Author: Kim Geiger

Brad King: Bite-sized Satellites Changing the World!

The team’s spacecraft, Auris, is a small satellite, a 12U cubesat. Its size in centimeters is just 20 x 20 x 30 (smaller than a typical shoebox). Mass is 20 kg (about 44 pounds). And its mission? Auris will characterize radio frequency (RF) signal emissions. Image credit: Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise.

Lyon (Brad) King shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, 2/7 at 6 pm. Learn something new in just 20 minutes, with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Dr. Lyon B. King specializes in spacecraft propulsion (and the launching of student careers).

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 2/7 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Brad King, Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professor of Space Systems and leader of Michigan Tech Aerospace—a collection of research, development, and educational labs dedicated to advancing spacecraft technology.

With the launch of the Michigan Tech student-built Oculus satellite in June 2019, Michigan Tech became a spacefaring university. Two more prize-winning satellites, Auris and Stratus, are currently under construction for future launch. Professor L. Brad King will tell us all about these satellites and, more importantly, about the student Aerospace Enterprise team that designs, builds, and operates them.

Nolan Pickett: “Did vacation flights, trips to air shows/space museums, and Space-X livestreams inspire you as well? Well, they definitely inspired me.”

Joining in will be mechanical engineering fourth year undergraduate Nolan Pickett, who handles logistical operations, personnel management, and external communications, and third-year mechanical and electrical engineering major Kyle Bruursema. Kyle is Chief Engineer for the Enterprise. He understands how the satellite works inside-and-out and oversees all technical/engineering decisions made within the team.

As the founder and faculty advisor of Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise, King empowers undergraduate students to design, build, and fly spacecraft, too. One of the team’s student-built satellites (Oculus) is now in orbit; their second small satellite (Stratus) is due to launch in 2022, and a third (Auris) now in progress.

Forty centimeters? That’s about as wide as a large Domino’s pizza.
Kyle Bruursema: “STEM fields have become the major topic of today’s world. It’s how we reach further, discover new possibilities, and build a brighter future.”

“Small satellites are changing the way humans do business and science in space,” says King. “The cost to build and launch a small satellite is now about the same as the cost to build and launch a software app. With the cost barrier removed, innovative students and start-up companies are building small satellites to provide capabilities that my generation has never even dreamed about. Michigan Tech is on the forefront of this movement.”

“There are so many small imaging satellites orbiting the Earth that soon it will be possible to have a complete inventory of every object on the Earth’s surface that is 40 centimeters or larger—we will have a ‘search bar’ for the Earth,” says King. “There are now more than 2,000 small communications satellites that can provide high-speed wireless internet anywhere on the planet.”

In addition to students in the Aerospace Enterprise, King mentors a large team of graduate students in his Ion Space Propulsion Lab at Michigan Tech. There, teams develop next-generation plasma thrusters for spacecraft. King is also a co-founder and CEO of a fast-growing satellite development company, Orbion Space Technology.

It’s “Inevitable”: During Husky Bites, Dr. King will explain why he chose this name for his 70-year old wooden boat.

Dr. King, why did you first choose engineering?

I have always been interested in and fascinated by space and have also loved building things. Aerospace engineering allows me to build things that go into space–the best of both worlds.

Hometown, family?

I was born and raised in Calumet, Michigan, which is about 10 miles north of Houghton. Yes – there is civilization north of Houghton.

Any hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?

Over the past few years I have restored a classic 70-year-old wooden boat. In all my spare time I am either working on the boat (constantly) to get ready for summer, or cruising Lake Superior and Isle Royale, where I spend summer days at remote docks working on my boat.

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

I first developed a strong interest in STEM through high school AP classes, and grew passionate about science and math. Engineering allowed me to apply the science and math concepts to real-life problems! This decision was further solidified after taking classes at Michigan Tech, doing internships around the Midwest, and spending time as a member of the Aerospace Enterprise (of course)!

Oculus, the Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise team’s first nanosatellite, was launched in June 2019. It now serves an imaging target for ground-based cameras for the Department of Defense.About the size of a mini-fridge, Oculus is visible here in the SpaceX rocket payload Can you spot it?

Hometown, family?

My family (four of us) is originally from Hopkins, Michigan. My father is an MTU alum.

Any hobbies?

My strongest passions are snowboarding and mountain biking. These were further amplified after moving to the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula! I’m also an avid music lover and enjoy getting to know my fellow Enterprise members.

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

STEM fields have become the major topic of today’s world. It’s how we reach further, discover new possibilities, and build a brighter future. Personally, I have always had an admiration for creating solutions to the world’s challenges and I have always had a love for space, so engineering was a great way to combine the two!

Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise Team

Hometown, family?

My family originates from Holland, Michigan! Both of my uncles have attended MTU.

Any hobbies?

In my spare time, I love to run and go snowmobiling. Gaming is also a major part of my life.


Read more:

And Then There Were Three: Oculus, Auris–and now Stratus
Enterprise at MTU Launches Spacecraft–and Careers
Michigan Tech’s Pipeline to Space
Mission(s) Accomplished!
Auris Wins! Michigan Tech is Launching Into Space—with Ears

Support the team:

Get Stratus to Space

Watch:

Play Stratus Assembly video
Preview image for Stratus Assembly video

Stratus Assembly

A quick render of the Stratus model assembly. Credit: Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise

Michigan Tech Students Build Small Satellites

Pictured here: Auris, a Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise team’s spacecraft in the works for the US Air Force Research Lab. It’s a small satellite, a 12U cubesat, 20 x 20 x 30 centimeters in size, smaller than a typical shoebox. Mass is 20 kg, about 44 pounds. Its mission? Characterize radio frequency (RF) signal emissions.
Dr. Lyon B. King specializes in spacecraft propulsion…and the launching of student careers!

Brad King is the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professor of Space Systems and leader of Michigan Tech Aerospace—a collection of research, development, and educational labs dedicated to advancing spacecraft technology.

As the founder and faculty advisor of Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise team, King empowers undergraduate students to design, build, and fly spacecraft. One of the team’s student-built satellites (Oculus) is now in orbit; their second small satellite (Stratus) is due to launch in 2022, and a third (Auris) now in progress.

Students in the Aerospace Enterprise work together to design, build, and operate satellites. That includes mechanical engineering undergraduate student Nolan Pickett, who handles logistical operations, personnel management, and external communications for the team.

Oculus serves an imaging target for ground-based cameras for the Department of Defense. The size of a mini fridge, Oculus is visible here in the SpaceX rocket payload.

Mechanical and electrical engineering major Kyle Bruursema serves as the team’s Chief Engineer. He understands how the satellite works inside-and-out and oversees all technical/engineering decisions made within the team.

“Small satellites are changing the way humans do business and science in space,” says King. “The cost to build and launch a small satellite is now about the same as the cost to build and launch a software app. With the cost barrier removed, innovative students and start-up companies are building small satellites to provide capabilities that my generation has never even dreamed about. Michigan Tech is on the forefront of this movement.”

“There are so many small imaging satellites orbiting the Earth that soon it will be possible to have a complete inventory of every object on the Earth’s surface that is 40 centimeters or larger—we will have a ‘search bar’ for the Earth,” says King. “There are now more than 2,000 small communications satellites that can provide high-speed wireless internet anywhere on the planet.”

In addition to students in the Aerospace Enterprise, King mentors a large team of graduate students in his Ion Space Propulsion Lab at Michigan Tech. There, teams develop next-generation plasma thrusters for spacecraft. King is also a co-founder and CEO of a fast-growing satellite development company, Orbion Space Technology.

Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise Team

Dr. King, why did you first choose engineering?

I have always been interested in and fascinated by space and have also loved building things. Aerospace engineering allows me to build things that go into space. It’s the best of both worlds.

Hometown, family?

I was born and raised in Calumet, Michigan, which is about 10 miles north of Houghton. Yes, there is civilization north of Houghton.

Any hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?

Over the past few years I have restored a classic 70-year-old wooden boat. In all my spare time I am either working on the boat (constantly) to get ready for summer, or cruising Lake Superior and Isle Royale, where I spend summer days at remote docks working on my boat.

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

Nolan Pickett: “Did vacation flights, trips to air shows/space museums, and Space-X livestreams inspire you as well? Well, they definitely inspired me.”

I first developed a strong interest in STEM through high school AP classes, and grew passionate about science and math. Engineering allowed me to apply the science and math concepts to real-life problems! This decision was further solidified after taking classes at Michigan Tech, doing internships around the Midwest, and spending time as a member of the Aerospace Enterprise (of course)!

Hometown, family?

My family (four of us) is originally from Hopkins, Michigan. My father is an MTU alum.

Any hobbies?

My strongest passions are snowboarding and mountain biking. These were further amplified after moving to the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula! I’m also an avid music lover and enjoy getting to know my fellow Enterprise members.

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

Kyle Bruursema: “STEM fields have become the major topic of today’s world. It’s how we reach further, discover new possibilities, and build a brighter future.”

STEM fields have become the major topic of today’s world. It’s how we reach further, discover new possibilities, and build a brighter future. Personally, I have always had an admiration for creating solutions to the world’s challenges and I have always had a love for space, so engineering was a great way to combine the two!

Hometown, family?

My family originates from Holland, Michigan! Both of my uncles have attended MTU.

Any hobbies?

In my spare time, I love to run and go snowmobiling. Gaming is also a major part of my life.


Read more:

And Then There Were Three: Oculus, Auris–and now Stratus
Enterprise at MTU Launches Spacecraft–and Careers
Michigan Tech’s Pipeline to Space
Mission(s) Accomplished!
Auris Wins! Michigan Tech is Launching Into Space—with Ears

Watch:

Play Stratus Assembly video
Preview image for Stratus Assembly video

Stratus Assembly

A quick render of the Stratus model assembly. Credit: Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise

Calling All Adventurous STEM Undergrads: What Are You Doing This Summer?

TECH SCEnE is short for Technology, Science and Community Engagement in Engineering. It’s a Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Are you a college student—tribal college, community college or university student—who wants to see your contributions make an impact?

Want to be part of a program structured to apply science and technology to benefit the community? 

How about a truly great way to spend eight weeks in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula this summer, expenses paid, along with a generous stipend of $4,800?

Check out the full details at mtu.edu/techscene. Then, be sure to apply by March 1, 2022.

Join us in Michigan’s gorgeous Upper Penninsula for TECH SCEnE, a Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by National Science Foundation (NSF).

TECH SCEnE is a program that combines STEM and engineering research with direct community involvement and impact. Stay on campus at Michigan Technological University. Go on amazing outdoor trips guided by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community KBIC Natural Resources Department. Do hands-on research on campus with your team, right alongside a faculty mentor.

Apply online for free. Women and students from underrepresented backgrounds are all encouraged to apply. Know anyone who might be interested? Please help spread the word!

Find full details about the program, the mentors, and the projects at techscene.mtu.edu

Note: all must apply to TECHSCEnE by March 1, 2022.

Breweries Above and Below the Bridge

Such beauty!

Breweries Above and Below the Bridge—Dick Gray, plus Cathy and Shawn Smalley share their knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, January 31 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new with time after for Q&A (heavy on the Q&A)! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 1/31 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Dick Gray ’82, co-owner of the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton, Michigan (located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, above the Mackinac Bridge)—plus Cathy ’88 and Shawn Smalley ’89, owners of Big Buck Brewery in Gaylord, Michigan (located below the Mighty Mac).

Above the Bridge: Dick Gray owns the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton, Michigan
Below the Bridge: Shawn and Cathy Smalley own Big Buck Brewery in Gaylord Michigan

Near the Michigan Tech campus in downtown Houghton, the Keweenaw Brewing Company (KBC) features finely crafted ales for the everyday consumer. About 300 miles away, in Gaylord, Michigan, Big Buck’s mission is to simply do things the right way. Both are small, independent microbreweries owned by Michigan Tech alums who brew and sell world-class ales and host guests (safely during the pandemic) in unique, inviting taprooms.

What makes a good beer? And what’s their advice to those who want to follow in their footsteps? Find out during Husky Bites. Joining in will be Michigan Tech alumna Jennifer (Jung) Lucas ’09, craft beer fan and assistant vice president of Alumni Engagement at Michigan Tech

While working toward his bachelor’s degree in geological engineering at Michigan Tech, Dick Gray, owner of Keweenaw Brewing Company, spent one summer as a roughneck on the north slope of Alaska. He must have liked it, because he spent most of his career in the oil and gas business (but not as a roughneck).

After graduating from Michigan Tech with a BS in Geological Engineering, Gray took a job with Amoco Production Company, which led him from Hobbs, New Mexico, to Casper, Wyoming, to their Research Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma (twice), before ending up as exploration manager in their Denver regional office.

Dick Gray, Keweenaw Brewing Company

After more than 16 years, Gray left Amoco and became the president of a privately held oil and gas company called Presco Western, LLC. He held this position from 1998 to 2005, when the company was sold. “It was a turning point,” he says. “I had seen the revitalization of downtown Denver through the creation and success of comfortable brewpubs there,” he recalls.

Together with his family, he figured a brewpub was just what the city of Houghton needed, as well–especially when two of his three children started attending Michigan Tech.

Gray and a colleague from Denver started the Keweenaw Brewing Company (KBC) brewing just enough beer to feed the pub. Now, with annual production of about 13,000 barrels and distribution across Michigan, northern Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, Keweenaw Brewery has grown to one of the 50th largest microbreweries in the United States, the eighth largest in Michigan.

KBC’s outdoor patio

Ironically, Gray’s wife, Stasi doesn’t drink beer, but she supports all of the KBC functions behind the scenes (including the design and purchasing of the iconic KBC t-shirts). In addition to the 200-plus students they have employed over the past seventeen years, the Gray’s have become tremendously involved with the Houghton business community.

The Grays have hosted countless Michigan Tech events and have supported various student and alumni activities. The KBC has become a vital community resource, meeting place, and place to relax, especially for Michigan Tech students, faculty, and staff.

The KBC production facility
Big Buck brews more than a dozen different beers, plus cider and sodas, too.

The Big Buck journey for Cathy and Shawn Smalley, owners of Big Buck Brewery, began about five years ago, in 2017, when a simple inquiry into a business that was in receivership became a reality. From that point, their transition away from corporate America began. The two officially opened Big Buck on October 1, 2018.

“From the beginning, our focus was to restore the ‘Big Buck’ name and reputation instead of rebranding,” said Cathy. “We made updates to the logo and beer label designs, yet we still embrace the original Big Buck brand and decor.”

“Our passion is to brew and distribute beer, although we also acquired a restaurant with a
seating capacity of 327 guests that we are operating,” she adds. “All of this is made possible with two brewers, a head chef and many supportive team members!” The Smalleys currently brew about 800 barrels a year, but plan to grow.

The Michigan Tech basketball team stopped by Big Buck last year for a wonderful meal while on their way back to Michigan Tech after a game downstate.

The Smalleys’ Michigan Tech story dates back to the late 80’s. Shawn graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in chemistry and transferred to Tech to pursue Chemical Engineering (’89). Shawn worked at Marathon Oil for several years and transitioned to a career in automotive. Cathy attended a Women in Engineering workshop during high school and followed her older sister to MTU. She graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences (’88) and furthered her education at Wayne State University.

“People don’t brew beer. Mother Nature brews beer,” says Shawn Smalley. Pictured above, brewing tanks at Big Buck Brewery.

“I also worked in the auto industry and retired once Shawn’s job took our family on two expat assignments,” she says. Together they have three children: Collin (ME), Emma (ME) and Elyse (Exercise Science). “Our kids have all graduated. Collin went to U of M and Kettering. Emma and Elyse both went to Hope College.

“As for Shawn, he started his ‘career’ in brewing in our kitchen in 1990! Though he isn’t involved in brewing at Big Buck, he is actively involved in the process and has mastered the taste testing!” In their free time, the Smalleys enjoy boating, biking, skiing and family time.

The welcoming entrance to Big Buck Brewery

As a student at Michigan Tech, Jen Lucas played on the volleyball team, earning Michigan Tech’s Raymond L. Smith Award for outstanding female senior student-athlete. She got her start in Michigan Tech’s Advancement office, working as a student caller for the Michigan Tech Telefund, eventually moving into the call center manager role upon graduation in 2009. From there, Lucas went on to work in alumni engagement and annual giving roles at several other educational institutions, and spent two years in industry relations at 3M. She started her new position at Michigan Tech last November 2021.

Jen, how did you first decide to attend Michigan Tech? What sparked your interest?

Jen (Jung) Lucas ’09 grew up in Minnesota and was recruited to play volleyball at Michigan Tech.

In high school, I was recruited to play collegiate volleyball by a variety of Division 1 and 2 programs, Michigan Tech being one of them. While volleyball was a passion of mine, opening the door to a future I would have never had in my grasp without it, it also had an expiration date. After college, volleyball would no longer be a dominating factor in my life. I would need to be prepared to enter the real world as a professional. I considered which University would set me up for the best success after graduation, and Michigan Tech clearly was the top choice. I also loved the Michigan Tech community and culture on campus, so as a 17 year old, I made one of the best decisions of my life. I am still thanking “younger me” for being so smart!

Hometown, family?

I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but spent most of my life in Minnesota. I have a twin sister (who also played on the volleyball team with me at Michigan Tech) and we have 3 younger siblings. I met my husband, Stephen, a couple years after graduation. We lived in Minneapolis for a few years and then also in Salt Lake City until we moved to Houghton for my current role as assistant vice president of Alumni Engagement here at Michigan Tech. Though Stephen didn’t attend Michigan Tech, he is very excited to call the UP home now with me.

Jen and Stephen moved all the way from Utah to become Yoopers!

Any hobbies, pets?

No pets (besides our robot vacuum we call “Richard”) but a lot of hobbies. Stephen and I like to stay active outdoors in all seasons—hiking, biking, and snowshoeing. We also hope to pick up cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. I enjoy watching and discussing all sports, but especially volleyball, football, and hockey. I also enjoy a good book, good beer, good food, and good company.

What goes into a microbrewed beer? Find out during Husky Bites!

Read more

The Buck is Back
Something’s Brewing
MLive: KBC is a community gathering place with $2.50 pints

Enter to Win a Jersey signed by John Scott (NHL) or Joe Berger (NFL)

Support Michigan Tech student scholarships with a raffle ticket. Gain the chance to win a jersey signed by a mechanical engineering alums John Scott (NHL) or Joe Berger (NFL).
John Scott earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Tech in 2010: “Getting my degree from MTU allowed me the confidence to transition from playing hockey to working in the professional field.”

What do NHL MVP John Scott and NFL player Joe Berger have in common? Both are Michigan Tech Mechanical Engineering alums. Both are now retired from pro sports. And both are ready to sign a jersey on February 12, to support ME-EM department initiatives— including student scholarships, plus support for senior design and faculty special projects.

Here’s how: Signed Jersey Raffle tickets are $50 each, available for purchase here. You need not be present to win (we will call or email you). Winners will be drawn during Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival hockey game against Bowling Green on February 12, 2022. John and Joe will be at the game to help announce the winners! (Please note: We have our State of Michigan raffle license # X05892.)

Purchase tickets by Saturday February 12, 2022 at 12 noon for a chance to win.

“Most people think being a professional athlete was the greatest accomplishment in my professional life,” says Scott. “They are always surprised to hear that earning my degree in Mechanical Engineering and being able to use that degree today is more gratifying than playing in the NHL. Getting my degree from MTU allowed me the confidence to transition from playing hockey to working in the professional field.”

“As a walk-on at Michigan Tech, I wouldn’t have had a football career without the mechanical engineering program to bring me up to campus in the first place,” says Berger. “The problem solving and teamwork skills that you learn in engineering have a direct correlation to football and sports in general. I enjoyed talking to my teammates about Michigan Tech throughout my career and am very thankful for the opportunity I was given. I look forward to using my mechanical engineering degree more in this next phase of life.”

Joe Berger earned his mechanical engineering degree at Michigan Tech in 2004: “The problem solving and teamwork skills that you learn in engineering have a direct correlation to football and sports in general.”

The ME-EM department is also hosting a Winter Carnival Alumni Hockey Skybox Social on Saturday, February 12, 2022, during the Michigan Tech vs. Bowling Green hockey game. It will take place in the Husky Suite South Skybox of the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. The social begins at 5 p.m. with a 5:07 p.m. start time for the game. John and Joe will attend the social. Tickets for the social are $40/person, which includes a $20 donation to the ME-EM Alumni Scholarship Fund. Buy ME-EM Skybox Social tickets here.

Lindsay Hiltunen: Winter Carnival—One Hundred Years

Michigan Tech’s legendary Winter Carnival will soon take place—for the 100th time—February 9–12, 2022. This historical snow statue is an old Quincy shaft house. Source: Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
Lindsay Hiltunen

Linday Hiltunen shares her knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, January 24 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new in just 30 minutes (or so), with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 1/24 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Lindsay Hiltunen, Michigan Tech’s University Archivist.

Cynthia Hodges

During Husky Bites Hiltunen will share the history of Winter Carnival, one of Michigan Tech’s most beloved traditions across the decades, through rich images of fun and festivities via the Michigan Tech Archives–from queens to cookouts, snow statues to snowballs, skating reviews to dog sled races, and more. Michigan Tech’s legendary Winter Carnival will take place this year for the 100th time February 9–12, 2022.

Joining in will be mechanical engineering alumna Cynthia Hodges, who serves as a Wikipedian in Residence (WiR) for Michigan Tech. To celebrate the 100th anniversary, Hodges is organizing a Winter Carnival Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, and alumni and students are welcome to help. (Find out how at the end of this blog).


Ice Carnival Elyfunt, circa 1924. Source: Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

It all began back in 1922, when a student organization presented a one-night Ice Carnival. The show consisted of circus-style acts, with students dressed up in animal costumes, bands playing, and speed and figure-skating contests. Twelve years later, in 1934, students in Michigan Tech’s Blue Key National Honor Society began organizing the event, changing the name from “Ice Carnival” to “Winter Carnival”. Students and local school children built their first snow statues that year, and the tradition grew. So did the statues, becoming bigger and more elaborate with each passing year.

Hiltunen is a Michigan Tech alumna and current PhD student with two master’s degrees in library science and United States history. She’s a trustee to the Historical Society of Michigan’s Board of Directors, chair of the Society of American Archivists Oral History Section, and vice president-president elect of the Michigan Archival Association (she’ll become MAA president in June 2022).

Lindsay, how did you first get involved in library science? What sparked your interest?

From the Daily Mining Gazette: “Snowballs Fly South,” to promote Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival back in 1969. Blue Key members load snowballs for airlift to Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos, Texas. Donor: Robert Skuggen. Source: Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

I’ve had an interest in libraries and history since a young age. My grandfather was a history professor at Michigan Tech and the first lay president at what is now Finlandia University. The sunroom at my grandparents’ house on Summit Street was my favorite place; one wall of windows and three walls of history books from floor to ceiling. Anytime I was there to visit I would steal away to the sunroom and read and dream for hours. It wasn’t until I attended Michigan Tech as an undergrad and obtained student employment in the archives (then on the 3rd floor of the library) that I knew what an archivist did. I credit my grandpa for the spark and former university archivist, Erik Nordberg for showing me the path to library school.

My library career fully began at the District of Columbia Public Library as a library technician. I became an archivist at Michigan Tech in 2014, and University Archivist in May 2016. As a side note, I’m proud to say I’m now the steward of my grandpa Dave’s impressive book collection.

Hometown and family?

“I’m still an avid hockey fan,” says Hiltunen. “I love to blog and write about hockey. One of my articles was recently published in the 2021 Legends magazine, the official publication of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.”

I grew up in Tamarack City and graduated from Dollar Bay High School. My mom was an avid artist and my dad is the former director of a local social services coordinating agency. I have two brothers and one sister; all but one of us are Huskies. (The one who didn’t go to Michigan Tech has two husky dogs as pets, so that counts for something.)

We grew up playing every sport under the sun. Those sports we didn’t play, we were spectators of, took books and stats, or ran the clock. In the SDC ice rink and Dee stadium I was a competitive figure skater (ice dancing and synchronized skating) and coach. Off-ice practice was just as good because we got to watch the MTU hockey players practice, then attend games with dad and grandpa.

I’m also proud to note that my husband of 17 years, Tom, is a Michigan Tech alum (EE 2005.) He now works as a Primary Patent Examiner for the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

 “I even competed at the Nationals for Michigan Tech’s synchro skating team in 2001,” says Hiltunen. “We placed 8th in our national debut.”

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My vinyl collection has been a passion since I was a teenager. I have over 5,000 LPs and I’m on the lookout for new records all the time. I love to read for my PhD program and also for fun, so nine times out of ten there is a book within an arm’s reach. Painting and drawing bring me a lot of peace.  And I have three pets: A blue point Siamese cat, Little Nero, and two Weimaraners, Otto and Frankenstein. Our home on Keweenaw Bay also has many resident critters, including Swift the fox who runs by nightly, a few bald eagles that troll the shoreline, and many chickadees, finches, jays, and cardinals at our garden feeders. I consider them all friends!

Cynthia, how did you first get involved in engineering? What sparked your interest? 

Cynthia Hodges was inducted into Michigan Tech’s Presidential Council of Alumnae in 1996

I received a scholarship to attend Women In Engineering at Michigan Tech in the summer of 1981 when I was a junior in high school, through Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program. At that time, it was one of the few programs of its kind to encourage women to study engineering. 

After graduating with my BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, I began a 32-year career at Ford Motor Company, working as a product test engineer in their durability engineering laboratory. I spent much of my career at Ford involved in chassis engineering, designing fuel and steering systems, suspension, tires, wheels, and brakes for many Ford cars and trucks. 

“When people ask me what has changed my life, WIE did,” says Michigan Tech alumna Cynthia Hodges. That’s her in the center, shaking hands with former Michigan Tech president, Glen Mroz.

Family and hometown?

My hometown is Warren, Michigan. My husband, Andrew Hodges, earned a BS in Civil Engineering at Michigan Tech in 1989. My son, Edward, is also an alum–he earned his BS in Forestry in 2019. My daughter, Jane, is a graphic designer. We tried to convince her to go to Michigan Tech as well, but there is no Bachelor of Fine Arts program. She went to Eastern Michigan University.

Hodges has a site on Etsy, Mom’s Kitchen Vintage, where you can find vintage cookbooks, retro glass kitchen magnets, Michigan Tech pillowcases, and even Pasty earrings!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to cook, sew, read and sing, and enjoy the outdoors in the Keweenaw—especially skiing, mountain biking, and hiking. 

How did you and Lindsay become friends?

That is interesting! We started out as facebook friends, because we have a lot of friends in common. I only met her in real life recently, but have admired her work for a long time. I really like history and enjoy visiting the Michigan Tech archives to research old recipes for my food blog, motherskitchen.blogspot.com

Hodges has been writing her blog since 2006. “I love cooking and the lost domestic arts like home canning and sewing. You know, the stuff they used to teach in home economics. Ironically, I hate housework.”

A few years ago Lindsay did an excellent presentation about the history of women at Michigan Tech for the Presidential Council of Alumnae. I am happy to count her as a friend, and excited to work on projects with her, too.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Winter Carnival, we will be improving Michigan Tech Winter Carnival information on Wikipedia. Alumni and students are welcome to help. If you are interested, please contact me at chodges@mtu.edu.

This year’s 100th Carnival logo was designed for Winter Carnival 2022 by civil engineering student Rachel May

Read more

History—and Awards—Run in the Family
Michigan Tech Archivists Preserve the Past for the Future
Ford Motor Company Donates Support for Women in Engineering Scholarships

Winter Carnival 2022: Meet the Dean

Coming to Michigan Tech for Winter Carnival this year? Stop by the Dean’s office to warm up with some hot cocoa and snowflake cookies on Friday, February 11, from 1-4 pm.

Come meet Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech. Everyone’s welcome!

The College of Engineering dean’s office area is located on the 7th floor of the M&M (Minerals & Materials) building, room 712. The M&M, a newer building, has two parts connected by an overhead walkway. We’re on the water side of the walkway, just to the west/northwest of Douglass Houghton Hall.

Kanwal Rekhi Receives Michigan Tech’s Highest Honor: Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction

Kanwal Rekhi talking with students at Michigan Tech’s Design Expo

Kanwal Rekhi, a visionary who routinely works to forward entrepreneurial skills and educational opportunities at Michigan Tech and around the world, received the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction during mid-year Commencement in December. The medal is awarded to individuals associated with Michigan Tech who, like its Nobel prize-winning namesake, have exhibited extraordinarily distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. Rekhi, who earned his master’s in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969, is managing director of Inventus Capital Partners in California.

The native of Punjab, in what was then British India (now Pakistan), earned a master’s in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969. In the more than half a century since his time on campus, MTU has never been far from Rekhi’s thoughts–and generosity.

After leaving Michigan Tech, Rekhi worked as an engineer and manager before becoming an entrepreneur. In 1982, he co-founded Excelan, a company that made Ethernet cards to connect PCs to the fledgling Internet. Excelean became the first Indian-owned company to go public in the U.S. In the early 90s, he became a venture capitalist investing in more than 50 startups and sitting on the board of directors of more than 20 companies.

In the past few decades, Rekhi has been a tireless supporter and benefactor to Michigan Tech. He developed and funded the Rekhi Innovation Challenge, a crowdfunding competition to help promote and support student innovation. He provided major funding for the Silicon Valley Experience, an immersive tour during spring break of San Francisco area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni, and is a sponsor of the 14 Floors Entrepreneur Alumni Mentoring Sessions.

Additionally, every student who has walked the Michigan Tech campus in the past 15 years has passed the Kanwal and Ann Rekhi Computer Science Hall, dedicated in April of 2005.

The Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is bestowed on individuals associated with the University who have exhibited especially distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. It is named for 1931 Michigan Tech alumnus Melvin Calvin, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for unraveling the biochemical secrets of photosynthesis. The series of biochemical reactions Calvin identified is known as the Calvin Cycle.

“Kanwal and his accomplishments epitomize the values we share as an institution. His passion for Michigan Tech is unparalleled and he is most deserving of this award.”

Rick Koubek, President, Michigan Technological University

While the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is Michigan Tech’s highest honor, it is far from the first recognition the University has given Rekhi. He has received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Board of Control Silver Medal, an honorary Doctorate in Business and Engineering, and was inducted into the Electrical Engineering Academy.

Husky Bites Starts Up Again on Monday, January 24!

Join us for a Bite!

Craving some brain food, but not a full meal? Join us for a bite at mtu.edu/huskybites!

Grab some dinner with College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan and special guests at 6 p.m. (ET) each Monday during Husky Bites, a free interactive Zoom webinar, followed by Q&A. Have some fun, and learn something new. Everyone is welcome!

Husky Bites is a free family-friendly webinar that nourishes your mind. The Spring 2022 series kicks off this Monday (January 24) with “Winter Carnival—One Hundred Years,” presented by University Archivist and alumna Lindsay Hiltunen. From queens to cookouts, snow statues to snowballs, skating reviews to dog sled races, discover the history of Winter Carnival across the decades, through rich images of fun and festivities via the Michigan Tech Archives. Joining in will be mechanical engineering alumna Cynthia Hodges, who serves as a Wikipedian in Residence (WiR) for Michigan Tech. To celebrate the 100th anniversary, she is organizing a Winter Carnival Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, and alumni and students are welcome to help. 

Check out the full Spring 2022 “menu” at mtu.edu/huskybites.

“We created Husky Bites for anyone who likes to learn, across the universe,” says Dean Callahan. “We aim to make it very interactive, with ‘quizzes’ (in Zoom that’s a multiple choice poll) during the session. Everyone is welcome, and bound to learn something new. Entire families enjoy it. We have prizes, too, for attendance.” 

The series features special guests—engineering professors, students, and even some Michigan Tech alumni, who each share a mini lecture, or “bite”. During Husky Bites, special guests also weave in their own personal journey in engineering, science and more.

Have you joined us yet for Husky Bites? We’d love to hear from you. Join Husky Bites a little early on Zoom, starting at 5:45 pm, for some extra conversation. Write your comments, questions or feedback in Chat. Or stay after for the Q&A. Sometimes faculty get more than 50 questions, but they do their best to answer them all, either during the session, or after, via email.

“Grab some supper, or just flop down on your couch. This family friendly event is BYOC (Bring Your Own Curiosity).”

Dean Janet Callahan

Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites. Check out past sessions, there, too. You can also catch Husky Bites on the College of Engineering Facebook page.

Tau Beta Pi Inducts 15 New Members at Michigan Tech

Congratulations to our Fall 2021 Tau Beta Pi Initiates! (Not pictured here: Andrew Scott and Dr. Mary Raber)

The College of Engineering recently inducted 14 students and one eminent engineer into the Michigan Tech chapter of Tau Beta Pi.

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

Fall 2021 Initiates

Undergraduate Students: Dom Bianchi, Mechanical Engineering; Sean Bonner, Civil Engineering; Sam Breuer, Computer & Electrical Engineering; Sophia Brylinski, Materials Science & Engineering; Spencer Crawford, Computer Engineering; Jacqui Foreman, Chemical Engineering; Stephen Gillman, Computer Engineering; Michael Kilmer, Materials Science & Engineering; Emerald Mehler, Chemical Engineering; Ben Stier, Computer Engineering; Alex Stockman, Computer Engineering; and Jordan Zais, Biomedical Engineering

Graduate Students: Tonie Johnson, MS, Biomedical Engineering; and Andrew Scott, MS Electrical & Computer Engineering

Eminent Engineer

Mary Raber is Chair of Michigan Tech’s Department of Engineering Fundamentals

Dr. Mary Raber