LEAP Leaders: The Power of Near-Peer Mentoring

Just an ordinary day for the LEAP Leaders in the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at Michigan Tech. AJ Hamlin (far left) and Amber Kempppainen (second from left) are both in the front row.

AJ Hamlin and Amber Kemppainen have been recognized for their leadership in designing LEAP, a highly successful, best practice program for first-year engineering students at Michigan Tech

by Michael R. Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson CTL

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected LEarning with Academic Partners (LEAP) co-directors AJ Hamlin and Amber Kemppainen. Hamlin and Kemppainen for the Spring 2020 Deans’ Teaching Showcase, for their leadership of the near-peer mentoring program in the first-year engineering. Both are Principal Lecturers in the Engineering Fundamentals (EF) Department and alumnae of Michigan Tech.

Hamlin and Kemppainen will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and, as a team, are candidates for the CTL Instructional Award Series (to be determined this summer) recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

Both are broadly versed in methods and implementations for active learning and have practiced active learning methods in their classrooms for nearly two decades.

In 2015, EF started considering an approach to first-year engineering that would be effective and scalable. The selected approach used flipped content delivery in a studio environment in which students would have ready access to near-peer mentoring. As soon as the mentoring component was included, Hamlin and Kemppainen stepped up as the two CoDirectors of the program. Working collaboratively, they learned the principles and implementations of two existing approaches: Supplemental Instruction (SI) (usually associated with the University of Missouri, Kansas City) and Learning Assistants (LA) (usually associated with the University of Colorado). From study and attending on-site workshops and conferences, the two developed a composite approach to near-peer mentoring that became the LEAP program.

In general, SI does not include a mandatory session for students. By contrast, the model pioneered by AJ and Amber did include a mandatory LEAP session between the near-peer leader and a group of not more than 24 students to augment instruction in the EF first-year engineering courses. This was a significant departure that proved very beneficial; first-year students often do not see value in a situation that augments what they do in “regular class.” In effect, the innovation by the LEAP CoDirectors made the LEAP lab section meeting a “regular class meeting.” Once LEAP was experienced by the students over time, they appreciated the nearness of a near-peer to help them.

Hamlin and Kemppainen also adapted the LA model, embedding LEAP Leaders as mentors for the work to be done in the larger flipped classrooms of the first-year engineering courses. The EF major classrooms are in Wadsworth Hall (capacity of 5 LEAP sections, or 120 students) and in Dillman Hall (capacity of 3 LEAP sections, or 72 students).

Dean Callahan’s nomination emphasizes this insight and innovation at Michigan Tech. “Using near-peer mentors is a best practice in teaching—AJ and Amber’s work as co-directors of the LEAP program has been an outstanding demonstration of how to engage students with their learning,” says Callahan.

The LEAP Leader training program was designed almost from scratch by Hamlin and Kemppainen. The training prepares the LEAP Leaders to be learner-centered, but to emphasize that the weight of learning is always the student’s. The LEAP Leader is taught how to mentor students, and the training emphasizes practical learning concepts such as effective scaffolding for a student. It also gives them opportunities to practice the needed pedagogical techniques.

After the rollout of the revised first-year engineering program in Fall, 2017, it became clear that the LEAP leader training and experience was highly educational for those near-peer leaders as well. With that realization, Amber and AJ embarked on developing and teaching leadership courses under the Pavlis Honors College heading. Three courses are now offered: a 2000 level course that Amber and AJ developed and teach collaboratively, and 3000 and 4000 level courses that were designed and taught by Amber. The three courses taken together form the required set of courses in the Leadership Minor, which is offered through Pavlis.

Hamlin and Kemppainen have recognized the power that near-peer mentoring can have to engage first-year students in their own education. They have designed and implemented a program that is now seen as essential for first-year engineering students.

Jon Sticklen, chairp of Engineering Fundamentals summarizes: “AJ and Amber have definitely gone above and beyond in their positions as CoDirectors of our LEAP Program. LEAP has become the cornerstone of the First-Year Engineering Program, largely because the undergraduate students who are our LEAP Leaders are well trained and genuinely connected to their first-year engineering students. LEAP works because of the leadership and content training, as orchestrated by Amber and AJ.”

Dean Callahan confirms their exceptional impact, both for the first year students and the LEAP leaders. “Michigan Tech can rightly be proud of the work of AJ Hamlin and Amber Kemppainen. As CoDirectors of the LEarning with Academic Partners program, they have shown a true engineering viewpoint in addressing the needs of first-year students: to have a good role model, an effective mentor, and a learning coach—all rolled into one sophomore student to whom they can relate. They had the vision as a goal, they sought out how existing near-peer mentoring programs addressed the issues, and they developed a near-peer mentoring program that is a critical part of what makes of first-year engineering program ‘tick’. I am very proud of Hamlin’s and Kemppainenm’s work in support of our students.”

AJ Hamlin’s experience in teaching first-year engineering students dates from 2001. In this time, she has done research in and developed an assessment of spatial visualization skills and measured the effectiveness of inverted and blended courses. Among other awards, Hamlin won the 2010 Editor’s Award from the Engineering Design Graphics Journal, and in April 2015 the Michigan Tech Canvas Creative Course Contest (C4). She has served in various offices of the ASEE Multidisciplinary Division, including Secretary/Treasurer, Program Chair, and currently the Division Chair.

Amber Kemppainen, who began teaching in 2005, is now in the final phases of completing a PhD in applied cognitive science and human factors (ACSHF). Through her work for her degrees in the learning sciences, Kemppainen has been supported in part by a King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship (a State of Michigan program). Her areas of research have included qualitative and quantitative analysis and assessment skills in educational settings, and development, deployment, and assessment of online training programs. She won a C4 award in 2015.

Learn more about Michigan Tech’s LEAP program here.

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Design Expo 2020 Registration Now Open

Michigan Tech’s 20th annual Design Expo will highlight hands-on, discovery-based learning. More than 1,000 students on Enterprise and Senior Design teams will showcase their work and compete for awards.

Student registration is now open. Senior Design and Enterprise teams must visit the Design Expo website to register and review important instructions, deadlines and poster criteria. All teams must register by Monday, Feb. 10.

The Design Expo takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, April 16 in the MUB Ballroom and all are welcome to attend.

A panel of judges made up of distinguished corporate representatives and Michigan Tech staff and faculty will critique the projects at Design Expo. Interested in judging at Design Expo? Sign up here.

Design Expo is co-hosted by the College of Engineering and the Pavlis Honors College. Learn more at mtu.edu/expo.

By the College of Engineering and Pavlis Honors College.

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New Engineering Faculty Fall 2020

Chemical Engineering

Kurt A. Rickard

Kurt Rickard, PhD

Kurt Rickard joins the faculty of Chemical Engineering as an instructor. Rickard earned a PhD from Purdue and a bachelor’s degree from Michigan Tech, both in chemical engineering.

He has experience as a control engineer with a strong theoretical background. He has experience with LyondellBasell Industries, ARCO Chemical Company, Quantum Chemical Company and Shell Chemical Company.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Jeffery Pereira Hollingsworth
Jeffery Pereira Hollingsworth

Jeffrey Hollingsworth

Jeffrey Hollingsworth joins the faculty of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as a professor of practice. He holds a Master’s of Science in civil engineering (GIS specialty) and a post-bac certificate in GIS from the University of Colorado Denver. In addition, he earned a BS in surveying from Ferris State University.

Prior to coming to Michigan Tech, Hollingsworth was an associate professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage and an instructor at the Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Xinyu Ye
Xinyu Ye

Xinyu Ye, PhD

Xinu Ye Joins the faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering as a research assistant professor. She earned a PhD in environmental engineering from Michigan Tech, a master’s in civil engineering from Michigan State and a bachelor of resource environment and urban and rural planning from Harbin Normal University in China.

She is a recipient of a Dean’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship at Michigan Tech and has received graduate student awards at Michigan State. As an undergraduate, she was named an Excellent Student Leader at Harbin Normal.

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Trever Hassell
Trever Hassell

Trever Hassell

Trever Hassell joins the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as a senior lecturer. His areas of interest include power electronics systems, Electric Drives and Machinery, Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Systems, and Microgrids.

Hassell earned both a bachelor’s and master’s in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech. For the past five years, he has been serving as an academic advisor/instructor in the ECE department at Michigan Tech. He is a registered professional engineer with experience in industry including time with ABB Inc., Cummins, Inc., Entergy/Vermont Yankee and Reinker Controls Inc.

Nagesh Hatti
Nagesh Hatti

Nagesh Hatti

Nagesh Hatti joined the faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering as a professor of practice. He holds an MBA from Texas Christian University, a master’s in software engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science in India and a BE in telecommunication engineering from Bangalore University, India

Prior to coming to Michigan Tech, Hatti served as technical program manager for Schneider in Green Bay, manager of supply chain operations support from American Airlines in Fort Worth, Texas and various other positions in industry.

Geological Mining and Engineering Sciences

Luke Bowman, PhD

Luke Bowman has joined the faculty in Geological Mining and Engineering Sciences as a research assistant professor. Bowman has both a PhD and a master’s in geology from Michigan Tech and a bachelor’s degree from Hanover College.

Prior to joining the faculty, he was a curriculum development specialist with Mi-STAR and an adjunct assistant professor in GMES at Michigan Tech.

Xin Xi
Xin Xi

Xin Xi, PhD

Xin XI has joined the faculty of the Department of Geological Mining and Engineering Sciences as an assistant professor. Xi earned a PhD in atmospheric sciences from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a B Sc in Geoinformatics from Beijing Normal University, China.

Prior to his current position, Xi served as a research assistant professor at Michigan Tech. From 2016 to 2018 he was a research associate at the NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research (Maryland).

Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics

Jung Yun Bae
Jung Yun Bae

Jung Yun Bae

Jung Yun Bae joins the faculty of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics and the College of Computing as an assistant professor. She earned a PhD from Texas A&M, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Hongik University in Seoul, Korea.

Prior to this appointment, she was a research professor in the Intelligent Systems and Robotics Laboratory at Korea University in Seoul. Her research interests include; robotics, multi-robot systems, coordination of heterogeneous robot systems and unmanned vehicles.

Susanta Ghosh
Susanta Ghosh

Susanta Ghosh, PhD

Susanta Ghosh has joined the Michigan Tech Faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics and as a faculty member of the Center for Data Sciences at the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

He earned a PhD and MSc in civil engineering from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and a BSE in civil engineering from the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology in Shibpur, India.

For the past three years, he has served as a research assistant professor and instructor in ME-EM. Prior to coming to Michigan Tech in 2016, Ghosh was a visiting research investigator at the University of Michigan and a research collaborator at Duke.

Paul van Susante
Paul van Susante

Paul van Susante, PhD

Paul van Susante, who had been serving as a senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics, started the fall semester as an assistant professor within that department.

He earned both a PhD and a master’s in engineering systems from the Colorado School of Mines. He also holds BS and MS degrees in civil engineering with an emphasis on building engineering from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

His research interests include advances in engineering education, engineering design process, extreme environment technologies and planetary science and exploration, among others.

Vijaya V. N. Sriram Malladi
Vijaya V. N. Sriram Malladi

Vijaya Sriram Malladi, PhD

Vijaya V.N. Sriram Malladi has joined the faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics as an assistant professor. He holds MS and PhD degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a BTech from the Indian Institute of Technology.

Prior to coming to Michigan Tech, Malladi was a research scientist at Vibrations, Adaptive Structures and Testing (VAST) lab at Virginia Tech. Prior to that, he served as chief research scientist (CEO) of GAiTE LLC.

Myoungkuk Park
Myoungkuk Park

Myoungkuk Park, PhD

Myoungkuk Park joins the faculty of the Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics as a research assistant professor. He earned a PhD from Texas A&M, MS from Korea University and BS from Kyungkhee University, each in mechanical engineering.

Prior to coming to Michigan Tech, Park was a principal engineer/senior engineer with Samsung Electronics in Asan, Korea and a research assistant at Texas A&M.

His research interests include multi-robot system control, control of large-scale stochastic process and design of automated material handling.

Yongchao Yang
Yongchao Yang

Yongchao Yang, PhD

Yongchao Yang has joined Michigan Tech’s faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics as an assistant professor. Yang holds a PhD in structural engineering from Rice University and a B.E. in structural engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology, China.

Before coming to Michigan Tech he was a technical staff member at Argonne National Laboratory and a postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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Engineering Alumni Activity Spring 2020

Jamie Archambeau
Jamie Archambeau

Civil Engineering alumna, Jamie Archambeau ’02, was selected as one of 2020 Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Archambeau is the Director of Transportation Planning West at Atkins.

Jacob Hakkola
Jacob Hakkola

Michigan Tech alumnus Dr. Jacob Hakkola recently joined the vascular and interventional radiology team at UP Health System-Marquette. The story was covered by the Mining Journal. Dr. Hakkola, an Escanaba native, attended college at Michigan Technological University to major in electrical engineering. As an engineer, he worked to develop MRI-compatible pacemakers and was introduced to the field of radiology.

Dan Heldt
Dan Heldt

Michigan Tech alumnus Dan Heldt has been named Chief Financial Officer of LHB in Duluth, Minnesota. The story was covered by Business North. He holds a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

Shawn Vij
Shawn Vij

Michigan Tech alumnus Shawn Vij ’05, was featured in the article “Author, Shawn Vij hits ‘rewind’ on Old Bollywood Values,” on Yahoo.com. He holds an MBA from Purdue University, MS in Engineering from the University of Michigan and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University.

Jacob Heck
Jacob Heck

Michigan Tech alumnus Jacob Heck ’05 surveying engineering, was listed in Outlook 2020s 40 under 40. The list was featured in the Dec. 31 issue of xyHt.com.

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Engineering Staff Recognized for 2019 Making a Difference Awards

Michigan Tech campus from Portage Canale.A total of 48 nominations have been submitted for the 2019 Making a Difference Awards. Everyone is invited to a reception honoring the nominees. The reception is scheduled for 2:00pm to 3:30 pm, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2019 in the Memorial Union Ballroom. The recipients for each category will be announced at the reception.

In the College of Engineering, the following staff have been nominated:

Above and Beyond

Carol Asiala – Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Behind the Scenes

Taana Blom – Chemical Engineering
Cindy Wadaga – Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Legacy Award

Owen Mills – Materials Science and Engineering
Alexis Snell – Chemical Engineering

Rookie Award

Rachel Griffin – Materials Science and Engineering
Rachel Store – Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Laura Wiinikka – Chemical Engineering

Serving Others

Pam Hannon – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Katie Torrey – Chemical Engineering

Unsung Hero

Brian Eggart – Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Paul Fraley – Materials Science and Engineering
Shelle Sandell – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mark Sloat – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Stefan Wisniewski – Chemical Engineering

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Engineering Supports SnowBots at Yeti Cup

First Tech Challenge logoThe SnowBots Middle School Robotics teams competed in Kingsford last weekend for the Yeti Cup U.P. FIRST Tech Challenge robotic qualifier competition. All three teams were in the finals and brought home awards from the competition. SnowBots teams are open to area sixth-eighth grade students, and meet at Houghton Middle School.

SnowBots teams are sponsored by: Michigan Department of Education, GS Engineering, Destination Unstoppable, Boundary Labs, ThermoAnalytics, IR Telemetrics, Michigan Tech Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Michigan Tech Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department, Monte Consulting, and Houghton Portage Township Schools. The Kingsford event was sponsored in part by Michigan Technological University College of Computing. The Copper Country was also well represented with 18 community volunteers supporting the event.

Read more at the Mining Gazette.

States bound: SnowBots qualify for state championship

The SnowBots Middle School Robotics teams reached a first-ever milestone at the Pellston regional FIRST Tech Challenge qualifier on Nov 23rd. All three teams, identified by the colors Blue, Red, and Silver, have now qualified to compete at the state championship Dec. 13-14 in Battle Creek. SnowBots Blue and Silver qualified on Nov. 9 and the Red team will be joining them after their great performance in Pellston.

Read more at the Mining Gazette.

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Some Attributes of Huskies

Here is a picture of Echo, after recovering from her poisoning, at the cabin.

At Michigan Tech, our mascot is the Husky. I have a lot of fun with this, because Echo, one of our two family dogs, is a Husky. So I have learned a lot about this breed of dog from our Echo.

I want to call out five basic attributes that I associate with Huskies.

First of all, Huskies are very clever dogs. For example, Echo knows the name of many of her toys. Her favorite toys make noises—right now, the special favorite is a stuffed Woody Woodpecker—who makes the most ridiculous noise. So I can ask Echo, “Where’s, ‘whoo-hoo-hoo-ha-ha,’ and she knows exactly what toy to bring me.

Also, Huskies are very careful dogs—most of the time. Echo is really careful to sniff each treat I offer her, before eating it. Even though she knows it’s the same dog biscuit that she had yesterday, well—she has to sniff it every time. Which is why I was so surprised when one night earlier this year, as I was staying one night at what was soon to become our family cabin (out near Point Abbaye, Michigan), I heard her crunching on something. I went to investigate—and I couldn’t believe it. She was eating rat poison which I didn’t realize was there. It had been left in a hidden corner on the kitchen floor! Luckily, it was the kind of rat poison that has an antidote (massive doses of vitamin K).

And—Huskies are VERY VOCAL and musical dogs. I believe Echo speaks entire sentences. She can clearly communicate when she is hungry, when she wants to go out, if she is bored, if something is wrong, and more. And if we begin to howl (as much as any human can), she gets downright musical, joining in and sometimes harmonizing.

Finally, Huskies are incredibly playful dogs. Echo can play catch with herself. She tosses her toys up in the air, and then pounces on them as they come down. She plays dueling stick with our other dog, they run in tandem, each with their mouths on the stick as they bound down the trail, like a harnessed team of horses with a bit in their mouth. And more. Not really a fetching dog, Echo tends to set up more elaborate play-games.

Our mascot, Blizzard, with the Michigan Tech Husky Pep Band.

That brings me to Husky Nation, Michigan Technological University—a place where you can be clever, careful, vocal, musical and playful!

Now, if you’re interested in becoming a Michigan Tech Husky, or know someone who might be interested, and you want to know more, please let me know—Callahan@mtu.edu.

Janet Callahan, Dean
College of Engineering
Michigan Tech

Echo’s hairy paws

Echo is very clever. She “nose” a lot!

Echo runs with a big smile on her face!

Last but not least, our very own Husky statue here on campus at Michigan Tech.

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Pre-Schoolers Learn to Engineer

85 parents and their PreK children from the Miigiziinsag Little Eagles Pre-School, KBIC pre-primary , KBIC early headstart, and BHK pre-school attended the first Family Engineering Fun Night held November 13th, 2019, at KBOCC. A pizza dinner was available at 5:30 pm with hands-on engineering activities from 6:00-7:00 pm. The event was conducted by Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, with help from Michigan Tech students with the Chemical Engineering Honors Society Omega Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society student chapters, and funding from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium and the “For the Wisdom of the Children Grant from the American Indian College Fund.”

Man works at table with two children and another adult looking on.
Matt Friiswall and his children Iziah and Isabel work on designing a scoop to remove trash from the “pond”.

Adults work with students at a table in a crowded event.
Michigan Tech student Hailey Mikolitis (right) assists pre-school students Jarron Colbert and Treyson Tapani, who are testing the strength of two different arch designs.

Three people arrange items on trays at a table.
All the right tools set up.

One adult is showing another a foil project at a table.
Michigan Tech volunteer training.

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Engineering Students Attend WE19

Romana Carden
Romana Carden

Mackenzie Brunet
Mackenzie Brunet

Ten members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) went to the 2019 national conference, WE19, November 7-9, in Anaheim, California. Advisor Gretchen Hein (EF) accompanied the delegation of eight undergraduates and two graduate students.

The WE19 conference was attended by more than 16,000 SWE members, both collegiate and professional, from across the nation, who enjoyed professional development breakout sessions, inspirational keynotes, a career fair, and multiple opportunities for networking.

Romana Carden, a 5th year student in engineering management, participated in the SWE Future Leaders (SWEFL) program. Along with Mackenzie Brunet, Carden went to the SWE Collegiate Leadership Institute (CLI), a day-long leadership development event. Both programs, led by female engineers working in industry and academia, help college students gain leadership skills.

Full list of students who attended:

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