Congratulations Fall 2020 Graduates

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering would like to Congratulate our fall graduates. Even though the current world events are keeping us from celebrating your accomplishments all together, 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 fall 2020 graduates:


Stephen Anderson

Stephen is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be working for MSA Professional Services in St. Paul, Minnesota. Stephen will miss living in the Keweenaw and is thankful for the memories and friendships he mad over the last four and a half years.


Chaitanya Ganesh Bhat

Chait will graduate with a Ph.D. in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be working as a Research Civil Engineer at the Turner Fairbanks Highway Research Centre. Chait will miss the warmth extended by faculty and staff at Michigan Tech and the Houghton community. He is thankful to Michigan Tech for proving an opportunity to advance both professionally and personally through peer interactions and various cultural activities. He would like to acknowledge all the faculty, staff, and peers at the Civil and Environmental Engineering department without whom the experience would have been incomplete. Chait congratulates all the peers who will graduate with him in the fall 2020 and wishes all the best to current students at Michigan Tech.


LeAnn Brinker

LeAnn will graduate with her BS in civil engineering. She will be working for UP Engineers & Architects in Marinette, WI after graduation. LeAnn says she will miss all of the friendly faces and the opportunities to get outside and try new things.


Carly Bulleit

Carly will graduate with her BS in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be moving to St. Louis, MO to work as a Construction Coordinator for Burns & McDonnell.


Clint Campbell

Clint will graduate with a BS in environmental engineering with a minor in law and society. After graduation Clint plans to: 1) PADI Open Water Scuba Training in Kralendijk, Bonaire, 2) Environmental consulting in San Diego, CA, and 3) Have fun, enjoy life and make a difference in the world :). He will miss exploring the UP and is thankful to Michigan Tech for meeting new friends while receiving a quality education. Clint wants to recognize Dr. Jennifer Becker for demonstrating the importance of hard work, professionalism, and communication.


Maria Carpita

Maria is graduating with her BS in civil engineering. She will be working as a full-time Civil Engineer 1 for Wightman & Associates in Kalamazoo, MI. When asked what she will miss about Michigan Tech, Maria says ” Something I will miss about Michigan Tech is living in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Before coming to Michigan Tech, I had never been to the UP. I am so happy that I decided to go on a campus tour of Michigan Tech in high school because ever since then, I knew that Michigan Tech was the school for me. I have loved spending time outdoors by hiking, snowshoeing, and exploring all of the nearby waterfalls. I even picked up a new hobby of photography. I would have never experienced these things had I stayed in my hometown. I will definitely be making trips back to the Keweenaw in the future. ” She says she is thankful to Michigan Tech for providing her with an amazing education, and for helping her grow professionally and personally. She says, ” In my time here, I have met many faculty who I know I could reach out to in my future if I ever needed advice. I would not be the person I am today without attending Michigan Tech. Thank you! ” Maria would like to thank her mom, dad, fiance and the rest of her immediate family for their continuous love and support over the last four and a half years.


Adam Cerney

Adam is graduating with a BS in civil engineering with a transportation focus. After graduation, he will return to Minnesota to work towards his PE. Adam will miss jamming away with the Pep Band at Hockey games and is thankful to Michigan Tech for accepting him for the student he was and also for the friends he made along the way. He would like to recognize Dr. Tess Ahlborn and Dr. Jake Hiller for making a difference to him while at Michigan Tech.


Maya Chappell

Maya will graduate with a BS in environmental Engineering. She will be working in EHS at Amazon or 3M after graduation and also plans on obtaining her EIT certification in January. Maya says she will miss the sense of community and is thankful to Michigan Tech for all the support she has received and all the opportunities she has been given.


Caroline Cotter

Caroline will graduate with her BS in civil engineering with a water resources focus. She will be commissioned into the MN National Guard as a 2nd Lieutenant and hopes to accept a job working for a civil company that works in water body restoration or floodplain hydraulics. Caroline says she will miss all of the outdoor activities Tech has to offer. The biking trails, hiking the Porcupine Mountains, swimming in Lake Superior, the fall colors, and so much more. She is thankful to Michigan Tech for all of the friends she has made in both her classes and ROTC, saying ” They are my forever family.” Caroline would like to recognize and thank Ms. Christy Oslund in the Academic Office for being both a mentor and friend to her for several years and being there for her when she needed her most.


Kagen Griffith

Kagen is graduating with his BS in civil engineering. He plans on job hunting after graduation. Kagen says he will miss the opportunity Michigan Tech provided to live in the “best place on earth while advancing my life”. He is thankful to Michigan Tech for four years to mature and grow confidence in professionalism and knowledge.


Travis Havercamp

Travis will graduate with a BS in civil engineering. He will begin working as a Design Engineer at Spicer Group Inc. after graduation. Travis says he will miss the community at Michigan Tech, in particular the St. Albert the Great University Parish. He is thankful for the quality of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty and recognizes Dr. Kris Mattila as someone who has mad a difference to him while at Michigan Tech.


Mary Jarvis

Mary is graduating with her BS in environmental engineering. She says the thing she will miss most about Michigan Tech is the community, saying ” I’ve met so many incredible people here, including classmates, professors, teammates and friends. It’s a sad thought to be leaving, though I know this community exists beyond Tech’s campus”. Mary says she is thankful for the CEE Department’s faculty and staff and their dedication to giving students the best education possible. She says that she has had many great professors in the past four years who are passionate about what thy teach and truly care about their student’s success, in school and beyond.


Richard Juntunen

Richard will graduate with a BS in construction management. He has a job lined up with Bacco Construction after he graduates. Richard says he will miss broomball and is thankful to Michigan Tech for being so active with companies that are recruiting, such as the career fair – saying that “Networking is very important”. He would like to recognize the CMG professors who, he says, were amazing and helpful in more ways than just teaching in the classroom – Lynn Artman, Ron Mauno, John Daavettila, and Mike Drewyor.


Austin Kerby

Austin will graduate with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will work as a Construction Engineer at Spicer Group. Austin will miss the small-town atmosphere and friendly people at Michigan Tech and is thankful that the University encouraged getting out there and trying new things.


Cyle Kugelard

Cyle is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. He will start a full-time job in the Kalamazoo area after graduation. Cyle will miss the Keweenaw and is thankful to Michigan Tech for the opportunities he has received because of attending Tech specifically. He would like to recognize Gretchen Hein for the help she provided him in Thermo, saying “she is easily my favorite professor here.” Cyle says that “this place is really hard, but it’s what makes us special.”


Danielle Lautenbach

Danielle will graduate with her BS in civil engineering. She will miss all of the friends that she has made, going to hockey games and the scenery at Michigan Tech.


Tyler LeMahieu

Tyler is graduating with a BS in environmental engineering. After graduation, he plans to work for the US Forest Service temporarily before beginning a Masters program in hydrology. When asked what he will miss about Michigan Tech, he says ” I’ll miss the people the most when I leave obviously! Of course, I’ll also miss the skiing, broomball, camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, winter, summer, fall, spring, & non-exam seasons. I won’t miss the workload but will miss the learning and professors. I guess that’s what grad school is for!” Tyler is thankful to Michigan Tech for embracing student’s passions.


Sergio Miguel Lopez Ramirez

Sergio is graduating with his Ph.D. in civil engineering. He hopes to bein working in the industry or doing a postdoc after graduation. Sergio says he will miss his friends that he has made at Michigan Tech, saying “MTU creates a sense of community, where we all know each other.” He is thankful for the continuous support and flexibility and recognizes his advisor, Dr. Alex Mayer. Sergio says “I am happy and honored to be a Husky.”


Veronica Lynch

Ronnie will graduate with an MS in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be moving to Fredericksburg, VA to start her career with RS&H. Ronnie said she will miss the snow and would like to recognize all the professors she had during her undergrad and grad studies, saying ” Each one went above and beyond to make sure I excelled in my courses- from Dr. van Susante sitting in a room with me for two days straight so that I could ace the Statics final to Dr. Hein offering extra Thermo help sessions to those of us who asked.”


Lucus Marion

Lucus is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. He will begin working as a civil engineer at Hubbell, Roth & Clark in Grand Rapids after graduating.


Katelyn Palmcook

Katie is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be working for the Norfolk Southern Railroad as a track supervisor trainee. She will be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for 6 months of training and will then relocate elsewhere. Katie says she will miss the community at Michigan Tech and the traditions, saying ” I have so many good memories here and its mainly due to all the people I’ve met and the friends I made while here. Also, our traditions are a part of what sets us apart from other universities and I’m going to miss taking part in them”. When asked what she is thankful for, Katie says ” I am thankful to Michigan Tech for helping me to be more realistic with myself. When I came in I was all about perfection, but after being here I’ve realized that not everything you do is going to be perfect and that’s ok. As long as you do you’re best that is something you can be proud of”.


Taylor Pelton

Taylor will graduate with a BS in construction management. After graduation, he will start his career with Granger Construction. Taylor says he will miss being around all his friends and is thankful to Michigan Tech for the opportunity he was given to further his education and continue to play football.


Tye Pennala

Tye is graduating with a BS in civil engineering. After graduation, he will get a full-time job in a civil engineering firm somewhere in Michigan. Tye will miss all the activities that Michigan Tech has to offer – the golf course, Tech Trails, Ripley, etc. He is thankful for all the memories and activites and recognizes advisor Julie Ros as a great counselor who listens and helps determine the best path.


Derrick Sullivan

Derrick is graduating with his BS in civil engineering. He will work at Surveying Solutions, Inc. in Standish, MI after graduation.


Yifan Zhang

Yifan will graduate with his BS in environmental engineering. After graduating he will stay at Michigan Tech to obtain his graduate degree. Yifan would like to thank everyone who helped him in his years at Michigan Tech.


Graduates Not Pictured Above

BS in Civil Engineering

Zachery Cole

James Huey

Daniel Jones

Sinwon Lee

Cole Ruohonen

Jared Thiele

Shelby VanAssche

Jack Williams

Meng Wu

BS in Environmental Engineering

William Bailey

Alexander Julson

Andrew Medaugh

Benjamin Reuss

Andrw Tyckoski

BS in Geospatial Engineering

BS in Construction Management

Derek Pietila 

MS in Civil Engineering

Tania Lopez

Qinjie Lyu

Brandi Rajala

MS in Environmental Engineering

JP Harron

Tristan Odekirk

Sarah Peterson

MS in Integrated Geospatial Technology

William Roland

PhD in Civil Engineering

Christopher VanArsdale



After School Classes for K-5 Students Taught Remotely at Two Baraga County Schools

October, a Baraga Elementary student.
October, a student at Baraga Elementary School LOVES engineering. Here she demonstrates how her chute works in class.

The Center for Science & Environmental Outreach is branching into uncharted territory this month! We are kicking off online after-school STEM Clubs (a.k.a. classes) for students in grades K-2 and grades 3-5 at Baraga Elementary (Baraga Public Schools) and CJ Sullivan Elementary (L’Anse Public Schools).

The K-2 after-school class is focused on Michigan Wildlife. In December, they explored Michigan birds, bats, and wildcats, as well as, their habitats and ecosystems. Students made a pine cone bird feeder, a paper bat, and created dot paintings of lynx. K-2 Instructor, Lizzy Barnes, a recent College of Forest Resources & Environmental Science PhD graduate, conducts the K-2 classes using a virtual presentation format that includes short videos and photos, paired with an in-class activity.

Support from BHK staff (who are classroom teachers during the school day) has been critical to the clubs’ success. On one occasion, students went outside with the instructor for a half hour to explore schoolyard habitat using their senses– to hunt for berries, visioning the playground from the eyes of a butterfly, and discovering the trickle of a small intermittent creek– were experiences that would not be possible with solely virtual instruction. For the remainder of the 8-week session, students will take what they observed during their schoolyard nature inventory to plan a hands-on project to create habitat by planting pollinator patches, berry bushes, and tall grasses for thickets.

Students in the grades 3-5 class are tackling Engineering Challenges. They are so engaged, they don’t want to leave when their parents come to pick them up! One student named October (although she is born in June, she told me!) is truly a budding engineer! She told me all about her engineering class last year at her school in Texas—and wishes she had an engineering class this year in school. This after school STEM club is her closest approximation and she LOVES it!

 The 1st week they designed launchers. The 2nd week they competed to design the best ‘seed get-away’!  And the 3rd week, they designed a Chute for a ping pong ball that had to have at least 5 tube parts, 3 different types of tubes (toilet paper tube, paper towel tube, paper cups of different sizes with the bottom removed, etc.), the tubes needed to change direction twice, and land in a cup on the floor. October’s chute is pictured below.

These two school districts are adjacent to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. Baraga Schools has a 46% majority American Indian, which is slightly higher than the Michigan state average of 34% (majority Black). L’Anse has a 31% majority American Indian and 58% of students are economically disadvantaged. 

Want to help 5th grade student, October, attend a 1-week Michigan Tech Summer Youth Program (SYP) in Summer 2021? Send your donation to Michigan Tech Fund 340l and put October’s name on the Memo line. A one-week SYP class costs $978.


Be a Part of the Civil and Environmental CommUNITY at Michigan Tech

At Michigan Tech, the faculty know my name. 

No matter which undergraduate degree they pursue in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech, students value the Michigan Tech commUNITY

“We know that the shared experience and valuing differences make us stronger,” says Audra Morse, department chair. “At Michigan Tech we believe in commUNITY, with an emphasis on unity,” adds Morse. “Community is one of the top reasons our students pursue their education at Michigan Tech. Our students, faculty and staff make this a commUNITY where students feel safe and motivated to excel in their studies.”

Kaitlyn Wehner, a junior majoring in civil engineering, says she feels comfortable talking with faculty about coursework, her future, and her campus involvement. 

Support of peers within the department is awesome, too, says Wehner. “I feel at ease talking with fellow students in my classes about coursework even if I barely know them. Everyone supports each other and is always willing to help!”

Kelton Czyzio echo’s Wehner’s praise of the program’s built-in support system. Czyzio cites personal growth as a result of the many positive interactions with his classmates and professors. “There are so many unique people on campus and the mixture of these people leads to some cool experiences,” he says.

A senior majoring in civil engineering, Czyzio says he values those times when his views have been challenged by another student. “It’s a great experience, as I walk away with a different outlook on a policy, subject, law–whatever it happens to be.” Along with that, adds Czyzio, “it’s great that there’s a group of people for every incoming student to be around.”  

Environmental engineering PhD student Kenny Larsen, agrees. “What I like best about Michigan Tech are the other students,” he says. “I like being part of a larger community. Students ask difficult questions and become involved in finding solutions. Students are part of the community and the experience is more than just a classroom.”

Additionally, Larsen notes “My advisor and the faculty/staff is one of the best parts of getting a degree at Michigan Tech. Getting a graduate degree is difficult and takes hard work. It is made a lot easier when you know that everyone wants to see you succeed as a student and person.”

What Dongzhao Jin–who goes by Kobe in honor of his favorite basketball player–loves best about Michigan Tech are its “friendly and patient faculty, staff and students.” Originally from China, Jin is pursuing a PhD in civil engineering. He enjoys the “sense of community” in the civil and environmental engineering department, a feeling he attributes to the “positive energy and comfortable and supportive learning environment.” 

He recalls a specific time that made him feel welcome as an international student new to the U.S. “The first time I ate lunch at Memorial Union Building, and I do not know where the trash can was. I asked for help from an undergraduate student and he patiently led me to a trash can.”  

Jin is now leading others by serving as a Civil and Environmental Engineering representative in Graduate Student Government.  As a GSG representative, Jin shares the interests of CEE graduate students with other GSG representatives to influence policies and programs impacting graduate students. More importantly, GSG hosts professional development opportunities such as the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, grant writing session, and fun activities, such as volleyball tournaments and hiking excursions in the Keweenaw, to provide value to the graduate student commUNITY.

Jin also values the research commUNITY his advisor Dr. Zhanping You creates for students in his research group. Jin notes “I am very happy to be a student and work with my advisor Dr. You.  His humor, lifestyle, rigorous academic attitude, and profound understanding of the asphalt pavement field impact me a lot.”

In addition to a unifying spirit embodying the educational experience at Michigan Tech, students each create their own unique commUNITY experiences that support their personal educational mission. 

Czyzio’s community includes participation in the Steel Bridge Team, a student team that participates in AISC Steel Design Competition. Wehner participates in the Built World Enterprise, a student organization turned classroom experience. Both groups allow students to plan, design and build their future by honing knowledge gained in their classwork through hands-on design experiences.  

To participate in the AISC Steel Bridge Competition, student teams from all over the US design, construct, and build a steel bridge on campus, which is then built all over again under time constraints at regional competitions and depending on the outcome of the regional competition, again at the national competition. Bridges are evaluated using criteria such as aesthetics, construction speed, lightness, stiffness, and construction economy. The Michigan Tech team takes this competition very seriously: they’ve placed among the top 15 in this national competition three times in the last three years.

Czyzio highlights he was treasurer of the team in his second year, and his favorite part of Steel Bridge is the time spent in the shop. “I love welding and the fabrication process in general.” Czyzio adds “Another great part of the steel bridge team is meeting other civil engineering students. Many of the students I do homework with are members of Steel Bridge.”

Wehner has a passion for aviation and airport planning. Through Built World Enterprise, she pursues her passion by participating in the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP). It’s sponsored by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to prepare the next generation of aviation planning professionals.  Wehner and her team took first place this past summer at the 2020 ACRP student design competition in the Airport Runway Safety/ Runway Incursion/Runway Excursions category. She is preparing and excited for the chance to win again in 2021. 

To take her passion for civil engineering and aviation even further, Wehner is Secretary of the Aviation Club at Michigan Tech, a new student organization she helped establish. The Aviation Club hosts events such as drone certifications.  Drones are an important tool used in the civil, environmental and construction industry.  Geospatial engineers also use drones routinely in their work.  Wehner’s extracurricular activities are another example of the possibilities and flexibility to pursue passions at Michigan Tech.  

As President of Michigan Tech’s student chapter of the Society of African American Men, Jemel Thompson participates in extracurriculars to support his own character development and that of his classmates. The Society of African American Men promotes cultural diversity, inclusion, and  awareness throughout the Michigan Tech community. 

Other students, like Avery Barlett, a construction management major, find community within the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula, where Michigan Tech calls home. The Keweenaw Peninsula is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, surrounded by beautiful Lake Superior. 

Barlett participates in extracurricular activities– snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, paintball club, and the Piston Bike Racers club, where he and his friends race bicycles modified with 2-cycle motors. “The Upper Peninsula offers students the ability to explore other passions, too, in addition to their studies,” he says. “This leads to some stellar experiences that friends of mine at other institutions do not have.”

Larsen adds “ I have learned how to downhill and cross country ski, as well as sail.” Larsen is an avid road biker and kayaker and he notes all of those activities are easily accessible at Michigan Tech.

Larsen believes the best part about all of these activities is that he is able to include his partner and daughter in these activities. “I often take my family hiking and rockhounding, as well as visiting the many great beaches in the area.”

Barlett knows a Michigan Tech education creates a community that extends beyond the Keweenaw. Creating friendships and networks enables him to leverage the rest of his career. “I especially value the connections our instructors have with industry,” he says. “ I appreciate their efforts to make the students aware of these opportunities and help us build our own connections, too.”

“I love the fact that companies love Michigan Tech students” he adds. “We have many internship and job opportunities and there’s a lot of choice.”

In addition to network connections sparked by faculty and staff in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, students are encouraged to check out Michigan Tech’s Career Services programming as well as attend the University’s Career Fair, offered each fall and spring semester.

Thompson likes that Michigan Tech is a “blank canvas” for your experience. “There are so many different opportunities and resources available to students. If you’re looking for any type of experience, you can find it.” 

What does he like best about the curriculum? “That great mix of engineering and social sciences, combined with real-world application,” he says.  “At Michigan Tech, I learned what it meant to be an engineer.” 

As a first year student pursuing a bachelor of science in environmental engineering, Thompson had the choice to study civil engineering, geospatial engineering or construction management. However, he found his passion for environmental engineering, which was cemented in a first-year environmental engineering seminar course.  His passion for environmental engineering is affirmed each day and Jemel is now a third year student considering his options of graduating and entering industry or going to graduate school.

Thompson adds “Michigan Tech truly offers a different experience, unlike anything I’ve ever heard of. The campus is in a location where it is easy to focus on your education, but still have the opportunity to have a college experience full of new things and adventure.” 

“Community has a distinct meaning in the students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Department,” adds Morse.  “We welcome you to be part of our commUNITY.”


Senior Design to Present Project to Houghton Planning Commission

Photo by Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette

The students of Dr. Dan Dowden‘s Senior Design class will be presenting their project to the Houghton Planning Commission on Tuesday, November 17 at the commission’s monthly public (virtual) meeting. The meeting will start at 5:30.

The students’ project involves two replacement parking garages (replacing the existing “Vault” and “Ambassador” parking structures downtown) with larger more modern parking structures. This project came about with a conversation with Bill Leder over the summer. Bill and Eric Waara have been the students’ client contacts over the semester. Bill is Vice-Chair of the Houghton Planning Commission. If you are unable to attend the commission meeting, there will be a second opportunity during finals week where all the CEE4905 sections will be presenting their projects.


Can Engineers Save the Word?

Rose Turner by the solar panels on the Michigan Tech campus

“At Michigan Tech, we don’t just talk about sustainability, we incorporate sustainability in all aspects of the educational experience,” said Audra Morse, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University.

Morse points to environmental engineering student Rose Turner, who followed her passion for sustainability by joining Michigan Tech’s Alternative Energy Enterprise soon after she joined the university.

There are 24 Enterprise teams on campus, each working on real projects for real clients.

“They invent products, provide services, and pioneer solutions. It’s an award-winning program entirely unique to Michigan Tech, and it provides an absolutely invaluable experience for our students,” said Morse.

Self-sustaining homes and solar farms: Student projects that make a real-world difference

Turner and fellow team members retrofitted an existing 5,000 square foot house on Michigan Tech’s campus, turning it into a net-zero energy, self-sustaining home.

Named the Michigan Tech Sustainability Demonstration House, it now provides students with first-hand experience in designing systems to reduce the use of energy, water and water in homes.

Due to her hard work and dedication, Turner was selected to live there, serving as house coordinator. Her role was to identify and launch internal projects, plan public outreach events, and seek donations and sponsorships from companies.

“Michigan Tech equipped me with tools, resources, and knowledge,” she said. “I was able to design and construct an aquaponics indoor gardening system, a raised-bed outdoor garden, and a smart rainwater collection and distribution system — all for the house.”

Taking her environmental engineering education further, Turner won a summer internship at Westwood Professional Services, an environmental engineering consulting firm. As an intern, she designed multi-megawatt commercial solar and wind farms across the US, including a 15 MW solar farm in Ulupalakua, Hawaii.

“It was incredibly rewarding to have an opportunity to design clean energy systems to help power our country,” said Turner.

Turner learned about the internship through Michigan Tech Career Services, meeting up with representatives from Westwood for an interview right on campus. Her internship also led to a full-time role there, working on Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy permits for a 300 MW wind farm design for Isabella County, Michigan.

“Michigan Tech’s Career Services does more than help students find a job, they help us find and launch our careers,” said Turner.

She recently returned to campus to earn an MS in Environmental Engineering. Her goal is to pursue a PhD or work in industry. “Either way, I am looking forward to using my sustainability knowledge to make a difference,” she said.

Where sustainability is central to your studies

The “Sustainability and Civil Engineering Practice” course is essential to Michigan Tech’s civil engineering program.

This course introduces students to the tools that engineers use in sustainable design such as “LEED” and the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure Envision “rating tool,” as well as state-of-the art sustainability practices in design and construction.

Sustainability also serves as the cornerstone of Michigan Tech’s environmental engineering degree program. Professor Judith Perlinger teaches “Sustainable Engineering,” another course that plays a vital role in the curriculum.

“Students learn about the triple bottom line, the consideration of profit, people, and the planet, and essential tools they’ll use to advance sustainability from a systems approach,” said Perlinger.

All courses in both programs include important sustainability components, Morse added.

“But the true strength of a Michigan Tech education is the solid foundation in engineering and science. This knowledge is what allows for the incorporation of sustainability in design.”

Sierra Braun, a senior completing her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, jumped at the opportunity to make sustainability in design come to life.

She joined the Green Campus Enterprise, which focuses on reducing the university’s carbon footprint, when she heard they were planning planned to design and build a tiny house.

“Not only has it allowed me to explore my passion of design and construction, I am able to build a tangible example of sustainability right on our campus through the Tiny House Build project.”

Braun and her fellow team members analyzed sustainable design practices for maximizing thermal performance during the design phase of the Tiny Build project. In construction, they’ll optimize materials to reduce global warming potential. They also seek to increase longevity and minimize environmental impact.

Undergraduate research opportunities like no other

Undergraduate research is another learning opportunity at Michigan Tech.

In the Sustainable Pavement Lab, directed by Professor Zhanping You, students conduct research to find out if traditional asphalt mixed with rubber from scrap tires could make better roads.

Students test recycled asphalt materials to maximize the recyclability of materials, work with  biomass to produce variations of a new asphalt-like material called bio asphalt, and use recycled waste — plastics and glass— in other road applications.

They work in labs and in the field at road construction sites in Michigan collecting data and evaluating material field performance.

Many graduates continue their work in Dr. You’s lab while earning their graduate degree at Michigan Tech or other institutions. Others go on to work in the transportation industry, applying sustainability practices in their job each day.

“Working in Dr. You’s lab has allowed me to understand the bigger picture, and be part of it, too,” said civil engineering major Kagan Griffith.

“This applies to the natural world and the engineered materials we combine to advance society. As we move forward in time, I’ve learned the importance of using new technology —and new understanding — to construct the built world in a safe and sustainable way.”

As for Turner, she is now working to create an even greater shift towards sustainability on campus:

“I have a very strong desire to reduce the production of waste, so one of things I’ve been doing lately is to work with a group of fellow students to establish a full recycling programme for our residence halls.”

So, do engineers save the world?

“Absolutely,” said Turner, “Michigan Tech has truly helped to cultivate my love for the earth and my passion for educating others on the importance of sustainability in daily life.

“I will forever be grateful for the plethora of sustainability-related opportunities I’ve experienced at Michigan Tech — as well as the freedom the university has given me to make my dreams a reality.”

Michigan Tech is taking all precautions necessary to keep their community safe from the threat of COVID-19.

For the latest updates, please visit the MTU Flex website.

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Center Receives Grant to Provide Outdoor STEM Field Trips for Area Students

More than three thousand Western Upper Peninsula (UP) students will have an opportunity to learn outdoors this school year thanks to a $20,000 grant, provided jointly by Mary Nelson and the Wege Foundation, to the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.  The Center’s Outdoor STEM Investigations Field Trip Program is for K-8 students in all 19 school districts in the five counties of the Western UP. Houghton, Baraga, Gogebic, Ontonagon and Keweenaw counties. This past school year, the Program engaged nearly 3000 students in 140 classes from 14 schools in STEM learning outdoors, from physical and earth science, to water quality and forests (numbers were 20% lower due to cancellation of all spring field trips due to Covid-19).

      These STEM field trips enhance classroom learning and provide real-world, hands-on experiences for students. All activities are correlated to Michigan Science Standards and connect to the school curriculum.  The outdoor classroom allows students to utilize science and math skills, including observing, predicting, data-collection, analysis, and graphing. Each grade has two lesson offerings for each season—Fall, Winter, Spring.

During the Fall field trip season, students investigate the physics of flight, assessing stream health, and designing the best seed get-aways.

During the Winter field trip season, students are provided with snowshoes to incorporate physical exercise into their learning. Students investigate topics such as the “wind chill” effect, which materials make better insulators, and wildlife adaptations to stay warm in winter. 

During the Spring field trip season, students explore the benefits and functions of wetlands, soil science, lichens as bioindicators of air quality, and much more.

One teacher observed, “My students absolutely loved the program. Their favorite part was looking for decomposers, which made the food web real.

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


Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program Hosts Midwest Virtual Rail Conference 2020

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

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

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

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

By David Nelson, Civil and Environmental Engineering.


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

Daniel Dowden
Daniel Dowden

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

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

Extract

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

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


Built World Enterprise Team Wins National Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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