Category: News

Tyson Kauppinen: New Staff Spotlight

Tyson Kauppinen

In his role as Laboratory Technician, Tyson Kauppinen assists with construction, installation and repair of lab equipment. This is no small feat, considering the number and size of labs in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech.

Kauppinen comes to Michigan Tech from Carey Design Build in Iron Mountain. He earned an Associate’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Gogebic Community College.

What drew you to Michigan Tech?

I grew up in Calumet, Michigan. Being local to the area, of course I love the beautiful views the Upper Peninsula has to offer. But mainly I came to Michigan Tech in order to be able to put everything I’ve learned at school together with my work experience, in order to help others with their various projects and research.

“Be involved in something.”

Tyson Kauppinen’s advice for incoming students.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to spend time outdoors, as well as doing some woodworking, making furniture.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?

My favorite movie is Miracle.

Houghton, Michigan is the birthplace of professional hockey.

Any favorite spots on campus, in Houghton, or in the UP?

My favorite sport is hockey. It’s a great sport to be interested in when you get to work and live in the city where professional hockey was born.

Any advice for incoming students?

Be involved in something. That is my piece of advice. To be involved with a group or organization builds connections and friendships, and makes coming to school/work every day much more enjoyable.

Kaiwu Huang: New Faculty Spotlight

Kaiwu Huang, Research Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering

Kaiwu Huang comes to Michigan Tech from Virginia Tech, where he worked as a research associate in the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering. He earned his BS in Mining and Minerals Engineering at China University of Mining and Technology in Beijing, and his MS and PhD in Mining and Minerals Engineering at Virginia Tech. Welcome, Dr. Huang!

What drew you to Michigan Tech?

First, my background and training in mineral processing drew me here—they’re a great fit for my current position. Second, the Department of Chemical Engineering has a strong program in mineral processing, especially in battery recycling, fine particle processing, and CO2 capture. The faculty members who interviewed me were very energetic and passionate about their work in this area. As a passionate person myself, I knew I would enjoy working with a group of passionate colleagues. Finally, I like snow sports. I’m looking forward to winter in Houghton already!

What is your primary area of research and what led you to it?

My primary area of research is mineral processing. I was a big fan of minerals and rocks as a child. The shapes and colors of these minerals built by Mother Nature are wonderful. More importantly, mineral processing is closely related to our daily life. Almost all raw materials we use today come from different minerals. Using these minerals in an efficient way is extremely important for the environment and sustainability.

More specifically, my research interests include mineral flotation, solid/liquid separation (dewatering), carbon ore beneficiation, rare earth extraction, and copper concentration. With my mineral processing research I seek to help the mining industry increase sustainability, increase profit, and reduce environmental impact.

What do you consider an important long-term goal for your research?

I want to contribute ways to efficiently use natural mineral resources and improve sustainability. I would also like to dedicate myself to developing the domestic supply chain of critical minerals.

What do you hope to accomplish, as an educator and as a researcher, over the next few years?

My goals are to publish high-quality papers in top-ranked journals, give presentations in national and international conferences, like SME and ACS annual conferences, and write winning proposals to different funding agencies and companies.

“Stay hungry; stay foolish.”

Dr. Kaiwu Huang’s advice for advice for incoming students at Michigan Tech.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Fishing and skiing

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?


Any favorite spots on campus, in Houghton, or in the UP?

Bridgeview Park

Lift Bridge and green trees across Portage Waterway
Dr. Huang’s favorite spot, Bridgeview Park, runs along the waterfront in downtown Houghton.

Scholarships for Success: Husky Pathways for Academic Wellness and Success

Adrienne Minerick (ChE) is the PI on a project that has received a $2,500,000 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project is titled “S-STEM: Scholarships for Success: Husky PAWS (Pathways for Academic Wellness and Success).”

Richelle Winkler (SS), Briana Bettin (CS) and Michelle Jarvie-Eggart (EF) are co-PIs on this potential six-year project.


This project will contribute to the national need for well-educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians by supporting the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need at Michigan Technological University.

Michigan Tech is a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math-focused high-research activity institution with approximately 7000 students, located in the rural upper peninsula of Michigan.

Over its six-year duration, this project will:

  • award four-year scholarships to first-year students
  • award additional finishing scholarships to fourth-year students pursuing an accelerated master’s degree
  • include a summer bridge opportunity
  • create a first-year experience designed to develop self-awareness
  • provide continual career counseling
  • establish alumni mentor connections
  • encourage immersive study abroad
  • provide opportunities for undergraduate research.

Scholarships are targeted to full-time students pursuing bachelor’s degrees and accelerated master’s degrees in applied physics, engineering and computer science.

The overall goal of this project is to increase STEM degree completion of low-income, high-achieving undergraduates with demonstrated financial need.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.

Lei Pan on Battery Minerals and Net-Zero Carbon

Lei Pan in his lab.
Lei Pan

Lei Pan (ChE) was mentioned by Gear Technology in a story about U.S. efforts to develop a  domestic supply chain capacity for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, the manufacturing of which is heavily reliant on critical minerals. Pan is the principal investigator of a $2.5 million research project on carbon storage and extraction of critical minerals from mine tailings at MTU. The research and funding award were the subject of a Michigan Tech News story in January.

The DOE awarded grants to develop rapid carbon mineralization and critical mineral extraction technology to 16 projects nationwide, totaling $39 million. Michigan Tech’s project is the only one in the state of Michigan to receive funding from Mining Innovations for Negative Emissions Resource Recovery (MINER).

Michigan Tech’s project is titled “Energy Reduction and Improved Critical Mineral Recovery from Low-Grade Disseminated Sulfide Deposits and Mine Tailings.” According to principal project investigator Lei Pan, it seeks to permanently and cleanly mineralize and store carbon dioxide. This process should potentially enable the mining industry in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Minnesota to achieve net carbon zero while extracting critical minerals from low-grade ores.

This focus on battery minerals has led GM, Ford and Stellantis to partner with a variety of suppliers to support battery production in North America.

Read more at Gear Technology, by Matthew Jaster.

North of 60 Mining News mentioned Michigan Tech’s $2.5 million U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E MINER award for research on carbon storage and extraction of critical minerals from mine tailings. Lei Pan (ChE) is the project’s principal investigator (PI), and David Shonnard and Tim Eisele (both ChE) are co-PIs. The award was covered by Michigan Tech News in January.


Michigan Tech Awarded $2.5 Million to Unlock Net-Zero Emission Mineral Extraction Technologies in Mining Industries

Heldt Group Attending ACS Fall 2023

Researchers in the Heldt Bioseparations Lab will be attending the ACS fall meeting on August 13–18.

Caryn Heldt – “Empty and full AAV capsid charge and hydrophobicity differences measured with single particle AFM”

Caryn Heldt is the James and Lorna Mack Chair in Bioengineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Caryn Heldt – “Virus encapsulation in polypeptide complexes for thermal stable vaccine formulations”

Caryn Heldt – “Expanding the diversity, equity, inclusion, and sense of belonging of graduate students at Michigan Tech”

Vaishali Sharma – “Mechanistic understanding of eco-friendly surfactants for virus inactivation”

Vaishali Sharma is a PhD student in biological sciences.

Seth Kriz – “Scaling down to scale up: Mass transport of viruses in aqueous two-phase systems”

Seth Kriz is a PhD student.

Natalie Nold – “Economics and process monitoring of continuous vaccine production using aqueous two-phase systems”

Natalie Nold is a PhD student.

The meeting will be held in San Francisco with a hybrid format. The 2023 meeting title is Harnessing the Power of Data.

ACS Meetings and Expositions are where chemistry professionals meet to share ideas and advance scientific and technical knowledge.

The Heldt Bioseparations Lab focuses on the science of viral surface interactions and applies it to vaccine manufacturing and purification.

Podcast: Systems of Support with Rebecca Ong

The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) is releasing the second season of Propelling Women in Power, one episode of which features Rebecca Ong, Director of Graduate Programs and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University. Propelling Women in Power is a podcast about the careers of women in energy at the Wisconsin Energy Institute on the UW–Madison campus and our sister institution, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.

In this episode, Becky Ong (ChE) shares her journey from her childhood love of plants to her groundbreaking research in converting them into biofuels. Listen in for insights on how academia can better support and empower women in STEM and how access to STEM education and representation should start in early childhood.

S2, Ep. 3 Listen (41:29)

Chemical Engineering Inducts Six into Distinguished Academy

Two people standing at the social ceremony.
Dean Janet Callahan and Bruce Janda at the academy social.

The department of Chemical Engineering inducted six alumni into our Distinguished Academy on Friday April 14th, 2023, at the Miscowaubik Club in Calumet.

The purpose of the Academy is to honor outstanding graduates of the Michigan Technological University Department of Chemical Engineering. Selection into the Academy recognizes excellence and leadership in engineering and civic affairs.

This induction honors some of the most successful alumni of Michigan Tech’s Department of Chemical Engineering. Portraits and a brief biography of Academy members are prominently displayed on the Distinguished Academy Honor Wall in the hallway outside the main departmental offices to serve as inspirational role models for future Chemical Engineering students.

The 2023 Inductees include Bryan Glover ’86, Bruce Janda ’76, Carlos Jorda ’71, Brad Rick ’84, ’86, John Smuk ’55, Phillip Watters ’69.

Bryan Glover is President and CEO of Honeywell UOP, a Des Plaines, IL based company, which is the leading provider of technologies for the global energy and petrochemicals industries. Since 1914 UOP has led the development of technologies for oil refining, petrochemicals, natural gas processing and most recently a full range of sustainable technologies including renewable fuels, clean hydrogen, carbon capture, energy storage and advanced plastics recycling.

Bruce W. Janda recently retired as Senior Consultant at Fisher International. He is a TAPPI Fellow and Education Committee Chair of TAPPI’s Tissue Division. He is also a tissue paper product and process expert, serving as the leader of TAPPI’s Tissue 101, 202, and 203 courses. Bruce continues to write and consult on the tissue business and technology as InnovaSpec, LLC.

With 52 years of experience in the international oil and gas industry, Carlos Jordá has served at the highest executive levels in refining and marketing, corporate planning, finance, and the production of Syncrude from Venezuela’s Orinoco Belt with PDVSA, rising to President of PDV America and Chairman of the CITGO Board of Directors.

Brad Rick graduated from MTU with degrees in Chemical Engineering (BSChE 1984, MSChE 1986). He spent his 35 year career with Amway Corporation in Ada, Michigan, beginning as a Process Engineer developing and scaling processes for personal care and cosmetic products. Brad transitioned to Product Development leading engineering and design efforts for a small appliance division where he received four US patents and multiple foreign patents for the design of an air treatment system.

A native of Aurora, MN, John Smuk attended St. Thomas College in St. Paul for two years prior to transferring to Michigan Tech to play football and complete his B.S. degree with honors in Chemical Engineering. He was initiated into the Phi Lambda Upsilon honorary chemical engineering and Sigma Xi. John passed away on April 2, 2022, at the age of 90.

Philip Watters received a B.S. in chemical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969 and then joined the Exxon Chemical Company. During his years at Exxon, Philip earned an MBA from the University of Houston in 1972. Philip has spent his career working on various aspects of the business in the field of petrochemical and energy industry. In 1986, he joined Resource Planning Consultants first as Vice-President and then as President. Philip joined Rimkus Consulting Group in 1989 and served as Senior Vice President for 30 years.

View the Photo Gallery


CITGO CEO Carlos Jordá Among Six Alumni Honored by Michigan Tech

“I was honored to receive this recognition from my alma mater, Michigan Tech. My background in chemical engineering has proven highly valuable throughout my career in the international oil and gas industry, and I’m proud to join the academy alongside such a distinguished group of fellow inductees.”

Carlos Jordá, CITGO CEO

ChE Convocation 2023 Awards Announced

These students, faculty and staff were presented awards on Friday (April 14) at the Department of Chemical Engineering (ChE) Convocation held in the MUB Alumni Lounge.

Bryan Glover, president and CEO of Honeywell UOP—the leading provider of technologies for the global energy and petrochemicals industries—was our keynote speaker. Glover graduated from Michigan Tech in 1986 with a BS in Chemical Engineering and he earned an MBA from the University of Chicago in 2009. In his 36 years with UOP, Glover has held positions across the company, including R&D, technical services and business management.

Congratulations to all!

Chair’s Award for Outstanding Chemical Engineering Senior

This award recognizes a graduating ChE senior for their academic achievement, experiential learning activities and community engagement. This award consists of a certificate and monetary award in the amount of $1,000.

Recipient: Brooke Bates

Excellence in Communication Award

This award acknowledges the critical role that effective communication plays in successful leadership and recognizes a graduating ChE senior for their effective use of communication of the highest standard.

Recipient: Zach Geiger

Professional Ethics Award

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 Tech.

Recipient: Sheridan Waldack

Prevent Accidents With Safety (PAWS) Award

The Prevent Accidents with Safety (PAWS) Undergraduate Lab Safety Program is a comprehensive safety program requiring training, constant vigilance and incident reporting and documentation systems — all with an eye toward critical review and continuous improvement. The PAWS program provides a framework to develop the necessary safety culture within the student community.

Recipients: Lauryn Elsholz, Nicholas Henderson, Emerson Ross, and Nicholas Scott

Dow Chemical Marriott W. Bredekamp Award

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 Marriott W. Bredekamp.

Recipients: Brooke Bates, Michael Durbin, Lydia Jackels, and Nick Schiavo

Three students holding awards and a faculty member.
L-R: Brook Bates, Lydia Jackels, and Michael Durbin with Kurt Rickard.

Senior Design Team Awards

John Patton, as chair and faculty member, initiated much of today’s design course content in ChE. He brought his experiences at Exxon to the classroom to provide students with a systematic way to design and analyze a new, large-scale capital project. This award recognizes the student team in CM 4861 that created the best plant design and recommendation for Fictitious Chemical Company. It is given in recognition of the engineering design and creativity, safety and environmental considerations, technical communication skills, and teamwork in the capstone design project.

Finalist Teams

Third Place ($400): Amelia Kramer, Tailyn Klepsa-Orrey, TJ Stachowski, and Steven Markert

Runner-Up ($600): Zach Geiger, Andy Ward, Jordan Rathke, and Kyle Hooper

Winner ($1,000): Caleb Diekema, Josiah Diekema, Riley Smith, and Kade Wirth

Two students holding awards standing on either side of a faculty member.
L-R: Caleb Diekema, Jon Herlevich, Jr., and Riley Smith.

Davis W. Hubbard Outstanding Junior Award

The eligible candidate for this award has completed all their junior-level core chemical engineering courses. Selection is based on GPA for coursework done at Michigan Tech, research engagement and internship/co-op work experience. The award consists of a certificate and monetary award in the amount of $1,000.

Recipient: Mikayla Marshalek

Student with award standing with a faculty member.
L-R: Mikayla Marshalek with Kyle Griffin.

Outstanding Sophomore Award

This award recognizes an outstanding sophomore in chemical engineering who has demonstrated exemplary academic performance in coursework and exhibited excellence in related academic enrichment activities such as research, internship/co-op work experience and Enterprise Program.

Recipient: Margaret Roelant

Student with award standing next to a faculty member.
L-R: Margaret Roeland with Kyle Griffin.

Outstanding New Student Award

This award recognizes an outstanding new student in chemical engineering who has demonstrated exemplary academic performance in coursework and exhibited excellence in related academic enrichment activities such as research, internship/co-op work experience and Enterprise Program.

Recipient: James Hays

Student with award standing next to a faculty member.
L-R: James Hays with Tim Eisele.

Leadership Awards


AIChENathan Summers

CMLCMichael Durbin

CPMJames Staley

OXENathan Summers

SABRiley Smith

AEELibby Umlor

Green Campus: Ray Buenzli

Finally, ChE students voted on these categories to honor our outstanding department employees!

  • Teacher of the Year: Kyle Griffin
  • Research Mentor of the Year: Timothy Eisele
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year: John Szczap
  • Undergraduate Grader of the Year (tie): Michael Johnson and Riley Smith
  • Staff Making a Difference: Katie Torrey
  • Peer Mentor and Coach of the Year: Riley Smith
Student standing next to a faculty member with an award.
L-R: Student presenting an award to Tim Eisele.
Student standing next to a faculty member with an award.
L-R: Kyle Griffin accepting an award from a student.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Sarvada Chipkar

Sarvada Chipkar
Sarvada Chipkar

PhD candidate Sarvada Chipkar (chemical engineering) was featured by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center in a Q&A spotlighting her research in the lab of Rebecca Ong (ChE).

“Today we spoke to Sarvada Chipkar, a PhD candidate in Ong Research Laboratory at Michigan Technological University. Sarvada is from Mumbai, India and received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Mumbai in 2017. She speaks on the power of positivity and passion when it comes to taking a leap.”

Read more at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, by Madelyn Anderson.

Kyle Griffin Nominated for Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award

Kyle Griffin
Kyle Griffin

The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is seeking input for its annual Distinguished Teaching Awards, which recognize outstanding contributions to Michigan Tech’s instructional mission. Based on more than 40,000 student ratings of instruction responses, 10 finalists have been identified for the 2023 awards. The selection committee is soliciting comments from students, staff, faculty and alumni to be referenced during their deliberations.

Among the Assistant Professor/Teaching Professor/Professor of Practice finalists is Kyle Griffin, who is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Comments for the finalists are due by March 31 and can be submitted online.

The process for determining the Distinguished Teaching Award recipients from this list of finalists also involves the additional surveying of their spring 2023 classes. The selection committee makes the final determination of the award recipients. The 2023 Distinguished Teaching Awards will be formally announced in May.

For more information, contact the CTL at or 906-487-3000.