Huskies to Serve as Virtual K-12 Tutors

July 8, 2020

by Kari Henquinet, Pavlis Honors College, Social Sciences

When the COVID-19 pandemic began this spring, it rapidly affected every facet of life, including the lives of K-12 students and families across the country when schools began closing. Schools changed gears to provide virtual and remote education almost overnight, a major challenge for teachers, students and parents alike. At the same time as universities closed, Michigan Tech students also found themselves stuck at home with plenty of their own on-line class work, but still wondering how they could help the community. As Tech students, faculty, and alumni brainstormed and connected with local educators for advice, Tech Tutors — a free, virtual tutoring program for K-12 students — was born.

Connecting on Zoom, Elise Cheney-Makens (alum and Community Engagement Coordinator for the Pavlis Honors College), Lydia Savatsky (undergraduate), and Charles Fugate (alum) worked together to quickly roll out the Tech Tutors program in a matter of weeks. By early May, the program was up and running.

Tech Tutors allows Michigan Tech students to volunteer while staying home to keep their families, friends, and communities safe. Volunteer tutors and K-12 students meet virtually through programs like Zoom. Participants range in age from first grade up through high school, and tutors help their students with everything from solving basic math problems to learning the principles of acids and bases by dipping oranges in baking soda or diving into the complex scientific and social implications of the pandemic. Currently, participating students come from throughout the Western UP, and tutors are able to work with any students and families interested in tutoring.

The benefits of Tech Tutors extend far beyond helping with subjects like English, science, and math. While completing schoolwork and traditional learning are essential parts of the program, equally important is tutors mentoring and building connections with their students. At a time when many people — K-12 students, families, and college students alike — have had their normal routines and lives interrupted, building connections with new people, supporting one another, and learning from new perspectives is more valuable than ever before.

Created by students, faculty, staff, and alumni in the Pavlis Honors College, the Tech Tutors program will begin operating this fall under the Center for Educational Outreach at Michigan Tech and the program will continue to help K-12 students — and provide opportunities for Michigan Tech students to give back — as we navigate what school and life look like during the ever-changing COVID-19 world.

More information about Tech Tutors and how to get involved is available on its website and the Global and Community Engagement blog.

https://blogs.mtu.edu/global-community-engagement/
https://sites.google.com/mtu.edu/techtutors/home

Fall Career Fair Will Be Virtual

by Career Services

Like many areas of campus, Career Services fall events are going to look a little different this year. Due to social distancing on campus, travel restrictions at many recruiting organizations, and the health and safety of our campus community, Career Services will host our fall career fair virtually.

The virtual fair will be held on the platform Career Fair Plus; the same career fair app students have been using for the past 5 years. Career Fair Plus allows students to schedule times to meet with recruiters causing less disruption to their course schedule.

To allow for student and recruiter flexibility, we have added a second career fair date. The fair dates are Sept. 23 and 24. In the coming months, Career Services will conduct training and demos for both students and employers, so when the big day arrives, everyone will be ready to hit the ground running.

We have also pivoted our traditional Industry Days into a few different virtual events, including a Partners Only Preview Fair on Sept. 9, for our corporate partner companies typically present at the Industry Days.

Companies will also host information sessions, networking events and more via our virtual platforms. We will also continue to host our events for resume reviews, interview prep and virtual career fair tips.

More information is available at mtu.edu/careerfair.


Moving to Final Step of Return to Campus Plan

by MTU Flex Task Force

On Monday, July 27, Michigan Tech will enter the final step of our Return to Campus Plan. Step Three concludes our return to campus and marks our transition to the Health and Safety Levelssystem that we will maintain from the fall semester forward.

Beginning July 27, we plan to resume campus operations at the level at which Michigan Tech will function when students return. Previous expectations outlined in Steps One and Two remain in effect, including enhanced hygiene and social distancing protocols. Of course, those who need to work from home due to health concerns are encouraged to do so, using either a flexible work agreement with their supervisor or a COVID-19 accommodation

Please remember that all those who come to campus are required to submit the Daily Symptom Monitoring Form. This form can also be found on the MTU Flex Portal. Employees must remain six feet apart while working. While working indoors, employees who can medically tolerate them must wear protective face coverings unless working alone in their office with the door closed. If you are unable to medically tolerate a face covering, please reach out for an appropriate COVID-19 accommodation.

If you are returning to campus as an employee, you must complete the online COVID-19 trainingwithin seven days of your return to campus. All employees returning prior to the fall semester must have training completed no later than August 26, 2020. 

If you have questions about this transition, please visit the Fall 2020 Return to Campus Three-Step Plan page on the MTU Flex website. Information about the Health and Safety Levels can be found in the website’s Campus Operations section.


CSD Major Isaac Appleby on en’s Basketball Earns Academic Accolades

Huskies basketball student-athlete Isaac Appleby, a junior in the Computer Science program at Michigan Tech, was recently named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honor Court.

The accolade highlights the talents and gifts that the men’s basketball players possess on the court, and the hard work they exhibit in the classroom, according to an Athletics department press release.

A total of six Huskies were named to the NABC Honor Court, listed below.

Isaac Appleby, Junior, Computer Science
Trent Bell, Junior, Civil Engineering
Dawson Bilski, Junior, Wildlife and Ecology Management
Tommy Lucca, Senior, Engineering Management
Kyle Clow, Junior, Mechanical Engineering
TeeAaron Powell, Junior, Business Administration

The Huskies men’s basketball team also earned the Team Excellence Award, holding a 3.4 grade-point average as a team. The award recognizes outstanding academic achievement by a team with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better for the 2019-20 season. Ferris State, Northern Michigan, and Wayne State were other schools from the GLIAC recognized.

The recipients must be junior or senior, hold a 3.2 GPA or higher at the conclusion of the 2019-20 academic year, must have matriculated at least one year at their current institution, and have an NABC member coach. More than 1,350 men’s basketball student-athletes across NCAA Division I, II, III, and NAIA Division I or II were honored. Northern Michigan and Parkside also had six players receive the honor to tie with Michigan Tech for the GLIAC lead.

Michigan Tech was 23-8 overall and 14-6 in the GLIAC in 2019-20, finishing second in the GLIAC North and third overall. The Huskies qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in school history after winning the GLIAC Tournament Championship.


Longtime ECE Professor Roger Kieckhafer Dies

By Glen Archer, Interim Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Roger cared deeply for his students, his family, and his profession. I think that may be the source we can draw upon to comfort our own sense of sadness and grief. The impact he had on hundreds of lives will shine on.

Professor Roger Kieckhafer was an inventor, engineer, researcher, educator, veteran and valued faculty member at Michigan Technological University. He died on Friday, July 17 in a tragic vehicle-bicycle accident. He was 69.

The loss to the faculty and staff in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the College of Engineering is immense. We will not recover quickly from the shock of his death.

Roger received his Bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 1974 and earned his Master’s and PhD in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1982 and 1983, respectively. The years between were spent in service to the United States Navy as a Nuclear Officer aboard the Trident missile submarine USS Abraham Lincoln. He also supervised the construction of the USS Indianapolis. His time in industry was also well spent, producing several patents that were licensed to Allied Signal, now Honeywell Corporation.

Roger was fond of classical music, particularly opera, and sang in the Copper Country Chorale, often accompanied by his daughter, Maggie, on organ. He also sang in the prestigious Pine Mountain Music Festival, including the premiere of the opera Rockland, based on the story of the 1906 miner strike in Rockland, Michigan.

Roger was instrumental in creating the computer engineering degree program at Michigan Tech. Working with Linda Ott in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Sciences and Arts, he bridged the gap between two departments in two separate colleges, crafting a program that educated hundreds—a new breed of engineer steeped in both worlds.

Even after the development of the computer engineering program, Roger’s collaboration with the Department of Computer Science continued. “We worked together on a strategic hiring initiative, multiple curricular issues, reorganization discussions and countless other issues,” said Dr. Linda Ott, Chair of the Department of Computer Science. “Roger was always supportive. He clearly believed that we would have stronger programs working together rather than competing.”

Roger was a strong advocate for the ABET accreditation process in the ECE department. He led the initial ABET accreditation of the Computer Engineering program. The procedures and processes he set in place then are still in play nearly 20 years later, guiding the department’s subsequent accreditation for both its electrical engineering and computer engineering degrees.

In the words of Computer Engineering faculty member Kit Cischke, “For Roger, it always boiled down to what was best for our students. The content of our classes. The things our students needed to know to get good jobs. The assignments. The kinds of things they needed to do in the real world. Students were forever contacting Roger after graduation, saying, ‘Thanks for teaching me that. I’m using it every day in my job.’”

Over the past few days, Roger’s former students have reached out to express their grief and sadness. They have shared how much Roger meant to them during their time at Michigan Tech and how well he prepared them for the success they enjoy today. One of those students was Joseph Rabaut. In his words, “I can’t tell you how devastated I am. Dr. Kieckhafer was an amazing person and one of the best professors at Tech. He helped me a lot throughout the past few years, giving me advice and recommendations, and helping me understand computer engineering. I don’t really know what else to say, because words can’t really describe losing him.”

Roger cared deeply for his students, his family, and his profession. I think that may be the source we can draw upon to comfort our own sense of sadness and grief. The impact he had on hundreds of lives will shine on.

As we move forward, his legacy will live on. As suggested by several people, a scholarship fund will be set up in Roger’s memory.

Roger is survived by his wife, Patricia Kieckhafer; son, Alexander Kieckhafer (Mallika Lavakumar) and thoroughly adored granddaughters, Ananya Kieckhafer and Ishani Kieckhafer of Cleveland, Ohio; daughter, Katherine Kieckhafer of Boston, Massachusetts; and Maggie Kieckhafer (Tahmoures Tabatabaei) of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Roger’s obituary can be read here.


Michigan Tech 17th Among 50 Public Colleges that Pay Off the Most

Michigan Tech was listed #17 among public institutions on the “The top 50 U.S. colleges that pay off the most in 2020,” published by CNBC.

CNBC Make It wants to help people get smarter about they you earn, save and spend money, according to their website. The website focuses on success, money, work and life, and provides information and inspiration to navigate big financial firsts: from landing your dream job, to starting a business, to investing in your future and leading a rich life.


ICC Announces Computing Education Center

The Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) has announced the addition of the Computing Education Center (CEC). Professor Yu Cai, Applied Computing, is director of the new center.

“A special thanks to Yu Cai for stepping forward to lead this effort,” said Tim Havens, director of the ICC and associate dean for research, College of Computing.

“This has been discussed for a few years, and I’m excited about the group of people that has come together in this center,” Havens added. “I look forward to hearing about their successes.”

The ICC is funded in large part through returns on grant overhead and expenditures (F&A). Commonly called IRAD funds, these quarterly distributions are allocated among the six ICC centers according to their respective research expenditures that quarter.


Weihua Zhou Receives PHF Seed Grant

The Michigan Tech Vice President for Research office has announced the Spring 2020 Research Excellence Fund (REF) awards.

Among the recipients is Assistant Professor Weihua Zhou, Applied Computing/Health Informatics, who received a Portage Health Foundation Research Seed Grant.

Zhou’s areas of expertise include image processing and computer vision, machine learning, medical image analysis, health informatics, and text mining.

The proposed project represents Zhou’s continuous research on cardiac resynchronization therapy for patients with heart failure.

His co-investigators are Associate Professor Qing-Hui Chen, M.D., Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, and Timothy Havens, the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor, College of Computing.

Ph.D. candidate Zhuo He, College of Computing, is a research assistant on the project. Rudy Evonich, MD, a cardiologist with the Department of Cardiology at UP Health System Marquette, Mich., is a clinical consultant.

Read the Tech Today announcement here.

Learn more about Michigan Tech REF awards here.


A Message from Adrienne Minerick, Dean

Dear Computing Alumni and Friends,

This has been a tumultuous time for our society and for the Michigan Tech family. As the implications of COVID have unfolded, our College of Computing teams have strategized and adapted to do things differently/better with fewer resources. As our country has grappled with racism, we have leveraged this to educate ourselves on systemic racism within the academy and what we can do to improve our classrooms and community here at Michigan Tech.


In the last CC newsletter, I mentioned how proud I was of our students. I’d like to shift the spotlight to talk about how proud I am of our faculty. With the rapid shift to remote instruction in the spring semester, we recognized we needed to learn skills to maintain and even enhance the learning experience for our students.

By the end of the summer, nearly all of our faculty will have gone the extra mile by completing a 3-credit course on online instruction. Our team members did this because they believe strongly in protecting the quality of our Michigan Tech computing degrees as well as the importance of enabling accessibility of the learning resources for all students having a myriad of resources/infrastructure for their learning in these unprecedented times.

The following outstanding accolade demonstrates just how far our faculty went for our students (and how it will be even better in the fall): At the end of the spring semester, a survey was conducted by the Provost’s office in which one-third of MTU students participated. Nearly 90% of our CC faculty were rated “excellent” by students for their on-line teaching efforts. We are planning for face to face and remote classes in the fall, and our exceptional faculty will be at the forefront of innovation and quality in the MTU Flex framework.

On July 1, the College of Computing turned 1 year old! Our team has participated in numerous discussions, negotiations, and changes over the last year to stand up a fully functional new college with student enrollment growth and expansion of degree programs.

We launched two new degrees (BS Cybersecurity, MS Mechatronics), had a third one approved (BS Mechatronics starts Fall 2020), formed the new Department of Applied Computing, selected key individuals to help lead each department (Dr. Linda Ott and Dr. Dan Fuhrmann), to strategically lead research (Dr. Tim Havens), as well as curriculum enhancements and innovations (Dr. Chuck Wallace).

We have organized a well-functioning staff team with superb advisors providing meaningful support to students. We continue to advance quickly with six new faculty starting in Fall 2020 and the search for the new Dean actively moving forward.

The College of Computing and our students, faculty, and staff are doing phenomenal things to prevail in these challenging times.

Best regards,

Adrienne Minerick, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Computing
President-Elect, American Society for Engineering Education (www.ASEE.org)


ACT, SAT Waived for Some Applicants

For incoming students next fall, first-year applicants with a cumulative high school GPA of 3.00 or higher will not be required to provide official SAT or ACT scores to receive an admission decision. The domestic application, now available online for spring, summer, and fall 2021 semesters, remains free for all applicants.

The University recognizes that the incoming class of 2021 faced many obstacles, one of which was the postponement or cancellation of spring SAT and ACT examinations, which traditionally trigger the start of the college application process. In Michigan, all high school juniors were scheduled to take the SAT free of charge as part of state assessment testing in April. Due to school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this testing has been postponed until September 23 or October 14—the date of administration to be determined by individual districts.

“Many students wait until they receive their scores before deciding where to apply. The delays in testing would likely push back both the application process and receiving the admission decision until November or December, putting students at a disadvantage for applying for scholarships and federal financial aid,” says Allison Carter, director of admissions operations.

Official SAT or ACT scores will be required for admission purposes for homeschooled students, as well as applicants who have a cumulative high school GPA below 3.00. Additionally, all first-year students who wish to be considered for merit-based scholarships must submit official test scores. Student athletes are required to submit official test scores per NCAA eligibility requirements.

“We’re excited about this change, especially when you consider the access it provides to students who do well academically but may test below their potential due to a variety of factors,” states Carter. “The response from families about this change for 2021 has been very positive. We’ve been able to keep student excitement about Michigan Tech high and the stress associated with the college application process low.”

Applicants will be reviewed individually based on high school academic performance, including courses taken, grades received, and trend in grades relative to their intended major. Test scores will be taken into consideration for those required to submit them or who wish to supplement their application.

Read a July 1, 2020, Tech Today article about this here.