Category: News

Congratulations Spring and Summer 2021 Graduates

CEE Logo

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering would like to congratulate our spring and summer graduates. While the current world events are keeping us from celebrating your accomplishments in a traditional way, 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 spring and summer 2021 graduates:

Seth Baar

Seth Baar

Seth is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. Seth says he will miss Mont Ripley and the outdoor adventures that Michigan Tech offers.

Madeline Bach

Madeline Bach

Madeline is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will begin working for Atwell Group in metro Detroit. She says she will miss Captain Wednesdays with the crew and is thankful to Michigan Tech for introducing her to the best friends and support system she could ever have. Madeline says “I’d like to recognize Dr. Lyz Reblin-Renshaw for taking me under her wing and constantly standing by me through the years. I’d also like to thank David Doll and the rest of my bar customers that have became family. Thank you for teaching me to not forget to have fun along the way, and that it truly does take a village” I’d also like to thank everyone I met through being Blizzard over the years, including Avery, Henry, Joel, Gary, Andre the Zamboni man, and those that I can’t yet name. You gave me a unique experience that very few tech students get to experience, and for that I am grateful. Rest in peace, Maneet Singh, you are very missed”.

Maddie Barrie

Maddie Barrie

Maddie is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. She will begin working as a Biological Science Technician at Isle Royle National Park after graduation. Maddie would like to thank Tom and Sally Bauer from Otter River Sled Dogs for all of their support while she has been at Tech, as well as her team (Gwen, Agate, Lassie, Mari, Heather, Ladina, Ruth and Pearl) for all of the miles, hours and adventures that they have traveled with her. She says “This degree is in honor of my grandpa, Randy Raymond. He truly loved this school and encouraged me to experience Tech every single day”.

Emily Berkompas

Emily Berkompas

Emily is graduating with a BS in civil engineering and will continue on at Michigan Tech to pursue a Master’s degree in civil engineering. Emily is thankful to Michigan Tech for pushing her to her full potential.

Jacob Breckler

Jacob Breckler

Jacob is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will star as a Project Engineer at Kapur & Associates. Jacob is will miss all the people he has met at Michigan Tech since he came to Houghton and is thankful to Michigan Tech for giving him the opportunity to pursue his passions.

Kyle Callaway

Kyle Callaway

Kyle is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. Kyle will begin working a full-time position at OHM after graduating. He will miss the friends that he has made while at Michigan Tech. Kyle is thankful to Michigan Tech for being given the opportunity at internships (and a full-time position) through Career Fair. He would like to recognize Dr. Kris Mattila as someone who has made a difference while at Michigan Tech.

Dani Cummins

Dani Cummins

Dani is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. She plans to take some much-needed rest and study for the F.E. after graduation. Dani will miss having such easy access to the gorgeous landscape at Michigan Tech. She says she is thankful to Michigan Tech for the wonderful friends she has made and loves so much.

Kelton Czyzio and his mom

Kelton Czyzio

Kelton is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. After graduation, he will continue on at Michigan Tech in the Accelerated Master’s program.

Chiarra Elkort-Wickboldt

Chiarra Elkort-Wickboldt

Chiarra is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. She will continue on at Michigan Tech after graduation in the Accelerated Master’s Program as an environmental engineering graduate student.

Mallory Fichera

Mallory Fichera

Mallory is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will be a Bioenvironmental Engineering in the Air Force. Mallory will miss the community that he has at Tech and all of the outdoor opportunities that are readily available. She is thankful for the hands-on experience and the application of academic material to real-world scenarios that she received throughout her time at Michigan Tech.

Amanda Freele

Amanda Freele

Amanda is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. She will continue on in the Accelerated Master’s program at Michigan Tech after graduation.

Sam Genter

Sam Genter

Sam is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. After graduation, Sam will be working full-time at Strand Associates under their municipal discipline in Columbus, Indiana. He says he will miss being in the Keweenaw as it is easily one of the prettiest places in the country. Sam is thankful to Michigan Tech as it was the perfect place for him to broaden his horizons, figure out what he wanted to do with his life, and create lasting friendships with like-minded people. He says: “The only reason I am graduating this spring is because of the unconditional love and support of my parents- thanks, mom and dad!”

Ali Gering

Ali Gering

Ali is graduating with a BS in civil engineering with a minor in economics. She will be moving to North Carolina to work for RS&H as a Transportation Technician and will be starting at the end of May. Ali says she will miss all of her friends and the amazing people she has met at Michigan Tech. She says she is thankful for all the opportunities given to her at Michigan Tech and the friends she has made for a lifetime. Ali says “I would like to recognize Dr. Kris Mattila who made a huge difference to me in my life even if he may not know it. He reached out and helped me when I was having a very difficult time and did everything he possibly could“. She would also like to thank her family and friends who have helped her throughout her years at Tech, saying she could definitely not have done it without a support system.

Rachel Golisch

Rachel Golisch

Rachel is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. She will be moving to Wisconsin with her boyfriend and cat to work full-time after graduation. Rachel says she will miss the Portage Canal – “it’s so pretty and not stinky” and she will miss dearly the jalapeno cheese curds from the cafe. She would like to recognize Dr. Tess Ahlborn for getting her hyped up about structural engineering and for being great at teaching, nice and very helpful. She also says “MTU greek life is great, I feel like my sorority really made a difference in my life and I am thankful for all of my wonderful sisters, they are all absolute queens”.

Gabe Halonen

Gabe Halonen

Gabe is graduating with a BS in construction management. After graduation, he will work as a Field Engineer for a general contracting company. Gabe says he will miss the great outdoors this area has to offer and is thankful for how Tech has prepared him for his career and the tools it has installed in him. John Daavettila is someone Gabe recognizes as a person who has made a difference to him during his time here.

JP Harron

JP Harron

JP is graduating with an MS in environmental engineering. After graduation, he will be working at Pace Analytical as an Associate Scientist. JP says he will miss the adventures – “Hiking, ice fishing, snowboarding, camping, mountain biking…there are so many opportunities I had at MTU that I would not have had anywhere else”. He says that he is thankful for the friendships he has made with students, faculty, and locals. JP says, “I met Ryan Kibler my second year at Tech and he is the brother I never had. Grad school isn’t always easy and he has been a great influence during my tenure at MTU“.

Colton Heikkinen

Colton Heikkinen

Colton is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. Colton will continue on to attend graduate school at Michigan Tech after graduation. Once gone from Tech he will miss the hockey games and Winter Carnival. Colton is thankful to Michigan Tech for providing him with a quality education and would like to recognize Jamie Sertich for being there for him and helping him in any way she could.

Brittany Hubbard

Brittany is graduating with an MS in civil engineering – water resources. After graduation, she plans on doing consulting work. Brittany says will miss the Tech community, classes and campus buried in snow. She is thankful to Michigan Tech for the diverse education, skill development, support and inclusive community. Brittany specifically recognizes Dr. Veronica Webster, Dr. Brian Barkdoll, Dr. Mike Hyslop, Dr. Bill Bulleit, Dr. Alex Mayer, Rob Fritz, Angela Keranen, Dr. Qingli Dai and Dr. Gretchen Hein as people who made a difference to her while at Michigan Tech.

Maria Huber

Maria Huber

Maria is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be working full-time with ROWE Professional Services out of Mt. Pleasant. Maria says she will miss making memories with friends and all of the adventures they have had throughout the Keweenaw area. She says she is thankful for all the help that the faculty and staff have offered her throughout her four years at Michigan Tech. Not only with her academics, but will her personal life and professional career as well.

Carly Huggins

Carly Huggins

Carly is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. She will attend graduate school after graduation. Carly says she will miss Lake Superior and would like to recognize Dr. Noel Urban as someone who has made a difference to her while at Michigan Tech.

Roselyn Ignacio

Roselyn Ignacio

Roselyn is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. After graduating, she plans on completing the FE exam and going on a job hunt for work in the SE Michigan area. She plans on working for a few years while she prepares for graduate school for a Master’s degree in either civil or environmental engineering.

Miraj Kayastha

Miraj Kayastha

Miraj is graduating with an MS in civil engineering. He will continue on at Michigan Tech to pursue his PhD. Miraj is thankful to Michigan Tech for the countless opportunities he has received and recognizes his advisor, Dr. Pengfei Xue, as someone who has made a difference to him during his master’s work.

Nicholas Kippenhan

Nicolas Kippenhan

Nicholas is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be working for a general contractor. Nicholas says that will miss the outdoors and is thankful that Michigan Tech has provided a wonderful academic opportunity that has helped him grow into the person he is today. He says it would not have been possible without all of the professors who challenged him throughout his education as well as all of his colleagues who also encouraged him. Nicholas recognizes Dr. Kris Mattila as being an outstanding professor as well as a mentor he is thankful to have gotten to know over his last four years at Tech.

Jenna Koenig

Jenna Koenig

Jenna is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. She has accepted a full-time position with Barr in Minneapolis that will begin after graduation. Jenna says she will miss the warm winters and is thankful to Michigan Tech for introducing her to some amazing people.


Corrina Kostrzewa

Corrina is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. She will begin working with the US Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, MI after graduation. Corrina will miss all the winter activities (cross country skiing, Broomball, snowshoeing, and snowboarding), the beautiful nature of the Keweenaw, and the Fall soccer games with the MTU Women’s Soccer Club. She is thankful for how Michigan Tech has prepared her for her internships and study abroad experiences and would also like to thank her family and friends for the endless support she has received throughout her time at Michigan Tech.

Garrett Kraut

Garrett is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be working for SME in Plymouth.

Carolyn LaDuke

Carolyn LaDuke

Carolyn is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. She will be moving to Neenah, Wisconsin to start her career at McMahon with her fiance after graduation. Carolyn will miss a lot about Houghton, but will miss the friends she has made here most, especially since a lot of them are scattering throughout the Midwest to begin their careers. She wants to say “Thanks to all the friends I have made in my years at Tech, they are what made my college experience fun and memorable”.

Dava Lakatos

Dava Lakatos

Dava is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, she will begin working at DLZ. Dava says she will miss being close to so many beautiful hikes and is thankful for the friends that she was introduced to through the opportunities Tech provided. Dava says “Participate on campus! You won’t regret making memories“!

Kate Lawson

Kate Lawson

Kate is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. She will be working in Ann Arbor as a Staff Engineer for G2 Consulting Group after graduation and hoping to work towards an MS in geotechnical engineering in the future.

Luc Lishinski

Luc Lishinski

Luc is graduating with a BS in construction management. After graduation, he will be working for Veterans Electric back home in the Milwaukee area. Luc says he will definitely miss all the friends that he made here. He will also miss being in the Keweenaw and enjoying everything it has to offer on a daily basis. He will miss all of the hockey, broomball, and other various activities that he participated in throughout his time here that he won’t be able to experience on the same level after he leaves. Luc is really thankful for getting the opportunity to be President of the Puck Club at Michigan Tech, saying he took a lot of pride running the club, especially through the difficulties caused by the pandemic – “It was challenging at times, but I feel that I learned a lot more from the experience than I expected to going into it. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of my fellow e-board members, a group of people that I hope to stay in touch with after I leave here“. When asked if he would like to recognize someone who made a difference Luc says “I made some really good friends up here that I am really grateful to have been able to be around over the years, they made my time here much more enjoyable; especially my best friend Sonja, who has been there for me through thick and thin. I also want to recognize the faculty here, specifically the Construction Management staff, who really helped make an impact on me throughout my time here. They were very down-to-earth and helped make the classes enjoyable, while also making sure that I understood the material. They showed that they truly cared about me and my success. I just wanted to say thank you to my friends and family, especially my parents (Daryl and Terry), that all helped me along the way to get to where I am now. I wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without all of their support.”

Julia Manzano

Julia Manzano

Julia is graduating with an MS in civil engineering. She will begin working as a Water Engineer at Arcadis in Buffalo, NY after graduation. Julia will miss being on the Cross Country and Track teams and would like to thank all of her dedicated professors that she has had during her time at Michigan Tech.

Erik Oshaben

Erik Oshaben

Erik is graduating with his BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be working as an EIT at SME in Shelby Charter Township, MI. Erik will miss the snow, the people and the late nights studying with friends. He is thankful to Michigan Tech for not failing him for skipping school on powder days at Mount Bohemia. Erik would like to recognize Dr. Amlan Mukherjee as someone who made a difference to him while at Michigan Tech.

Clinton Ottman

Clinton Ottman

Clinton is graduating with his BS in environmental engineering and a Minor in Law & Society. After graduation, he will continue on at MTU to complete his MS degree in environmental engineering as part of the Accelerated Master’s Program but will be an Environmental Engineering Intern at Neenah Foundry in the summer before returning to Houghton. Something that Clinton will miss once he is done with his degrees is the sense of community that is always at MTU – “There is a sense of comraderies throughout the campus especially in our department that I miss when I am not on campus already.” He is thankful to Michigan Tech for pushing him both academically and in extracurriculars. He was able to grow and become the best version of himself through being pushed and learned to apply himself in different areas. Clinton would like to recognize all of the faculty and staff of the CEE department. “Every professor that I had always was passionate about what they taught and were willing to help whenever I needed it. I would especially like to recognize Julie Ross who helped with scheduling conflicts, overall questions I had about the program and running the CEE SSC. Dr. Audra Morse also helped me in running the CEE SSC and was someone that I could talk to. Finally, Dr. Gretchen Hein allowed me to have the opportunity to be a TA for her and I am grateful for having that experience to help others. I am glad I chose to go to MTU as it was a great experience and I will not forget the memories and relationships I had for the rest of my life. I will be glad to call myself an alumnus of MTU and the CEE department.”

Taylor Poprawski

Taylor Poprawski

Taylor is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. She will begin working as a Design Engineer for Spicer Group, helping with wastewater treatment plant design, after graduation. Taylor says she will miss pretty much everything about Michigan Tech, but will especially miss the Keweenaw area and campus. She is thankful for all the career search help, resume help and interview help that is offered to students. When asked if she would like to recognize someone who made a difference, Taylor says “Gloria from the McNair Dining Hall. She was so sweet and always happy to see me. Talking to her genuinely brightened my day”.

Bret Pugliese

Bret Pugliese

Bret is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he plans to go to work for an aviation consultant building airports. Bret says he will miss all the winter and snow and is thankful to Michigan Tech for giving him the opportunity to meet new people and challenging him to be the pest person and engineer he can be. He would like to recognize Dr. Kris Mattila who always made class interesting and fun while making sure every student learned something to help them in their careers.

Riley Saldana

Riley Saldana

Riley is graduating with a BS in civil engineering with a minor in municipal engineering. Riley will move to Panama City, Florida where he will be working for RS&H. He will miss the warming and inclusive environment that was always present at MTU – “Anywhere I went I felt that I belonged. I am thankful that Michigan Tech always gave me knowledge guidance throughout the duration of my stay”.

Joel Schramm

Joel Schramm

Joel is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, Joel will be moving to Kalispell, Montana to begin working for Jackola Engineering & Architecture as a Structural Engineer in Training. He says he will miss the instructors at Michigan Tech as they have been helpful for course questions as well as after graduation advice and mentorship. Joel is thankful to be able to tell people he has an education from Michigan Tech as it earns him instant respect. He wants to recognize Dr. Tess Ahlborn as someone who has made a difference for him at Tech and says “I had a great experience with the coursework. As a transfer student, I did not stay in the dorms. I wish I did stay in the dorms for a semester or a year to make more friends.”

Amanda Singer

Amanda Singer

Amanda is graduating with an MS in environmental engineering. She will be attending Ohio State University to pursue a Ph.D. in Engineering Education after graduation. Amanda will miss the people and all the adventures in the Keweenaw. She is thankful to Michigan Tech for its commitment to seeing students succeed and would like to thank her advisors Dr. Michelle Jarvie Eggart and Dr. Judith Perlinger for all of their guidance over the last two years!

Mohammad Anas Taeb

Mohammad Anas Taeb

Mohammad is graduating with an MS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will return to his country, Afghanistan, and is already excited to share the knowledge and experience he has gained as an exchange student here at Michigan Tech. Mohammad will miss the U.P.’s beautiful greenery and fresh air in the summer. He would like to thank the CEE Department for making sure that a quality learning experience is provided despite the hard times everyone has been going through.

Alex Waypa

Alex Waypa

Alex is graduating with an MS in environmental engineering. She will stay in the UP for the summer and will continue looking for and applying for jobs. Alex says she will miss the outdoor opportunities Michigan Tech and its campus offers year-round. She is thankful for the people that she has met while going to school here. Alex says “Dr. Seagren and Dr. Melanie Watkins have made a big difference while I’ve been at MTU. They have both pushed me to continue my education as well as providing advice for my future”.

Kaitlyn Wehner

Kaitlyn Wehner

Kaitlyn is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. She will be joining Westwood Professional Services in Appleton, WI. Kaitlyn will miss the people and the area as everyone is very hardworking and supportive of one another and the Houghton area is an ideal place to explore. She is thankful to Michigan Tech for all of the opportunities she was granted to explore her interests. Kaitlyn would like to recognize the Built World Enterprise team and advisor, Dr. Audra Morse, for all of the support and fun she had with being involved in projects and leadership positions.

Cayla Woods

Cayla Woods

Cayla is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will move to Shelby Township for a job with SME and is looking in different options for her master’s. Cayla says “The community aspect at Michigan Tech is something that I will be missed due to the fact that everyone knows each other and always willing to help out. ” She is thankful that she has grown so much, in not just knowledge, but also as a human being. She states Michigan Tech has prepared her to go out in the real world and be successful, which is huge. Cayla thanks her family who have stuck beside her and encouraged her through all of college all the way from Texas. She says she could not have done it without them.

AJ Yokie

AJ is graduating with a BS in geospatial engineering. He plans on full-time employment after graduation. AJ will miss the professors at Michigan Tech and would especially like to recognize Joe Foster and Jeff Hollingsworth. He is thankful to Michigan Tech for his degree.

Graduates Not Pictured Above

BS in Civil Engineering

Brandon Angel

Tyler Boyle

Sierra Braun

Daryn Carter

Caitlin Cerza

Charlie Gotta

Karl Heindlmeyer

Thomas Hundt

Ian Meeder

Seth Miatech

Steve Mosby

Sydney Mukavetz

Garrett Muonio

Samuel Rose

Cooper Ryan

Eric Sabourin

Taylor Shane

Alex Spears

Eric Tracy

Alec Weitermann

Kamilla Yesmukhanova

BS in Environmental Engineering

Brittany Bradley

Elizabeth Esmacher

Zach Gogulski

Anna Johnson

Andrea Rake

Logan Schmultzer

BS in Construction Management

Avery Bartlett

Jacob Lechner

Ryan Nelson 

Tanner Nicholas

Darren Nordstrom

MS in Civil Engineering

Christopher Almquist

Alexander Baker

Joshua Borth

Matthew Fox

Robyn Holmes

Tristan Odekirk

Sarah Peterson

Caleb Schmeltzer

MS in Environmental Engineering

Emily Byrd

Garion Johnson

Karleigh Krieg

MS in Integrated Geospatial Technology

William Roland

Samuel Schumaker

PhD in Civil Engineering

Jessica Daignault

Xiaodong Zhou

PhD in Environmental Engineering

Chenfu Huang

Funding Opportunity for Rail Transportation/Railroad Engineering Research


The Federal Railroad Administration recently released a Broad Agency 2021 Announcement (BAA) research program opportunity. Michigan Tech researchers from several departments have had great success in these projects in the past. To date, we’ve received over $2 million in funding for five projects. In addition, the three proposals from BAA 2020 listed below are expected to be awarded in near future.

  • Railroad Crossing Vehicle Warning (RCVW) Application Demonstrations with Connected Vehicles ($380,705)
  • An Integrated and Automated Decision Support System for Ground Hazard Risk Mitigation for Railway ($694,922)
  • Expanding Summer Youth Programs through Virtual Learning and a National Campus Network ($474,695)

Anyone interested in expanding their research portfolio to railway research topics is encouraged to:

  • Review the topics of interest by the FRA (Appendix C)
  • Watch a short video on the program by Pasi Lautala, Director of Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program here (passcode: FRA-BAA2021)
  • Contact Pasi Lautala to discuss potential topic ideas and/or
  • Develop a brief, max. one page idea summary and send it to Lautala ASAP, but no later than April 30

We will send all project ideas to FRA for an early feedback and submit full concept papers (max. five pages) on those recommended by the FRA. After review, FRA will request full proposals on those concept papers they are interested in funding.

Feel free to contact Lautala if you have any questions or need additional clarifications … and feel free to distribute this information to your colleagues who might be interested.

By Pasi Lautala.

Update on Experimental Asphalt Road in Dickinson County

Feet walking near asphalt.

A stretch of County Road 607 in Dickinson County paved with an asphalt mix that uses pieces of old tires is now being tested, almost two years after it was installed.

Lab experiments conducted at Michigan Tech by Zhanping You (CEE) and his research team have found the performance has improved over the last two years. Monitoring will continue for ten or more years. The project was a collaboration with You’s research team, the Michigan EGLE, and the Dickinson County Road Commission.

The story was covered by several media outlets including MI EnvironmentPublic Radio 90WLUC TV6 and ABC10.

Over the past two years, Michigan Tech Students have been gathering results and samples, of this road, from different testing sites.


Society of Women Engineers Attend the SWE-Wisconsin Spring Forward Professional Day

SWE Group
SWE Members Sophie Stewart, Katy Pioch, Aleah Hummel, Gretchen Hein (SWE Advisor) and Aerith Cruz

On April 10, Katy Pioch (Mechanical Engineering Junior), Sophie Stewart (Mechanical Engineering Junior), Aleah Hummel (Civil Engineering, Sophomore), Aerith Cruz (Management Information Systems, First-Year), and Gretchen Hein (SWE Advisor and Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology) attended the SWE-Wisconsion Spring Forward Professional Day virtually. Katy Pioch gave the introductory welcome address. Sophie Stewart and Aerith Cruz gave a presentation and workshop summarizing our outreach efforts where with support from a Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Program Development Grant, the College of Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering, the section has virtually met with over 500 local and regional youth.

During the Spring Forward Celebration, Aleah (Alli) Hummel was awarded the Society of Women Engineers- Wisconsin Section Martha Maxwell Memorial Endowed Scholarship. The goal of the scholarship program is “To honor Martha Maxwell’s memory and continue fostering her excitement about engineering, math, and science for young girls and women”.  At the event, Aleah Hummel was recognized for her work as the Evening With Industry chair and her internship where she worked on various construction projects. Scholarships are important for all students; here is what this one means to Alli: “I am very honored and grateful to be the recipient of the Martha Maxwell Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Being a part of SWE helps me grow academically and professionally. I am excited to continue my involvement in SWE as I progress throughout my academic and professional career.”  Gretchen Hein, SWE Advisor, notes that “Alli is a joy to have in class and is planning to continue her work with Evening with Industry in the fall. She is truly a person who exemplifies the goals of this scholarship”. Audra Morse, Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering, stated that “The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is proud of Alli’s scholastic achievements and her involvement in SWE.  Congratulations to Alli for receiving a SWE-WI scholarship!”

Aleah Hummel
Alli Hummel pictured with her award

“I am very honored and grateful to be the recipient of the Martha Maxwell Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Being a part of SWE helps me grow academically and professionally. I am excited to continue my involvement in SWE as I progress throughout my academic and professional career.” – Alli Hummel

The SWE Section at Michigan Tech recognizes the contributions of our members who presented at the professional day, and members, like Alli, who are recognized for their academic and societal efforts. We thank everyone for their support of SWE at Michigan Tech.

by Gretchen Hein

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:  or contact: Joan Chadde (

“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 (248) 937-0248
Jasmine Ngene – Electrical Engineering j (763) 248-2928
Jalen Vaughn – Computer Engineering j
Kylynn Hodges – Computer Science
George Ochieze – Mechatronics
Catherine Rono- Biological Science
Christiana Strong – Biomedical Engineering
Trent Johnson – Computer Engineering
Meghan Tidwell – Civil Engineering
Oluwatoyin Areo*- Chemical Engineering
Kazeem Kareem* – Statistics

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, or Joan Chadde, Director, Center for Science & Environmental Outreach, Michigan Technological University by email: or call 906-369-1121.

Rail Transportation Program Offers First-year Scholarships

Rail Transportation Program

The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program announces it will offer four scholarships to first-year students interested in learning more about the rail transportation industry.

The scholarships are open to all disciplines. The application process is simple. Complete the application form you can find on our web page and submit it to David Nelson by March 5.

The application includes a short essay where you can tell our judges how you think you might fit into the industry.

The rail industry has cutting-edge jobs in all areas, from communications and controls to power systems, to business applications and construction.

Contact David Nelson if you want to talk about where the industry could take you!

Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program Awards Scholarships

BoFa Saldana
BoFa Saldana, ECE
Stanton Schmitz
Stanton Schmitz, CEE
Justin Micillo
Justin Micillo, CEE

The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program (RTP) and the Rail Transportation Advisory Board (RTAB) are proud to announce the winners of the 2020-2021 scholarships to support students with their studies at Michigan Tech.

We had several great applications that complicated the work of our selection committee. In addition to the two scholarships funded through a generous endowment by CN Railway, RTP awarded one scholarship funded by the RTP Alum/Friends for the first time in the program’s history.

CN Railway Scholarship winners ($1,500 each) are:

  • Justin Micillo, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Stanton Schmitz, Civil and Environmental Engineering RTP

Alumni/Friends winner ($1,500) is:

  • BoFa Saldana, Electrical and Computer Engineering

“I would like to thank you all for selecting me as a recipient of the 2021 Rail Transportation Program Scholarship. I was thrilled to find out that I had been picked to receive this award. I am grateful and extremely appreciative of this support. This is something that will help me complete many goals as a student here at Michigan Tech as well as in my future career in the rail industry. This scholarship gives me that much more motivation to complete these goals! Again, thank you for this generous contribution” Saldana said.

Congratulations to the winners. Browse the current and past RTP scholarship winners and RTP Scholarships. Learn how to donate to the program/scholarships.

Rail Industry Scholarships

By Pasi Lautala.

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.

David Perram Creates a Legacy

David Perram
David Perram

The Staff Council is celebrating the 2020 Staff Council Making a Difference awards winners. Among the winners is David Perram, Senior Research Engineer/Scientist, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Legacy Award

David’s nominator says “In the past 30+ years that he has been with the Department, he has been an integral part of the environmental engineering laboratories. His technical expertise and professionalism have made him an indispensable resource for faculty and students for teaching and research laboratory assistance. He has provided the expertise and chemistry knowledge that are needed to assist faculty and graduate students in setting up their experimental systems. In fact, without his commitment to the program, it would not be possible for faculty to successfully conduct laboratory intensive research.”

“In the past 30+ years that he has been with the Department, he has been an integral part of the environmental engineering laboratories.”

Dave’s nominator

A letter of support says “In Dave’s 38 years at Michigan Tech, he has made significant contributions toward the University’s research status while at the same time mentoring and providing support for colleagues and numerous graduate student teaching assistants.”