under Dr. Qingli Dai’s supervision. The presentation title was “Effectively Recycling Scrap Tire Rubbers into Epoxy Polymer Concrete as Overlays or Repair Materials.”

To reduce environmental landfill problems with the accumulation of tire rubbers, scrap tire rubbers were added to epoxy polymer concrete. The solid rubber particles (with mesh size #50) were introduced into epoxy concrete with two different contents of 5% and 10% based on the epoxy monomer weight. The test results indicated that the use of solid waste tires could not only enhance the performance of neat epoxy concrete, but also contribute to environmental protection while extending the service life of existing concrete structures. His presentation and the research work that was conducted in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech attracted the audience’s attention and interest.

Wang also attended the 9th International Association of Chinese Infrastructure Professionals (IACIP) Annual Workshop “Innovations of Transportation Infrastructure In an Era of Climate Change.” He received 2nd prize in the student poster competition.


Family Science and Engineering Night at Barkell

Brian Doughty demonstrating in classBarkell Elementary School hosted Family Science and Engineering Night Wednesday evening, February 6, 2019, giving children grades K-5 opportunities to think outside of the box in the fields of science and engineering, with educational yet fun activities.

Brian Doughty of the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, led an activity in which fourth- and fifth-grade students explored generating electricity with a lemon.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Graham Jaehnig.

Students Learn About Ice

The students took a hike through the winter trail at the Nara Nature Center, as well as participated in some hands on activities inside. “This program allows roughly 4,000 students in the Western Upper Peninsula to experience the outdoors and to learn science in the outdoors,” said Joan Chadde, Michigan Tech’s Director for Science and Environmental Outreach.

Read more at the Keweenaw Report.

Brian Doughty Nara Nature
Brian Doughty leads the Nara Nature expedition.

Nara Nature Field Trip TV

Much of the program’s funding comes from contributions and strong community support. “We are super excited to have received a $20,000 grant from the Wege Foundation this year to continue the program.” – Chadde

Watch the Video, by Lee Snitz.


Jennifer Becker Publishes on Sustainability Metrics for Water Resource Recovery

Jennifer Becker
Jennifer Becker

Jennifer G. Becker (CEE) is one of the lead authors on a paper that defines the sustainability metrics that should be used to assess water resource recovery facilities of the future. The paper, which was just published in Water Environment Research, was a follow-up to a National Science Foundation-sponsored workshop to which Becker and other leaders in the field of water and wastewater treatment and reuse were invited.

The workshop focused on developing evaluation metrics to advance the Facilities Accelerating Science & Technology (FAST) Water Network. FAST includes over 90 test bed facilities dedicated to accelerating innovation and adoption of water energy, and nutrient recovery systems.

Sustainability metrics for assessing water resource recovery facilities of the future

Pablo K. Cornejo Jennifer Becker Krishna Pagilla Weiwei Mo Qiong Zhang James R. Mihelcic Kartik Chandran Belinda Sturm Daniel Yeh Diego Rosso
First published: 25 January 2019 https://doi.org/10.2175/106143017X15131012187980
Volume 91, Issue1, January 2019, Pages 45-53

The recovery of water, energy, and nutrients from water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) is needed to address significant global challenges, such as increasing water demand and decreasing availability of nonrenewable resources. To meet these challenges, innovative technological developments must lead to increased adoption of water and resource recovery processes, while addressing stakeholder needs (e.g., innovators, practitioners, regulators).

Read more at Water Environment Research.


Sarah Washko Attends Snow Measurement Field School

Sarah Washko takes measurements in the snowSarah Washko, an environmental engineering MS student, participated in the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI) Snow Measurement Field School on January 6-11, 2019, in Bozeman Montana. The NASA-funded course provided training for performing high-quality snow measurements in the field, as well as in the fundamentals of snow hydrology analysis. In addition to traditional field methods, remote sensing techniques were also explored.

Each day in the field concluded with a presentation of the day’s findings. The final day culminated in a student designed field campaign at the Bridger Bowl Ski area. The workshop was designed to cultivate snow measurement and research design skills.



Julie Ross is an Unsung Hero

Julie Ross
Julie Ross

At an awards program in the Memorial Union Ballroom Wednesday (Jan. 9, 2018), staff members were honored with the Staff Council Making a Difference Award.

Julie Ross, academic advisor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, was a recipient of the Unsung Hero Award. Julie’s nominator states “When the faculty member who established the CEE Student Success Center left the University, Julie picked up the role of advisor for this group because she knew the services provided by the student success coaches were essential to the Department’s teaching mission. Without her stepping up and taking the advisor reigns, this group would not exist today.

Read more at the Staff Council blog.