Category: Enterprise

My Story: Carter Dugan, MTUengineer

Carter Dugan ’25, Computer Engineering

Carter Dugan is a computer engineering student. He’s also a member of WCE, the Wireless Communications Enterprise team, part of Michigan Tech’s award-winning Enterprise Program. WCE is focused on technology—wireless, optical, renewable energy and biomedical. The student-run enterprise works as a think-tank for companies looking to push their product lines to a higher level. WCE members also work as entrepreneurs, taking their own ideas to a level where they can be useful for industry and consumers alike. 

Tell us a little about yourself.

Similar to my degree, I have a hardware side and a software side. I write a lot of code in my free time, mainly using either the C or Python programming languages. Outside of those two languages, I know Java and a small amount of C++. My main areas of interest in computer science are artificial intelligence, data science, systems programming, and CS education.

How did you decide to come to Michigan Tech?

I visited many schools in Indiana (my home state) and none of them stood out to me. I was considering not going to college at all after struggling to find a school and community that seemed to suit me. I don’t remember how I heard about Michigan Tech, but I remember visiting in January of 2020 on a Husky Host visit. I watched Broomball, spent time with a group of 10 or so students, and instantly fell in love with the community, the culture and the weather. That night I knew Michigan Tech was the school for me.

Any recipes, formulas, or tips for success?

My first year was during lockdown, so I can’t speak on the average first year experience. However, I know that many students struggle with adjusting to university life and workload regardless of their background, because many are not used to having to work hard for good grades. My number one piece of advice is to be patient with yourself. It took me until this year to get into a comfortable routine and schedule for success, and many who had similar experiences did not make it this far. It is all about having confidence in both your present self and your future self, and trusting in the process of being knocked over and getting back up to try again. If you follow this advice, you will be very successful, even when you falter academically.

“Similar to my degree, I have a hardware side and a software side,” says Carter.

What WCE projects are you working on right now? 

I am very interested in radio technology and joined to learn more about wireless comms. I’m on a team working on a drone that can use a cell tower as a middle man when communicating with the user, something that gives drones a much larger range of control. It is a very interesting and ambitious project, and the time I have spent working on it with my incredibly intelligent teammates has been invaluable and has taught me a lot.

What are the greatest challenges and benefits?

We haven’t run into many challenges, as we have an enthusiastic mentor and a good amount of freedom with the project. WCE itself has a particularly low member count at the moment. We’re taking that challenge by the horns by getting the word out about the enterprise and trying to get younger students into the lab to show them what we’re about. It is going very well, and we believe we’ll  have a very strong group of students of various backgrounds joining in the coming semesters.

The best part about WCE has been working with my team. Like I said, they are all very smart and hard working. Having a team that keeps each other in check and focused has resulted in maintaining a high work ethic. We have a good amount of momentum, and I have enjoyed every second I’ve spent with these people. I have learned so much from them already and look forward to continuing the learning experience.

Do you attend the MTU Career Fair?

My own experience at the MTU Career Fair has been very positive. I have networked with many people from different organizations and companies, resulting in a fantastic internship in the summer of 2023—a telecommunications company in Iron Mountain, Michigan, called CCI Systems. During my time there I gained valuable experience working with AI. It was an experience I’m confident will greatly pay off in the future. The MTU Career Fair has its reputation for a reason. Many companies love Michigan Tech students and grads—that’s because they know the work that goes into being a student at this university.

How did you find your major? 

I originally chose computer engineering because I always loved computer science and electrical engineering, and this degree is a hybrid of the two. However, I have recently discovered that I want to pursue a career in electronic control systems. I am currently taking my first class in that area and I love the content. I hope to secure a job in that field and will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Have you tried undergraduate research at Tech?

I haven’t done undergraduate research outside of personal projects, but I have many friends who are doing various research projects in their undergrad, from EEs researching quantum computing and photonics to Biochem students doing research on environmental impacts on human cell structure and health.

“This is my club (WMTU) after our first broomball game of 2022-2023.”

How would you change the world if you could?

Making information and education freely available to anyone interested in any field of STEM. Information is more accessible than ever with the internet and now AI, yet so many people do not have access or the know-how to take advantage of it. If we can change this, it would greatly benefit us as individuals and as a species.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I’ve been given is to learn to learn instead of learning how to be taught. Relying on others (even professors!) to teach you the content will only get you so far. Almost all of learning is reliant on your self-discipline and passion for the education you are pursuing. Seize every opportunity and trust in the process. Failure is the most vital part of success and you won’t learn anything without it. 

Your advice for first year students? 

Many people will tell you to be your own number one supporter, and many others will tell you that you need to be your own number one critic. You need to be both if you want to succeed to your fullest potential.

“Above all else, be patient with yourself and give yourself time to improve.”

Advice for incoming students, from Carter Dugan

Robotic Systems Enterprise Visits Jeffers High School

RSE-jeffers-outreach-20170327Michigan Technological University’s Robotic Systems Enterprise (RSE) recently made a visit to nearby Jeffers High School to introduce students to robotics and programming.

Responding to a request from Mr. Sam Kilpela, Jeffers Science and Math teacher, the RSE Outreach team presented an introduction to Scratch and showed off their programmable miniature robots, the Hackbots and Zumos.

The Scratch programming language lets the user create a program from a drag-and-drop system, making it much easier to learn as an introductory venture into programming. Since the students had previous knowledge of basic HTML, the Outreach team provided a look into more advanced programs such as the interactive Madlibs where the students could choose a series of words and generated a sentence from those words.

Through on-site demonstrations in the classroom, the Outreach team hopes to give pre-college students a look into the world of robotics and other STEM fields.

Robotic Systems Enterprise is an industry-driven enterprise that focuses on seamlessly integrating exceptional knowledge in electronics, robotics, and programming to solve real world engineering problems. RSE is advised by Dr. Glen Archer.

Blue Marble Security Tours Georgia-Pacific

L-R: Matt Hargas, Victoria Fueri, Andrew Tallman, Johnathan Presti, Sandra Cvetanovic, Kyle Domas
L-R: Matt Hargas, Victoria Fueri, Andrew Tallman, Johnathan Presti, Sandra Cvetanovic, Kyle Domas

Members of Blue Marble Security Enterprise went right to the source this week to gain knowledge of their project sponsor’s operations and products.

Georgia-Pacific engineers, and Michigan Tech alumni, Mitch Edbauer (ECE) and John Cretens (MEEM) hosted the site visit and provided a tour of GP’s Green Bay-Broadway Paper Mill. The students were impressed by the company’s process automation, where they saw entire sections of the plant controlled by a single person. They were equally impressed by Georgia-Pacific’s environmental commitment including the use of 100% recycled fiber in their product production.

This year the BMS team has been researching ways to replace disposable batteries in automated soap and paper towel dispensers. The project includes finding alternative energy and methods to more efficiently disperse the products.

Blue Marble Security is a virtual company of undergraduate students focused on securing the future through thoughtful use of technology. The Enterprise is advised by Dr. Glen Archer.

Olivia Burek awarded Carnahan Enterprise Scholarship

burek-oliviaThe Enterprise Governing Board and the School of Business Scholarship Committee has recently selected Olivia Burek to receive the Spring 2017 Carnahan Enterprise Scholarship. Burek is a double major in management and marketing. The selection was based on her strong application and essay communicating her role in Blue Marble Security Enterprise.

Burek will receive a $500 scholarship for the fall 2017 semester.

Hancock Middle School Students Get a Taste for the World of Programming

RSEoutreach-hancock_20170209Members of the Robotic Systems Enterprise (RSE) at Michigan Technological University recently visited Jen Davis’ eighth grade science class at Hancock Middle School to share their excitement in the rapidly growing field of robotics.

During the activities, students were shown how to use Scratch, a drag-and-drop programming platform which enables beginners to learn programming techniques without having to use complex syntax. From the Scratch platform, students were then shown how to create simple programs such as Hello World, which is the induction into a myriad of programming languages.

The visit was a huge success as the students enjoyed interacting, editing, and playing the Scratch programs that they helped the RSE Outreach members to create. Through events like this, RSE hopes to inspire future generations to the area of robotics and STEM education.

The Robotic Systems Enterprise is housed within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is advised by Dr. Glen Archer. RSE is an industry-driven enterprise that focuses on seamlessly integrating exceptional knowledge in electronics, robotics, and programming to solve real world engineering problems.

Robotic Systems Enterprise hosts first annual Ford Controlathon

RSE-controlathonECE’s Robotic Systems Enterprise (RSE) was host to the first annual Controlathon sponsored by Ford Motor Company on Saturday, November 12. Ten teams competed in the inaugural one-day event held on the Michigan Tech campus, Memorial Union Building.

Ford’s purpose of the event was to raise the interest of controls engineers in the automotive industry. The students competed against each other as individuals or teams to see who could program an Arduino-based robot to complete pre-assigned tasks, such as solving a maze and following an object. The goal of the Controlathon was to create a unique solution to the presented problems in a limited amount of time. The teams were tasked to complete three separate events, scores were assigned for each event.

At the end of the day, Sirius Cybernetics came away with first place; 2nd Desert, 3rd 2CS & an EE, 4th C Dogs, and 5th place was Team Mine.

Ford representatives Jeffrey DuClos and Matt Alessi look on with team Sig-Cont-Rho-lers team members Libby Held, Dan Hannah, and Alex Miltenberger
Ford representatives Jeffrey DuClos and Matt Alessi look on with team Sig-Cont-Rho-lers team members Libby Held, Dan Hannah, and Alex Miltenberger

RSE is advised by Dr. Glen Archer.

Check out @mtuECE for more highlights from the event.

CAT/SWE team takes 1st place at WE16

CAT/SWE (ECE) team members Derek Chopp, Ester Buhl, and Anna Marchesano
CAT/SWE (ECE) team members Derek Chopp, Ester Buhl, and Anna Marchesano
ECE’s Blue Marble Security (BMS) Enterprise team CAT/SWE took 1st place in the WE16 Team Tech Competition (sponsored by Boeing) this weekend.

The team’s project “Wheel Tractor Scraper Bowl Optimization System”, a joint venture between BMS (ECE) and Consumer Products Enterprise (Chemical Engineering), was sponsored by Caterpillar, Inc.

WE16 is the world’s largest conference and career fair for women in engineering and technology. Hosted by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a number of corporate sponsors, WE16 provides inspiring and invaluable ways to connect, discover career opportunities and pursue professional development. This year the global gathering took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 27-29 with more than 9,000 attendees at all stages of their engineering careers.

The ECE Department congratulations the CAT/SWE team!

Presentation Day for ECE Senior Design and Enterprise teams

SD2015This Thursday, April 14, 2016, will be a huge day for students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s Senior Design and Enterprise programs. Not only will they participate in Michigan Tech’s Design Expo, but they will also make their final presentations for the year to ECE faculty, staff, students, and the department’s External Advisory Committee.  To see a complete list of teams, including a description of the projects, see: presentation schedule.

Please feel free to attend any or all presentations and good luck to our teams!



Fridays with Fuhrmann – ECE Undergraduate Programs

ECE Undergraduate Teaching Labs

Winter break is over and the spring semester is underway at Michigan Tech – “spring” being a euphemism in Houghton for snow up to our eyeballs.  I thought it might be a good time to write a few words about our undergraduate educational programs.
In the ECE Department we are all about teamwork and team projects.  Our Senior Design program is a well-oiled machine with about 10 projects going each year, real industrial projects with real industrial financial support.  Our Enterprise program, an alternative path to completion of the capstone design requirement, is unique to Michigan Tech; it gives students the opportunity to form their own virtual companies and work on projects that have longevity across semesters and across multiple personnel.  Of course, we are not alone in this approach.  All ECE Departments across the country recognize the importance the team-based design projects, as do the employers that hire new graduates every year. It is also a critical piece of everyone’s  ABET accreditation.
What distinguishes Michigan Tech from many other institutions is our philosophy in the early part of the curriculum.  We believe very strongly that the best path to becoming a valuable team member is to develop individual skills.  I don’t think this is particularly controversial, and is unquestioned in other fields of human endeavor.  Think of an orchestra, for example – every player has to know the technical aspects of playing his or her instrument, and enough music theory to understand what is going on.  Or, think of a baseball team, where everyone has honed their skills in throwing, catching, and batting, and they know all the rules of the game.  In both analogies, people bring their individual and diverse skills to the table, which makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
So it is in electrical and computer engineering.  This is a wonderful and exciting field, with teams of people in major corporations and in small start-up companies changing the world every day through their ingenuity and innovation.  The engineers who are going to make the biggest contributions are the ones who put in the effort early on to get really good at what they are doing.  This needs to happen when students are young enough, and their brains are malleable enough, to learn new material with some degree of permanence – like playing the violin or learning to water ski.  Author and social observer Malcolm Gladwell has pointed out that it takes about 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, and the 10,000 hours is about what you get by working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for 5 years – in other words, a college education.  In the ECE Department we emphasize individual skills in both the mathematical and scientific fundamentals of electricity and electronics, and in the laboratory.
Our required sophomore electronics laboratory is a prime example. Each lab bench has exactly one chair in front of it. When I was interviewing for this position and getting a tour of the facilities, it was one of the first things I noticed, without anyone telling me.  I was blown away by the elegance and simplicity of this approach to laboratory education.  Each student is required to learn how to use the equipment and how to carry out the experiments, on their own, human against the machine.  Not everyone is happy with this approach at first – not everyone is happy with two-a-day football drills either – but in the end I would be very surprised if any of our graduating seniors ever told me it was a bad idea.
We take a similar approach on the mathematical side of things.  I teach a one-credit course to freshman called Essential Mathematics for Electrical Engineering.  The scope is quite limited but I cover a few things that I think are critical in electrical engineering that don’t show up as much in other engineering disciplines – sinusoids, exponentials, complex numbers, complex exponentials, phasors, that sort of thing.  Basically I want them to know Euler’s formula and what it means. (In fact, every semester I tell students that if they see me around town and can produce Euler’s formula from memory I will buy them whatever beverage they are old enough to drink.  This has actually happened.)  The course is pass-fail, and to complete the course the students have to pass an old-fashioned paper-and-pencil exam with no books, no notes, no nothing.  The pass threshold is 70%, which is pretty draconian, but I give them up to three chances to pass it, kind of like a driver’s test.  Again, this is consistent with our philosophy that there are few things that all EEs simply need to know cold, and there’s no getting around it.
Our goal is to set every student on a path where they can realize their greatest potential, whatever that looks like to them.  We think that by instilling individual skills in younger students, and then putting students together as they mature so they can learn how contribute those skills in a team environment, is the best way to do that.  So far it seems to be working.
– Dan Fuhrmann, Chair, ECE

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MTU_ECE_smphotoThe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is now on Facebook and Twitter. Like and follow us for faculty spotlights, student accomplishments, outreach and events, industry and alumni news, and more; including a weekly post from the chair in “Fridays with Fuhrmann”. We hope you’ll add us to your social media picks.