Category: News

Five High School Students Participate in One-week Summer STEM Internship at Michigan Tech ~ July 18-22

Five high school students from Detroit and Houghton participated in a 5-day science and engineering summer internship program at Michigan Technological University (MTU) from July 18-22, 2022. The students were paired with faculty with a variety of expertise and research interests.

Students worked in the lab and/or in the field (outside), toured campus, lived in a dorm, ate in the dining hall, and met students from around Michigan and beyond.

Dr. Daisuke Minikata, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, hosted two interns in his lab that were supervised by graduate students, Rose Daily, Benjamin Cerda Barrios, and Ben Morhardt. High school students, Michelle Simpkins and Eural Johnson learned about PFAS contamination by sampling local bodies of water and using the Orbitrap for qualitative identification, built PFAS molecules in ChemDraw 3D, toured the wastewater treatment plant and MTU Sustainability Demonstration House, became familiar with careers in environmental engineering. Michelle attends UPrep Academy for Math & Science and Eural Johnson attends Cass Tech.

Dr. Kuilin Zhang, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, hosted high school student Omaree Ishmael. Omaree used a Traffic Counter App to collect traffic data at Sharon Avenue and M-26 intersection. He then used the data to create a signalized intersection model using PTV VISSIM, a multi-modal traffic flow simulation software package. He also performed the CAV (Connected and Automated Vehicles) cooperative driving automation simulation.

Lastly, Dr. Evan Kane at the USDA and post-doc Julia Stuart, hosted two interns—Nora Sullivan and Bryson Taylor. Nora attends Houghton High School and Bryson attends Davis Aerospace Academy in Detroit. They learned how to conduct an N2 fixation in the field, performed a glucose assay in the lab, and visited the Nastoria bog field research site.

On the last day of their internship, students summarized the skills and knowledge that they had gained throughout the week in a presentation to fellow interns, hosts, and to their parents who joined virtually.

Students received a $900 scholarship to cover their meals, lodging, and roundtrip transportation on a Michigan Tech coach bus. In addition, the students went mountain biking at Tech Trails which was a brand new experience for four of the five interns. Some experienced being in a forest for the first time.

Students had this to say about their internship experience:

I learned how wastewater will change how the water is used in the world.

Our visit to the bog was very interesting.

Learning and experiencing new things!

Faculty and graduate students were always willing to answer my questions.”    

One student’s comment wraps it up, “Everything was great!”

Three of the five say they are now more seriously considering Michigan Tech after their internship experience.

The high school STEM internship program is coordinated by Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach, with funding from the National Science FoundationDepartment of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, USDA Forest Research Lab, Raytheon, and the Shannon Foundation.

Michigan Tech Team Recognized for Runway Safety Project

Interior view of a plane cockpit looking out onto the runway.
AlphaJet PAF Cockpit View

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine mentioned Michigan Tech in a press release announcing the winners of the 2021-2022 TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs.

A four-member team from the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering at Michigan Technological University placed third in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions Including Aprons, Ramps, and Taxiways category with its design titled, Thermal Detection System for Mitigating Runway Incursions at Non-Towered Airports.

The team included undergraduate students Clark Fadoir, Mary Ollis, Greg Porcaro, and Drew Vega.

Dr. Audra Morse served as faculty advisor to the Built World Enterprise at Michigan Tech.

The team describes the process for developing their hypothesis:

The team utilized Design Thinking to develop an effective solution. First, the team communicated and empathized with aviation professionals to learn challenges and concerns they are experiencing. Next, the team used the feedback from professionals to define the problem of runway incursions at non-towered airports. The team then created two prototypes to decrease runway incursions and used a decision matrix to evaluate and eventually choose the most effective solution. The design was then sent out to professionals to provide feedback and suggestions.

Clark Fadoir, Mary Ollis, Greg Porcaro, Drew Vega

Michigan Tech brings STEM to Metro Detroit Youth Day on Belle Isle

MTU Booth
Ashley Curie and Joan Chadde setting up the booth

On July 13, the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE) teamed up with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) to offer science & engineering activities and information about Michigan Technological University at the 38th annual Metro Detroit Youth Day on Belle Isle in Detroit.

Typically, 20,000 students ages 8 to 15 years descend on Belle Isle for a fun and educational day. In the aftermath of COVID, the numbers were smaller. It was the first-time experiencing Metro Detroit Youth Day for Michigan Tech representatives Dr. Wayne Gersie, V.P. for Diversity & Inclusion; Jeff Littmann, chair of the MTU Board of Trustees; Chris Sanders and Ashley Curie, CDI staff; and Joan Chadde, Director, MTU Center for Science & Environmental Outreach.

“It was a fun-filled day with tons of smiling faces. I was amazed to see so many young minds that were already thinking about their future. I’m so happy that Michigan Tech was able to be a part of their excitement,” observed Ashley Curie.

“Our team was glad to be part of this initiative that channeled the students’ curiosity in learning in a manner that helped develop their educational and career aspirations. Through science activities and exploration, we were able to offer a small glimpse of the Michigan Tech experience,” shared Dr. Wayne Gersie, VP for Diversity & Inclusion.

Youth participants designed electrical circuits, created launchers to see which could project a cotton ball the furthest, identified Michigan owls, and compared tree growth rates.

“This STEM outreach event was funded by OHM–Advisors to increase awareness of STEM careers and the diversity of the STEM career pipeline,” explained Joan Chadde. “We would like to participate next year!”

Participation at an All-Time High aboard the R/V Agassiz for Chassell Strawberry Festival

Interest in scientific excursions aboard the R/V Agassiz hit an all-time high this year at the 2022 Chassell Strawberry Festival on July 9! Hayden Henderson (Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, MTU 2017) was the captain and Kenny Larsen, a PhD student in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, was the chief scientist. Kenny presented a 40-minute program on “How scientists assess the health of the Great Lakes?” and “How can citizens be Great Lakes Stewards?”

Six 40-minute scientific excursions were conducted for a total of 110 participants (max 18 per excursion). There were 90 people on the waiting list who waited on the dock in hopes of getting on, plus 20 who had to cancel! A total of 220 people wanted to participate! This is an all-time record!

“We were sorry to not be able to serve everyone. I don’t remember ever being overrun with so many people and having a three-page waiting list!” observed Joan Chadde, event coordinator and Director of the MTU Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

Participants had lots to say about what they had learned. Some of their comments included:

  • How mercury and PCBs get into water
  • Lake turnover and stratification
  • How to keep our lakes healthy and be a better steward
  • How to sample and measure water quality.
  • How invasive species harm the lake.

And often, one is left with more questions, like this one:

Do fish smell like algae, or do algae smell like fish?

The Ride the Waves community outreach program is made possible with a grant from General Motors in support of the Agassiz and Great Lakes education/outreach.

CEGE Academy 2022

The Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering inducted four new members to the Academy at a ceremony held Thursday, March 24, 2022. The Academy was established in 1993 to recognize excellence and leadership in engineering and civic affairs of outstanding graduates and friends of the Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering Department.

Russ Becker, PE, ‘89, ‘91

Russell Becker
Russell Becker

Russell (Russ) Becker completed his baccalaureate (1989) and master’s (1991) degrees in civil engineering at Michigan Tech. He is the Chief Executive Officer and President of APi Group, one of the largest providers of specialty services in North America and the largest provider of life safety services in the world. Russ’ continued commitment to overall excellence has inspired APi Group to create a culture of leadership by building an exceptional learning and development program, a highly selective Leader Development Program, and an award-winning veteran’s hiring program.
Russ began his career as a field engineer with Cherne Contracting. He moved on to become a project manager for Ryan Companies during the construction of the Greenfield Recycled Paper Mill project for Liberty Paper. Upon completion of this project he joined APi Group’s subsidiary, The Jamar Company, in Duluth, Minnesota. He started as manager of construction and was named president in 1998, where he served until joining APi Group as president in 2002.
He previously served as a member of Dunwoody Institute’s board of trustees. He is the former chair of the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota board of directors and Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota Foundation board of directors. He currently serves on the Children’s Foundation board of directors, the Liberty Diversified Industries board of directors, and the Marvin Companies board of directors. He also serves on the advisory board for the College of Engineering at Michigan Technological University and the board for the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT). Russ is an active member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and the Minnesota Business Partnership. Russ resides with his wife, Trish, and three sons in Dellwood, Minnesota.

Michael Drewyor P.E., P.S. ‘72, ‘74

Michael Drewyor
Michael Drewyor

Michael Drewyor received his baccalaureate (1972) and master’s degrees (1974) in civil engineering from Michigan Tech. He was an owner and partner with Robert Hitch at Hitch Inc. for 30 years where he provided architectural, civil/structural and surveying services for private, industrial and government clients. The business was sold in 2007 to Orchard, Hiltz and McCliment, Inc of Livonia, Michigan
Drewyor retired from Michigan Tech in 2020 as the Roland A. Mariucci Professor of Practice where he taught for the previous 13 years. His teaching assignments included courses in Construction Management, and senior capstone courses. He was also an advisor for the Associated Schools of Construction estimating team.
Drewyor has also been active in alumni activities, serving on the Alumni Board of Directors in the 90’s, local alumni chapter president in the 00’s and Sigma Rho Fraternity, Inc board since graduation. He is a member and supporter of the Huskies Club.
Drewyor serves as a National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) emeritus member from both the Michigan State Board of Professional Engineers and the Michigan State Board of Professional Surveyors. He previously served 8 years on both Michigan Boards. He received his commission as NCEES Central Zone vice president in 2020. As the vice president, Drewyor serves on the NCEES board of directors and as the zone’s administrative officer through 2022. He is also a current candidate for the NCEES position of President-Elect. This three-year cycle will run through August 2025.
Mike and Judy reside in Houghton, MI and have two children, Jennifer (Houghton) and Adam (Colorado).

Jennifer Hartfelder, PE, PMP ‘90

Jennifer Hartfelder
Jennifer Hartfelder

Jenny Hartfelder completed her civil engineering degree from Michigan Tech (90) and went on to complete a master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Colorado, Denver. She is Vice President of Stantec, a top-tier global design and delivery firm. Based in Denver, Colorado, Hartfelder has over 30 years of experience providing project management and engineering design for municipal and federal clients. Her water and wastewater treatment plant experience includes the preparation of master plans, preliminary and detailed designs, and engineering services during construction. She has managed water and wastewater projects up to $10M with numerous small business subcontractors. She has extensive experience in the evaluation and design of wastewater disinfection systems, as well as business management including mentoring and leading staff, project delivery, client service management, and business development. Jenny previously served as a Strategic Campaign Manager for Stantec’s Water business leading top marketing campaigns across North America. She was responsible for leading the local pursuit teams to perform client account analyses; develop campaign plans and sales messages; and prepare statement of qualifications, proposals, and interviews. She was responsible for securing $10 to $20 million in sales per year.

She is a past president of the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and of the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association. In 2021 she was named a WEF Fellow, one of the industry’s highest honors. She is a registered professional engineer in Colorado and Washington and Project Management Professional.

John Van Huis, PE ‘76

John Van Huis
John Van Huis

John Van Huis completed his baccalaureate degree in civil engineering at Michigan Tech in 1976. Upon graduation, he joined the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad (CNW) in the Chicago offices as a Structural Engineer. He went on to be Engineer of Coal Line bridges for the new Powder River Basin coal fields in Wyoming and then Bridge Engineer for the entire CNW system.

In 1987, he joined the investment group of CNW employees who purchased the Soo Line RR assets in the state of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Wisconsin Central Transportation Company (WCL) went on to own railroads in New Zealand and Australia where he oversaw bridge replacements and construction. While at WCL, he earned an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. In 1999 he joined Radtke Contractors and formed their railroad bridge and construction division. In 2009 he finished his railroad career with Alfred Benesch as Sr. Project Manager Railroads and Vice-President Wisconsin Division and retired in 2016.

Mr. Van Huis is a registered engineer in the State of Wisconsin. He has been involved in many national railroad associations over the years. He was a member of the American Railroad Engineering Association (AREA), Roadmasters and Maintenance of Way Association and American Railway Bridge and Building Association where he served as President in 1994. All three of the organizations were merged to form into what is now known as the American Railway and Engineering Association (AREMA).

John and his wife Suzanne reside in Winneconne, Wisconsin. They have two sons and one grandchild. They have both been deeply involved in their sons’ lives coaching youth hockey, soccer, and volunteering for the Oshkosh YMCA swim team. They are also supporters of the late great singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg Prostate Cancer Foundation. In retirement, John enjoys substitute teaching in the local school systems, gardening, and international and domestic travel.

Pengfei Xue Uses Simulation to Predict Lake Levels

Pengfei Xue
Pengfei Xue

Pengfei Xue (CEGE/GLRC) was quoted in a story published by Bridge Michigan on the expected rise of Great Lakes water levels heading toward 2050.

Xue’s research used advanced climate modeling with a 3D hydrodynamic model to simulate the lakes more accurately.

Great Lakes water levels could increase on average from 7.5 to 17 inches in next few decades, study says

New research into Great Lakes water levels looks farther into the future to predict how much climate change will increase lake levels in four of the five Great Lakes.

Presented at the Frontiers in Hydrology Meeting on Thursday and awaiting publication, the research – led by Michigan Technological University associate professor Pengfei Xue – used advanced climate modeling with a 3D hydrodynamic model to simulate the lakes more accurately. The modeling Xue used is more typically applied to oceans.

Michigan Technological University associate professor Pengfei Xue was the lead researcher on the modeling study looking into climate change impacts on the Great Lakes.

“We were able to develop a coupled modeling system that not only accounts for the interactions between the lakes, atmosphere and surrounding land, but also presented a more realistic and accurate representation of the Great Lakes hydrodynamic processes in climate modeling,” Xue said. “This is a necessary step to ultimately improve the long-term lake level projections.”

Read more at Bridge Michigan, by Natasha Blakely.

Future Rise of the Great Lakes Water Levels under Climate Change

The Great Lakes of North America are the largest unfrozen surface freshwater system in the world and many ecosystems, industries, and coastal processes are sensitive to the changes in their water levels. The water levels of the Great Lakes are primarily governed by the net basin supplies (NBS) of each lake which are the sum of over-lake precipitation and basin runoff minus lake evaporation.

First Author
Pengfei Xue, Michigan Technological University
Authors
Miraj Bhakta Kayastha, Michigan Technological University
Xinyu Ye, Michigan Technological University
Chenfu Huang, Michigan Technological University

Read more at Frontiers in Hydrology, by Penfei Xue, et al.

Bill Sproule Presents on Transit Systems

Old photo of a monorail with city architecture in the background.
World’s Fair monorail, 1962
Item 73122, World’s Fair Slides (Record Series 9955-01), Seattle Municipal Archives.

Professor Emeritus Bill Sproule (CEGE) attended the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 18th International Conference on Automated People Movers and Automated Transit Systems in Seattle, Washington, held June 1–3, 2022

Sproule gave the keynote presentation, titled “Back to the Future,” on the history and future of automated people movers and automated transit systems. In addition, he gave a presentation titled “Seattle Monorail and the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.”

Sproule was also the proceedings editor for the conference.

MTU Team Participating in NextCycle Michigan ROADS Innovation Challenge

A proposal submitted by Zhanping You (CEGE) earlier this year has been selected by NextCycle Michigan as one of the projects in the NextCycle Michigan ROADS Innovation Challenge Track.

You and his team will work on a project titled “The Marketing Development and Implementation of Recycled Glass for Asphalt Pavements.”

You’s team is comprised of Michigan Technological University teams with the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority (MCSWMA) and Dickinson County Road Commission. The collaborators will plan a construction section of recycled glass asphalt pavement in Dickinson County.

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Arman Tatar Awarded 2022 Ammann Research Fellowship

Arman Tatar
Arman Tatar

Upon the recommendation of the Structural Engineering Institute, Arman Tatar has been selected by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) as the recipient of the 2022 O.H. Ammann Research Fellowship in Structural Engineering.

The award will allow Tatar to purchase the necessary parts and material to pursue his original research topic in addition to the research he is currently conducting under Dan Dowden’s supervision.

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.