All posts by ehgroth



STEM Immersion on Isle Royale

IMG_0702 (2) (1280x853)A group of 13 Keweenaw Bay Indian Community youth took part in an immersion experience in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and careers, May 26 to 30, 2015 on Isle Royale. The program, entitled “MAAMAADIZI II”, was co-sponsored by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Cedar Tree Institute of Marquette, the Isle Royale Institute and Michigan Tech’s Ride the Waves with General Motors Program. MAAMAADIZI, meaning “the Journey begins” in the Anishinaabe language, sought to immerse students in a wilderness environment rich in both scientific and spiritual content. A diverse community participated in the Journey, including spiritual advisors, artists, scientists, chaperones, graduate student mentors and KBIC drummers … a grand party of 32 travelers. Isle Royale National Park provided an ideal wilderness setting for this important work.

The Michigan Tech team of 6 members traveled to Isle Royale aboard the R/V Agassiz with Captain Stephen Roblee at the helm; the rest of the party came across on the MV Ranger III. Once on the island, the R/V Agassiz provided transport to campsites, ferry service for on-island field trips and served as a platform for STEM offerings. KBIC students, MTU graduate student mentors and chaperones camped for two nights at Daisy Farm, with the entire party moving to Tobin Harbor Cottages for the last two nights.

STEM Science was presented through water quality measurements (light and temperature sensors, Secchi disk transparency) and collections (plankton and bottom organisms) made in Moskey Basin and in the open lake from the R/V Agassiz. Samples were examined on board using microscopes and dissecting scopes. The STEM Science program was led by Dr. Marty Auer of Michigan Tech supported by graduate student mentors Varsha Raman, Aubrey Scott and Nathan Zgnilec.

STEM Math was presented within the context of mass and compass (on land, Jon Magnuson, Cedar Tree Institute) and vessel navigation (on the water, Stephen Roblee, MTU). Hikes to Mount Ojibway and an R/V Agassiz cruise around ice-encrusted Blake Point to a shipwreck site on the Palisades provided the venue for STEM Math offerings.

Students also participated in Art and Spirit Projects led by artist and illustrator Diana Magnuson of the Cedar Tree Institute. Ken Vrana, Director of the Isle Royale Institute, guided students on hikes and on field trips to Rock Harbor Lighthouse, Edisen Fishery and the Island home of the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project hosted by MTU’s Rolf and Candy Peterson.

The Journey was wrapped up with a Feast prepared by the Rock Harbor Lodge, a Ceremony hosted by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Drum and an evening campfire with S’mores.

The KBIC, particularly Lori Sherman and chaperones Richard Wickstrom and Katrina Ravindran, deserves special thanks for logistical and financial support. The Isle Royale Institute contributed financial and made other contributions which greatly enriched the experience. The R/V Agassiz and Captain Stephen Roblee were made available through Ride the Waves with General Motors. Wilderness STEM experiences with KBIC youth were originated in 2013 by Jon Magnuson of the Cedar Tree Institute and Marty Auer of Michigan Tech and, with support from General Motors are now in their third year.

Group at Mott Island, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group at Mott Island, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group on board RV Agassiz, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group on board RV Agassiz, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior
Group at the the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project hosted by MTU’s Rolf and Candy Peterson
Group at the the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project hosted by MTU’s Rolf and Candy Peterson
On board the RV Agassiz
On board the RV Agassiz

See More Photos of the STEM Immersion on Isle Royale


Turn That Defect Upside Down: Twin Boundaries in Lithium-Ion Batteries

image122233-horizMost people see defects as flaws. A few Michigan Technological University researchers, however, see them as opportunities. Twin boundaries — which are small, symmetrical defects in materials — may present an opportunity to improve lithium-ion batteries. The twin boundary defects act as energy highways and could help get better performance out of the batteries. This finding, published in Nano Letters earlier this year, turns a previously held notion of material defects on its head. Reza Shahbazian–Yassar helped lead the study and holds a joint appointment at Michigan Tech as the Richard & Elizabeth Henes associate professor in nanotechnology and an adjunct associate professor in materials science and engineering. Anmin Nie, a senior postdoctoral researcher in his group, conducted the study.
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Working Together to Build Drought Resiliency

image122501-horizDrought in the southwest has left only a trickle running through irrigation ditches on farms outside El Paso, Texas. The Rio Grande — called Rio Bravo in Mexico — is what supplies that trickle, struggling to meet water demands in three US states and five in Mexico.

As drought continues, and demand grows, researchers like Alex Mayer from Michigan Technological University are looking to new models to improve the region’s drought resiliency. Mayer, a professor of environmental engineering at Michigan Tech, is part of a unique team looking at water resources along a section of the Rio Grande. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the US Department of Agriculture, has awarded the project a $4.9 million grant to study water shortage and climate change for the next five years in the region.

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Wind Power Duo Wins Bhakta Rath Research Award

image121726-horizWind turbines appear simple, but it’s the complex engineering behind the technology that makes harnessing the wind seem like a breeze. Bridging the gap between mechanical details and large-scale infrastructure needs of wind turbine technology is also no easy feat.

But that’s the research focus of Antonio Velazquez, who earned his PhD from Michigan Technological University last fall, and Assistant Professor Andrew Swartz, Velazquez’s advisor in civil and environmental engineering. Their forward-thinking research on better monitoring systems for wind turbines earned the duo this year’s Bhakta Rath Research Award.

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Bioprinting in 3D: Looks Like Candy, Could Regenerate Nerve Cells

image121814-horizThe printer looks like a toaster oven with the front and sides removed. Its metal frame is built up around a stainless steel circle lit by an ultraviolet light. Stainless steel hydraulics and thin black tubes line the back edge, which lead to an inner, topside box made of red plastic. In front, the metal is etched with the red Bio Bot logo. All together, the gray metal frame is small enough to fit on top of an old-fashioned school desk, but nothing about this 3D printer is old school. In fact, the tissue-printing machine is more like a sci-fi future in the flesh—and it has very real medical applications.
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Alex Mayer Receives 2015 Research Award

image121729-horizWater is perhaps the most controversial natural resource in the US. Alex Mayer recognizes that, for all its controversy, water is essential to life and society. Mayer holds the Charles and Patricia Nelson Presidential Professor in civil and environmental engineering at Michigan Technological University and studies water resources. For his dedication to studying water quality and scarcity — and his unique approach to these complex problems — Mayer won Michigan Tech’s 2015 Research Award.
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STEM Career Tours at Michigan Tech

STEMHigh School students came to learn about STEM Careers at Michigan Tech. Nearly 200 high school students from nine schools in the western UP spent a day at Michigan Tech, exploring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers. They visited labs and learn about green building and low-impact design, human monitoring devices, forest insects, steam mechanics, remotely-operated vehicles, computer science, materials science and engineering, civil engineering/concrete testing, Great Lakes fish, transportation engineering and geology and mining engineering.

On Tuesday May 12, students from Jeffers High School in Adams Township spent the day at Tech learning about STEM careers. Students from Nah Tah Wahsh Public Academy in Wilson were on campus on May 13th, and on Friday the 15th the University will host students from Watersmeet High School.

Students visited a variety of science, engineering, and computer labs at Michigan Tech and participate in presentations and hands-on activities led by Michigan Tech students, engineers, and scientists to kick start students’ planning for careers in STEM. Tours were approximately from 9 am to 2:30 pm.

View some photos of the STEM Careers Tours Program at Michigan Tech

View a short video clip of a lab example learning about STEM careers

Download the PDF Flyer: STEM Career Tours at Michigan Tech

Selected Topics and Labs to Visited:

Green Building & Low Impact Design
Stream Mechanics Lab
Remotely Operated Vehicles
Computer Science
Materials Science & Engineering
Civil Engineering Concrete TestingLab
Fishy Great Lakes
Transportation Engineering
Geology & Mining Engineering
Human Monitoring Devices / Driving Simulator
Forest Insects

For more information about STEM Career Tours at Michigan Tech, contact:

Joan Chadde, Director
MTU Center for Science & Environmental Outreach
jchadde@mtu.edu or 906-487-3341

Made possible with funding from the Michigan STEM Partnership and coordinated by the MTU Center for Science & Environmental Outreach and Western U.P. Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education with assistance from the Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering.

STEM Tours School FLYER

Schools Sheduled (Update to May 6)

April 28 – Keweenaw Bay Alternative School and Copper Country Christian
May 4 – Lake Linden-Hubbell High School
May 5 – L’Anse High School
May 8: Dollar Bay
May 11: Bessemer
May 12: Jeffers High School
May 13: Nah Tah Wahsh
May 15: Watersmeet

STEM Career Tour
STEM Career Tour
STEM Career Tour
STEM Career Tour

Listening Under the Ice

image121598-horizThe watery world under winter’s ice is a mystery. It’s also a world full of sound. Now, as the days lengthen and the ice is retreating, researchers at Michigan Technological University are wrapping up their first winter season of underwater acoustic studies.

Learning more about acoustic properties underwater — and specifically under the ice — is important for designing acoustic communication networks and quiet underwater vehicles. These networks and vehicles have a range of applications. Environment monitoring is an example, encompassing everything from ice movement to the habits of aquatic critters to keeping tabs on chemical conditions.

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