Senior Design to Present Project to Houghton Planning Commission

Photo by Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette

The students of Dr. Dan Dowden‘s Senior Design class will be presenting their project to the Houghton Planning Commission on Tuesday, November 17 at the commission’s monthly public (virtual) meeting. The meeting will start at 5:30.

The students’ project involves two replacement parking garages (replacing the existing “Vault” and “Ambassador” parking structures downtown) with larger more modern parking structures. This project came about with a conversation with Bill Leder over the summer. Bill and Eric Waara have been the students’ client contacts over the semester. Bill is Vice-Chair of the Houghton Planning Commission. If you are unable to attend the commission meeting, there will be a second opportunity during finals week where all the CEE4905 sections will be presenting their projects.

Can Engineers Save the Word?

Rose Turner by the solar panels on the Michigan Tech campus

“At Michigan Tech, we don’t just talk about sustainability, we incorporate sustainability in all aspects of the educational experience,” said Audra Morse, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University.

Morse points to environmental engineering student Rose Turner, who followed her passion for sustainability by joining Michigan Tech’s Alternative Energy Enterprise soon after she joined the university.

There are 24 Enterprise teams on campus, each working on real projects for real clients.

“They invent products, provide services, and pioneer solutions. It’s an award-winning program entirely unique to Michigan Tech, and it provides an absolutely invaluable experience for our students,” said Morse.

Self-sustaining homes and solar farms: Student projects that make a real-world difference

Turner and fellow team members retrofitted an existing 5,000 square foot house on Michigan Tech’s campus, turning it into a net-zero energy, self-sustaining home.

Named the Michigan Tech Sustainability Demonstration House, it now provides students with first-hand experience in designing systems to reduce the use of energy, water and water in homes.

Due to her hard work and dedication, Turner was selected to live there, serving as house coordinator. Her role was to identify and launch internal projects, plan public outreach events, and seek donations and sponsorships from companies.

Michigan Tech
Rose Turner in front of the Sustainability Demonstration House

“Michigan Tech equipped me with tools, resources, and knowledge,” she said. “I was able to design and construct an aquaponics indoor gardening system, a raised-bed outdoor garden, and a smart rainwater collection and distribution system — all for the house.”

Taking her environmental engineering education further, Turner won a summer internship at Westwood Professional Services, an environmental engineering consulting firm. As an intern, she designed multi-megawatt commercial solar and wind farms across the US, including a 15 MW solar farm in Ulupalakua, Hawaii.

“It was incredibly rewarding to have an opportunity to design clean energy systems to help power our country,” said Turner.

Turner learned about the internship through Michigan Tech Career Services, meeting up with representatives from Westwood for an interview right on campus. Her internship also led to a full-time role there, working on Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy permits for a 300 MW wind farm design for Isabella County, Michigan.

“Michigan Tech’s Career Services does more than help students find a job, they help us find and launch our careers,” said Turner.

She recently returned to campus to earn an MS in Environmental Engineering. Her goal is to pursue a PhD or work in industry. “Either way, I am looking forward to using my sustainability knowledge to make a difference,” she said.

Where sustainability is central to your studies

The “Sustainability and Civil Engineering Practice” course is essential to Michigan Tech’s civil engineering program.

This course introduces students to the tools that engineers use in sustainable design such as “LEED” and the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure Envision “rating tool,” as well as state-of-the art sustainability practices in design and construction.

Sustainability also serves as the cornerstone of Michigan Tech’s environmental engineering degree program. Professor Judith Perlinger teaches “Sustainable Engineering,” another course that plays a vital role in the curriculum.

“Students learn about the triple bottom line, the consideration of profit, people, and the planet, and essential tools they’ll use to advance sustainability from a systems approach,” said Perlinger.

Dr. Judith Perlinger

All courses in both programs include important sustainability components, Morse added.

“But the true strength of a Michigan Tech education is the solid foundation in engineering and science. This knowledge is what allows for the incorporation of sustainability in design.”

Sierra Braun, a senior completing her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, jumped at the opportunity to make sustainability in design come to life.

She joined the Green Campus Enterprise, which focuses on reducing the university’s carbon footprint, when she heard they were planning planned to design and build a tiny house.

“Not only has it allowed me to explore my passion of design and construction, I am able to build a tangible example of sustainability right on our campus through the Tiny House Build project.”

Braun and her fellow team members analyzed sustainable design practices for maximizing thermal performance during the design phase of the Tiny Build project. In construction, they’ll optimize materials to reduce global warming potential. They also seek to increase longevity and minimize environmental impact.

Undergraduate research opportunities like no other

Undergraduate research is another learning opportunity at Michigan Tech.

In the Sustainable Pavement Lab, directed by Professor Zhanping You, students conduct research to find out if traditional asphalt mixed with rubber from scrap tires could make better roads.

Students test recycled asphalt materials to maximize the recyclability of materials, work with  biomass to produce variations of a new asphalt-like material called bio asphalt, and use recycled waste — plastics and glass— in other road applications.

They work in labs and in the field at road construction sites in Michigan collecting data and evaluating material field performance.

Many graduates continue their work in Dr. You’s lab while earning their graduate degree at Michigan Tech or other institutions. Others go on to work in the transportation industry, applying sustainability practices in their job each day.

“Working in Dr. You’s lab has allowed me to understand the bigger picture, and be part of it, too,” said civil engineering major Kagan Griffith.

“This applies to the natural world and the engineered materials we combine to advance society. As we move forward in time, I’ve learned the importance of using new technology —and new understanding — to construct the built world in a safe and sustainable way.”

As for Turner, she is now working to create an even greater shift towards sustainability on campus:

“I have a very strong desire to reduce the production of waste, so one of things I’ve been doing lately is to work with a group of fellow students to establish a full recycling programme for our residence halls.”

Michigan Tech
Results of the Waste Reduction Drive

So, do engineers save the world?

“Absolutely,” said Turner, “Michigan Tech has truly helped to cultivate my love for the earth and my passion for educating others on the importance of sustainability in daily life.

“I will forever be grateful for the plethora of sustainability-related opportunities I’ve experienced at Michigan Tech — as well as the freedom the university has given me to make my dreams a reality.”

Michigan Tech is taking all precautions necessary to keep their community safe from the threat of COVID-19.

For the latest updates, please visit the MTU Flex website.

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Center Receives Grant to Provide Outdoor STEM Field Trips for Area Students

Houghton field trip

More than three thousand Western Upper Peninsula (UP) students will have an opportunity to learn outdoors this school year thanks to a $20,000 grant, provided jointly by Mary Nelson and the Wege Foundation, to the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.  The Center’s Outdoor STEM Investigations Field Trip Program is for K-8 students in all 19 school districts in the five counties of the Western UP. Houghton, Baraga, Gogebic, Ontonagon and Keweenaw counties. This past school year, the Program engaged nearly 3000 students in 140 classes from 14 schools in STEM learning outdoors, from physical and earth science, to water quality and forests (numbers were 20% lower due to cancellation of all spring field trips due to Covid-19).

These STEM field trips enhance classroom learning and provide real-world, hands-on experiences for students. All activities are correlated to Michigan Science Standards and connect to the school curriculum.  The outdoor classroom allows students to utilize science and math skills, including observing, predicting, data-collection, analysis, and graphing. Each grade has two lesson offerings for each season—Fall, Winter, Spring.

Fall Sacred Heart field trip

During the Fall field trip season, students investigate the physics of flight, assessing stream health, and designing the best seed get-aways.

During the Winter field trip season, students are provided with snowshoes to incorporate physical exercise into their learning. Students investigate topics such as the “wind chill” effect, which materials make better insulators, and wildlife adaptations to stay warm in winter. 

During the Spring field trip season, students explore the benefits and functions of wetlands, soil science, lichens as bioindicators of air quality, and much more.

One teacher observed, “My students absolutely loved the program. Their favorite part was looking for decomposers, which made the food web real.

Winter field trip

The Center’s mission is to enhance the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and promote environmental literacy and stewardship amongst K-12 students and teachers. For more information about the grant received from Mary Nelson and the Wege Foundation, or the Outdoor STEM Investigations Field Trip program, contact Joan Chadde at 906-487-3341 or jchadde@mtu.edu.

Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program Hosts Midwest Virtual Rail Conference 2020

MRC Midwest Rail Conference

On Aug. 11-12, The Michigan Tech Rail Transportation Program, in cooperation with the NURail Consortium and TRB Committee AR040, hosted the Midwest Rail Conference on a virtual platform.

Originally planned for Schoolcraft College, the conference was forced to an on-line platform by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In spite of the issues, the conference moved forward with a slate of more than 30 speakers, covering issues from across the rail industry.

The final tally included nearly 300 participants. Trains Magazine produced an article recognizing the conference and one of the 10 conference sessions.

Given the short time to switch from a live to virtual format, this conference was a huge success.

By David Nelson, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

NSF Funding for Daniel Dowden on Seismically Resilient Mass-Timber Buildings

Daniel Dowden
Daniel Dowden

Daniel Dowden (CEE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received $204,514 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project is entitled, “NHERI Tailwood 10-Story Test Building Shake-Table Payload Research Project: Low-Damage Uplift Friction Damper for Seismically Resilient Mass-Timber Buildings.” This is a two year project.

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This award will investigate a low-damage solution for cross-laminated timber (CLT) seismic force-resisting systems (SFRSs) using a novel uplift friction damper (UFD) device for seismically resilient mass-timber buildings. The UFD device will embrace the natural rocking wall behavior that is expected in tall CLT buildings, provide stable energy dissipation, and exhibit self-centering characteristics. Structural repair of buildings with these devices is expected to be minimal after a design level earthquake. Although CLT has emerged as a construction material that has revitalized the timber industry, there exists a lack of CLT-specific seismic energy dissipation devices that can integrate holistically with the natural kinematics of CLT-based SFRSs.

Project data will be archived and made available publicly in the NSF-supported NHERI Data Depot.

Built World Enterprise Team Wins National Competition

Built World Enterprise logo.

A Michigan Tech team, Built World Enterprise (BWE), earned first place in the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) student design competition. The team’s winning submission in the Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions design category was “Runway Intersection Marking.” 

In making the announcement, the ACRP said “The students’ innovative design brought many technologies together in an affordable system for mid-size and general aviation airports.”

The selection was made from 63 entries by a panel of industry, FAA and academic experts. For its winning entry, BWE will receive a $3,000 award which will be divided among the student team members.

First-place teams will receive their awards and present their work at the Keck Center of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC, October 19, 2020. The students will also present their designs at the Airport Consultant Council’s Airport Technical Workshop as a keynote presentation. In addition, they will be given the opportunity to present their winning proposal at an industry professional conference or workshop in fall 2020.

Additionally, Michigan Tech received a second-place award in the Airport Environmental Interactions Challenge, with a $2,000 prize. A list of all winners can be seen on the ACRP website.

BWE addresses challenges typically solved by civil and environmental engineers, including designing infrastructure and solving waste management problems. The team’s advisor is the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair Audra Morse.

Morse said the win was a strong start for the new Enterprise team and for the University

“All BWE teams strove to create realistic design alternatives to address airport issues; however, this team excelled in understanding the true root causes of runway incursions. The winning team members, Lindsey Anderson, Skylar Callis and Kaitlyn Wehner, moved beyond purely technical to incorporate human factors into their design, which is why I believe their design was so well received. Thanks to Bill Sproule, Kelly Steelman, and Brett Hamlin for assisting the team on their win. They could not have done it without their help.”

The Transportation Research Board is a program unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.

Audra Morse Joins the Environmental Engineering and Science Foundation Board

Audra Morse
Audra Morse

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Chair Audra Morse has joined the Environmental Engineering and Science Foundation (EESF) board.

The EESF was established to promote and recognize excellence in environmental engineering and science as well as support key strategic objectives of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists®.

New Specialty Area for Civil Engineering MS Degree – Intelligent Infrastructure Design

CEE Logo

The specialty area encompasses the design of robust, resilient, digitally interconnected civil infrastructure for smart community design. Students will develop holistic design approaches to streamline the incorporation (monitoring, feedback) of all things digital into structures, transportation, geotechnical, water and waste management with a focus on minimizing environmental impact and the advancement in sustainability and resiliency.  This is one possible pathway for students to attain an MS in Civil Engineering, while bridging the traditional “silos” identified within the profession.

Specialty Area Description:

The Intelligent Community Design specialty area is intended to offer training for applying technology to make our communities work more sustainably and efficiently.  The pathway consists of courses that provide necessary knowledge of the engineering design and analysis of infrastructure systems (e.g., transportation, water resources/environmental, structural, and geotechnical), data collection techniques (from traditional surveying to more advanced sensor and sensing techniques), and computing (machine learning, optimization, numerical simulation, and big data as it relates to infrastructure/geospatial information). Graduates of this specialty area will be able to meet emerging and rapidly-growing needs for engineers to build more intelligent communities.

Coursework:

The following breakdown of courses is meant to serve as a guide when crafting a degree schedule for students interested in focusing on Intelligent Community Design. Potential courses are provided below; however, alternative courses could be selected based on the student’s interests, goals and prior education. Consultation with a faculty advisor is required.

  1. 4-5 core courses that provide a foundation for designing different civil engineering infrastructure systems with a focus on the environment and sustainability.  Courses should be selected to provide adequate breadth across the areas of civil/environmental engineering, while also providing sufficient coursework focused on design vs. systems thinking.

Structures:

CEE 4244 Loads for Civil Structures

CEE 5730 Probabilistic Analysis and Reliability

Water Resources:

CEE 4507 Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Design

CEE 4640/5640 Stormwater Management and Low Impact Development

CEE 5630 Advanced Hydrology

CEE 5666 Water Resources Planning and Management

Environmental:

CEE 4502 Wastewater Treatment Principles and Design

CEE 4503 Drinking Water Treatment Principles and Design

CEE 4503 Air Quality Engineering and Science

CEE 4506 Sustainable Engineering

CEE 5501 Environmental Process Engineering

CEE 5502 Biological Treatment Processes

CEE 5503 Physical-Chemical Treatment Processes

CEE 4505/5505 Surface Water Quality Engineering

Transportation:

CEE 4020 Computer Applications: Visualizing and Communicating Design Information

CEE 5190 Sustainable Pavements

CEE 5401 Advanced Pavement Design

CEE 5402 Traffic Flow Theory

CEE 5404 Transportation Planning

CEE 5417 Transportation Design

Geotechnical:

CEE 4820 Foundation Engineering

CEE 4830 Geosynthetics Engineering

CEE 5810 Advanced Soil Mechanics

CEE 5811 Fundamentals of Soil Behavior and Engineering Laboratory

  • 3 courses should be selected to provide necessary computing skills.
    • Machine Learning
  • Machine Learning

CS 4811 Artificial Intelligence

CS 5811 Advanced Artificial Intelligence

EE 5841 Machine Learning

GE 5950 Applied Remote Sensing and Machine Learning

UN 5550 Introduction to Data Science

  1. Database and Data Structures

CS 2321 Data Structures

CS 3425 Intro to Database Systems

CS 4321 Introduction to Algorithms

CS 5321 Advanced Algorithms

  1. Optimization

CEE 5760 Optimization Methods in Civil and Environmental Engineering

MA 5630 Numerical Optimization

  1. Computer Simulation

CEE 5710 Modeling and Simulation Applications for Decision Making in Complex Dynamic Systems

CEE 5740 Introduction to System Identification

CEE 5870 Multiphysics of Porous Materials

  • Regression/Data Mining

EC 4200 Econometrics

FW 5412 Regression in R

MA 4710 Regression Analysis

  • 1-2 courses related to data acquisition

FW 4540 Remote Sensing of the Environment

GE 4250 Fundamentals of Remote Sensing

SU 5010 Geospatial Concepts, Technologies, and Data

SU 5011 Cadaster and Land Information Systems

SU 5012 Geospatial Data Mining and Crowdsourcing

SU 5013 Hydrographic Mapping and Surveying

SU 5142 3D Surveying and Modeling with Laser Scanner Data

SU 5300 Geospatial Monitoring of Engineering Structures and Geodynamic Processes

SU 5540 Advanced Photogrammetry – Satellite Photogrammetry

SU 5541 Close-Range Photogrammetry

  • d)      1 course for coding:

SAT 5002 Application Programming Introduction

SU 5601 R for Geoinformatics

Note that selected courses would have to adhere to basic requirements of the Civil MS program. Namely, a minimum of 15 credits must be taken within the CEE Department. In addition, students must take one of the following courses: CEE 5710, CEE 5730, CEE 5740, or CEE 5760. A minimum of 18 5000-level credits must be taken; a maximum of 12 3000- or 4000-level courses can be used towards the 30 credit requirement. All MSCE degree requirements and rules set forth by the Department and the Graduate School must be met in order for a student to finish the program.

Former CEE Chair Vernon Watwood Passes Away

Vernon Watwood
Vernon Watwood

Professor Emeritus Vernon Bell Watwood Jr. passed away suddenly June 4 in Tucson, Arizona.  He taught in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from 1973 until his retirement in 1997. In addition, Watwood served as CEE Department Chair.

According to his obituary in the Daily Mining Gazette, Watwood was born in Opelika, Alabama, in 1935. After graduating from Auburn University, he served in the Navy and continued his education at Cornell University and the University of Washington. Watwood’s research involved finite element modeling, equilibrium finite elements with present emphasis on 3D applications, force method procedures, and mining machinery structural analysis.

His wife of 62 years, Patricia, three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild are listed among the survivors. A private prayer service was held Saturday (June 13) at the Christ Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona, with the family on Zoom.

NSF Research Funding for David Watkins on COVID-19 Project

David Watkins
David Watkins

David Watkins (CEE/SFI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $190,764 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The project is titled “RAPID: COVID-19, Consumption, and Multi-dimensional Analysis of Risk (C-CAR)“. Chelsea Schelly (SS/SFI), Robert Handler (ChE/SFI) and Charles Wallace (CS/SFI) are co-PIs on this one-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed household dynamics and dramatically changed food, energy, and water consumption within the home. Stay-at-home orders and social distancing has caused U.S. households to shift to working and schooling from home, curtail outside activities, and stop eating in restaurants. Furthermore, as many households face job loss and increasing home utility and grocery bills, U.S. residents are experiencing the economic impacts of the crisis, while at the same time assessing and responding to health risks. The project team has a unique opportunity to study these shifting household consumption and behavioral responses and quantify the associated economic and environmental impacts. The team will collect household food, energy, and water consumption data as well as survey response data from 180 participating households in one Midwestern county and compare it to data collected before the stay-at-home orders were put in place.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.