All posts by Kim Geiger

Embracing the Pioneering Research Spirit of Nancy Scofield

The late Michigan Tech Pres. Emeritus Ray Smith presents a diploma to Dr. Nancy Scofield, the first female to be granted a doctoral degree at Michigan Tech, in 1977.
Nancy Scofield

Nancy Scofield was the first female to earn a doctoral degree at Michigan Tech. Dr. Scofield earned a PhD in Geology in 1977, studying copper redistribution in Portage Lake basalts. She reevaluated what was commonly believed in order to better understand the nature of the ore deposits.

Dr. Scofield passed away in 2003. The Nancy Scofield Pioneering Research Award is given annually to a graduate student whose dissertation work expands the boundaries of doctoral research in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

Past recipients are:

Emily Gochis—a PhD candidate in geology conducting research on innovative methods to improve geoscience literacy in pre-college students through professional development with their teachers and conceiving lessons around important geological features of their local area.

Marine Foucher—recently completed her PhD in geophysics. She conducted research on the paleomagnetic history of Precambrian rock formations in the UP, Canada, and China.

Priscilla Addison—a PhD candidate in geological engineering. She is using remote sensing to study permafrost thawing and the hazards it poses to transportation assets.

“Recipients of this award embrace the pioneering research spirit of Nancy Scofield,” says John Gierke, chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering at Sciences. “Their research is intellectually and physically challenging, and each recipient has demonstrated a high level of independence in their work, partly out of necessity since some aspects are outside the existing expertise in the department.”

Dr. Scofield’s doctoral advisor was then assistant professor William I. Rose. Bill is now retired but remains active in the department as a research professor. Nancy was his first PhD graduate.

Professor Emeritus Gordon Scofield, former chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech from 1969 to 1981, is Nancy Scofield’s husband. Gordon and Bill have shared their memories of Nancy from her graduate studies at Michigan Tech, as well as her professional work after graduating. 

 

Nancy Scofield at work using an electron probe

Les Cayes, Haiti: Engineering World Health

Five engineering students from Michigan Tech’s chapter of Engineering World Health visited Les Cayes, Haiti in May 2018. Making the trip were electrical engineering student Megan Byrne, biomedical engineering students Gina Anderla and Kiaya Caspers, mechanical engineering student Brooke Breen, and materials science and engineering student Anna Isaacson.

Early last summer, five undergraduate engineering students from the Michigan Tech chapter of Engineering World Health took a trip to Les Cayes, Haiti. They were led by Megan Byrne, an electrical engineering undergraduate who organized the trip. They describe the experience as nothing short of life-changing.  

Engineering World Health inspires, educates and empowers young engineers, scientists and medical professionals to use their engineering skills to improve global health in the developing world.  The Michigan Tech chapter of EWH is now in its second year.

Along with Byrne on the trip were biomedical engineering students Gina Anderla and Kiaya Caspers, mechanical engineering students Lidia Johnson and Brooke Breen, and materials science and engineering student Anna Isaacson. To get to Haiti, the Michigan Tech engineering students bagged groceries, plus each spent $1,500 of their own to cover travel costs. A non-profit organization operating in Haiti, HUT Outreach, provided lodging for the Michigan Tech team during their stay, and invited them to help teach STEM subjects to a class of 7th graders in the new HUT Outreach secondary school.

Students in Haiti often drop out of school in the sixth grade, with a diminishing retention rate thereafter. HUT Outreach is trying to break that statistic. During their visit to Les Cayes, the Michigan Tech team tried to change how the high school students viewed education and experienced learning.

Kiaya Caspers teaches students about electrical circuits in Les Cayes, Haiti

“Project-based learning is a concept where students learn some theory, but also how to apply it outside the classroom, in the real world,” says Breen. “Our three day curriculum was focused around allowing Haitian students to think outside the box, being really inquisitive with hands-on learning projects. Our purpose was not only to expose them to a new way of thinking, but also to help HUT Outreach reform a new generation of Haitians who will be catalysts in creating a new way of approaching education in their country. Michigan Tech also gives us these tools and abilities—to be able to really hone in our leadership skills, and innovate ways to help create a better community around us, on a local-to-global spectrum.”

“Our EWH team wanted the students to learn the theory of series and parallel circuits, forces to build bridges, first aid, and how to build water filters,” says Byrne. “This was a challenge, because the students had not been exposed to any of these topics or hands-on learning, and they also spoke a different language.” Byrne is a peer mentor in the Learning with Academic Partners (LEAP) program for first-year engineering students in the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at Michigan Tech, which also provided support for the Haiti trip. Byrne was able put her LEAP experience to good use in Haiti.

“Thanks to our Haitian translator, Wesley, I was able to use a creative twist to help the students gain understanding of the difficult lessons in a way that would be impactful for them,” she says. “As a matter of fact, the lessons we taught in Haiti were very similar to LEAP sessions I have facilitated for first year engineering students at Michigan Tech.”

Using creativity, resourcefulness and critical thinking, EWH students from Michigan Tech repaired a broken oxygen concentrator, one of only two in the public hospital pediatric ward in Les Cayes, Haiti.

The Michigan Tech team also visited a local hospital, where they fixed a broken oxygen concentrator, one of only two in the hospital pediatric ward. They also discovered a potential fire hazard at the hospital—auto headlight bulbs used as replacement bulbs on medical lamps. And they noticed a lack of surge protectors to protect medical equipment during power outages.

The EWH team wants to return to Haiti this year to continue to help prepare the next generation of Haitian students, and provide support to the small community where we served. They also want to provide the woman’s center in Les Cayes with its first portable ultrasound machine.

“We really bonded with the community in Les Cayes,” says  Isaacson. “We want to help in any way possible to make their lives better. I think we can all agree that all the people of Haiti became our second family the minute we stepped into the country.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


From Minneapolis to Manila

Minneapolis Alumni Gathering October 2018

Dean Callahan traveled across the globe in October to experience Michigan Tech alumni where they live and work. 

Starting in Minneapolis, the host city for this year’s Society of Women Engineers annual conference, over 60 Tech alumni came together to meet and share experiences. They were joined by 15 of our students who had traveled from Houghton to attend the conference. Discussions ranged from personal career journeys to interview tips, along with a mixture of stories about snow storms and snow statues, favorite professors, pizza at the Ambo, and more—a gathering that reconnected people and forged new bonds.

With a quick change of suitcase, and much anticipation, Dean Callahan boarded her flight for Shanghai, China where she was greeted by Peipei Zhao (MBA ’09). Peipei made certain Dean Callahan got to each and every one of her connections with alumni from Shanghai and surrounding cities, including 15 different alumni working in leadership roles or as founders of companies focused on a wide range of areas—from construction to global car manufacturing, world-wide suppliers of materials, software, autonomous enterprises, and more.

An evening gathering hosted by Chao-Zhuo Chen (Mining ’89) included 11 alumni, some reconnecting and others forming new connections and all with a common bond. Dinner talk included the tradition of smelt dipping, and the experiences of buried automobiles in snowy Houghton.

The next day, Dean Callahan traveled to Hong Kong to meet with another gracious alumnus, host Michael Cheung (BSEE ‘64), retired owner and CEO, Hingyu Metalworks, Ltd.—a company he transformed from a family enterprise to a global auto supplier after earning his degree. The following morning, Callahan met with one other alumnus, Mun Cheng “Anthony” Ng  (BSCE ‘99), and she ended with a tour of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology by Victor Flores Terrazas, (BSCE ‘10), a doctoral student.

It was then off to Manila where Dean Callahan led an international accreditation team for two engineering programs in the Phillipines.

After three weeks and over 17,000 miles, Dean Callahan returned to campus, energized from all the new Michigan Tech alumni connections and new friends, and just in time for our first foot of snow!

Jin Ren, Volvo, with Dean Callahan, and Peipei Zhao

 

Jin Ren, Hejia “Helga” Pan, and Dean Callahan

 

Dean Callahan meets with Michigan Tech alumni in Shanghai

 

Dean Callahan and David Chen

 

L to R: Shichang “Chung” Ma; David Guo; Dean Callahan; and Peipei Zhao

 

Victor Flores Terrazas, BSCE ‘10 greets Dean Callahan at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

 

Chao-Zhuo “Chao” Chen and Dean Callahan

 

Dean Callahan and Antonio Ng

 


Michigan Tech Students Attend WE18, the World’s Largest Conference for Women Engineers

Michigan Tech students at WE18. Back row, left to right: Britta Jost, Natalie Green, Erica Coscarelli, Laura Schimmel, Emily Crombez, Melanie Zondag, Claire Langfoss, Noelle Eveland, Adedoyin Adedokun, Karina Eyre, Katie Buchalski. Front row: Romana Carden, Allison Dorn, Amber Ronsman, Josie Edick, Mackenzie Brunet, Lauren Sandy, Jessica Geroux, Gretchen Hein

Seventeen members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) went to the national conference, WE18, October 18-20 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Advisor Gretchen Hein (EF) accompanied the delegation of 13 undergraduates and four graduate students. Three students received travel scholarships: first-year chemical engineering student Josie Edick, second-year civil engineering student Amber Ronsman and Adedoyin Adedokun, a graduate student in electrical engineering. “Gaining close friendships with the other women in the Michigan Tech section was the best part about the conference for me,” Edick says. “I gained a ton of advice and insight, which made me very excited to get more involved in SWE back on campus.”

The WE18 conference was attended by more than 14,000 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.

On the evening prior to the conference, the group attended a Michigan Tech alumni gathering in Minneapolis along with Dean Janet Callahan of the College of Engineering. Katie Buchalski, section president and fourth-year student majoring in environmental engineering, enjoyed the abundance of networking at the alumni gathering. “We all had something in common to talk about … Tech,” said Buchalski. “It was nice to learn what people do after college, and see how Tech forms a special bond between people and between generations.”

Michigan Tech alumna Dr. Kaitlyn Bunker received the SWE
Distinguished New Engineer Award at WE18. She earned a PhD, MS, and BS in Electrical Engineering at Michigan Tech, and is now a manager at the Rocky Island Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

The next day, at WE18, the students participated in professional development activities and presentations. Some volunteered at different events and participated in SWE-sponsored institutes. At the Celebrate SWE! Awards Banquet, Kaitlyn Bunker ’17 who earned a PhD in electrical engineering at Michigan Tech, received the SWE Distinguished New Engineer Award for “contributing valuable research and renewable energy solutions in the Caribbean, and to underserved communities; and for steadfast leadership at all levels of SWE.” Bunker is currently working at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

The Michigan Tech section received a Silver Collegiate SWE Mission Award, which recognizes a group that embody SWE core values.

Laura Schimmel volunteered at SWE’s outreach event for middle and high school girls, “Invent It. Build It.” Schimmel led a STEM activity for middle school girls–building “wind power plants” to lift a payload using cardboard, plastic bottles, straws, and tape. “I am taking a wind energy class at Tech right now,” says Schimmel, a fifth year double major in materials science and engineering and mechanical engineering. “I was thrilled to be able to share what I’ve learned and encourage the girls to pursue STEM in the future. There were hundreds of girls and countless creative solutions.”

Erica Coscarelli, a master’s student in environmental engineering, participated in the SWE Future Leaders (SWEFL) program. And along with Karina Eyre, Coscarelli went to the SWE Collegiate Leadership Institute (CLI), a day-long leadership development event. Both programs, led by engineers working in industry and academia, help college students gain leadership skills. “Participating in the SWE Future Leaders (SWEFL) program has been extremely beneficial for me,” Coscarelli says. “As part of the program we have monthly conference calls and complete our tasks with a buddy. At WE18 we were able to meet in person. It was great putting faces to names.”

Hein moderated a panel discussion, “Obtaining your First Academic Job/Academic Job Search”. Panelists were from a range of different types of universities and community colleges.

Michigan Tech SWE section counselor, Alumna Britta Jost joined the Michigan Tech attendees at the Celebrate SWE! Awards Banquet. Jost earned a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering 2004 and a BS in Mathematical Sciences in 2002, both at Michigan Tech, and works now as engineering project team leader at Caterpillar, Inc. 

The SWE students raised travel funds through their annual SWE “Evening with Industry” event, held each fall just before the Michigan Tech Career Fair. ArcelorMittal, Black & Veatch, and John Deere all provided support for section travel to WE 18, as well.

The best part about WE18?

“Through the SWE18 Conference I was able to secure an interview, and received an internship offer with Boeing in Washington State. If you would have told me as a freshman that I would have an offer with Boeing, I would have thought you were crazy. But being in SWE has given me the courage and experience to pursue opportunities I would have never thought possible.”
-Allison Dorn, third year student, mechanical engineering

“SWE18 exposed me greatly to American culture. I am ecstatic that I got to meet awesome women in academia and was able to interact with them both intellectually and professionally. Overall, the conference was a rewarding experience!”
-Adedsyin Adedokun, master’s student, electrical engineering

“I loved getting to know my SWE chapter, SWE alums, and other chapters. I made a lot of new friends and we bonded as a group.”
-Noelle Eveland, fourth year student, chemical engineering

“I met so many people who were excited to see our chapter at the conference because they, or someone they were friends with, went to Tech. It made me feel proud of our school.”
-Emily Cromber, master’s student, computer engineering

“Being able to listen to and be inspired by amazing women who have been in our shoes, and who have gone on to have great careers and lives.”
-Lauren Sand, fourth year student, biomedical engineering

“Being surrounded by women who support each other as we break boundaries. My passion for engineering was mirrored in every woman I met.”
-Claire Langfoss, fourth year student, biomedical engineering

“Attending the amazing career fair with over 330 companies, and the Michigan Tech Alumni event in Minneapolis, where I met and networked with tons of Huskies.”
-Romana Carden, fourth year student, engineering management

“Attending a wide variety of sessions pertaining to professional development, leadership, and career management.”
-Melanie Zondag, fourth year student, geological engineering

“Engaging with a variety of inspirational women who have broken and continue to break boundaries.”
-Jessica Geroux, fifth year student, mechanical engineering

“It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by so many powerful and knowledgeable women. From the keynote to sessions, to the career fair; the ability to grow and prepare for the professional world was extremely rewarding.”
-Amber Ronsman, second year student, civil engineering

“My favorite part was the networking. I met some awesome ‘SWEsters’ from Wyoming as well as many company recruiters and professionals in systems engineering. I know these connections will assist me in the future, and the value is priceless.”
-Natalie Green, third year student, systems engineering

“Throughout the weekend I got to meet many other women in the field, both professionals and colleagues. It expanded my horizon and helped me to make valuable connections that will last a lifetime.”
-Mackenzie Brunet, third year student, engineering management

Katie Buchalski, Michigan Tech SWE section president

Bruce Lee: Smart Biomaterials Inspired by Mussel Chemistry

Self-healable and moldable nanocomposite gel as fit-to-shape sealant.
Bruce Lee exploits the ability of a Dopa, a unique catechol-based amino acid found in mussel adhesive proteins, in a new fit-to-shape sealant. It initially exhibits the ability to be remolded and adhered to the convex contour of a tissue surface. With time, the hydrogel is fixed in its new shape.

Bruce Lee, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech, focuses on smart adhesives and biomaterials inspired by nature. More specifically, the natural glues made by mussels that anchor them to rocks, boats and docks. His past work on hydrogels and tissue adhesives led him to look more closely at what makes these adhesives work underwater—and how people could use them.

Lee’s research team exploits the ability of Dopa, a unique catechol-based amino acid found in mussel adhesive proteins. He currently has three active, federally funded research projects.
Bruce Lee, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Michigan Tech
Bruce Lee, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Michigan Tech

Smart Adhesive

As a participant in the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Program, Lee delves into not only what makes mussels sticky but also how to reverse that adhesion with an electrical charge. The YIP grant is awarded to scientists and engineers with exceptional promise for producing creative, state-of-the-art research that appears likely to advance naval capabilities. “There is no smart adhesive out there that can perform underwater,” he says. “The chemistry that we can incorporate into the adhesive, causing it to reversibly bond and de-bond, is quite new.”
Fit-to-Shape Sealant
Lee is also designing an injectable sealant and bioadhesive, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Lee and his research team developed a moldable nanocomposite hydrogel. “This material initially exhibits the ability to be remolded and adhered to the convex contour of a tissue surface,” says Lee. “With time, the hydrogel is fixed in its new shape and functions as a fit-to-shape sealant.” Their hydrogel uses no cytotoxic crosslinking reagent, and needs no mixing tip for mixing precursor solutions. It also demonstrates burst pressure potentially suited for sealing renal vein and even intestinal anastomosis. “One very valuable quality of this synthetic glue is its versatility,” adds Lee. “We can change the chemistry to make it as rigid or flexible as we need — while still maintaining its overall strength and durability.”
Smart Antimicrobial Microparticles
Lee just received new funding from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health (OASDH) to design smart microparticles from mussel-derived catechol. “The particles are pathogenic and able to promote healing,” Lee says. “Simply hydrating the microparticles in water causes them to generate hydrogen peroxide that can kill bacteria and inactivate viruses. This material can potentially function as a lightweight and portable disinfectant for a wide range of applications.”
Visit Lee’s research group online to learn more about their bio-inspired approach to the design of advanced functional materials.

Michigan Tech’s New Academy for Engineering Education Leadership Inducts its First Two Members

“Leadership and Engineering Education—Thursday, Sept. 27. I invite you to join us as we learn from and celebrate the legacy of our two inaugural inductees to the Academy for Engineering Education Leadership. All are welcome.” Janet Callahan, Dean of Engineering

All are welcome at the inaugural induction of the Academy for Engineering Education Leadership, hosted by the College of Engineering. The induction and reception will take place today, Thursday, September 27, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. in the East Reading Room of the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library.  Sarah A. Rajala, PhD, and Karl A. Smith, PhD are the new academy’s first distinguished inductees. Both are outstanding Michigan Tech alumni.

Dr. Sarah Rajala is the James L. and Katherine S. Melsa Dean of Engineering at Iowa State University and a Michigan Tech alumna. She is an internationally known leader, past president of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and past chair of the Global Engineering Deans Council. She earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech, and an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Rice University.

Dr. Karl A. Smith is Cooperative Learning Professor in the School of Engineering Education, College of Engineering, at Purdue University. He is also the Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor and Executive Co-Director of the STEM Education Center, Technological Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Smith is a world expert in discipline-based engineering education research. He earned both a BS and an MS in Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Tech, and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

More events are offered in connection with the new Academy for Engineering Education Leadership. All events will take place this Thursday, September 27. Members of the campus community—faculty, staff and students—are all encouraged and welcome to attend.

Teaching at Tech: Breakfast Roundtable, “Learning Opportunities, Pitfalls, and Impacts on Students and the Institution,” with Dr. Karl Smith and Dr. Sarah Rajala. This event, for all who teach here on campus, takes place from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Van Pelt and Opie Library East Reading Room. No registration needed, and breakfast is included. Each will each offer short position statements and then lead an active question and answer session over breakfast. Dr. Smith’s experience as a STEM education researcher will be balanced by Dr. Rajala’s experience as an administrator with an exceptional track record. View the event. | Print the flyer.

Teaching at Tech: STEM Education Research Workshop with Dr. Karl Smith. This event will take place from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Please register online. This session is designed both for those who have some experience and those just looking to get started. Dr. Smith brings over 30 years’ experience working with faculty to redesign courses to improve student learning, with a focus on cooperative learning, problem formulation, modeling, and knowledge engineering. View the event. | Print the flyer.

Register Online

“Leadership Lessons from the Antarctic,” presented by Dr. Sarah Rajala, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Fisher 135. This event is free and open to the public. One hundred and four years ago, under the leadership of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Endurance set sail for the Antarctic. Shackleton had established a potentially history-making goal: to be the first to walk across the continent of Antarctica. Even though he never led a crew of more than twenty-seven men, and failed to reach most of the goals he set, Shackleton is still recognized as one of the world’s greatest leaders. In this presentation, Dr. Rajala will explore what made Shackleton a great leader–and how his leadership traits have influenced her own career. View the event. | Print the flyer.

More About the Inductees

Sarah Rajala
Dr. Sarah A. Rajala, Inaugural Member, Michigan Tech Academy Engineering Education Leadership.

Dr. Sarah A. Rajala consistently breaks new ground for women in engineering and serves as a role model for young women. She is passionate about diversity of thought and culture, especially as it relates to the college environment. Among her many honors, she received the national Harriett B. Rigas Award honoring outstanding female faculty from the Education Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2015. Dr. Rajala was also named National Engineer of the Year by the American Association of Engineering Societies in 2016.

In addition to serving as Iowa State’s Dean of Engineering since 2013, Dr. Rajala served as dean and department chair in the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. At North Carolina State University College of Engineering, she was associate dean for research and graduate programs and associate dean for academic affairs.

Prior to moving into administrative positions, Dr. Rajala had a distinguished career as a professor and center director. She conducted research on the analysis and process of images and image sequences and on engineering educational assessment. She has authored and co-authored more than 100 refereed papers, and made contributions to 13 books. She is a fellow of ASEE, IEEE, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Karl A. Smith
Dr. Karl A. Smith, Inaugural Member, Michigan Tech Academy Engineering Education Leadership.

Dr. Karl A. Smith has over 30 years of experience working with faculty to redesign their courses and programs to enhance student learning.

Dr. Smith adapted the cooperative learning model to engineering education, and in the past 15 years has focused on high-performance teamwork through his workshops and book, Teamwork and Project Management (McGraw-Hill Education, 2014).

His workshops on cooperative learning have helped thousands of faculty build knowledge, skills, and confidence for involving their students in more active, interactive, and cooperative learning both during class time and outside of class. The effects of the workshops are significant in terms of creating a sense of belonging and membership in a community, as well as much more engaged and deep learning.

Dr. Smith is a world expert in discipline-based engineering education research. His interests include building research and innovation capabilities in engineering education; faculty and graduate student professional development; the role of cooperation in learning and design; problem formulation, modeling, and knowledge engineering; and project and knowledge management.

He is the author of  eight books and hundreds of published articles on engineering education, cooperative learning and structured controversy, knowledge representation and expert systems, and teamwork.

For more information about the new Michigan Tech Academy for Engineering Education Leadership, contact the College of Engineering.


May the Force Be with You: Sangyoon Han Brings Mechanobiology to Michigan Tech

Tracked adhesion population classified with Machine Learning. Sangyoon Han uses images like these to measure and compare force behavior.
Sangyoon Han uses images of live cells to measure and compare force behavior. Pictured here: tracked adhesion population, classified with Machine Learning.

Cancer cell metastasis. Stem cell differentiation. Atherosclerosis. All are strong mechanotransduction-related physiological and pathophysiological events. Just how do cells transduce mechanical force into biochemical signals? 

Assistant Professor Sangyoon Han, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Michigan Tech
Assistant Professor Sangyoon Han, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Michigan Tech.

“Cells are sensitive to mechanical forces outside the cell membrane,” says Sangyoon Han, who joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Michigan Tech as an assistant professor last fall. At their basal surface, however, cells are interfacing with something called the extracellular matrix (ECM), which supports the cell not only chemically but also mechanically.”

“Over the past 20 years, it has been revealed that the rigidity of the extracellular matrix can greatly influence the physiology and pathology of cells and tissues, including differentiation, survival, proliferation, altered drug response, and tumor progression,” adds Han. “In the case of a tumor, an increase in tissue stiffness—without any changes in genetic information and chemical environment—can cause tumor progression. There is also an evidence showing that cancer-targeting drugs do not work when cancer cells are highly contractile in a very tensed environment,” he says.

To investigate this, Han and his team established experimental and computational frameworks for force measurement and adhesion dynamics quantification. “We apply these frameworks, with cutting-edge computer vision techniques, on live-cell microscope images to find out the fundamental mechanisms underlying mechanosensation in normal cells, as well as the biomechanical signature in diseased cells whose signaling has gone awry.”

Han measures the force a cell transmits to the environment with traction force microscopy. “The force sensor, referred to as a focal adhesion, consists of a special receptor across the membrane and over 100 cytoskeletal adaptor proteins. These focal adhesion proteins have redundant and diverse roles in signaling and structural development of the adhesion,” he explains.

L to R: adhesion segmentation, displacement map, and tracking map. Photo credit: Sangyoon Han, Michigan Tech
L to R: adhesion segmentation, displacement map, and traction force map. Photo credit: Sangyoon Han, Michigan Tech

Using high-resolution imaging of living cells on a soft substrate, Han captures gel deformation and force-sensing protein trajectories at the same time. Han’s novel force-reconstruction software converts the measured gel deformation into a force map over a cell footprint. Using time-series data extracted from the image data, he monitors feedback between the cellular structure and its mechanical forces.

Han shares his Matlab-based, open-source software with the mechanobiology community. In his Mechanobiology Lab at Michigan Tech, Han is also building a physical device using bioMEMS for active force application to cells and tissue. “I firmly believe that engineers can make significant contributions to not only the biomedical industry, but also fundamental biological science.”

Before coming to Michigan Tech, Han was a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard Medical School Lab of Computational Cell Biology, as well as the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He earned a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at University of Washington in the area of cell mechanics, multiphysics modeling, and bioMEMS, and BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering at Seoul National University.

Color-coded map of deformation of a gel, quantified using the fluorescent beads. Photo Credit: Sangyoon Han, Michigan Tech

 

Red spots are the fluorescent beads coated on top of the gel, which we use to quantify the deformation of the gel. Green signal is the paxillin, one of the focal adhesion proteins of a Chinese Hamster ovary cell. Photo credit: Sangyoon Han, Michigan Tech
“Red spots are the fluorescent beads coated on top of the gel, which we use to quantify the deformation of the gel,” explains Sangyoon Han, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Michigan Technological University. “Green signal is the paxillin, one of the focal adhesion proteins of a Chinese Hamster ovary cell.”

Taking on Disasters—Before They Happen

Brian Tucker of GeoHazards International (GHI) struggles to hold a heavy adobe brick used in typical buildings in rural Peru. GHI retrofitted an adobe school building in the village of Chocos, Peru, with geomesh, which holds the adobe walls together and greatly improves their earthquake resistance. Credit: Gregory Deierlein, Stanford University
Brian Tucker of GeoHazards International (GHI) struggles to hold a heavy adobe brick used in typical buildings in rural Peru. GHI retrofitted an adobe school building in the village of Chocos, Peru, with geomesh, which holds the adobe walls together and greatly improves their earthquake resistance. Credit: Gregory Deierlein, Stanford University

Next week more than 1,200 first-year students at Michigan Tech will hear from MacArthur Fellow Brian Tucker, founder and president of Geohazards International.

Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Landslides. Storms.

Brian Tucker, founder global non-profit Geohazards International, takes on disasters before they happen. Tucker will present “Lessons Learned in Reducing Natural Disaster Risk in Poor Countries,” this Thursday, September 13 at 6 p.m. in the Rosza Center at Michigan Technological University.

Tucker is a seismologist and MacArthur Fellow whose work focuses on preventing readily avoidable disasters in the world’s poorest countries by using affordable civil engineering practices. He founded GeoHazards International (GHI) in 1991 after recognizing that multi-story residences, schools, hospitals, stores, and offices built from adobe, stone, or unreinforced masonry in many regions of the world are death traps when earthquakes strike.

A consulting professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Stanford University, Tucker is also a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Earthquake Engineering as well as the board of the World Seismic Safety Initiative. He is a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.

In 2001 he was awarded the Gorakha Dakshin Bahu Award for service to the people of Nepal by the King of Nepal. He was named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2002. He received the George E. Brown, Jr. Award, from the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation for International Science and Technology Cooperation, in 2007.

Most recently, Tucker was given the Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award from Pomona College in 2017 and was named among the 100 Distinguished Alumni of University of California, San Diego. He has also won two “Hammers” from the 2016 and 2017 C.R.A.S.H-B’s World Indoor Rowing Competition.

Tucker received a BA from Pomona College, a PhD from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and an MA in Public Policy from Harvard University. Tucker served as Principal and Supervising Geologist at the California Division of Mines and Geology from 1982–1991. He founded Geohazards International in 1991.


Michigan Tech’s First-Year Engineering Lecture is a longtime annual tradition for freshmen in the College of Engineering, and now students from the School of Technology, and Department of Computer Science are joining the event.

Please note: space at the venue is at capacity, so the event is not open to the public this year. 

 

 


Study Abroad: Clean, Renewable Energy in Iceland

Zoe Ketola, Systems Engineering undergraduate, studied renewable energy in Iceland this summer.
Zoe Ketola, Systems Engineering undergraduate, studied renewable energy in Iceland this summer.
Zoé Ketola enrolled in the The Green Program, which offers short-term, experiential education about the world’s most pressing issues in sustainable development. Ketola took classes through Reykjavik University School of Energy, and also traveled extensively around Iceland. In Ketola’s group there were about 20 others students, coming from Penn State, University of Michigan, Colorado State, and some Canadian universities, to name a few.

Here at Michigan Tech, Ketola is turning her innovative ideas into a reality with a BSE degree in systems engineeringan engineering degree she can customize to fit her interests. She wants to work on improving and overhauling the US electrical grid—facilitating the transition from traditional to clean energy sources.

Why did you decide to go to Iceland for your study abroad?
Iceland is what fell into my lap. It is considered the world’s renewable energy capital and renewable and clean energy are my passion. I never set out looking to go to Iceland (or anywhere, really) but when the department chair of Engineering Fundamentals, Professor Jon Sticklen, told me about the opportunity I couldn’t think of a better place to learn about what I love. Plus, have you seen pictures of the place? It’s a dream if you like the outdoors.

What was your main project while you were there?
I worked on a project that detailed providing personal solar arrays to impoverished communities within the United States. My group focused on communities in West Virginia and we looked into providing the equipment, doing install, how we would run our company, etc. We did this outside of taking courses on hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, and icelandic culture/history.What did you learn about culture and society in Iceland?
The Icelandic people are very hearty. They are independent and they kind of do their own thing. The most interesting things to me included how independent the children are and just how important keeping their public places clean is. You don’t wear your shoes in homes or the public pools. The pools also have a monitor who makes sure you shower before swimming.

“Iceland changed my life. I know that sounds cliche but I felt like I was losing my fire to make things better. I met people who cared about the same things as me and wanted to save the world. Nothing felt better than that. I can never thank my professor enough for helping me to get there.”

How has studying abroad impacted or changed your outlook?
Well, I’m itching to go back to Iceland and have been since I landed back stateside. I’m now looking more seriously at pursuing a masters dealing with energy, maybe even in Iceland.  Iceland reignited my passion to help the planet and to focus on improving the renewable/clean energy sector.

Through the Green Program, Zoé Ketola studied abroad in Iceland with a strong focus on clean renewable energy
Through the Green Program, Zoé Ketola studied abroad in Iceland with a strong focus on clean renewable energy

What was your most memorable experience?
I hiked a little over 10 miles at Fimmvörðuháls in the Icelandic highlands. When we got to the top of our hike, I couldn’t believe I was there. I was standing in between two glaciers with 20 fantastic people from all over the world and it was so surreal. The world is so big yet we all ended up there together.

Outside of working and studying, what was everyday life like? What did you do for fun?
Mostly spent time outside. I hiked everywhere it feels like, including near the southern coast and in the highlands (where I also camped). We visited hot springs, public pools, mountains, glaciers, and a local hostel where we got to meet a band we had started listening to that morning on the bus. We also visited Iceland’s largest geothermal plant and two hydropower plants, one of which was built in the 1960s.

What are your career goals?

I want to work on improving and overhauling the US electrical grid and facilitating the transition from traditional energy sources to clean energy sources. I don’t know what that means yet because it doesn’t look like anyone is doing exactly what I feel like needs to happen but I’ll figure it out along the way. If I quit every time I wasn’t sure of how to move forward I would never get anything done.

Michigan Tech Brings Global Experts in Sustainable Iron and Steel to Houghton

Advanced Sustainable Iron and Steel Making at Michigan Tech
Advanced Sustainable Iron and Steel Making Laboratory (ASISC) at Michigan Tech

International industry leaders and research engineers from mining and mineral processing are on the Michigan Tech campus Thursday and Friday for the 7th annual meeting of the Advanced Sustainable Iron and Steelmaking Center (ASISC). The meeting features speakers from India, China, Chile, Brazil, United Kingdom, Sweden, South Africa, Columbia and the U.S., as well as Michigan Tech faculty and students.

A total of 25, 30-minute presentations will take place during the meeting. This year’s theme: “New Paradigms in Mineral Processing.”

ASISC members pool resources to address a diverse spectrum of interdisciplinary research questions. During the annual meeting, they share their work and experiences to further the development of a new generation of sustainable, economical mineral processing technologies.

The meeting kicked off with Komar Kawatra, professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Tech and founder and director of ASISC, welcoming participants. Todd Davis, area manager of Tilden Mine Plant Operations for Cleveland-Cliffs, delivered the first presentation. Following Davis, Anna Edigar, also of Cleveland Cliffs spoke about the role of government relations in the iron ore industry. She also shared an update on the Cliff iron ore operation.

Janet Callahan, dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech, welcomed attendees at today’s lunch at 1 p.m.

Callahan holds a PhD in materials science, an MS in metallurgy, and a BS in chemical engineering, all from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where she is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Engineers. “Bringing together world experts to focus on sustainable ways to process iron and steel is important,” she remarked. “Each gain we make has a multiplying effect across the world.”

A Pilot Scale Carbon Dioxide Scrubber for the Michigan Tech Steam Plant

Sam Root and Sriram Valuri at work on the carbon dioxide scrubber
Sam Root and Sriram Valuri at work on the carbon dioxide scrubber

Meanwhile at Michigan Tech, chemical engineering undergraduate Sam Root, along with Kawatra and chemical engineering PhD student Sriram Valluri are making plans to install a pilot scale carbon dioxide scrubbing column in the Michigan Tech steam plant.

“The new equipment will scrub carbon dioxide from a sample stream of less than one percent of the main exhaust from the steam plant,” Root explains. “This will allow us to study the effects of real flue gas on carbon dioxide capture. The findings of this research will be applied in the future when designing a full-scale scrubbing operation.”

“The Michigan Tech steam plant currently produces a flue gas that is 10 percent carbon dioxide by volume,” says Kawatra. “Our goal is to use the scrubber to reduce those emissions to zero.”

The steel industry currently produces a flue gas that is 16 percent carbon dioxide by volume, adds Kawatra. Carbon dioxide scrubbers are not yet widely used in the steel industry, at least not yet.

“Making our scrubber compatible with real flue gas is the biggest challenge we’ve faced on this project. Flue gas is released from the boiler at high temperatures. It contains particulates that may be harmful to the packing inside the column. The equipment used to filter and cool the flue gas must be carefully selected to ensure that all materials are chemically compatible with the flue gas,” Root explains.

“Carbon dioxide levels are increasing, and this contributes to climate change. Capturing carbon dioxide on a large scale would be a huge step forward in mitigating anthropogenic climate effect. I am excited to work on such an important project as a young engineering student.” – Sam Root,  chemical engineering senior at Michigan Tech

Master Machinist Jerry Norkol and Research Associate Stefan Wisniewski, both staff in the Department of Chemical Engineering, worked with the students to design the new scrubbing column, and also built the experimental setup. Larry Hermanson, director of energy management for Michigan Tech Facilities, is also involved in project planning and installation. In just a few months, once the test pilot scrubber is installed on the steam plant, the team will begin to examine how impurities in flue gas, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, as well as depleted oxygen levels, affect its ability to absorb carbon dioxide.

A Long Time In the Making
Kawatra and his graduate students have spent the past 15-plus years developing the scrubbing column technology at Michigan Tech with support from Carbontec Energy Systems in Bismarck, North Dakota. Carbontec is a developer of technologies for the energy, oil and gas and iron and steel industries. John Simmons, chairman of Carbontec, earned a BS in metallurgical engineering at Michigan Tech in 1953. He is a member of the Chemical Engineering Academy at Michigan Tech, a native of Ironwood, Michigan, and a strong supporter of Michigan Tech.

Root and Valluri will present a poster on the pilot carbon dioxide scrubber project at the ASISC annual meeting poster session.

Speakers at the ASISC Annual Meeting
THURSDAY, AUGUST 9
Dr. Komar Kawatra, Michigan Tech
Todd Davis, Tilden Mine, Cleveland Cliffs
Anna Ediger, Cleveland Cliffs
Dr. Sandra De Moraes, IPT, Brazil
Dr. Natasia Naude, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Samira Rashid, Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions
William Irani, Gaustec Magnetic Technology
Esau Arinwae, Solvay
Professor Yuexin Han, Northeastern University, Shenyang, P. R. China
Dr. Janet Callahan, Dean of Engineering, Michigan Tech
Professor Shaoxian Song, Wuhan University of Technology
Maria Bjorkvall, LKAB
Dean Connor, Metso Minerals Industries
John Simmons, Carbontec Energy

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10
Dr. Luis Cisternas Universidad de Antofagasta, Chile
Michael Archambo, Michigan Tech
Victor Claremboux, Michigan Tech
Sriram Valluri, Michigan Tech
Dr. Rajiv Ganguli, University of Alaska Fairbanks
John Carr, Solvay
Dr. Tathagata Ghosh, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Dr. Latika Gupta, Michigan Tech
Scott Moffat, Solvay