Author: mawilcox

ECE Hosts Work Bees to Make Outreach Kits

Small group of Society of Women Engineers volunteers preparing outreach kits.
Society of Women Engineers (SWE) members volunteer to prepare holiday tree circuit board kits for use in “near-peer” outreach.

On a Mission to Make Hundreds of Outreach Kits, ECE Hosts Work Bees

by Liz Fujita

On multiple evenings in October, the lab space in EERC 722 was the image of organized chaos. Bags of LEDs, resistors, capacitors, switches, and batteries spilled out on lab benches, waiting to be counted out into bags. Soldering irons heated up, fume-extracting fans whirring. Empty boxes steadily filled with kits ready to bring to pre-college students. With 600 hands-on outreach kits to prepare, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has been hard at work this fall with the help of phenomenal student volunteers, and there is still plenty more to go. 

Interim chair Dr. Glen Archer is the PI on a grant from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) for the 2020-21 academic year that focuses on getting electrical engineering projects out to pre-college students at multiple levels. Along with co-PI Dr. Gretchen Hein (MMET) and academic advisor Liz Fujita (ECE), the program centers on multiple layers of mentorship.

“It’s an ambitious idea,” says Fujita, who in addition to advising helps to coordinate outreach efforts in the ECE department. “Michigan Tech has a lot of successful outreach programs that rely on this idea of near-peer mentoring—that idea that college students presenting information is more engaging, cooler, and better-received by high school students.” The MSGC proposal calls for several layers of near-peer mentoring to take place at several schools: 

College students teach high school students how to solder and the basics of electronic components with the heart rate monitor boards

Under the guidance of those college mentors, the high school students teach middle school students similar skills on the (slightly easier) tree circuit boards. 

And, lastly, the middle schoolers take bouncy bot kits to their elementary school to teach 4th and 5th graders the basics of circuits. 

All of this requires a tremendous amount of preparation. In October alone, members of Blue Marble Security Enterprise and the Society of Women Engineers spent a combined 50+ hours soldering, counting, stuffing bags, and organizing materials. 

ECE has on multiple occasions joined forces with the Society for Women Engineers. Funding for this project includes support for not only the activity kits themselves (circuit boards, LEDs, resistors, batteries, etc.), but also for soldering stations, storage bins, and travel to schools in the local area as well as downstate. The combined funding secured by SWE and ECE will enable them to prepare 200 of each activity kit.

Notes Archer, “Near-peer mentoring allows younger students to picture themselves in a future state. They see this person in front of them and imagine their own life, in that role.” Although current COVID-19 restrictions leave the group unsure of when they will be able to visit schools, they remain optimistic. And, as work bees continue, they will be more than ready!

Volunteer ECE students preparing kits for near-peer mentoring projects sponsored by the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC)

ECE Virtual Senior Recognition and Awards Ceremony Held

The ECE Virtual Senior Recognition and Awards Ceremony was held Thursday, May 7, 2020.

Kit Cischke, senior lecturer and undergraduate program chair, presented ECE’s departmental awards.

Andrew Bratton

Andrew Bratton was the recipient of the 2020 ECE Departmental Scholar Award, given to a senior who best represents student scholarship at Michigan Tech. This outstanding student is considered excellent not only by academic standards, but also for participation in research scholarship activity, levels of intellectual curiosity, creativity, and communication skills. Andrew was nominated by Academic Advisor and Outreach Specialist Liz Fujita.

Samantha Fincannon

The 2020 ECE Woman of Promise was awarded to Samantha Fincannon. Samantha received several nominations for this award. The goal of this program is to recognize women at Michigan Tech who go “above and beyond” what is expected of them in terms of being a well-rounded student – one who has demonstrated academic achievement, campus and community leadership, good citizenship, creativity, etc. In short, women who exemplify the early-on criteria that would be considered when selecting future inductees to the Presidential Council of Alumnae.  The departments’ Women of Promise are recognized at the annual Presidential Council of Alumnae (PCA) Induction Ceremony/Luncheon held during the Fall semester. Recipients are also invited to other PCA activities where they have the opportunity to provide input on a variety of topics.

Katy Lichty

The 2020 Carl S. Schjonberg Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award was given to Katy Lichty. Katy received several nominations for the award. This award is given annually to an outstanding undergraduate student who exemplifies a dedication to learning and a commitment to the University. Professor Schjonberg was a faculty member in the Electrical Engineering Department from 1936 to 1970. He contributed significantly to the growth and development of the department and was dedicated to the education of electrical engineering students. This endowed award was established by his wife as a memorial to his long and dedicated career as an educator.

The EMP Mitigation Testing Senior Design Team
L to R: Chris Bousho, Advisor John Lukowski, Darin Shillair, Joshua Romanowski, Alexander Kellogg, Jacob Phelan and Addison Waege

ECE’s External Advisory Committee (EAC) presented the EMP Mitigation Testing Team with the Larry Kennedy Industry Innovation Award. The team is advised by John Lukowski, and Systems Control of Iron Mountain, MI sponsored the project. Team members are Chris Bousho, Darin Shillair, Joshua Romanowski, Alexander Kellogg, Jacob Phelan, and Addison Waege.

The ECE External Advisory Committee (EAC) is a collection of volunteers from many different industries whose goal is to ensure the ECE academic program is aligned with industry to produce graduates companies would want to hire. Larry Kennedy is an ECE alumnus who served on the EAC for many years and succumbed to illness while serving as chair. Each spring, the EAC members observe ECE’s senior design and enterprise team presentations and poster displays and select a team that best meets or exceeds specific criteria related to today’s industry needs. The Larry Kennedy Industry Innovation Award is given to the senior project that shows the highest level of project management, applied engineering and application to industry.

Each spring, the IEEE – Eta Kappa Nu Honors Society (HKN) polls the ECE student body to select the winner of the Professor of the Year award within the ECE Department. This event allows ECE students the opportunity to thank and encourage outstanding ECE faculty.

Chris Middlebrook

The 2020 HKN Professor of the Year was awarded to Chris Middlebrook. The students said Dr. Middlebrook makes class fun, and takes feedback to maximize understanding. Homework is pointed toward further understanding the material taught. Says a nominator, Professor Middlebrook has taken the PCB Fabrication course and turned it into an incredible experience for students with guest lectures and the lab component. He is hoping to develop this into a focus area, and grow the department’s use for this in the future. He also has been an integral part in the foundation of the new student organization, IPC and Electronics. Dr. Middlebrook is easygoing and funny – he keeps classes light and fun while still getting the required material across. 

Gabe Allis

MasterPiECE Mania is an event held each spring and sponsored by the IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers) student organization and the ECE department. Students design, build and demonstrate projects and win cash prizes for the best innovation. All majors are welcome to participate. This year’s top prize of $500 was awarded to Gabe Allis for his high torque motor innovation.  Second place ($300) was given to Jared Engwis for his Covid Globe innovation, and third place ($200) went to Jacob Allen for his Smart Respirator. The IEEE student organization is advised by Jeff Burl.


Tim Schulz Receives a 2019 CTL Instructional Award

Tim Schulz receives a 2019 Center for Teaching and Learning Instructional Award for his outstanding progress in online course curriculum and learning tool development. Tim is pictured (left) receiving the award from Mike Meyer, director of the Jackson CTL. On the right, Tim is pictured presenting on his curriculum development methods at the awards ceremony held Tuesday, October 22, 2019. Tim was chosen from a pool of Deans’ Teaching Showcase award recipients. Read more about the CTL awards.


New Optics and Photonics Scholarship Available

A new scholarship at Michigan Tech is expected to advance the study of optics and photonics. The Optics and Photonics Scholarship was set up this past year by Michigan Tech Electrical and Computer Engineering alumnus Eustace Dereniak (‘63). Dereniak is a retired Professor and Professor Emeritus of Optical Sciences and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. He is also a past President of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE).

Chris Middlebrook, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech, states that “The establishment of the Optics and Photonics Scholarship for undergraduate ECE students or other engineering students is a huge first step in the future direction of optical research and development at MTU.”

Photonics, the manipulation of light (photons), has revolutionized medical imaging, autonomous vehicles, solar power, optical computers, space optics and 3D printing. Photonics is poised to become the key technology of the future, surpassing electronics with new engineering challenges for the 21st Century.  A photon velocity is about 1000 times faster than electron velocity. Dereniak said, “My goal in establishing this scholarship is to motivate Michigan Tech’s engineering students to become hooked on optics as they investigate Michigan Tech’s optics/photonics curriculum and the unique career opportunities that exist within this rapidly growing field.”

SPIE has offered to match dollar-for-dollar any contributions to the scholarship fund, up to $60,000. Any person or organization that would like to contribute to the scholarship can do so by making a check payable to “Michigan Tech Fund #5392.” They may also contribute online at https://www.mtu.edu/givenow/?code=GIV0 (be sure to specify fund #5392).


James Davis Receives the 2019 Jonathan Bara Award

James Davis is the 2019 recipient of the Jonathan Bara Award, an award given each year to an outstanding teaching assistant in ECE. This endowed award was set up by the family of Jonathan Bara, a 1975 electrical engineering master’s graduate who suffered a heart attack and passed away at the young age of 25. The award was presented at this fall’s Graduate Student Banquet held on September 23rd.

James then accepted the Matt Wolfe award on behalf of the 2019 recipient, Wyatt Adams.  The award was set up by the family of Matt Wolfe, a 1992 BSEE graduate and MSEE candidate who was tragically killed in an automobile accident.


ITC Gift of $100,000 for Relay Testers

Six Doble F-6150sv relay testers were purchased thanks to a $100,000 gift from ITC. ECE now has state of the art relay protection thanks to ITC, Doble for price discounts, and SEL for gifted relays. As shown, we have six full racks of equipment for lab sections of 12 students. This gift has had an immediate and tremendous positive impact on workforce development and it is greatly appreciated by all. Pictured are Glen Archer, ECE interim chair, Gordie Halt, ITC, and Bruce Mork, ECE professor.


Schulz Receives Prestigious University Professor Award

ECE’s Tim Schulz was presented with the University Professor award at a ceremony yesterday. Schultz was nominated by Dan Fuhrmann, former ECE chair. The prestigious award recognizes faculty members who have made outstanding scholarly contributions to the University and their discipline over a substantial period of time. Standing with Schultz are Provost and Senior Vice President Jackie Huntoon, and Dan Fuhrmann. Read the full article on the awards ceremony in Tech Today https://www.mtu.edu/ttoday/….

Schulz has served Michigan Tech for nearly 27 years and has been a role model for all with his commitment to excellence in teaching, research and administration. He became ECE department chair in 1997, and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2007, the same year be became dean of the College of Engineering. As ECE department chair, he tripled the size of the PhD program and developed a new BS degree program in Computer Engineering. As dean of the College of Engineering, he led efforts to bring more accountability and transparency to our activities through the establishment of goals in faculty achievement and recognition, in research and in our educational programs; and then putting in place methods for measuring progress relative to those goals.

When Schulz stepped down from the Dean’s Office, he returned to the ECE faculty where he has been a leader in using technology to deliver technical material in electrical engineering and developing new online courses.


Cyber-physical Security Workshop July 30-31, 2019

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University is pleased to announce a two-day workshop on cyber-physical security for power infrastructure and transportation to be held July 30-31, 2019 on Michigan Tech’s campus.  Experts from industry and the academy will share information on current threats and countermeasures to protect power infrastructure and transportation systems.

Registration protocols will support 13 hours of continuing education for professional license holders.

The workshop includes the following list of speakers and topics:

Secure Operations Technology,  Mr. Andrew Ginter from Waterfall Security
Bottom-up Electrical Vehicle Forecasting, Dr. Pedram Jahangiri, National Grid
Assessing and Evaluating Risk of Passenger Rail Transportation Systems, Mr. Loel Langill, AECOM
Cyber Insurance for Power Grid, Prof. Chee-Wooi Ten, MTU
Security for System Wide Power Control and Protection, Mr. Koji Yamashita, MTU
Emerging Threats and Case Studies, Prof. Yu Cai, MTU
Interdependency Between Grid and Transportation, Prof. Wencong Su, U-Mich-Dearborn

A more detailed schedule and more information about the speakers and topics can be found at Cyber-physical Security Workshop Info.

The cost of the conference is $1500; Alumni can register at the discounted price of $1200 by using promotional code MTUALUMNI on the registration form.

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Magnuson Hotel Franklin Square Inn under “MTU CPS Conference.”  The rate for the conference is $99 per night for single occupancy; $104 a night for double occupancy. To make a reservation under this block, call 906-487-1700 by July 8.

For information on area attractions, contact the Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce.

If you have any questions, please contact the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at 906-487-2550 or email ece@mtu.edu.

 


Awards presented at ECE Spring 2019 Senior Banquet

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering held its Spring 2019 Senior Banquet on Thursday, April 18. Sam Solverson was the winner of the 2019 ECE Departmental Scholar Award, given to a senior who best represents student scholarship at Michigan Tech. This outstanding student is considered excellent not only by academic standards, but also for participation in research scholarship activity, levels of intellectual curiosity, creativity, and communication skills.

Sam Solverson, 2019 ECE Departmental Scholar, pictured with Dan Fuhrmann, former ECE chair.

Sam was nominated by instructor John Pakkala. “He took an informal, voluntary, but strong leadership role in the Fall 2018 Design Fundamentals course. I have witnessed his good work in both Chamber Choir and in Wind Symphony. And his GPA is hard to beat!” Associate professor Roger Kieckhafer says, “ In EE 3173, he scored THE highest grades in the class. He even installed Quartus on his own laptop (which makes him a braver man than me). In EE-4173 and EE-4737, he is currently scoring a perfect 100% in both classes. He has installed IAR Workbench on his laptop and is purchasing the eZ430 development hardware. He found a typo in one of my lectures, because he actually read the datasheet in the references. I think Sam completely embodies the best that we can ask for in a student.” Academic advisor Judy Donahue noted, “He’s been very helpful with ECE recruiting events – all of them! And he is a member of the Aerospace Enterprise.”

2019 ECE Woman of Promise, Katelyn Rhue, pictured with Glen Archer, ECE interim chair.

The 2019 ECE Woman of Promise was awarded to Katelyn Rhue.  The goal of this program is to recognize women at Michigan Tech who go “above and beyond” what is expected of them in terms of being a well-rounded student – one who has demonstrated academic achievement, campus and community leadership, good citizenship, creativity, etc. In short, women who exemplify the early-on criteria that would be considered when selecting future inductees to the Presidential Council of Alumnae.  he departments’ Women of Promise are recognized at the annual Presidential Council of Alumnae (PCA) Induction Ceremon/Luncheon held during the Fall semester. Recipients are also invited to other PCA activities where they have the opportunity to provide input on a variety of topics.

Katelyn was nominated by assistant professor Jeremy Bos. Jeremy noted, “Katelyn is the current student director of Robotics Systems Enterprise. Last semester Katelyn was assistant director and took on as her management project a RSE team bonding activity. Katelyn organized and executed the event so that the enterprise was involved and included; we had nearly 100% participation. During the actual event, she facilitated the activities and made sure they were actually social. This is Katelyn’s third management position in RSE having started as outreach coordinator. In every position she has been the example to her peers on how to do the job. Katelyn is a natural leader and the ideal candidate for the Woman of Promise award.”

2019 Carl S. Schjonberg Outstanding Undergraduate Student, Lucas Simonson, pictured with Dan Fuhrmann, former ECE chair.

The 2019 Carl S. Schjonberg Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award is awarded annually to an outstanding undergraduate student who exemplifies a dedication to learning and a commitment to the University. Professor Schjonberg was a faculty member in the Electrical Engineering Department from 1936 to 1970. He contributed significantly to the growth and development of the department and was dedicated to the education of electrical engineering students. This endowed award was established by his wife as a memorial to his long and dedicated career as an educator. This year, the award was given to Lucas Simonson.

The Hard Surface Disinfectant Prethread and Automation Team, winner of the 2019 Larry Kennedy Industry Innovation Award. Pictured from left to right, Trever Hassell, advisor; Chris DeWidt, Jacob Erickson, Clinton Andrews, Stefan Koerner. Missing from photo: Drew Wilkerson

The ECE External Advisory Committee (EAC) is a collection of volunteers from many different industries whose goal is to ensure the ECE academic program is aligned with industry to produce graduates companies would want to hire. Each year at their spring meeting, the EAC members observe ECE’s senior design and enterprise team presentations and poster displays and select a team that best meets or exceeds specific criteria related to today’s industry needs. The Larry Kennedy Industry Innovation Award is given to the senior project that shows the highest level of project management, applied engineering and application to industry. Larry Kennedy served on the EAC for many years and succumbed to illness while serving as chair.

This year’s Larry Kennedy Industry Innovation Award went to The Hard Surface Disinfectant Prethread and Automation Team, advised by Trever Hassell, ECE Academic Advisor and Instructor.  Members of the team include Chris DeWidt, Jacob Erickson, Clinton Andrews, Stefan Koerner and Drew Wilkerson.

HKN Professor of the Year Award winner Kit Cischke (left) presented by HKN president Warren Kretteck (right)

Each year, the Eta Kappa Nu Honors Society (HKN) polls the ECE student body to select the winner of the Professor of the Year award within the ECE Department. This fun event at the end of the Spring semester allows ECE students the opportunity to thank and encourage outstanding ECE faculty. The award is presented at the Spring Senior Banquet.  The 2019 HKN Professor of the Year was awarded to Kit Cischke – again! Kit also won HKN Professor of the Year in the 2012-2013, 2013-2014, and 2015-2016 academic years.  Says Warren Kretteck, HKN president, “Kit is an exceptional professor who always breaks down difficult information in a way that is easy to understand and fun to learn. I have had him for a few classes  and it is no surprise that he has won the Professor of the Year Award before. With the way he teaches and his involvement in the department, you can tell he is dedicated to student learning.”