SAE Winter Baja Invitational: Driving Innovation from the Ground Up

Michigan Tech is the home of the Winter Baja Invitational, which recently brought 22 universities and 45 student-built off-road vehicles to campus on January 28, 2023.

Winter Baja is one of the most exciting invitational events in the SAE Collegiate Design Series. It also serves as a frozen dress rehearsal for the official SAE International Baja competitions, which take place each spring and summer in different locations across the country. Student engineers design and build their vehicles from scratch around an SAE-designated engine.

Blizzard Baja, a student-led team, part of Michigan Tech’s award-winning Enterprise program, organizes this event annually—on top of designing and building a new vehicle for entrance into one or more of the national SAE Baja events. 

This year, Winter Baja was held on Saturday, January 28, 2023, near the Student Development Complex at Michigan Technological University. It attracted 45 off-road vehicles from 22 universities, which raced around a one-mile snow/ice circuit course.

The day started with the pickled egg slalom race. This event requires drivers to reach the end of the course, hop out of their vehicle and eat a pickled egg. Then a new driver must jump in the vehicle and drive it back to the starting line. Next was the hill climb race, where vehicles drive as high as possible up the snow bank. 

Michigan Tech Blizzard Baja Enterprise team hosts the SAE Winter Baja Competition every year, and takes part in the competition, as well.

Finally, the main event—the endurance race—started at 10:30 AM as cars gridded up at the starting line. TV6 News reporter Tristan Hendrick covered the event: Michigan Tech hosted annual Baja race to give students work experience.

University of Iowa’s Iowa Baja came in first, with 55 laps around the course. Results of the endurance race are available here: https://winterbaja.enterprise.mtu.edu/downloads/WinterBaja2023FinalLapResults.pdf

Congratulations to The Iowa Baja, University of Iowa, which took first place in the endurance race, completing 55 laps around the course in 3:39:02.
Virginia Tech’s Baja Valkyrie took second, completing 51 laps in 3:39:27.

The Michigan Tech Blizzard Baja Enterprise team is advised by Kevin Johnson, assistant teach professor in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Steven Ma, professor of practice in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Michigan Tech computer engineering student Rithik Sawant served as this year’s Winter Baja Coordinator. “The 42nd annual Winter Baja Race this year was one of the largest we have ever held,” he said.

“Winter Baja is the ultimate test for your vehicle—we don’t skimp on the difficulty of the track and size of the jumps.”

Rithik Sawant

Michigan Tech’s Baja team has a long history of success in SAE competitions since the 1970s. Students use modern engineering and manufacturing processes to enhance vehicle performance by focusing on reduction of vehicle mass, maximization of drivetrain efficiency, improvement of driver visibility and comfort, and optimization of off-road vehicle handling and maneuverability.

The 2023 SAE Winter Baja Competition events took place around the clock on January 28 at Michigan Tech.

The Winter Baja Invitational pays tribute to the roots of the Baja SAE Collegiate Design Series and began at Michigan Tech in 1981. Michigan Tech professors emeritus Bill Shapton and Larry Evers created the event to provide students with hands-on engineering experience. One of the first baja races led students through beaver dams and sand pits, from the abandoned Keweenaw town of Mandan up to Copper Harbor. It evolved into a global engineering series with annual official SAE collegiate Baja racing events taking place in North America, South Africa, Brazil, and South Korea.

The starting lineup for the endurance race.
MTU Blizzard Baja’s test vehicle, Hornet, competed with a new front suspension system for research and development.

SAE Winter Baja 2023 Event Sponsors

Special thanks to all SAE Winter Baja event sponsors: McLaren Engineering, Milwaukee Tool, TeamTech, Daimler Truck, Kohler, Caterpillar, Pratt Miller, Ford, Professional Fabricating, Extreme Canopy, and locally, Diamond House International, LevelUp, Keweenaw Petroleum Service, Houghton Powersports, Houghton Fire Department, and Superior Search and Rescue.

Winter Baja photography by: Andrew Erickson, Mackenzie Johnson, and Peter LaMantia.

Engineering Alumni Social at the Dog House this Thurs. at 3pm

Do you remember the Dog House from your time at Michigan Tech?
Hope to see you there!

Are you coming to the Michigan Tech campus for Winter Carnival? Take a break from viewing the statues on Thursday, February 9 from 3-5 pm to enjoy a beverage and some snacks!

Join Dean Janet Callahan, the College of Engineering department chairs, and fellow Michigan Tech engineering alumni for a social at the Dog House in downtown Houghton (aka Armando’s, at 517 Shelden Avenue). You’ll also have a chance to learn more about how to support the college during Give Back to the Pack, Michigan Tech’s 48-hour giving challenge.

Anyone who donates $100 or more to the College of Engineering or any of its departments during the social will get a College of Engineering t-shirt.

Want to see all the College of Engineering giving challenges thus far? Here’s a link: https://www.mtu.edu/engineering/giving-day

And for complete information, go to https://www.giveback.mtu.edu

Joe Foster: Geospatial Imagery

AFTER: A 3d-printed Winter Carnival snow statue created by Michigan Tech students, one that never has to melt!

Joe Foster will share his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar Monday, 2/6 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new in just 30 minutes or so, with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Joe Foster

What are you doing for supper this Monday 2/6 at 6ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Joe Foster, Professor of Practice in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering at Michigan Tech. Joining in will be four of his geospatial engineering students—Brayden Brincks, Wes Hyslop, Case Vander Heide, and Jacob Wysko. They’re all three members and leaders of the Douglass Houghton Student Chapter of the National Society of Professional Surveyors (aka DHSC of NSPS).

During Husky Bites they’ll share details of their unique new endeavor at Michigan Tech’s annual Winter Carnival (coming up soon, February 8-13, 2023.) 

One of the most thrilling things featured at Winter Carnival are the larger-than-life snow statues built by a Michigan Tech students—spectacular, elaborate displays of snow and ice. When Winter Carnival comes to a close the statues eventually melt. While there are lots of photos to remember them by—now there’s something much more tangible.

BEFORE: Winter Carnival 2022’s winning snow statue, by Phi Kappa Tau. Look familiar? Scroll back up to compare.

Recently, Foster and his students have found a way to take the love of Winter Carnival one step further using LIDAR (Light Imaging Detecting and Radar) to scan the snow statues, with help from Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, plus top-of-the-line equipment and support from Seiler Instrument & Manufacturing.

“LIDAR data collected from this endeavor, literally millions of points, enables us to 3D-print an entire snow creation as a trophy, given to each of the prize-winning snow sculpture student teams,” Foster explains. 

During Husky Bites, they’ll walk us through the process and show us the amazing results.

Joe Foster snapped this photo of his geospatial engineering students during Winter Carnival last year.

Professor Foster, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I first got interested in Surveying/Geospatial Engineering while studying forestry at Michigan Tech. Surveying was one of the courses in the program. That’s where I learned there could be an entire profession centered on surveying alone. I was hooked. It incorporated everything I had come to enjoy about forestry—working outside, using sophisticated equipment, drafting, and actually putting all the math I had learned to practical use. After earning my first bachelor’s degree in Forestry, I decided to get a second bachelor’s degree in Surveying and to pursue that as my career. 

Hometown?
I was born and raised in Muskegon, Michigan, but spent a fair amount of time in the U.P. over the years visiting. I have strong family ties to the U.P. I came to Michigan Tech after graduating from Mona Shores High School in the fall of 1982. I’m glad to be back in the Copper Country.

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend time outdoors enjoying what the Copper Country has to offer.  And I always have my “sidekick” Deirdre (5 year old hound mix rescue) with me.

Brayden Bricks hangs out with Chief on a suspension bridge he built himself using recycled materials.

Brayden, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

As with most students in high school, I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do after graduation. However, I was decent in mathematics and enjoyed both indoor and outdoor work. While the field of geospatial engineering is often unadvertised, with a little research I found it to contain a wide range of career opportunities, a very strong future outlook, and a dense concentration of “good” people—people you are willing and want to spend your entire career working with. Michigan Tech was the second closest school I found (11.5 hours from home compared to Eastern Tennessee’s 11.25 hour drive).

Michigan Tech was the first (and only) university I visited in high school. When I met Prof. Foster during my trip I knew Michigan Tech—and the rest of the very welcoming Houghton community—was a perfect fit.

Hometown and family?
I grew up on a farm outside of Maryville, Missouri, a small college town about the same size as Houghton, near the Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas state borders in the heartland of the country. I have one younger sister who will be graduating high school this year. And yes, it does snow, but only 15″ a year on average. 

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?
In the winter I enjoy downhill and cross country skiing, and when the snow is not on the ground you can probably find me “gravel cycling.” I also have two pets back home, Tater a small toy poodle, and Chief, a large black lab. In addition to the community at DHSC I can often be found hanging with friends from Saint AL’s, a student parish here at Tech.

“I first met Professor Foster while visiting Michigan Tech. Since then, he has been a supportive teacher, and a great advisor.”

Brayden Bricks
Photo of the Arvon Range, by Wes Hyslop
Wes Hyslop, on a recent trip to Colorado.

Wes, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I kind of stumbled into Land Surveying/Geospatial Engineering as a major, like a lot of students do. I came to Tech after a gap semester after high school. One of the classes I ended up taking was Intro to Surveying. From there I just kind of fell in love with the profession and everything that goes into it. The technology, ability to have my office be the great outdoors, and the history behind it all heavily sparked my interest.

Hometown, family?
I was born in Laurium, Michigan, but have lived in Houghton for the last 18 years. My father is a lecturer in the Department of Forestry and head of the MGIS program (that’s Master of Geographic Information Science) at Michigan Tech. My mother runs her own small business, and I have three brothers.

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy basketball, hiking, fishing, and hunting, and doing basically anything outdoors in my free time. I have two dogs—a Viszla and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever Mix, as well as a cat.

Jacob Wysko has loved computer software ever since he was five years old, and these days he also enjoys flying drones.

Jacob, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

Ever since I was young, I’ve always had a keen interest in mapmaking and cartography. I liked to make detailed maps of the house and property that I grew up in. Finding out that there is a degree and career based around making detailed and accurate surveys really sparked my interest. 

I initially started out in Computer Science, thinking I wanted a job that utilized technology, but after learning of the Geospatial Engineering program, I discovered that I could combine both of these aspects—technology and mapping—into a career. It’s been a wonderful experience being able to use and learn the latest technology that surveyors and geoinformaticists use to map the world.

Hometown, family?
I lived in Haslett, Michigan until about the age of 12, then moved to Okemos, Michigan. I attended and graduated from Haslett Public Schools. My dad is an electrician for the Enbridge pipeline station in Mackinaw City, and my mom owns a local healthcare business in the Greater Lansing area.

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have a strong computer background. My mom always tells the story of how when I was age five or six, my granddad got me a cheap, hand-me-down Windows XP computer that had no internet access. I would play on that computer and look through all the settings and learn all the features of each program. Because of that, my primary hobby today is software development. I find it thrilling to slave and ponder over a problem that I could make a computer solve—I love spending hours crafting and perfecting code to make some sort of software. Besides that, I also enjoy flying drones, playing bass guitar, and practicing stenography.

Time to Give Back to the Pack

Paws courtesy of Echo, Dean Janet Callahan’s very own Siberian Husky. Meet Echo in the video posted further down in this blog.

Celebrate Winter Carnival 2023 from wherever you are and Give Back to the Pack on Feb. 8–10!

Your gift—big or small—will create an immediate impact on the lives of Michigan Tech students and the community.

Huskies from across the country and globe are coming together during this time-honored Michigan Tech tradition to make a difference in the lives of our 7,000+ students.

Give Back to the Pack starts at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8 as Winter Carnival recess begins on campus. It ends 48 hours later on Friday, Feb. 10. All giving will be routed through the website: giveback.mtu.edu. Gifts can be made in any amount and to any area of campus. Dozens of exciting giving challenges from departments and individuals across campus will increase the impact of gifts with dollar-for-dollar matches.

Curious to see all the giving challenges? Visit giveback.mtu.edu

In addition to making a gift, you can make a difference by spreading the word about Give Back to the Pack. Sign up to be an official ambassador for the 48-hour giving challenge, or simply tell others through your channels and help us spread the word.

Worth noting: Michigan Tech’s last giving day event was in April 2019 and raised $570,813 from 1,337 gifts.

This event celebrates what makes Tech special: our strong culture of philanthropy among alumni, faculty, staff, students and the community.

Thank you for supporting Michigan Tech. Together we can make a great impact for our University!

Go Huskies!

Play Give Back to the Pack – Days of Giving 2023 video
Preview image for Give Back to the Pack - Days of Giving 2023 video

Give Back to the Pack – Days of Giving 2023

Tau Beta Pi Honor Society at Michigan Tech Initiates 13 New Members

Congratulations to our Fall 2022 Tau Beta Pi Initiates! (Not pictured here: Yifan Zhang and Nathan Machiorlatti.)

The College of Engineering inducted 11 students and two eminent engineers into the Michigan Tech chapter of Tau Beta Pi at the end of the Fall 2022 semester.

Tau Beta Pi is a nationally recognized engineering honor society and is the only one that recognizes all engineering professions. Students who join are the top 1/8th of their junior class, top 1/5th of their senior class, or the top 1/5th of graduate students who have completed 50% of their coursework. The society celebrates those who have distinguished scholarship and exemplary character, and members strive to maintain integrity and excellence in engineering.

Fall 2022 Initiates

Undergraduate Students:

Brodey Bevins, Civil Engineering
David Bradbury, Biomedical Engineering
Erin Ganschow, Environmental Engineering
Heather Goetz, Mechanical Engineering
Madison Ide, Biomedical Engineering
Samuel Kuipers, Civil Engineering
Michael Loucks, Mechanical Engineering

Graduate Students:

Anna Li Holey, MS Environmental Engineering
Nathan Machiorlatti, MS Civil Engineering
North Yates, PhD Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Yifan Zhang, MS Environmental Engineering

Eminent Engineers

Dr. Jin Choi, Professor and Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dr. Jason Blough, Interim Chair and Distinguished Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Jeff Thompson: Making Skis

Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis are custom designed and built in Michigan, using classic craftsmanship and the most modern technology. 

Jeff Thompson, mechanical engineering alum and partner/engineer/cofounder of Shaggy’s Skis, joins Dean Janet Callahan on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar Monday, 1/30 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new in just 30 minutes or so, with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Jeff Thompson and his family named Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis for their great-uncle Shaggy, and for the former mining region of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where Thompson attended Michigan Tech.

What are you doing for supper Monday night 1/30 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Jeff Thompson, Michigan Tech alum and cofounder of Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis. Joining will be Dr. Iver Anderson, senior metallurgist at Ames Lab. He’s an inventor, and fellow Michigan Tech alum.

During Husky Bites, Thompson will share how he started making skis as a kid, continued while still a student at Michigan Tech, and where he is now—creating custom skis for a living.

headshot of Iver
Iver Anderson

Thompson and his brother Jonathon started building skis as a hobby in 2005. Three years later the Thompson family released the first line of Shaggy’s Skis to the public.

Today they still handcraft every pair of skis in their own small factory in Boyne City, Michigan. Each pair of Shaggy’s Skis are custom designed and built with a passion for skiing and craftsmanship combined. At least 80 processes go into making a ski, and Jeff will share much more about them during Husky Bites.

Thompson grew up in South Lyon, Michigan in a family of “makers”—his father was a carpenter. Growing up he and his brother were fortunate to have a workshop to build many things, “from toys to go-carts, and everything in between,” he says.

Testing new skis!

“We were also a ski racing family,” Thompson recalls. “One day after a race, my dad thought it would be cool to put skis on my bike and take it downhill. A few weeks later, he gave me some old skis to cut apart and use for my bike. When I cut them down, I immediately observed how each piece was put together. I thought, ‘Hey, I can make this!’ From that point on, I lured in my brother, Jonathon, and together we started building the tools we needed to start building skis.”

Thompson’s grandparents were from Kearsarge, so he spent a lot of time in the Keweenaw growing up. “I knew from fourth grade on that I would attend Michigan Tech for mechanical engineering,” he says. He now lives in Petoskey, Michigan with his wife, Stephanie Thompson. She earned her BS in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech in 2013.

We combine our passion for skiing and craftsmanship so you can make the most out of every day on the snow; whether you’re ripping down perfect corduroy, chasing morning powder, or slashing in the trees.”

Jeffrey Thompson ’12, Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis
Shaggy Skis are known for their fine craftsmanship

Joining Thompson during the Husky Bites session will be fellow MTU alumnus Iver Anderson ’75, a lifelong skier with a keen interest in the making of skis from a materials standpoint. Anderson grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in a city located just across the Portage Canal from Michigan Tech, Hancock.

Anderson appreciates all the craftsmanship that goes into Shaggy’s Skis. “My father was observant and very particular, for instance, about making furniture and cabinetry. He taught me how to look for quality, the mark of a craftsman, how to sense a thousandth of an inch. I carry that with me today.”

Anderson is a Michigan Tech alum and senior metallurgical engineer at Ames Lab, a US Department of Energy National Lab. A few years ago, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, for inventing a successful lead-free solder alloy, a revolutionary alternative to traditional tin/lead solder used for joining less fusible metals such as electric wires or other metal parts, and in circuit boards. As a result, nearly 20,000 tons of lead are no longer released into the environment worldwide.

Jeff Thompson (R) and his brother Jonathan Thompson (L)

Jeff, what do you like to in your spare time?

I obviously love to ski! Stephanie and I are currently teaching our two year old daughter to ski (on her own custom skis).

I also love to build things. I just finished building our house with my dad this past summer, from pouring the footings, to setting trusses, and finishing. We did it all.

Iver Anderson skiing up on Mammoth Mountain, California.

Dr. Anderson, when did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I grew up in Hancock, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula. Right out my back door was a 40 acre wood that all the kids played in. The world is a beautiful place, especially nature. That was the kind of impression I grew up with. 

Iver enjoys quality time with his grandson in Columbus, Ohio

I earned a Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical Engineering in 1975 from Michigan Tech. It laid the foundation of my network of classmates and professors, which I have continued to expand.

I went on to earn my MS and PhD in Metallurgical Engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the joined the Metallurgy Branch of the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.

One of my goals was to return to the Midwest, so later I took a position at Ames Lab in 1987. I’ve spent the balance of my research career there, and at Iowa State, ever since.

Engineering Ambassadors and SWE Host Engineering Day on MLK Day 2023

MLK Day of Service graphic.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Engineering Ambassadors (EA) hosted an Engineering Day at Barkell Elementary in Hancock, Michigan. Students from SWE, EA, Tau Beta Pi and Circle K “made it a day on, not a day off” through introducing kindergarten through fifth grade students to engineering.

Kindergarten and first grade students learned about buoyancy and stability through designing a constructing a foil boat to hold a load. Second and third grade students learned about potential and kinetic energy as they designed and constructed roller coasters for marbles. The fourth and fifth graders were introduced to series circuits as they constructed a BouncyBot.

We thank the Tech students for volunteering and the Barkell Elementary students for their enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

By Jaclyn Johnson, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and Gretchen Hein, Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Tony Pinar

Tony Pinar
Tony Pinar

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected Associate Teaching Professor Anthony (Tony) Pinar as the first member of this spring’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

Pinar will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other spring showcase members, and is a candidate for the next CTL Instructional Award Series.

Capstone design in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), the second-largest department in the College of Engineering, is a complex ecology formed of students, the Enterprise Program office, industry partners, faculty subject matter experts and other departments’ capstone programs. It takes someone very special to be able to balance the interests of all those constituents and maintain a robust educational experience for every possible combination of project, team and sponsor. Pinar manages it with grace and a resolute commitment to excellence. “Almost everything about the class was amazing,” one student commented. “Honestly, I believe this may be the best formatted, run and taught class I’ve taken so far at Tech.” That’s high praise from a tough audience.

The strategy Pinar takes with the ECE Senior Design applies a common framework of tasks and deliverables across all Senior Design teams and allows for relatively autonomous advisor roles. This means that all teams have overall similar capstone experiences, but faculty advisors are able to coordinate, manage and assess their teams using their own individual styles. The framework stresses the importance of objective decision-making, following appropriate engineering standards and communicating engineering problems to other engineers. The common framework also helps ensure that the program meets external assessment criteria (e.g., ABET) and also provides a mechanism for the department to assess a large number of ECE students for program improvement. Jin Choi, ECE department chair, said: “We are proud of the improvements Tony has made to make this a more effective program. The students have really benefited.”

Projects in Senior Design generally challenge the students’ technical skills. Pinar coordinates the ongoing relationships with our industry sponsors and manages expectations when necessary. He has a wealth of industry experience that provides context for the students and informs his individual coaching for students as they navigate the transition between communicating with peers and communicating in a professional environment as engineers. Teams are required to present several times throughout the yearlong project. Pinar has crafted a common rubric that allows faculty, staff and industry sponsors to evaluate the students’ technical approach as well as individual presentation skills. This provides an opportunity for meaningful feedback from a variety of perspectives. This increases the quality of our students’ technical presentation skills, and their communication skills when discussing technical topics with fellow engineers. This quality increase has been noted by our own internal faculty advisors and by members on our External Advisory Committee.

Callahan, in closing, stated: “Dr. Pinar’s hard work and expertise prepares our students for excellence. Through his efforts our graduates are well prepared not only to technically excel, but also to communicate within and beyond their team beginning from the first position they hold.”

Engineering Alumni Activity Spring 2023

Ryan Bauman
Ryan Bauman

Congratulations to alumnus Ryan Bauman ’07 (civil engineering) for being named an ENR Midwest Top Young Professional. The Engineering News-Record (ENR) recognized 20 individuals in the region under the age of 40 — all young leaders in design and construction who are helping shape the industry’s future. Bauman is a transit section manager at HDR Engineering Inc. in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. He was selected because he reshapes communities through public transportation access.

Peter Ray
Peter Ray

Railway Age covered the retirement of Peter Ray (civil engineering) as vice president, engineering, of Indiana Rail Road (INRD). In 2006, Ray joined INRD as General Manger, Engineering, and was elevated to Vice President, Engineering in 2009. Among his achievements are the 500-mile railroad serving southwest Indiana and eastern Illinois.

Mark Daavettila ’09 (civil engineering) was quoted by the Mining Journal in a story covering his appointment as department of public works director and city engineer in Negaunee, Michigan. Daavettila holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from MTU and has 11 years of experience working in the civil engineering field. He is a licensed professional engineer in Michigan and recently worked for Upper Peninsula Engineers and Architects.

Tasha Stoiber
Tasha Stoiber

Tasha Stoiber ’00 (BS, environmental engineering; BS, biological sciences) was a guest on ABC 2 News of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Stoiber joined the broadcast virtually to discuss an environmental report estimating that eating one freshwater fish is equivalent to drinking a month’s worth of forever chemicals in water. Stoiber is a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group in San Francisco, California, and co-authored the report. She researches contaminants in water, indoor air pollution, and chemicals in consumer products.

Karen Swager
Karen Swager

Yahoo! Finance covered the appointment of Karen Swager ’92 ’94 (B.S., M.S., metallurgical engineering) to the SSR Mining Inc. Board of Directors. She is currently the senior vice president, supply chain, at the Mosaic Company. Swager brings nearly three decades of mining experience to SSR Mining with expertise in operations, supply chain management and Environment, Health and Safety. She is a member of the Department of Chemical Engineering’s Distinguished Academy.

Phil Rausch
Phil Rausch

North American Clean Energy covered the appointment of Phil Rausch ’08 (chemical engineering) as Hemlock Semiconductor’s new senior director of commercial sales. He supported HSC’s rapid growth in several capacities, including manufacturing team leader, economic evaluator and finance analyst, project engineering manager and business development manager. Rausch will lead the HSC sales team across all four market-facing segments of HSC’s business: solar, semiconductors, advanced energy storage, and silicon-based chemicals.

Sally Heidtke
Sally Heidtke

A book written by Sally Heidtke ’81 (chemical engineering) was the subject of a story in the Iron Mountain Daily News. The book “Be Infinite: Access Your Unimagined Potential,” is a guide to living a richer, deeper life. Heidtke worked as a manager in the engineering field for 25 years before starting a career in intuitive services and guidance.

Craig Tester
Craig Tester

Distractify mentioned Michigan Tech in a story about the net worth of “The Curse of Oak Island” star Craig Tester, who earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from MTU. In addition to his work in the television industry, Craig is a successful entrepreneur and engineer, owning stakes in several companies throughout his time-honored career. From Terra Energy to Oak Island Tours Inc. to Heritage Sustainable Energy, eclectic engineering business ventures heavily inform Craig’s multi-million-dollar net worth.

Related

Engineering Alumni Activity Fall 2022

Husky Bites Returns for Spring Semester 2023

Looking good!

Craving some brain food, but not a full meal? Join us for a Bite!

Grab some dinner with College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan and special guests at 6 p.m. (ET) each Monday during Husky Bites, a free interactive Zoom webinar, followed by Q&A. Have some fun, learn a few things, and connect with one another as Huskies and friends.

The series features special guests—engineering professors, students, and even some Michigan Tech alumni, who each share a mini lecture, or “bite”.

The Husky Bites Spring 2023 series kicks off Monday (Jan. 23) with “Sliding into the Future of Mont Ripley,” presented by Nick Sirdenis, General Manager, Mont Ripley Ski Area. He will be joined by Dan Dalquist, ski Instructor for the Mont Ripley Ski & Snowboard School, and Josie Stalmack, student president of the Mont Ripley Ski patrol. We’ll hear about some new features at Mont Ripley currently in the planning stage, plus one now in the works. 

“Grab some supper, or just flop down on your couch. Everyone is welcome!”

Dean Janet Callahan

Additional topics and speakers coming up this spring semester include Making Skis (Jeffrey Thompson ‘12); Winter Carnival Geospatial Imagery (Joe Foster); Digging it—Volleyball at MTU (Matt Jennings); Solar Energy in Cold Climates (Ana Dyreson); Money Matters and MTU’s Applied Portfolio Management Program (Dean Johnson); Enterprise—Consumer Products Manufacturing (Tony Rogers); Bio-inspired Designs (Bruce Lee); the A.E. Seaman Museum—120 Years (John Jaszczak); and Birdwatching—Quality of Life (David Flaspohler). 

“We created Husky Bites for anyone who likes to learn, across the universe,” says Dean Callahan. “We aim to make it very interactive, with a ‘quiz’ (in Zoom that’s a multiple choice poll), about every 5-10 minutes. You’re bound to learn something new. We have prizes, too, for attendance.” 

You can also catch Husky Bites each Monday night at 6 pm ET via livestream on our College of Engineering Facebook page.

Get the full scoop and register! Check out recordings of all past sessions, too.

Heard on Husky Bites…

The desire to explore space is what drives me. Very early in my studies I realized that the biggest impediment to space exploration is propulsion. Space is just so big it’s hard to get anywhere. So I dedicated my professional life to developing new space propulsion technologies. There is other life in our solar system. That is a declarative statement. It’s time that we find it. The moons of Jupiter and Saturn hold great promise and I’m determined to see proof in my lifetime.

Prof. Brad King, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Ever since grade school, I planned on being an engineer. At first, I wanted to work at mission control at NASA. Later, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. My mom and sister are nurses, and while I didn’t want to be a medical doctor, making medicines really intrigued me. Now as an engineer I can still make a difference without working directly with patients. I grew up in Pinconning, Michigan. My dad dropped out of school in 8th grade to help on the family farm. My parents instilled in me the importance of education and pushed me to get a bachelor’s degree. They were a little surprised when I took it so far as to get a doctorate degree.

Prof. Caryn Heldt, Chemical Engineering

Growing up I loved looking at a beautiful image of planet Earth, one with a very clear sky and blue water. However, as I began to learn how life on Earth suffers many difficult environmental problems, including air pollution and water contamination, I also learned that environmental engineers can be leaders who help solve the Earth’s most difficult sustainability problems. That is when I decided to become an engineer. The water quality and treatment classes I took were the toughest subjects for me. I had to work the hardest to understand the content. So, naturally, I decided to enter this discipline. And then, there’s our blue planet, the image. Water makes the Earth look blue from space. 

Prof. Daisuke Minakata, Civil and Environmental Engineering

I was born and raised in the City of Detroit. I went to Detroit Public Schools, and when I went to college I had to work to make ends meet. I got a job as a cook in the dorm, and eventually worked my way up to lead cook. I was cooking breakfast for 1,200 people each morning. One of my fellow classmates was studying engineering, too. He had a job working for a professor doing research on storm waves and beaches. I had no idea I could be hired by a professor and get paid money to work on the beach! I quit my job in the kitchen soon after, and went to work for that professor instead. My advice for students just starting out is to spend your first year exploring all your options. Find out what you really want to do. I had no idea I could turn a mechanical engineering degree into a job working on the beach. Turns out, I could⁠—and I’m still doing it today.

Prof. Guy Meadows, Mechanical Engineering, Great Lakes Research Center

I first became interested in engineering in high school when I learned it was a way to combine math and science to solve problems. However, I didn’t understand at the time what that really meant. I thought “problems” meant the types of problems you solve in math class. Since then I’ve learned these problems are major issues that are faced by all of humanity. As a chemical engineer I am able to combine my love of biology, chemistry, physics, and math to create fresh new solutions to society’s problems. One thing I love about MTU is that the university gives students tons of hands-on opportunities to solve real problems, not just problems out of a textbook. These are the types of problems our students will be solving when they go on to their future careers.

Prof. Rebecca Ong, Chemical Engineering

My Dad ran a turn-key industrial automation and robotics business throughout most of my childhood. In fact, I got my first job at age 12 when I was sequestered at home with strep throat. I felt fine, but couldn’t go to school. My Dad put me to work writing programs for what I know now are Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs); the ‘brains’ of most industrial automation systems. By the time I was in high school I was teaching classes at the local library on computer building, repair, and this other new thing called ‘The Internet’. A career in STEM was a certainty. I ended up in engineering because I like to build things (even if only on a computer) and I like to solve problems (generally with computers and math). 

Prof. Jeremy Bos, Electrical and Computer Engineering

The factors that got me interesting engineering revolved around my hobbies. First it was through BMX bikes and the changes I noticed in riding frames made from aluminum rather than steel. Next it was rock climbing, and realizing that the hardware had to be tailor made and selected to accommodate the type of rock or the type or feature within the rock. Here’s a few examples: Brass is the optimal choice for crack systems with small quartz crystals. Steel is the better choice for smoothly tapered constrictions. Steel pins need sufficient ductility to take on the physical shape of a seam or crack. Aluminum cam lobes need to be sufficiently soft to “bite” the rock, but robust enough to survive repeated impact loads. Then of course there is the rope—what an interesting marvel—the rope has to be capable of dissipating the energy of a fall so the shock isn’t transferred to the climber. Clearly, there is a lot of interesting materials science and engineering going on!

Prof. Erik Herbert, Materials Science and Engineering