Category: News

New Faculty Spotlight: Quang Tran

Dr. Quang Tran on campus at Michigan Tech

Quang Tran is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering. He comes to Michigan Tech from Harvard Medical School, Harvard affiliated hospitals, and the UIUC Bioacoustics Research Lab, where he dedicated three years to postdoctoral research.

Dr. Tran earned his PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, his MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering at California State University, Fullerton; and his BS in Industrial and System Engineering at Ho Chi Minh University of Technology, Vietnam.

Dr. Quang Tran presents some of his collaborative postdoctoral research: “Acoustic response of ph responsive self-eliminating microbubbles for dynamic pressure sensing”

What drew you to Michigan Tech?

I have a passion for technology, teaching, and outdoor pursuits. Michigan Tech embodies everything I cherish. Ever since I became a part of MTU, my daily life in Houghton has been a joy, and my feeling of connection deepens with each passing day.

What is your primary area of research and what led you to it?

I develop non-invasive techniques for material characterization applied to civil engineering and biomedical fields. My goal is to assist in diagnosing and monitoring the health of both infrastructures and humans, aiming to prevent structural failures and cancer in individuals.

Can you share a little more about your research and what you like about it?

I’ve been working on research that employs non-contact technologies using ultrasound and computer vision to determine the phase change timing of concrete material – in real-time and on-site, in order to quantify the damage caused by construction activities. These methods offer rapid, precise, and quantitative data that enhances the decision-making of field engineers and contractors who are engaged in construction activities and material usage. It ultimately leads to savings of time and cost, and a reduction of material waste.

I’ve also developed non-invasive ultrasonic techniques to measure dynamic pressure, laying the groundwork for long-term measurements of pressure within human heart chambers. This pressure sensing could allow doctors to monitor patient heart health over extended periods. This would aid in the prevention of heart diseases and heart failure, enhancing patient well-being and even surgical outcomes.

“I believe every student has potential for success. My role here is simply to pave their way to their success.”

Quang Tran

What do you consider an important long-term goal for your research, teaching, or outreach?

I want to understand the interaction between ultrasound and gas bubbles. This understanding will pave the way for me to develop advanced methods for material characterization and pressure sensing applications.

What do you hope to accomplish, as an educator and as a researcher, over the next few years?

My ambition is to establish a translational lab focused on fundamental research, bridging this research to practical and clinical applications. The lab will educate students about the profound link between foundational science and engineering practice.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love outdoor activities, including running along the lake and playing soccer. I enjoy exploring local eateries and attending community events, such as the Parade of Nations. I’m eagerly anticipating the upcoming Winter Carnival.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?

My favorite book is “Da Vinci Code,” by Dan Brown. I love science and history, so I love watching Marvel and other sci-fi movies. I also like watching movies from true stories, like Chernobyl and Oppenheimer

“Identify your desires and passions and then chase them.”

Advice for incoming students, from Assistant Professor Quang Tran

Any favorite spots on campus, in Houghton, or in the UP?

My favorite spot in Houghton is the running trail behind the M&M building. I run along the lake quite often.

Any advice for incoming students?

Work hard, play hard. Identify your desires and passions and then chase them. I spent three years after getting my BS to truly discover my life’s passion. Now I feel energetic and happy because I’m immersed in what I love. I believe every student has potential for success. My role here is simply to pave their way to their success.

New Faculty Spotlight: Kerri Sleeman

Professor of Practice Kerri Sleeman

Kerri Sleeman, CEGE Professor of Practice, was born and raised in the Houghton area. Over the years she has held a number of different positions at Tech, most recently in various positions with Facilities Management. Before that, she worked in the automotive and construction industries as an engineer. She earned both her degrees at Michigan Tech, a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Engineering.

What drew you to Michigan Tech?

“My husband and I have made this place our home for over 20 years, which coincidentally is when I first came to work at Michigan Tech. I originally came to Tech in order to move back home full-time. The amazing outdoor opportunities in the Keweenaw, and the sense of community on campus have kept me here.

What do you consider an important long-term goal for your teaching, or outreach?

I am very excited to be able to work as a full-time faculty member. The students are the whole reason Michigan Tech exists! I have taught as an adjunct faculty member over the years while working at Tech. It always helped me keep the larger picture of the University in focus. I look forward to bringing my industry experience to students in the Construction Management Program. Another goal is to increase our sustainable construction course offerings for students.

“Sustainability has become such a large part of what the students will need to understand in their work.”

Kerri Sleeman

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to get outside in all our seasons! Having a puppy, my husband and I go hiking and snowshoeing all the time. We also love to snowmobile, downhill ski, and play pick-up hockey. We build a rink we build on the lake behind our house each winter. I also like to garden and try to run a half marathon or two each year.

Any favorite spots on campus, in Houghton, or in the UP?

I love it all! There is something for everyone.

Getting out on the water with is a favorite pastime, with Larken, of course!

Any advice for incoming students?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources at Michigan Tech. Please use them!

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Advice for incoming students, from Kerri Sleeman

New Faculty Spotlight: Ishi Keenum

Ishi Keenum is a bioinformatician, an engineer, and an environmental microbiologist.

Assistant Professor Ishi Keenum comes to Michigan Tech from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where she completed her postdoctoral research. She earned a BS in at the University of Michigan, and an MS and PhD at Virginia Tech, all in Environmental Engineering. She serves as the lead of the bioinformatic working group for the International Microbiome and Multi’omics Standards Alliance (IMMSA). 

What drew you to Michigan Tech?

My hometown is Knoxville, Tennessee but with lots of family in Houghton. I grew up coming here for the summers! When I visited the CEGE faculty were incredibly welcoming and I was really drawn by the people who would be my colleagues. I also love the accessibility to the outdoors and the water!

What is your primary area of research and what led you to it?

My focus is on the dissemination and treatment of antibiotic resistance through our wastewater and water systems. More broadly, I examine the microbiology of water systems. I got involved in environmental biotechnology as an undergraduate researcher at the University of Michigan. I was drawn to this type of work because I like to think of how a better understanding of environmental microbiology in engineered systems can help prevent exposures to things like opportunistic pathogens and antibiotic resistance. I really like that my work has a close public health benefit. 

“I am passionate about creating safe water for human consumption.”

Dr. Ishi Keenum

Can you share a little more about your research and what you like about it?

I examine how our wastewater treatment systems and agricultural systems currently address antibiotic resistance throughout the treatment process. I also work on generating standards for how we make measurements of microbial communities. I get to use a variety of different microbial methods to try to answer these questions. I like the diversity of methods I use in my work. It means we can answer a variety of different questions about our engineered systems.
I also love that I get to work on some of the most pressing world problems facing our society. For instance, waterborne disease and antibiotic resistance cost millions of dollars in the US to treat at healthcare facilities, and we need to better understand where people are exposed.

What do you consider an important long-term goal for your research, teaching, or outreach?

I am looking forward to building and joining a strong environmental microbiology program at Michigan Tech. I am looking forward to understanding the microbiology and challenges in our surrounding community and am hoping to get involved in both outreach and research.

What do you hope to accomplish, as an educator, over the next few years?

I am looking forward to connecting with Michigan Tech students as a teacher and faculty member. I hope we can have fun and engaging classroom discussions around issues we all currently face working in the field of environmental engineering.

“Try getting involved in student organizations that do what you’re interested in doing.”

Advice to incoming students, from Dr. Ishi Keenum

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love running and hiking and I’m excited to get into cross country skiing! You can also find me with my dog, Monty!

Any advice for incoming students?

I am here to help. I want to work with you to be successful!

Dr. Keenum did her postdoc at NIST. Michigan Tech recently entered into an agreement with NIST, as a NIST PREP University.

New Faculty Spotlight: Bo Xiao

Bo Xiao

Assistant Professor Bo Xiao comes to Michigan Tech from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where he worked as a research assistant professor. He earned his BEng in Civil Engineering, at Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology in China, his master’s degree from Concordia University in Canada, and his PhD at the University of Alberta, Canada. Dr. Xiao and his team conduct research in his Computing and Construction Robotics Lab (CaRC) at Michigan Tech.

What drew you to Michigan Tech?

Michigan Tech’s Tech Forward Initiative attracted me. My long-term career goal is to build autonomous and intelligent systems in the construction industry. I believe Michigan Tech is the place where I can achieve my dream. Houghton is also a place of four-season recreation, with picturesque scenery—all the numerous lakes, forests, and rolling hills. As an outdoor enthusiast, I look forward to trying it all—hiking, fishing, boating, and skiing.

What is your primary area of research and what led you to it?

My primary research goal is to advance the digital transformation of the construction industry by adopting automated technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and digital twinning. Automation, digitalization, and robotics technologies are the key success factor for the fourth construction industry revolution (aka Construction 4.0). I believe it has the potential to enhance the efficiency, productivity, accuracy, and safety of the construction industry, and help solve some of the complex problems surrounding our cities, environment, and the planet. 

“Learn outside the classroom.”

Dr. Bo Xiao’s advice for incoming students.

Can you share a little more about your research and what you like about it?

Specifically, my research focus is divided among two fields. The first involves using robots to build modular homes. Modular construction offers significant time savings compared to traditional on-site construction methods. Since the building components are fabricated in a controlled factory environment concurrently with site preparation, construction timelines can be significantly reduced. This faster construction process allows for quicker project completion, reduced financing costs, and faster occupancy or utilization of the building. I am developing robots that can build modular components automatically. Robotics allows for the precise and accurate assembly of these components, leading to higher quality and consistency in the final product and better fitting and alignment of modular elements. My second research focus involves vision-based monitoring of construction sites. Construction video footage contains important information about safety, productivity, and site planning. By using computer vision and generative AI to analyze construction sites, efficiency and safety can be improved.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My favorite pastimes are playing basketball and downhill skiing.

Any favorite spots on campus, in Houghton, or in the UP?

Copper Harbor is my favorite!

Copper Harbor is just about an hour’s drive from the Michigan Tech campus.

Any advice for incoming students?

Learn outside the classroom. Classroom learning provides a foundation of knowledge, but real-world experiences will allow you to apply that knowledge in a practical context. You’ll see how concepts and theories translate into real-life situations. This will enhance both your understanding and your problem-solving skills.

New Faculty Spotlight: Mazi Erfani

Mazi Erfani

Assistant Professor Abdolmajid “Mazi” Erfani comes to Michigan Tech from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned his PhD in Civil Engineering. He earned his BS in Civil Engineering and his MSc, in Construction Engineering and Management at the University of Tehran in Iran. Welcome, Dr. Erfani!

What drew you to Michigan Tech?

I spent my formative years in Iran, where I was the middle child among three siblings. Being raised in a family where both my parents were educators greatly influenced my decision to pursue a career as a teacher and researcher. Michigan Tech’s exceptional reputation in engineering, hands-on learning opportunities, cutting-edge research facilities, collaborative environment, and appealing campus setting all make this an ideal place for me to pursue my academic and research interests in civil engineering.

What is your primary area of research and what led you to it?

Contributing to the development of sustainable and equitable infrastructure is my primary goal. This spans smart construction, data analytics, and the application of artificial intelligence in construction management, and data-driven infrastructure management. My recent work with the USDOT Build America Center involved assisting public and local agencies in securing federal funding and successfully implementing substantial, equitable infrastructure projects. My research extends to equitable workforce development, too, including workforce and diversity equity in the airport and construction industries.

What do you consider an important long-term goal for your research, teaching, or outreach?

I want to build a dynamic bridge between academia and industry, fostering a flow of innovative ideas and practical solutions back and forth. Many of my current research topics are directly related to industry needs. And I want to equip students for success both academically and professionally—with an emphasis on adaptability and innovation.

“Immerse yourself in Michigan Tech’s vibrant campus life. Seize every chance to get involved in campus activities.”

Advice for incoming students, from Dr. Mazi Erfani

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My family activities include hiking, shopping, and watching movies and television series together. I also have a passion for music, particularly rock music. Another is travel. I’ve been able to discover and explore 26 different states within a mere four-year period here in the US!

Any advice for incoming students?

My primary advice is this: I firmly believe that with dedicated hard work, you have the potential to achieve anything you set your mind to. Beyond academics, I encourage you to immerse yourself in MTU’s vibrant campus life. Building a robust network of professors and fellow students can open doors to collaborations, mentorships, and friendships. While you are here, seize every chance to get involved in campus activities. Expand your horizons, and relish your rewarding journey at Michigan Tech!

New Faculty Spotlight: John Bean

John Bean

John Bean joins Michigan Tech as a visiting professor of practice in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering. He hails from a small town in central New Hampshire called Hopkinton, located just west of Concord. He earned an MS in Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Connecticut and a BS in Civil Engineering at the University of New Hampshire. He also earned a graduate certificate in Surveying Engineering at the University of Maine. He has over 40 years of experience in surveying, civil engineering, and GIS, both in teaching and in practice. His work has taken him to Antarctica, the North Slope of Alaska, and the Mojave Desert, among other places.

What drew you to Michigan Tech?

The reputation of the school and, believe it or not, the weather! My partner, Susan, and I both love the snow. We have two sled dogs (from Iditarod kennels) who can’t wait for it to start snowing!

What is your primary area of research and what led you to it?

I enjoy providing surveying, mapping and database support to engineering field-based research projects. I love being involved in interesting projects, especially those in interesting places. I like that I can assure project managers that I and/or my students will get them good, reliable, and complete data to support their needs. I also love practicing what I teach. Research projects, especially, tend to stretch my existing knowledge and often require unique approaches to obtaining the necessary data.

What do you consider an important long-term goal for your research, teaching, or outreach?

I want to get students excited about the field of geospatial engineering by involving them in projects and outreach.

John spent time in Antarctica.

What do you hope to accomplish, as an educator and as a researcher, over the next few years?

Continual improvement in everything I do,  and to help grow the geospatial engineering program. I would also like to reach out to the Native community here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Too much! Dog mushing, hiking, kayaking, exploring, photography, playing guitar (poorly), skating, snowshoeing, ski-joring, golf, tennis, reading, listening to music; the list goes on and on.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?

My favorite books:  “Educated: A Memoir,” by Tara Westover; “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain; and “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark,” by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. My two favorite movies: Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Good Will Hunting. My favorite bands/performers are: R.E.M., Indigo Girls, and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

“Choose a major that excites you. You will spend a long time in the working world; spend it doing something you love.”

John Bean’s advice for incoming students

Any favorite spots on campus, in Houghton, or in the UP?

Well, I’ve only been here for a month or so, but my favorite places so far are Mackinaw City (I know that’s technically not in the UP), the MTU campus, The Pier (the park and walkway that runs along the waterfront in Houghton). Also the Hancock Dog Park, Good Times Music, and the KBC.

Zhanping You on Recycling Tires for Pavement

Zhanping You interviewed by WLUC TV6.
Zhanping You interview by WLUC TV6.

Zhanping You (CEGE) was quoted by WLUC TV6 in a story about an upcoming road paving project in Dickinson County that will use recycled glass and tires from across the Upper Peninsula.

The Dickinson County Road Commission will use recycled glass and tires from across the U.P., compared to standard asphalt, to redo two sections south of Vulcan going toward the Menominee County line.

“The rubber from tires is actually a really good material to work with asphalt. They like each other because they are both from petroleum oil,” said Zhanping You.

Read more at WLUC TV6, by Clint McLeod.

Zhanping You (CEGE/MTTI) is the principal investigator (PI) on a project that has received a $100,000 research and development grant from the Dickinson County Road Commission.

The project is titled “Tire Rubber Asphalt and Recycled Glass for County Road Paving.”

Qingli Dai (CEGE/MTTI) is a co-PI on this potential 22-month project.

Related

Zhanping You Appointed to EGLE Scrap Tire Advisory Committee

Michigan Tech: Where Global Changemaking Engineers are Made

MTU Adds Online Civil Asset Management Course

Steel railroad bridge spanning a flooded river.
A railroad bridge, an example of a civil asset, inundated with water during the Grand Rapids Flood event.

“Civil asset management is an important and necessary technical and business skill set for today’s civil engineers. That is, civil engineers must learn to be strategic about developing recommendations and formulating decisions. They must also be able to optimize the value of asset infrastructure.” — Mark Declercq

Mark Declercq ’88 ’90 (B.S. M.S. Structural Engineering) is bringing his years of civil engineering experience, his involvement in the 2013 flood event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and his significant asset management expertise to Michigan Tech. He is teaching a new synchronous online 3-credit Civil Asset Management course for the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Learn more about Declercq, his course and civil asset management on the Michigan Tech Global Campus News blog.

By Shelly Galliah, Global Campus.

Dimo Okeyo Selected to Present at 17th Graduate Climate Conference

Dimo Okeyo, a civil engineering master’s student, will be presenting his abstract, titled “Understanding the Impact of Land Use Change on Local Climate Patterns: A Case Study in Urban Environments,” at the 17th Graduate Climate Conference.

Hosted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), this conference brings together brilliant minds from various disciplines.

Dimo has been selected to present a poster during the event, which will take place in person in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, from November 2–4, 2023.

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Daisuke Minakata Recognized for Professional Excellence, Impact on Michigan Water

Daisuke Minakata
Daisuke Minakata

Daisuke Minakata (CEGE) has been selected as a recipient of the 2023 Professional Excellence-Individual Award by the Michigan Section of the American Water Works Association. The award recognizes Minakata for his contributions to and impact on the water in the state of Michigan.

Through this distinguished award, the Michigan Section aims to pay tribute to individuals, organizations, companies and project teams who have made remarkable contributions to the water industry. This award acknowledges outstanding endeavors in safeguarding public health, advocating for safe drinking water, fostering innovative and creative ideas and demonstrating exceptional leadership qualities.

Minakata will receive formal recognition for his achievements at the Michigan Section’s Annual Conference & Exhibits (Ml-ACE), planned September 12–15, 2023, at the Blue Water Convention Center in Port Huron, Michigan.

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.