Silicon Valley Tour – Day 1

The 4th Annual, Silicon Valley Spring Break Tour – sponsored by Brocade Communications – began over the weekend as 15 students made their way from 277″ of snow to 65 degrees and Palm trees. Plans for the trek began back in December when nearly 100 students competed for the chance to be selected for the trip. The week-long trip is designed to be an immersive experience for the students, focusing on high-tech companies in the Bay Area of Northern California – arguably the technology hotspot of the world. Heavy-hitters Cisco, Google, Brocade, Tesla, Autodesk, and Netflix are among the corporations the group will be touring, along with unique, technology-focused trips through a fully automated winery (Porter Family,) and engineering efforts with the National Park Service on Alcatraz Island. The visits are enabled by Brocade Communications and made possible by Michigan Tech’s Silicon Valley corporate partners, and in many cases – our hard-working, well-connected alumni in the Bay Area.

We’ll be posting daily summaries all week which will include impressions from select students as well as staff and faculty participating in the activities. The student group arrived late Saturday night and got acclimated with the city all day Sunday.

Read their impressions below, and watch for the first day of corporate tours on Day 2.

Sunday started with a late breakfast that lead into a group of us walking the streets of San Francisco.  We started at Ghirardelli Square.  Walking along the pier we found an art gallery that held some of Salvador Dali’s artwork, that we toured for a time.  A few of us picked up some local street Art as souvenirs on our way down the pier. We walked in and out of small stores picking up food and browsing the souvenirs. The entertainment was a treat, and after getting some refreshments, my group decided to hop on the trolly to take a look around Chinatown. Seeing the lanterns and authentic culture of Chinatown was amazing.  This was followed by a long walk through the streets of San Francisco to the Coit Tower.  The walk took around an hour, after having to find a detour because of a commercial being filmed, the tower ended up being closed down for construction.  The view, however, was amazing.  We walked down the hill, which was much easier than the walk up, to drop a few items off in our rooms and reconnect for dinner.  A group of us ended up going down to North beach to find a little restaurant that was tucked away called Michelangelo’s Caffee. The food was made by the owner of the restaurant, as well as served by him.  The service was hospitable and quick that came with complimentary desert.  Reconvening back at the hotel, a few of the group members decided to hangout in Surbhi and my room to talk about the day that lead into a night walk around town.  Overall, the first night was a success.  Being able to get to know a few of the members of the group better was a blast.  Only time will tell what will unfold next and the adventure to come.

Kirsten Dulbandzhyan
Mktg & Mngmt, Third Year

Our adventure today started off with breakfast on the town. We took a city cable car down to the Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. The car operators were attraction of their own, and offered a glimpse of true San Francisco color. Once down in the tourist section of town, we split off into a few groups. My group took the opportunity to wander around the piers and attractions found along the bay. We were treated to a variety of local flare at famous places like Boudins bread shop, and Pier 39. After stopping for a scoop of some top notch ice cream, we decided to walk the city to Coit tower. We took a jaunt through China Town on the way, and I was amazed with the cultural dynamics. After about 3 miles, and what seemed like 3000 vertical feet we made it to the tower, only to find it closed for construction! The abundance of great food and tourist shops was amazing, and its fair to say my wallet was a lot lighter on the way back to the hotel. We then made our way back to the cable line and road back toward our hotel. This time we were graced with quite the character for a cable car operator, and by the time we got to the hill top my stomach hurt from laughing. I had a few minutes to call home and tell my dad how awesome the city is, and how nice it was to final have temps above 10 degrees. Just as I hung up with him we were headed out again to get dinner. I suggested Italian food, and picked the brain of the hotel doorman to find a local hot spot. He said we couldn’t go wrong with anything down in Northbeach, so we scraped together a few others and hopped on the cable car for yet another crazy ride through the hills. I cant overemphasize how breathtaking every view in the city is, and at night this is even more true. We got off the train of Union street, and made our way through the busy streets toward Little Italy. The night air was coursing with energy, and had a mood completely different from earlier in the day. We chose to go to a little hole in the wall place called Michelangelo. This place was run by two purebred Italian guys, and the food was superb, and the service downright classy. The owner even sat down and talked to us about what we were in town for, and how we liked it so far. Then in a surprise to us all he brought out Tiramisue on the house. I’m pretty sure it was out of sympathy from learning that we came from Northern Michigan! All in all my first day in the city was beyond amazing, and I cant wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Nicholas Schweikart
Mechanical Engineering, First Year

I decided to sleep in a little on Sunday morning to rest up after a long day of travel on Saturday. Shortly after waking up part of the group decided to head out towards the Fishermans Wharf. I still needed to shower and get ready for the day so I decided I would just meet up with them. After getting ready I started walking towards the Wharf and I contacted them to see where they were at. Due to a little confusion I ended up walking over to Pier 1 while they were much further north on the corner of Beach and Larkin. I decided to just keep walking north along the bay to meet up with them but I was not disappointed as there was a beautiful view of the city and lots of events happening along the way. Once I finally met up with them they were just finishing lunch and so we headed down to explore the piers. While wandering around the piers we were able to see some seals, watch some street performers, and visited some of the local shops. Then we decided to catch a trolley and head down to experience Chinatown. On the ride to Chinatown we were able to see the famous section of Lombard street. While in Chinatown we found a nice little souvenir shop that we stopped at to pick up some trinkets to bring home with us before deciding to head over to the Coit Tower. On our walk over to the Coit Tower we had the experience of seeing a street that was blocked off to shoot a BMW commercial. After our excitement over the commercial died down we continued to head towards the Coit Tower which turned out to be closed for renovations. We were quite disappointed that we made the climb up all of the hills just to find out the tower was closed but we were still able to get an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We then decided to head back to the hotel for a bit before trying to find a place to eat. A couple people in the group were craving some Italian food so we ventured up to the North Bay to try finding a good restaurant. We ended up deciding to eat at a restaurant called Michelangelo’s on the corner of Union and Columbus. The food was fantastic and affordable but the service was even better and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice Italian restaurant in the area. After finishing dinner we headed back towards the hotel but before retiring for the night we looked around for a Walgreen’s to pick up some essentials for the morning. We had some trouble finding one that was still open at 10pm on a Sunday night but we ended up finding one and then headed back to the hotel for the night to relax for a bit before heading to bed.

Kevin Coleman – Computer Engineering, Fifth Year


Kohler Etiquette Dinner Draws Enormous Crowd

February 13, 2014

Over 400 students flocked to the third straight Business and Dining Etiquette Dinner, sponsored by the Kohler Co., on Michigan Tech’s campus on a cold and snowy Thursday night. Despite Kohler’s inbound flight being cancelled, their team of over a dozen staff drove through snow and ice, and with help from on-campus Kohler Co-Op students, they delivered an exciting and informative program. Michigan Tech students from diverse majors and class years spoke with Kohler staff about their newest technologies and employment opportunities during the pre-dinner reception. The main focus of the dinner was educating students about proper business etiquette as they embark on their future careers.

Chef Rebecca Tillman, from Kohler’s world renowned resort, The American Club, spoke throughout the meal, giving tips and advice on dining etiquette during a business meal. The evening ended with a keynote speech from Kohler’s Cynthia Bachmann, Vice President of Fixtures Engineering for Kitchen and Baths Americas, Kohler’s largest and most recognized business unit. Cynthia passed on her words of advice to the large crowd and encouraged them to pursue their passions with optimism and hold nothing back.

“This event was a great opportunity for us to get a lot of one-on-one face time with the Michigan Tech students. Their active engagement in asking questions about what we do, and their desire to learn skills that will help them in their professional career, makes us proud to be #KohlerHuskies!” expressed Kohler engineer and Michigan Tech Alumni Matthew Barens. For more information on Kohler careers please visit www.kohler.jobs

Overall, the evening provided students a look into the world of a great company and provided another professional development opportunity for their long careers. The Etiquette Dinner is a part of the Michigan Tech Career Services Career Development Education events series. For information on ways to get involved in Career Services events and opportunities to engage more closely with students, please visit http://www.mtu.edu/career/employers/resources/.


RFP announced in Advanced Materials

Michigan Tech’s Office of Innovation and Industry Engagement announces a call for proposals for its new Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (M-TRAC) program.

The M-TRAC grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation program sponsors collaborative translational research projects led by teams of researchers and business advisors as needed working in the area of advanced applied materials. The mission of this program is to develop technologies that address unmet or poorly met market needs.  Examples of desirable translational research goals and outcomes include achieving specific milestones on the path to commercializing systems, materials, processing technologies or devices which serve a well-documented market need.  Proposals may address proof of concept demonstration, prototype development or process scale up that is necessary to attract follow-on funding from third parties.  Project funding is in the range of $10,000 – $30,000 but additional commercialization value is likely to be found through collaboration with the program’s outside Oversight Committee.

The proposal must relate to an innovative technology previously disclosed to Michigan Tech’s office of Innovation & Industry Engagement through the invention disclosure process.  The PI must be willing to become involved in the initial business development activities such as customer discovery, competitive analysis, follow-on funding development, patent filings and assessment of the intellectual property landscape surrounding the technology.

The application process begins with a one page letter of intent due January 24th which should be emailed to Program Director John Diebel jfdiebel@mtu.edu.   Proposals accepted by the Oversight Committee will be invited to submit a more detailed proposal in early April. Details on the program and application process can be found here.


Kimberly-Clark Hosts Michigan Tech Students

Nineteen students from Michigan Tech spent a day in Neenah, Wisconsin touring Kimberly-Clark facilities, meeting with company representatives and alumni, and learning about careers with Kimberly-Clark.  The students included members of Michigan Tech’s Society of Women Engineers collegiate section and other professional university organizations.

For many students, the trip gave students a better understanding of what their future will be after graduation.  Erin Richie, a first-year student explains, “It was a really good opportunity for me to see what industry can be like and gave me an idea of what I want to do when I graduate.”  Jeanette Kussow added, “The Kimberly-Clark visit was a great experience.  From it, I was able to visualize myself working there in the future, and how I can get there from where I am today.”

Cassie Bobart, who’ll be a co-op with Kimberly-Clark this summer, found the trip reassuring. “It was a lot of fun to meet and interact with people who are not only successful engineers but also Michigan Tech alumni. Having that connection with these engineers not only made it much easier for me to connect with the employees but also made working in the real world seem more tangible and exciting. The idea of being outside in the real world can often feel overwhelming and unreachable but meeting such friendly Kimberly-Clark staff was really reassuring and helpful. All my questions were answered and I am not only more knowledgeable but more confident and comfortable talking to these engineers because experiences like this make you realize that you actually have a lot in common with them. The tours were extremely interesting and got me excited for the future. I can definitely see myself working in facilities like those we visited at Kimberly-Clark.”

Kimberly-Clark is well known for their personal and family care product brands – Huggies, Kleenex, Scott, Kotex, Poise, Pull-ups and Depends, and their growing leadership in the Health Care and Professional Products markets.


Patent & Trademark Resource Center Opens at Michigan Tech

[Photo courtesy of Emil Groth, College of Engineering, Michigan Technological University]

Michigan Technological University celebrated the opening of a newly designated center offering information, assistance and tools for entrepreneurs and inventors seeking patent and trademark protection of intellectual property. The day-long event included topics of interest for inventors, entrepreneurs, educators and legal professionals featuring speakers from the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) and Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech).

Located in the Van Pelt and Opie Library, on Michigan Tech’s main campus, the Patent & Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) will benefit University students, faculty, and staff as well as inventors and independent researchers from the surrounding communities. This center is one of 84 in the United States and one of 45 located in an academic library.  Available services include by-appointment individual patent and trademark searching help with trained librarians, access to robust patent-searching databases available only at PTRCs, patent and trademark searching workshops, and books and other helpful materials on the patent and/or trademark application process from beginning to end. Ellen Marks, University Librarian, emphasizes the importance of the PTRC’s services for individuals, groups and businesses located throughout the Upper Peninsula and Eastern Wisconsin — “everyone is welcome to use our services, uncommonly available in rural areas.”

Speakers for the opening day seminar included:

  • Michael Hydorn, USPTO Patent and Trademark Resource Center Program
  • Jim Baker, Executive Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement, Michigan Tech
  • M. Neil Massong, MLS, USPTO Patent and Trademark Resource Center Program

More information contact Instruction Librarian Sarah Lucchesi at slucches@mtu.edu or 906-487-3379.


General Motors donates $100,000 to Michigan Tech

General Motors donates $100K to Michigan Tech
The General Motors Foundation, a long-time supporter of Michigan Tech, presented a $100,000 check to the University today at the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC.)
The grant will fund a variety of student activities. Among them are the Advanced Hybrid Electric Vehicle and Advanced Motorsports Enterprises, Environmental Engineering senior design, student groups and diversity programs.

Photo left -> right: Steve Tomaszewski, GM’s director, real estate and facilities operations, Bob Page, Tyler Sierakowski, Rebecca Farrer, John Lukowski, Michael Carey, Glenn Mroz

—- Press Release —-

The General Motors Foundation has given Michigan Tech a $100,000 grant through its University Partner Program. The gift will support a variety of student activities, including the Advanced Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) and Advanced Motorsports Enterprises, environmental engineering senior design projects, student groups and diversity programs.
Steve Tomaszewski, GM’s global facilities director of operations North America, presented a check to President Glenn Mroz at a ceremony on Oct. 24, at the Great Lakes Research Center.

“The GM Foundation grant presented today is symbolic of our dedication to the next generation of leaders and innovators,” said Tomaszewski. “By supporting higher education programs, we’re ensuring these students receive the necessary knowledge and skills to compete in a global marketplace.”

This year, the GM Foundation will award grants totaling $2.9 million to support leading universities and partnering organizations across the country this year through its University Partner Program. The initiative provides funding to advance secondary education curricula in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM, information technology and other fields important to the automotive industry.

“We appreciate GM’s continued support for Michigan Tech’s students. The variety of programs the GM Foundation grant supports will gives students the chance to work on developing the technologies that will be important to Michigan’s economy far into the future,” said Mroz.

“This funding from the GM Foundation comes at the perfect time, as the students are making the final push this academic year to achieve their goal of having a fully-functioning hybrid electric vehicle, showcasing the capabilities of Michigan Tech and the students on the HEV Enterprise,” said Bob Page, Michigan Tech laboratory facilities manager/HEV Enterprise advisor.

Michigan Tech and General Motors have had a long-standing partnership dating back to at least 1940. Since that time, General Motors and the GM Foundation have provided more than $12.1 million to support a wide range of activities across campus including scholarships, capital projects, Senior Design and Enterprise programs, student organizations, sponsored research, recruiting support, youth programs, diversity initiatives, and more.

The General Motors Foundation has given Michigan Tech a $100,000 grant through its University Partner Program. The gift will support a variety of student activities, including the Advanced Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) and Advanced Motorsports Enterprises, environmental engineering senior design projects, student groups and diversity programs.

Steve Tomaszewski, GM’s global facilities director of operations North America, presented a check to President Glenn Mroz at a ceremony on Oct. 24, at the Great Lakes Research Center.
“The GM Foundation grant presented today is symbolic of our dedication to the next generation of leaders and innovators,” said Tomaszewski. “By supporting higher education programs, we’re ensuring these students receive the necessary knowledge and skills to compete in a global marketplace.”

This year, the GM Foundation will award grants totaling $2.9 million to support leading universities and partnering organizations across the country this year through its University Partner Program. The initiative provides funding to advance secondary education curricula in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM, information technology and other fields important to the automotive industry.

“We appreciate GM’s continued support for Michigan Tech’s students. The variety of programs the GM Foundation grant supports will gives students the chance to work on developing the technologies that will be important to Michigan’s economy far into the future,” said Mroz.
“This funding from the GM Foundation comes at the perfect time, as the students are making the final push this academic year to achieve their goal of having a fully-functioning hybrid electric vehicle, showcasing the capabilities of Michigan Tech and the students on the HEV Enterprise,” said Bob Page, Michigan Tech laboratory facilities manager/HEV Enterprise advisor.

Michigan Tech and General Motors have had a long-standing partnership dating back to at least 1940. Since that time, General Motors and the GM Foundation have provided more than $12.1 million to support a wide range of activities across campus including scholarships, capital projects, Senior Design and Enterprise programs, student organizations, sponsored research, recruiting support, youth programs, diversity initiatives, and more.


Accurate Detection of Engine Knock

Engine knock is caused by the auto-ignition of the fuel and air mixture compressed in the cylinder before normal combustion is complete. A vehicle with engine knock will quickly suffer engine damage, yet operating at conditions far from the knock limit will quickly reduce fuel economy. Because engine knock typically generates high frequency vibrations in the engine, it can be measured by accelerometers mounted on the engine block. The intensity of the engine knock varies from cycle to cycle and can lead current knock detection systems to underestimate the level of knock resulting in possible engine damage or overestimate the level of knock resulting in fuel economy losses.

The solution to accurate engine knock measurement lies with statistical characterization. The invention is a software algorithm that capitalizes on current Engine Control Unit (ECU) hardware to fit the cycle-cycle knock intensities to a probability density function. The statistical characterization is more accurate for both stationery and non-stationery detection of engine knocks. The model was developed using a standard 3.0 liter, V-6 internal combustion engine.

Minimizing engine knock provides many advantages including reduced fuel consumption, reduced engine noise and improved tolerance to alternative fuels including biofuel blends. The developed software algorithm improves the robustness of existing ECU hardware with a more accurate measuring system. This calculation improves performance and extends internal combustion engine life while being applicable to most ECUs on the market.

Exclusive and nonexclusive license terms are available on this innovation (U.S. Patent No. 7,415,347, issued January 2008). For more information contact John Diebel in the Office of Innovation and Industry Engagement, 906-487-1082.


Wet Oxidation of Lactose

Lactose is a low-value by-product of cheese production. Altogether, about 1.2 million tons are generated annually worldwide by the dairy industry. Most of the resulting lactose is disposed of in waste water leading to environmental problems. To reduce the environmental impact the dairy industry needs to minimize this waste, either by converting lactose to smaller organic and inorganic carbon compounds more suitable for disposal or, preferably, to a lactose derivative compound with significant value.

At Michigan Tech, researchers have modified a catalytic wet oxidation process (common in sewage treatment) where O2 is added to a 3 percent lactose-water solution in the presence of a catalyst under heat and pressure. Catalytic wet oxidation converts whey (comprised of water, proteins, minerals and lactose) to carbon dioxide and water. The process has been modified to produce lactobionic acid, a marketable by-product for food preservation, cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications.  During the process, heat is generated and may provide additional value as recovered energy.  In addition to producing a marketable by-product, this process is simple and offers a safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional waste treatment methods.

Exclusive or nonexclusive licensing is available on this technology (U.S. Patent No. 7,371,362, issued May 13, 2008). For more information contact John Diebel in the Office of Innovation and Industry Engagement, 906-487-1082.


How to entertain 300 companies

The job fairs at Michigan Tech regularly bring in companies by the hundreds; many hundreds. This Fall’s fair was no exception, and Michigan Tech’s Corporate Partnerships group teamed up again with the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation Smart Zone (MTEC SmartZone) to host recruiters, staff, and faculty at the Keweenaw Brewing Company. It’s tough to find time to connect everyone in a social setting with the pressure of the job fair and a full week of interview slots to fill, but beer and pizza seem to always motivate. Over 200 joined together in downtown Houghton to talk shop, and casually mingle before the busyness of the rest of the week hit. The MTEC SmartZone is a generous and natural fit for hosting this event. Their mission is to accelerate and foster high-tech business growth – focusing specifically on driving Michigan’s innovation leadership and economic growth with sustainable opportunities for companies and their employees to prosper in incubators and offices in any of three sites in the local Houghton area. The SmartZone even started the next morning at 6:30 with a hosted breakfast and a tour of their business spaces.

Learn more about what the MTEC SmartZone is doing for businesses.

And learn more about how to connect with Career Services.


Steel Day at Michigan Tech – Oct 15

Students from all majors will get a chance to learn about career opportunities in the steel industry on Tuesday, Oct. 15, during Michigan Tech’s first annual Steel Day. Major players in steel such as Gerdau, Nucor, Cliffs and ArcelorMittal will be interacting with students in a fun and informational setting.

The day will start with a cookout on the Dow Patio from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when students can visit interactive displays set up in the Dow Atrium. At 6:30 p.m., a panel of industry experts will answer questions and talk with students in the Memorial Union Ballroom A. Later that evening, over $1,500 in prizes will be raffled off to participants.

To increase awareness of the steel industry, Michigan Tech’s materials science and engineering department, Advanced Metalworks Enterprise and student professional society Materials United are working with Career Services to organize and publicize this event.

Steel Day is meant to engage all students who might be interested in pursuing a career in this vital industry. Company representatives are hoping to build personal relationships with first-and second-year engineering students in an effort to promote careers within the industry.