Author: karenjoh

Mechatronics Engineering Lab Spotlighted in Donald Engineering Newsletter

Michigan Tech faculty and students at Donald Engineering

An article about the future Mechatronics Engineering Lab was included in the November 2019 issue of The Pilothouse, published by Donald Engineering, an engineering and distribution company headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The article is reproduced below.

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Michigan Tech University is currently making space for a new Mechatronics Engineering Lab that we refer to as The Mechatronics Playground. Donald Engineering is proud to be playing a big role in this Playground development. MTU Professor Alex Sergeyev, MTU Lecturer/ME Advisor Kevin Johnson, and  MTU Mechatronics students visited Donald Engineering in October to view demonstrations and to continue the process of fine-tuning these units. Several modules that DE is currently working on will be ready and delivered before the end of 2019!

Force Sensing Module

Pictured at right is the Force Sensing Module installed on a Schunk Pneumatic Gripper controlled by a Clippard Cordis closed-loop regulator. With a little math and PI calculations (as discussed in the last Pilot House issue), students will be able to measure, set, monitor, adjust, and record the force being applied by the gripper fingers to objects. This unit will help to demonstrate how much force can be or should be applied to objects in order to pick them up without damaging gripper fingers or the object itself. With this module, students will be exposed to some of the best and newest components like:

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Alex Sergeyev, NMC Featured in Article about Robotics Manufacturing in Michigan

Robotics manufacturing shows Michigan’s automation leadership

In August 2019 Michigan Tech and Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) formalized a partnership and seven new articulation agreements designed to expedite degree completion for engineering students transferring to Michigan Tech from NMC. Under the 2+2 agreements, which took effect with the fall 2019 semester, engineering students are able to complete their first two years of study at NMC and then transfer to Tech with junior status. In addition to ensuring a quality undergraduate education for engineering students, the agreement is intended to create a pipeline of talented students from the Grand Traverse region to Michigan Tech and highly qualified future graduates to enhance the Grand Traverse area workforce.

November 8, 2019 | By EVAN JONES | Capital News Service of the Spartan News Service, School of Journalism, Michigan State University

LANSING — Engineering students at Northwestern Michigan College program autonomous rovers to inspect environments underwater and in the air in-real time.The rovers aren’t the only things on the move in a burgeoning robotics industry that experts say is a key to Michigan’s economy.“We’re always going to be trying to move to some new technology – and we just kind of have to be ready for it,” said Jason Slade, the director of technical academics at the Traverse City school.Automation could reshape Michigan’s workforce, experts say.  And the state is a leader in both manufacturing robots and in training employers to use them.

Michigan leads the U.S. with more than 28,000 robots mostly engineered in state, 12% of the nation’s total, according to a 2017 Brookings Institution report.The state’s aging population creates a gap in the skilled labor pool that automation could fill, said Joseph Cvengros, a vice president at FANUC America, a Rochester Hills company that recently opened a 461,000-square-foot robot factory.“The next generation isn’t as large so the way that companies are going to stay competitive is to have a balance of highly technical skilled people and automation,” he said.The change doesn’t eliminate humans from the process, said Rep. Brian Elder, D-Bay City. Elder also chairs the House labor caucus.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to reach a point in which we don’t need human beings to do manufacturing work,” Elder said. “Every once in a while people will say, ‘everything is going to go away,’ and that’s just not true. Will things be different? Undoubtedly.

”The rise in Michigan of industrial robots that are getting smaller and smarter isn’t surprising, said Drew Coleman, the director of foreign direct investment, growth and development for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC).

“We’ve had robots and automation since Henry Ford invented the assembly line,” Coleman said. “If you think of anything that you buy, it’s been touched by a robot likely at some point.”

And experts say rather than looking at them as worker replacements, they should be viewed as the source of highly skilled jobs.

“We believe that this is opening up opportunities for Michigan in making us more competitive,” Cvengros said.Automation has applications as diverse as more precise surgeries and self-driving semi-trucks, said Otie McKinley, the MEDC’s media and communications manager.

It requires “a transition of skill sets from the current workforce in addition to the attraction of a new workforce,” McKinley said.

Elder said the recent deal between the United Auto Workers and General Motors allowed for specific automation technology training for workers.

“The corporations and the union understand that well-trained workers will continue to make products that are good enough to demand market share,” Elder said.

Community colleges are stepping up with training programs that work with local employers, said Michael Hansen, the president of the Michigan Community College Association.Schools with FANUC-certified education programs partner with companies looking to hire graduates skilled in programming and using robots in the workplace, Cvengros said.

Michigan Technological University partnered with Bay De Noc Community College in the Upper Peninsula to create a robotics and software development program in 2018. The  hands-on training program offers an easy path for transferring from the community college to the university, said Aleksandr Sergeyev, a Michigan Tech electrical engineering professor.

The “mechatronics” degree path encompasses electrical and mechanical engineering, robotics, automation and cybersecurity skills.

“I have seen that need in mechatronics for a long, long time,” Sergeyev said. “It doesn’t teach you the depth, it teaches the breadth.”

Sergeyev is a FANUC-certified professor who can train students for jobs in automation. Professors with that certification can also train company professionals, ensuring that they both use the most updated software, Sergeyev said.

Internal surveys showed that 80% of Michigan Tech undergraduates are interested in taking the additional time required to complete a mechatronics degree and 85% of companies want their workers to have it, Sergeyev said.

Slade said a challenge is to prepare technology students for rapid changes.“We have the hope that they’ll be able to use technology right now, but then adapt to new technology that comes online,” Slade said.

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Kevin Erkkila, ’15, Featured in Midland Daily News Article

Kevin Erkkila

Michigan Tech Computer Science and ROTC alumnus Kevin Erkkila ’15, was featured in the article “Midland Remembers First Lieutenant Kevin Erkkila, Operation Inherent Resolve in the Middle East,” in the Midland Daily News. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Erkkila completed the Army ROTC program at Michigan Tech and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army upon graduation. Erkkila is currently deployed in the Middle East serving as an engineering officer with the 3-21 Infantry Division.

Errkila’s story is part of the “Midland Remembers” series this November in the Midland Daily News. The series shares stories of veterans with ties to Midland, Michigan.

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Dependable and Secure CPS and (IoT) Course Offered Next Semester

Dependable and Secure Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and Internet of Things (IoT)

CS 5090 | TR | 2:05-3:20 pm | Spring 2020 | CRN 12738 | Max class size: 30 students

Instructor: Dr. Ali Ebnenasir | Department of Computer Science | aebnenas@mtu.edu

A course on the theoretical and practical aspects of developing dependable and secure Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) and the Internet of Things (IoT), especially the controlling software of CPS and IoT (CPS-IoT). Students will gain a a deep knowledge of the literature on modeling, designing and verifying dependable Cyber Physical Systems, as well as the programming of IoT.  They will improve their knowledge and skills in (1) rigorous modeling of CPS-IoT; (2) design, verification and validation of CPS-IoT; (3) programming paradigms for CPS-IoT, and (4) methods for the design of fault-tolerant and secure CPS-IoT.

Course Modules

• Background on (distributed) CPS-IoT

• Background on dependability aspects, especially fault tolerance and security as well as their interplay.

• Design methodologies for CPS-IoT.

• Programming models for CPS-IoT.

• Distributed computing primitives for resource constraint systems.

Prerequisities | Discrete Math, Formal Models of Computation, Skills in a common programming language. Students from disciplines other than Computer Science (e.g., ECE) should contact Dr. Ebnenasir for approval before enrolling in this course.

Download a course flyer.

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Dean Minerick a Guest on Copper Country Today

Dean Adrienne Minerick

College of Computing Dean Adrienne Minerick was a featured guest on the Keweenaw Report radio program Copper Country Today, hosted by Todd VanDyke. The segment aired on Sunday, November 3, 2019, on the station 97.7 The Wolf.

Listen to a recording of the segment here: http://www.keweenawreport.com/c-c-today/copper-country-today-november-3-2019/attachment/cct-11-03-a-adrienne-minerick/.

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Linda Ott, Laura Brown to Join “1984” Panel

The Rozsa Center For the Performing Arts presents a powerful theatrical production of George Orwell’s “1984” — an evocative and timely cautionary tale of personal freedom against political repression.

Today, Orwell’s story resonates around the globe as individuals, systems and governments clash. Join us for “1984,” by New York City’s Aquila Theatre, followed by a post-show discussion of how Orwell’s narrative eerily predicted today’s unprecedented challenges to privacy, truth, and personal expression.

See “1984” at 7 p.m. Friday (Nov. 8) at the Rozsa Center. Panelists include guest lecturer Marika Pfefferkorn, and Michigan Tech’s Alexandra Morrison (HU), Linda Ott (CS), and Laura Brown (CS) and will be moderated by Stefka Hristova (HU). Light refreshments will be served. The discussion is expected to run approximately 45 minutes after the show.

Written in 1944 near the end of World War II, “1984” depicts a society controlled by a perfectly totalitarian government bent on repressing all subversive tendencies. “Big Brother” is always watching and technology is wielded as a weapon to inundate citizens with propaganda and to monitor thoughts and actions. Imagined before the existence of computers, this dystopian future explores the power of technology as a mental manipulator and source of curated information.

This event is made possible with funding from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Crane Group. Tickets to “1984” are Adult: $22.00, Youth: $10.00, and Michigan Tech Students at no charge with Experience Tech Fee, and are available by phone, (906) 487-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or at the Rozsa Box office the night of the show.

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“The Bit Player,” a documentary about Claude Shannon, Is Sunday, November 3

The College of Computing, the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are sponsors of a showing of the film, “The Bit Player,” during this week’s 41 North Film Festival at the Rozsa Center. The showing is this Sunday, November 3, at 3:30 pm. There is no charge to attend, but film-goers are encouraged to secure tickets online and at the Rozsa Center box office. (mtu.edu/rozsa/ticket/calendar/)
“The Bit Player” is a documentary about  Claude Shannon, the father of information theory and a hero to many in electrical engineering, computer engineering, and computer science. Claude Shannon was born in Gaylord, Michigan, on April 30, 1916. He attended University of Michigan, double majoring in mathematics and electrical engineering. His MIT master’s thesis was titled, “A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits,” which related electric circuits and their on/off character to Boolean Algebra, the “Mathematics of Logical Thought,” laying the foundation for machines to make decisions — “to think.”
This was the first documentary film funded by the IEEE Foundation, and it was done in conjunction with the IEEE Information Theory Society (ITS). The ITS is the only IEEE society whose “basis” has a definitive starting date – the 1948 publication of Shannon’s A Mathematical Theory of Communication <http://math.harvard.edu/~ctm/home/text/others/shannon/entropy/entropy.pdf>
More information about this film can be found at http://41northfilmfest.mtu.edu/2019/the-bit-player/.
Claude Shannon

A description from the film’s official website (https://thebitplayer.com): “In a blockbuster paper in 1948, Claude Shannon introduced the notion of a “bit” and laid the foundation for the information age. His ideas ripple through nearly every aspect of modern life, influencing such diverse fields as communication, computing, cryptography, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, cosmology, linguistics, and genetics. But when interviewed in the 1980s, Shannon was more interested in showing off the gadgets he’d constructed — juggling robots, a Rubik’s Cube solving machine, a wearable computer to win at roulette, a unicycle without pedals, a flame-throwing trumpet — than rehashing the past. Mixing contemporary interviews, archival film, animation and dialogue drawn from interviews conducted with Shannon himself, The Bit Player tells the story of an overlooked genius who revolutionized the world, but never lost his childlike curiosity.”

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CNSA Major Gary Tropp Named University Innovation Fellow

Gary Tropp

Gary Tropp (Computer Network and System Administration ’22), along with Abigail Kuehne (Psychology and Communication, Culture, and Media/ Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors ’21), Sam Raber (Psychology ’22), and Lindsay Sandell (Biomedical Engineering ’21), has been named a University Innovation Fellows by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.

The global UIF program trains student leaders to create new opportunities for their peers to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking, and creativity. Michigan Tech’s team of University Innovation Fellows (UIF) support student interests, create an ecosystem for innovation, and encourage environmentally sustainable practices on campus. They aim to preserve a culture of inclusion, encourage creativity and self-authorship, and help students create lasting connections.

Current UIF proposals include a university-sanctioned gap year program, updates to campus wellness opportunities, student ambassador programs, and creating a space to reduce waste and encourage students to share and reuse common school items. Learn more about UIF here.

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Intro to Computing Principles using Python to be offered in Spring 2020

The College of Computing will offer an introductory fundamentals of computing class using the Python programming language in the Spring 2020 semester.

Introduction to Computing Principles, CS 1090, will meet MWF, 3:05-3:55 pm. The CRN is 14789. This class is for non-CS majors. There are no prerequisites and prior programming experience is not needed. Maximum class size is 25.

In the class, students will develop computational thinking skills vital for success across all disciplines. The course uses programming to introduce topics such as algorithms, abstraction, data, global impact, and internet technologies. Students will also develop effective communication and collaboration skills by working in groups to solve problems. This course engages students in problem-solving, creativity, and exploration. Upon completion of the course, students will have a richer understanding of the key principles of computer science. Students will be able to write small programs, speak intelligently about how computers work and how they enable us to become better problem-solvers, and communicate that knowledge to others.

What is Python? Python is a widely-used, high level programming language that can be used to create desktop applications, 3D graphics, video games, and even websites. It’s a great first programming language because it is easier to learn and more expressive than complex languages like C, C++, or Java. Python is powerful and robust enough to create advanced applications, and it’s used in just about every industry that uses computers.

Who uses Python? Among the companies that use Python are Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Uber, Reddit,  Dropbox, Slack, Digital Ocean, Lyft, CapitalOne, Bloomberg, JPMorgan, along with many others, large and small.

Download the course flyer.

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Yooper Lights: Blue Marble Security Enterprise mentors 7th graders on an eCYBERMISSION

Students attending Lake Linden-Hubbell schools who live within one mile of their school are not eligible to take the school bus. Many walk to school, often in the dark, early morning hours. The same is true for students in another nearby school district, Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw.

The Yooper Lights eCybermission team, L to R: Olivia Shank, Rebecca Lyons, Chloe Daniels, and Jenna Beaudoin

A small group of 7th grade students from Lake Linden-Hubbell High School in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—Jenna Beaudoin, Chloe Daniels, Rebecca Lyons, and Olivia Shank—decided to do something to help improve safety for students who walk to school. Each was highly motivated, for personal reasons.

“I have three younger siblings who walk to school, and they aren’t always aware of their surroundings,” said Daniels.

“My uncle was biking one night and didn’t have a helmet or a reflector and he got hit by a car. He had brain trauma and now has trouble remembering certain things,” said Beaudoin.

“I want to be able to walk safely by myself or with my dogs in the early morning or in the evening when it gets dark,” said Shank.

“We live in a really snowy area, and kids can get hit,” said Lyons.

Helping kids and others walk safely in the dark is their mission, but it was more than that—it is their eCYBERMISSION, a national science competition sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program. Nationwide, students in grades 6-9 work in small teams for over a year to develop a process or product that will benefit their community. Locally, the Lake Linden Middle School eCYBERMISSION team is advised by Michigan Tech Engineering Fundamentals instructor Gretchen Hein, and chemical engineering senior Ryan Knoll.

Because none of them knew anything about circuits, the team contacted Glen Archer, interim chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech. Archer introduced the seventh graders to electrical engineering student John Robinault, outreach manager of Blue Marble Security.

Born out of the Michigan Tech Enterprise program, Blue Marble Security is a virtual company comprised undergraduate students focused on securing the future through thoughtful use of technology.

Yooper Lights team tested their LED reflectors at night, with help from volunteers.

Twice a week, Beaudoin, Daniels, Lyons and Shank met with Robinault and computer science major Tyler Arthur in the Blue Marble Security lab, located in the EERC building on campus.

The girls modeled the casing of their LED reflector using Siemens NX software, created their circuit using National Instruments Multisim™ software, and modeled their circuitboard using Eagle PCB design software. They had never used the software or soldered. The Blue Marble students demonstrated how to model and solder, but the girls did the work.

Arthur was a brand new member of Blue Marble Security Enterprise when he began working with the girls. “It gave me an opportunity to teach some of the material that I was already familiar with, while also learning new things along the way,” he said. “We worked together to get familiar with CAD modeling, for instance.

In the process, Arthur learned a lot about working with younger students, something he hadn’t ever done. “The fact that the team members are all good friends made for an interesting group dynamic, because was easy for them to distract each other while working on the project.” Even so, the girls persevered. Throughout the fall, the team completed their research and designed their reflector. They took their preliminary design to their 7th grade science classes for feedback. Based on that, they updated the design, completed the circuit board and went back to the school for more feedback, this time visiting both 7th and 10th grade science classes, asking the students to compare their LED reflector to a plain reflector. After receiving more valuable feedback, the team modified their design.

At that point, they began testing their LED reflector—calling it the “Yooper Light”, and themselves, the Yooper Lights.

Outdoor testing was completed on a straight, flat road near their school, over a distance of 170 feet. Pedestrians (students grades 7-9), and drivers (students grades 10-12, plus college students and adults) were asked to report when they could see a person walking and wearing either the plain reflector or the Yooper light LED reflector.

Due to weather conditions, only the college students and adults tested outside. The remaining tests were completed inside the school, in a dark hallway lit only by security lights. The Yooper Lights found that everyone could both see the LED reflector and the person wearing it over the entire testing distance.

They decided to conduct another, independent test to see just how far their LED reflector was visible. The maximum visibility was found to be 91.3 meters—over twice the previous testing distance.

Yooper Lights submitted their report to eCYBERMISSION, learning in March that they had made it to the virtual regional competition. Once again, Michigan Tech helped them out. The girls presented to judges at the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning with help from Associate Director Jeff Toorangian.

In late April, Yooper Lights became the first place 7th grade team in Michigan—and a finalist in the North Central Region. In a word: Success! They were going to compete in Washington, DC at the national competition.

During the weeklong event in DC last June, the Yooper Lights team bonded with their eCYBERMISSION mentor, Michigan Tech alumna Sasha Teymorian, now a chemist in the US Army Research Laboratory. Teymorian graduated with her doctorate in Chemistry from Michigan Tech in 2015. Together they enjoyed a bevvy of cool activities, including one called “Houston, We Have a Problem,” that tasked the girls with engineering a solution to the Apollo 13 mission. They worked with radio-controlled cars and conducted ballistics on balloons, and even designed autonomous vehicles at the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

While in DC, Beaudoin, Daniels, Lyons and Shank also visited their Congressional representatives. They first met with Representative Jack Bergman, and then with Robert Curis, a staff member in Senator Debbie Stabenow’s office, sharing just how they used engineering to develop their LED light.

Finally, the Yooper lights presented their project to a team of eCybermission judges. “Although the team did not win the national competition, they gained a great deal from the experience,” said advisor Gretchen Hein.

What’s next for the team? Something they’re calling “Yooper Power”. Collaborating again with students from the Blue Marble Security Enterprise, as well as Michigan Tech student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the girls, now in 8th grade, will develop outreach activity kits for fifth and sixth graders. Their new mission: introduce more young students to the field of electrical and computer engineering.

Chloe Daniels and Rebecca Lyons learn how to solder, with help from electrical engineering major John Robinault, a member of the Blue Marble Security Enterprise at Michigan Tech.
With more help from volunteers, the Yooper Lights team also tested their LED reflectors in a long, dimly lit hallway at Lake Linden-Hubbell High School.
Yooper Lights team member Olivia Shank models the casing of the LED reflector using Siemens NX software.
The Yooper Lights team used the Design Thinking process to develop their Yooper Lights. Design Thinking training is offered on campus through the Pavlis Honors College.
The team created two sizes and colors of 3D printed cases to test with their LED reflectors.

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