All posts by Sue Hill

Pre-Schoolers Learn to Engineer

85 parents and their PreK children from the Miigiziinsag Little Eagles Pre-School, KBIC pre-primary , KBIC early headstart, and BHK pre-school attended the first Family Engineering Fun Night held November 13th, 2019, at KBOCC. A pizza dinner was available at 5:30 pm with hands-on engineering activities from 6:00-7:00 pm. The event was conducted by Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, with help from Michigan Tech students with the Chemical Engineering Honors Society Omega Chi Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society student chapters, and funding from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium and the “For the Wisdom of the Children Grant from the American Indian College Fund.”

Man works at table with two children and another adult looking on.
Matt Friiswall and his children Iziah and Isabel work on designing a scoop to remove trash from the “pond”.
Adults work with students at a table in a crowded event.
Michigan Tech student Hailey Mikolitis (right) assists pre-school students Jarron Colbert and Treyson Tapani, who are testing the strength of two different arch designs.
Three people arrange items on trays at a table.
All the right tools set up.
One adult is showing another a foil project at a table.
Michigan Tech volunteer training.

Engineering Students Attend WE19

Romana Carden
Romana Carden
Mackenzie Brunet
Mackenzie Brunet

Ten members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) went to the 2019 national conference, WE19, November 7-9, in Anaheim, California. Advisor Gretchen Hein (EF) accompanied the delegation of eight undergraduates and two graduate students.

The WE19 conference was attended by more than 16,000 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.

Romana Carden, a 5th year student in engineering management, participated in the SWE Future Leaders (SWEFL) program. Along with Mackenzie Brunet, Carden went to the SWE Collegiate Leadership Institute (CLI), a day-long leadership development event. Both programs, led by female engineers working in industry and academia, help college students gain leadership skills.

Full list of students who attended:

Engineering Students at the Health Research Institute Slam

Research Slam event photo of people in the labThe Health Research Institute hosted its first Research Slam Student forum Nov. 8, 2019. The event was divided into three categories: Two-Minute Introduction, Three-Minute Thesis, and Eight-Minute Talks.

Presenters from the Three-Minute Thesis and Eight-Minute Talk categories were judged on comprehension, content, audience engagement and ability to communicate their work and findings clearly.

The winners are:

Three Minute Thesis

Eight Minute Talk

  • 1st – Ariana Tyo, Biomedical Engineering
  • 2nd – Dhavan Sharma, Biomedical Engineering
  • 3rd – Wenkai Jia, Biomedical Engineering

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all of the presenters for sharing your research with the HRI community. We would also like to give special thanks to our faculty judges: Tatyana Karabencheva-Christova (Chem), Sangyoon Han (BioMed), Samantha Smith (CLS), Jingfeng Jiang (BioMed), Marina Tanasova (Chem), Rupak Rajachar (BioMed), Traci Yu (BioSci), and Shiyue Fang (Chem).

Engineering Students Comment on Volunteer Work

Students make a difference by pulling weeds.Instead of sleeping in on a rainy Saturday, more than 500 Michigan Technological University students planted flowers, helped out at the Lake Superior Performance Rally and joined in on other projects as part of Tech’s 13th annual Make a Difference Day.

“I love having a day where I can give back with all of my fellow students,” said Amanda Moya, a fifth-year mechanical engineering student.

“I like to take advantage of the opportunity to give back and make a difference in the world,” said Blue Key member Jacob Allen, a third-year electrical engineering major.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.

Michigan Tech Accepted for Membership in UCAR

UCAR Member MapMichigan Tech has been approved for membership in the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). At its meeting at its headquarters in Boulder, Colorado Tuesday (Oct. 8, 2019), the membership of UCAR voted unanimously (89-0) to extend membership to Michigan Tech.

On July 24, three members of the UCAR Membership Committee visited the Michigan Tech campus and met with Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Jackie Huntoon, Vice President for Research Dave Reed and Deans David Hemmer (College of Sciences and Arts) and Janet Callahan (College of Engineering) along with assorted faculty and graduate students. In addition, the committee toured several University facilities including the Pi Cloud Chamber and the Great Lakes Research Center.

UCAR is a nonprofit consortium of more than 100 colleges and universities providing research and training in atmospheric-related sciences. In partnership with the National Science Foundation, UCAR operates the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

Membership in UCAR recognizes that Michigan Tech is among the players in atmospheric science nationally.

Eisele, Chaterjee Appointed to State Mining Council

Snehamoy Chatterjee
Snehamoy Chatterjee

Two Michigan Tech faculty members have been appointed to a state panel on mining. On Friday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the members of the new Committee on Michigan’s Mining Future. The formation of the committee was initiated by legislation introduced by State Rep. Sara Cambensy of Marquette.

Among those appointed by Whitmer were Snehamoy Chatterjee (GMES) and Timothy Eisele (ChE). Chatterjee was chosen to represent current or former research faculty members who hold a master’s or doctorate degree in mining or geology at a university in Michigan. Chatterjee said he’s “Overwhelmed and very excited” to serve on the committee.

Eisele, appointed as the designee of Cambensy, teaches minerals processing and metals extraction at Michigan Tech. He said the establishment of the Committee on Michigan’s Mining Future makes perfect sense. “Michigan is a major mining state, ranking in the top 10 states for mining activity, with an annual value of approximately $2.7 billion. Much of this material is used in-state for construction and industrial purposes, and it takes a prominent place in the economy of the state.”

Timothy C. Eisele
Timothy C. Eisele

Michigan Tech, which was created as a mining school, suspended the mining engineering program in 2004. This summer the major returned to the University with a new multidisciplinary mining engineering degree program. Chatterjee said the committee appointments will help the mining engineering program. “This appointment will not only help me professionally but also it will improve the visibility of our reinstated mining engineering program both to the potential employers and prospective students.

Eisele said it is important the University be represented on the state’s new mining panel. “Michigan Tech has a long history of working with the Michigan mining industry, and many of our students are employed by them. This committee will provide advice to the state legislature to ensure that the industry can not only operate in the state, but also find ways to utilize wastes constructively, and work with universities like Michigan Tech to develop and adopt new technologies that will reduce their environmental impact.”

The committee is charged with evaluating government policies that affect the mining and minerals industry, recommend public policy strategies to enhance the growth of the mining and minerals industry, and advise on the development of partnerships between industries, institutions, environmental groups, funding groups, and state and federal resources.

By Mark Wilcox.

NSF Funds Collaborative Study on Energy System Transitions

Michigan Satellite ViewKathleen Halvorsen (SS) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $1,012,875 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project is entitled, “GCR: Collaborative Research: Socio-Technological System Transitions: Michigan Community & Anishinaabe Renewable Energy Systems.” Rebecca Ong, (Chem Eng) Chelsea Schelly, (SS) Joshua Pearce, (MSE/ECE) and Richelle WInkler (SS) are Co-PI’s on this project. This is the first year of a potential five year project totaling $2,723,647.

By Sponsored Programs.


The objective of this Growing Convergence Research project is to lay the foundations for a convergent, transdisciplinary field of study focused on understanding transitions in socio-technological systems. This project aims to converge social science theories of values and motivation with engineering and economics understandings of technological feasibility to develop a comprehensive understanding of how and why energy systems, in particular, are reconfigured to include renewable energy resources.

This project brings together scholars from resource management, chemical and materials engineering, electrical engineering, sociology, energy policy, philosophy of science, and regional planning to simultaneously explore the social, cultural, and technological dimensions of energy system transitions.

The project will investigate energy system transitions in eight case communities (two Anishinaabe Tribal Nations and six non-tribal Michigan communities) that vary along characteristics key to understanding energy transitions – including rural vs. urban, renewable energy sources, degree of transition, governance, and type of utility provider.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.

SWE Evening with Industry

Honor Sheard
Honor Sheard

Last Tuesday (Sept. 24, 2019), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section at Michigan Tech hosted its annual Evening with Industry. The event is an opportunity for students to network and establish connections with company representatives the night before Career Fair.

This year, more than 20 companies, with about 60 representatives, dined with more than 110 students. The evening began with Janet Callahan, professor and dean of the College of Engineering. She spoke about how diversity within the SWE section and the university, has increased since the section started in the 1970’s. In fact, this year’s entering class of students is the most diverse in the history of Michigan Tech.

After dinner, the keynote speaker was Honor Sheard, Environment, Safety and Security Manager at the Michigan Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company, LP. She discussed her professional pathway focusing on how she has made decisions to not only benefit her career but also to balance her personal life expectations with her work at Marathon.

Overall, the event was a huge success and the members of SWE are looking forward to hosting it again next year. SWE would like to thank our keynote sponsor, Marathon Petroleum, and our other sponsors Gentex, Mercury Marine and Whirlpool Corporation.

Our sponsors, in conjunction with our other company attendees, helped make this event free for Michigan Tech students.

By Zoe Ketola and Gretchen Hein.

LIFT Team Launches Fast Forge Project

LIFT building signDETROIT – Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow (LIFT), a national manufacturing innovation institute operated by the American Lightweight Materials Innovation Institute, has joined with Michigan Upper Peninsula-based startup Loukus Technologies to launch a “Fast Forge” project exploring the use of ductile magnesium-based alloys for extrusions used in automotive, defense and consumer applications.

The project team, which includes LIFT, Loukus Technologies, Eck Industries and Michigan Technological University, aims to extrude magnesium alloys with high room temperature ductility (>25%). In turn, this process will lead to a roadmap of magnesium alloy design and development, and a materials properties database of how they can be used in future applications.

Read more at LIFT Technology in LIFT Launches Project With Michigan Startup To Advance Automotive and Warfighter Safety.

Engineering Alumni Activity Fall 2019

James A. Morrison is part of a team that received the 2019 Best in Small Projects Award by the Design-Build Institute of America at #DBIACON. The project involved the rearmoring of the 9-foot sediment bypass tunnel at Mud Mountain Dam in King County, Washington. Morrison, Vice President of COWI, has a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from Michigan Tech.

Doug Parks
Doug Parks

Doug Parks, a longtime General Motors engineer who oversees its autonomous and electric-vehicle programs, will become the automaker’s global product development and purchasing chief. Parks joined GM as a tooling engineer shortly after graduating from Michigan Technological University in 1984 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. His career included time as chief engineer of the Pontiac Solstice, Chevrolet Cobalt and Chevy Volt. He was promoted to vice president of global product programs under Barra when she was the head of product development.

Thomas Stout
Thomas Stout

HDR has hired Thomas Stout to be part of the advanced technologies for surface transportation practice as the inductive pavement leader. This emerging practice uses inductive charging technology to wirelessly charge stationary and in-motion vehicles. “Vehicle electrification and automation go hand-in-hand and present many exciting opportunities,” Stout said. Stout has a doctorate in computer engineering from North Carolina State University and received his master’s and bachelor’s degree from Michigan Technological University in electrical engineering and computer engineering respectively.

Michigan Tech Alumnus Jung-Hoe Hopgood ’99, was mentioned in the article regarding the Keystone XL hearing in Pierre, South Dakota. Hopgood, a senior engineer with EXP Global Inc. out of Florida, was accepted by the board as an expert witness during Tuesday’s meeting in Pierre. The story appeared in the Daily Republic. Hopgood earned an undergraduate degree in environmental engineering from Michigan Technological University before earning a masters degree in business administration from Ohio State University

Matt Smorch
Matt Smorch

Michigan Tech alumnus Matt Smorch ’89 has been named president and CEO of CountryMark. Scorch earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and joined CountryMark in 2001. CountryMark is an American-owned oil exploration, production, refining and marketing company. The story appeared in Morning Ag Clips.

Rachael Barlock
Rachael Barlock

Rachael Barlock has received the 2019 Young Professional of the Year Award from the Michigan Section of the American Water Works Association. Barlock has demonstrated her facilitation and leadership skills working with water providers along the Huron-to-Erie Corridor in the update of the drinking water monitoring network. She holds a BS in environmental engineering and an MS in civil engineering from Michigan Tech.

The Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) has found its new chief bridge engineer: longtime Assistant Bridge Engineer Julie Neph. Neph, who has been with the MBA for the majority of her career, will begin her new role on Nov. 3. Neph has been responsible for management of a variety of both in-house and contracted projects for the maintenance of the Mackinac Bridge and facilities. She and Executive Secretary Kim Nowack represent the MBA as members of the International Cable Supported Bridge Operators Association. Neph joined the MBA after one year in the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Engineering Development Program. She graduated from Michigan Technological University with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering. Her hometown is Sanford, and she currently lives in Cheboygan with her husband, Dave. They have two sons who are both currently attending college.

Denise Rizzo
Denise Rizzo

Denise Rizzo (ME-EM PhD 2014) was elected fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for 2019. Dr. Rizzo is Senior Research Mechanical Engineer at the U.S. Army CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC), formally U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research and Development Engineering Center (TARDEC)

Don Njegovan
Don Njegovan

Michigan Tech alumnus Don Njegovan was featured in the article “Osisko Mining Appoints Mr Don Njegovan as COO,” In Steel Guru. In his role as Chief Operating Officer, Mr Don will have overall responsibility for coordinating the feasibility study for the Windfall Project, organization of the development of mining activities and leadership of the mining team for Osisko. Njegovan holds a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering from Michigan Technological University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba.

Michigan Tech mechanical engineering alumnus Keith A. Foerster was featured in the article “Lazydays Names Foerster VP of Service Operations,” in RVBusiness. According to a press release, Foerster joins Lazydays from Heraeus Medical Components, where he served as president and general manager of North and Central America Operations and led a team of 800 employees in four operating locations.

Brandon Maurisak
Brandon Maurisak

Civil Engineering alumnus Brandon Maurisak is one of Mass Transit’s 40 Under 40. Mass Transit Magazine recognizes 40 young individuals each year that are making a name in the public transit industry. Public transit and rail electives were offered as part of the civil engineering degree program at Michigan Tech, which Maurisak credits for exposing him to characteristics of transit modes, route planning and system operations. His early exposure to rail transit and his professional life came full circle when, in 2013, following his recruitment by AECOM, he worked on the design of an extension of the system kick started by the Hiawatha.

Jason Markesino
Jason Markesino

Michigan Tech alumnus Jason Markesino was featured in the article “2019 Engineering Leader Under 40: Jason Markesino, 37,” in Control Engineering. Markesino has a BS in Mechanical Engineering with Robotics and Automation Emphasis from Michigan Tech. In 2013, Jason became the lead electrical mentor of Team RUSH, a FIRST Robotics Team.

Karl Haapala
Karl Haapala

Michigan Tech alumnus Karl Haapala, ’01, 03 ’08, was featured in the article “OSU Researchers Discuss Sustainability in Additive Manufacturing and New Sustainable Development Methodology,” in Haapala is an Associate Professor in the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University, where he directs the Industrial Sustainability Lab and serves as Assistant Director of the OSU Industrial Assessment Center. He received his BS (2001) and MS (2003) in Mechanical Engineering, and his PhD (2008) in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics as an NSF IGERT trainee, all from Michigan Technological University.