Category: Outreach

Sustainability Film Series Spring 2024

Films shown on the third Thursday of each month.

Location

Fisher 135 or 138 (refreshments in the lobby)

Schedule

January to May at 7 p.m.

The Seeds of Vandana Shiva

The Seeds of Vandana Shiva (2021) February 15

“The Seeds of Vandana Shiva” explores the interconnectedness of seeds, food, environment and social justice through the remarkable life story of Gandhian eco-activist and agro-ecologist Vandana Shiva. Fisher 138


Going Circular (2021) March 21

Imagine a future where we mimic the genius of nature — to re-calibrate the way humankind lives, breathes, builds — respecting the limits of our resources and transforming the modern world. The film investigates the concept of circularity, an economic system that eliminates waste and saves the planet’s resources, and offers concrete solutions to move toward a more circular economy. Fisher 138


Climate Sisu (2022) April 18

Take a journey through Michigan in search of community knowledge about climate action, resilience, adaptation and education. Climate SISU offers an urgent, yet optimistic call for climate action. Fisher 135


The Engine Inside (2023) May 16

Follow the lives of six individuals from around the globe who have devoted themselves to a simple, age-old machine — the bicycle. Witness how bicycles have the potential to transform lives and contribute to a better world. Fisher 138


Cost

FREE. $5 suggested donation per film to support the Sustainability Film Series is appreciated. Make donation online or in-person at the film showing.

Cosponsored By

Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, Department of Social Sciences, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Sustainability Demonstration House and Keweenaw Youth for Climate Action, as well as the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Keweenaw Land Trust, Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Friends of the Land of Keweenaw and WUP MiSTEM.

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

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: 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.

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.

UP Students Wowed by Lake Superior Youth Symposium

The 23 students in grades 8-12 who attended the Lake Superior Youth Symposium could not say enough positive things about their experience. The 4-day symposium took place April 20–23, 2023, at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

“I never knew how beautiful our area is until now! Thanks a million!”

10th grade student, Houghton High School

“Coming to this symposium has been one of the most fun things I have ever done! I learned a lot about the Lake we call home.”

8th grade student, Houghton Middle School

“I have been able to talk and learn from people of other cultures that I would not have able to otherwise.”

12th grade student, Dollar Bay-TC High School

“It was good learning about Lake Superior and meeting others who love it, too!”

11th grade student, Houghton High School

Students enjoyed field trips to the Red Cliff Fishery, Copper Falls State Park, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Sea Caves, organic food production and composting, Ashland art and murals by bike, how to slow stormwater runoff on campus, and plant foraging, plus a Friday evening LaCrosse game with students from the nearby Bad River tribe.

“Everything was so fun here! I learned what a watershed is and that I really do have a place in it!”

10th grade student, Houghton High School

“This trip made me realize the importance of protecting Lake Superior!”

8th grade student, Ewen-Trout Creek School

“I was able to learn so much about looking at things from other perspectives and will be able to use that throughout my life.”

12th grade student from Dollar Bay-TC High School

“This was such an eye opening experience into my future and how much I Iove the place I live!”

10th grade student from Houghton High School

“I loved learning about Ojibwe culture and how important it is to protect the lake’s fish to benefit the native culture.”

10th grade student from Ewen-Trout Creek School

Students attending the symposium came from Lake Linden-Hubbell, Dollar Bay-TC, Houghton-Portage, Ewen-Trout Creek and Ironwood School Districts, Community Alliance for Progressive Education (CAPE), and Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (KBOCC).

The following donors made it possible for Western UP students to attend:

  • Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK)
  • The Nitrate Elimination Co, Inc
  • Private Individuals and Community Organizations through the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative: Patricia Heiden, Sally Santeford, Sarah Green,
  • Copper Country Trout Unlimited
  • MiSTEM Network grant through the Michigan Department of Education
  • Michigan Tech University Center for Science and Environmental Outreach
  • National Science Foundation grant to MTU Award# 2136139

The following also helped to make this opportunity available to local students:

  • Copper Country Intermediate School District
  • Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative
  • Western UP MiSTEM Network
  • Participating School Districts: Houghton, Lake Linden-Hubbell, Ewen-Trout Creek, Dollar-Bay Tamarack City, and Ironwood Area Schools

Learn more about the 2023 Symposium. The next symposium will be in May 2025 at University of Minnesota Duluth.

For more information contact Joan Chadde, jchadde@mtu.edu, 906-369-1121, or Emily Gochis 906-482-0331.

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.