Author: Sue Hill

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.

Extract

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.


CEE Academy Member John Haro Passes Away

John Haro
John Haro

Noted architect John C. Haro, a Copper Country native who attended Michigan Tech, died April 9 in Phoenix, Arizona. He was 91.

Raised in Pelkie, Haro came to Michigan Tech in 1945 studying in the Civil Engineering Department for two years. After he left the area, he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Michigan, served in the Navy during the Korean War and went on to earn a Master of Architecture from Harvard.

During his 38 years as an architect in the Detroit area, Haro oversaw the construction of several buildings for the University of Michigan, the National Bank of Detroit, Avon Headquarters, the Eli Lilly Engineering Technolgy Center and the Washington Post Headquarters.

Following his retirement in 1990, Haro and his wife Betty, who preceded him in death in May 2019, split their time between Arizona and Houghton. He continued his architectural work in the Copper Country designing homes, churches and schools.

Haro was inducted into Michigan Tech’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Academy in 2011.


Minakata Group on Reverse Osmosis for Potable Reuse of Water

Environmental Science and Technology

Daisuke Minakata (CEE) and his students with his collaborator, Kerry Howe, at the University of New Mexico published their research findings and a predictive model in Environmental Science and Technology, a premium journal in environmental science and engineering field.

The study developed a group contribution method to predict the rejection of diverse organic chemicals through commercially available Reverse Osmosis membranes for potable reuse of wastewater. Minakata states that this is a significant step to predict the permeability of many diverse organic compounds through membrane technologies based on only given structural information of organics. The paper provides an MS Excel spreadsheet that allows anyone to download and use for the prediction as supporting information.

Minakata comments that the model is useful for water industries, policymakers and regulators that consider the contaminants under the future regulations, water treatment utilities, and educators who can implement this tool in class. From Minakata’s group, one graduate and three undergraduate researchers worked on this project with the support from WateResearch Foundation and internal Michigan Tech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) by Pavlis Honors College. 

https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b06170


Rail Transportation Program Wins National Honor

The Rail Transportation Program (RTP) at Michigan Tech has received a prestigious grant from the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC). Each year the NRC accepts applications for the NRC Education Grant Program from colleges and universities with rail education programs.

In addition to Michigan Tech’s RTP, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Rail Transportation and Engineering Center received a NRC Education Grant.

“This year, we had a record number of applications for the 2019 NRC Education Grant Program. All submissions were from top-tier rail programs which made the committee’s job very difficult in deciding our winners,” said Daniel Stout, vice president of STX Railroad Construction Services, and the chairman of the NRC Education Committee. “I am looking forward to having our co-winners, Michigan Tech and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, join us in discussing their respective programs and how they plan to utilize the grand funds at the 2020 NRC Conference in San Diego.”

Rail education at Michigan Tech includes coursework and related rail transportation minor, field trips, research projects, internships, scholarships and hands-on opportunities. The RTP is active in pre-university education sponsoring a Rail and Intermodal program through Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Programs (SYP).

RTP Director Pasi Lautala (CEE), said the grant funds will be used for enhancing the educational resources available for the Rail Program. These include the construction of a track section on campus and the development of various demonstration tools related to railroad signals. The grant will also support the activities of the Railroad Engineering and Activities Club (REAC) and the Summer Youth Program.

“We are extremely excited that the NRC recognizes the value of academic programs in securing talent for the future generation of railroaders,” Lautala said.

“The vision of our program is ‘to develop leaders and technologies for 21st-century rail transportation,’ and this grant will allow us to provide improvement that we have considered for several years. We are humbled by NRC’s selection and are looking forward to working more closely with NRC in improving railroad engineering education in the US.”

The NRC 2020 Education Grant application period will open later this spring.