Category Archives: News

Synchrophasor Data Project Funding for Chee-Wooi Ten

Chee-Wooi Ten
Chee-Wooi Ten

Chee-Wooi Ten (ECE/AIM) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $99,732 research and development cooperative agreement with the University of California Riverside. The project is entitled, “Discovery of Signatures, Anomalies, and Precursors in Synchrophasor Data with Matrix Profile and Deep Recurrent Neural Networks.” This is a 17-month project.

By Sponsored Programs.


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).


Former EE Department Head Keith Stanek Passes Away

Eldon Keith Stanek
Eldon Keith Stanek

Funeral services will be held in Rolla, Missouri this morning for E. Keith Stanek, former head of Michigan Tech’s Department of Electrical Engineering. He passed away Monday (Sept. 30) at the age of 77.

Stanek grew up in the Chicago area and earned bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology (ITT). After teaching at ITT for two years, he spent 10 years at West Virginia University where he received an Outstanding Teaching Award.

In 1980, Stanek was named head of the Department of Electrical Engineering (now the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) at Michigan Tech, by Franklin Essenburg, then dean of Tech’s College of Engineering.

Stanek left Tech in 1990 to take a similar position at the University of Missouri-Rolla, which has since been renamed the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

His background in industry included positions with Commonwealth Edison and the power system consulting firm of Sargent and Lundy. He also served as a consultant for the Departments of Interior and Energy, Union Carbide and Bendex.

Stanek was a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) serving on its national committee as well as the national committee of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).

Listed among his survivors are his wife of 31 years, Mary Sandra, five children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A full obituary is available online.

By Mark Wilcox.


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.


Havens Discusses Artificial Intelligence in Plain Terms

Timothy Havens
Timothy Havens

Cognitive scientist and Dartmouth professor John McCarthy coined the term artificial intelligence (AI) in 1955 when he began his exploration of whether machines could learn and develop formal reasoning like humans. More than 60 years later, AI is the hottest tech topic of the day, from the boardroom to the breakroom.

“AI is a mathematical and algorithmic model that allows computers to learn to do tasks without being explicitly programmed to do those tasks.” –Timothy Havens, the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems in the College of Computing at Michigan Technological University and director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems.

For those who prefer analogies, Havens likens the way AI works to learning to ride a bike: “You don’t tell a child to move their left foot in a circle on the left pedal in the forward direction while moving your right foot in a circle… You give them a push and tell them to keep the bike upright and pointed forward: the overall objective. They fall a few times, honing their skills each time they fail,” Havens says. “That’s AI in a nutshell.”

Read more at The Enterprisers Project, by Stephanie Overby.


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.

Ultrasound-Sensing Based Navigational Support for the Visually Impaired

Ultrasound Sensing-Based Navigational SupportECE graduate student Aliaksei Petsiuk coauthored an article with Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) titled, “Low-cost open source ultrasound-sensing based navigational support for visually impaired,” published in the journal Sensors.
https://doi.org/10.3390/s19173783

Low-Cost Open Source Ultrasound-Sensing Based Navigational Support for the Visually Impaired

Abstract

Nineteen million Americans have significant vision loss.

Over 70% of these are not employed full-time, and more than a quarter live below the poverty line. Globally, there are 36 million blind people, but less than half use white canes or more costly commercial sensory substitutions. The quality of life for visually impaired people is hampered by the resultant lack of independence.

To help alleviate these challenges this study reports on the development of a low-cost, open-source ultrasound-based navigational support system in the form of a wearable bracelet to allow people with the lost vision to navigate, orient themselves in their surroundings and avoid obstacles when moving.

The system can be largely made with digitally distributed manufacturing using low-cost 3-D printing/milling. It conveys point-distance information by utilizing the natural active sensing approach and modulates measurements into haptic feedback with various vibration patterns within the four-meter range. It does not require complex calibrations and training, consists of the small number of available and inexpensive components, and can be used as an independent addition to traditional tools.

Sighted blindfolded participants successfully demonstrated the device for nine primary everyday navigation and guidance tasks including indoor and outdoor navigation and avoiding collisions with other pedestrians.

Read the Open Access article at Sensors.


Joshua Pearce on Solar Energy

Joshua Pearce
Joshua Pearce

West Baton Rouge solar plant with 197,000 panels begins construction: Entergy Louisiana to purchase its power

Some 197,000 solar panels capable of powering thousands of homes are going into one of the largest solar plants to be built in Louisiana on a 560-acre site near Port Allen.

“The economies of scale has finally kicked in,” said Joshua Pearce, director of the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology lab. “Utilities are actively putting in large-scale solar farms because it’s now a low enough cost. When costs first came down, large industry jumped on it first and now utilities are catching up.”

Read more at The Advocate, by Kristen Mosbrucker.

Floating Solar Panels Are Helping This Mining Company Save Water

Las Tórtolas is a 4.1 square mile reservoir nestled in the sunny, arid mountains of Chile, about 40 miles north of the capital city of Santiago. But it’s not the kind of place you’d want to go swimming. The water in the reservoir is actually the waste (also known as tailings) from the nearby Los Bronces copper mine, and floating on top are 256 photovoltaic solar panels, each one capable of producing about 330 watts of electricity.

“It’s like putting a plastic sheet over the whole lake, or the whole tailings pond,” explains Joshua Pearce, a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Michigan Tech. Pearce has worked extensively in the emerging field of floatovoltaic technology (FVT), or the overlap of solar energy systems and water use. He says that the presence of solar panels over a body of water can provide enough shade to consistently reduce evaporation by 70-80%. That’s precisely what Anglo-American has achieved since the Las Tórtolas array went online in March 2019.

Read more at The Weather Channel, by Thom Dunn.

America’s richest could afford this important investment to help fight climate change, scientist says

The technology exists to “green” America’s electricity grid to fight climate change — and together, the country’s richest people have enough money to pay for it. In fact, they could even make a profit on the investment.

That’s according to a 2019 research paper on solar energy led by Joshua Pearce, a professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University.

Read more at CNBC Make It, by Catherine Clifford.

Amid energy transition in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, what is solar’s role?

The Upper Peninsula Power Co., which has some of the highest electric rates in the continental U.S., is looking to buy power from a large-scale solar project it says would help reduce costs for its customers.

UPPCO’s case reflects trends elsewhere in Michigan where utilities are pursuing large-scale projects while at the same time being accused of limiting small, customer-owned projects.

“It’s much more acute and much more divisive here than it is downstate,” said Joshua Pearce, an engineering professor at Michigan Technological University in Houghton. “[UPPCO] hates distributed generation, but they love making money.”

Read more at Energy News Network, by Andy Balaskovitz.


Advancement Acknowledges the Recent Passing of Dedicated Alumnus Jim Klungness

James Klungness
James Klungness

James A. (Jim) Klungess passed away on July 16, 2019. Jim graduated from Michigan Tech in 1949 with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering. After graduation, he returned to the Iron Mountain area where he established himself as a business leader. He, along with a partner, built Iron Mountain’s first cable TV system and went on to found Cable Constructors Inc. (CCI), which specialized in constructing cable TV systems both regionally and nationally.

Jim was recognized by Michigan Tech on several occasions. In 1990 he was awarded the Board of Control Silver Medal. He was inducted into the Electrical Engineering Academy in 1997 and was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus award by the Alumni Association in 1998. In 1999 he was Tech’s spring commencement speaker and was presented an honorary doctorate degree.

He was an extremely good friend of the University lending both his time and energy to numerous initiatives. He served three consecutive terms on the Michigan Tech Fund Board attaining Life Trustee status in 2002. He was co-chair for the campaign to fund the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and served on Tech’s International Advancement Advisory Committee in 2003.

Jim, along with his wife, Verle (who passed away in 2004), were very generous with their philanthropic dollars investing in numerous University programs over the years. These include the Annual Fund, the Rozsa Center, and cultural and international initiatives. In 1991 they established the James A. Klungness Endowed Scholarship to assist Iron Mountain-Kingsford area students attending Michigan Tech. They were members of the Hubbell Society, as well as charter members of the Second Century Society.

View Jim’s full obituary online.

By Michigan Tech Advancement.