Category: Achievements and Awards

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

A team of five Michigan Tech students received Honorable Mention honors 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). Their project was sponsored by SICK Inc. Watch a video about the project below.

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

For the competition, teams were supplied with a 270-foot 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 was asked to submit 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.

The Michigan Tech Team

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 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.


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 and teaching 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.


MTU’s Adrienne Minerick Elected to Lead Engineering Educators

by Allison Mills, University Marketing and Communications

Adrienne Minerick, dean of the College of Computing, is president-elect of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). She will serve as president-elect from June 2020 to June 2021, a year that will surely be shaped by COVID-19 response efforts and their impacts on education, engineering industries and student lives. She will serve as president from June 2021 to June 2022, and as past-president the following year.

“ASEE is the place where engineering and engineering technology educators plan for the futures our students will encounter,” Minerick said. “I am able, willing and ready to help seed conversations that enable engineering professionals to leverage the rapid growth in computing and cybertechnologies to ensure our students engineer a bright future.”

Diversity in engineering education is key, she added. “Study after study, many by ASEE authors, has shown that increasing diversity of teams decreases engineering failures. We are in an exciting time when traditional engineering and educational practices are being re-examined from additional — and different — perspectives.”

Drawing on her research experience in microfluidics, her leadership in the College of Computing and championship of the ADVANCE program, Minerick plans to shift the governance mindset to encourage engineering access and mobility of ideas.

“I am thrilled that Adrienne will be following me as president-elect and then president of ASEE. Two women from Michigan Tech for two years in a leadership role at ASEE is fantastic,” said Sheryl Sorby, ASEE’s next president and professor in the Engineering Education Innovation Center at Ohio State University, who formerly taught in Michigan Tech’s Engineering Fundamentals program. “Adrienne shows steady, solid leadership and is insightful and visionary. She is someone who gets things done!”

Read the full story on mtu.edu/news and learn more about Michigan Tech’s contributions to ASEE.


Computing Convocation Honors 109 Grads

The College of Computing presented a Convocation Ceremony on May 1, 2020, to honor and recognize Spring and Summer 2020 graduates. At the virtual event, undergraduate student achievement awards were announced, graduates were congratulated, and faculty and staff congratulatory videos were viewed.

Michigan Tech Computer Science alumnus Brian VanVoorst ’93 presented the Convocation address. VanVoorst is a Lead Scientist at BBN Technologies, a member of BBN’s Distinguished Scientists, and a Raytheon Technologies Fellow.

The College’s inaugural class of 109 graduates comprises 5 doctor of philosophy, 14 master of science, and 90 bachelor of science degrees. The College of Computing Class of 2020 is nearly 20% women, 27% of the class graduated with honors, and the average undergraduate GPA is 3.28.

View the Convocation video below and on YouTube.

College of Computing Convocation 2020

See a lists of all the graduates here. Two undergraduates completed dual majors: Lucas Catron, who majored in Computer Science and Humanities, and Mark Heinonen, Electrical Engineering Technology and Audio Productions and Technology.

View faculty and staff congratulatory videos, read student and faculty profiles, and discover all things Class of 2020, on the College of Computing webpage: mtu.edu/computing/class-of-2020.

The Department of Computer Science awarded Class of 2020 undergraduate awards to the following Computer Science (CS) and Software Engineering (SE) graduates:
Christina Anderson, CS: Award for Excellence in Teaching
Keith Atkinson, CS: Award for Exceptional Community Service and Leadership
Dean Bassett, CS: Award for Excellence in Teaching
Jack Bergman, CS: Award for Exceptional Leadership
Lucas Catron, CS: Award for Excellence in Teaching
Crystal Fletcher, CS: Award for Excellence in Teaching
Chris Holmes, CS: Award for Excellence in Teaching
Mads Howard, CS: Award for Excellence in Teaching
Jacob Jablonsky, SE: Award for Excellence in Teaching, Award for Excellence in Teaching
Maddie Le Clair, SE: Award for Exceptional Leadership
Amy Slabbekoorn, CS: Award for Excellence in Teaching
Emily Winkleman, CS: Award for Excellence in Teaching
Parker Young, SE: Award for Exceptional Leadership and Teaching, Award for Excellence in Teaching

Award for Exceptional Community Service and Leadership: Keith Atkinson
Keith has helped older adults in the Houghton community become comfortable with digital technology through one on one tutoring through the BASIC (Building Adult Skills in Computing) program. He taught several cohorts of middle school students about computer programming through the Copper Country Coders organization, and served as president of that organization. Keith developed and deployed a food inventory system for the Husky Food Access Network, which helps combat hunger issues on Tech’s campus.

Award for Exceptional Leadership: Jack Bergman
Jack has served as the president of MTU RedTeam, a student organization dedicated to promoting cybersecurity education among Tech students. Under his leadership, RedTeam organized students to participate in national cybersecurity competitions. In Fall 2019, the MTU Red Team was ranked 8th out of 689 in the NCL cyber competition. Jack led RedTeam to host a cybersecurity competition at MTU in Spring 2020, which attracted 35 students competing on 15 different teams.

Award for Exceptional Leadership: Maddie LeClair
Maddie has been a highly effective leader of the Women in Computing Sciences (WiCS) student organization.  Under her leadership, the group has increased its visibility, holding regular events on campus to highlight the opportunities for women in computing fields.  She led the effort for the WiCS group to become affiliated as an ACM-W chapter, and she has been active in supporting departmental efforts to diversify our undergraduate student body, both individually and as a leader of WiCS.

Award for Exceptional Leadership and Teaching: Parker Young
Parker served as president of not one, but two student organizations: Copper Country Coders and the Michigan Tech Pep Band.  Under his leadership, the Coders group made great strides in its organization and sustainability through revising its charter. Parker is passionate about teaching others, whether it is young students learning to mod Minecraft at Copper Country Coders or older adults learning to Zoom with their families in the BASIC program.  His leadership skills also facilitated his Senior Design team’s  successful completion of the Dragonfly app, an offline app developed for the North Carolina Natural History Museum’s after-school program to assist children monitoring the weather and counting dragonflies.

Award for Excellence In Teaching: Christina Anderson, Crystal Fletcher, Chris Holmes | Mads Howard, Jacob Jablonsky, Parker Young
Christina, Crystal, Chris, Mads, Jacob, and Parker have been mainstays at the College of Computing Learning Center, which provides peer assistance for Michigan Tech students in their computing studies. Learning Center coaches help students from a wide range of backgrounds in a wide array of topics, and must be able to quickly assess and deploy the right tutoring strategy for the situation.

Award for Excellence In Teaching: Dean Bassett, Lucas Catron, Jacob Jablonsky, Amy Slabbekoorn, Emily Winkleman
Dean, Lucas, Jacob, Amy, and Emily have served as lab assistants for our introductory courses. These programming labs are where some of the most important learning moments happen for our beginning students. Lab assistants play a crucial role in providing peer support and guidance. These four individuals have shown great commitment, compassion, and patience in this role.


The CMH Division presented Class of 2020 undergraduate awards to the following students:
Michael Dabish: Outstanding CNSA Graduate Award for exceptional performance as a research and laboratory assistant.
Bernard Kluskens: Outstanding CNSA Graduate Award for exceptional performance as a teaching assistant.
Gary Tropp: Outstanding CNSA Graduate Award, for excellent student academic mentoring in the College of Computing Learning Center.
Emma Davidson: Outstanding EET Graduate Award for exceptional service as a laboratory assistant and grader.
Mark Heinonen: Outstanding EET Graduate Award for an exceptional Senior Design project in audio system design.
Spencer Thompson: Outstanding EET Graduate Award for exceptional service as a teaching assistant in the transition to remote instruction.

Outstanding CNSA Graduate Award: Michael Dabish
For exceptional performance as a research and laboratory assistant. 
Michael’s work in the lab has been very helpful in fulfilling our needs to provide the best lab environment for students. He has shown that he is always willing to put in the work necessary to get the job done.
In 2018 Michael became a research/teaching assistant, working with the CNSA faculty on two NSA grants to create and update course content regarding cyber ethics and cybersecurity.
Michael is constantly collaborating with CNSA faculty and students to discover new ways to implement popular technologies in system administration and security.
He has even created a YouTube channel to document and share methods of implementing these technologies.
What Michael learned in these jobs has inspired him to pursue graduate school in the hope of becoming a teacher right here at Michigan Tech.

Outstanding CNSA Graduate Award: Bernard Kluskens
For exceptional performance as a teaching assistant.
Bernard was teaching assistant for four classes taught by Todd Arney, who nominated Bernard for this award.  Arney says Bernard took the lead on answering lab questions, and then even made calendar appointment slots for students to get one-on-one help using Zoom online. Arney says he would not have been able to manage his  classes with Bernard’s help with grading, fielding questions, and reviewing material before posting to Canvas.

Outstanding CNSA Graduate Award: Gary Tropp
For excellent student academic mentoring in the College of Computing Learning Center.
Gary is the first CNSA student to work as a “Student Academic Mentor” (SAM) in the new “College of Computing Learning Center” (CCLC), offering in person one-on-one help with two of the lab intensive classes in the CNSA program and then even continuing to offer online personalized help for students.

Outstanding EET Graduate Award: Emma Davidson
For exceptional service as a laboratory assistant and grader.
Emma has been helping faculty and students in the lab for over three years, and she also helped with “texting day” to reach out to prospective students.

Outstanding EET Graduate Award: Mark Heinonen
For an exceptional Senior Design project in audio system design.
Mark designed a 4-way passive electrical circuit specifically tuned for a pair of loudspeakers he created as part of his Audio Production and Technology degree.  He started out with a design based on the latest in digital signal processing, but in the end he discovered the value in “old school” analog electrical circuits built from resistors, capacitors, and inductors – what used to be considered mainstream electrical engineering but is now something of a lost art.

Outstanding EET Graduate Award: Spencer Thompson
For exceptional service as a teaching assistant in the transition to remote instruction.
Spencer has been lab assistant for most, if not all of the EET labs. He was nominated for this award by new faculty member Jungyun Bae, who pointed out his dedication to helping students with labs and homework in the EET data acquisition course. After mid-semester, Spencer actively helped the students during lab hours through emails and Zoom meetings. He also took videos of all the labs left within the semester when we transferred into remote instruction and, thanks to him, the course went smoothly even after the campus was locked down.


Honors Graduates: These Department of Computer Science students graduated with honors.
Christina Anderson, CS, Magna Cum Laude
Isaac Appleby, CS, Magna Cum Laude
Daniel Carrara, CS, Magna Cum Laude
Lucas Catron, CS, Magna Cum Laude
Zach Dill, CS, Cum Laude
Peter Dukes, CS, Magna Cum Laude
Trevor Good, CS, Magna Cum Laude
Ethan Hegg, CS, Cum Laude
Mads Howard, CS, Magna Cum Laude
Sophia Jensen, CS, Cum Laude
Derek Kamin, CS, Magna Cum Laude
Alex Larkin, CS, Cum Laude
Maddie LeClair, SE, Cum Laude
James Michniewicz, CS, Summa Cum Laude
Michael Munoz, CS, Summa Cum Laude
Dante Paglia, CS, Summa Cum Laude
Brandon Paupore, SE, Cum Laude
Elijah Potter, CS, Cum Laude
Emily Winkleman, CS, Cum Laude
Kieran Young, CS, Cum Laude
Parker Young, SE, Magna Cum Laude

Honors Graduates: These CMH Division students graduated with honors:
Dina Falzarano, CNSA, Cum Laude
Timothy Graham, CNSA, Cum Laude
Mark Heinonen, EET, Cum Laude
Andrew Hitchcock, CNSA, Magna Cum Laude
Chris Koch, CNSA, Summa Cum Laude
Zack Metiva, CNSA, Magna Cum Laude
Joshua Peter, CNSA, Magna Cum Laude
Spencer Thompson, EET, Cum Laude


PhD Candidate Siva Kakula Awarded Grant to Attend, Present at IEEE World Congress

Siva Krishna Kakula, a PhD candidate in the College of Computing’s Department of Computer Science, has been awarded a grant from the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society that covers the cost of full IEEE member registration for the IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence, July 19-24, 2020.

Kakula will present two papers at the conference, “Choquet Integral Ridge Regression” and “Extended Linear Order Statistic (ELOS) Aggregation and Regression,” both co-authored with Anthony Pinar (ECE), Timothy Havens (CC), and Derek Anderson (University of Missouri).

The IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence (IEEE WCCI) is the world’s largest technical event in the field of computational intelligence. WCCI 2020 features the flagship conference of the Computational Intelligence Society: The 2020 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN 2020), the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Fuzzy Systems (FUZZ-IEEE 2020), and the 2020 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation (IEEE CEC 2020) under one roof. It encourages cross-fertilisation of ideas among the three big areas and provides a forum for intellectuals from all over the world to discuss and present their research findings on computational intelligence.


Leo Ureel Is this Week’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase Selection

Dean Adrienne Minerick and the College of Computing are pleased to announce that Leo Ureel, Computer Science Lecturer and Ph.D. student, is this week’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase. Leo is also coordinator of the College of Computing Learning Center (CCLC) in Rekhi Hall and faculty advisor to the Computer Science Learning Committee in McNair Hall. 

Most notable among his accomplishments, Ureel’s student-centric efforts are increasing retention and diversifying the cohort of first-year Computing students. Further, his work, in coordination with many other valuable members of the College of Computing, has increased the visibility of Michigan Tech and the College of Computing, both on campus and in the community, and contributed substantially to sustained enrollments in Computer Science and other College of Computing programs.

“What becomes apparent immediately when thinking about Leo’s contributions is how much Leo cares about and invests into his student’s learning,” says Dean Minerick. “Student success is at the heart of all that he does.”  

Ureel’s work has provided him the opportunity to develop rich collaborations with researchers across the U.S. and in the U.K., Europe, and Africa, and he recently led an ITICSE working group of international researchers examining first year student experiences in CS. 

Ureel teaches CS 1121 and CS 1122 courses, primarily to first year students, in which he works to broaden students’ views of computing, ground them in a programming language, and teach them problem solving skills. His research has been supported by NSF, Google, and NCWIT. 

Ureel’s nomination emphasizes in particular his innovative and effective teaching of the entry-level programming classes in Computer Science, for which Ureel has developed a WebTA tool that gives students near real-time feedback on their programming code. 

“My classrooms are hands-on learning environments where I combine small hands-on projects with blended learning techniques to engage students and provide individual feedback” Ureel explains. “I’ve developed a software system, WebTA, that provides students with individualized feedback on their code while they are working on it – even when I am personally unavailable. (For example, at 2:00 a.m. when students are working on their programming assignments!)” 

“This engages students in the following programming practice: design, code, receive feedback, reflect, and repeat. The more I can engage the students in these tight cycles of programming and reflection, the better they learn to program.” 

Ureel’s adds that his research efforts focus on a constructionist approach to introductory computer science that leverages code critiquers to motivate students to learn computer programming. The critiquer systems engage students in test-driven agile development methods through small cycles of teaching, coding integrated with testing, and immediate feedback. 

This interest in student success was one component of Ureel’s close collaboration with Linda Ott, chair of the Computer Science department, in a project funded by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). As part of the collaboration focused on first-year student retention, a structure was developed to more effectively place students in their first programming course. 

“By improving the placement of students based on their previous programming experience, both students new to programming and those with experience are more satisfied and more successful in their first programming course at Michigan Tech” according to Dr. Ott. “Leo is constantly thinking about ways to engage students in programming”. 

Ureel is also part of a student and faculty team that regularly hosts community outreach and workshops for middle and high school students like Code Ninjas, Copper Country Coders, and numerous other programs. 

“My work with K-12 outreach activities, such as Code Ninjas and Copper Country Coders, benefits both the K-12 students, who are learning to program, and Michigan Tech undergraduate students, who volunteer as K-12 mentors,” Ureel says. “The undergraduate students benefit from the teaching process; learning more about computer science as they 

strive to articulate basic computer principles in simple language and entertaining memes for the K-12 students.” 

Ureel’s success teaching students with no coding experience also sparked the pilot of a foundational computing course for non-majors at Michigan Tech. Ureel was the key thought leader driving course structure and content for CS 1090, Computational Thinking, a course for non-Computing majors that teaches computing fundamentals using the Python language. 

“I am teaching the course in the context of several problem domains, including Big Data, Machine Learning, Image Processing, Simulation, and Video Game Design,” Ureel says. “As students tackle problems in these domains, I introduce the Python language structures required to construct a solution. Teaching programming in the context of larger problem domains gives students a way to ground their learning in practical applications.” 

The course, which could help instill computational thinking across campus, is being piloted this semester with students from outside the College of Computing. Designed to be compatible with the College Board AP Computer Science Principles course, the CS 1090 pilot is expected to be expanded through IDEA Hub continuation efforts. 

Ureel also leads the College of Computing Learning Center (CCLC), which has pivoted in a couple of ways over the last year, in step with the College of Computing. A cadre of 20 outstanding student coaches from both the Computer Science and Computer Network and System Administration majors have transformed the CCLC into an inclusive learning hub for all CC majors and courses, with students from across campus seeking out the CCLC. The number of students utilizing CCLC services has increased steadily over the past few years. 

Ureel also worked closely with Dr. Nilufer Onder (CS) to incorporate into CCLC services an upper-level Student Academic Mentors (SAM) program that Dr. Onder developed and spearheaded in Computer Science courses. Their vision is to expand the SAM program under the umbrella of the CCLC, increasing access and courses supported. 

And finally, in response to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Ureel and his coaches have creatively and effectively coordinated the transition of CCLC services to an online format. 


Todd Arney Receives Elite New Teaching Award

The Office of the Provost and the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning have announced that Todd Arney, lecturer in the College of Computing’s Department of Applied Computing, is one of four instructors who will receive The Provost’s Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence, a new teaching award that celebrates the work of individuals whose teaching consistently and dramatically benefits students.

Had this been a normal year, Arney would have again qualified as a finalist for the annual Distinguished Teaching Award, which he has been awarded three times. But because this was Arney’s fourth nomination, the Provost, academic deans, and the Center for Teaching and Learning agreed that Arney deserves special recognition that goes beyond consideration as a finalist.

Provost Huntoon, in collaboration with the Academic Deans, initiated this award because “It became clear that we had a group of instructors consistently delivering exceptional instruction to their students over many years, who are worthy of special recognition,” said a March 18, 2020, Tech Today news item.

“The intent in establishing this new award is to acknowledge that anyone named a finalist more than three times has been consistently exceptional,” wrote Michael Meyer, director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning, in Arney’s award letter. “Your commitment to excellence is worthy of significant recognition.”

The award, which consists of a plaque and $1000 in additional compensation, will be presented at the Academy of Teaching Excellence banquet on April 14, 2020. Each of the recipients of the new award will continue to be honored on an annual basis as members of Michigan Tech’s Distinguished Teaching Academy, an elite group with an established reputation for excellent teaching.

Arney is a lecturer in the Computer Network and System Administration (CNSA) program, Applied Computing. He teaches courses in Linux system administration, Microsoft system administration, infrastructure system administration, scripting administration and automation, data center engineering, cybersecurity, and cyber ethics.  In addition, he supervises CNSA Senior Design projects. He was also nominated for the Dean’s Teaching Award in spring 2019.  

“Todd’s energy and his rapport with the students creates a community within CNSA that promotes student success,” said Adrienne Minerick, dean of the College of Computing. “He is accessible and dedicated to the students, always encouraging them to try projects that lie outside of their comfort zones.”

“I am delighted, but not 100% surprised, that Todd Arney was selected as one of the inaugural recipients for this award,” said Dan Fuhrmann, chair of the Applied Computing department. “‘Sustained teaching excellence’ is a perfect description of Todd’s contributions to the CNSA program.  Our students are his number one priority, and in return he is respected and well-liked by his students. Todd represents the very best that Michigan Tech offers in undergraduate education.”

“I am very pleased to be part this award’s initiation, and to be associated with a place where there’s so much good instruction going on that we need to expand the ways we recognize people,” wrote Meyer. “Your [Arney’s] efforts motivated the creation of this award, and that alone is an outstanding professional accomplishment! On behalf of the students, staff, and faculty at Michigan Tech, I offer my sincerest congratulations and appreciation to you for your dedicated efforts and willingness to go the extra mile to connect with your students.”

As is the case for those that have won the Distinguished Teaching Award, recipients of the Provost’s Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence are members of an elite group with an established reputation for teaching excellence. Recipients of the new Provost’s award are ineligible to be named as a finalist in the future, but membership in the elite group is permanent.

Finalists for the 2020 teaching awards were selected based on the spring and fall 2019 semester teaching evaluations.


Capture the Flag Competition Incredibly Successful

The Capture the Flag competition at this year’s Winter Wonderhack, held the weekend of February 21-23, was incredibly successful, with a total of 35 students competing on 15 different teams.

The three top teams finished with 100% completion after 10+ hours of hard work, and the fourth place team was close behind with only two flags left. The entire competition was very competitive, with the top four teams constantly exchanging places throughout the weekend.

Winning teams:

First Place (Hak5 WiFi Pineapple and Manual) – Real Pineapple:
Eli Brockert, Cybersecurity, sophomore
Matthew Chau, Cybersecurity, freshman
Nathan Wichers, EE, freshman

Second Place  (Hak5 Packet Squirrel and Manual) – College Nerd Seeking Assets
Justin Bilan, CNSA, junior
Stuart Hoxie, CNSA, junior
Ben Kangas , CNSA, junior
Austin Clark, CNSA, junior
Nicklaus Finetti, CNSA, senior

Third Place (Hak5 USB Rubber Ducky and Manual)  – The Blue Tigers 21
Austin Doorlag, CS, sophomore
Harley Merkaj, CS, sophomore
Anthony Viola, CpE, sophomore

Fourth Place (Hak5 Sticker Packs and USB Rubber Ducky Manual)  – Fsociety
Sam Breuer, CpE, freshman
John Claassen, CS, sophomore
Samantha Christie, CS, freshman

All participants in the Capture the Flag Competition, February 21-23, 2020

Michigan Tech is #2 on WXYZ List of Highest-paid Grads

Michigan Tech is #2 on list of highest-paid grads in Michigan published recently by WXYZ Detroit (ABC-TV). The ratings are based on data from Payscale.com.

For Michigan Tech grads, the midpoint for early career salaries is $65,000 (five or fewer years on the job), and the midpoint for seasoned pros is more than $116,000 (10 years on the job). No school in Michigan awards a higher percentage of science, technology and engineering degrees that Michigan Tech.

Other schools on the list were Albion College (#7), University of Michigan Dearborn ( #6 ), Michigan State University (#5), Lawrence Technological University (#4), University of Michigan (#3), and Kettering University (#1). View the full story here.


Health Informatics Online Graduate Program Ranked Best in the Midwest, 11th in Nation

The Michigan Tech online Master’s in Health Informatics has been ranked best in the midwest and 11th nationally by Intelligent.com, ahead of universities such as Stanford, Northwestern, and Boston University. Michigan Tech’s 2020 ranking rose from 17th nationally in 2019.

See the full rankings here.

According to their website, Intelligent.com is a free, editorially independent, privately-supported website. It aims to “connect students to the best schools that meet their needs” through “unbiased, accurate, and fact-based information on a wide range of issues.” Their rankings are based on aggregated publicly available data about colleges and programs across the country.

In November 2019, the website OnlineSchoolsCenter.com ranked Michigan Tech’s online Health Informatics M.S. program among the 20 finest online colleges and universities. Michigan Tech was the only school from Michigan to make the list.