Rail Transportation Program Announces Scholarship Winners

The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program is pleased to announce the winners of our annual scholarship program! This year our scholarship committee chose four winners from a pool of eight applications.

  • Nigel Soler and Matthew Switzer received $1,500 scholarships from our Michigan Tech Alumni and Friends program.
  • Stanton Schmitz and Alexander Lehnert will receive $1,500 scholarships from our CN Endowment Fund.

Congratulations to all of our winners! You can find more information about these students and our previous winners at our website.

By David Nelson, Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

12th Annual Sustainability Film & Facilitated Discussion Series kicks off this week

The 12th Annual Sustainability Film & Facilitated Discussion Series kicks off this week with a discussion of Chasing Coral, a 2017 film release, that examines how coral is vanishing around the world at an alarming rate. Between 2014 – 2017, Chasing Coral captured the most severe bleaching event in recorded history. During these years, 75% of corals suffered or died from heat stress brought on by climate change. It is predicted that if nothing changes, by 2034 there will be severe bleaching events every year, and by the end of the century, every reef in the world will bleach. (88 min.) The film is available on Netflix and YouTube (free).

The public is invited to participate in a free online facilitated discussion from 7:00-8:00 pm, Thursday, January 27, led by Casey Huckins, Professor, MTU Department of Biological Sciences, Great Lakes Research Center.

A $5 suggested donation per film to support the Sustainability Film Series is appreciated. Make donations online. Register HERE to receive the FREE zoom link to participate in the facilitated discussion on January 27th or request the link from Joan Chadde: jchadde@mtu.edu

The Sustainability Film & Facilitated Discussion Series is co-sponsored by Friends of the Land of Keweenaw, Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, College of Forest Resources & Environmental Science, Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, MTU Sustainability Demonstration House, Keweenaw Land Trust, and Dept. of Social Sciences Sustainability Sciences Program.

See the complete set of events for January-May 2022 here.

2022 Sustainability Film & Facilitated Discussion Series ~ SCHEDULE

Chasing Coral (2021) JAN 27 Netflix and YouTube
Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an alarming rate. Between 2014 – 2017, Chasing Coral captured the most severe bleaching event in recorded history. During these years, 75% of corals suffered or died from heat stress brought on by climate change. It is predicted that if nothing changes, by 2034 there will be severe bleaching events every year, and by the end of the century every reef in the world will bleach. (88 min) Discussion Facilitator: Dr. Casey Huckins, MTU Dept of Biological Sci.

Fauci (2021) FEB 17 Link provided for 1-week.
This National Geographic documentary chronicles the life of Dr. Anthony Fauci, world-renowned infectious disease specialist and the longest-serving public health leader in Wash. D.C. He has overseen the U.S. response to 40 years of outbreaks from HIV/AIDS, to SARS and Ebola. (104 mins)
Discussion Facilitator: Dr. Terry Kinzel, Gerontology & Internal Medicine

Pumped Dry: The Global Crisis of Vanishing Groundwater (2021) MARCH 17 YouTube
Much of the planet relies on groundwater. From the U.S. to Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America – so much water is pumped from the ground that aquifers are being rapidly depleted and wells are going dry. The film investigates the consequences of this emerging crisis in several of the world’s hotspots of groundwater depletion. These are stories about people on four continents confronting questions of how to safeguard their aquifers for the future – and in some cases, how to cope as the water runs out. (64 min)
Discussion Facilitator: Dr. John Gierke, Dept. of Geological and Mining Engineering & Science

OWN the Land. (2021) APRIL 21 YouTube
How the residents of North Memphis work with local government to turn their neighborhoods into a healthy and livable place. Solutions to low income neighborhood homes in disrepair, food deserts & urban farming; community empowerment. (46 min.)
Discussion Facilitator – Memphis & Shelby County Community Redevelopment Agency

The Ants & The Grasshopper: How do you change someone’s mind about the most important thing in the world? (2021) MAY 19 1-week link provided
What do we owe each other in the face of an existential crisis like the climate emergency? That’s the question at the heart of this documentary exploring how power and privilege shape climate justice and food justice from Africa to America – and how we might move forward together. (74 min.) Discussion Facilitator: Dr. Sarah Green, Interim Chair, Dept. of Chemistry (invited)

Questions? Contact Joan Chadde: jchadde@mtu.edu

Online Structural MSCE Graduates it’s First Student

The Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering is honored to congratulate Hoss Yaqoub for being our first online MSCE graduate.  Hoss is graduating with his online MSCE in the area of Structural Engineering and will continue on to obtain his Ph.D. from Michigan Tech.  

From Hoss – “My name is Hoss Yaqoub. I earned my BSc in Civil Engineering from the University of Alexandria in 1995. Throughout the last 25 years, I worked in five international enterprises in four different countries which paved the way to shape my career and provided me with comprehensive experience. I conducted several front‐end engineering reviews, in addition, I gave technical support to the management which led, in most cases, to significant savings. Proudly, I had the chance to prepare the construction work design packages for several projects which in turns, strengthened my technical abilities superimposed by refining  my engineering capabilities. Currently, I’m working as an engineering facilitator in Calgary, Canada.

In these hard times due to COVID, a lot of effort was conducted mutually with a lot of Jogging, reading, classical music and boxing in my free time that lead my desire to get better opportunities to enhance my technical capabilities and scientific bases. This was the major lead to graduate from the MSCE online program in structural engineering in Fall 2021. With great passion, I was able to complete the program in two years. The program sets my eagerness to explore new aspects of structural design and civil engineering. It gave me the opportunity to gain and improve some skills and increased my consciousness about engineering in general. 

Now I do have the momentum to take one step forward, I’m planning to join the Ph.D. program at MTU to achieve more in-depth exploration for my favorite science of civil engineering.

Congratulations to the Fall 2021 Graduates

The Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering would like to congratulate our fall 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.

Presenting our fall 2021 graduates:


Cole Arntsen

Cole will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He will continue with his education by pursuing an MS in civil engineering at Michigan Tech. Cole will miss the beautiful fall colors of the surrounding Houghton County. He is thankful to Michigan Tech for the family environment that surrounds the student body and how welcoming and willing to help everyone is. Cole would like to recognize Dr. Kris Mattila for making a difference to him while at Tech.


Trent Ballor

Trent is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will pursue a career in Transportation Engineering at the Michigan Department of Transportation. Trent will miss all of the friends he has made while at Michigan Tech and also the beautiful area. He is thankful to Tech for providing him with an excellent education to equip him for his career. Trent would like to recognize his family and friends that have supported him throughout his college career.


Sarah Barry

Sarah will graduate with a bachelor’s in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will travel to Iceland as part of the Green Program to learn about sustainable solutions which can be applied to environmental engineering and complete her capstone project. Afterward, she will continue her career development by taking the FE exam. Sarah will miss all the great friends and activities at Michigan Tech and the beautiful area we have here in the Keweenaw. She will also miss Tech hockey because she enjoyed going to all the games to support the Huskies! Sarah is thankful for the hands-on experience through labs and continuous educational support offered at Michigan Tech by the faculty and students. She would like to recognize her parents that have supported her throughout her education and would not have succeeded without their encouragement.


Everhett Biland

Everhett is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will begin a full-time position as a Project Engineer with Swinerton Builders in Denver, CO. He will also start his service in the Wyoming Army National Guard as an Engineer Officer, and will be pursuing an online master’s degree in structural engineering through Michigan Tech. Everhett says he will miss the spontaneous adventures in the Keweenaw, Michigan Tech’s awesome Army ROTC program, and the great bars downtown. He is thankful for all the friends he made, the professors in the CEGE Department who challenged him every day, and the semi-annual career fairs that opened up a lot of career opportunities. When asked if he would like to recognize someone who has made a difference to him at Tech, he says “Dr. Tess Ahlborn for being a phenomenal professor and opening my eyes to pursuing my education and MAJ Daniel Gwosch for encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone.


Trevor Brandt

Trevor will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Trevor will begin his career at Soils & Structures as a Geotechnical EIT after graduation. He says he will miss attending hockey games with his friends and is thankful to Michigan Tech for all the opportunities he was given to pursue his different interests, both academically and otherwise. Trevor would like to recognize Chris Wojick who was his enterprise advisor for several semesters and helped him start thinking about problems more thoroughly.


Katelyn Burch

Katelyn is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She will be moving to Colorado Springs to work for GE Johnson as a project engineer for their earthworks department after graduation. Katelyn says she will miss the broomball season at Tech – “It was a large part of my life here from my 2nd year onward and the memories that I made from it with being out shoveling rinks during a blizzard, to being able to be a part of ball drop a few times, and the many friends I made, it is something that I’ll truly miss.” She says she is thankful for all the opportunities she has had at Tech with being able to grow as a leader and work with people in the community, she has learned so much from her time here and the lessons are invaluable.


Josh Cain

Josh will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he intends to return home to Traverse City and work for one of the engineering firms he was able to connect with there. Josh is thankful for the amazing education he received at Michigan Tech and is confident the skills he learned here will help him succeed in his career.


Jay Czerniak

Jay Czerniak
Jay is the student speaker for the fall 2021 commencement

Jay is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He plans to return to Tech to pursue an MBA and will work full-time as a Project Manager in the summer with Miron Construction. Jay will miss the community and comradery between students- in particular, the student community at St. Al’s. He is thankful to Tech for giving him the understanding that sometimes you have to work for anything that is worth getting. Jay says “I would like to thank Dr. Mattila. He was instrumental in my perseverance in completing my studies and helped me to believe in my own skills. I would also thank Fr. Ben Hasse, who helped me through a few tough patches and helped me meet some of my best friends.


Jessica Daignault

Jessica is graduating with a Ph.D. in civil engineering. She is currently at Montana Technological University as a faculty member in the Civil Engineering Department and is also doing consulting work for OHM Advisors part-time. Jessica says she will miss the proximity to pure and endless natural beauty, saying “the Keweenaw is such a special place to call home.” Jessica states “Michigan Tech has played a fundamental role in my life story from high school through graduate school. The connections made and opportunities presented have paved the way to a vibrant career, and I will be forever thankful for that! I’d like to recognize the faculty members who instructed me as an undergraduate student and continued to mentor me when I returned to MTU for graduate school. It was such a special experience to reconnect with so many of you!


Spencer Davis

Spencer will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. He has accepted a full-time job for a consulting firm in Milwaukee focusing on wastewater treatment. Spencer says he will miss the close proximity to so many great natural places and beautiful things to see. He says he is thankful to Michigan Tech for all the opportunities and support for obtaining the technical skills and developing a professional background to pursue a career in the field of his choice. Also for the amazing friends and people he has had the opportunity to meet.


David Disney

David is graduating with a bachelor’s in environmental engineering. After graduation, he plans on doing consulting work. David says he will miss the unique student culture and at Michigan Tech and is thankful for Tech keeping the sidewalks clear in the winter. He would like to recognize the great staff and professors in the Environmental Engineering Department.


Camila Dul

Camila is graduating with a master’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will be working for OHM Advisors as an Engineer for the Environmental Water Resources Group. Camila says she will miss the views from campus and is thankful for how welcoming everyone is on campus and the amount of encouragement she received from her professors.


John Dunleavy

John will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in construction management. He will pursue a career in the construction field after graduation. John will miss snowmobiling with his friends and is thankful for the opportunities experienced with the friends he has made while at Tech.


Mason Dyke

Mason is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be working at Fleis and Vandenbrink in Grand Rapids and as an Army National Guard Engineering Officer. Mason will miss the skiing and mountain biking at Michigan Tech. He would like to recognize Jonathan Fox as someone who made a difference to him during his time at Tech.


Conor Flaherty

Connor will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in construction management. He plans to work after graduation.


David Goldfarb

David will graduate with his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduating, he will move to Colorado to work with HDR. David says he will miss all the beauty he is surrounded with, all the trails, hikes, waterfalls, views, and most of all he will miss “Mama Superior”. He is thankful to Michigan Tech for forcing him to learn how to climb over constant hurdles and adversity to achieve his goals. David says “I’ve had a lot of professors and people at Tech who made my journey a lot easier and enjoyable, but I know I could not have gotten this far and graduated without my advisor Julie Ross, she’s the best advisor at Michigan Tech and truly cares for everyone’s success.


Leah Goldman

Leah is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. She will begin working for Westwood as a graduate civil engineer on the Renewable Energy team after graduation. Leah says she will miss the snow and the great people at Michigan Tech. Leah is thankful to Tech because although the classes are hard, they allow for you to really expand your knowledge and take a lot away from each class, and people in the industry know how hard students work here.


Thomas Gunst

Thomas will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be starting a career in the civil engineering field and pursuing his private pilot’s license. Thomas says he will miss the campus, surrounding area, and local ice rinks.


Maureen Hennenfent

Maureen will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. She will be pursuing a career in water engineering after graduation. Maureen will miss the trips to Lake Superior and the fall colors and is thankful for the incredible people Tech has brought into her life, saying “Tech has provided me with friendships that will last a lifetime. The professors in the environmental engineering department have been so helpful to me over the years. They are extremely knowledgeable about their fields of study and truly care about their students.


Ben Holland

Ben is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will continue at Michigan Tech as an accelerated master’s student. Something Ben says he will miss after graduation is running for the Michigan Tech cross country team. He says he is thankful for all of the industry applicable experience in class and would like to recognize Melanie Kueber-Watkins and Brian Barkdoll for making a difference to him while at Tech. Ben says “The civil environmental program is awesome!


Julia Jenaway

Julia will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. She will be continuing at Michigan Tech for another two semesters to earn her master’s degree in structural engineering. Julia says she will miss the snow and having the convenience of a ski hill five minutes from campus and that she is thankful to Michigan Tech for a great education.


Frederick Jones

Fred is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will be moving to Denver to work for Baker Concrete Construction. Fred says he will miss the unique experience you get every day, just by being here and that he is thankful to Michigan Tech for helping him grow up and facilitate positive change in his life. When asked if he would like to recognize someone who made a difference to him while at Tech, he says “Brian Barkdoll, for having confidence in me, being a positive mentor, and for being one of the most caring teachers I’ve ever had. The entire Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering department deserve a huge thanks. Never once did I have a faculty member from our department that wasn’t understanding, and they always had my learning as a top priority. Truly enjoyed learning from all of the Civil and Environmental courses I took.
Also, our advisor, Julie, is one of the great blessings to this university. She truly helped me so much when things seemed bleak, and graduation seemed so far. I truly believe that without her, I wouldn’t be graduating for another year. She is a true example that not all hero’s wear capes.”


Ethan Lang

Ethan is graduating with his bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. Ethan will miss doing homework while ice fishing and would like to recognize his mom, dad, and stepdad for making his college possible and debt-free.


Katherine Lawson

Katerine will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, she will be working as a staff engineer at G2 Consulting Group in Ann Arbor.


Carleigh Lenard

Carleigh is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. She plans to visit friends and family after graduation while continuing the job hunt. Carleigh says she will miss playing in the pep band and is thankful to Tech for providing her with opportunities going far beyond education. She has gotten to intern at really interesting companies, work on important research and have some fun with many student organizations.


Owen Mattila

Owen will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He will be continuing on to attend graduate school at Michigan Tech for a master’s degree in civil engineering. Owen says “I would like to recognize my dad (Dr. Kris Mattila) for all your support and guidance throughout college. It was great to be able to stay close to home for college and not many people can say they’ve had their dad as a professor. As I’ve advanced through college I have grown as a person and as someone who has developed an engineering mindset. I will be a better engineer because of you, and I appreciate that. Thanks for all you do!”


Mihir Mehendale

Mihir will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will work full-time with JT Engineering in Madison, WI and would late like to pursue an MS degree in civil engineering.


Isaac Pantti

Isaac is graduating with a master’s degree in civil engineering. He plans on being a structural designer of buildings after graduation. Isaac says he will miss the laid-back atmosphere of his graduate classes and he is thankful to the helpful faculty in the CEGE Department as well as the ability to be a TA. Isaac says “Professor Bulleit did a lot to make sure we did proper graduate quality work, and that led to a total transformation in how I present my work. Michigan Tech has been really good to me. I am really thankful for the supportive structural engineering professors I had. I am thankful to Dr. You for having lab assistant and TA work available. I am happy to have met all the different people here from around the world. I am definitely ready to move on, but I will never forget about the university, and should I want to continue my education, I will always look back here.


Jacob Paquet

Jacob will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he will continue work with GEI Consultants out of Marquette. Jacob says he will miss all of his friends and is thankful to Michigan Tech for preparing him for the workforce.


Theresa Passe

Theresa is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. She will continue on to obtain her master’s degree at Michigan Tech after graduation. She would like to recognize Dr. Jennifer Becker as someone who has made a difference to her during her time at Michigan Tech. Theresa says she will miss Broomball and Lake Superior and is thankful to Michigan Tech for the awesome faculty. She says she loved being a Husky!


Adam Pulter

Adam is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. After graduation, he will use the knowledge and skills gained from Michigan Tech during his first job in his desired field. Adam will miss all the snow and winter sports and is thankful to Tech for teaching him the value of hard work.


Christopher Reitz

Christopher will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He has accepted an offer from Abonmarche Consultants as a Staff Engineer and will begin this after graduation. Christopher will miss the Keweenaw’s beautiful scenery and is thankful to Tech for challenging him to learn and better himself so he can be prepared to take on professional responsibilities. He would like to recognize Dr. Kris Mattila as someone who made a difference during his time at Michigan Tech. Chris says “When I look back on some of the challenges I’ve faced throughout my time here, I’m proud of myself for working to get through them. These challenges have allowed me to learn and prepare for my professional career.


Amber Ronsman

Amber is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After graduation, she will be working full-time for Miron Construction as a Project Manager out of the Green Bay office. Amber will miss the community that Tech shares and the snow (just a little). She is thankful for the opportunities that Tech has provided, from the career fair, student organizations, and conferences – there is no lack of opportunities when attending Tech. She says “I would like to recognize my advisor, Julie Ross for not only the work she has put in to help me but the entire department. She is so willing to walk you through anything and understands that it’s not always easy. We are so lucky to have her!


Chase Smith

Chas will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He will begin work as a civil engineer with UP Engineers and Architects after graduating. Chase says he will miss his friends and is thankful to Tech for getting him a degree. He would like to recognize Nick Allsop as someone who made a difference during his time at Michigan Tech.


Anthony Vang

Anthony will graduate with a bachelor’s in civil engineering. After graduation, he will become a 2nd LT in the Air Force and train as an RPA Pilot. Anthony will miss Winter Carnival and is thankful for the experience to make mistakes and learn a lot from them. He would like to recognize the AFROTC program at Tech as making a difference to him while at Tech. Anthony says “I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Michigan Tech and its community. I have definitely grown a lot from my freshmen year and I feel confident and prepared to take the next step in my life. I am also getting married on Dec 12th!


Hossam Yaqoub

Hoss is graduating with a master’s in civil engineering making him the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering’s first online MSCE graduate! He will continue on at MTU to achieve more in-depth exploration for his favorite science of civil engineering by pursuing his Ph.D. He says “The online Master’s program sets my eagerness to explore new aspects of structural design and civil engineering. It gave me the opportunity to gain and improve some skills and increased my consciousness about engineering in general. In these hard times due to COVID, a lot of effort was conducted mutually with a lot of Jogging, reading, classical music and boxing in my free time that lead my desire to get better opportunities to enhance my technical capabilities and scientific bases. This was the major lead to graduate from the MSCE online program in structural engineering in Fall 2021. With great passion, I was able to complete the program in two years.


Graduates Not Pictured Above

BS in Civil Engineering

Russ Bjorn

Adam Budzinski

Bobbi Hulce

Celia Juntti

Steph Klaysmat

Mitchell Knox

Megyn Ostrom

Erik Peterson

Eric Sabourin

Mathieu St. Amour

Elijah Young

BS in Construction Management

Cameron Mulka

Ross Oja

Brendan Thompson

BS in Environmental Engineering

Bennett Johnson

Samantha Johnston

Grace Kluchka

Nicole Mielcarek

Lauryn Roberts

BS in Geospatial Engineering

Alyx Thayer

MS in Civil Engineering

Robyn Holmes

Conrad Truettner

MS in Environmental Engineering

John Harron

MS in Integrated Geospatial Technology

Samuel Shumaker

Judith Perlinger is an ISR Faculty Research Fellow

Judith Perlinger
Judith Perlinger

The Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability and Resilience (ISR) is happy to announce the selection of two Sustainable and Resilient Communities Faculty Research Fellows!

Judith Perlinger is a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE) and an established scholar working in the realm of sustainability and resilience.

Ana Dyreson is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM) who works in the realm of energy systems transitions and the energy-water-climate nexus.

Perlinger and Dyreson will both be relieved of one course for the fall 2022 semester in order to focus on developing and submitting research funding proposals that will enhance Michigan Tech’s leadership in impactful sustainability and resilience research.

Perlinger will be working on new proposals for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Coastlines and People (CoPe) program, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Dyreson will be working on proposal submissions for NSF programs, including the NSF CAREER award program, and for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

With this fellowship program, ISR aims to support researchers in developing new collaborations and opportunities to grow research activities that address contemporary research challenges in sustainability and resilience. This program will propel research leaders at Michigan Tech to pursue new opportunities and increase impactful research activities. ISR is delighted to support these dedicated scholars through the Faculty Research Fellows program.

For more information or with any questions, please contact Chelsea Schelly at cschelly@mtu.edu

By Tech Forward Initiative for Sustainability and Resilience.

C2E2 Awards for Dai and Seagren

The Vice President for Research Office (VPR) has awarded Century II Campaign Endowed Equipment Fund (C2E2) awards at the recommendation of the C2E2 Committee. In Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering, the recipients were:

Qingli “Barbara” Dai (CEGE) — Purchase of Freeze-Thaw and Internal Frost Damage Test System

Eric Seagren (CEGE) — The VisiSens TD System for 2-D In Situ Measurement of O2, CO2, and pH Using Optical Chemical Sensors: Opportunities for Research and Education

Qingli Barbara Dai
Qingli Barbara Dai
Eric Seagren
Eric Seagren

Great Lakes Investigations Aboard Michigan Tech’s Research Vessel Agassiz for Students in Grades 4-12

Dr. Noel Urban aboard the Agassiz with students

The Ride the Waves program completed its 8th year of offering scientific excursions aboard Michigan Tech’s research vessel Agassiz for students in grades 4-12 and the community. Twenty-four excursions for 374 adults and students were conducted during the summer and fall. The Agassiz was a popular attraction at two community events (Strawberry Festival in Chassell and Lake Superior Day in Copper Harbor) during the summer where participants learned how scientists assess the health of the Great Lakes. Students in grades 5-8 participated in nine scientific excursions.

School classes could choose from two programs offered—Aquatic Food Web in the Portage Waterway and Torch Lake Mine Waste & Remediation in Torch Lake.

The Aquatic Food Web & Lab (3-hr program: 1.5 hrs lab & 1.5 hrs Agassiz) investigates water quality (depth, clarity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen), and students collect benthic and plankton samples that they bring back to examine in the lab to find out “how do you make a lake trout?”Dr. Cory MacDonald and PhD student, Kenny Larson, along with graduate students in the lab—all from the CEGE Department– led these investigations.

Torch Lake Mine Waste Remediation (4-hr program: 2 hrs Agassiz; 2 hrs remediation assessment on land) presents the history of mining & milling copper and its impacts on the land and water. Students visit a historic copper milling site, evaluate a reclaimed former Superfund mine waste site along Torch Lake, and compare sediment cores from healthy and impacted parts of the lake. Dr. Noel Urban, in the CEGE Department led the Torch Lake investigation, along with Joan Chadde leading the land remediation assessment.

Thank you notes from students

Some of the students’ observations included:

I didn’t know there were so many types of zoo and phytoplankton!

I learned a lot of new things—what a Secchi disk measures and looking for organisms in mud.

I learned how activities on the land affect life in the water.

Now I know that fish smell like algae!

I sincerely appreciate learning about local history.

We are so grateful that we got to do this field trip!

The Ride the Waves Program is made possible with a generous grant from General Motors (GM). Logistical support is provided by Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center. More than 3000 youth have benefited from GM’s support since 2013.

For more information, contact Joan Chadde, Director, Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach at the Great Lakes Research Center: 906-487-3341 or jchadde@mtu.edu

Summer Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Nick Kampfschulte
Undergraduate researcher Nick Kampfschulte hard at work “His past experience as a competitive rower was an asset in the field” – Dr. Cory McDonald

CEGE Undergraduates Awarded Summer Research

Five Michigan Tech civil and environmental engineering undergraduate students were selected to participate in undergraduate research over the summer.  The students selected were awarded funding with a 1:1 match from the Department and their faculty advisor.  All of the applicants considered were outstanding in advancing new research as well as providing an exceptional research opportunity for our undergraduate students.  The following were selected: 

Michelle Bollini, advised and nominated by Dr. Judith Perlinger – Michelle worked with her research advisors and mentors Dr. Judith Perlinger and graduate student Enid Partika on the convergence research project, “Bridging Knowledge Systems and Expertise for Understanding the Dynamics of a Contaminated Tribal Landscape System (TLS)”. She assisted in developing methods for the analysis of concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyl compounds and other persistent organic pollutants in fish collected from Lake Superior and Upper Peninsula inland lakes.

Nicholas Kampfschulte, advised and nominated by Dr. Cory McDonald  – Nick worked on a paleolimnological study to understand the effects of anthropogenic nitrogen deposition on aquatic ecosystems.  They collected sediment cores from three remote lakes in the Huron Mountains in May, and Nick has been performing a variety of laboratory analyses to measure radionuclides and stable isotopes in these samples.  Nick and Dr. McDonald are using this data to reconstruct the history of these lakes.  Nick is continuing his work in the lab during the academic year.  Nick says of the experience:  “The opportunity to visit the Huron Mountains was truly a once in a lifetime experience and the knowledge/ experience I’ve gained in the area of radiometric dating is not only invaluable to me as it has grown into a new personal interest of mine, will also be invaluable to me in my career search

Bobbi Hulce, advised and nominated by Dr. Qingli Dai – Bobbi conducted mechanical performance tests of both recycled plastic-rubber modified and tire steel fiber-reinforced plastic-rubber modified mortar samples. Recycled plastic-rubber aggregates, with mesh sizes from #10 to #18 partially replaced the fine aggregates with three-volume percentages of 10%, 15%, and 20%. Control mortar, mortar with recycled plastic-rubber, and mortar with tire steel fiber reinforcement and recycled plastic-rubber were prepared. The compressive and indirect tensile strength were measured and compared. Fracture strength and fracture energy were measured with the single-edge notched beam test to evaluate the effects of recycled plastic-rubber aggregates and tire steel fibers. The mortar test results will be further improved and connected with the durability performance evaluation. This study will facilitate the recycling of plastics and tire rubbers with concrete production.

Other undergraduate students conducting research this summer were Emily Bergstrom, advised and nominated by Dr. Jake Hiller and Joshua King, advised and nominated by Dr. Zhanping You.

MICUP Program

In addition to the above awards, George Vicente, a civil engineering student at Penn State University, participated in flood hazard mitigation research with Professor David Watkins.  Specifically, George tested the flood hydrology tools in FEMA’s HAZUS software to evaluate the ability to simulate the impacts of local flooding, such as the damage resulting from the 2018 Father’s Day Flood.  George’s program was co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and during his time on campus, he also participated in a course and activities with students in the Michigan College/University Partnership (MICUP) Program.

Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative provides place-based professional learning for teachers this summer

Photo credit: George Stockero

The Inland Seas schooner facilitated western UP teachers exploring the geoheritage of the Keweenaw Waterway and learning to use 360° cameras to create virtual tours to share with their students this school year.

Since 2008, the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) has brought together schools and community partners in a 5-county area of the western Upper Peninsula to prepare K-12 students to become knowledgeable citizens concerned about the Lake Superior watershed and actively engaged in stewardship projects in their community. A partnership between Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD), LSSI has provided place-based professional learning opportunities for teachers. This summer, a 2021 NOAA B-WET grant awarded to the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, in partnership with the Western UP MiSTEM Network and others, afforded meaningful watershed educational experiences for K-12 teachers at schools in the western Upper Peninsula.


In July, two outdoor professional learning experiences for teachers – a K-8 Project Learning Tree Workshop and Assessing Forest Health (for middle and high school educators) –provided participants with hands-on, interdisciplinary activities and resources for learning about ecosystems, food webs, invasive species, soils, water cycle, tree physiology, and environmental impacts.


Another July event provided an opportunity for teachers and community partners to participate in a scientific excursion aboard the Inland Seas schooner, to explore the geoheritage of the Keweenaw Waterway. The exploration focused on significant natural and anthropogenic features of the waterway while sailing to the Jacobsville sandstone cliffs at the South Entry. Another local partner, the Regional Education Media Center, provided instruction on how to record place-based experiences using 360° cameras and images. Participants also received training on how to use photos and information from the schooner trip to create virtual tours through RoundMe. These virtual tours will be shared with classes during the school year and become models for future geo-investigations created by students.


In August, teachers and community partners participated in a workshop to gain strategies and lessons for integrating gardening into their curriculum led by expert teachers and extension educators.

The Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) is part of the statewide Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI). Over the past 15 years, many Michigan Tech faculty and students in CEGE, as well as, other departments and colleges at MTU, have provided expertise, conducted professional learning, made classroom presentations, and provided resources that have helped school-community teams to accomplish their stewardship projects and contributed greatly to LSSI’s success.

By Lloyd Wescoat, K-12 Educator, Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach

Freeze Thaw Project Wins AASHTO Sweet Sixteen Award

Zhen Liu
Zhen Liu

Congratulations to Zhen Liu (CEGE) for his MDOT Freeze Thaw project winning an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Sweet Sixteen Award.

According to the press release, the Sweet Sixteen Award highlights high-value research from four regions across the country, with four awards possible per region. 

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) received the award for Liu’s research project, “Develop and Implement a Freeze Thaw Model Based Seasonal Load Restriction Decision Support Tool.”

fact sheet and video summary of Liu’s project are available on the AASHTO award page.

By Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

Play Research: Develop/Implement Freeze-Thaw Model Decision Support Tool – AASHTO RAC 2021 Sweet 16 MDOT video
Preview image for Research: Develop/Implement Freeze-Thaw Model Decision Support Tool - AASHTO RAC 2021 Sweet 16 MDOT video

Research: Develop/Implement Freeze-Thaw Model Decision Support Tool – AASHTO RAC 2021 Sweet 16 MDOT