Category: Students

Outstanding Student Traffic Safety Achievement Award for Yingtong Tan

Yingtong Tan
Yingtong Tan

WLUC TV6 covered Ph.D. student Yingtong Tan (civil engineering) being awarded an Outstanding Student Traffic Safety Achievement Award by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC) for her research on the safety challenges posed by highway rail-grade crossings. Tan was presented with the award on March 13, 2024, in East Lansing.

Tan was the first in the United States to deploy the Rail Crossing Violation Warning (RCVW) system at rail-grade crossings. This prototype is designed to warn drivers of imminent violations of a crossing based on real-time positioning and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.

The GTSAC was formed in 2002 to serve as the state’s forum for identifying key traffic safety challenges and developing and implementing plans to address those issues.

Read more at WLUC TV6.

My Story: Naomi Elliot, MTUengineer

Naomi Elliot ‘26, Civil Engineering

Where are you from and where did you grow up?

I grew up in Macomb County, Michigan, near the water. I’ve been there my entire life and absolutely love it. It’s the perfect mix of city and country.

What made you decide to come to Michigan Tech?

I wanted something different that allowed me to be outdoors. I discovered Michigan Tech while doing a project my junior year and fell in love then. I switched around majors a few times, starting in mechanical engineering and then moving to civil engineering. I wanted to have an option to move anywhere and have future job security. Additionally, there are so many opportunities in civil engineering that I love—being able to be outside on job sites or inside designing.

What have been the best parts of civil engineering thus far?

The best part of civil engineering is the opportunity to do anything!!

What are the greatest challenges you’ve had thus far?

For me, my greatest challenge right now is not yet being in classes that directly relate to my major. I keep motivated by knowing next year I’ll be all-in for my major.

Any recipes, formulas, or tips for success thus far?

Never try to be something you’re not, and take every opportunity you can. Learn to see the positives in everything and be okay with the uncertainty that is life.

“Michigan Tech teaches you life skills that you will use in all aspects of your life.”

Naomi Elliott

Any thoughts on your long-term career goals?

I either want to do something with water resources or law. I am looking into internships and classes that can help me decide my path.

For my summer internship at Spalding DeDecker, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Memphis, Tennessee. We had been contracted out to do multiple jobs on the Ford Blue Oval site, for electric vehicles throughout the month of August.

During the summer I worked doing many different tasks that helped me learn about the field of surveying. Some weeks I would be out doing a topography survey of schools in the area, helping them get ready for future updates. Other weeks would be spent doing anchor bolt surveys, which is setting up the elevations and center lines for steel columns for buildings. There were some weeks where I had smaller tasks like staking property lines, driveways, and sidewalks. It was all important and I am fortunate to have had the experience to learn these things in the field as I hope they will make me a better engineer.  

Being in Tennessee for a week was such an amazing experience. I will be forever grateful for it. Although it involved long hours and hot weather, I absolutely loved being in Memphis. I was mind-blown at the size of the site and how well we managed all of our jobs when our office was 13 hours away. It was an experience I will never forget.

“There are a ton of opportunities. You just have to be ready to take them.

Advice for incoming students, from MTU civil engineering student Naomi Elliott

My story: Kathryn Krieger, MTUengineer

Kathryn Krieger ’25, Environmental Engineering

Kathryn Krieger, a 3rd-year environmental engineering student at Michigan Tech, shares some of her own experience.

“Michigan Tech has provided me with so many amazing opportunities to learn about the field of Environmental Engineering and grow my professional network. I love attending the CEGE networking reception on the night before career fair and hearing from the alumni that come to have lunch with students. 

“After attending the MTU Career Fair,  I accepted an internship with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and ended up working for MDOT two summers in a row. In my first summer, I worked in their materials and testing laboratory, doing gradations, concrete strength testing, and aggregate sampling. The next summer, I became a statewide soil erosion and sedimentation control inspector. I really enjoyed being able to shadow a diverse range of professionals within my time at MDOT. I even got to shadow the state wetland specialist, where I discovered that I would really like to work with wetland mitigation, remediation, and restoration in my future.”

“Michigan Tech has provided me with so many amazing opportunities to learn about the field of environmental engineering and grow my professional network. The hands-on coursework alongside extracurricular opportunities have allowed me to speak at regional conferences for the Society of Women Engineers, be on a winning team for the NASA HeroX “Waste to Base” Challenge, help Engineers Without Borders design improvements to a flooded road in Bolivia, study cosmic rays in Argentina, and receive interdisciplinary formal climate training through a fellowship where I will attend the COP28, the UN Conference of Parties in Dubai!”

“My time at Michigan Tech has been life-changing. It has given me a top-notch education and exposed me to a variety of experiences and perspectives.

“I’ve learned to stay curious and open to new opportunities.”

Kathryn Krieger ’25

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.

Environmental Engineering Students at the COP27 Climate Conference

Keweenaw Now published a blog post written by Kendra Lachcik ‘23 (environmental engineering) about presentations given by Michigan Tech’s delegation to the COP27 climate conference, held in November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. MTU students Anna Kavanaugh (environmental engineering, sustainability science and society), Rose Daily (environmental engineering) and Alexis Pascaris (environmental and energy policy) were quoted in the article about their experiences at the conferences.

This year, 12 MTU delegates, including 2 undergraduate students, 7 graduate students, 1 MTU alum, and 2 faculty members, attended the conference as observers under the Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organizations (RINGO) constituency.

MTU delegates were also representing the Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education Network (YEAH Network), a transdisciplinary, multi-institutional global network that is a charter of the National Science Foundation.

Read more at Keweenaw Now, by Kendra Lachcik.

SWE Scholarships for Kathryn Krieger and Grace Moeggenborg

SWE Congratulates Spring Lower-Division Scholarship Recipients

Annually, MTU’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section awards scholarships to members in the fall and spring semesters. This semester, Spring 2023, the lower-division scholarship recipients were Kathryn Krieger and Grace Moeggenborg, both studying environmental engineering.

Krieger is our campus and community chair for SWE, president of Engineers Without Borders, and is actively involved in Mind Trekkers, the MTU Ultimate Frisbee team, and Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority. Moeggenborg was recently elected as our SWE section secretary. She has served as webmaster and recruitment co-chair. She has enjoyed volunteering at Engineering Days, Spring Fling, the Spring Involvement Fair, and FLARE.

The section congratulates Krieger and Moeggenborg and thanks Milwaukee Tool for supporting these scholarships.

By Gretchen Hein, Advisor, Society of Women Engineers.

Built World Enterprise Teams Compete at WERC Design Competition

Two student teams from Michigan Tech competed in the WERC Environmental Design Contest at New Mexico State University from April 16–19, 2023. In the 33rd year of the competition, student teams set out to solve challenges facing society today. The teams were composed of environmental engineering majors who are members of the Built World Enterprise.

The first team, which included Jenna Cook, Morgan Halberg, Francine Rosinski, Nadia Stauffer, and Eden Traub, participated in Task 1: Sustainable Communities: Wastewater Reuse for Rural Communities. The task was to design a low-energy and low-maintenance wastewater treatment system so that rural communities in the southwest United States could reuse lagoon effluent to meet water needs.

The second team, consisting of Clark Fadior, Jake McDowell, Allison Olson, and Avery Reno, participated in Task 4: Detecting and Quantifying Microplastics in Reservoirs. For the task, they designed a portable system to detect and quantify microplastics in natural aquatic systems in real time.

Both teams had to create a bench-scale prototype of their design and a business plan, and deliver oral and poster presentations, including a four-minute flash talk.

The Task 1 team:

  • won first place overall for their task
  • won first place in the flash talks
  • earned the Pollution Prevention Award
  • will be invited to be published in IEEE Xplore.

The Task 4 team won second place in the flash talk.

Over 20 schools from across the country participated across the contest’s six tasks. Sponsors of the competition include EPA, Freeport-McMoRan, El Paso Electric Company and many more.

Congratulations to both teams!

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

The WERC Environmental Design Contest is a unique design competition that brings industry, government, and academia together in search for improved solutions to today’s environmental challenges in ALL fields of engineering.

W-E-R-C formerly stood for “Waste-management Education Research Consortium,” but we are broadening our scope. In addition to managing waste, students are now focusing their designs on minimizing energy & waste and conserving & recycling resources, including water, energy, and natural resources. We will reveal the new meaning of the W-E-R-C acronym this Spring.

Read more at WERC Design Contest, New Mexico State University.

2023 GLRC Grants for Novitch and Harazin

Please join the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) in congratulating the winter and spring 2023 GLRC Student Research and Travel Grant recipients.

The GLRC student grants are intended to provide undergraduate and graduate students advised by GLRC members an opportunity to gain experience in writing competitive grants, perform research they would not be able to attempt due to funding limitations or travel to a professional conference to present a poster or paper about their research.

Student grants also provide seed research data for advisors to use in pursuing externally funded research support, and travel grants help amplify areas of research expertise at Michigan Tech. Funded students are expected to participate/volunteer for at least one GLRC activity during the grant period.

Student Research Grants

  • James Juip, Ph.D. student — Social Sciences
    GLRC member advisor: Donald Lafreniere
    Research proposal: “Using Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives as a tool for Community Heritage Making”
  • Jacob Novitch, M.S. student — Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering
    GLRC member advisor: Jennifer Becker
    Research proposal: “Modeling of Lagoon Wastewater Treatment Systems in Small Communities”
  • Caitlyn Sutherlin, Ph.D. student — Social Sciences
    GLRC member advisor: Angie Carter
    Research proposal: “Identifying Community Connections to Nature in California, El Salvador with Photovoice”
  • Cassandra Reed-VanDam, M.S. student — College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
    GLRC member advisor: Valoree Gagnon
    Research proposal: ““Restoration is repairing relations” manoomin (wild rice) restoration study in KBIC homelands”

Student Travel Grants

  • Leah Harazin, B.S. student — Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering
    GLRC member advisor: Stephen Techtmann
    Attending: 45th Symposium on Biomaterials, Fuels and Chemicals
    Presentation: “Stability of Terephthalate Degrading Microbial Consortia for Plastic Upcycling”
  • Anna Kavanaugh, B.S. student — Social Sciences
    GLRC member advisor: Mark Rhodes
    Attending: 2023 American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting
    Presentation: “The Continuation of Exclusionary Landscapes: Accessibility of Public Transportation in Urban America”
  • Zoe Ketola, M.S. student — Social Sciences
    GLRC member advisor: Chelsea Schelly
    Attending: World Social Science Association 65th Annual Conference
    Presentation: “Energy Service Security for Public Health Resilience: An energy services framework for health facility planning in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula”
  • Maya Klanderman, B.S. student — Social Sciences
    GLRC member advisor: Mark Rhodes
    Attending: 2023 American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting
    Presentation: “A Settler Scholar Perspective on Applying Indigenous Methodology in Undergraduate Research”
  • Laura Schaerer, Ph.D. student — Biological Sciences
    GLRC member advisor: Stephen Techtmann
    Attending: 45th Symposium on Biomaterials, Fuels and Chemicals
    Presentation: “Ecological interactions of specialist and generalist species within mixed plastic derivative-utilizing microbial communities”

GLRC Student Travel Grant applications are accepted anytime and will be reviewed on the last Friday of each month. Applications must be submitted at least two weeks in advance of travel. GLRC Student Research Grant applications are accepted three times each year — Nov. 1, March 1 and July 1.

By Great Lakes Research Center.

Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering 2023 Department Awards

Department Scholar Award

Caleb Novitch accepting an award from Audra Morse.
Caleb Novitch accepting an award from Audra Morse.

Senior status during the next academic year

  • Represents the best of student scholarship in the department
  • Participates in research or scholarly activities
  • Has a high level of intellectual curiosity
  • Shows intellectual creativity
  • Demonstrates communication skills

Nominees for this award were:

Brodey Bevins – nominated by Pasi Lautala
Caleb Novitch – nominated by Jennifer Becker and Yousef Darestani
Francine Rosinski – nominated by Audra Morse

Presented to Caleb Novitch

From his nomination, “Caleb Novitch is being recognized by the Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering Department not only for his outstanding academic achievements and dedication to learning but for his strength of character. He is honest, responsible, and possesses excellent interpersonal skills. He is always willing to help others and work collaboratively with classmates to achieve common goals.”

Nicole Bloom Award for Environmental Sustainability

Kendra Lachcik accepting an award from Audra Morse.
Kendra Lachcik accepting an award from Audra Morse.

This award is made annually to an undergraduate civil, environmental, or geospatial engineering student who has demonstrated leadership, passion, and activism for effecting environmental sustainability at the local, national, or global level. This award is accompanied by the Pati and Soumitri Reddy $1000 endowed scholarship.

Nominees for this award were:

Claire Cristen – nominated by Judith Perlinger and Robert Handler
Josh King – nominated by Zhanping You
Kendra Lachik – nominated by Audra Morse

Presented to Kendra Lachcik

Kendra has had a lifelong passion for environmental issues which was her motivation for pursuing an environmental engineering degree. Since January 2021, she has been a tenant in the Sustainability House where the goal is to retrofit the house into a net-zero energy, zero waste house and also host outreach events to promote sustainable system concepts. Kendra was recognized in 2022 as the Inaugural Michigan Tech Sustainability Award Winner and represented Michigan Tech at COP 27 in Egypt. As stated in the award nomination, “Kendra is always happy to share her enthusiasm for environmental engineering with prospective students and is an ambassador of Michigan Tech and environmental sustainability.”

Undergraduate Department Service Award

Jacob Wysko accepting an award from Audra Morse.
Jacob Wysko accepting an award from Audra Morse.

This award is to recognize a CEGE student that has shown exemplary service to the CEGE Department through student organizations affiliated with the Department (ASCE, Chi Epsilon, SEEN, EWB, Rail Engineering Activity Club). This award is accompanied by a $500 scholarship.

Presented to Jacob Wysko

Jacob is a senior in the geospatial engineering program and is also a member of the Douglass Houghton Student Chapter. He was nominated for his willingness to support the delivery of our undergraduate programs when a faculty member had to take leave suddenly in the middle of the semester. Jacob is TA for SU 2000 and he made sure labs ran unaffected during the faculty absence.

Danielle Ladwig Award for Graduate Excellence

Tyler LeMahieu accepting an award from Audra Morse.
Tyler LeMahieu accepting an award from Audra Morse.

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

Nominees for this award:

Tyler LeMahieu – nominated by Angela Keranen and Shelle Sandell
Yingtong Tan – nominated by Kuilin Zhang

Presented to Tyler LeMahieu

Tyler personifies the type of person this award was created to recognize. He has been recognized for his excellence in teaching with the 2021-22 with the student voted CEGE GTA of the Year and with the graduate school Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award. He was awarded an NSF Fellowship in 2022 for a proposal titled “Understanding Wild Rice Site Suitability in a Changing Climate” with Dr. Cory McDonald as well as a Michigan Space Grant Consortium fellowship for “Assessing Flood Resilience in Constructed Streambeds: Flume Comparison of Design Methodologies” with Dr. Brian Barkdoll. In addition to his contributions to teaching and research, it is Tyler’s consistent willingness to help in a service role to the department that completes the picture for this award. Whether it be STEM outreach to K–12, meetings with prospective graduate students, or coordinating the CEGE Graduate Orientation, Tyler has been a willing and enthusiastic participant.

Wilbur Haas Graduate Research Excellence Award

Ben Barrios accepting an award next to Audra Morse.
Ben Barrios accepting an award next to Audra Morse.

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

Nominations for this award:

Ben Barrios – nominated by Daisuke Minakata
Yei Lin – nominated by Zhanping You
Miraj Bhakta Kayastha – nominated by Peifeng Xue
Yingtong Tan – nominated by Kuilin Zhang

Presented to Benjamin Barrios Cerda

In his nomination, Ben’s advisor, Daisuke Minakata shared that in the four years that Ben has been a doctoral student in his research group he has published three high impact publications as first author and another as the co-author and additionally there are several more ready for submission where he is co-author. One of the papers, though only published in 2021, already has 21 citations indicating the high impact to the community.

Ben also enjoys sharing his passion for science and technology with members of the community. Every summer since 2019, he has participated in a summer youth program directed to students from the Detroit area. The program shares with them some fundamental concepts of environmental engineering with hopes that they decide to pursue a higher education degree in the areas of STEM.

GTA Award

Chi Epsilon Presenting – Jacob Novitch

Award presenter and Jacob Novitch.
Jacob Novitch receiving GTA of the Year award.

Faculty of the Year Award- Chi Epsilon Presenting

Yousef Darestani – Faculty of the Year Award

Civil (structures, materials, geotech) and Geospatial Engineering (3 people were very close: Yousef, Kris Mattila, and Jake Hiller)

Jennifer Becker – Faculty of the Year Award

Environmental Engineering/Civil (Water Resources) Engineering

Department Citizenship Award

Jeffery Hollingsworth

Professional Advisory Board Faculty/Staff Award

Henrique de Melo e Silva

Recognition Also For

Rob Fritz on his retirement after 23 years of service to CEGE.

Outgoing Members of the CEGE Professional Advisory Board

Dennis Decator
Sean Kelley
Leslie Nelson
Kim Zimmer

Elsa Meyer Interviewed on America’s Morning Headquarters

Two women interviewed in front of a Michigan Tech backdrop.
Elsa Meyer (right) and Cassy Tefft de Muñoz (left) are interviewed on America’s Morning Headquarters.

Cassy Tefft de Muñoz (CEO) and undergraduate student Elsa Meyer (civil engineering) were virtual guests last Thursday (March 23, 2023) on “America’s Morning Headquarters.” Tefft de Muñoz and Meyer talked about the Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers traveling STEM festivals and demonstrations, and explained the popular banana piano demo while host Jim Cantore tried it out.

Split view of a banana apparatus on a table and the pair of interviewees.
Elsa explains the popular banana piano demonstration.