Society of Women Engineers Learn to Solder Heart Rate Monitors

Heart Monitor Device
The completed heart rate monitor board SWE members took as a souvenir.

On Friday November 9th, 2018 Blue Marble Security hosted a heart rate monitor soldering lab for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). The heart rate monitor once fully soldering with correct connections would allow the LEDs around the edge to blink with the operator’s heart rate. Sixteen SWE members were present along with six Blue Marble Security members to monitor and assist in the lab.

SWE Students Lab
Students working on the heart rate monitor boards with BMS members supervising.

The focus of the heart rate monitor lab is to introduce basic concepts of electrical engineering to those with little or no knowledge. The SWE members specifically learned how the color bands on resistors correspond to the resistors value, as well as the polarity of a diode, and why it is present. The main focus of the lab was to teach the SWE members to through hole solder appropriately so that there would be strong connections on the board for current to flow. All of the SWE members completed the lab within the time, and took a heart rate monitor board as a souvenir to remember their new skill.


ITC Supports Renovation of ECE Learning Center

Jon E. Jipping
Jon E. Jipping
ITC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Michigan Tech has received a $75,000 gift from ITC Holdings Corp. to support the renovation of the ECE Learning Center in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The renovated space will provide a clean, well-equipped place for undergraduate students in electrical engineering and computer engineering to study together and participate in peer mentoring with learning center coaches.

The ECE Learning Center is housed in 123 EERC, a room of 560 sq. ft. adjacent to the ECE department office and near two large lecture halls. It is used for student collaboration, peer mentoring and as a place for students to work on homework and socialize between classes and in the evenings.

The proposed renovation will bring the room up to modern technological standards as a collaborative and mentoring workspace. There will be an overall facelift with new carpeting, painting and glass whiteboards, and the space will be redesigned around sets of tables and chairs with pods that allow students to connect laptop computers to one of three 65’’ wall-mounted monitors. It is anticipated that the enhanced functionality and attractiveness of the space will lead to increased utilization and a greater sense of community among ECE students.

ECE Department Chair Dan Fuhrmann says, “I am delighted and grateful to ITC for their generosity. The Department has needed to upgrade this resource for our students for quite some time. It’s nice that students have a place to hang out and work, so close to their classrooms, but now they will have a brighter, cleaner space that is more inviting and more conducive to collaborative learning. I’m sure more students will take advantage of it once they learn what we have done.”

ITC, an electrical power transmission utility headquartered in Novi, Michigan, has had a long and positive relationship with the ECE department and the Michigan Tech College of Engineering. ITC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Jon Jipping, who was instrumental in arranging the gift, was chair of the ECE External Advisory Committee and is currently chair of the CoE External Advisory Board. In announcing the gift, Jipping remarked, “At ITC, we recognize the importance of inspiring today’s students to pursue careers in engineering, which is critical to the future of our industry. The renovated ECE Learning Center will offer an environment where students can be inspired, collaborate and advance their educational pursuits.”

In recognition of ITC’s support for the ECE Department over many years, and for this gift specifically, the ECE Learning Center will be renamed the ITC Learning Center for at least the next five years, and will be recognized as such with appropriate signage and displays.

By the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.



Chaofeng Wang is the 2018 Matt Wolfe Award Recipient

Chaofeng Wang
Chaofeng Wang

Graduate students in Electrical and Computer Engineering were recognized for their outstanding achievements in a banquet held earlier this month.

Chaofeng Wang was awarded the 2018 Matt Wolfe Award for his remarkable research achievement as a graduate research assistant. His research included the development of intelligent and secure underwater acoustic communication networks and machine learning techniques. The Matt Wolfe Award is awarded each year to an outstanding research assistant and was established in memory of Matt Wolfe by his family. Wolfe was a 1992 BSEE graduate and MSEE candidate. Wang was nominated by his advisor, Zhaohui Wang (ECE).


Mehdi Malekrah is the 2018 Jonathan Bara Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Mehdi Malekrah
Mehdi Malekrah

Graduate students in Electrical and Computer Engineering were recognized for their outstanding achievements in a banquet held earlier this month.

Mehdi Malekrah received the 2018 Jonathan Bara Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in recognition of dedication to his lab preparation, engaged redevelopment and improvement of the exercises for several of the laboratories and his engagement with students in their preparation and activities in the lab sections. The Jonathan Bara Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award is awarded annually and was established in memory of Jonathan Bara by his family. Bara was a graduate student who received a master’s of science in electrical engineering in 1975. Malekrah was nominated by his advisor, Paul Bergstrom (ECE).



Tim Havens Named ICC Director

Timothy Havens
Timothy Havens

Timothy C. Havens (ECE), the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems, has been named director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC), effective immediately.

The ICC is the research arm of the Alliance for Computing, Information and Automation, and one of several research centers at Michigan Tech organized under the authority of the Office of the Vice President for Research. It brings together some 50 Michigan Tech faculty members from 12 different academic units on campus, collaborating in the areas of cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, data sciences, human-centered computing and scalable architectures and systems. Since its inception in 2015, it has hosted 28 funded projects, and was responsible for approximately $1.8M in external research expenditures in FY18.

As the Jackson Associate Professor, Havens holds a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science. He is also director of the interdisciplinary master of science program in data science. His technical areas of expertise are machine learning, computational intelligence, data science, and signal and image processing.

Havens was selected to lead the ICC by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jacqueline Huntoon and Vice President for Research David Reed, following an internal nomination and recommendation process organized by ICC Co-Director and ECE Department Chair Daniel R. Fuhrmann. Havens’ term as ICC director extends through Dec. 31, 2021.

Says Havens, “I am thrilled to be named the next director of the ICC and very much look forward to working with the entirety of the ICC membership and our connected communities to promote research and learning experiences in the areas of computing and cybersystems at Michigan Tech. I am enthused by the prospects of our ICC vision.”

By Daniel R. Fuhrmann.


Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia ’04 is Making a Difference

Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia
Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia ’04

Michigan Tech Alumna Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia was among the women featured in the story “Women That Make a Difference,” in Recycling Times. She is the founder of the digital marketing firm Anksimage in Rudrapur, India.

Women That Make a Difference

Long gone are the days when many believed that women belonged in the private sphere of family while men belonged in the public sphere of business.

With the advances of society, more and more educated women join the workforce, demonstrating they can make a difference not only in their lives but also to the industry they are serving.

Great Passion

Ankitaa Gohain Dalmia is a passionate digital marketing specialist with more than ten years’ experience. She writes regularly for Recycling Times magazine, helping the printing consumables industry readers enhance digital marketing skills with her knowledge and expertise.

When she graduated as a computer engineer from Michigan Technological University in 2004, she had no idea she would end up in marketing the way she is today.

Starting this year, Aniktaa has been raising her voice in online discussions pertaining to digital marketing and content marketing.

Read more at Recycling Times, by Maggie Wang.


Fridays with Fuhrmann: Taking A Break

FWF-20180629-Aerial201506190309Today is “New Year’s Eve” of a sort here at Michigan Tech, the last workday of the 2018 fiscal year. Come next week the university will be closing its books, and we will begin the process of evaluating our financial position and reviewing our institutional progress over the last twelve months.

As if all that accounting and reporting weren’t enough, July 1 is the date of a major turnover in university leadership, something I have written about a few times before. Michigan Tech will welcome our new president, Rick Koubek, along with four new academic deans including Janet Callahan, the new dean of the College of Engineering. For the most part I think the university has been in a holding pattern in the month of June, in anticipation of the big changes to come.

The exception to that statement was the big June 17 flood event that no one saw coming and shook us all up, and that shifted attention away from normal university activity for a while. Things have settled down now, and while there is still a lot of work to be done in the community, the recovery efforts have been swift and nothing short of remarkable. Many of us are ready to turn our attention to the new year and everything it will bring.

I would be remiss if I did not say something about Wayne Pennington, our outgoing dean of the College of Engineering and my boss for the past five years. I think Wayne did a great job in the Dean’s Office; I like him and we got along just fine. I can’t point to any meteoric rise in our performance metrics, but under Wayne’s leadership the College of Engineering continued to do what is does very well in teaching and research, there were no major crises (that I know of), and along the way he worked to clean up some of the internal administrative processes, which will certainly make life easier for the incoming dean. I know that sounds like faint praise, but there is a lot to be said for keeping the organization humming along, allowing others to do their job and providing support and encouragement as appropriate. Wayne was always very encouraging of my efforts to beef up Michigan Tech’s footprint in computing and information sciences, which I wrote about in this column all this past year. Even though he recognized that some of things I advocated could mean significant organizational changes, if they ever come to fruition, he was never threatened by that and on more than one occasion he allowed me to express my views to our External Advisory Board. I am deeply grateful for that. Finally, the grammar maven in me cannot resist saying that Wayne has the best command of the English language of anyone I know at Michigan Tech. He always expressed himself clearly and concisely, he always spoke and wrote in complete sentences, I never heard him abuse the word “alumni” and he never used the subject pronoun “I” as an object. Thanks Wayne for everything you have done, and for the example you have set for others.

This is going to be my last blog post for a few weeks. While it would be fun to give a blow-by-blow account of transition in leadership, I think it would be more prudent just to participate in that without writing, for a while at least. The real reason I need to take a break, though, is that I am finding that the time required to put together the online version of our course in Digital Signal Processing has far exceeded what I was expecting (well, to be honest, I’m not sure what I was expecting). I need to focus on that and get it right. I’ll put in a shameless plug here: when all is said and done this going to be a slick course and I encourage any off-campus students who want to learn about DSP to take it. I also encourage you to take Tim Schulz’ new online course in Mathematical and Computational Methods in Engineering. Tim is putting in untold hours, shaping this course to be exactly what he wants it to be, and we see eye-to-eye when it comes to the importance of launching this new online program with the highest possible quality. But, it comes at a (very minor) price: no more FWF for the rest of the summer.

Happy Fourth of July everyone! I’ll be writing again around Labor Day.

– Dan

Daniel R. Fuhrmann, Dave House Professor and Chair
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological University


Fridays with Fuhrmann: Flash Floods and SISU

FWF-image-20180622Saturday night and early Sunday morning, June 16 and 17, Houghton County residents were kept awake by booming thunderstorms and torrential rains, and we arose Sunday morning to one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit this area. Major flash floods had washed out roads, destroyed homes, and left piles of mud and rocks in streets, driveways, and front yards. Agate Street in Houghton was completely ripped apart; the neighborhood at the base of Ripley Falls had become a boulder field. It was like nothing any of us had ever seen.

Weather reports said that some 4 to 8 inches of rain had fallen overnight, depending on the exact area. 6.72 inches of rain was reported in Hancock. All that water had to go somewhere, and it came rushing down the hills that line both sides of the Portage Canal, turning little creeks and drainages that I never even knew existed into unstoppable whitewater that ate up everything in its path.

Compared to many of the surroundings neighborhoods, the Michigan Tech campus got off pretty easy. In particular, the Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC), the home building for the ECE Department, came out unscathed, for which I am grateful. However, the Administration Building, which sits at the bottom of Clark Street and right in the line of fire for one of the debris flows on the Houghton side, took a pretty bad hit. The campus was closed on Sunday and Monday, with the power turned off for a good portion of that time. The Admin building is still out of commission.

The emergency response from the university was pretty good. Everyone who was signed up for Safety First Alerts received regular notifications by phone and text, apprising us of the status of the university and the surrounding area. The predominant message was “do not come to campus” and for the most part, we didn’t.

I am not aware of any major damage sustained by ECE faculty, staff, and students, other than some flooded basements which are still no fun and will end up being a significant uninsured expense. I personally had no problems at my home in “Shopko Heights”; even though I live on the side of a hill, there are no ravines to channel the water. Others were not so lucky. Some of my Michigan Tech colleagues outside the ECE Department suffered significant property damage. The Portage Canal has turned completely brown from all the mud, and as of two days ago we are advised to avoid all water contact due to high levels of E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria.

There was one fatality from the storm, a truly tragic story out of Stanton Township which has saddened the entire community.

This sort of thing just doesn’t happen here, or so we thought. We are famous for our winters and lots of snow, and we have fun playing that up and making it sound apocalyptic, but the truth is that snow is pretty benign stuff and we know how to handle it. Our beautiful summers, something of a well-kept secret, are what many see as a reward for having made it through the winter. We are not supposed to have violent weather in the summertime, which makes last weekend’s storm even more of a shock.

Once we did get over the initial shock, the community began to pull together and the rebuilding effort began. We were visited by the Governor and our Senators and Representatives, and efforts are underway to secure federal disaster relief. Not waiting for that, though, neighbors are out helping neighbors clean up the mud and debris. Food and supplies are being donated in large quantities and warehoused in the Dee Stadium. Trucks and large earth-moving machinery can be seen hard at work all over. The major highways in and out of the area, some of which had major washouts and sinkholes, are already back open. Michigan Tech got into the act by opening up the locker rooms in the Student Development Complex (SDC) for anyone who needs a shower, no questions asked. President Mroz praised the “grit, determination, and heart” of everyone in the Houghton-Hancock area for pitching in and doing the right thing. I expected nothing less. While none of us ever want to see something like this happen it feels good to know that we have each others’ backs when times are tough.

Huskies outside the Copper Country can do their part too. I encourage you to visit the June 20 edition of Tech Today, which has a short article titled “How You Can Help”. Information is also available on the Michigan Tech news website.

In the meantime, almost ironically, the weather since Monday has been spectacularly beautiful, sunny and in the 70s. It may not be the way we planned, but perhaps we will enjoy the Keweenaw summer after all, as we work side by side to put our little town back together.

– Dan

[Bottom two photos courtesy of Adam Johnson, Brockit Inc.]

Daniel R. Fuhrmann, Dave House Professor and Chair
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological University