Category: Alumni

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. R


Read the May 2020 College of Computing Newsletter here.

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)


Dylan Gaines, Ph.D. Candidate, Computer Science

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

Dylan Gaines at ASSETS 2018

Computer Science master’s student and doctoral candidate Dylan Gaines is one of three Michigan Tech students recently awarded a multi-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. 

The oldest STEM-related fellowship program in the United States, the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes exceptional graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines early in their career and supports them through graduate education.

NSF-GRFP fellows are an exceptional group; 42 fellows have gone on to become Nobel Laureates, and about 450 fellows are members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The additional Michigan Tech graduate students who received the fellowship are Greta Colford ’19 (Mechanical Engineering) and Seth Kriz (Chemical Engineering).

The fellowship provides three years of financial support, including a $34,000 annual stipend for each fellow and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for the fellow’s institution. In addition to financial support, the GRFP provides opportunities for research in national laboratories and international research.

Read an April 15, 2020, Tech Today article about this here.

Four years, two degrees

Gaines, who arrived as a first-year student in fall 2016, was awarded the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in spring 2019, also completing a concentration in Game Development. He’s pursuing on his master’s now, which he expects to complete in December 2020. He has also begun working on his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Michigan Tech, which he anticipates completing in spring 2023.

Commenting on Gaines’ award, Department of Computer Science Chair Dr. Linda Ott says, “All of us in the Department of Computer Science are very excited that Dylan is being awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. This is clear affirmation that Dylan is an excellent student, and that even as an undergraduate he demonstrated strong research skills.”

“I am very thankful for this award, and for everyone that supported me through the application process and helped to review my essays” Gaines says.

Early interest, a first-year research assistant

Ott notes that it is also a tribute to Gaines’s advisor, CS Associate Professor Keith Vertanen who has established a very successful research group in intelligent interactive systems.

“Dr. Ott encouraged the pursuit of research in her CS 1000 class by bringing in faculty like Dr. Vertanen to present what they were working on,” Gaines says. “Because of this, I started doing research with Dr. Vertanen my first semester at Michigan Tech, and he has been nothing but supportive the whole time,” adding, “all of the faculty and staff at Michigan Tech are very supportive of students and make teaching a priority.”

Vertanen recalls that in fall 2017, Gaines approached him following a talk about Vertanen’s research in the CS department’s first-year seminar class.

“I was so impressed by him that I subsequently hired him as an undergraduate research assistant, something I would normally not do with a first-year student,” Vertanen confirms. “Since then, he has been a key contributor to my research group.”

“It became quickly clear to me he was a talented, hard-working, and curious researcher,” Vertanen says. I was pleased to learn NSF recognized this, as well, by awarding him a GRF. I’m excited to see what he’ll accomplish during his Ph.D.”

Text entry techniques

Gaines’s research with Vertanen focuses on text entry techniques for those with visual impairments. His master’s and doctoral research will continue this work. He also plans to develop assistive technologies for use in Augmented Reality. 

His aim is to make smartphones—and technology in general—more accessible for people with visual impairments. Looking ahead, Gaines definitely wants to continue to pursue research, but he’s unsure yet if it will be in academia or in industry. “At this time, I am open to both possibilities,” he says.

In his first two years at Michigan Tech, Gaines was instrumental in research leading to two papers accepted for the 2018 and 2019 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, with acceptance rates of 24% and 26%, respectively. For both papers, Vertanen notes that Dylan helped design and execute the user studies, and also provided careful feedback that improved the submitted papers, the rebuttals, and the final papers. CHI is the flagship conference in human-computer interaction.

During his undergraduate studies, Gaines worked with Vertanen on his NSF project, “CAREER: Technology Assisted Conversations.” In the first year of his PhD, he worked on two NSF projects with Vertanen, “CHS: Small: Rich Surface Interaction for Augmented Environments” and “CHS: Small: Collaborative Research: Improving Mobile Device Input for Users who are Blind or Low Vision.” 

Gaines plans to continue his research in line with the above project, “Improving Mobile Device Input for Users who are Blind or Low Vision,” though now funded by the GRF. See below for more information about the research projects.

“Dylan is one of the strongest and easiest to work with students I have encountered in over ten years of advising undergraduate research students,” Vertanen concludes. “I have no doubt he will produce an exciting and impactful portfolio of research during his Ph.D. studies.”\

An active life

Gaines is an active member of Triangle Fraternity, which he says helped to shape who he is as a person and as a scholar. Triangle is a fraternity of engineers, architects, and scientists that develop balanced men who cultivate high moral character, foster lifelong friendships, and live their lives with integrity, according to the organizations’ website.

As an undergraduate, Gaines was active in the Organization for Information Systems, and he served on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council. He also participated for three years in Husky Game Development (HGD) Enterprise, capping his final year as HGD president and coordinating 66 students on 12 teams. In HGD, student teams design and build video games, often in collaboration with sponsors and alumni.

In summer 2019, he helped with a week-long Computer Science department Summer Youth Program for high school girls, assisting in development of the web API used in their projects, and helping the girls build their mobile apps.

Gaines competed in three seasons for the Huskies as a member of the cross country and track teams, Now, he’s a graduate assistant coach for the team. “I started running cross country about nine years ago,” Gaines affirms. “I ran in the 8k and the 3k steeplechase on the MTU team for three years during my undergrad. I have loved watching the Cross program grow and improve throughout my time here.”

View Gaines’s Michigan Tech Cross Country record here.

Trust, a novel interface, peer mentoring

As a third-year undergrad, Gaines conducted his own research project investigating a novel interface for eye-free text entry, developing an Android application and integrating it with the statistical decoder used in Vertanen’s research group.

“This decoder has evolved over many years and has served as the basis for a variety of projects,” Vertanen explains. “As such, it has a large code base with a complex API. Despite this, Dylan was able to incorporate the decoder into his project with only minimal guidance. He asked questions when stuck, but almost always figured out solutions on his own. His software engineering skills are excellent and he is one of the few students I trust to make changes to the decoder.”

An application programming interface, or API, is a computing interface which defines interactions between multiple software intermediaries. It defines the kinds of calls or requests that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow, among other functions.

Upon completing the prototype of his eyes-free text entry interface, Gaines designed and conducted a longitudinal user study. 

“In designing the experimental methodology for his study, he routinely challenged me with probing and insightful questions about how the study should be designed,” Vertanen says. “I felt like I was working with a senior Ph.D. student rather than an undergraduate. I cannot overstate how impressive this is; many students just blindly follow my suggestions, even my bad ones! Now, whenever I design a new user study, I always discuss it with Dylan as this helps refine the design and spot problems.”

Vertanen also asks his other students to pilot their studies with Gaines, as he often provides feedback that improves their studies.

ACM ASSETS 2018

Dylan Gaines, far left, at the ASSETS 2018 Student Research Competition

Gaines’s eyes-free text entry interface work culminated in his solo submission to the ACM ASSETS 2018 Student Research Competition (SRC), “Exploring an Ambiguous Technique for Eyes-Free Mobile Text Entry.” And his related technical paper was accepted by the SRC competition, which had a 50% acceptance rate.

In October 2018, Vertanen and Gaines traveled to Galway, Ireland, where Gaines presented a poster and a talk at ASSETS 2018 about his interface, Tap123. Tap123 offers the potential for faster and easier-to-learn text input for users who are visually impaired. ACM ASSETS is the premier venue for research on assistive technologies and accessible computing.

“His writing skills are excellent; he produced a quality paper with minimal guidance from me,” says Vertanen of Gaines’s ASSETS 2018 participation. “At his poster presentation, he did an excellent job communicating his research and answering questions, and he advanced to the final round, where he gave an excellent talk to the entire conference, winning third-place in the undergraduate category.

Significant impact, contribution

Vertanen reflects that while Gaines is clearly very bright, he also demonstrates an ability to critically assess his understanding of a topic and asked questions whenever he suspects his solutions might be incorrect. 

In his role as Dylan’s research advisor, Vertanen encouraged Dylan, when writing he was writing his research plan, to not only incorporate feedback he received presenting at ASSETS, but also to think about how his work might be relevant in a post-mobile phone world.  I was pleased with the research plan he created,” Vertanen says.

Vertanen predicts that Gaines’s planned work will significantly impact the utility of future AR interfaces for people with visual impairments, adding, “More broadly, his work may also impact everyone, since limitations of device or situation may make audio-only AR an attractive alternative to visual-based AR interaction”

And Gaines has a head start on the publication process. “Throughout his time in my group, he has shown a keen interest in the academic publication process,” Vertanen says of Gaines. “This has already manifested itself; as a first-year Ph.D. student he has one paper in submission and another ready for submission.”

With this publication experience and motivation, Vertanen expects that Gaines’s Ph.D. research will be disseminated widely. Further, this work on interfaces for those with disabilities will provide motivating material in the College of Computing’s ongoing efforts to recruit students who are typically underrepresented in computer science.

NSF Research Projects

CAREER: Technology Assisted Conversations
Sponsor: NSF
PI: Keith Vertanen
Abstract: Face-to-face conversation is an important way in which people communicate with each other, but unfortunately there are millions who suffer from disorders that impede normal conversation. This project will explore new real-time communication solutions for people who face speaking challenges, including those with physical or cognitive disabilities, for example by exploiting implicit and explicit contextual input obtained from a person’s conversation partner.

The goal is to develop technology that improves upon the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices currently available to help people speak faster and more fluidly. The PI will assemble teams of undergraduates to develop the project’s software, and he will host a summer youth program on the technology behind text messaging, offering scholarships for women, students with disabilities, and students from underrepresented groups. Funded first-year research opportunities will further help retain undergraduates, particularly women, in computing.

CHS: Small: Rich Surface Interaction for Augmented Environments
Sponsor: NSF
PI: Keith Vertanen
Co-PI: Scott Kuhl
The preliminary data for this project was developed through an Institute of Computing and Cybersystems faculty seed grant funded by Michigan Tech alumnus Paul Williams. Read a blog post about this research here.
Abstract: Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) head-mounted displays are increasingly being used in different computing related activities such as data visualization, education, and training. Currently, VR and AR devices lack efficient and ergonomic ways to perform common desktop interactions such as pointing-and-clicking and entering text. 

The goal of this project is to transform flat, everyday surfaces into a rich interactive surface. For example, a desk or a wall could be transformed into a virtual keyboard. Flat surfaces afford not only haptic feedback, but also provide ergonomic advantages by providing a place to rest your arms. This project will develop a system where microphones are placed on surfaces to enable the sensing of when and where a tap has occurred. Further, the system aims to differentiate different types of touch interactions such as tapping with a fingernail, tapping with a finger pad, or making short swipe gestures. This project will investigate different machine learning algorithms for producing a continuous coordinate for taps on a surface along with associated error bars.

CHS: Small: Collaborative Research: Improving Mobile Device Input for Users who are Blind or Low Vision. 
Sponsor: NSF
PI: Keith Vertanen
Abstract: Smartphones are an essential part of everyday life. But for people with visual impairments, basic tasks like composing text messages or browsing the web can be prohibitively slow and difficult. The goal of this project is to develop accessible text entry methods that will enable people with visual impairments to enter text at rates comparable to sighted people. This project will design new algorithms and feedback methods for today’s standard text entry approaches of tapping on individual keys, gesturing across keys, or dictating via speech.

Publications by Dylan Gaines

Vertanen, K., ​Gaines, D.​, Fletcher, C., Stanage, A., Watling, R., Krisstensson, P.O. 2019. VelociWatch: Designing and Evaluating a Virtual Keyboard for the Input of Challenging Text. In ​Proceedings of The ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ‘19)​.

Gaines, D., Exploring an Ambiguous Technique for Eyes-Free Mobile Text Entry. 2018. In ​Proceedings of the 20t​ h​ International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility Student Research Competition​ ​(ASSETS ‘18)​.

Vertanen, K., Fletcher, C., ​Gaines, D.​, Gould, J., Kristensson, P.O. 2018. The Impact of Word, Multiple Word, and Sentence Input on Virtual Keyboard Decoding Performance. In ​Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems​ ​(CHI ‘18)​.

More Background

The Deans’ Student Advisory Council, College of Business, serves to foster effective communication among the Dean’s Office, faculty, and students, and provide advice to the Dean on matters relating to undergraduate business education and the College community.

Husky Game Development Enterprise (HGD). The mission of HGD is to design and develop games for business, education, and fun. We work as an interdisciplinary, student-run enterprise that fosters productivity, creativity, and effective business practices. Our goal is to create quality software that will attract and satisfy industry sponsors.

The Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) is the research arm of the Michigan Tech College of Computing. It leads and promotes opportunities for faculty and students to work across organizational boundaries to create an environment that is a reflection of the contemporary technological innovation that mirrors today’s industry and society.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports individuals early in their graduate training in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

The Organization for Information Systems (OIS) is a student organization focused on the technical and professional development of its members.

Triangle Fraternity was founded in 1907 by sixteen engineers at the University of Illinois.  From the start, it was meant to be a place where men of similar majors could socialize, support each other’s academic pursuits and better prepare themselves for successful careers.  Since that time, our membership has grown and expanded to include mathematics and the physical sciences as well as architecture, making us STEM long before the term was coined in 2001. Today, we continue to provide a unique social, academic and professional experience for STEM majors.


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.


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.


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


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.


Google visits Computer Science

Google grad student presentation 2017
During the week of February 28, 2017, two Googlers, Eric Dalquist, who received his BS in Computer Science from Michigan Tech in 2004, and Kurt Dresner, visited the Computer Science Department.

They met with graduate students, faculty and staff and hosted a tech talk on campus for students who wanted to learn more about Google and opportunities they have for graduate students.

Eric and Kurt also hosted two workshops, a Resume workshop where students found out what Google looks for in a resume, and a Preparing for Technical Interview workshop where students could learn what they need to do to prepare for a technical interview.

Faculty and students also met with Eric for a question and answer hour about “Life at Google”