Author: Sue Hill

Graduate School Announces Fall 2020 Award Recipients

Auroral activity

The Graduate School announces the recipients of the Doctoral Finishing Fellowships, KCP Future Faculty/GEM Associate Fellowship, and CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Nominees. Congratulations to all nominees and recipients.

The following are award recipients in engineering graduate programs:

CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Nominees:

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Award:

Profiles of current recipients can be found online.


Engineering Alumni Activity Fall 2020

Garrick Ronchow
Garrick Ronchow

Michigan Tech alumnus Garrick Ronchow has been named president and CEO of CMS Energy and Consumers Energy and was named to CMS Energy’s Board of Directors. Rochow has a bachelor’s degree from environmental engineering from Michigan Technological University and a master’s degree in business administration from Western Michigan University.

Michigan Tech alumnus Mark Daavettila ’09 (Civil Engineering) has been hired at the Department Public Works (DPW) director of the City of Negaunee. He has been a licensed Professional Engineer in Michigan with 11 years of experience working in the civil engineering field. The story was covered by WLUC TV6, Marquette.

Kristina Fields
Kristina Fields

Kristina Fields, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, was named one of four recipients across the UW System of the 2020 Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award. Fields earned her PhD, Master of Science, and Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University. She began teaching at UW-Platteville in 2007.

Bobbi Wood
Bobbi Wood

ThermoAnalytics, Inc., a leader in advanced thermal, fluid-flow, and infrared modeling software, announced the promotion of Bobbi Wood to the position of President and Chief Operating Officer, effective August 24, 2020. She has served as the Chief Operating Officer since 2019. Wood holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Technological University.


Michelle Jarvie-Eggart on Engineering Education

Michelle Jarvie-Eggart
Michelle Jarvie-Eggart

Michelle Jarvie-Eggart participated in a paper for the 2020 ASEE conference online. The paper entitled “Work in Progress: Student Perception of Computer Programming within Engineering Education: An Investigation of Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors” was presented by Kelly S. Steelman (CLS).

Other authors include Kay L. Tislar, Charles Wallace, Nathan D. Manser (GMES), Briana C Bettin, and Leo C. Ureel II.

Steelman, K. S., & Jarvie-Eggart, M. E., & Tislar, K. L., & Wallace, C., & Manser, N. D., & Bettin, B. C., & Ureel, L. C. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Student Perception of Computer Programming within Engineering Education: An Investigation of Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . https://peer.asee.org/35683

Jarvie-Eggart also presented work with graduate student Amanda Singer alumnus Jason Mathews at the 2020 ASEE conference. Their paper, “Parent and Family Influence on First-year Engineering Major Choice” indicates matrilineal occupational inheritance may be affecting female engineering students.

Jarvie-Eggart, M. E., & Singer, A. M., & Mathews, J. (2020, June), Parent and Family Influence on First-year Engineering Major Choice Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . https://peer.asee.org/35035

Jarvie-Eggart is a Senior Lecturer in the Departments of Engineering Fundamentals and Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology.

Michelle Jarvie-Eggart (EF/RISE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $199,633 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

The project is entitled, “Research Initiation: Factors Motivating Engineering Faculty to Adopt and Teach New Engineering Technologies.” Shari Stockero (CLS/RISE) is the Co-PI on this two-year project.

Freeman and Jarvie-Eggart to Present at 36th Annual Distance Teaching and Learning Conference

Michelle Jarvie-Eggart (EF/CLS) and Thom Freeman (CTL/CLS) will virtually present a session titled “A Case Study Examining the Effects of Online Instructor Training” at the 36th Annual Distance Teaching and Learning Conference at 12:45  p.m. Friday (Aug. 7)

Know as DT&L to those in the online learning community, it is the longest-running and most prestigious conference centered around innovations in, and advancement of, quality online learning and distance education.

It has been held annually in Madison by the University of Wisconsin, Madison. This year’s conference is a fully online event Aug. 3-7, 2020.


Graduate School Announces Summer 2020 Award Recipients

Michigan Tech in Summer

 The Graduate School announced the recipients of the Doctoral Finishing Fellowship, Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship, Matwiyoff & Hogberg Endowed Graduate Fellowship, and the DeVlieg Foundation Research Award. The Portage Health Foundation and the Graduate School have provided support to help students complete their doctoral studies and to those in health-oriented research areas.

The following are award recipients in engineering graduate programs:

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Award

Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship

Matwiyoff & Hogberg Endowed Graduate Fellowship

Profiles of current recipients can be found online.


Engineering Alumni Activity Summer 2020

Kristina Owen
Kristina Owen

Kristina Owen has been named the head coach of the Michigan Tech men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams. Owen was the first-ever Michigan Tech Nordic skier to secure All-American honors in three consecutive seasons after finishing seventh in the classic in 2005, ninth in the 5K classic in 2006, and eighth in the 15K classic in 2007. Owen earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tech with a coaching endorsement certificate.

Gregory LeFevre
Gregory LeFevre

Greg LeFevre, BS ENVE alumnus, received the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President’s Early Career Scholar of the Year Award. LeFevre and his team study how non-point pollutants change in water and what that means for ecosystems and human health.

Mufazzal Hossain
Mufazzal Hossain

Mufazzal Hossain, CEE MS alumnus, was voted the District Leader in Assembly District 38 Part B, making him the first Bangladeshi elected Democratic District Leader in the district and in Queens, New York.

Todd Fewins
Todd Fewins

Michigan Tech alumnus Todd Fewins ’92, was quoted in the story “Medical device manufacturer finds, grows skilled talent in the U.P.” in Crain’s Detroit Business. Fewins has a BS in mechanical engineering. In 2011 he was recruited by a former boss of his at Dura to open a new facility for Precision Edge in Boyne City. Five years later he was named company president.

Jon Zander
Jon Zander

Michigan Tech alumnus Jon Zander has been promoted to senior project manager at Stevens Construction, headquartered in Fort Meyers, Florida. The story was covered in Gulfshore Business. A Michigan Technological University graduate in civil engineering, Zander is a Qualified Stormwater Management Inspector.

Margaret Brumm
Margaret Brumm

The online presentation “Invent Your Story,” by Michigan Tech alumna Margaret Brumm at the Peter White Library in Marquette, was previewed by the Marquette Mining Journal. Brumm is a patent attorney and member of the State Bar of Michigan. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Technological University and her juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School.

Stan Kaczmarek
Stan Kaczmarek

Michigan Tech alumnus Stan Kaczmarek has been promoted to president of Gundlach Champion, Inc. in Iron Mountain. The story was covered by WLUC TV6. Kaczmarek earned a degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan Tech.

Kevin Ballinger
Kevin Ballinger

Michigan Tech alumnus Kevin Ballinger was named CEO of Aldevron. The story was covered in Benzinga. Ballinger holds a BS in mechanical engineering. Headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, Aldevron is a leading biotechnology company that develops and manufactures plasmid DNA, proteins, enzymes, antibodies, and other biologicals.

Eric Showalter
W. Eric Showalter

Michigan Tech civil and environmental engineering alumnus Eric Showalter (BS, MS), has been named the 2020 Outstanding Educator by the Associated General Contractors of America. The story appeared in AGC. Showalter is a non-tenure track faculty member, with the rank of Teaching Professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Mike Paddock
Mike Paddock

Civil and Environmental Engineering alumnus, Mike Paddock, published “Bridging Barriers” about how one community changed its future with help from Engineers Without Borders USA volunteers.

Tor J. S. Anderzen
Tor J. S. Anderzen

Tor J. S. Anderzen has been elected a Governor of Region 8 of the American Society of Civil Engineers. His three year term starts on October 1, 2020. He was also named an ASCE Fellow earlier this year. Anderzen, a senior aviation engineer at HDL Engineering Consultants LLC, holds a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from Michigan Tech.

Eric Charette
Eric Charette

Michigan Tech alumnus Eric J. Charette was featured in the story “Grid modernization means adapting and evolving to meet the challenges of the future,” in Power Grid International. Charette graduated from Michigan Tech with a BS in Electrical Engineering, with an emphasis in Power Systems. He serves as Executive Technical Manager of Business Development for Utilities with Hexagon.

Audrey Yazdanparast
Audrey Yazdanparast

An article by Timothy Havens (CC) and Sakineh “Audrey” Yazdanparast (’19 PhD electrical engineering), “Linear Time Community Detection by a Novel Modularity Gain Acceleration in Label Propagation,” has been accepted for publication in the journal IEEE Transactions on Big Data. The paper presents an efficient approach for detecting self-similar communities in weighted graphs, with applications in social network analysis, online commodity recommendation systems, user clustering, biology, communications network analysis, etc.

HongWen Zhang
HongWen Zhang

Michigan Tech alumnus HongWen Zhang will give a presentation at the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) Packaging Technology Integration Group (TIG) digital meeting on Wednesday. Zhang is R&D Manager of Alloy Group. The story was featured on I-Connect 007. Zhang has a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical physical chemistry from Central South University of China, a master’s degree in materials science and engineering from the Institute of Metal Research, Chinese Academy of Science, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, and a PhD in materials science and engineering from Michigan Tech.

Steve Thorburn
Steve Thorburn

Michigan Tech alumnus Steve Thorburn is the recipient of the Fred Dixon Service in Education Award from the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA). The story was covered by AV Network. Thorburn had dual degrees in electrical engineering and technical theatre.

Michigan Tech alumnus Charles L. Marshall, BS electrical engineering, has been named vice president of Transmission Planning for ITC Holdings Corp. The story was covered in Yahoo Finance and  Benzinga. With a longstanding career at ITC, Mr. Marshall’s responsibilities have ranged from regulatory policy and stakeholder relations to project engineering and business unit planning.

Laura and Nate Gentry
Laura and Nate Gentry

Michigan Tech Alumni Laura and Nate Gentry ’05, were mentioned in the article “‘Heal the Zeel’ campaign rallies community support” in Rapid Growth. The couple owns Tripelroot Restaurant and Brewpub in Zeeland. They have created a menu of “Stay at Home” specials that incorporates ingredients grown by local suppliers. Nate has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and Laura has a BA in Liberal Arts.

Greg Ives
Greg Ives

Greg Ives hasn’t stepped foot on Michigan Tech’s campus since receiving his bachelor’s degree in December 2003. But during the coronavirus pandemic, Ives, a Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series crew chief for Alex Bowman, suddenly found the time to think back on his days in Houghton. Auto racing is the science of engineering coupled with the art and skill of driving. Ives, who studied mechanical engineering at Tech, said he’s been overseeing both elements of his Hendrick Motorsports team while working from home.


Michigan Tech Students Receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Seth A. Kriz in the lab.
Seth A. Kriz does undergraduate research on gold nanoparticles interacting with different viruses.

Three Michigan Tech students, Greta Pryor Colford, Dylan Gaines and Seth A. Kriz, have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships. The oldest STEM-related fellowship program in the United States, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is a prestigious award that recognizes exceptional graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines early in their career and supports them through graduate education. NSF-GRFP fellows are an exceptional group; 42 fellows have gone on to become Nobel Laureates, and about 450 fellows are members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Graduate School is proud of these students for their outstanding scholarship. These awards highlight the quality of students at Michigan Tech, the innovative work they have accomplished, the potential for leadership and impact in science and engineering that the county recognizes in these students, and the incredible role that faculty play in students’ academic success.

Dylan Gaines is currently a master of science student in the Computer Science Department at Michigan Tech, he will begin his doctoral degree in the same program in Fall 2020. Gaines’ research, with Keith Vertanen (CS), focuses on text entry techniques for people with visual impairments. He also plans to develop assistive technologies for use in Augmented Reality. During his undergraduate education at Michigan Tech, Gaines was a member of the cross country and track teams. Now, he serves as a graduate assistant coach. “I am very thankful for this award and everyone that supported me through the application process and helped to review my essays” said Gaines. Commenting on Gaines’ award, Computer Science Department Chair Linda Ott explained “All of us in the Department of Computer Science are very excited that Dylan is being awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. This is a clear affirmation that Dylan is an excellent student and that even as an undergraduate he demonstrated strong research skills. It also is a tribute to Dylan’s advisor Dr. Keith Vertanen who has established a very successful research group in intelligent interactive systems.”

Seth A. Kriz is pursuing his doctoral degree in chemical engineering, with Caryn Heldt (ChE). He completed his undergraduate education, also in chemical engineering, at Michigan Tech and has previously served as the lead coach of the Chemical Engineering Learning Center. His research focuses on developing improved virus purification methods for large-scale vaccine production so as to provide a timely response to pandemics. “I am extremely proud to represent Michigan Tech and my lab as an NSF graduate research fellow, and for this opportunity to do research that will save lives. My success has been made possible by the incredible family, faculty, and larger community around me, and I thank everyone for their support. Go Huskies!” said Kriz. Commenting on the award, Kriz’s advisor, Heldt said “Seth embodies many of the characteristics we hope to see in our students: excellence in scholarship, high work ethic, and a strong desire to give back to his community. I’m extremely proud of his accomplishments and I can’t wait to see what else he will do.” In addition, Kriz sings with the Michigan Tech Chamber Choir.

Greta Pryor Colford earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in aerospace engineering from Michigan Tech in spring 2019. She is currently a post-baccalaureate student at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she previously worked as an undergraduate and summer intern. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, Colford is part of the Test Engineering group (E-14) of the Engineering, Technology and Design Division (E). At Michigan Tech, she was a leader of the Attitude Determination and Control Team of the Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise, a writing coach at the Multiliteracies Center, and a member of the Undergraduate Student Government.

The fellowship provides three years of financial support, including a $34,000 stipend for each fellow and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for the fellow’s institution. Besides financial support for fellows, the GRFP provides opportunities for research on national laboratories and international research.

By the Graduate School.


Engineering Graduate Students Elected to Executive Board

Nathan Ford
Nathan Ford

The Graduate Student Government (GSG) has elected its Executive Board for the 2020-2021 session. The new Executive Board members are:

  • Nathan Ford (MEEM), President
  • Michael Maurer (ECE), Vice-President
  • Aaron Hoover (Humanities), Secretary
  • Laura Schaerer (Biological Sciences), Treasurer
  • Sarvada Chipkar (Chemical Engineering), Research Chair
  • Yasasya Batugedara (Mathematical Sciences), Professional Development Chair
  • Eric Pearson (Chemical Engineering), Social Chair
  • Marina Choy (Humanities), Public Relations Chair

The new Executive Board will assume office on May 1 and is looking forward to serving the graduate student body and the community at large.

By Apurva Baruah, GSG President.


Deans’ Teaching Showcase: Jennifer Becker

Jennifer Becker
Jennifer Becker

In the midst of all of the challenges we’re facing, it’s important to continue to recognize the dedication of so many excellent instructors on Tech’s campus. That’s why Janet Callahan, dean of the College of Engineering, has selected our ninth Deans’ Teaching Showcase member: Jennifer Becker, an associate professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department.

Becker is known by her students for her passion for hands-on learning. As an example, she seeks to create interactive learning environments for her students. CEE1001 is taught only once a year and serves all civil engineering students as well as students in other majors interested in sustainability topics. Rather than teaching a giant section of the course, which may easily exceed enrollments of 90 students, she offers two sections of the course to increase instructor-student interactions. Throughout her class, Becker employs active learning techniques to better enable her students to learn the material. This work extends beyond her own students; last spring, she received the Behind the Scenes Award for helping enterprise groups with their project.

Becker also shines at the graduate level. Many programs assume graduate students will gain the knowledge they need to be successful in their research through real-time mentoring by their advisor, making lab courses rare. She does a service for all of the environmental engineering faculty by including a wet lab component in her wastewater course to provide hands-on experience on which students can build on when they begin their research. Becker also incorporates common industry and computer tools in her classes such as Biowin, a software used to model biological, physical and chemical processes in a plant.

CEE chair Audra Morse emphasizes this connection to industry, saying “In her CEE 4502 Wastewater Treatment Principles & Design course, Jennifer offers multiple field trip sessions to the local wastewater treatment facility to make sure all class members have the opportunity to participate in this real-world learning opportunity. The field trip supports the hands-on learning and software tools Jennifer incorporates in her class. The field trip hits home how the chemical, physical, and biological processes work together in a treatment plant to achieve our design objectives. More importantly, the field trip underscores the size and complexity of the things we build.”

In these and many other ways, it’s clear that Becker’s efforts to be accessible to students are extraordinary. She makes time in the evening to offer review sessions before exams to ensure students have possible opportunities to work out misconceptions and clear up confusion before the exam. Additionally, Becker holds her office hours in the CEE Student Success Center (SSC). Surveys of students have indicated they value the group sessions that occur naturally in this space.

One of Becker’s students echoes this, saying “Becker’s dedication to her students’ learning is just one quality that raises the bar for professors everywhere. Her willingness to help students succeed extends beyond the classroom, where she responds to emails promptly and accommodates students’ needs by taking time out of her busy schedule to help them, even at odd hours, until they feel confident with the material. Becker also aids students by letting them know exactly what is expected from them and holds them to a high standard, which demonstrates true concern for her students’ education.”

Dean Callahan summarizes Becker’s contributions well, saying “It is inspiring to see faculty such as Becker who are so highly engaged with their students. Her hard work is a great help of her students’ learning, both undergraduate and graduate students alike.”

Becker will be recognized at an end-of-term event with other showcase members, and is also a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Series (to be determined this summer) recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.


NSBE Students Reach Out to Detroit Schools

Six members of Michigan Tech’s student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Pre-College Initiative (PCI) reached a total of 1,500 students during their 8th Annual Alternative Spring Break in Detroit March 9-11, 2020. Our students spent their spring break visiting six middle and high schools in Detroit to encourage students to consider college and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) career.

During the school day, the Michigan Tech students made classroom presentations to middle and high school students encouraging them to continue their education after high school, consider going to college or community college, and choose a STEM career path. After the school day ended, the NSBE students conducted K-8 Family Engineering events at two K-8 schools for students and their families, and at a Boys & Girls Club in Highland Park.

Participating students included:

The schools visited included:

  • Osborn High School
  • Detroit Arts HS
  • Mackenzie Middle School
  • University Prep Math & Science Middle School
  • University Prep Academy of the Arts Middle School
  • Neinas Academy Middle School

The NSBE students made a special stop at the Fauver-Martin Boys & Girls Club on the afternoon of March 10 to put on a hands-on engineering event for 30 K-12 students from across the city. This event was organized by Mike Reed from the Detroit Zoological Society, who also invited Michael Vaughn, the first president of MTU’s NSBE student chapter in 1995.

The goal of the NSBE classroom presentations and Family Engineering events are to engage, inspire, and encourage diverse students to learn about and consider careers in engineering and science through hands-on activities and providing ‘hometown’ role models (most of the participating NSBE students are from the Detroit area). These programs are designed to address our country’s need for an increased number and greater diversity of students skilled in STEM (math, science, technology, and engineering). 

This MTU NSBE chapter’s outreach effort is funded by General Motors and the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and coordinated by Joan Chadde, director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach. High school students at these schools are also encouraged to apply to participate in a 5-day High School Summer STEM Internship at Michigan Tech from July 13-17, 2020 that is specifically targeting underrepresented students. Each participating student will be supported by a $700 scholarship. The Detroit high school students are also informed of scholarships available to attend MTU’s Summer Youth Programs.

For more information about the MTU-NSBE student chapter’s Alternative Spring Break, contact NSBE student chapter President, Bryce Stallworth or Chadde.

By Joan Chadde.


Online Science and Engineering Fair

Boy Watching Video

In a classic example of turning lemons into lemonade, organizers of the Western U.P. Science and Engineering Fair are turning a disappointing situation into a new and exciting endeavor. 

The 22nd edition of the fair, which was to have been held Wednesday (March 18) in the Memorial Union Building, did not take place as planned. More than 125 students from Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, Ontonagon and Gogebic counties in grades four through eight were registered for the event. Due to directives to not gather in large groups and to maintain social distancing, the science and engineering fair didn’t take place. But that’s not to say it was cancelled. 

Emily Gochis, director of the Western UP MiSTEM Network and, in turn, the director of the Western U.P. Science Fair, said organizers have moved the fair to an online platform. 

“We wanted to offer this alternative method because we know how hard our students, parents and teachers have worked to develop and complete projects,” Gochis said. 

Under the new format, students as individuals or in pairs may use their assigned project numbers to submit a recorded project interview, photographs of the display board and a digital copy of the written report. The project numbers were provided to the students last week.

Gochis feels many of the students are up to this new challenge. “We are asking our students to be creative problem solvers and felt that we could do the same for them by developing a new submission process using out-of-the-box thinking and available technology in an authentic way.”

Gochis recognizes that not all students will have access to their projects or the needed technology with schools closed. “For that reason, projects can be submitted up to two weeks after K-12 classes resume,” she added. 

Students can submit projects by uploading photos, documents and a recording to a Google Drive folder identified by their assigned project number. “If needed, students can use FlipGrid, a free video capturing platform to record and submit their project interviews, up to five minutes in length,” Gochis said. 

In the face of a prolonged school closure, many parents are scrambling to find homeschooling options for their children. Gochis says participating in the science and engineering fair can certainly be of help.

“Science and Engineering Fair projects are one of the many ways for students to keep learning at home during school closures. A comprehensive student guide that includes a series of worksheets to help students and parents conduct a science investigation is located on the Western MiSTEM Network’s webpage.

Gochis said she realizes this new process isn’t ideal but she wanted to provide a mechanism for as many registered students to submit their projects as possible and felt this was better than canceling completely. 

“We have never tried this before and appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through this for the first time.”

Students and parents can receive a step-by-step online submission guide or direct any questions to Gochis via email. 

By Mark Wilcox.