CEGE Students Are Winners in Waste to Base Materials Challenge

NASA Tournament Lab logo.
NASA Tournament Lab

Students from Michigan Tech’s Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE) were recently selected as a winning team in the Waste to Base Materials Challenge, sponsored by HeroX and NASA.

Competing against teams from around the country, the CEGE students proposed a process to treat and repurpose human waste on a crewed mission to Mars. Over many iterations, they developed a resource recovery loop that integrated anaerobic digestion and harvesting microbe-produced plastic to generate a continuous material stream from onboard resources.

The MTU team includes two undergraduate students, Kathryn Krieger and Corbin Sullivan, and two graduate students, Azmat Naseem and Brian Rivers. The team was assembled and mentored by Audra Morse (CEGE).

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Congratulations to the Spring 2022 Graduates

The Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering would like to congratulate our spring and summer graduates and raise you up for all to see. We are proud of you and want to wish you the best of luck in your next chapter.


Lindsey Anderson

Lindsey will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She will be working full-time at Harmon, Inc. and attending the online master’s program part-time at Michigan Tech after graduation. Lindsey will miss the beautiful Copper Country and is thankful for Tech for giving her the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful community with her fellow Huskies.


Elizabeth Beckas

Elizabeth is graduating with her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be working at Ames Construction. Elizabeth says she will miss her friends and old hallmates and is thankful to Tech for all the opportunities. She would like to recognize Joseph Foster and David Nelson as faculty that made a difference to her while at Michigan Tech.


Annika Bergstrom

Annika is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. Annika will move to Minneapolis, Minnesota after graduation where she will have a position as a civil engineer at Black & Veatch. Her team will be focused on all things water – treatment, supply, and conveyance. She says she looks forward to playing recreational sports (softball and bromball), continuing to play trombone, and volunteering in her community. Annika says she will miss all of the snow that we get at Tech -“It can be a pain at times, but overwhelmingly it provides a lot of beauty and fun!” She is thankful for the knowledge and experiences she has gained, saying “I’ve learned a lot about my field as well as how to work in teams, how to be a leader, and how to be a good friend. I would like to recognize my peer and good friend Danielle. We were roommates our freshman year, and we’ve been great friends ever since. She has pushed me to be a better person and student, and we’ve shared lots of great memories together.”


Emily Berkompas

Emily will graduate with a master’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, she will work for OHM Advisors in Petoskey, Michigan. Emily says she will miss broomball, Winter Carnival and her friends. When asked if she would like to recognize someone for making a difference while at Michigan Tech, Emily states “The CEE Department is amazing; I have felt so well-supported throughout my time at Tech.


Audra Bialik

Audra is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. This summer she will be a Water Resources Engineering Intern at Westwood Professional Services and will return to Michigan Tech in the fall to pursue her master’s degree in environmental engineering. Audra says she will miss playing ultimate frisbee with Superior Mas and is thankful for the beauty of the Upper Penninsula; specifically the geographic wonders of the Keweenaw. She would like to recognize Dr. Laura Kasson Fiss for always giving her insightful guidance during her experience of her undergrad.


Joshua Bregger

Joshua is graduating with a graduate certificate in geospatial data science as well as a master’s in geology. After graduation, he will begin a summer internship working as the Minerals and Geology Assitant with the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Beyond that, would like to utilize the geospatial knowledge and skills he has gained to research geohazards. Joshua is thankful to Michigan Tech for connecting him with knowledgeable faculty and providing opportunities to connect with potential employers. He would like to thank Greg Waite and Luke Bowman for their advisement and guidance throughout the completion of his degree.


Skylar Callis

Skylar will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and applied mathematics. After graduation, Skylar will participate in the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Dynamic Summer School (LADSS) from June-August and then transition to their post-baccalaureate program. Skylar will miss the sense of community that comes from living in a very snowy landscape far away from everything and is thankful for the opportunity to do research as an undergrad through the enterprise program. Dr. Kelly Steelman and David Olson are two people that Skylar would like to recognize for making a difference while at Michigan Tech. “The most valuable part of my education was not any of the technical skills, but the problem-solving, teamwork, and technical writing that Tech was able to integrate throughout my education.”


Aden Clark

Aden is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will be working as an environmental engineer in Madison, Wisconsin for Tetra Tech. Aden says she will miss the people at Michigan Tech and is thankful for the teachers that are more than just instructors. She would like to recognize Emma Melchiori as someone who made a difference during her time at Michigan Tech.


Katherine Cruickshank

Katherine will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She will be commissioned into the United States Air Force after graduation. Katherine will be heading south after graduation and will miss the winter weather. She is thankful to Michigan Tech for giving her the opportunity to join a tight-knit group of individuals who have become her second family. Katherine says “Shout out to Ally Noles for keeping me sane for the last five years.”


Kelton Czyzio

Kelton is graduating with a master’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will move to Whitefish, Montana to work for Eclipse Engineering. Kelton says he will miss Mont Ripley and is thankful to Michigan Tech for the opportunities to meet a ton of new people and the knowledge he has gained from professors and students. He would like to thank all his professors that have helped him along his journey at Michigan Tech, with special recognition to Dr. Kris Mattila and Dr. Tess Ahlborn.


Kyle Danko

Kyle is graduating with a master’s degree in environmental engineering. He will be working for the consulting firm Wade Trim in Detroit after graduation. Kyle says he will miss many things about Michigan Tech; however, he will most importantly miss the incredible atmosphere around campus. He says he is thankful to Tech for providing the necessary resources and giving him an opportunity to develop, not only as a student but as a budding professional. Kyle would like to thank his advisor Dr. Melanie Kueber Watkins for being an outstanding professor, and even better advisor. – “She let me follow my own path, and helped me achieve my goals every step along the way. Deciding to go to Michigan Tech back in 2016 was the best decision I have ever made, and I’m definitely going to be visiting often! Go Huskies!


Danielle Demorest

Danielle is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. She says she will miss the community at Michigan Tech and is thankful for being pushed past her comfort zone.


Davis Dietel

Davis will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduating, he will be commissioned into the US Air Force. Davis will miss the area the most – “Being able to drive 20 minutes and go for a hike or see a waterfall isn’t something you get to do everywhere.” He says he is thankful for the teachers and all of the great opportunities they provided and the knowledge they gave him.


Chiarra Elkort-Wickboldt

Chiarra is graduating with a master’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will be working for Ford Motor Company. Chiarra says she will miss all the snow-related activities the Houghton area has to offer.


Allyson Fenton

Allyson is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She will work for Westwood Professional Services as a civil engineering intern for the summer and will return to Michigan Tech in the fall to pursue her MS degree in environmental engineering. Allyson says she will miss getting to live in such a beautiful area and doing countless outdoor activities, especially with all the snow we get. She will also miss getting to walk through campus and watch the seasons change. She says she is thankful for all the instructors and professors she has had over the years that truly cared about her learning and taught her everything they could in each class – especially those in the CEGE Department. When asked if she would like to recognize someone for making a difference during her time at Michigan Tech, Allyson says “I would like to congratulate Dr. Vitton on his retirement. I would also like to thank him for sharing his love of soil and rocks with me and guiding me through the world of academia. I would also like to thank Julie Ross for always being able to conceptualize my continually changing interests over the years into viable course plans, allowing me to explore my passions and get the most out of my degree.”


Amanda Freele

Amanda will graduate with a master’s degree in environmental engineering. She will be doing work in consulting after graduation.


Maya Geiselhart

Maya is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will be moving to Minneapolis, MN to work for Barr Engineering as an environmental engineer in their assessment & remediation business unit. May will miss the surrounding nature and the ability to always go hiking/snowshoeing/etc. As a member of the rowing club, she even got to take full advantage of access to the Portage (when it isn’t frozen). Maya is thankful for all of the people who have helped her throughout her college career, from her sorority sisters to other students to a handful of staff/faculty, She states she received a lot of support whenever she needed it and was able to make a community for herself. When asked if she would like to recognize someone who made a difference to her while at Michigan Tech, she states “Dr. Audra Morse significantly impacted me throughout my college career. Through my participation in Built World Enterprise, I spent a lot of time meeting with Dr. Morse and her insights and encouragements have been deeply valuable to me. As ready as I am to graduate, I have really loved my undergrad experience in the CEGE department and will miss many people here!


Ryan Glatz

Ryan will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Ryan will be working for Applied Science, Inc. as one of their staff engineers after graduation. He says he’ll miss being able to walk his dog around campus and all the trails in the area. Ryan says he is thankful for the dedication of the CEGE department and the feeling that professors care about the success of students. He would like to recognize Dr. Melanie Watkins and her instruction on various modeling software as it allowed him to stand out during the interview process and secure employment.


Charlie Gotta

Charlie is graduating with a master’s degree in civil engineering. He will move to Colorado to begin work in structural engineering after graduation. Charlie says he will miss the tight-knit community at Michigan Tech. He says he is thankful for all the opportunities and advancement provided for student development and would like to recognize all of the CEGE department for making a difference while he was at Tech.


Braden Gunderson

Braden will graduate with his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he plans to work. Braden says he will miss the scenery and the town and is thankful to Michigan Tech for getting him outside in a wonderful part of Michigan. He would like to recognize Dr. Kris Mattila as someone who made a difference to him while at Michigan Tech.


Trevor Harrison

Trevor is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He will be working at G2 Consulting as a Staff Engineer after graduation. Trevors says he will miss the friends that he has made in the past 5 years at Tech and the UP outdoors. He says he is thankful to Michigan Tech for giving him the opportunities that he wouldn’t experience anywhere else. When asked if he would like to recognize anyone, he named Dr. Stan Vitton, saying “Dr. Stanley Vitton, great professor and he has given me great pointers that I can see being very helpful in industry.”


Colton Heikkinen

Colton is graduating with a master’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, Colton will be working as a Structural Engineer at Fire Tower Engineered in Calumet, Michigan. He says he will miss the friends that he has made and attending Tech hockey games. Colton says he is thankful to Michigan Tech for giving him a quality education and providing him with multiple different paths for his career. When asked if would like to recognize someone who made a difference during his time at Tech, he says “Dr. Tess Ahlborn made the most difference in my life at Tech. If it wasn’t for her pushing me and challenging me, I never would have discovered that I enjoyed Structural Engineering and it was because of her that I was able to obtain the job I have after graduation.


Jack Hoffman

Jack will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. He says he will hopefully find a good job after graduation. Jack will miss all his friends at St. Al’s, the snow, and the whole Keweenaw and is thankful to Michigan Tech for the rigorous and challenging classes and the professors who make sure they are available to help student’s succeed.


Mack Hull

Mack is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in construction management. He has accepted a job at the company he has always wanted to work for and will begin after graduation. Mack says that he is thankful to Michigan Tech for the chance to meet so many new people from all over the world.


Sean Hurst

Sean will graduate with this master’s degree in Integrated Geospatial Technology. Sean says he will hopefully move to where he has a job once graduating. He says he will miss all the wonderful staff and the outdoor opportunities. Sean is thankful to Tech for giving him more knowledge about the surveying side of GIS and would like to recognize Dr. Eugene Levin as someone who made a difference to him while studying at Michigan Tech.


Samantha Johnson

Samantha is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be pursuing her master’s degree in civil engineering at Michigan Tech. Samantha says she will miss the snow, but will not miss the cold weather that comes with it. She is thankful to Michigan Tech for expanding her mind, not just in the classroom but in her life in general, stating she will be graduating a much more confident, open-minded, and fulfilled person. She says “I would like to thank my other half, Andrew, who has made my college experience all the more memorable and exciting. I would also like to thank my parents, Dalene and Athol, who have supported me and encouraged me to chase my dreams every step of the way.”


Nick Kampfschulte

Nick is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, he plans to pursue a graduate degree while working in the field. Nick says he will certainly not miss the cold but is thankful for the departmental community and would like to recognize Dr. Cory McDonald as someone who made a difference to him while at Michigan Tech.


Shaelyn Koleber

Shaelyn will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will be moving to Cincinnati to work for Stantec as a Water Resources Designer. When asked what she will miss about Michigan Tech she says “There’s a lot to miss about Michigan Tech… but mostly I love the location and the environment it’s in: study breaks on Breakers beach, skiing at Mont Ripley at sunset, watching Isle Royale sea planes take off and land on the portage, and jumping into icy cold Lake Superior. It is such a unique college experience and I will cherish it forever.” Shaelyn says she is thankful that Michigan Tech offers the opportunity for enterprise, saying it has changed her entire outlook on her career and that many schools do not have anything comparable to it. Because of this, it has been a huge talking point on job applications and in interviews because there is so much knowledge and real-world experience gained. Say that thhe program is set up where you have easy access to resources, have the freedom to work with industry, and are able to apply knowledge from classes to something tangible. When asked to recognize someone who has made a difference while at Tech, Shaelyn says “Dr. Roman Sidortsov has been the best mentor for me this last year. The work that he does is admirable, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with him on the KETL team. It is obvious that Dr. Sidortsov cares for his students because he always made time to meet with me even with his hectic schedule. I think he has made such a positive impact on the world (me included) and is one of the most respected individuals on this campus. I am sure Dr. Sidortsov has made an impact on many Huskies, but I wanted to recognize him because he has gone above and beyond to support me this last year. I am excited to stay in contact with him following graduation.


Rachelle Krieger

Rachelle is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She has a job lined up to start after graduation.


Yunxiang Ma

Yunxiang is graduating with PhD in civil engineering. He plans on going into industry for first-hand experience after graduating. Ma says he will miss the peaceful small town of Houghton and all the friendly staff and faculty. He says that he is thankful for Michigan Tech always being thoughtful for everything student’s need – especially IPS. He would like to recognize every staff and faculty that helped him during his time at Michigan Tech – “All thoughtful and warm hearted.


Kate Mahonen

Kate will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will be moving to Minneapolis to work at Bolton and Menk on municipal water and wastewater treatment projects. Kate says she will miss Winter Carnival the most “Campus comes together to work on snow statues, spend time on campus and enjoy being a tech student!” She says she is thankful for to Michigan Tech because she never though that she would be able to graduate with an engineering degree. “The faculty and fellow students helped me get to where I am today. I could not have asked for a better college experience.


Derek Mahoski

Derek is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will begin working at Coleman Engineering. Derek says he will miss the city of Houghton and is thankful to Michigan Tech for giving him a great education.


Isabel Manson

Isabel will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. She will be taking the summer off to travel and re-charge while she applies for jobs all over. Isabel says “I’ll sorely miss having the Keweenaw as my playground. This place is magic. I’m thankful to Michigan Tech for supporting adaptive and capable women like myself. To all my friends who know who they are, I love you!


Rachel May

Rachel is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, she plans to work full-time at Barton Marlow while also pursuing her MS in civil engineering. Rachel says she will most miss interacting with students and faculty. She says she is thankful to the Michigan Tech faculty, saying she has learned a lot throughout her four years and it was all due to the wonderful professors she had. Rachel would like to recognize Dr. Ahlborn for helping her figure out how to pursue her MS and also exciting her to enter the Civil Engineering Field. “I am grateful to have been able to obtain my BS from Michigan Tech! I could not have imagined going anywhere else!


Sydney Mukavetz

Sydney is graduating with a master’s degree in civil engineering. She will move to Colorado to begin work with RS&H after graduation. Sydney says she will miss the natural beauty of the campus and the Keweenaw and is thankful for the opportunities that Michigan Tech was able to open up for her, whether in her professional life or her social life.


Sabrina Nystrom

Sabrina is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She will be joining Delta Airport Consultants through their Launch Program after graduation. Sabrina says she will miss how close the Tech community is as well as living with the same bunches of people and growing up with them for four years. She says she is thankful for “How lively a bunch of mentally and physically tired a bunch of nerds can be over hockey and snow. I would like to recognize many people, but especially those that helped me through troubled waters. Starting with professors, Dr. Mattila and Dr. Hein. Your support did wonders for my confidence. Following them, my dear friends Josh, Jonah, Ian, the ‘Rumpets, and Huskies Pep Band. Thank you all. We certainly are crazy smart. Crazy comma smart.


Clinton Ottman

Clinton will graduate with his master’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, he will work in industry for at least a few years and then possibly go back to school to get his PhD, if that is the right decision for him to do. Clinton says he will miss the sense of community that MTU has between its students, faculty, and staff. He is thankful for the type of education he received at MTU. “The classes pushed me to think outside of what I previously knew and challenged me which will make me a better engineer – “I would like to recognize all of the faculty and staff that I had the pleasure of working with and receiving instruction and advice from during my time at MTU. I would especially like to recognize the three amazing people I got the opportunity to work with through my two on-campus jobs: Dr. Audra Morse, Julie Ross, and Dr. Gretchen Hein.


Bailey Papes

Bailey is graduating with a master’s degree in environmental engineering. She has accepted a water and wastewater engineer position with Fishbeck in Grand Rapids, Michigan that she will start after graduation. Bailey says she thinks living in Houghton is what she will miss the most as it is a beautiful area. She is thankful for all the research opportunities she was able to be a part of.


John Paramski

John will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He will begin his career as a civil engineer after graduation. John says he will miss the Football Boys and is thankful to Michigan Tech for teaching him that $2 Miller High-Life is never worth it. He would like to recognize Gordon L. Marcinak as someone who made a difference to him while at Michigan Tech.


Ben Passolt

Ben is graduating with a bachelor’s in civil engineering. After graduation, he will work for Westwood Professional Services in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Ben says he will miss morning shakeout runs on Maasto. He is thankful to Michigan Tech for providing lots of opportunity to prepare him for industry and would like to recognize Dr. Kris Mattila and Dr. Stan Vitton for teaching him “more than a degree’s worth of wisdom.”


Maggie Peterson

Maggie will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She will further her education at Michigan Tech in the MBA program and then pursue a career in civil engineering after graduation. Maggie says she will miss the community and the people.


Brock Petrak

Brock is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He will work as a structural or marine engineer after graduation. Brock says he will miss the snow, Mont Ripley and the Portage Lake Golf Course.


Spencer Plummer

Spencer will graduate with a bachelor’s in surveying engineering. After graduation, he will begin working for MDOT in Saginaw, Michigan. Spencer says he will miss all of the friends he has made over the years and is thankful to Michigan Tech for giving him the chance to become the best person he can be. Spencer says “I would like to recognize Joseph Foster for being a great mentor, and also Trevor Maizland, Kaden Arsenault, and the rest of my Brothers at Sigma Rho for being my support these past five years.


Erik Puskala

Erik is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He will be working for Cleveland Cliffs in Minnesota for the summer but will be back on campus in the fall to pursue his MBA. Erik says he is thankful for all the free learning centers that helped him a lot as a first and second-year student.


Maddie Reitz

Maddie is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She will attend graduate school to broaden her knowledge base after graduation. Maddy will miss the husky spirit, the memories made at MUB events, and most of all the people she has met while at Tech, both professors and peers. She is incredibly grateful for not only the connections she has made while here but the lessons learned about overcoming hardship and perseverance. When asked if she would like to recognize someone who made a difference during her time at Tech, Maddie says “This list would be a mile long but if I had to choose just one, it would be Jessie Stapleton. I’ve learned a lot through my coursework at Michigan Tech, but even more than that, I’ve gained a plethora of professional skills. Most of those were from Jessie. She’s taught me not only how to manage conflict, but how to have hard conversations, manage a team, delegate, and rekindle my passion for an organization. Her dedication to MUB Board continues to inspire me every day. We are certainly lucky to have her.”


Brian Rivers

Brian will graduate with his master’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, he plans a bike tour and will return to Peru. Brian says he will miss Write-D and is thankful to Michigan Tech for the very helpful faculty and staff – “I certainly wouldn’t have been able to complete my report without the numerous, generous, and enthusiastic donations of time, assistance, and patience. Dr. David Watkins for being an exemplary advisor and challenging me to push my academic boundaries. Dr. Barkdoll and Dr. Webster for being outstanding professors and reviewing my research. Christian Sheja, Hunter King, and Kenny Larsen for their friendship and support. Rob Fritz and Tom Polkinghorn for their help throughout my research Bailey Papes for letting me vent all my Peace Corps stories and gladly helping with any academic question. Jessica Daignault for setting me up for success in my second year Dr. Audra Morse for offering me many co-curricular opportunities The Write-D CEGE group! Shelle and Angela for opening my office door countless times Keweenaw Running Group and Red Jacket Cycling Club for keeping me sane (and fit).


Autumn Sanford

Autumn is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. She has been accepted as a full-time Application Engineer with Voith Meri Environmental Solutions and will start after graduation. Autumn will miss being five minutes away from her friends at Tech and is thankful that she met so many wonderful people. Autumns ask for Tech to “Please expand the vegan food provided at MTU and promote reducing the consumption of animal products for MTU’s current and future students health and Planet.”


Zach Servinski

Zach will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He will go to work after graduation and will miss the people at Michigan Tech.


Darud Sheefa

Sheefa will graduate with a PhD in civil engineering with a water resources emphasis. After graduation, she will join Wood, Dallas office as a Technical Professional 3. Sheefa says she ill miss all the friendly faces, her office in Dow, the husky statue, snowy weather, and the beautiful summer. She is thankful to Michigan Tech for providing her a friendly environment and sufficient support and guidance throughout her PhD journey. When asked if she would like to recognize someone who has made a difference to her at Tech, Sheefa says “I would like to especially thank my advisor Dr. Brian Barkdoll. He was always a guardian to me in this foreign land. He never pushed me for anything rather he always inspired and appreciated me in such a way that I, myself felt the urge to finish my work on time. He regularly used to ask about my family and personal life which made me feel at home all the time.


Preston Smith

Preston is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in construction management. He will be a USAF Air Battle Manager at Tyndall AFB after graduation. Preston says he will miss being part of the fishing club and fly fishing all the rivers and streams in the area. He says he is thankful for the outdoor opportunities and adventures Michigan Tech provided. “This school taught me great lessons in perseverance, determination, and working towards your goals.


Jacob Stewart

Jacob is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be working full-time at Spicer Group out of Saginaw, MI while working towards his master’s degree. Jacob says he will miss the beauty of the landscape of the Keweenaw. He is thankful to Michigan Tech for the rigorous classes that prove that real-world work is not nearly as stressful and would like to recognize Dr. Kris Mattila as someone who made ad difference to him during his time at Tech.


Taylor Stewart

Taylor is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduating, he plans to join Canadian Pacific Railway as a Civil Engineer-in-Training. Taylor says he will miss the great friends at Tech, saying “It’s home to many memories. I hope that as we all move away, we can stay connected. Thank you to my parents and grandparents who were always there to talk with and support me throughout my education. Thank you to all the people who made the past four years not only rewarding but enjoyable.


Chloe Strach

Chloe will graduate with a bachelor’s in environmental engineering. She will begin working for Spicer Group after graduation. Chloe says she will miss the Tech trails once she leaves Michigan Tech.


Maddy Tata

Maddy is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be moving downstate to start her job with ITC. Maddy says she will really miss all of the amazing activities the Keweenaw has to offer and is thankful for all the wonderful people she has met throughout her time at Michigan Tech.


Jemel Thompson

Jemel will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. He will miss the supportive community that he was able to find at Michigan Tech and is thankful for all the leadership development and opportunities he was able to participate in, the ability to strengthen his value of community, and making an engineer out of a music major. Jemel would like to recognize Rachel Jones, Alexandra Marshall, and Susan Liebau for people who made difference to him while at Michigan Tech.


Lucinda Toppen

Lucy will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. She will pursue her PhD in environmental engineering at the University of Vermont after graduation. Lucy will miss “the access to the outdoors. Being able to ski two spots in the same day is incredible. Mont Ripley has been an awesome way to make friends and get outside during the cold and school work heavy winter months. All of the waterfalls and mine ruins offer a rich and dense natural areas that are so unique to the Keweenaw. Exploring the Keweenaw with my friends are some of my most cherished memories of my time at Tech.”

Something she is thankful for is the wonderful faculty and staff that are always willing to help students achieve their academic and professional goals. She was able to pursue two undergraduate research projects and was even fortunate enough to work with a team that published an academic paper during her Junior year, setting her up for the future work she intends to do. “Dr. Audra Morse was the first professor I sat down to talk with my Senior year of high school on my first visit to Michigan Tech. A year later she became my enterprise advisor and mentor. Working with her as my enterprise advisor and department chair has been inspiring and has allowed me to develop project skills I would not have otherwise.


Isabel Valencia

Isabel is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. She will continue on for her accelerated master’s at Tech in the fall. Isabel is thankful to Michigan Tech for preparing her for future opportunities in her field and providing great opportunities in her classes and extracurricular activities.


Jordan Wheeler

Jordan will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He will move to start his career at Northfolk Southern after graduation. Jordan says he will miss his friends and is thankful for the Rail Transportation Program for offering a unique set of courses.


Dean Wozniak

Dean is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be working for the city of Ann Arbor over the summer and potentially returning to Michigan Tech in the fall to pursue his accelerated master’s degree in civil engineering. Dean says of his time at Michigan Tech “The sense of community is greater here than any other place I have lived. I’ll also miss the fall colors, rock picking, and the ability to go skiing whenever I have the time. I’m thankful that I’ve gotten the chance to learn from some amazing and extremely smart professors. They have gone above and beyond to provide the support I needed to succeed! I would like to recognize the professors who have gone out of their way to help me with the day-to-day struggles of the past few years. These professors cultivated a classroom environment that was warm, welcoming, and where I wasn’t afraid to ask questions or make mistakes. Those individuals are Dr. Melanie Kueber-Watkins, Dr. John Gierke, Dr. Kris Mattila, and Dr. Gretchen Hein.


Graduates Not Pictured Above

BS in Civil Engineering

Casey Abel

Trent Bell

Stephanie Bobo

Zach Bormet

Jason Cinader

Luciano Cistaro

Lauren Cole

Corey Curtis

Grant Freudenstein

Drew Heinonen

Wade Impola

Jacob Johns

Stephen McGregor

Travis Meyette

Mary Ollis

Greg Porcaro

Morgan Raley

Stanton Schmitz

Brandon Schultz

Marc Shean

Jake Tallon

Brendan Varga

Andrew Vega

Rayanne Williams

Nathan Willour

Casey Wioskowski

Victor Yousof

BS in Construction Management

Wyatt Bisballe

Corey Cotey

Jack Lacy

Chase Noykos

Brad Rievert

BS in Environmental Engineering

Katie Adair

Michelle Bollini

Rachel Fuller

Jenna Kivela-Heinz

Skyler Kruger

Max McGuire

Nicole Mielcarek

Ally Noles

Nick Portwine

Joseph Primeau

Evan Rye

Madison Seymour

Lily Sparks

Travis Yell

BS in Geospatial Engineering

Connor Welling

MS in Civil Engineering

Cooper Ryan

Michael Turner

Alex Weitermann

MS in Environmental Engineering

Benjamin Mohrhardt

MS in Integrated Geospatial Technology

John Lutchko

Andrew Jolman

Samuel Shumaker

PhD in Civil Engineering

Behnam Azmoon

Reihaneh Samsami

Jakob Christiansen Wins Two-Minute Pitch

MTU Teams Win at CMU’s New Venture Challenge

Central Michigan University (CMU) and Michigan Tech collaborate each year to offer Michigan Tech students a chance to compete in CMU’s New Venture Challenge (NVC). This showcase event provides an opportunity for students at both universities to present their businesses and network with prospective investors, mentors and partners. Student participants also compete for a total of $60,000 in prizes and in-kind services.

On Friday (April 22, 2022), four Michigan Tech teams pitched their ideas and businesses in person on CMU’s campus in Mount Pleasant. Husky Innovate team members Jim Baker (associate vice president, research administration and Husky Innovate co-director) and Lisa Casper (Husky Innovate program manager) attended to support teams and strengthen innovation/entrepreneurship connections.

Students had an opportunity to compete in either the two-minute pitch competition or the seven-minute business model competition, as well as a gallery competition where teams had tables with individual displays and took questions from attendees.

In preparing for the NVC, the students participated in a number of Husky Innovate workshops and review sessions. The students also benefited from resources and expertise available within MTEC SmartZone, the local state-funded technology business incubator, and the Upper Peninsula Regional Small Business Development Center, which is hosted by the Office of Innovation and Commercialization in collaboration with the College of Business. The results below speak to the tireless efforts of our students and the impact of the programs provided by Husky Innovate and its partners.

NVC award winners are as follows:

Two-Minute Pitch Competition

  • Jakob Christiansen (construction management) won first place and received $4,000. Christiansen pitched “ProBoard,” an e-commerce platform to solve issues in the construction material supply chain.

Seven-Minute Pitch Competition

  • Bayle Golden (engineering management) won first place in the Social Mission category and received $10,000. Golden pitched “SafeRow,” an innovative wearable device designed to keep children safe when every second counts.
  • Rourke Sylvain and Ali Dabas (both biomedical engineering) won second place in the High Tech High Growth category, receiving $5,000. Their pitch was “imi (integrated molecular innovations),” an electrochemical biosensor for T4 detection.
  • Jordan Craven (management information systems, minoring in computer science) won third place in the High Tech High Growth category and received $2,000. Craven pitched “Tall and Small Designs,” a technology company that provides software as a service to retailers who sell clothes online.

Congratulations to our Husky Innovate student teams for all their hard work! We are proud of your grit during the last week of the semester. Your ideas are innovative and have the potential to change the world.

Thanks go out to our distributed team of mentors and our sponsors (Pavlis Honors College, Office of Innovation and Commercialization, College of Business, College of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Civil Engineering) for their commitment to our students. We also thank CMU and especially Julie Messing, director of the Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship, for the collaboration and congenial hospitality.

By Husky Innovate, Pavlis Honors College.

Student Leadership Awards Nominees and Winners from CEGE

The 28th Annual Student Leadership Awards ceremony was held on Friday, April 15, 2022. Surveying Engineering alumnus Jacob Heck was the keynote speaker. The Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial is proud of its many nominees and would like to congratulate them as well as the pair of awardees – Jemel Thompson – Dean of Students Award for Possibilities and alumnus Jacob Heck (’10 Surveying Engineering) for the Outstanding Young Alumni Award (to be formally announced at the 2022 Alumni Reunion).

Jemel Thompson
Jemel Thompson

Dean of Students Award for Possibilities

The Dean of Students Award for Possibilities recognizes a student that embodies our possibilities value statement: “We inspire the exploration and creation of all possibilities through innovative use of our skills and knowledge.”

Jemel Thompson

When Jemel Thompson arrived on campus, he struggled to see himself in anything at Tech, so he decided to forge the community he sought on his own. This was the inspiration to revive the Society of African American Men (SAAM) with the help of his fellow brothers. Jemel went on to become the first Minister of Direction (President) of the organization since its reinstatement providing resources and support for men of color on campus.

As one of his nominators shared, “Throughout his career at Michigan Tech, Jemel has continued to try new things, take chances, and engage meaningfully with everyone he meets. He has engaged with a wide variety of Tech experiences from working in curriculum development with Residence Education, re-establishing the Society of African American Men on campus, attending and on-site coordinating for the LeaderShape Institute, volunteering with the Tech Traditions committee, serving as a Husky Connect Mentor with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and a variety of other involvements in between. In each of these experiences, Jemel unabashedly asks everyone ‘why’ and ‘how can we improve.’ To him nothing is stagnant and it has pushed me and our Michigan Tech community forward.”

CEGE Award Nominees

  • Rising Star of the Year – Arika Booms
  • Student Employee of the Year – Chiarra Elkort-Wickboldt
  • Student Organization Advisor of the Year – Lynn Artman
  • Exceptional Enthusiasm as a Student Leader – Maddie Reitz
  • Outstanding Future Alumni Award – Stanton Schmitz
  • Percy Julian Award – Jemel Thompson
  • Provost’s Award for Scholarship – Thomas Pastell
  • President’s Award for Leadership – Jemel Thompson

BWE Team Places at WERC Environmental Competition

A group of three undergraduate environmental engineering students from Built World Enterprise (BWE) — Francine Rosinski, Jake McDowell and Morgan Hallberg — competed in the 32nd annual Waste Management Education Research Consortium (WERC) Design Contest. For WERC, they had to prepare a written report, oral presentation, poster presentation and bench scale demonstration. At the competition, they placed first overall in their task for the bench scale demonstration, second overall in their task, and second for the flash talk presentation.

Morgan Hallberg, Jake McDowell, and Francine Rosinski
Morgan Hallberg, Jake McDowell, and Francine Rosinski

Task 3: Value-added Use of Copper Smelter Slag

They focused their research experiment on value-added copper smelting slag use. They were asked to recover an economically valuable material from the copper slag and/or produce a useful product from copper smelting slag that makes use of its unique properties. In the theoretical business plan, the team extracted the high content of iron from the copper slag and used the remaining material to replace sand with copper slag in ceramic tiles. This, overall, increased the sustainability and strength of ceramic tiles.

Way to represent Michigan Technological University, BWE WERC team!

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for Tyler LeMahieu

Two Michigan Tech graduate students, Tessa Steenwinkel and Tyler LeMahieu, have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships, and one undergraduate student, Jenna Brewer, has been given an honorable mention.

The oldest STEM-related fellowship program in the United States, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is a prestigious award that recognizes exceptional graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines early in their career and supports them through graduate education. NSF-GRFP fellows are an exceptional group; 42 fellows have become Nobel Laureates and about 450 fellows are members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The fellowship provides three years of financial support, including a $34,000 stipend for each fellow and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for the fellow’s institution. Besides financial support for fellows, the GRFP provides opportunities for research in national laboratories and international research.

The Graduate School is proud of these students for their outstanding scholarship. These awards highlight the quality of students at Michigan Tech, the innovative work they have accomplished, the potential for leadership and impact in science and engineering that the country recognizes in these students and the incredible role that faculty play in students’ academic success.

Tyler LeMahieu

LeMahieu is an environmental engineering MS student under advisor Cory McDonald. LeMahieu’s proposal was titled, “Understanding Wild Rice Site Suitability in a Changing Climate.”

LeMahieu writes: “I plan to dedicate my career to bridging gaps between the scientific body and land managers. I would like to manage public and rural lands for the farmer, the logger and the hunter while managing those same lands for improved water and ecological health into perpetuity. Because fundamentally, rural land managers have the same goal in mind as those studying the environment — a useful, productive and sound ecosystem which will support and be supported by the next generation. That common ground is not always evident to both parties, but I am equipped to act as an intermediary with a foot in both worlds.”

By the Graduate School.

A Graduate Internship Experience

Bailey Papes, Environmental Engineering MS student.

Living next to the world’s largest freshwater lake, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is as fortunate. 

Bailey Papes, a master’s student in Environmental Engineering, is completing a research project that started in summer 2021 through an internship at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility (BGNDRF) in Alamogordo, NM. The facility focuses on pilot-scale testing of innovative water treatment processes for the desalination of brackish and impaired groundwater. During the internship, Bailey conducted her own research project focusing on the removal of per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from brackish groundwater using different types of biochar produced from halophytes and cow bone. Biochar may be a sustainable alternative to powdered activated carbon (PAC) or granular activated carbon (GAC) for PFAS adsorption from aqueous solutions. The results of the experiments showed that PFAS do adsorb to biochars. However, compared to PAC, approximately ten times more biochar must be added to water to effectively remove PFAS, and a cost-benefit analysis is needed to determine if biochar is an economically viable option for PFAS adsorption.

The internship at BGNDRF exposed Bailey to a wide range of drinking water treatment technologies and gave her experience addressing PFAS contamination, which is a growing concern throughout the world. It also opened her eyes to how serious water scarcity issues are within the U.S.  Prior to attending Michigan Tech, Bailey earned her undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from Western Michigan University. Subsequently, she served in the Peace Corps as an education volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa, where she taught chemistry, biology, and physics at the local high school. During her service, the well in her community dried up, and Bailey was forced to send a motorcycle five miles away to fetch drinking water. After experiencing water scarcity firsthand, she decided to pursue her master’s in environmental engineering. In addition to completing an internship at BGNDRF during her M.S. studies, Bailey worked with Dr. David Watkins to develop models of the wastewater collection systems in Houghton-Hancock that can be used in conjunction with SARS-CoV-2 concentrations to describe COVID-19 dynamics in these communities. She also is conducting research in the laboratory of Dr. Rebecca Ong (Chemical Engineering), and is completing graduate certificates in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Engineering Sustainability and Resilience. Dr. Jennifer Becker is Bailey’s graduate advisor. Upon graduation, Bailey will work for a water and wastewater engineering consulting firm to help ensure that everyone has access to clean and safe drinking water. 

Kim Nowack ’85 Named Woman of the Year

Kim Nowack
Kim Nowack

Mackinac Bridge Director Kim Nowack ’85 (civil engineering) has been named Woman of the Year by the Michigan Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS).

According to a press release from the Michigan Department of Transportation, the award was presented to Nowack during the WTS Michigan Chapter’s 2022 Scholarship and Recognition Awards Banquet March 10 in Howell. It “honors a woman who is an outstanding role model and has contributed to the advancement of women and minorities in transportation.”

“I have admired Kim Nowack for her professionalism, her technical knowledge, her leadership, and commitment to share her knowledge with future generations about careers in engineering,” said WTS member and past Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) member Barbara Arens, who assisted with Nowack’s nomination. “She is a humble and admirable leader, representing women and our industry well as the executive secretary of the MBA and our iconic bridge. The WTS Michigan Chapter is proud to honor her as WTS Michigan Chapter Woman of the Year.”

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Zhanping You is an Exceptional Graduate Mentor

Zhanping You
Zhanping You

This year’s awardees for the Graduate Student Government (GSG) Merit Awards have been decided. A total of 37 nominations were received from departments all across campus. The decision process was not an easy one, as there was a very strong pool of nominations this year. We are very grateful to all of our nominees for all of the work they put in to improve and enrich the life of our graduate students.

In the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, Zhanping You, Distinguished Professor, Transportation Engineering, was awarded Exceptional Graduate Mentor.

Congratulations to all winners and thank you for all you have done for our graduate students.

By Graduate Student Government.

Ride the Waves Program Receives $40K Grant

Teachers and Group Leaders

Michigan Tech’s Ride the Waves Program invites Grades 4-12 students to join scientists from Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center in the exploration of Lake Superior, Portage Waterway, and Torch Lake. Programs are led by the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach staff and MTU students and funded by General Motors Foundation. There are three programs available for 2022:

  1. Aquatic Food Web Investigation (Portage Waterway)
  2. Mine Waste Remediation and Torch Lake Restoration
  3. Keweenaw Geoheritage (Jacobsville and White City)

Ride the Waves Sign Up 2022

About Ride the Waves

Michigan Tech’s Ride the Waves program, coordinated by the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, will receive a $40,000 two-year grant from General Motors to conduct Great Lakes education aboard the research vessel Agassiz.

The Center has received funding from GM for the program since 2016 with the assistance of Marty Auer, professor emeritus in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

The purpose of the funding is to put rural and underserved youth “on the water” to learn about STEM careers related to the Great Lakes, inland waters, environmental stewardship and sustainability. This will be accomplished through scientific excursions aboard MTU’s research vessel Agassiz paired with laboratory investigations led by Michigan Tech scientists and graduate students.

Since 2016, Ride the Waves with GM has served nearly 3,000 participants, delivering a variety of programs. Attention to inclusion and diversity has been a high priority, and the program has provided opportunities for Keweenaw Bay Indian Community youth and Michigan Tech’s Women in Engineering Program and Muslim Students Association, along with students from Detroit and Flint high schools, to learn how scientists assess the health of the Great Lakes.

For more information, contact Joan Chadde, director of the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, at jchadde@mtu.edu or visit the Great Lakes Research Center website.

By Joan Chadde, Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

Listen to the interviews with Joan Chadde on the Keweenaw Report.