Category: Students

Briana Bettin, Asst. Prof., Part I: Neopets, HTML, Early Success

Briana Bettin, Ph.D., Computer Science: New Degree, New Position

By Karen S. Johnson, Communications Director, College of Computing

Michigan Tech Ph.D. graduate Briana Bettin, Computer Science, is among six new faculty members the College of Computing welcomed this fall. Bettin is an assistant professor for the Department of Computer Science, and an affiliated assistant professor for the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department.

She is teaching courses including CS1121 Introduction to Programming in C/C++, and pursuing research and other projects with faculty and students.

In August 2020, Bettin successfully defended her dissertation, “The Stained Glass of Knowledge: On Understanding Novice Mental Models of Computing,” and was awarded her Ph.D. in Computer Science.

“I’m excited to begin my faculty journey at Michigan Tech and I look forward to helping our students continue to learn skills that will allow them to create the future,” Bettin says. “Michigan Tech has always been an amazing place for me—the opportunity to continue to give back to this place that has given me so much is something I’m very grateful for.”

Bettin says that she is excited about several interesting research projects already being planned in the College, and she looks forward to helping the College advance its educational and research visibility and standing.

Bettin is a member researcher of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems’ new Center for Computing Education, which promotes research and learning activities related to computing education.


Neopets, HTML, CSS. Here’s how Briana Bettin got everything started.

Video games caught Bettin’s interest at a young age and as she grew older, she became interested in online games like Neopets, which allows the user to develop a profile using HTML.

“So, I became excited to learn about HTML and CSS in order to express myself in those online spaces,” she says. “This also got me interested in graphic design, and both of these things combined got me hooked on the idea of creating expressive virtual spaces.”

Bettin earned her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, with an Application Area in User Experience and Marketing, from Michigan Tech in spring 2014. Following, while working full time as a front-end web developer at a consulting firm, in summer 2016 she completed her master’s degree online. In fall 2016, Bettin began her Ph.D. studies.

The right fit.

“I wasn’t always sure if Computer Science was ‘right’ for someone like me,” Bettin reflects. “But my Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Linda Ott, would encourage me by reminding me of the vast opportunities in technology. And since I became aware of the interdisciplinary area of User Experience, my interest in programming has only grown!”

“Dr. Ott is absolutely amazing,” Bettin says of Professor Linda Ott, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “I am thankful for her, and I knew that having her as my adviser would be one of the best things I could hope for. Our working styles are very complementary, and she is a great motivator and supporter. Laura Brown and Nilufer Onder have also been great mentors, offering me wonderful advice and support whenever I talk to them.”

Bettin adds that Assistant Professor Leo Ureel, Computer Science, was “wonderful in helping me develop my research vision. We often bounce ideas, and he has supported my ideas and given me many opportunities to implement research ideas in the classroom. Our talks give me so much perspective and energy.”

Early teaching success, fellowships, and awards.

Bettin was a CS 1121 lab instructor from fall 2016 until fall 2019, when she became the instructor of record, teaching her first semesters as a lecturer in fall 2019 and spring 2020. That fall, she received outstanding “Average of 7 Dimensions” student evaluation scores, one of only 74 such accolades earned by faculty that semester.

But Bettin’s excellence was recognized long before, in fall 2017, when she received the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant award from Michigan Tech’s Graduate Student Government.

Bettin was awarded the King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship from the State of Michigan in fall 2018. She received several doctoral consortium stipends from organizations including Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), the Frontiers in Education Doctoral Symposium (FIE), and the Computing Research Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W).

A Google Scholar award made it possible for her to attend the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration, which supports women in computing and organizations that view technology innovation as a strategic imperative. In fall 2019, Bettin was nominated for the prestigious MAGS Teaching Award.

Part II of this article will be published soon. In the second installment we’ll learn about Briana’s teaching and research, and the faculty and peer mentors who supported her as she completed her Ph.D.


The Lode, Still Going Strong, After Nearly 100 Years

by Michigan Tech Lode

What is the Lode, anyway?

The Lode is Michigan Tech’s student newspaper, and we’ve been serving the MTU community since 1921, when we were founded as the Michigan College of Mines Lode.

We currently serve the campus digitally on our website and in print, though COVID-19 safety precautions have momentarily postponed our in-print issues.

Read the Lode!

We publish weekly on Thursday mornings. We feature local, state and national news, arts, cultural events and other happenings around campus, relevant opinion pieces, features on STEM and campus research, sports and more.

Check us out at http://www.mtulode.com.


Online Intercultural Exchange for Chinese and English Speakers

by Elizabeth A. Flynn, Co-director, The Elaine Bacon Literacy Program

New participants are welcome to join a newly-formed Chinese-English language and cultural exchange via Zoom at 4 p.m. every Friday.

To receive a Zoom invitation or for more details, contact organizer Denise Heikinen, or call (906) 482-4944. Along with Dr. Pichai Sripaipan, retired orthopedic surgeon from Houghton, Heikinen organized the exchange forum this fall as part of continuing free offerings, tutorials and classes with the Elaine Bacon Literacy Program, a 50-year-old non-profit community organization based in Houghton.

In the early days, the group catered to local resident adults who wished to improve their reading and writing skills. For the past several decades, however, volunteer tutors, teachers and conversation partners have offered free English As a Second Language lessons and practice opportunities for Copper Country international adults, including Tech students, exchange scholars, professors and spouses or family members of campus-affiliated residents.

For additional information, including an online schedule of classes, see the group’s website.


Master’s Defense: Prathyusha Sreedhara, Computer Science

Computer Science department graduate student Prathyusha Sreedhara will present a Master’s Defense today, Monday, October 26, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m.

The tiitle of his paper is, “Hometracker: A Household Level Field Intervention and Metabolism Tracker.”

Sreedhara’s advisor is Associate Professor Charles Wallace, Computer Science.

Link to the meeting here.


Copper Country Coders at GCEC 2020

Michigan Tech student Katie Schmidt talks about Copper Country Coders and what it means for the Houghton community at GCEC 2020.

View the webpage here.

GCEC 2020 – Copper Country Coders

The Copper Country Coders is a program that aims to provide education in Computer Science topics to local middle and high school students. Members of the help to put on weekly sessions that introduce these local students to new computing topics and programming concepts, which helps to develop their knowledge and skills in Computer Science.


Michigan Tech Ranked Among Best Colleges in the State and the Country

Michigan Tech is one of the top two universities in Michigan and among the best in the country, according to rankings by the website WalletHub, released Monday.

When compared to colleges and universities in Michigan, Tech was ranked No. 2. Among the 273 midwest colleges and universities listed, Michigan Tech was rated 30th, up one from a year ago.

WalletHub named 500 institutions on its “2021’s College and University Rankings.” Michigan Tech was ranked No. 138 on the overall list, up eight spots from last year’s ranking.

WalletHub looks to find the top-performing schools at the lowest possible costs to undergrads. The website compared more than a thousand U.S. institutions using 33 key measures. That data is grouped into seven categories such as Student Selectivity, Cost and Financing, and Career Outcomes.


CpE PhD Candidate Zhiqiang Zhao to Present Defense October 23

ECE Doctoral Defense Tomorrow

Computer Engineering doctoral candidate Zhiqiang Zhao will defend at 4 p.m. tomorrow (Oct. 23) via Zoom.

The title of his presentation is “High-Performance Spectral Methods for Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits.”

Co-advisors are Zhuo Feng (ECE) and Glen Archer (ECE).


Health Informatics MS: Virtual Info Night is Tues., Oct. 27

Are you thinking about attending graduate school? Are you open to learning about emerging career areas in which you can leverage your undergraduate courses in healthcare or computer science?


Register for Health Informatics M.S. Info Night

Join the Info Session

On Tuesday, October 27, 2020, at 6:00 p.m., via online Zoom meeting, the Health Informatics Master of Science and Accelerated Master’s programs will present a virtual info session for current students.

Please pre-register for the free info session here.

A link to the virtual info session will be shared shortly.

From the general to the specific, the info session will cover what you need to know about applying for and completing a Health Informatics master’s degree at Michigan Tech.

Attendees will consider the benefits of an advanced degree, learn about the fast-track accelerated master’s program, review the the online application process, and more.

Associate Professor Guy Hembroff, Health Informatics graduate program director, and Jacque Smith, director of Enrollment Services for the Michigan Tech Graduate School, will host the info session.


“It’s Working!” — CCISD, Michigan Tech Launch New CTE Program in Mechatronics

Michigan Tech recently launched a year-long Career and Technical Education (CTE) program for high school juniors or seniors in the area of Mechatronics. The new CTE Mechatronics program is offered through a partnership between Michigan Tech and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD). 

Teaming up to deliver the instruction are faculty in the Mechatronics, Electrical and Robotics Engineering Technology (MERET) program in the College of Computing, and faculty in the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET) Department in the College of Engineering

Michigan Tech faculty administering the CTE program include Prof. John Irwin, Chair of the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology, or Prof. Alex Sergeyev in the College of Computing. 

“Students in the program will find careers in smart manufacturing fields, or they can find a pathway at Michigan Tech into undergraduate or graduate degrees in Engineering Technology, Engineering, or Mechatronics.” says Irwin.

There are 10 students enrolled this fall 2020 from the local area school districts of Houghton, Hancock, Calumet, and L’Anse. CTE Director Shawn Kolbus expects the program to only increase in popularity. “Local business owners approached us last year wanting to get more students from the area interested in Mechatronics, CADD and Engineering,” he says. “The result was the Mechatronics program which encompasses standards from each area.” 

The course is taught by two mechatronics professionals who possess both industry and teaching experience. One of those instructors is George Ochieze, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Mechatronics and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Tech. “Even in difficult times during the pandemic, these young scholars show overwhelming potential to conquer the mechatronics field—a glimpse into a welcoming future in engineering,” says Ochieze.

The second instructor, Chinmay Kondekar, will earn an MS in Electrical Engineering at Michigan Tech in 2021. “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.”

Program enrollment is closed for 2020, but will be available again starting in fall 2021. This spring there will be the opportunity for area sophomore and junior students to visit Michigan Tech to tour the labs and meet the instructors. Both the Applied Computing and MMET department labs used at Michigan Tech are equipped with state-of-the-art electronics and mechanical systems partially provided through generous startup funding from the CCISD.

Mechatronics uses electromechanical systems, typically automated for the design of products and processes. Industry 4.0—sometimes called the “fourth industrial revolution”—applies various aspects of mechatronics to manufacturing enterprises. Topics in the CTE Mechatronics program include; automation, computer integrated manufacturing, high speed manufacturing, embedded systems design and controls, industrial robotics, pneumatics, hydraulics, and computer-aided design. 

For more information please contact Shawn Kolbus, Director, Career and Technical Education, Copper Country Intermediate School District (906) 250-5353. 


Handshake CEO Garrett Lord Named 2020 Northern California EY Entrepreneur Of The Year

News provided by Handshake, Oct 12, 2020, 09:00 ET. Read the original article here.

Handshake CEO Garrett Lord has been received the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2020 Northern California Award, as announced October 8, 2020, by Ernst & Young LLP (EY US).

Lord is a 2014 alumnus of the Michigan Tech Computer Science B.S. degree program. Handshake has become the number one site for college students and early talent to find a job and get hired.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards program is one of the preeminent competitive awards for entrepreneurs and leaders of high-growth companies. The award recognizes those entrepreneurial leaders who are excelling in overcoming adversity; financial performance; societal impact and commitment to building a values-based company; innovation; and talent management.

As a Northern California award winner, Lord is now eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020 National Awards. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner, will be announced Thursday, November 19, during a virtual awards gala. The Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner will then move on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Award in June 2021. 

“To be recognized by Ernst & Young as a winner of the Entrepreneur Of the Year 2020 Award is truly humbling,” said Garrett Lord. “This award is a meaningful validation of the commitment of our entire team to work tirelessly to build the largest and most inclusive early talent community and democratize access to opportunity for all students.” 

Lord will go on to become a lifetime member of the esteemed multi-industry community of award winners, with exclusive, ongoing access to the experience, insight and wisdom of fellow alumni and other ecosystem members in over 60 countries — all supported by vast EY resources.

Handshake is the number one site for college students and new graduates to find a job. Today, the Handshake community includes 17 million students and young alumni at over 1,000 colleges and universities — including 120+ minority-serving institutions.

Handshake is democratizing opportunity and ensuring college students have the support they need to find a great job and kick-off a meaningful career regardless of where they go to school, what they choose as a major, and who they know, according to the company’s website.

The company is headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Denver and London, England.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, strategy, transaction and consulting services. Since 1986, EY US has honored entrepreneurs whose ingenuity, spirit of innovation and tenacity have driven their companies’ success, transformed their industries and made a positive impact on their communities.