Author: Sue Hill

SWE, Aerospace Enterprise Represent MTU at Women in Aviation Day

Women in Aviation Day banner with image of Amelia Earhart.

On September 17, 2022, eight students from the Aerospace Enterprise and Society of Women Engineers represented Michigan Tech at the first annual Women in Aviation Day in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Participating students were:

From Aerospace: Heather Goetz, Seth Quayle and Nolan Pickett (mechanical engineering); and Zoe Knoper (cybersecurity).

From SWE: Sophie Stewart and Katherine Rauscher (mechanical engineering); Kathryn Krieger (environmental engineering); and Cailyn Koerber (engineering management).

This event was hosted by the Learn Build Fly organization, which does incredible volunteer work in engaging their community in aviation. As summarized by Wausau’s WSAW-TV News Channel 7, “The event aimed to get more women involved in recreational and professional aviation. Children had the chance to participate in ‘Young Eagle Flights’ by going for airplane rides, while other aviation organizations gave information about their programs.”

Visitors to the event had the opportunity to see a 3D model of the newest Aerospace Enterprise satellite design and learn how these students were designing and building satellites to go into space, while the SWE team worked with visitors on an outreach activity, Paper Circuits.

Participants’ comments included:

Nolan Pickett: “Our Enterprise was given the opportunity to not only celebrate the women in our program, but also promote STEM to the next generation of college students — and fly in a WWII era B-25!”

Kathryn Krieger: “I loved being able to see so many young girls getting excited about STEM. It was really inspiring to see the many ways kids are getting involved with aviation and other STEM disciplines from such a young age.”

Both SWE and the Aerospace Enterprise teams enjoyed volunteering at Women in Aviation, learning more about the history of aviation and meeting with folks interested in aviation careers. This was a unique outreach opportunity and they appreciated the support they received from Admissions and the College of Engineering.

By Gretchen Hein, SWE Advisor.

Engineering Alumni Activity Fall 2022

Debra Larson
Debra Larson

Michigan Tech was mentioned in a Mining Journal story on alumna Debra Larson, who is a presidential candidate for Northern Michigan University. Larson received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from MTU. “I’m very much interested in following the science,” Larson said.

Juliana Strieter
Juliana Strieter

DVIDS (Defense Visual Information Distribution Service) published a feature story on the Sept. 1 promotion of Michigan Tech alumna Juliana Strieter ’96 (BS, civil engineering) to the rank of captain in the U.S. Navy. As an officer, Capt. Strieter’s tours include deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as Charlie Company commander and assistant training officer with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FOUR. In 2014, she had the distinction of being the first permanent party stationed at Naval Support Facility Deveselu, Romania, and was on the forefront of the establishment of the Navy’s first new installation in over 20 years. She later served as the Facilities Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization analyst to the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations and oversaw all aspects from programming through execution of sustainment and recapitalization across the Navy’s $305 billion shore enterprise.

Arick Davis
Arick Davis

Rapid Growth mentioned Michigan Tech in a story featuring Grand Rapids startup Last Mile Café, an online coffee business co-owned by Arick Davis ’16 (electrical engineering). Since its inception, Last Mile Café has donated more than 10% of revenue to charitable organizations that work for environmental justice, clean drinking water, criminal justice reform or youth-at-risk.

Kueber Watkins and Middlebrook Selected for 2022 CTL Instructional Awards

Melanie Kueber Watkins
Melanie Kueber Watkins

The Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) congratulates the 2022 Deans’ Teaching Showcase members who have been selected to receive 2022 CTL Instructional Awards. Mark your calendars for the following fall semester events, where instructors will discuss the work that led to their nominations. After each presentation they will receive formal recognition and $600 in additional compensation.

CTL Instructional Award Series Schedule:

  • Sept. 29 — Innovative or Out-of-Class Teaching: Kristin Brzeski (CFRES) and Melanie Kueber Watkins (CEGE)
  • Oct. 13 — Large Class Teaching: Loredana Valenzano-Slough (Chemistry)
  • Nov. 8 — Curriculum Development or Assessment: Chris Middlebrook (ECE) and Josue Reynoso (CoB)
Christopher Middlebrook
Christopher Middlebrook

All events will take place from 3:45–4:45 p.m. Detailed presentation titles, topics and registration links for the events will be announced later.

The CTL would also like to thank previous instructional award recipients who were instrumental in the selection process.

We’re looking for nominations for the upcoming (2023) Deans’ Teaching Showcase during spring semester. Please consider suggesting (to your dean or chair) instructors whom you’ve seen make exceptional contributions in curriculum development, assessment, innovative or out-of-class teaching, or large class teaching.

By the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.


The Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning will recognize Kristin Brzeski (CFRES) and Melanie Kueber Watkins (CEGE) as co-recipients of the CTL Instructional Award for Innovative or Out of Class Teaching on Sept. 29 at 3:45 p.m.

Watkins’ award presentation is titled “Collaborative Classroom Cloud Computing.”

From the abstract:

“Dr. Watkins will highlight her use of project-based learning to enhance student computing skills and job preparedness. Her approach involved integrating new concepts and skills into courses for 2D hydraulic modeling with lidar data, including Linux scripting.”

Aurenice Oliveira Named ELATES Fellow

Aurenice Oliveira wearing gear and using a laptop on the Portage Lift Bridge.
Aurenice Oliveira, PhD, ELATES Fellow ’22-’23, Drexel University Executive Leadership in Academic Technology, Engineering and Science

Associate Professor Aurenice Oliveira (ECE) has been selected for the Class of 2022-23 of Drexel University’s Executive Leadership in Academic Technology, Engineering and Science (ELATES) fellowship program.

Aurenice Oliveira is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech, and also serves the University as a vice president for research faculty fellow.

ELATES is a national leadership development program designed to promote women in academic STEM fields, and faculty allies of all genders, into institutional leadership roles. Oliveira is also a recipient of the first ASEE ELATES fellow scholarship covering program costs and travel expenses. 

The ELATES Class of 2022-23 Fellows comprise a prestigious cohort of 30 faculty members from over 25 institutions of higher education across the U.S. and Canada. Fellows include experts in engineering, mathematics and science, all of whom have significant administrative experience on top of their scholarly accomplishments. Oliveira was nominated by Dean Janet Callahan (COE) and former interim Chair Glen Archer (ECE) for this intensive yearlong program, which includes personal and leadership development work as well as series of on-site work in the Philadelphia area.

“I am excited to participate in a program focused on training an amazing group of women to become leaders in academic STEM fields.”

Aurenice Oliveira

“I am excited to participate in a program focused on training an amazing group of women to become leaders in academic STEM fields,” said Oliveira. “I would like to be able to bridge people and ideas as well as to tap into our strengths to create and encourage growth in my department and at Michigan Tech.”

Oliveira’s research interests focus on hybrid communications and networking, including connected and autonomous vehicles communications.  She is currently the IEEE chair for Northeastern Wisconsin Region 4 and recently served as the chair of the NSF ADVANCE Advocates and Allies Advisory Board (A3B) and as equity (DEIS) advisor for Michigan Tech faculty and chairs search teams. She is faculty advisor for two Michigan Tech student organizations on campus, as well, the IEEE student chapter and Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) Honor Society.

Oliveira will be also serving as a Michigan Tech Vice President for Research Faculty Fellow for the 2022-23 academic year in the areas of research development and research integrity.

Facilitated by leaders in the fields of STEM research and leadership development, the ELATES curriculum is focused on increasing Fellows’ personal and professional leadership effectiveness, from the ability to lead and manage change initiatives within institutions, to the use of strategic finance and resource management to enhance organizational missions. Pairing online instruction and discussion with intensive, in-person seminar sessions, the program encourages Fellows to apply what they’ve learned at their home institutions. Ultimately, it aims to create a network of exceptional faculty who bring broad organizational perspectives and deep personal capacity to the institutions and societies they serve.

Learn more online at ELATES at Drexel.

By Michigan Tech’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Environmental Engineering Presentations at AEESP 2022

Environmental Engineering at the Confluence AEESP St. Louis 2022

Rose Daily and Benjamin Barrios, both PhD students in environmental engineering, traveled to St. Louis with their advisor, Daisuke Minakata (CEGE). They attended the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) Conference on June 28-30, where they presented their research findings.

Daily gave her podium presentation about advanced reduction technology for the remediation of organic contaminants in water including per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Barrios presented a poster about an aquatic photochemistry project supported by the National Science Foundation.

The AEESP Research and Education Conference addresses the most critical environmental challenges of this era. Its theme, “Environmental Engineering and Science at the Confluence,” is designed to span the field of environmental engineering, to explore convergence and to highlight emerging developments.

Engineering Alumni Activity Summer 2022

Paige Fiet
Paige Fiet

Paige Fiet (’21 electrical engineering) writes about the IPC chapter formation at Michigan Tech in 2019 in “The New Chapter: My Time on the IPC Board of Directors—Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” in I-Connect007. Fiet is a process engineer at TTM-Logan, a former student director on the IPC Board of Directors, and an IPC Emerging Director.

Paul Rogers
Paul Rogers

DBusiness Magazine quoted Major General Paul Rogers ‘88 ‘04 (BS, PhD, mechanical engineering) in a feature article lauding Michigan as a hub of innovation and synergy between public and private sectors working to invent, test, and produce military technologies. Rogers, the adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard, speaks at length in the article about his vision for the National All-Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC) and its operations in the lower peninsula.

Brenda Ryan
Brenda Ryan

Brenda Ryan ’76 (BS, metallurgical and materials engineering), the current vice chair of Michigan Tech’s Board of Trustees, was the featured guest on an episode of Let Them Lead, a podcast discussing the risks and rewards of leadership today.

Patricia Nadeau
Patricia Nadeau

Alumna Patricia Nadeau ’11 (PhD, geology) was mentioned in the July 7 edition of Volcano Watch, a weekly article and activity update written by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The story explained how researchers study Hawaiian volcano plumes. Nadeau, a current member of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory gas geochemistry group, studied the summit plume using a UV camera in 2010 while a graduate student at Michigan Technological University. Nadeau is a volcanologist with a specialization in volcanic gases.

Larry Carbary
Larry Carbary

Metal Architecture and Metal Construction News covered the presentation of ASTM International’s Werner H. Gumpertz Award to Michigan Tech alumnus Larry Carbary ’82 (chemical engineering). Carbary was recognized for his role in creating industry standards in the 1980s, his mentorship in the organization and his world-leading career in research and development of the building envelope. He is an internationally recognized author and speaker on the performance of building facades.

Melissa Baumann
Melissa Baumann

The first public appearance of alumna Melissa Baumann ’83 (metallurgical and materials engineering) as the prospective president of Ohio Northern University was the subject of a news story by Your Hometown Stations. Baumann will be the 12th president at ONU and will also be the first woman to hold the position.

Michigan Space Grant Consortium Awardees for 2022-2023

Michigan Space Grant Consortium NASA

The University of Michigan – Michigan Space Grant Consortium has announced grant recipients. Michigan Tech faculty and staff researchers receiving grants are:

Faculty Led Fellowships for Undergraduates

Brendan Harville for “Seismic Amplitude based Lahar Tracking for Real-Time Hazard Assessment.”

Sierra Williams for “Understanding the Controls of Solute Transport by Streamflow Using Concentration-Discharge Relationship in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.”

Graduate Fellowships

Espree Essig for “Analyzing the effects of heavy metals on vegetation hyperspectral reflectance properties in the Mid-Continent Rift, USA.”

Caleb Kaminski for “Investigation of Ground-Penetrating Radar Interactions with Basaltic Substrate for Future Lunar Missions.”

Katherine Langfield for “Structural Characteristics of the Keweenaw and Hancock Faults in the Midcontinent Rift System and Possible Relationship to the Grenville Mountain Belt.”

Tyler LeMahieu for “Assessing Flood Resilience in Constructed Streambeds: Flume Comparison of Design Methodologies.”

Paola Rivera Gonzalez for “Impacts of La Canícula (“Dog Days of Summer”) on agriculture and food security in Salvadoran communities in the Central American Dry Corridor.”

Erican Santiago for “Perchlorate Detection Using a Graphene Oxide-Based Biosensor.”

Kyle Schwiebert for “LES-C Turbulence Models and their Applications in Aerodynamic Phenomena.”

HONES Awards

Paul van Susante for “Lunabotics Competition Robot.”

Research Seed Grants

Xinyu Ye for “Analyzing the effects of potential climate and land-use changes on hydrologic processes of Maumee River Watershed using a Coupled Atmosphere-Lake-Land Modeling System.”

Pre-College Educational Programs

Jannah Tumey for “Tomorrow’s Talent Series: Exploring Aerospace & Earth System Careers through Virtual Job-Shadowing.”

Michigan Tech Represented at Midwest Growth Capital Symposium

SuPyRec logo.
ZiTechnologies logo with statement Clean Energy Pellets from Non-Recyclable Plastic-Paper.


Jim Baker (VPR) presented “Supporting Tech Companies from Pre-Launch to Investment” at the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium, held virtually and hosted by the University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.

The symposium also was attended by two Michigan Tech startup companies, SuPyRec and ZiTechnologies. Company representatives presented to prospective investors and hosted virtual booths throughout the event.

SuPyRec is led by David Shonnard (ChE) and is commercializing plastics recycling technology developed in his lab. ZiTechnologies is led by PhD graduate Stas Zinchik and is commercializing clean energy technology based on research conducted in Ezra Bar Ziv’s lab (ME-EM).

Both companies are leveraging support resources available within Michigan Tech’s Office of Innovation and Commercialization through Nate Yenor, director of technology business incubation, in close collaboration with MTEC SmartZone, the Michigan Small Business Development Center and Husky Innovate.

By Jim Baker, Vice President for Research Office.

The symposium took place May 17 and 18, 2022.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: David Labyak

David Labyak
David Labyak

Dean Janet Callahan has selected David M. Labyak, assistant professor in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET), for this spring’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

Labyak will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other spring showcase members, and is a candidate for this summer’s CTL Instructional Award Series.

Labyak brings his 23 years of professional industry experience to life in the classroom. He relates engineering project examples from General Motors in manufacturing and process engineering; Copper Range Company and Raytheon Missile Systems in project engineering; and Great Lakes Sound and Vibration in simulation analysis. All offer students an endless supply of practical applications to help understand engineering theory.

Labyak first developed new assignments and restructured machine design courses MET 3242 and MET 3451. Then, he developed new graduate courses: MET 5800 and MET 5801 for the mechatronics M.S. and online course MFGE 5200 for the manufacturing engineering graduate certificate.

In these courses, Labyak relates course theory to industrial applications of sheet metal design and fabrication, mining facility maintenance, and missile assembly processes. In addition, he uses examples from his family-owned farm in Ontonagon, where he maintains tractors and farm equipment. Vibrations, reliability and fatigue in mechanical components such as bearings, gears, drive systems, clutches and brakes provide examples students can easily grasp.

Labyak’s ability to explain where and how students will utilize the course content in their careers also makes him a great recruiter and advisor. “David often volunteers to meet with prospective students and their families,” says John Irwin, chair of MMET. “His industry knowledge in terms of engineering needs provides insight to guide MET students throughout their career paths.”

MET alum Mickala Kohtz ’21 explains how Labyak was effective in teaching MET 4660 CAE and FEA Methods. “He took the time to understand the way that I learned best and would walk me through difficult concepts. Dave was always willing to help his students, whether it was after class, the weekends, and even to lend a listening ear about job offers or Senior Design help.”

Likewise, former student Joshua Olusola says Labyak is very friendly and open to students anytime you find him available, even on Saturdays. “He gave sufficient in-class practice questions to ensure that the concept was understood before he assigned homework.” MET 5801 was Olusola’s first encounter with the Simulink software, but he transitioned smoothly using instructional labs prior to lab assignments. “I would say almost every student who had a course with Dave always jumped at an opportunity to take another with him due to his exceptional teaching technique and friendly personality. These traits indeed made students more open to learning.”

Dean Callahan recognizes Labyak’s ability to connect with students. “The personal relationships that Dave is able to develop with his students demonstrates the best parts of the high-tech, high-touch education that is Michigan Tech’s trademark. He is an inspiration to us all.”

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Christopher Middlebrook

Christopher Middlebrook
Christopher Middlebrook

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected Christopher Middlebrook, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), as our ninth Dean’s Teaching Showcase member of spring 2022.

Middlebrook will be recognized at an end-of-term event with other showcase members, and is also a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Series.

Middlebrook was selected for growing his work with printed circuit board (PCB) design into something extraordinary. He recognized a training need for electronic design engineers and put all the pieces in place to address a national security problem and offer employment opportunities for Michigan Tech students.

Like most great things, it started small. Middlebrook had an idea that if students like building electronic circuits, they might enjoy designing the printed circuit boards as well. His involvement with the Institute for Printed Circuits (IPC), a trade association founded to standardize assembly and production of electronic equipment, led to an IPC student chapter being formed in ECE. He gathered free materials and used equipment from local and national suppliers and launched an undergraduate course in PCB design. It was a huge hit. Local PCB manufacturer Calumet Electronics Corporation worked closely with him to offer the students an in-depth view of the design process from schematic capture to tested and accepted final product. Calumet Electronics Director of Engineering Services Rob Cooke describes Middlebrook as a “key strategic partner.” Cooke says: “Chris continually pushes to get feedback from our company about what students need to learn to be successful. He believes, as do we, that being able to see, touch and work with materials and processes is a key to being able to design and build.”

The industry connection did not stop there. Plexus Corporation, a dominant force in the electronics manufacturing industry, has a strong interest in the strength of the electronic system design education. Christina Jufliak, Michigan Tech alumna and a manager at Plexus, learned of Middlebrook’s efforts through the department’s External Advisory Committee. She saw a benefit to both her employer and the University. In her words: “As a Michigan Tech student, I saw firsthand the school’s efforts to provide relevant and hands-on experiences for students to prepare them for their careers.”

Middlebrook worked with Jufliak, the Michigan Tech Office of Advancement and the Plexus Corporation Charitable Foundation to secure $150,000 to create the Plexus Innovation Center on the sixth floor of the Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC). Jufliak summarizes: “I am very excited that the Plexus Innovation Lab will continue supporting these efforts, preparing students to take on internships and full-time positions within their respective fields.”

This professional-grade makerspace has become a lighthouse for the design, fabrication and testing of electronic systems for researchers, Senior Design and Enterprise projects across the campus. Dean Callahan comments: “Middlebrook’s educational leadership has made a difference to what students are able to design and build, right here in the EERC.”