Category: Achievements and Awards

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.


Undergraduate Tyler Marenger Earns University Honors

Written by Karen S. Johnson, Communications Director, College of Computing

Tyler Marenger’s career goals include constantly improving himself, facing and overcoming the challenges he encounters along the way. The Michigan Tech Software Engineering undergraduate is making sure he’s prepared.

This spring, Marenger was awarded Michigan Tech University Honors, which recognizes the academic excellence of undergraduates.

Since his enrollment as a first-year student in fall 2017, Marenger, from Gladstone, Mich., has appeared multiple times on the 4.0 Deans’ List and the Deans’ List. In fall 2020 (December), he expects to complete his Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering and a minor in Mathematical Sciences.

Marenger says this recognition on the University Honors list encourages him as he continues on his academic journey and pursues his life goals.

“It is an incredible honor to have such a prestigious University recognize and commemorate me on my accomplishments,” Marenger says. “I also truly appreciate the words of recognition and encouragement from the College of Computing and the Computer Science department. I am proud to say that I am a Michigan Tech Husky.”

University Honors are reserved for degree-seeking students who rank in the top 2 percent of their class and maintain at least a 3.50 cumulative GPA while carrying 12 credits or more for both the fall and spring semesters.

More accolades

In addition to University Honors, Marenger has three times received the Department of Mathematics’ Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Academic Achievement for his performance in the courses MA  2160, Calculus II; MA 3160, Calculus III; and MA 2720, Statistical Methods. For one semester, Marenger was a teaching assistant for MA 3160, Calculus III, grading mathematical essays (write-ups) and student coursework.

Marenger is a three-semester member of the Husky Game Development Enterprise, working with his teammates on the game, “Lost in Mazie Mansion,” which won Honorable Mention honors at this spring’s Design Expo. His primary role on the team is software development, and he also contributes to the design and layout of the game. His team plans to continue development of the game in the fall 2020 semester.

Making time for personal pursuits

Marenger says that by breaking tasks into manageable pieces, he feels he can better manage his time, meet his goals, and make time for personal pursuits. 

“I have found that breaking up my work/studying in order to exercise helps promote a high level of energy and encourages me to complete my workload,” he notes. “Dedicating specific time slots to reduce my workload helps me get done in a timely manner. That way, I can enjoy my personal time exploring my interests or spending time with my friends.”

Marenger identifies his most substantial hobby as fitness, and says he enjoys pushing himself towards self-improvement. He is an avid weightlifter, constantly setting new goals and spending countless hours at the gym. He enjoys outdoor and recreational activities, as well, including jet skiing, dirt biking, hiking, skiing, camping, and fishing. 

Supportive faculty mentors

Both Associate Professor Ali Ebnenasir, Computer Science, and Elizabeth Reed, a former senior lecturer in Michigan Tech’s Department of Mathematics, have been especially supportive regarding Marenger’s academic work, he says.

After finishing his MA 2720, Statistical Methods, course in fall 2018—with an outstanding final grade—and earning the Mathematics department’s Certificate of Merit—Marenger shares that in an email Reed extended congratulations and best wishes, encouraging Marenger to seek a minor in Mathematical Sciences and offering to write a reference letter.

And shortly after completing the senior-level CS 4710, Model-Driven Software Development class in spring 2020, Marenger recalls that Ebnenasir both congratulated him on his performance in that class, and encouraged him to consider continuing his education beyond the bachelor of science.  CS 4710 focuses on mathematical methods for the design and verification of software systems. Marenger has since shared his resume with Ebnenasir, and earlier this summer they discussed Michigan Tech’s Computer Science Ph.D. program and funding and research opportunities.

“In spring 2020, Tyler demonstrated excellent performance in solving individual assignments, as well as professionalism in group projects,” Ebnenasir confirms, noting Marenger’s positive attitude towards learning new topics.

“Tyler is meticulous and hardworking, and I also I am sure that he will be a star if he maintains and improves his outstanding self-discipline and perseverance,” Ebnenasir says. “Good luck Tyler, and we hope to see you back for your Ph.D. at Michigan Tech in the future!”

Collaborations in software development

Marenger clearly excels at learning and mastering the ideas and content in his Computer Science courses. He says he especially enjoyed CS 4760, User Interface Design and Implementation, for which he and his CS 4760 team developed an application for use with the Micro:bit Web USB Grapher device, part of a teaching tool and curriculum aid already widely used for computing-related learning by K-12 teachers and students.

Marenger and his team reasoned that since the Micro:bit pocket-sized computer can record data through a variety of sensors, this capability, along with its board sensors and its extensibility, could also be used to augment classroom science demonstrations.

“Our application is designed to take the data that the pocket-sized Micro:bit provides and display it on one or more graphs,” Marenger explains. “The application graphs, manipulates, and saves data collected on the Micro:bit, which will help expose K-12 students to computing and programming principles while they learn about a wide variety of scientific phenomena.”

The team’s development and deployment of their React.js application was accomplished in collaboration with the Michigan Tech Humanities department, the Michigan Tech Graduate School, and Bill Siever, a teaching professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department at Washington University of St. Louis, Mo.

Building the future

Looking forward, Marenger says he will continue furthering his education and building his software development skills. 

“I plan to constantly educate myself on new and upcoming technologies so that I can pursue advancements in the field of computer science,” he confirms. “I want to gather as much industry knowledge as I can so that one day, I can take on project leadership roles or develop a product of my own that I can manage and promote.”


Michigan Tech Ranks Among The World’s Best

Michigan Tech has been ranked among the worlds best college and universities in a recent report by QS World University Rankings, which evaluated over 5,500 colleges and universities throughout the world, ranking the 1,000 best using six metrics, each individually weighted. The metrics include:

  • Academic Reputation
  • Employer Reputation
  • Faculty/Student Ratio
  • Citations per faculty
  • International Faculty Ratio
  • International Student Ratio

Here are the Michigan universities and their rankings:

  • 21 – University of Michigan
  • 157 – Michigan State University
  • 477 – Wayne State University
  • 601-650 – Michigan Technological University

Read more here.


Sergeyev, Students Earn ASEE Conference Awards

Professor Aleksandr Segeyev, Applied Computing, and a group of Michigan Tech students presented two papers at the 2020 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Gulf-Southwest Annual conference, which was conducted online April 23-24, 2020. Both papers received conference awards.

The Faculty Paper Award

“Pioneering Approach for Offering the Convergence MS Degree in Mechatronics and Associate Graduate Certificate”
by Sergeyev, Professor and Associate Chair John Irwin (MMET), and Dean Adrienne Minerick (CC).

The Student Paper Award

“Efficient Way of Converting outdated Allen Bradley PLC-5 System into Modern ControlLogix 5000 suit”, by Spencer Thompson (pictured), Larry Stambeck, Andy Posa, Sergeyev, and Lecturer Paniz Hazaveh, Applied Computing.

Founded in 1893, the American Society for Engineering Education is a nonprofit organization of individuals and institutions committed to furthering education in engineering and engineering technology.


50 Named to GLIAC Academic Teams

The Michigan Tech Athletics department has announced that 46 track and field student-athletes, and four Huskies from the men’s tennis team were recently named to the GLIAC All-Academic and All-Academic Excellence Teams. Below are the College of Computing students and recent graduates who appeared on the academic teams.

All-Academic Excellence

Academic Excellence Teams comprise student-athletes that have a cumulative GPA of 3.50-4.0. Grades are based on marks from the spring semester.

  • Men’s Track & Field: Robbie Watling
    Sr., Computer Science
    Ryan Beatley, Jr.
    Computer Engineering
  • Men’s Tennis:
    Siddhesh Mahadeshwar
    So., Computer Science
    Nico Caviglia, Jr.
    Computer Engineering

All-Academic

All-Academic Teams comprise those student-athletes that meet criteria and carry a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0-3.49.

  • Men’s Track and Field:
    Bernard Kluskens
    Gr., Cybersecurity

See all the academic team honorees here.

Academic Team criteria states the student-athlete must be an active member on the roster at the end of the season, and not a freshman or a first-year transfer student.


CS PhD Candidate Ali Jalooli Awarded Finishing Fellowship

The Michigan Tech Graduate School has announced that Computer Science Ph.D. candidate Ali Jalooli is among the graduate students who have received a Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Award.

Jalooli’s research studies the optimization of message routing in heterogeneous wireless networks. His dissertation is titled, “Enabling Technologies for Internet of Things: Optimized Networking for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.”

Each semester, the Graduate School awards Finishing Fellowships that provide support to Ph.D. candidates nearing completion of their degrees. The fellowships, available through the generosity of University alumni and friends, are intended to recognize outstanding Ph.D. candidates who are in need of financial support to finish their degrees, and who are also contributing to the attainment of goals outlined in The Michigan Tech Plan. Support ranges from a $2,000 stipend to full support (stipend and tuition).

Jalooli’s research focuses on vehicular “networks in smart cities. He notes that research in this area is of great importance, as it advances cutting-edge connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

“This has far-reaching consequences for many aspects of daily life, given the expanding world of the Internet of Things,” he explains. “Connected vehicles provide various benefits, spanning from advanced driver assistance, remote diagnostics, and infotainment for consumers to road safety, improving response time for emergency vehicles, and even improving national and international economies by ameliorating traffic congestion.”

“My work at Tech on the underlying networks that drive these technologies enhances the performance and feasibility of robust wireless networks,” Jalooli says. “During my time at Tech, I have also gained teaching experience and increased responsibility in course development and assessment as a teaching assistant and lead instructor.”

“I am grateful to the Graduate School and the Graduate School Dean Awards Advisory Panel for awarding me a Finishing Fellowship,” Jalooli says. “I am also grateful to my advisors, Dr. Kuilin Zhang and Dr. Min Song, for their support and guidance.”

Read a Grad School blog post about Ali Jalooli here.

Additional recipients of graduate student awards appear below.
Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Award: Elizabeth M. Barnes, Forest Science; Shahab Bayani Ahangar, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics; Haitao Cao, Geophysics ; Eassa Hedayati, Computational Science and Engineering; Pratik Umesh Joshi, Chemical Engineering ; Kevin C. Nevorski, Biological Sciences ; Bethel Worku Tarekegne, Environmental Energy and Policy; Hua Wang, Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship: Lavanya Rajesh Kumar, Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors; Dylan G. Turpeinen, Chemical Engineering
Matwiyoff & Hogberg Endowed Graduate Fellowship: Wenkai Jia, Biomedical Engineering
The DeVlieg Foundation 2020 Summer Research Award in Biology/Wildlife: Angela M. Walczyk, Biological Sciences

Profiles of all the current recipients can be found online.


More Achievements for MTU RedTeam

The MTU RedTeam ranked 13th out of 162 teams in a recent 24-hour Cybar OSINT Capture The Flag (CTF) cybersecurity competition. The team finished tied for 5th place, having completed all the challenges presented by the competition.

Students on the team were Trevor Hornsby (Software Engineering), Shane Hoppe (Computer Science), Matthew Chau (Cybersecurity), Steven Whitaker (Electrical Engineering), and Sankalp Shastry (Electrical Engineering).

Professor Yu Cai, Applied Computing, and Assistant Professor Bo Chen, Computer Science, are advisor and co-advisor of RedTeam, respectively.

RedTeam promotes a security-driven mindset among Michigan Tech students and provides a community and resource for those wishing to learn more about information security. The RedTeam competes in National Cyber League (NCL) competitions, a great way for students to gain competency in cybersecurity tools and boost their resumes.

RedTeam is on Slack at mturedteam.slack.com. Interested students can sign up with a Michigan Tech email. View past RedTeam presentations here.

This OSINT CTF is non-theoretical and contestants work in teams of up to four members to crowdsource the collection of OSINT to assist law enforcement in generating new leads on missing persons.

The contest runs as a Capture the Flag (CTF) format where contestants must collect various “flags” which equate to points. Since the each flag submitted is treated as potential “net new intelligence”, Trace Labs has a team of volunteers known as “Judges” who validate each submission and award points if the flag meets the category requirements. At the end of each CTF, the team with the most points on the scoreboard wins.


Michigan Tech Team Places 4th Overall in TiM$10K Challenge

A team of five Michigan Tech students received Honorable Mention honors and 4th Place overall in the second annual SICK Inc. TiM$10K Challenge, a national innovation and design competition. University students from around the country participated in the event designed to support innovation and student achievement in automation and technology.

The Michigan Tech team members — Brian Parvin (ME), Paul Allen (EE), David Brushaber (CompEng), Kurtis Alessi (CompEng) and Alex Kirchner (CompEng) — earned Honorable Mention (fourth place overall) for their project, “Evaluating Road Markings (the Road Stripe Evaluator).

The team is advised by Tony Pinar, Lecturer and Senior Design Coordinator, Electrical and Computer Engineering. Their project was sponsored by SICK Inc. Watch the team’s video about the project below.

SICK’s TiM$10K Challenge 2020 – Evaluating Road Markings (The Road Stripe Evaluator)


Adrienne Minerick, dean of Michigan Tech’s College of Computing, said in a June 1, 20920, Tech Today article that the accomplishments of these outstanding students illustrates Michigan Tech’s creativity and tenacity when faced with a challenge. “Our rapidly growing presence in cybersecurity is built upon our students deep knowledge of the fundamentals combined with the learning environment that promotes agility to meet (and exceed) any challenge. These hardworking and bright students deserve this recognition of their competitiveness. All of us in the College of Computing are proud.”

For the competition, teams were supplied with a 270-degree SICK LiDAR sensor and accessories, and challenged to solve a problem, create a solution, or bring a new application to any industry that utilizes the SICK LiDAR.

Each team submitted a video and paper for judging upon completion of its project. A panel of judges decided the winning submissions based on creativity and innovation, ability to solve a customer problem, commercial potential, entrepreneurship of the team, and reporting.

The Tech team developed an innovative product to help resolve issues caused by poor road markings, while reducing maintenance costs and improving motorist safety. Their new software uses reflectivity values obtained using a SICK LiDAR unit to identify deterioration of road stripes and recommend timely repainting, also aiding in the safety and reliability of self-driving vehicles on roadways.

They constructed a prototype to demonstrate functionality, in the form of a pushable cart that evaluates road markings. An intuitive user interface displays the markings being evaluated, and indicates if they meet necessary levels of reflectivity.

Pinar said the team was well organized and demonstrated an excellent work ethic from day one. “It was exciting to watch them identify a salient problem and develop a functional proof-of-concept solution despite the setbacks that affected us all after spring break,” he said.

“This was a unique project in that the team was required to identify a problem and develop a solution to it that is based on SICK’s TiM LiDAR, while most teams are handed a problem and asked to create a solution,” Pinar noted. “I think this format allowed the team to exercise even more innovation than on a ‘typical’ project.”

The same team of students was awarded Honorable Mention honors at this spring’s Design Expo Senior Design competition for their project, “Road Marking Reflectivity Evaluator.”

SICK, Inc. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sensors, safety systems, machine vision, encoders and automatic identification products for industrial applications.


Part I | Jason Hiebel, The College of Computing’s First Graduate

By Karen S. Johnson, Communications Director, College of Computing and ICC
This is the first part of a two-part article about Jason Hiebel, Ph.D., the college of Computings first graduate. Watch this blog and College of Computing social media channels for “Part II, A Supportive and Wise Network.”

PART I | THE FAST TRACK

A Profile of Dr. Jason Hiebel: The College of Computing’s First Graduate

In fall 2007, Jason Hiebel enrolled in his first semester at Michigan Tech. He’s been studying, teaching, and researching computer science and mathematics at Tech ever since, participating in December 2019 Commencement ceremonies. Shortly after, he successfully defended his dissertation and was awarded his Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science, the very first from the College of Computing.

“Graduating when I did, and becoming the first Ph.D. for the College of Computing, was really a fluke of timing,” Hiebel says. “But after all my time here in Houghton and with the Computer Science department, I am pleased to have the honor of being the college’s first Ph.D. It’s something that can be mine and mine alone, and I’m okay with being a little bit greedy about it!”

Husky Tenacity

Hiebel grew up north of Green Bay, Wis., and attended Bay Port High School, where he was active in the chess club and the marching band.

He says that during high school, “I was also the kind of person to push for opportunities far beyond those normally available. For example, while our school did offer some computer science courses, they were mostly self-taught in a small computer lab. But I wanted to be a computer scientist, and I wanted to be a professor—even if I lacked an understanding of what that truly entailed at the time.”

So, he pushed himself to complete the entire computer science curriculum before the end of his sophomore year, then took the AP exam. Following, Hiebel continued with the curriculum thanks to the State of Wisconsin, which paid for him to complete several computer science courses at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.

“These were not opportunities that were typically available to me or anyone else at Bay Port,” Hiebel notes. “I had to fight for these opportunities, with the school and the state. But that Tenacity is exactly what Huskies are all about, right?”

All in all, Hiebel says he started at Michigan Tech as a junior in the Computer Science department and as a sophomore overall.

The Fast Track to Teaching and Research

During his first few weeks at Michigan Tech, Hiebel’s sole major was Computer Science. But soon, he began to pursue a double major in another field he enjoys: mathematics.

Hiebel completed his B.S. in Computer Science in summer 2010, and while he was finishing his B.S. in Mathematics, he dual-enrolled as a graduate student in Computer Science. He completed the Mathematics B.S. a year later, and in spring 2012 he received his Master of Science in Computer Science.

In pursuit of his Ph.D., Hiebel was supported by graduate teaching assistantships (GTA), teaching assistantships, and graduate research stipends (GRA). He spent several summers interning at MIT Lincoln Labs, the Department of Defense, and the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI).

“As a GTA, I did my fair share of grading and also led the lab sections for the introductory courses for three semesters,” Hiebel explains. For two semesters, as an instructor, he taught the accelerated introductory programming course (CS1131) and the undergraduate AI course (CS4811). Some semesters he was both a GTA and an instructor. Finally, with the support of his advisors, Hiebel was able to advance his research full time with a GRA stipend.

As a master’s student, Hiebel worked on developing tools for AI education with Laura Brown and another graduate student. As a Ph.D. student, his focus was on building his dissertation research under graduate advisors Laura Brown and Zhenlin Wang.

“Jason’s research applies machine learning to computer system optimization. He has become an expert in both fields,” says Professor Zhenlin Wang, Computer Science.

“The nature of this type of research makes it very challenging for a student to focus, as it requires continual effort and extended skills,” Wang adds. “Throughout his Ph.D. study, Jason consistently demonstrated diligence, perseverance, and creativity. For these reasons and others, Jason has always been a stand-out among our graduate students.”

In his dissertation, Hiebel investigates the application of online machine learning methods, particularly multi-armed bandit methods, to performance optimization problems in computer systems.

“Computers offer a myriad of configurations for customizing how the system performs. Depending on what you run on the system, different configurations can have a drastic effect on performance,” Hiebel explains. “Ideally, we would like to match the configuration to the workload, but doing so requires a broad expertise of how different components of an individual system interact.”

“My work focuses on modeling this type of configuration problem and uses artificial intelligence to automatically, without human intervention, select the best-performing configurations for a given workload.”

Looking Ahead

Hiebel signed on to instruct some spring 2020 semester courses for the Computer Science department while he waited on his paperwork to process for a job with the Department of Defense. “With the growing pains of the new college, there was a need for a few more people to teach and I was happy to lend my experience,” he says.

But like many in the wake of the global pandemic, Hiebel’s plans are in flux right now. He’s teaching a Summer Track A course at Michigan Tech, and advising an undergraduate research project, as well.

“Mainly, I’ll just be waiting for things to open back up so I can get processed for the job I’m waiting for,” Heibel says. “During that limbo, I hope to tackle some research problems and continue to keep myself busy.”
Hiebel says that in the short term, he is hoping to lend his expertise to government research. But in the long term, his aspirations are to return to academia.

“Only time will tell where I end up,” he muses. “But wherever I do end up, I think I will be happy if I’m working on interesting problems and using the skills and knowledge I gained as a Ph.D. student here at Tech.”

In the meantime, Hiebel enjoys living in the Houghton community. He’s a big fan of winter, and even Houghton summers are far too warm for his tastes. “Small town life suits my sensibilities better,” he confirms.


Dan Madrid ’10, CNSA, Elected to Alumni Board

Daniel Madrid ’10, Computer Network and Systems Administration, of Livonia, Mich., has been elected to a six-year term on the Michigan Tech Alumni Board of Directors effective July 1, 2020, the Office of Alumni Relations has announced.

Madrid is a product manager in the Mobility Products Solutions: Connected Vehicle unit of Ford Motor Company, where he has worked for nine years. He is also a member of Ford’s Michigan Tech Recruiting team.

The Alumni Board is a group of volunteers elected from around the country. Board members work with the Alumni Engagement team to develop and support programs for students and alumni.

Learn more about Dan Madrid and his wife Kaylee in these Michigan Tech posts and articles:
https://www.mtu.edu/magazine/2017-1/stories/alumni-engagement/
https://www.mtu.edu/magazine/2015-2/stories/something-borrowed/
https://www.mtu.edu/techalum/issue/april-25-2017-vol-23-no-17/network-mentor-connect-volunteer/
https://blogs.mtu.edu/alumni/2020/02/10/cool-hobbies/

View Dan Madrid’s LinkedIn page here.

The additional new members are:
• Arick Davis ’15, Electrical Engineering, Grand Rapids, MI
• Darwin Moon ’79, Mechanical Engineering, Madison, AL
• Peter Moutsatson ’88, Mechanical Engineering, Manassas, VA
• Drew Vettel ’05 ‘06, Mechanical Engineering, Sheboygen Falls, WI
• Brandon Williams ’00, Electrical Engineering, San Diego, CA

Alumni Board Elections are held in even-numbered years, but nominations are continuously open. Learn more about the Michigan Tech Alumni Board of Directors here.