Category Archives: In the News

Mechatronics Engineering Lab Spotlighted in Donald Engineering Newsletter

Michigan Tech faculty and students at Donald Engineering

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

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

Force Sensing Module

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


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

Robotics manufacturing shows Michigan’s automation leadership

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

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

Automation could reshape Michigan’s workforce, experts say.  And the state is a leader in both manufacturing robots and in training employers to use them.

Michigan leads the U.S. with more than 28,000 robots mostly engineered in state, 12% of the nation’s total, according to a 2017 Brookings Institution report.

The state’s aging population creates a gap in the skilled labor pool that automation could fill, said Joseph Cvengros, a vice president at FANUC America, a Rochester Hills company that recently opened a 461,000-square-foot robot factory.

“The next generation isn’t as large so the way that companies are going to stay competitive is to have a balance of highly technical skilled people and automation,” he said.

The change doesn’t eliminate humans from the process, said Rep. Brian Elder, D-Bay City. Elder also chairs the House labor caucus.

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

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

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

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

“We believe that this is opening up opportunities for Michigan in making us more competitive,” Cvengros said.

Automation has applications as diverse as more precise surgeries and self-driving semi-trucks, said Otie McKinley, the MEDC’s media and communications manager.

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

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

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

Community colleges are stepping up with training programs that work with local employers, said Michael Hansen, the president of the Michigan Community College Association.

Schools with FANUC-certified education programs partner with companies looking to hire graduates skilled in programming and using robots in the workplace, Cvengros said.

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

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

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

Sergeyev is a FANUC-certified professor who can train students for jobs in automation.

Professors with that certification can also train company professionals, ensuring that they both use the most updated software, Sergeyev said.

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

Slade said a challenge is to prepare technology students for rapid changes.

“We have the hope that they’ll be able to use technology right now, but then adapt to new technology that comes online,” Slade said.


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.



Bo Chen Weighs In on Identity Fraud in WalletHub Article

Bo Chen, Computer Science

Bo Chen (CS/CyberS) was featured in the article “2019’s States Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft & Fraud,” published October 16, 2019, in WalletHub.

Link to the article here:https://wallethub.com/edu/states-where-identity-theft-and-fraud-are-worst/17549/#expert=bo-chen

Based in Washington DC, WalletHub is the first-ever website to offer free credit scores and full credit reports that are updated on a daily basis. The company also hosts an artificially intelligent financial advisor that provides customized credit-improvement advice, personalized savings alerts, and 24/7 wallet surveillance, supplemented by reviews of financial products, professionals and companies.



TV6 Features Story on Computing Week October 17

WLUC TV6 aired the story, “Michigan Tech holds first Computing Week,” on October 17, 2019. College of Computing Dean Adrienne Minerick and Timothy Havens, the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems and director the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems, were interviewed for the story, which includes film footage from the Computing Open House of Thursday, October 17.

View the video here: https://www.uppermichiganssource.com/content/news/Michigan-Tech-holds-first-Computing-Week-563325232.html.



Tim Havens Quoted in The Enterprise Project Blog

Timothy Havens

Timothy Havens (CC/ICC), the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems and director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC), was quoted extensively in the article “How to make a career switch into AI: 8 tips,” which was published September 5, 2019, on The Enterprisers Project blog.

https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2019/9/ai-career-path-how-make-switch