Category: News

Summer Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Nick Kampfschulte
Undergraduate researcher Nick Kampfschulte hard at work “His past experience as a competitive rower was an asset in the field” – Dr. Cory McDonald

CEGE Undergraduates Awarded Summer Research

Five Michigan Tech civil and environmental engineering undergraduate students were selected to participate in undergraduate research over the summer.  The students selected were awarded funding with a 1:1 match from the Department and their faculty advisor.  All of the applicants considered were outstanding in advancing new research as well as providing an exceptional research opportunity for our undergraduate students.  The following were selected: 

Michelle Bollini, advised and nominated by Dr. Judith Perlinger – Michelle worked with her research advisors and mentors Dr. Judith Perlinger and graduate student Enid Partika on the convergence research project, “Bridging Knowledge Systems and Expertise for Understanding the Dynamics of a Contaminated Tribal Landscape System (TLS)”. She assisted in developing methods for the analysis of concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyl compounds and other persistent organic pollutants in fish collected from Lake Superior and Upper Peninsula inland lakes.

Nicholas Kampfschulte, advised and nominated by Dr. Cory McDonald  – Nick worked on a paleolimnological study to understand the effects of anthropogenic nitrogen deposition on aquatic ecosystems.  They collected sediment cores from three remote lakes in the Huron Mountains in May, and Nick has been performing a variety of laboratory analyses to measure radionuclides and stable isotopes in these samples.  Nick and Dr. McDonald are using this data to reconstruct the history of these lakes.  Nick is continuing his work in the lab during the academic year.  Nick says of the experience:  “The opportunity to visit the Huron Mountains was truly a once in a lifetime experience and the knowledge/ experience I’ve gained in the area of radiometric dating is not only invaluable to me as it has grown into a new personal interest of mine, will also be invaluable to me in my career search

Bobbi Hulce, advised and nominated by Dr. Qingli Dai – Bobbi conducted mechanical performance tests of both recycled plastic-rubber modified and tire steel fiber-reinforced plastic-rubber modified mortar samples. Recycled plastic-rubber aggregates, with mesh sizes from #10 to #18 partially replaced the fine aggregates with three-volume percentages of 10%, 15%, and 20%. Control mortar, mortar with recycled plastic-rubber, and mortar with tire steel fiber reinforcement and recycled plastic-rubber were prepared. The compressive and indirect tensile strength were measured and compared. Fracture strength and fracture energy were measured with the single-edge notched beam test to evaluate the effects of recycled plastic-rubber aggregates and tire steel fibers. The mortar test results will be further improved and connected with the durability performance evaluation. This study will facilitate the recycling of plastics and tire rubbers with concrete production.

Other undergraduate students conducting research this summer were Emily Bergstrom, advised and nominated by Dr. Jake Hiller and Joshua King, advised and nominated by Dr. Zhanping You.

MICUP Program

In addition to the above awards, George Vicente, a civil engineering student at Penn State University, participated in flood hazard mitigation research with Professor David Watkins.  Specifically, George tested the flood hydrology tools in FEMA’s HAZUS software to evaluate the ability to simulate the impacts of local flooding, such as the damage resulting from the 2018 Father’s Day Flood.  George’s program was co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and during his time on campus, he also participated in a course and activities with students in the Michigan College/University Partnership (MICUP) Program.


Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative provides place-based professional learning for teachers this summer

Photo credit: George Stockero

The Inland Seas schooner facilitated western UP teachers exploring the geoheritage of the Keweenaw Waterway and learning to use 360° cameras to create virtual tours to share with their students this school year.

Since 2008, the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) has brought together schools and community partners in a 5-county area of the western Upper Peninsula to prepare K-12 students to become knowledgeable citizens concerned about the Lake Superior watershed and actively engaged in stewardship projects in their community. A partnership between Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD), LSSI has provided place-based professional learning opportunities for teachers. This summer, a 2021 NOAA B-WET grant awarded to the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, in partnership with the Western UP MiSTEM Network and others, afforded meaningful watershed educational experiences for K-12 teachers at schools in the western Upper Peninsula.


In July, two outdoor professional learning experiences for teachers – a K-8 Project Learning Tree Workshop and Assessing Forest Health (for middle and high school educators) –provided participants with hands-on, interdisciplinary activities and resources for learning about ecosystems, food webs, invasive species, soils, water cycle, tree physiology, and environmental impacts.


Another July event provided an opportunity for teachers and community partners to participate in a scientific excursion aboard the Inland Seas schooner, to explore the geoheritage of the Keweenaw Waterway. The exploration focused on significant natural and anthropogenic features of the waterway while sailing to the Jacobsville sandstone cliffs at the South Entry. Another local partner, the Regional Education Media Center, provided instruction on how to record place-based experiences using 360° cameras and images. Participants also received training on how to use photos and information from the schooner trip to create virtual tours through RoundMe. These virtual tours will be shared with classes during the school year and become models for future geo-investigations created by students.


In August, teachers and community partners participated in a workshop to gain strategies and lessons for integrating gardening into their curriculum led by expert teachers and extension educators.

The Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) is part of the statewide Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI). Over the past 15 years, many Michigan Tech faculty and students in CEGE, as well as, other departments and colleges at MTU, have provided expertise, conducted professional learning, made classroom presentations, and provided resources that have helped school-community teams to accomplish their stewardship projects and contributed greatly to LSSI’s success.

By Lloyd Wescoat, K-12 Educator, Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach


Freeze Thaw Project Wins AASHTO Sweet Sixteen Award

Zhen Liu
Zhen Liu

Congratulations to Zhen Liu (CEGE) for his MDOT Freeze Thaw project winning an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Sweet Sixteen Award.

According to the press release, the Sweet Sixteen Award highlights high-value research from four regions across the country, with four awards possible per region. 

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) received the award for Liu’s research project, “Develop and Implement a Freeze Thaw Model Based Seasonal Load Restriction Decision Support Tool.”

fact sheet and video summary of Liu’s project are available on the AASHTO award page.

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.


First Place for Michigan Tech Team on Runway Safety or Incursions Challenge

A team of undergraduate students from the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE) were recognized in a press release from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) announcing the winners of the 15th annual University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs competition. The Huskies earned first place in the runway safety or incursions challenge.

Read more at AOPA News, by David Tulis.

The team’s proposal was entitled Graphical NOTAM Interface for Improving Efficiency of Reporting NOTAM Information. The team developed an Electronic Flight Bag user interface that provides a graphical representation of a notice to airmen (NOTAM) and weather information to improve how pilots receive condition changes at airports.

Undergraduate Team Members: Matthew Bacon, Gregory Porcaro, and Andrew Vega

Faculty Advisor: Audra Morse.

Enterprise Team: Built World Enterprise


Michigan Tech: Where Global Changemaking Engineers are Made

At Michigan Technological University, each researcher strives to design and apply solutions to society’s most pressing problems. Take the recipient of the 2019 Michigan Tech Research Award, Zhanping You. As a professor of transportation engineering, one of his most impressive projects involves turning old tires into new roads.

“You’s funding record underscores the impact of his work in civil engineering materials and his publication record further demonstrates his ability to communicate to a wide range of audiences, to advance the use of asphalt and bituminous materials in civil engineering applications,” says Audra Morse, chair of the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

You has hosted 30 international scholars in his lab so far, earning a reputation as a great mentor for undergraduates and graduates alike. “More than 90% of my papers include undergraduate and graduate authors; they can be a part of these research endeavors because I am making sure they get the coding experience and software skills they need to be successful professionals and researchers,” You shares.

For example, students are helping monitor his scrap tire innovation, which is being tested on local roads and highway tracks. They have been gathering results and samples from different testing sites over the past two years, enabling You to prove how the new asphalt mix improves road performance. In this way, each Michigan Tech student gets to play a part in engineering the future — one that they will soon inherit.

Paving the way for a smarter, sustainable future

It’s no secret that sustainability drives the development and application of critical research today, including in connected and autonomous vehicles. Associate Professor Kuilin Zhang knows that smart cities require more than self-driving cars; hence he studies vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication to optimize road safety using real-time data.

“In my vision of the future, we have more predictable, more robust, and safer transportation systems — and it’s based on being connected and the data we can gather,” Zhang shares. “The whole idea of cooperative driving automation is that the signals in the intersection tell your car what’s happening ahead. The sensor at the intersection can benefit all connected vehicles passing through the intersection. The automated eco-driving algorithm improves the driving decisions of the connected and automated vehicles.”

His transformative work has earned him the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award, which grants US $500,000 over a five-year span. Zhang uses model predictive control (MPC) and congestion games to study vehicle communication in the lab, then tests his findings in Michigan Tech’s robust mobility testing facilities. His research extends beyond campus to five traffic signals in Houghton, facilitated by industry collaborations with the Michigan Department of Transportation, APS Labs, and HERE Technologies.

Another leader in Michigan Tech’s lineup of expert faculty members is Associate Professor Amlan Mukherjee, a renowned figure in professional bodies. Not only did he help write the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) guidelines for sustainable highway construction practices, Mukherjee also founded a company called Trisight LLC that commercializes his research outcomes. It was the first in the highway construction industry to develop an online system for generating ISO-compliant Type III Environmental Product Declarations for the North American asphalt mixtures industry.

Civil and environmental engineers make a genuine difference to the world through scientific observation and mathematical modeling. Source: Michigan Tech

Understanding and optimizing natural processes

Given its proximity to the Great Lakes and coastal oceans, Michigan Tech is at the forefront of aquatic research, too. Associate Professor Pengfei Xue is on a mission to help save these wells of life; his research in the Great Lakes region applies machine learning techniques to analyze atmosphere, lake, ice, wave, sediment, land surface, and biological components. Xue uses data assimilation techniques to predict how the lakes respond to climate stressors, modeling on Michigan Tech’s high-performance computing infrastructure, Superior.

“The beauty of data assimilation is to use the information of the misfits between the model results and observations, which are only known at limited observation locations, to correct model bias in a 3D space beyond the observation locations. Hence, it improves model accuracy for the entire simulation field,” he explains. Xue’s work optimizes sampling locations, thus supporting the Great Lakes Operational Forecast System.

In the same way that civilizations have grown from rivers and lakes, modern life relies on the effective treatment and management of water. Since most water treatment facilities in the US cannot remove chemicals from pharmaceutical and personal care products, such as opioids, dioxins, pesticides, flame retardants, and plastics, Associate Professor Daisuke Minakata developed a tool to trace and remove organic chemicals from the water we use everyday.

By investigating how these harmful chemicals are rejected in reverse osmosis and advanced oxidation processes, Minakata is able to optimize water reuse — which is especially critical for communities in dry, arid regions of the world, as well as astronauts at the International Space Station. Over the past few years, his research team has included nine undergraduate research assistants, all supported either through their own research fellowships or Minakata’s research grants.

Minakata has also created a sunlight simulator at the university, which benefits multidisciplinary research beyond his area of aquatic photochemistry. “By encouraging and enabling undergraduate students to pursue research, Dr. Minakata is helping to develop a vibrant intellectual community among the students in the College of Engineering,” opines College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan.

Launch your transformative career at Michigan Tech

As much as research is future-focused, the science being practiced at Michigan Tech also helps us better navigate current concerns. Associate Professor Jennifer Becker’s project is one prime example: it tracks and treats the COVID-19 coronavirus in human waste.

Her team works with local wastewater treatment facilities to ensure SARS-CoV-2 virus particles are no longer infectious when spread in biosolids. “We all think of food and water as being essential to life. They are, but waste is also a critical part of life. If any of the virus particles stay in the wastewater stream during treatment, what happens when wastewater is discharged to the environment?” she asks.

Solving such issues are key to the educational experience at Michigan Tech. With over 7,000 students from 54 countries, the university’s Upper Peninsula campus is home to a vibrant community of changemakers with a global, multidisciplinary outlook on scientific innovation. Every day, their discoveries in one of the numerous research centers and institutes bring mankind one step closer to progress.

Keen to launch a career in civil, environmental, and geospatial engineering? Apply now to begin your undergraduate degree or graduate degree in 2021-22.

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AGC of Michigan to Recognize Three MTU Undergrads

Three Michigan Tech undergraduate students from the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering will be recognized with scholarships at the 2021 Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Michigan Brightest & Best Luncheon on July 21.

The students receiving scholarships are:

  • Isaac Fong, civil engineering — Louis C. Verrette Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship awarded by the AGC of Michigan
  • Everhett Biland, civil engineering — Tom & Jan Dailey Scholarship awarded by the AGC of America
  • Kira Olson, construction management — Stanley F. Pepper Memorial Scholarship awarded by the AGC of America

This annual event on behalf of Michigan’s construction industry, is held to recognize AGC of Michigan and AGC of America scholarship winners, AGC of Michigan Summer Work Program students, summer interns employed by AGC of Michigan members, and AGC of Michigan members supporting these programs.

Congratulations to all the winners!


Changing with the Times: The Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering

Michigan Tech’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is now officially the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

The name change reflects the inclusion of two degrees in the department: the Bachelor of Science in Geospatial Engineering (formerly Surveying Engineering) and the Master of Science in Integrated Geospatial Technology. Additionally, the department welcomed faculty primarily associated with those degrees — Jeffery Hollingsworth, Joseph Foster and Eugene Levin — two years ago when the programs moved from the School of Technology to the department.

“The undergraduate and graduate geospatial programs and associated faculty bring together the essential knowledge and skills needed by our graduates to design and create the world we live in,” said Morse. “The inclusion of ‘geospatial’ in the department name is a symbol of the integrated relationship that will benefit our students’ education and the research we conduct now and in the future.” – Department Chair, Audra Morse

The name change process was initiated by faculty members and included student, staff and alumni stakeholders.


Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering 2021 Department Awards

Each spring semester, the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering honors students from our Department with an award ceremony/banquet for all nominees for various awards. Unfortunately, we were unable to recognize our extraordinary students in person this year but would like to give them a hearty Congratulations on their commitment to excellence!

Undergraduate Student Awards


Nicole Bloom Award for Environmental Sustainability

This award is made annually to an undergraduate civil or environmental engineering student who has demonstrated leadership, passion, and activism for effecting environmental sustainability at the local, national, or global level.

Maddie Barrie was selected for the 2021 Nicole Bloom Award, she was nominated by Dr. Stan Vitton.  As an undergraduate Maddie has been very active in the area of environmental protection and research.  In 2019 she worked as a Student Trainee in the field of environmental protection with the Federal Regulatory Commission in Washington D.C..  In 2018 she was accepted as an Undergraduate Research Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  On campus, she served as President of the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders for implementing engineering projects in Panama.   

Maddie is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. She will begin working as a Biological Science Technician at Isle Royale National Park after graduation.

The Nicole Bloom award is accompanied by the Pati and Soumitri Reddy $1000 endowed scholarship.

Department Undergraduate Service Award

This award was created to recognize a CEE student that has shown exemplary service to the CEE Department through student organizations affiliated with the Department (ASCE, Chi Epsilon, SEEN, EWB, Rail Engineering Activity Club, and Enterprise.

Kaitlyn Wehner was selected for the 2021 Department Undergraduate Service Award.  Kaitlyn was nominated by her Enterprise advisor, Dr. Audra Morse.  Kaitlyn has served as the President of the Built World Environment Enterprise team and was a crucial member of the team that placed first in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions Challenge with their design titled, Runway Intersection Marking. The same team recently received a grant from the Old Dominion University Research Foundation Next Step Program to develop the necessary FAA guidance documents so that their design to mitigate runway incursions can become a reality.  Kaitlyn is also the Chair of the CEE Student Advisory Committee. Kaitlyn has assisted with several student recruiting events and has served as a mentor for freshmen students. 

Kaitlyn is graduating with a BS in civil engineering and will be joining Westwood Professional Services in Appleton, Wisconsin.  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.

The CEE Undergraduate Department Service Award is accompanied by a $500 scholarship.

Departmental Scholar

Theresa Passe was selected to represent the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as our 2021 Department Scholar and to be considered for the Provost’s Award for Scholarship.  Theresa, an environmental engineering major, exemplifies all of the characteristics that are the hallmarks of a highly achieving student and scholar.  She not only is dedicated to her studies but also participates in research, student professional organizations, and is a member of the Varsity Cross Country and Track team.  She has worked in undergraduate research with Drs. Becker and Seagren on wastewater-based monitoring of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.  Theresa  began challenging herself by exploring additional research questions that could be researched. This inquisitiveness and engagement inspired Theresa to explore potential research hypotheses related to wastewater-based epidemiology that could be tested through a Michigan Tech SURF project. She developed a SURF proposal that will build on the work that she has been doing in Dr. Becker’s laboratory and through a creative research plan, improve our understanding of the fate of SARS-CoV-2 in our water infrastructure. Dr. Noel Urban also endorsed Theresa as our Department Scholar based on the high level of intellectual curiosity exhibited in class and excellent communication skills.  He also noted how she has sought out experiences in her summer internships (Twin Cities WWTP, Stantec Consulting) that have exposed her to lab bench- and pilot-scale experimentation with treatment processes.

David W. Hand Environmental Process Engineering Award

This award is named after Professor Emeritus David Hand who designed the environmental engineering process lab and taught the class for over 15 years. Dr. Hand is internationally known for his expertise in water treatment.

Amanda Freele
Amanda Freele

This award recognizes a team of students from the CEE 4509 capstone environmental engineering class for outstanding technical skills in the laboratory, outstanding teamwork and professionalism, effective oral and written communications, and excellence in safety protocol as recognized by their peers and supported by the instructor.

Clinton Ottman
Clinton Ottman

The team that Dr. Jennifer Becker and Dr. Eric Seagren found to best embody the spirit of this award is comprised of the following individuals:

Amanda Freele
Clinton Ottman
Taylor Poprawski

Taylor Poprawski
Taylor Poprawski

Each team member will receive a $100 scholarship from the CEE Department.

Graduate Student Awards


Danielle Ladwig Award for Graduate Excellence

The Danielle Ladwig Award is made annually to a graduate level student in civil or environmental engineering in recognition of outstanding achievement in academics, research, and service, in memory of our friend and colleague, Danielle Ladwig.  

The nominees for this special award are:

Aynaz Biniyaz, PhD candidate in civil engineering, nominated by Dr. Zhen Liu
Emily Shaw, PhD candidate in environmental engineering, nominated by Dr. Noel Urban
Rose Turner, MS candidate in environmental engineering, nominated by Joan Chadde
Alexandra Waypa, MS candidate in environmental engineering, nominated by Dr. Eric Seagren and Dr. Jennifer Becker

This year Emily Shaw was selected for the 2021 Danielle Ladwig Award.  She was nominated for the award by her advisor, Dr. Noel Urban, who highlighted her admirable record of academic, research, and service accomplishments. Ms. Shaw came to Michigan Tech with a BS in Public Affairs from Indiana University.  She obtained her MS in Environmental Engineering Sciences in 2018 and began her doctoral program immediately thereafter.  She has submitted one manuscript from her MS research (in review), and she will submit the first chapter of her doctoral research for publication this spring.  As a Master’s student, she gave seven presentations at regional, national, and international conferences.  As a doctoral student, she has presented five times at national and international conferences.  For her MS and Ph.D. research, she was awarded graduate fellowships by the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.  She served as GTA for three years for CEE 3502 and received the departmental Teaching Assistant of the Year Award twice for her effective work with undergraduate students.  True to the spirit of Danielle Ladwig, she is active in service to the community (co-organizer Houghton March for Science, Board member Keweenaw Roller Derby), the university (planning committee for World Water Day for two years, moderator for Indigenous People’s Day Social Justice Panel, departmental representative to Graduate Student Government, member Graduate Student Government Diversity Committee), and science societies (volunteer technical host for State of Lake Ontario Conference, technical host for Annual Conference of the International Assoc. for Great Lakes Research).  Ms. Shaw is a well-rounded graduate student who excels academically and in research, and yet always makes time for local and professional service.

This award is accompanied by the Pati and Soumitri Reddy $1000 endowed fellowship.

Wilbur Haas Graduate Research Excellence Award

The Graduate Research Excellence Award is made annually to a graduate-level student in civil or environmental engineering to recognize outstanding student scholarship and research contributions.

The nominees for this year’s award are the following and are all truly exceptional researchers:

Behnam Azmoon, PhD candidate in civil engineering, nominated by Dr. Stan Vitton
Aynaz Biniyaz, PhD candidate in civil engineering, nominated by Dr. Zhen Liu
Yunxiang Ma, PhD candidate in civil engineering, nominated by Dr. Qingli Dai
Xiaodong Zhou, PhD candidate in civil engineering, nominated by Dr. Zhanping You

This year Xiaodong Zhou was selected for the 2021 Graduate Research Excellence Award.  His extraordinary record of peer-reviewed first author publications and presentations shows his dedication to conducting quality research.  In his nomination, Dr. Zhanping You expressed his pleasure in working with Xiaodong over the past four years to study the innovative approach of improving the performance of asphalt pavements.   During his study at Michigan Tech, Xiaodong has demonstrated enthusiasm to research projects, innovation in thinking, and excellent collaboration skills. He has made significant contributions to the research of asphalt mixture numerical modeling, because of the depth of knowledge and advanced skills that he has developed over his doctoral study.  To date, his research has led to 10 published peer-reviewed journal articles and 7 conference proceeding articles, and 8 conference presentations. His publications were published in well-acknowledged journals that top in the civil material research field. Of which, 6 articles in Construction and Building Materials (5-year impact factor at 4.685), and 1 article in Journal of Cleaner Production (5-year impact factor at 7.0). He also published 2 proceeding articles and delivered 4 presentations in the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, which is one of the largest and most significant conferences in transportation engineering. His articles have been cited 122 times, according to google scholar. His research has been recognized as solid and innovative, especially in the area of asphalt mixture numerical simulation and aggregate morphology analysis.

This award is accompanied by a $1000 Wilbur Haas Memorial Fellowship.

Student Voted Awards


The CEE Department has two awards that are voted on by the departmental students, the GTA of the Year and the Faculty of the Year Award.  We appreciate the work of Chi Epsilon and their advisor, Stephen Morse, for conducting the voting.  

Faculty of the Year Award

The award will recognize two faculty – the top-voted faculty from the Civil Engineering program and the top-voted faculty from the Environmental Engineering program.  This award will be accompanied by a $1000 transfer to the faculty IRAD index.

Kris Mattila
Kris Mattila

Dr. Kris Mattila joined the faculty of the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering in 1997.  He brings years of practice in construction engineering to share with the CEE students.  He instructs CEE 4333 Estimating and Planning , CEE 3332 Fundamentals of Construction Engineering, and CEE 3331 Professional Practice.

Daisuke Minakata
Daisuke Minakata

Dr. Daisuke Minakata joined the faculty of the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering in 2013.  His teaching interests are in the environmental engineering domain and include CEE5503 Physical-Chemical Treatment Processes, CEE 5501 Environmental Process and Design, and CEE 4503 Water Treatment Principles and Design.  He has an active research program and has interests in sustainable water and wastewater treatment and management, and the development of assessing and predicting tools for water treatment technologies.

GTA of the Year

Emily Shaw
Emily Shaw

GTA of the Year Award – which is accompanied by a $500 fellowship. As all of you are aware, the CEE Department has a number of dedicated graduate students that assist faculty with classes as Graduate Teaching Assistants.  The hard work that they put into the classes and labs is noticed and appreciated. 

Emily Shaw is the 2021 GTA of the year.  She was the GTA for CEE 3502, Environmental Monitoring and Measurement.

Department Citizen Award


The Department Citizenship Award recognizes a faculty or staff member that ‘goes the extra mile’ whether it be in representing the Department, helping colleagues, or participating at events.  The award is decided by the Department Chair.

This was a tough decision as so many have stepped up to ensure our teaching, research and service activities excelled during the last year, despite shrinking budgets, colleague departures, and challenges created because of COVID. 

Melanie Watkins
Melanie Watkins

Department Chair, Audra Morse, would like to recognize Dr. Melanie Watkins for her efforts to grow the Department research program.  She works with the VPRs office to identify research programs related to faculty members’ interests, she organizes conversations around the programs to establish research teams and assists in proposal document development. 

Angela Keranen
Angela Keranen

Dr. Morse would also like to recognize Angela Keranen for her efforts to promote our graduate and undergraduate programs in social media. Additionally, she has supported the electronic delivery of the Environmental Engineering Graduate Seminar and created a special Graduation Blast and Senior Design Webpage to celebrate our graduating students’ successes.  


Congratulations Spring and Summer 2021 Graduates

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.


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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.