Author: Sue Hill

Sue Hill is the Digital Content Manager for the College of Engineering.

Chemical Engineering Convocation 2020

The Chemical Engineering Department recently celebrated the success of its graduates through a Virtual Convocation on April 13, 2020. The guest speaker was Michael Cleveland (’82) who shared some tips on “How to Become Invaluable During Uncertain Times.”

Keynote Speaker

Michael J. Cleveland

Michael J. Cleveland ’82

Mike Cleveland serves as the vice president and general manager for UOP LLC, based in the Des Plaines, Illinois Lifecycle Solutions and Technology business at Honeywell UOP.

UOP is a leading international supplier of process technology, catalysts, engineered systems, and technical and engineering services to the petroleum refining, petrochemical, and gas processing industries.

Since joining UOP in 1982, Mike has held key positions within UOP, spanning research and development, manufacturing, and business management. Mike was critical in the commercialization of new hydrocracking catalysts, isomerization catalysts, and on-purpose propylene process technology.

Before being named to his current post in 2019, Mike served as the General Manager for UOP CH based in Rolle, Switzerland within the Catalyst, Adsorbents, and Specialties business.

Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1982 and began his career with UOP upon graduation. Mike is a licensed professional engineer in the State of Michigan and Illinois. He is an active member the Michigan Tech Alumni Association.

Students were recognized with the following awards:

Prevent Accidents with Safety (PAWS) Award

Daniella Kyllonen

Dow Chemical Marriot W. Bredekamp Award

Ellie Bruckner, Bryce Evan, Nate Giem, and Kate Schaaf

This award recognizes outstanding technical skills in the laboratory, outstanding teamwork and professionalism, effective oral and written communication, and strong adherence to process safety practices as recognized by your peers and supported by the faculty of the department. This award is in memory of Dr. Mariott W. Bredekamp.

Kimberly Clark Communication Award

Nate Giem

This award recognizes the winner of the Award for Excellence in Communication from the Department of Chemical Engineering for the academic year.

Kimberly Clark Professional Ethics Award

Clara Peterson

This award recognizes a student who has exhibited exemplary ethics and admirable professional conduct during Plant Design and Unit Operations experiences, and throughout their academic career at Michigan Technological University.

Davis W. Hubbard Outstanding Rising Senior Award

Tanner Shehan

Chair’s Award

Jacob LeBarre

The Chair’s Award for Outstanding ChE Senior recognizes a particular student in the graduating class whose actions embody excellence. Excelling in academics is expected, but the recipient must also exhibit the traits of character, leadership, and service–to-others that are valued to the department.

John Patton Senior Design Team Awards

1st Place

Abigail Hendrix, Ben McKenzie, Korey McKinley, Collin Mitchell

2nd Place

Ryan Knoll, Hunter Osgood, Bronson Wood, Cody Woodbury

3rd Place

Christen Calanayan, Zach Hancock, Brenden Presnell, Stephan  RhodeHumphries, David Scherzer

Student Leadership Awards

  • AEE: Jacob Zuhlke
  • AIChE: Jacob Luchenbill
  • CMLC: Jacob LeBarre
  • CPM: Nick Vlahos
  • OXE: Erin Parker
  • SAB: Nate Giem

AIChE Awards

Teacher of the Year Award

Dr. Faith Morrison

Research Mentor of the Year Award

Dr. Caryn Heldt

Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year Award

Utkarsh Chaudhari

Undergraduate Grader of the Year

Liz Hoekstra

Staff Making a Difference Award

Katie Torrey

Memorial: Professor Emeritus Anton Pintar

Anton Pintar
Anton Pintar

Funeral services were held Friday (Feb. 13, 2020) for Professor Emeritus Anton J. Pintar who passed away on March 7, in Marquette, he was 79. 

He was a graduate of Jeffers High School and the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now MTU) and earned a PhD in chemical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technolgy. 

Pintar was on the faculty of Tech’s Department of Chemical Engineering from 1966 to 2002, when he retired as a professor emeritus of chemical engineering. He was inducted into the MTU Distinguished Academy of Chemical Engineers in 2010. He served on the Houghton County Board of Commissioners from 2007 to 2018. His wife Shirley Pomeranz and five children are listed among his survivors

Lignin Project Funding for David Shonnard

David Shonnard
David Shonnard

David Shonnard (Chem Eng/SFI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $44,982 research and development cooperative agreement with Clemson University. The project is titled, “Life Cycle Assessment and Technoeconomic Analyses of Lignin Processing: (Lignin Fractionation and Valorization: Focusing on both Value and Quality).”

This is the first year of a potential 3-year project totaling $89,964.

Daniel Kulas to Present at NAMS 2020

Conference location.

Graduate student Daniel Kulas has been awarded the prestigious 2020 NAMS (North American Membrane Society) Elias Klein Travel Supplement Award to present his comprehensive experimental work on the rejection mechanisms of the four most significant PFAS molecules: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA and PFHxS by Nanofiltration membrane NF270.

The presentation will be at the conference in Tempe, Arizona on May 16-20, 2020. Kulas was nominated by his research mentor Andre Da Costa.

The Elias Klein Founders’ Travel Supplement program supports students needing limited financial assistance and will provide up to $500 in reimbursement for reasonable expenses (e.g. travel cost, registration, workshops) for attending NAMS 2020 to present their research (oral or poster presentation). This award program is named in honor of Elias Klein, whose vision and spirit guided the founding of NAMS in 1985.

Alexis Snell Earns Staff Legacy Award

Alexis Snell
Alexis Snell

At an awards program Wednesday, January 8, 2020, in the Memorial Union Ballroom, staff members were honored with the Staff Council Making a Difference Awards.

Among the award recipients is Department Coordinator Alexis E. Snell. She was nominated by Department Chair Pradeep K. Agrawal for the Legacy Award.

She strikes the perfect balance between being friendly and approachable while ensuring that all tasks are handled in a professional and timely manner. Suffice to say, I would be lost without her guidance and support, and there is little or no margin of error in my current position.

Pradeep K. Agrawal

The Legacy Award recognizes a staff member who:

  • Has a minimum of 15 years of service to Michigan Tech
  • Engages in collaboration and promotes teamwork
  • Improves efficiency and exhibits a proactive approach to finding solutions
  • Invests time and effort into mentoring colleagues and sharing knowledge with others

Making Mining Safer from Dust

Lei Pan
Lei Pan

Lei Pan is involved in a multidisciplinary project to improve the efficiency of dust scrubbers in mining operations.

His work and that of Virginia Tech researchers and collaborators from Cornell University incorporates new materials that better collect dust and use the continuous miner’s vibrations to help keep the filters from clogging as often.

In 2019 Pan received funding from the Center for Disease Control for the project “Temporal and Spatial Characterization of Respirable Coal Mine Dust Using Area Monitoring Devices and X-Ray CT.”

Mining dust was also the topic of a Michigan Tech URIP (Undergraduate Research Internship Program) project with chemical engineering major Caroline Inaury, funded by the Portage Health Foundation.

Read more at Virginia Tech Daily, by Rosaire Bushey.

Pradeep Agrawal Comments on the Use of Biomass to Produce Chemicals and Fuels

Pradeep K. Agrawal
Pradeep K. Agrawal

Sangareddy: Pradeep K Agrawal, Faculty and Chair, Department of Chemical Engineering, Michigan Technological University, US, on Monday said biomass be it agriculture waste, forest residues or crop remanants can be used to produce chemicals and fuels. The discarded portion of municipal solid waste (MSW) was another inexpensive resource for producing hydergen and carbon, he said.

Read more at Telangana Today.

Caryn Heldt on Human Nature Film Event Panel

Human Nature Film showing molecule.Human Nature

Thurs., 10/31, 7:30 p.m.

Adam Bolt, 2019

A breakthrough called CRISPR has given us unprecedented control over the basic building blocks of life. It opens the door to curing diseases, reshaping the biosphere, and designing our own children. Human Nature is a provocative exploration of CRISPR’s far-reaching implications, through the eyes of the scientists who discovered it, the families it’s affecting, and the bioengineers who are testing its limits. How will this new power change our relationship with nature? What will it mean for human evolution? To begin to answer these questions we must look back billions of years and peer into an uncertain future.

A panel discussion with Dr. Paul Goetsch, Dr. Caryn Heldt, and Dr. Alexandra Morrison will follow the film.

This film is sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences and the Health Research Institute.

93 minutes

Researchers discuss ethics of gene editing

HOUGHTON — Within six years, targeted gene editing has gone from a pipe dream to routine.

Targeting changes became easier with the use of CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats). The system, discovered by scientist Francisco Mojica, is used by bacteria, which use genetic strands from viruses to repel future invasions.

Heldt’s lab works on gene therapy, including how to manufacture large amounts of gene therapy drugs at a reasonable price. They focus on viral gene therapies, where viruses are modified to replicate not themselves, but a gene missing in a person. Clinical trials on gene therapy for hemophiliacs have been promising, Heldt said; they lack the Factor 8 gene, which causes blood to clot. After one dose of gene therapy, people who once had to go to the hospital after incidents as minor as running into the side of a table now have enough clotting ability to go only once or twice a year for more serious cuts.

“One of the really amazing things with this particular therapy is they’re only making 10% of the factor 8 a normal person makes,” said Heldt, director of Tech’s Health Research Institute. “So it doesn’t take a lot.”

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.

NSF Funding for Lei Pan on Project to Sanitize Produce

Agriculture and produceLei Pan (ChemEng/GLRC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $159,999 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project is entitled, “Collaborative Research: Bubble Impacting a Curved Surface: A Sustainable Way to Sanitize Produce.

This is a potential three-year project.

By Sponsored Programs.


Cleaning practices using microbubbles have been proven to be a sustainable and environmentally benign sanitation method in a wide range of industrial applications. When a stream of bubbles impact and slide on a surface, contaminants on the surface can be removed due to the strong force generated by the bubbles.

Bubble-cleaning of agricultural produce like fruits and vegetables has not been studied extensively. Potentially, this method could be used to minimize cases of food poisoning affecting millions of people every year, since bubble streams could be used to remove and inactivate pathogenic microorganisms from produce surfaces.

This research project could lead to a novel technology for an environmentally benign sanitization process for raw fruits and vegetables. The method could even be applied to other technological processes such as semiconductor manufacturing.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.