Category: Michigan Tech News

GSG Executive Board for the 2021/22 Session

by Graduate Student Government

The Graduate Student Government (GSG) to announced the executive board members for the 2021/22 session:

  • President — Nathan Ford, PhD Student in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics 
  • Vice-President — Ranit Karmakar, PhD Student in Electrical & Computer Engineering 
  • Secretary — Divya Pandya, PhD Student in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics 
  • Treasurer — Michael Conard, PhD Student in Computer Science
  • Research Chair — Shreya Joshi, PhD Student in Physics
  • Professional Development Chair — Umair Riyas, MS Student in Engineering Management, College of Business
  • Social Chair — Eric Pearson, PhD Student in Chemical Engineering
  • Public Relations Chair — Laura Vidal Chiesa, PhD Student in Humanities 

The new executive board will begin its term on May 1, 2021.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase, Todd Arney, Applied Computing

by Michael R. Meyer – Director, William G. Jackson CTL

Dennis Livesay , Dean of the College of Computing, has selected Todd Arney, Senior Lecturer in Applied Computing, as our twelfth-week Deans’ Teaching Showcase member.

Arney, an inaugural winner of the Provost’s Award for Sustained Teaching Excellence in 2020, has a long record of outstanding teaching. But, this time, Applied Computing Chair Dan Fuhrmann, while acknowledging that Todd continues to teach a “substantial load” at an “exceptionally high level of quality,” recommended Arney for his behind-the-scenes “efforts to modernize the curricula in the Department of Applied Computing, and to enhance the use of state-of-the-art computing resources across campus, through the use of our new Virtual Cluster.”

Fuhrmann notes the changes in instruction required by the pandemic made Arney’s work a particular “godsend” because it enabled remote teaching. But he emphasizes that “it facilitated a vast improvement in student experience, in comparison to the aging educational computing hardware in the Computer Network and Systems Administration program that preceded it.”

Fuhrmann calls Arney an “evangelist” for the Virtual Cluster and notes that in addition to its implementation within the CNSA and Cybersecurity programs, Arney has made special efforts to reach out to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, bringing a modern computing framework to one of their senior/graduate courses, CEE 4610/5610 (Water Resources System Modeling and Design).

He also worked with AC Academic Advisor Kay Oliver, the instructor for SAT 1090 (Introduction to Applied Computing), to provide introductions on cybersecurity and privacy frameworks for the students to use as a common language for their group work discussions on project design using micro:bit hardware to solve real-world problems.

Currently, Arney is working on additional collaborations with Mechatronics faculty, two senior design projects, and two new faculty members in the College of Computing to help support their courses using the cluster. Fuhrmann emphasizes that “Bringing new resources into our educational programs does not happen overnight, and it does not happen without knowledgeable, dedicated faculty members who see the potential and who make the necessary effort to upgrade the curriculum to take advantage of those resources. Todd Arney is that person in the Department of Applied Computing.”

In choosing Arney, Dean Livesay heartily agrees, noting, “Ensuring that our students have access to the latest technology is time-consuming and represents work that isn’t acknowledged as regularly as it should be. As such, we’re especially proud to recognize Todd’s accomplishments in deploying virtual machines broadly in our classes, and helping others do the same in theirs.”

Arney will be recognized at an end-of-term event with other showcase members, and is also a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Series (to be determined this summer) recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

GenCyber Teacher Camp Is July 19-23, 2021

An NSA/NSF GenCyber Cybersecurity Teacher Camp for K-12 teachers will take place at Michigan Tech the week of July 19 – 23, 2021. The residential camp is offered at no cost to all participants.

Topics include fundamental security knowledge, cyber hygiene, and other topics such as email phishing, password management, and cyber ethics. Participants will also learn how to develop lesson plans to teach cybersecurity in K-12.

Room and board are included. Each teacher participant will receive a stipend of $500 for attending and completing camp activities. Commuting is also possible. Camp activities will count for 25 State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECH).

Find complete details and apply here.  The application deadline is May 1, 2021.

Funding of the camp is provided jointly by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) through a grant award led by Professor Yu Cai and Tim Van Wagner, both from the College of Computing Department of Applied Computing.

Watch a video from the 2019 GenCyber Teacher Camp below.

Gencyber Teacher Camp @ Michigan Tech 2019

Michigan Tech Ranked Among the Best

Two recent rankings place Michigan Tech among elite colleges and universities on both the state and national level. 

Michigan Tech was rated #2 on the list of the Best Accredited Online Colleges in Michigan by EDsmart. The ranking service assesses online colleges in Michigan based on data that covers cost, academic quality, student satisfaction and salary after attending. 

Michigan Tech was ranked #13 on the list of the 50 Best Value Public Colleges in America by Stacker. The ranking included only public, four-year colleges and weighed the cost of tuition with each school’s acceptance rate, quality of professors, diversity and the median earnings for alumni six years after graduation.

Graduate Research Colloquium 2021

by Graduate Student Government

This year’s Graduate Research Colloquium organized by the Graduate Student Government was hosted virtually due to COVID restrictions. There were in total 48 presentations — 17 poster presenters and 31 oral presenters.

Poster presentations took place in a pre-recorded video style and the oral sessions were hosted live via Zoom. You can watch all the poster videos and recordings for the oral sessions here. Each presentation was scored by two judges from the same field of research.

Participants were able to gain valuable feedback from these judges before presenting their research at an actual conference. It was stiff competition amongst all presenters. Following are the winners for each of these sessions.

Of the many presentations were the following by two graduate students affiliated with the College of Computing.

Simulating the Spread of Infectious Diseases
Meara Pellar-Kosbar, Data Science

This simulation is designed to show how a fictional viral illness could spread among people in a virtual room. Over the course of the virtual simulation, a number of automatic simulated people called subjects will move about an adjustable virtual grid. During this time, subjects will come into contact with each other and with item cells in the virtual room. Subjects will be exposed to this fictional virus via contact with other subjects, items, and via the air when within a certain distance of a contagious subject. The viral counts of each subject will be tracked and shown as the simulation runs, showing how the actions of the subjects’ affects their viral counts.

Cultural Competence Effects of Repeated Implicit Bias Training
Karen Colbert, Social Sciences

Karen Colbert is a PhD student in the Computational Sciences and Engineering department.

Abstract: Diversity training literature suggests that mandatory and recurrent sessions should maximize training efficacy, but research has primarily focused on single, brief training sessions that are often voluntary. Michigan Tech is one of few universities to implement required and repeated diversity training for all faculty who serve on search, tenure, and promotion committees. The goal of this study is to evaluate the training’s effectiveness, as well as to fill the gap in research on mandatory recurring diversity training. To do this, we anonymously surveyed faculty members on their knowledge, attitudes, and skills related to content from the Diversity Literacy program and scored responses to create a single composite score for each participant. We hypothesized that composite Cultural Competency Score (CCS) would be higher for faculty who 1) have taken more refresher trainings, and 2) completed training more recently. This study included 130 total respondents (large sample), 69 of whom provided their Diversity Literacy completion information anonymously through Human Resources (small sample). Composite CCS did not differ significantly by frequency of training, H(2)=3.78, p=.151. CCS did differ significantly by years since last training, F(2,63)=4.436, p=.016. Results from both large and small groups showed no statistical significant relationship between CCS and faculty committee service. CCS was negatively correlated with years employed at Tech in both the large (r=-0.363, p=0.002) and small (r = -0.258, p=0.01) samples. This relationship between low CCS and longer employment at Tech may additionally be related to the Diversity Literacy program’s implementation in 2010. Qualitative responses were also collected regarding training material that faculty found most memorable (N=102) and most confident to put into practice (N=93).

View all the Research Colloquium abstracts here.

Q and A with College of Computing Dean Dennis Livesay

Michigan Tech News, published 4:47 p.m., March 29, 2021
By Cyndi Perkins

Increase enrollment. Promote diversity and inclusion. Grow the research portfolio. Michigan Technological University’s newly arrived College of Computing Dean Dennis Livesay shares present priorities and future goals.

Dennis Livesay, Dave House Dean of the Michigan Tech College of Computing, began his work at the University in February and made the move to Houghton in March.

In the midst of settling in and setting up — from his campus office to the large portions of his home dedicated to LEGO — Livesay (pronounced Lev-eh-see), shares the journey that brought the inaugural Dave House Dean of the College of Computing to this point in life and career, and the journey he expects current and incoming students will embark on as he guides the College of Computing (CC) into the future by building on its current success.

A CC First

Livesay is first to hold the Dave House Deanship in the College of Computing, a reinforcement of the University’s commitment to computing. The gift from alumnus Dave House ’65 recognizes that computing is central to all disciplines and central to the future of Michigan Tech.

Q: You just arrived in Houghton. What’s your first impression of campus and the Keweenaw?

DL: I absolutely love it! Michigan Tech was the original draw, but I simply love the region. My family and I enjoy the outdoors. We can’t wait to explore.

Q: As an adult fan of LEGO (AFOL), you might be interested to know that numerous Michigan Tech folks are involved in FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Robotics teams here in the Keweenaw. What kind of community activities are you and your family interested in, for both learning and fun?

DL: We’re huge fans of LEGO! My son, Maxwell, who’s 10, loves to play LEGO — when he’s not playing video games — and he and my wife Lauren did LEGO Mindstorms as well. Max’s school [in Kansas] has a great Mindstorms robotics program in the middle school, but not for his grade. So Lauren formed the team, learned the system and coached the team. It was a great experience for everyone because they were learning together through the journey.

We’re also a hockey family. Maxwell played travel hockey in Wichita, and I started playing a little over six months ago. We’re both wingers — he’s pretty good, but I suck (laughing). We’re big-time St. Louis Blues fans. Our last vacation was across eastern Canada, following the Blues from Toronto to Ottawa to Montreal. It was at the start of last year’s season when they were the defending Stanley Cup champions. We had a blast!

Other hobbies are outdoor activities. Lauren and I both used to race bicycles. She still rides quite a bit, but I moved on to running. We love to hike and (car) camp. And all of us are looking forward to learning how to ski.

Q: Is there anything about the local area you’d like to know more about? What sparks your curiosity here in the Keweenaw?

DL: Learning about cross-country skiing tops my list. I can’t wait to get started.

Q: That’s the perfect segue to your current priorities for the College of Computing, including increased enrollment. Can you give us an if-then statement on each of the CC’s undergraduate degree programs to help a future Husky think through choice of major?

DL: Computer Network and System Administration: If you want to create and manage the next generation of powerful, widely accessible and secure computing and networking infrastructure for enterprise and industrial applications, then computer network and system administration is the field for you.

Computer Science: If you love problem-solving and want to use that talent to create computing solutions, then a CS major can give you the foundation for a career creating computing solutions in a wide range of application areas.

Cybersecurity: If you feel the calling to do something about escalating threats in cyberspace and to protect America’s computing and computer network resources, then consider opportunities in cybersecurity, where there is a critical need for your skills.

Electrical Engineering Technology: If you like to work with your hands as well as your brain, and want to design, implement and maintain the next generation of electrical systems for industrial control and automation, then our electrical engineering technology program is the right fit for you.

Mechatronics: If you want to be part of the future of manufacturing, which lies in technologies that bring together mechanical systems, electrical systems and intelligent computing and control, then you will find a home in the exciting, highly valued field of mechatronics.

Software Engineering: If you dream of writing software applications or managing software projects that delight the user, then a software engineering degree will give you the skills and knowledge you need.

General Computing: If you’re not sure what your specific computing interests are yet, then general computing is the place to explore different options that will help you decide where you want to focus.

Q: A three-time dean who comes to MTU from Wichita State, your path to your current profession was not entirely linear or predictable. What can students who are still figuring out their place in the academic and professional world learn from your experiences?

DL: Be curious. Be open to new experiences. Be willing to take chances. And most importantly, follow your passions. My training is fairly typical for a chemist, but my career has been anything but. I was always looking for ways to connect different topics and disciplines, leading to novelty and important technological advances. This role is a perfect example of that. I was very content at Wichita State and wasn’t looking to leave. With that said, I love computing and one of my biggest passions is advancing it on a broad institutional scale. This position affords me the opportunity to do that, which is why I leapt at it.

Q: One of the earliest ways you reached out to students was a personal letter asking them to share their experiences with diversity and inclusion so you can find out what’s working and what needs to change to make the College of Computing a place where everyone feels welcome and can thrive. Have students contacted you? What did you learn and what plans do you have moving forward to achieve this goal?

DL: A few students have contacted me, but not as many as I would like. What I have learned is that our students love Michigan Tech, but admittedly too many have experienced bias and racism. To expand and elevate the discussion, we — faculty, staff, and soon students — are starting a process I call Forward Together. It will be an ongoing College-wide discussion of our challenges, opportunities and aspirations, ultimately leading to a strategic plan. Diversity and inclusion will be a fundamental theme throughout, along with student success, research and industry engagement. In fact, I’ve dedicated our first structured Forward Together group discussion to diversity and inclusion issues. I want us to move the needle here quickly.

Q: What role do faculty, graduate students and programs, and undergraduate research play in growing the College of Computing’s research portfolio?

DL: Great question! Michigan Tech is a public research university and knowledge discovery is a critical aspect of what we do. For example, PhD programs are the engines of innovation and knowledge creation which support our unique mandate to advance the industry of the state. Moreover, our research successes draw in a world-class faculty and create new opportunities for students. I think the most compelling reason for an undergraduate student to attend a research university like Michigan Tech is that they, too, can be involved in the process of creating new knowledge. It dramatically deepens the student experience and emphasizes learning in a way that reading from a book cannot.

“One of the things that has struck me the most during my time at Tech so far is the passion and dedication of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. Everyone is dedicated to achieving the promise of the College of Computing, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of that — because the future needs Michigan Tech!” Dennis Livesay, Dave House Dean of the College of Computing

Q: Beyond the core of the College’s six undergraduate degree programs and five graduate degree programs, you’ve said that you want to prepare students and researchers across campus and disciplines with the computing skills they need. Whether it’s health care data, sound design, corporate IT or climate change modeling, most modern systems have a computing aspect. What does a holistic, campus-wide approach look like?

DL: (Laughing) I wish I knew! In all seriousness, we need to partner with our colleagues in engineering, business, social sciences and everything else to make sure that Michigan Tech graduates have the digital skills needed going forward. For example, in finance, the divide between the traders and analysts versus IT is shrinking. In the past, when an analyst needed new info, he or she would have to submit a request for a new report and wait on IT to create it. Companies that have embraced digital transformation have the analysts write the code themselves, meaning they expect their functional groups to also have a high degree of computing expertise. This is the future of business, and ultimately all disciplines.

Another great example is the importance of digital engineering to the design process. Data and computing are ever-present in engineering — digital tools and modeling are as important as physical models. Michigan Tech is way ahead of the curve on this already, and we look forward to partnering with the College of Engineering to strengthen this Tech differentiator.

Q: Disruption is a word that gets thrown around a lot in regard to the ongoing data revolution and equipping students to meet the challenges of the future. What does disruption mean to you — is it what we do or what we’re responding to?

DL: I think a lot about disruption and the disruptive innovation theory developed by Clayton Christensen. But I’m actually more focused on digital transformation — a related but distinct idea. History is full of disruptive technologies that obsoleted earlier ones, whereas digital transformation is driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

A lot has been said about the 4IR, but to me the two most salient hallmarks are a flattening of the spaces and the ubiquity of computing and data. The 4IR will be characterized by a convergence of technologies, especially as related to distinctions between the physical and digital worlds. As computing and data become more powerful, there is less and less need for the physical. New designs will be approved based solely on digital models and when physical resources are needed, they themselves will compute and generate data that is shared via the Internet of Things.

Fundamental concepts of computing and data science will be intertwined in all aspects of the economy and workforce. Everyone will have to have some baseline fluency in computing, cybersecurity, data and privacy, and AI, in the same way that everyone currently needs to be able to use Word, Excel and the internet.

“I can’t understate the depth of this convergence that will happen soon, and I can’t even begin to imagine what it will look like over the course of our current students’ lifetime.” Dennis Livesay, Dave House Dean of the College of Computing

Q: Michigan Tech consistently ranks high statewide and nationally in computing-related degree programs. What do rankings mean to you?

DL: I’m of two minds regarding rankings. On one hand, rankings are very important to recruitment of faculty, staff and students, and can lead to new opportunities to partner on projects with groups outside the University. On the other hand, I never chase rankings simply for the sake of rankings. My goal is for us to do work that matters — to have a transformative impact on our students and external partners. Using that as our guiding principle, the results of our good work will make the state — and the world — a better place, and the rankings will follow.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.