Author: Kim Geiger

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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Girls Scouts Learn How to “Think Like an Engineer” at Michigan Tech

Girl Scouts gathered at Michigan Tech this week, to learn about electrical engineering from members of Michigan Tech’s student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

Saturday afternoon, nearly 90 Girl Scouts learned what it means to be an engineer. It came through trying and failing. Then trying again and failing. Then eventually, trying and succeeding. “Seeing that look on their face when they finally get something to work, that’s the most rewarding part of it — to see them say, ‘Yes, I did this. I can do it even though it was hard to do,’” said Zoe Wahr, outreach director for Michigan Tech’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) chapter, which organized the event.  Read more about the event in the Daily Mining Gazette.

The Girl Scouts, from kindergartners through 10th grade, arrived at Michigan Tech from across the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. The event, called “Think like an engineer” encouraged attendees to think about careers in science, engineering, technology and math. Read more at TV6 Upper Michigan Source.

The scouts first enjoyed brunch at Michigan Tech’s Wadsworth Residence Hall before breaking out into activity groups by age. Kindergarten (Daisies); 2-3 grade (Brownies); 4-5 grade (Juniors); and 6-10 grade (Cadettes and Seniors). The younger groups made paper circuits,  “squishy” circuits made out of dough, and mini wiggling “bots.” Older students visited Blue Marble Security Enterprise headquarters in the EERC building, where they learned to solder holiday-themed LED circuit boards.

At the end of the activities, all of the students gathered for a Q&A panel of SWE members. The scouts also developed a”Take-Action Plan” based on all they learned in their workshops.

“We’re excited to be a partner and to share the fields of electrical and computer engineering with these bright young people,” said Liz Fujita, ECE academic advisor and outreach specialist, who helped coordinate the event.

“The vast majority were from out of the area – only 14 girls are from Houghton County,” said SWE faculty advisor Gretchen Hein, a senior lecturer in the Department of Engineering Fundamentals. “The furthest away is Green Bay, Wisconsin.”

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Michigan Tech ECE welcomes Fulbright Scholar Koami Hayibo

Koami Hayibo, MS, a visiting Fulbright Scholar at Michigan Tech, from Energy Generation Academy in Lomé, Togo.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University welcomes Fulbright Scholar Koami Hayibo, from Togo, West Africa, population approximately 7.6 million.

While at Michigan Tech, Hayibo will study electrical engineering with a specialization in power systems. “I plan to focus on the production of energy through renewable energy sources,” he says.  “Togo is a small country in Africa and is only able to produce about 30% of its consumption of electricity. I became interested in this area because I suffered from this lack of electricity when I was in high school. I had to study for my high school degree using old-fashioned kerosene lamps and candles and that’s still the case for a lot of children living in the countryside. That’s why I am doing my best to help bring electricity to remote areas. And I hope my time at Michigan Tech will give me with skills to address this issue in a more effective way.”

Hayibo specializes in solar energy. He earned a Master’s in Engineering and a Master’s in Science both at Université de Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. He came to Michigan Tech from Energy Generation Academy, based in Lomé, Maritime, Togo, where Hayibo serves as Technical Manager. Energy Generation is a pan-African organization that supports young Africans in addressing their generation’s most pressing challenges (in energy, agriculture, health) through entrepreneurship and technology. Its main guidelines are to provide basic electrification to every household in Africa, while empowering youth and offering them alternative employment perspectives, and also to provide a complete tracking of the innovative projects produced by African youth and ensuring  their success.

Michigan Tech has a record number of Fulbright Scholars on our campus this year, with a total of 17 students – 14 master’s and three PhD students, studying in 10 different programs.

The students are from Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Lesotho, Mauritius, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia & Montenegro, Togo, and Ukraine. Such diversity in backgrounds and academic interests brings a richness to Tech and makes our Graduate School like no other.

The mission of the Fulbright Program is to increase international understanding and respond to critical global issues. It is funded and overseen by the State Department, with 155 countries participating in the Program. Fulbrighters exemplify the power of international academic exchange to transform lives, bridge geographic and cultural boundaries and promote a more peaceful and prosperous world.

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Seismic Reflections: Siting the Gordie Howe Bridge

The Gordie Howe International Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan is currently under construction and expected to be complete in 2024 at a cost of $5.7 billion.  The bridge is named in recognition of the legendary hockey player, a Canadian who led the Detroit Red Wings to four Stanley Cup victories.

The construction of any large infrastructure project requires a strong foundation, especially one with the longest main span of any cable-stayed bridge in North America—namely, the Gordie Howe International Bridge over the Detroit River. More than a decade before ground was broken, careful siting of the bridge began to take place. By 2006 the list of possible crossings had been narrowed down to just two options.

Historical records from the early 1900s indicated that solution mining for salt had taken place on both sides of the river close to where the bridge was to be built. On the Michigan side, collapsed salt cavities caused sink holes located on nearby Grosse Isle. It was imperative that any salt cavities in the bridge construction area be found and avoided.

Seismologists Roger Turpening and Carol Asiala at Michigan Technological University

Seismologists Roger Turpening and Carol Asiala at Michigan Technological University were tasked by American and Canadian bridge contractors to select the best seismic method for searching for any cavities in the two proposed crossings—referred to at the time as “Crossing B” and “Crossing C”—and to interpret all resulting seismic images.

“Given the task to image a small target deep in the Earth, a seismologist will quickly ask two important questions: How small is ‘small?’ and How deep is ‘deep’? That’s because these two parameters conflict in seismic imaging,“ Turpening says.

“Seismic waves—vibrations of the Earth—are attenuated severely as they propagate through the Earth,” he explains. “Imaging small targets requires the use of high-frequency, seismic energy. When seismic sources and receivers are confined to the Earth’s surface, which is the usual case, waves must propagate downward through the Earth, reflect off of the target, and return to the surface. Soil, sand, and gravel in the surface layer overwhelmingly cause the greatest harm to image resolution, and the ray paths must pass through this zone twice.”

Turpening was one of the early developers of a technique called vertical seismic profiling, or VSP. “Seismic receivers are placed inside a vertical hole near the target. With the seismic source placed on the surface some distance from the hole, it’s possible to explore a region around the hole with ray paths that need to pass through the surface layer only once,” he says. “If the target is very important, we can drill a second hole and place the seismic source in it. Now we have even higher resolution because all of the ray paths are in the rock formations with low attenuation.”

The downside? “We can only make images of the region between the two holes. But if the target is extremely important in a limited area, we can use many boreholes and many images in the search. Given enough boreholes, a block of earth can be imaged with cross-well seismic reflection techniques.

A cross-well, seismic reflection image between test boreholes. The cavity is sharply seen because the shale stringers in the B-Salt (at the bottom of the image) are abruptly terminated. The cavity is approximately 375 ft. wide.

To site the Gordon Howie bridge, Turpening and Asiala chose a frequency band of 100Hz to 2 KHz—much higher than could be used with surface sources and surface receivers—for surveys on both sides of the river. This yielded high resolution seismic images, crucial for detecting cavities—and indeed they found one—on the Canadian side.

“The high-resolution imaging made it easy for us to spot missing shale stringers in the B-Salt layer in that image,” says Turpening. “This made the final selection of the bridge location simple. We found the cavity between boreholes X11-3 and X11-4, thus forcing the Canadians to chose Crossing B.  Obviously, the Michigan group had to, also, choose Crossing B.”

On the US side of the river geologist Jimmie Diehl, Michigan Tech professor emeritus, provided corroborating borehole gravity data.

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Yooper Lights: Blue Marble Security Enterprise mentors 7th graders on an eCYBERMISSION

The Yooper Lights eCybermission team, L to R: Olivia Shank, Rebecca Lyons, Chloe Daniels, and Jenna Beaudoin

Students attending Lake Linden-Hubbell schools who live within one mile of their school are not eligible to take the school bus. Many walk to school, often in the dark, early morning hours. The same is true for students in another nearby school district, Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw.

A small group of 7th grade students from Lake Linden-Hubbell High School in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—Jenna Beaudoin, Chloe Daniels, Rebecca Lyons, and Olivia Shank—decided to do something to help improve safety for students who walk to school. Each was highly motivated, for personal reasons.

“I have three younger siblings who walk to school, and they aren’t always aware of their surroundings,” said Daniels.

“My uncle was biking one night and didn’t have a helmet or a reflector and he got hit by a car. He had brain trauma and now has trouble remembering certain things,” said Beaudoin.

“I want to be able to walk safely by myself or with my dogs in the early morning or in the evening when it gets dark,” said Shank.

“We live in a really snowy area, and kids can get hit,” said Lyons.

Helping kids and others walk safely in the dark is their mission, but it was more than that—it is their eCYBERMISSION, a national science competition sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program. Nationwide, students in grades 6-9 work in small teams for over a year to develop a process or product that will benefit their community. Locally, the Lake Linden Middle School eCYBERMISSION team is advised by Michigan Tech Engineering Fundamentals instructor Gretchen Hein, and chemical engineering senior Ryan Knoll.

Because none of them knew anything about circuits, the team contacted Glen Archer, interim chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech. Archer introduced the seventh graders to electrical engineering student John Robinault, outreach manager of Blue Marble Security.

Born out of the Michigan Tech Enterprise program, Blue Marble Security is a virtual company comprised undergraduate students focused on securing the future through thoughtful use of technology.

Twice a week, Beaudoin, Daniels, Lyons and Shank met with Robinault and computer science major Tyler Arthur in the Blue Marble Security lab, located in the EERC building on campus.

The girls modeled the casing of their LED reflector using Siemens NX software, created their circuit using National Instruments Multisim™ software, and modeled their circuitboard using Eagle PCB design software. They had never used the software or soldered. The Blue Marble students demonstrated how to model and solder, but the girls did the work.

Arthur was a brand new member of Blue Marble Security Enterprise when he began working with the girls. “It gave me an opportunity to teach some of the material that I was already familiar with, while also learning new things along the way,” he said. “We worked together to get familiar with CAD modeling, for instance.

In the process, Arthur learned a lot about working with younger students, something he hadn’t ever done. “The fact that the team members are all good friends made for an interesting group dynamic, because was easy for them to distract each other while working on the project.” Even so, the girls persevered. Throughout the fall, the team completed their research and designed their reflector. They took their preliminary design to their 7th grade science classes for feedback. Based on that, they updated the design, completed the circuit board and went back to the school for more feedback, this time visiting both 7th and 10th grade science classes, asking the students to compare their LED reflector to a plain reflector. After receiving more valuable feedback, the team modified their design.

At that point, they began testing their LED reflector—calling it the “Yooper Light”, and themselves, the Yooper Lights.

Outdoor testing was completed on a straight, flat road near their school, over a distance of 170 feet. Pedestrians (students grades 7-9), and drivers (students grades 10-12, plus college students and adults) were asked to report when they could see a person walking and wearing either the plain reflector or the Yooper light LED reflector.

Yooper Lights team tested their LED reflectors at night, with help from volunteers.

Due to weather conditions, only the college students and adults tested outside. The remaining tests were completed inside the school, in a dark hallway lit only by security lights. The Yooper Lights found that everyone could both see the LED reflector and the person wearing it over the entire testing distance.

They decided to conduct another, independent test to see just how far their LED reflector was visible. The maximum visibility was found to be 91.3 meters—over twice the previous testing distance.

Yooper Lights submitted their report to eCYBERMISSION, learning in March that they had made it to the virtual regional competition. Once again, Michigan Tech helped them out. The girls presented to judges at the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning with help from Associate Director Jeff Toorangian.

In late April, Yooper Lights became the first place 7th grade team in Michigan—and a finalist in the North Central Region. In a word: Success! They were going to compete in Washington, DC at the national competition.

During the weeklong event in DC last June, the Yooper Lights team bonded with their eCYBERMISSION mentor, Michigan Tech alumna Sasha Teymorian, now a chemist in the US Army Research Laboratory. Teymorian graduated with her doctorate in Chemistry from Michigan Tech in 2015. Together they enjoyed a bevvy of cool activities, including one called “Houston, We Have a Problem,” that tasked the girls with engineering a solution to the Apollo 13 mission. They worked with radio-controlled cars and conducted ballistics on balloons, and even designed autonomous vehicles at the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

While in DC, Beaudoin, Daniels, Lyons and Shank also visited their Congressional representatives. They first met with Representative Jack Bergman, and then with Robert Curis, a staff member in Senator Debbie Stabenow’s office, sharing just how they used engineering to develop their LED light.

Finally, the Yooper lights presented their project to a team of eCybermission judges. “Although the team did not win the national competition, they gained a great deal from the experience,” said advisor Gretchen Hein.

What’s next for the team? Something they’re calling “Yooper Power”. Collaborating again with students from the Blue Marble Security Enterprise, as well as Michigan Tech student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the girls, now in 8th grade, will develop outreach activity kits for fifth and sixth graders. Their new mission: introduce more young students to the field of electrical and computer engineering.

Yooper Lights team member Olivia Shank models the casing of the LED reflector using Siemens NX software.

Chloe Daniels and Rebecca Lyons learn how to solder, with help from electrical engineering major John Robinault, a member of the Blue Marble Security Enterprise at Michigan Tech.

The team created two sizes and colors of 3D printed cases to test with their LED reflectors.

The Yooper Lights team used the Design Thinking process to develop their Yooper Lights. Design Thinking training is offered on campus through the Pavlis Honors College.

With more help from volunteers, the Yooper Lights team also tested their LED reflectors in a long, dimly lit hallway at Lake Linden-Hubbell High School.

 

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Michigan Tech Students Bring Home the Material Advantage Excellence Award

L to R: Michigan Tech seniors Emily Tom, Katie Kiser, Oliver Schihl, Brendan Treanore, and Josh Jay.

Michigan Tech students received a Material Advantage Chapter of Excellence Award at the recent Materials Science & Technology (MS&T) 2019 conference in Portland, Oregon. The award recognized the accomplishments of the Materials United (MU), Michigan Tech’s joint chapter of the American Foundry Society and Materials Advantage.

As a student professional society, Materials United was established on the Michigan Tech campus to promote among its members self-sought, increasing knowledge of metallurgy, materials science, engineering, and related fields. Materials United is advised by Dr. Walt Milligan, interim chair of the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technology, and professor of Materials Science and Engineering.

The MS&T Chapter of Excellence Award reflects participation in events, member involvement, professional development, and more. Oliver Schihl, president of the Michigan Tech chapter of Material Advantage, accepted the award. Schil is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering technology.

In the photo, students featured from left to right are Emily Tom, Katie Kiser, Oliver Schihl, Brendan Treanore, and Josh Jay. Tom, Kiser, Treanore and Jay are all Michigan Tech seniors majoring in materials science and engineering. Each are members of  the Materials United E-board, and Material Advantage.

Now in its 17th year, the annual MS&T conference and exhibition hosts over 3,200 attendees, more than 2,000 presentations, a robust plenary speaker lineup, society-based special events, and a collaboration among four leading materials science societies.

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Dr. Edmond O. Schweitzer III: An Inventor Who Helps Keep the Lights On—in 164 Countries Around the World

Michigan Technological University, at night.

Michigan Tech welcomes to campus today inventor Edmond O. Schweitzer III, recognized as a pioneer in digital protection. 

“Why shouldn’t we invent, and wake up every day wanting to go to work to find a better way to do something for other people?” says global innovator and inventor Dr. Edmond O Schweitzer, III, Chair, President and CEO of Schweitzer Electronics.

Dr. Schweitzer was recently inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for inventing the first-ever digital protective relay. Digital protective relays detect electrical faults that cause power outages.

The first protective relays relied on coils and were electromagnetic. Schweitzer’s microprocessor-based digital protective relay is multifunctional, protecting power systems, recording data and detecting faults in lines more effectively. “His first revolutionary ‘relays’ came on the market in the 1980s,” said Bruce Mork, electrical engineering professor at Michigan Tech. “The design has led to reduced costs, flexible operation options and increased reliability. The product lines have been enhanced with many patents and with the utilization of today’s smart grid technologies.”

Schweitzer Electronics Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) based in Pullman, Washington is a longtime partner of Michigan Tech—supporting the Power System Protection Lab at Michigan Tech since 1993, and hiring at least 40 Michigan Tech ECE graduates over the years, plus a dozen more students thus far in 2019.

Inventing runs in Schweitzer’s family, and while on campus he will present a lecture on Creativity and Innovation at 4:15 pm in EERC 103. Wednesday’s lecture is open to the public. All are welcome to attend. Schweitzer will also join a roundtable of power companies to discuss Cybersecurity.

Todd Brassard, VP Operations of Calumet Electronics, arranged Dr. Schweitzer’s visit to Michigan Tech. Calumet Electronics Corporation is a key supplier-partner of printed circuit boards (PCBs) to SEL. The company, based in Calumet, Michigan, is an American manufacturer, supplying PCBs for applications demanding zero failures, zero downtime, and requires a lifetime of performance. Celebrating 50 years, Calumet is a critical supplier to mission critical industries including power grid management, , medical device, aerospace, industrial controls, and defense. Calumet is one of the few PCB manufactures who have made a commitment to American manufacturing.

At Michigan Tech, “SEL has supported us for years, incrementally donating lab equipment since 1993 when I started the protection course and lab here on campus,” adds Mork. “I became aware of their new technology and product lines while working as a substation design engineer in Kansas City in the mid-1980s. As a PhD student at North Dakota State University, I facilitated getting it into the labs there, and again at Michigan Tech after I arrived in 1992. I first met Ed when he presented a paper at the American Power Conference in 1993—it’s a paper I still use today when introducing microprocessor-based protection to my students.”

 

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Michigan Tech Students Earn First place in ASM International Undergraduate Design Competition

L to R: Advisor Dr. Walt Milligan; student Kyle Hrubecky; William Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer of ASM International; student Erin VanDusen; and advisor Dr. Paul Sanders. Not pictured: students Lucas Itchue and Jacob Thompson.

A team of Michigan Technological University students won first place in ASM International’s 2019 Undergraduate Design Competition. Their capstone senior design project, “Cobalt reduction in Tribaloy T-400,” was sponsored by Winsert, Inc. of Marinette, Wisconsin.

Team members Lucas Itchue, Kyle Hrubecky, Jacob Thompson, and Erin VanDusen—all MSE majors at Michigan Tech—were recognized at a student awards banquet on Monday, September 30 during the Materials Science and Technology (MS&T) Conference in Portland, Oregon.

Winsert currently uses an alloy similar to Tribaloy T-400, a cobalt based alloy, in the production of internal combustion engine valve seats. Cobalt is an expensive element with a rapidly fluctuating price, due to political instability in the primary supplier country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tribaloy T-400 contains approximately 60 wt. percent cobalt, contributing significantly to its price. The student team investigated the replacement of cobalt with other transition elements such as iron, nickel, and aluminum using thermodynamic modeling.

The Michigan Tech undergraduate team’s micrograph of Tribaloy T-400. “Using compositions from literature, we cast this alloy at Michigan Tech. We then examined the microstructure to see if it matched that in literature. That way we knew our casting process was valid and acceptable,” said student Erin VanDusen. “All the casting and imaging was done at Michigan Tech.”

“Michigan Tech was allowed one entry in the competition,” says Michigan Tech MSE Department Chair Stephen Kampe. “The ‘LoCo’ team project was selected by MSE’s External Advisory Board following final student presentations last April. All of our senior design projects use advanced simulation and modeling tools, experimental calibration, and statistical-based analyses of the results,” he explains. “This project utilized CALPHAD (Pandat) with machine learning (Bayesian Optimization) to identify new and promising alloy substitutions. These are very advanced techniques that are rarely introduced at the undergraduate level in most other MSE programs.”

MSE Professor Walt Milligan, Interim Chair of the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Paul Sanders, Patrick Horvath Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, served as team co-advisors.

This isn’t the first time, we’ve won!
According to Kampe, an MSE student team from Michigan Tech team won first place in the ASM International Undergraduate Design Competition last year, too, for their aluminum brake rotor project. Phil Staublin, Josh Dorn, Mark Ilenich, and Aaron Cook developed a new, castable, lightweight high temperature aluminum alloy for project sponsor Ford. “Developmental aluminum rotors have passed every test at Ford Motor Company—all except the extreme ‘Auto Motor and Sport’ test, which subjects the rotors to temperatures above 500 degrees Celsius,” said advisor Paul Sanders. “The team introduced thermally-stable intermetallic phases with high volume fractions that enabled the alloy to provide modest strength for short times at extreme temperatures.” Dr. Tom Wood, Michigan Tech MSE research engineer, also advised the team.

“Michigan Tech’s entry has placed in the top three all but once over the past 8 years at the ASM International Undergraduate Design Competition,” adds Kampe.

“We’re very proud of the world-class senior design projects our students experience,”said Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech. “Where else do teams win first place two years in a row, for alloy design, in an era where it isn’t about randomly mixing elements, but rather, about predictive modeling based on known materials parameters? These projects⁠—they’re centered on fundamentally interesting questions, coupled with faculty and industry expertise. No wonder we’re still the go-to place for materials engineers!”

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Stimulate Your Thought Processes: Meet Dr. Edmund O. Schweitzer, III at Michigan Tech This Week

“Why shouldn’t we invent, and wake up every day wanting to go to work to find a better way to do something for other people?” says global innovator and inventor Dr. Edmond O Schweitzer, III, Chair, President and CEO of Schweitzer Electronics.

Global Innovator Dr. Edmund O. Schweitzer, III, who comes from a family of inventors, will be on campus at Michigan Tech to deliver a lecture, “Creativity and Innovation,” this Wednesday, October 2 at 4:15PM in EERC 103. All are welcome. 

Dr. Schweitzer is recognized as a pioneer in digital protection and holds the grade of Fellow in the IEEE, a title bestowed on less than one percent of IEEE members. He received the IEEE 2012 Medal in Power Engineering, the highest award given by IEEE, for his leadership in revolutionizing the performance of electrical power systems with computer-based protection and control equipment.
Earlier this year, Schweitzer was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the first microprocessor-based digital protective relay.  According to the NIHF, “Digital protective relays detect electrical faults that cause power outages. The first protective relays relied on coils and were electromagnetic. Schweitzer’s first microprocessor-based digital protective relay, the SEL 21, was multifunctional, protecting power systems, recording data and detecting faults in lines more effectively. His design has led to reduced costs, flexible operation options and increased reliability.”
He is the founder of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) based in Pullman, Wash. The company invents, designs, and builds digital products and systems that protect power grids worldwide. SEL’s products also protect homes, hospitals and businesses in 163 countries around the world.
Dr. Schweitzer’s visit to campus is sponsored by Calumet Electronics Corporation, key supplier-partner to SEL of printed circuit boards. Their goal for the visit is to share ideas, advance innovative thinking, and build new bridges.
“SEL has supported the Power System Protection Lab here in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech since 1993,” said Professor Bruce Mork. “SEL employs at least 40 Michigan Tech ECE graduates, as well.”

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