Dr. Daniel R. Fuhrmann, Dave House Professor of Computer Engineering, has been appointed chair of the Department of Applied Computing, effective immediately. Dr. Fuhrmann has been interim chair of the department since its founding in 2019. Prior to joining the College of Computing, he was chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) from 2008 to 2019.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Dr. Dennis Livesay, the Dave House Dean of Computing. “Dan was instrumental in the creation of the College, and I know that his leadership will help the department achieve its promise. Computing is transforming every discipline and it’s hard to imagine any unit on campus reflecting that more than the Department of Applied Computing.”
The department also collaborates on three convergence programs. In cooperation with the Department of Computer Science it offers the B.S. in Cybersecurity, which began enrolling students in Fall 2019. In cooperation with the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET), in the College of Engineering, the department offers both a M.S. and B.S. in Mechatronics, which began enrolling students in Fall 2019 and 2020, respectively.
In addition to teaching AC program courses, faculty in the department pursue research in a variety of computing areas, including cybersecurity, mechatronics, health informatics, and machine learning. Growing the department’s industrial and applied research portfolio will be a major emphasis for Dr. Fuhrmann.
“I’m excited about doing what I can to help build this new department at Michigan Tech,” says Fuhrmann. “There are a lot of synergies that may not be immediately apparent within traditional academic structures, but they reflect what is happening in industry today.”
For example, computer networks and cybersecurity are playing an increasingly important role in industrial control and automation, and robotics and the Internet of Things is highly relevant for the evolving field of health informatics, Fuhrmann explains.
“Machine learning is also having an impact across all areas in the department,” Fuhrmann adds. “We will be focusing on helping both our students and our industry partners navigate this convergence of physical and cyber technologies.”
The Department of Applied Computing brings together those faculty and programs in the College of Computing with a common interest in applied aspects of computing.
Michigan Tech Professor Alex Sergeyev and Chinmay Kondekar, ’21 (M.S. in ECE/Mechatronics) discuss the Mechatronics degree programs and Kondekar’s final system design project, in a new video produced by the Applied Computing department. Watch the video below.
The system machines patterns on blocks of foam using various robotic attachments, a tricky manufacturing process to program and one of the more challenging applications for an industrial robot.
The interconnected system is flexible, reconfigurable, and controlled from a central control interface to emulate a production process. Correct dimensions are assured using machine vision, and by transporting the workpiece between different stations.
A number of industrial applications are employed by the system, and most industrial robotic work cells have similar control and communication layouts. Manufacturing system layouts like this one are commonly found in the automotive, pharmaceutical, and food industries. Other potential applications include use in data acquisition and analytics, cybersecurity, and future projects requiring interconnected systems.
The College of Computing has announced the special recognition of eight Class of 2021 graduating seniors in the Applied Computing and Computer Science departments. Please join us in congratulating these exceptional graduates!
Link to the Computer Science Special Recognition awards.
Heather Harris: Outstanding Graduating Senior
Heather has been an outstanding student ever since she has started at Michigan Tech. She was punctual, rarely missed a class, was a very active participant in class, and never missed an assignment in her EET courses. She also played a major role in the EET Senior Design swingset project. She spent a lot of time on developing the swing and addressing all the comments that were received regarding safety of the final product.
Charles Warren: Outstanding Graduating Senior
Charles was an undergraduate studying Computer Network and System Administration and a graduate student pursuing an MS in Cybersecurity. He graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.90 and a departmental GPA of 4.0.
During his time at Michigan Tech he co-founded a student organization that focused on student-led instruction and research in networking and computing topics. It has grown into an undergraduate, graduate, and alumni organization focused on providing cloud and education services at low to no cost as a Non-profit Organization.
Charles has also been an instructor with Dr. Guy Hembroff’s State of Michigan’s Career Technical Education (CTE) funding (2018-2021), which provides local high-school students a cybersecurity curriculum at Michigan Tech.
He is currently working in Palo Alto as a Resident Engineer for security automation. He is a lifelong learner who is always looking to push the boundaries of his industry and to further his own and others’ understanding of topics in computing. His research interests include: cybersecurity, secure design, network security, public key infrastructure (PKI), and Internet of Things (IoT).
Joseph Barbercheck: Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant
Joe has been a trustworthy and responsible teaching assistant. He has been extremely flexible and has tried his best to help everyone even outside of the scheduled lab times. If a student or a faculty needed extra help, he volunteered his time to make things work.
Besides being an excellent teaching assistant, he also took good care of equipment in the lab and performed routine maintenance tasks such as changing fuses, ordering parts, and stocking the lab with all the necessary components.
Stuart Hoxie: Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant
Stuart provided teaching and lab assistance during the Spring 2021 semester for our CNSA and Cybersecurity students in three classes: Microsoft System Administration, Scripting for Automation, Administration, and Security, and Cybersecurity II.
While Stuart has already proven to be a valuable team member working in groups, the Spring semester was his time to exhibit his strong work ethic while operating independently to assist students with both classroom and laboratory questions and issues.
The semester was challenging dealing with COVID and remote work, but Stuart took it in stride – remotely assisting students using the virtual cluster for labs, managing emails and the Canvas course sites, making himself available by attending Zoom meetings, all while reviewing and grading student submissions.
Stuart turned a challenging situation into one of the best semesters for both students and faculty.
The College of Computing has announced the special recognition of eight Class of 2021 graduating seniors in the Applied Computing and Computer Science departments. Please join us in congratulating these exceptional graduates!
Vic was a standout Lab Assistant in the CS1121 Introduction to Programming course, helping first-time programming students one-on-one in a lab setting that was made even more challenging by COVID-related restrictions.
CS1121 instructor Prof. Briana Bettin describes Vic as “patient and persistent” and adds that his teaching style “has consistently led students to discover the answers to their own questions.”
Sarah Larkin, CS: Excellence in Research and Teaching
Sarah was supported by the National Science Foundation, through a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grant, on a project with Prof. Soner Onder to develop a new processor design.
Sarah was also a dedicated and effective Lab Assistant for CS1121, and a longtime contributor to K-12 computer science teaching through WiCS (Women in Computer Science), NCWIT-sponsored Aspire-IT workshops, and Copper Country Coders.
Prof. Briana Bettin says that Sarah “blends curiosity, passion, leadership, and dedication to perfection.” From prospective students and undergraduates she mentors to graduate students and faculty she works alongside, her ethics and devotion are unparalleled and unforgettable.
Alec Rospierski, SE: Excellence in Leadership
Alec led a Senior Design team in developing the Micro:bit app, allowing middle and high school students to conduct science experiments online. This project was a collaboration between Michigan Tech and Washington University in St. Louis.
He also served as team leader in the User Interface course in developing an app allowing middle and high school students to conduct simulation of the spread of COVID and other infectious diseases.
Katie Schmidt, SE: Excellence in Leadership
Katie served as President of the Copper Country Coders student organization. This group works with local middle and high school students, providing small-group courses in computer science and programming.
Under her leadership, Coders made great strides in developing a sustainable organizational structure, recruiting new members, and creating an engaged community of student instructors through reflection meetings and social events.
Prof. Charles Wallace, faculty co-advisor of Copper Country Coders praises “Katie’s ability to lead in an inclusive and compassionate way that inspires others.”
The Michigan Tech Master of Science in Mechatronics, launched in 2019, has congratulated its first graduates this spring: Chinmay Kondekar (EE), Chukwuemeka George Ochieze, and Ahmat Oumar. Read their stories below.
Oumar was very interested in finding an engineering discipline combining
the new engineering principles of the age of automation.
looking for a discipline that will combine principles in electrical engineering,
mechanical engineering and computer science,” he explains. “And the College of
Computing Mechatronics program has been the right answer.”
Tech Mechatronics has been a great learning experience for me,” Oumar says. “The
frequent lab practices to apply the principles learned in class especially
enhanced my learning. This will make it easier to make a smooth transition into
credits his professors as instrumental in his success. “They make themselves
available to students, not only in teaching and guiding, but also through
Chukwuemeka George Ochieze
Chukwuemeka George Ochieze—now enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Michigan Tech—checked out the College of Computing Mechatronics master of science program a few years ago.
He was intrigued by the equipment available to students and the many research projects that could be accomplished within the program. Both aligned perfectly with his interests. And he regards the location of Michigan Tech and the region’s weather conditions as a good atmosphere for study.
“Mechatronics is important in this century because every system
consists of different subsystems that require a particular mechatronics
application,” says Ochieze. “For example, people who work on fluid power
systems should understand automation and controls.”
Ochieze says that working with faculty and researchers in the various fields of mechatronics helped him to think differently with respect to the subject of application.
“I pursued so many projects while here on campus,” he adds. “My work with wearable devices shaped my interests and allowed me to apply what I’ve learned so far in the Mechatronics program. His current focus is on the robotics field, which Ochieze says stems from his exposure to robotics and programming in the Mechatronics M.S. program.
Ochieze was a mechatronics instructor in the 2020-21 academic year for the Career Technical Education (CTE) program in Mechatronics, recently launched by Michigan Tech and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD). The 12-month Career CTE program is for high school juniors or seniors. Read the story.
And Ochieze tried many indoor and outdoor events that includes, “skiing, indoor and outdoor soccer, skating, tubing, winter carnivals, career fairs, late nights in the library trying to figure out projects, passport to the world, to mention but a few.”
“Personally, I think the best memories I have was the career fairs events, having the opportunity to exchange information with people who have similar interests and also sharing your thoughts to people who have worked for a long time in the industry,” Ochieze says.
Graduate student Chinmay Kondekar heard about Michigan Tech during his undergraduate studies. Sometime later he read a social media post about work opportunities in the robotic and automation labs, and Michigan Tech again came to his attention.
“At that time, I was working as a controls engineer in India,” he says. “Robotics and automation interest me, and when I saw who had written the post (a former graduate student of Sergeyev’s), I knew I had found the perfect degree program.”
Kondekar’s final design project was to create an interconnected system that is flexible, reconfigurable, and controlled from a central control interface to emulate a production process. The system is used to machine different patterns on a block of foam.
“I enjoy solving problems and coming up with a solution to make things work,” he shares. “When starting the [final] project, I had a lot of unknown variables but I knew how to approach them and, eventually, I came up with solutions and made the system work. It’s highly rewarding to watch the finished system come together, and then to see it work automatically after pressing just three buttons.”
Kondekar’s project would not have been possible without generous support from Mr. Mark Gauthier and his team at Donald Engineering. “Mark has helped the department acquire the best industry-grade hardware, and his expertise in pneumatics helped the project concept become reality,” Kondekar says.
Kondekar says he has enjoyed his learning and life experiences at Michigan Tech. Plus, he loves the outdoors. “I am an outdoors guy and I love the UP, especially the summers. It’s full of good people and great beer!”
“Everything starts with a dream, a vision, and a passion,” says Michigan Tech alumnus Mr. Mark Gauthier, president of Donald Engineering, Grand Rapids, Mich. “In life, we have very few opportunities to be able to put our hand into something and achieve an earth moving event.”
Mr. Gauthier’s dream is to build a vital, well-trained Mechatronics workforce, and to grow industry in southwestern Michigan. The College of Computing wishes to do the same for that region and the entire state of Michigan.
And the dream is becoming a reality. The digital revolution is well underway in the College of Computing. Throughout the last few years, dozens of individuals, companies, and organizations have channeled their passion, expertise, and resources into building and equipping world-class Mechatronics degree programs at Michigan Tech.
Mechatronics: The Key to Digital Transformation
Key to the digital transformation of our regional and national economy, Mechatronics combines mechanical systems, electrical systems, computing, and control in one holistic discipline.
It is central to smart manufacturing and other high-tech industries, employing technologies ranging from industrial robots and autonomous vehicles to process control and utility power systems. Most mechatronics-related entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree.
A common degree in Europe, China, Japan, Russia, and India, advanced study in Mechatronics is an underdeveloped academic discipline in the United States, even though the industrial demand for these professionals is enormous, and continues to grow.
Mechatronics is an industry buzzword synonymous with robotics, controls, automation, and electromechanical engineering.
Dr. Aleksandr Sergeyev
Passion, Support, Expertise
Mr. Gauthier is always certain to warmly recognize the support, involvement, and expertise of Donald Engineering employees and the company’s key vendors. He says that without them, this dream would never have become a reality. The DE vendors include Continental Hydraulics, Schunk, Milwaukee Cylinder, Clippard, Oilgear, and Ross Controls.
“Equipping industry with 21st century talent and technologies is central to the success of the University and critical for the economic success of the state of Michigan.” says Dr. Dennis Livesay, dean of the College of Computing.
“I am impressed and grateful to all of you. The Mechatronics programs at Tech have become world class in a few short years,” says Dr. Livesay. “The creative thinking and proactive actions of Mark Gauthier, Donald Engineering and its key vendors, and the dedicated support of College Of Computing faculty, staff, and students made this happen.”
The MS in Mechatronics Class of 2021
The Michigan Tech Master of Science in Mechatronics, launched in 2019, has congratulated its first graduates this spring: Chinmay Kondekar, Chukwuemeka George Ochieze, and Ahmat Oumar. Read their stories here.
Promising Fall ’21 Enrollment Numbers
Preliminary fall ’21 enrollment numbers for Mechatronics programs indicate a very high interest in the program.
“I am very proud of the degree we launched at Tech and would like to express special appreciation to Adrienne Minerick, who not only believed in me when I proposed this degree, but actually helped to propel it at Michigan Tech,” says Dr. Aleksandr Sergeyev, professor in Applied Computing. Dr. Minerick was dean of the College of Computing from summer 2019 until February of this year.
Mr. Gauthier adds, “Both Adrienne’s and Aleks’s embrace of this vision, and their efforts to implement programs that prepare Michigan Tech students for careers as mechatronics professionals has been amazing.”
“I am so impressed by people like Alex, Adrienne, and Mark, who have a vision for what can be, and put in the hard work to turn that vision into reality,” says Dr. Dan Fuhrmann, chair of the Applied Computing department. “The early enrollment numbers are a testament to that hard work, and that is only the beginning. I will do what I can to to help keep this train rolling?”
Developing Creative Minds
“Michigan Tech is much more than a University to me. I believe in the University and the drive to develop creative minds,” Mr. Gauthier says. “It is also one of my passions. I call the Houghton city limits the ‘front door to my home.'”
“The effort and vision of the College and University have been amazing, ” Mr. Gauthier adds. “To be able to work with you ALL is a dream come true, for me.”
Mr. Gauthier adds that Michigan Tech did so much for him in a time of deep sadness, as well as helping direct and educate him to become a leader.
“It [my Michigan Tech education] made me work through some tough times and thickened my skin in the meantime,” he says. “I may not be able to pass a calculus class anymore, but I can certainly remember what it did. My entire experience taught me how to learn, how to educate myself, and become independent and accountable to myself. These are key factors that need to be emphasized.”
“Passion moves mountains. Let’s keep this moving. We owe it to our future.”
Mr. Mark Gauthier
B.S. in Mechatronics
The College of Computing added a Bachelor of Science in Mechatronics to its degree programs, beginning in Fall 2020.
ECE graduate student Chinmay Kondekar, advised by Professor Sergeyev, designed and produced an interconnected system that is flexible, reconfigurable, and controlled from a central control interface to emulate a production process. The system is used to machine different patterns on a block of foam.
Donald Engineering, (DE), an engineering and distribution company headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI, and several of the company’s key vendors, have generously designed, built, and funded significant improvements to the Mechatronics Engineering Lab.
In spring 2020, students were using the all-new custom industry-grade equipment, and learning stations. The lab has been dubbed, “The Mechatronics Playground.”
Funded by Institute of Computing and Cybersystems seed grant from Michigan Tech alumnus Paul Williams, Assistant Professor Nathir Rawashdeh, Applied Computing, has developed a mobile robot disinfector with the help of a seed grant from Michigan Tech alumnus and donor Paul Williams ’61 EE.
“Building a multidisciplinary robot like this, one that contains mechanical, electrical, and computational components, is an example of applied mechatronics at work.,” Rawashdeh says.
Donald Engineering, Mechatronics in Chamber Publication
A February 2021 issue of the “Manufacturing Matters” newsletter, published by the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg (Michigan), includes a feature article about Michigan Tech’s Mechatronics degree programs and learning lab, and the work that alumnus Mark Gauthier is doing to support and promote Mechatronics careers in southwestern Michigan.
Mechatronics, EET Topics of Copper Country Today Radio Program
In a segment on the weekly Copper Country Today radio program, Professor Aleksandr Sergeyev, Applied Computing, and four EET undergraduate students were interviewed about the Mechatronics BS program and an Electrical Engineering Technology Senior Design project benefiting a mobility-impaired girl in Alabama.
The Senior Design project completed this academic year by four graduating Electrical Engineering Technology (EET) students was the topic of a news story aired on WLUC-TV6 (Marquette) on April 23, 2021. The students designed and produced a motorized swing set that will help a disabled child enjoy herself and sleep comfortably.
Tackling the project top to bottom, the students designed the electrical system, control and drive systems, and portions of the mechanical design. The students, all graduating EET students, are Joe Barbercheck, Seth Cherry, Heather Harris, and Cole Kubick.
Michigan Tech recently launched a year-long Career and Technical Education (CTE) program in Mechatronics for high school juniors or seniors. The new program is offered through a partnership between Michigan Tech and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD).
Faculty in the Applied Computing disciplines, and faculty in the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET) department in the College of Engineering are administering the program. The course is instructed by two Mechatronics/ECE master’s degree students (now graduates), George Ochieze and Chinmay Kondekar.
“Teaching for local schools is an opportunity for me to give back to people in the community who welcomed me as an international student,” says Kondekar. “I hope to create a strong interest in robotics and automation in my students. People with these skills will be the future of manufacturing and will have plenty of opportunities.”
In 2018 a generous gift from Leidos expanded and refurbished the EET and MET lab spaces on the 4th floor of the Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC) and the electrical was upgraded.
With a second Leidos gift in 2019, lab refurbishment was completed and six new state-of-the art learning stations installed in time for the fall 2019 section of Electrical Machinery (EET 2233). Eagle Mine and the College of Computing each also funded a learning station.
“Selecting and controlling electrical machines are prime examples of the electrical, mechanical and computing aspects of hardware equipment,” said Professor Nathir Rawashdeh, Applied Computing. “Tnd the new learning units and exercises provide all the tools students need to thoroughly understand these subjects.”