Author: Sue Hill

Sue Hill is the Digital Content Manager for the College of Engineering.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Pasi Lautala

Pasi Lautala
Pasi Lautala

The College of Engineering and the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE) are pleased to announce Pasi Lautala as the featured instructor for this week’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

Lautala will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other spring showcase members, and is a candidate for the next CTL Instructional Award Series.

Lautala is being honored for excellence in teaching across a 20-year effort focused on railway engineering. Because of his passion for rails as a highly energy-efficient mode for land transportation, he established and now manages Michigan Tech’s railway engineering program. The educational aspects of this program benefit students at Michigan Tech and across the nation.

“Dr. Lautala had a vision of a world-class rail engineering program at Tech. Through steadfast determination, Pasi made that happen,” said College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan. “Because of Pasi’s trailblazing efforts, Tech students can pursue an undergraduate minor in rail transportation. And those who do are highly sought after for employment by rail companies and their contractors on our continent and beyond.”

In addition to the minor he established, Lautala mentors students in the Rail Engineering Activities Club (REAC) at Michigan Tech, reinforcing their curricular experiences with extracurricular activities. Students interact with rail industry professionals to learn even more about train systems and establish important industry contacts. This club is the inaugural student chapter of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA), the national organization for rail engineering professionals. That the inaugural student chapter was established at Michigan Tech speaks volumes about Lautala’s impact in railway engineering education.

Lautala has also had an enormous impact across the continent. In 2008, he helped establish the Railroad Engineering Education Symposium (REES) under the auspices of AREMA, which he continues to lead. Its purpose is to expand and encourage railway engineering education throughout North America. In 2015, with the help of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), this was augmented with the passenger-rail symposium (p-REES) to look at issues particular to transit, commuter and inter-city services. Lautala’s vision has led hundreds of faculty members and dozens of universities to incorporate rail engineering into their educational offerings.

“Dr. Lautala is a visionary in rail education and his impact is significant,” said Audra Morse, chair of CEGE. “I have heard about this work through colleagues and department heads around the country. Our students benefit from Pasi’s passion, technical competence and industry connections. The rail program draws students from all over the country to Michigan Tech.”

Lautala has also worked to develop a pipeline of students passionate about rail as an energy-efficient mode of transportation through Michigan Tech’s summer youth program. This has led to the “Tracks to the Future” collaboration with University of Illinois and Penn State Altoona, which, with funding from the Federal Railroad Administration, expands the program and includes these other campuses.

For his impact on education at Michigan Tech and beyond, the College of Engineering is honored to recognize Pasi Lautala in the Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

Engineering Ambassadors and SWE Host Engineering Day on MLK Day 2023

MLK Day of Service graphic.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Engineering Ambassadors (EA) hosted an Engineering Day at Barkell Elementary in Hancock, Michigan. Students from SWE, EA, Tau Beta Pi and Circle K “made it a day on, not a day off” through introducing kindergarten through fifth grade students to engineering.

Kindergarten and first grade students learned about buoyancy and stability through designing a constructing a foil boat to hold a load. Second and third grade students learned about potential and kinetic energy as they designed and constructed roller coasters for marbles. The fourth and fifth graders were introduced to series circuits as they constructed a BouncyBot.

We thank the Tech students for volunteering and the Barkell Elementary students for their enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

By Jaclyn Johnson, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and Gretchen Hein, Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Tony Pinar

Tony Pinar
Tony Pinar

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected Associate Teaching Professor Anthony (Tony) Pinar as the first member of this spring’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

Pinar will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other spring showcase members, and is a candidate for the next CTL Instructional Award Series.

Capstone design in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), the second-largest department in the College of Engineering, is a complex ecology formed of students, the Enterprise Program office, industry partners, faculty subject matter experts and other departments’ capstone programs. It takes someone very special to be able to balance the interests of all those constituents and maintain a robust educational experience for every possible combination of project, team and sponsor. Pinar manages it with grace and a resolute commitment to excellence. “Almost everything about the class was amazing,” one student commented. “Honestly, I believe this may be the best formatted, run and taught class I’ve taken so far at Tech.” That’s high praise from a tough audience.

The strategy Pinar takes with the ECE Senior Design applies a common framework of tasks and deliverables across all Senior Design teams and allows for relatively autonomous advisor roles. This means that all teams have overall similar capstone experiences, but faculty advisors are able to coordinate, manage and assess their teams using their own individual styles. The framework stresses the importance of objective decision-making, following appropriate engineering standards and communicating engineering problems to other engineers. The common framework also helps ensure that the program meets external assessment criteria (e.g., ABET) and also provides a mechanism for the department to assess a large number of ECE students for program improvement. Jin Choi, ECE department chair, said: “We are proud of the improvements Tony has made to make this a more effective program. The students have really benefited.”

Projects in Senior Design generally challenge the students’ technical skills. Pinar coordinates the ongoing relationships with our industry sponsors and manages expectations when necessary. He has a wealth of industry experience that provides context for the students and informs his individual coaching for students as they navigate the transition between communicating with peers and communicating in a professional environment as engineers. Teams are required to present several times throughout the yearlong project. Pinar has crafted a common rubric that allows faculty, staff and industry sponsors to evaluate the students’ technical approach as well as individual presentation skills. This provides an opportunity for meaningful feedback from a variety of perspectives. This increases the quality of our students’ technical presentation skills, and their communication skills when discussing technical topics with fellow engineers. This quality increase has been noted by our own internal faculty advisors and by members on our External Advisory Committee.

Callahan, in closing, stated: “Dr. Pinar’s hard work and expertise prepares our students for excellence. Through his efforts our graduates are well prepared not only to technically excel, but also to communicate within and beyond their team beginning from the first position they hold.”

Engineering Alumni Activity Spring 2023

Ryan Bauman
Ryan Bauman

Congratulations to alumnus Ryan Bauman ’07 (civil engineering) for being named an ENR Midwest Top Young Professional. The Engineering News-Record (ENR) recognized 20 individuals in the region under the age of 40 — all young leaders in design and construction who are helping shape the industry’s future. Bauman is a transit section manager at HDR Engineering Inc. in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. He was selected because he reshapes communities through public transportation access.

Peter Ray
Peter Ray

Railway Age covered the retirement of Peter Ray (civil engineering) as vice president, engineering, of Indiana Rail Road (INRD). In 2006, Ray joined INRD as General Manger, Engineering, and was elevated to Vice President, Engineering in 2009. Among his achievements are the 500-mile railroad serving southwest Indiana and eastern Illinois.

Mark Daavettila ’09 (civil engineering) was quoted by the Mining Journal in a story covering his appointment as department of public works director and city engineer in Negaunee, Michigan. Daavettila holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from MTU and has 11 years of experience working in the civil engineering field. He is a licensed professional engineer in Michigan and recently worked for Upper Peninsula Engineers and Architects.

Tasha Stoiber
Tasha Stoiber

Tasha Stoiber ’00 (BS, environmental engineering; BS, biological sciences) was a guest on ABC 2 News of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Stoiber joined the broadcast virtually to discuss an environmental report estimating that eating one freshwater fish is equivalent to drinking a month’s worth of forever chemicals in water. Stoiber is a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group in San Francisco, California, and co-authored the report. She researches contaminants in water, indoor air pollution, and chemicals in consumer products.

Karen Swager
Karen Swager

Yahoo! Finance covered the appointment of Karen Swager ’92 ’94 (B.S., M.S., metallurgical engineering) to the SSR Mining Inc. Board of Directors. She is currently the senior vice president, supply chain, at the Mosaic Company. Swager brings nearly three decades of mining experience to SSR Mining with expertise in operations, supply chain management and Environment, Health and Safety. She is a member of the Department of Chemical Engineering’s Distinguished Academy.

Phil Rausch
Phil Rausch

North American Clean Energy covered the appointment of Phil Rausch ’08 (chemical engineering) as Hemlock Semiconductor’s new senior director of commercial sales. He supported HSC’s rapid growth in several capacities, including manufacturing team leader, economic evaluator and finance analyst, project engineering manager and business development manager. Rausch will lead the HSC sales team across all four market-facing segments of HSC’s business: solar, semiconductors, advanced energy storage, and silicon-based chemicals.

Sally Heidtke
Sally Heidtke

A book written by Sally Heidtke ’81 (chemical engineering) was the subject of a story in the Iron Mountain Daily News. The book “Be Infinite: Access Your Unimagined Potential,” is a guide to living a richer, deeper life. Heidtke worked as a manager in the engineering field for 25 years before starting a career in intuitive services and guidance.

Craig Tester
Craig Tester

Distractify mentioned Michigan Tech in a story about the net worth of “The Curse of Oak Island” star Craig Tester, who earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from MTU. In addition to his work in the television industry, Craig is a successful entrepreneur and engineer, owning stakes in several companies throughout his time-honored career. From Terra Energy to Oak Island Tours Inc. to Heritage Sustainable Energy, eclectic engineering business ventures heavily inform Craig’s multi-million-dollar net worth.

Related

Engineering Alumni Activity Fall 2022

Joint ROTC Commissioning Ceremony December 17

Spring 2019 commencement ceremony with cadets on stage.

The Air Force and Army ROTC invite you to the Fall 2022 Commissioning Ceremony on Saturday (Dec. 17) at 7:30 a.m. at the Rozsa Center.

This semester we have three Air Force cadets and five Army cadets commissioning.

Those commissioning are from the following programs:

Civil Engineering | Environmental Engineering | Mathematics | Mechanical Engineering

We will also be streaming the ceremony if you prefer to watch it live on YouTube.

SWE Students and Alumnae Host Girl Scouts Events

Two girls construct cranes on a tabletop.
Junior Girl Scouts participate in crane design at Michigan Tech.

Michigan Tech’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section and two SWE alumnae hosted two Girl Scouts events for 69 youth Nov. 8 and 10, 2022.

On Nov. 8, Amy (Palmgren) Rokos ’08 (computer engineering) and Pam (Wolting) Seibert ’10 (civil engineering) hosted a Girl Scouts event for K-5 Scouts in Grand Rapids, Michigan, using activities and materials provided by the SWE section. For this event, Rokos and Seibert selected activities developed at Michigan Tech and received instructions on how to do them with youth. Thirty-nine Scouts participated in the event.

Rokos stated: “The event was a success! I think the girls had fun and the leaders really appreciated us putting on the event.”

Seibert commented: “This morning was fantastic! Thanks to the entire MTU team for these ideas and fantastic programs. (The Scouts) were engaged the entire time frame and came out more excited about engineering. Electrical and chemical engineering seem to be the leaders of interest. The ice cream was really simple too, almost easier than my machine at home.“

On Nov. 10, 30 Junior Girl Scouts in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula participated in a crane design, construct and test activity hosted by the MTU SWE section. This outreach event was unique because the local Girl Scouts came to Michigan Tech and completed the activity in one of the Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology labs, while the other Scouts completed the event virtually.

We really appreciated hosting the Nov. 10 event in a Tech lab. When the Scouts were constructing their crane, they could look at an engine stand. The stand and crane have many similar parts. Some of the youth observed that the base of the stand was wider at the base and with this design, when the engine was supported by the boom, the stand did not tip over. These concepts were incorporated into their designs. The SWE members enjoyed working with the Girls Scouts and look forward to the Girl Scouts events we have planned for the spring semester.

By Gretchen Hein, SWE Advisor.

Group photo of girls and hosts.
Girl Scouts visit Michigan Tech.
Girls work with soapy materials at a tabletop.
Event hosted in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for K-5 Girl Scouts.
Several girls seated on a carpeted floor and using bags of material.
Girl Scouts engaged in activities in Grand Rapids.

GLRC Summer and Fall 2022 Student Awards

Please join the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) in congratulating the Summer and Fall 2022 GLRC Student Research and Travel Grant recipients.

The GLRC student grants are intended to provide undergraduate and graduate students advised by GLRC members an opportunity to gain experience in writing competitive grants, to perform research they would not be able to attempt due to funding limitations, or to travel to a professional conference to present a poster or paper about their research.

Student grants also provide research seed data for advisors to use in pursuing externally funded research support and travel grants help amplify areas of research expertise at Michigan Tech. Funded students are expected to participate/volunteer for at least one GLRC activity during the grant period.

Student Research Grant recipient:

Student Travel Grant recipients:

  • Timothy Stone, M.S. student — Social Sciences
    • GLRC member advisor: Donald Lafreniere
    • Attending: 2022 Social Sciences History Association Annual Conference
    • Presentation: “Exploring the Built and Social Determinants of Health in a 20th Century Industrial City”
  • Mai Anh Tran, Ph.D. student — College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science 
    • GLRC member advisor: Valoree Gagnon
    • Attending: History of Science Society 2022 Annual Meeting – Sustainability, Regeneration, and Resiliency
    • Presentation: “Tracing the Resilience Concept Through the History of Science and the Lens of Indigenous Knowledge”
  • Tessa Tormoen, B.S. student — Biological Sciences
    • GLRC member advisor: Jill Olin
    • Attending: The Wildlife Society National Conference 2022
    • Presentation: “Using DNA Metabarcoding to Evaluate Dietary Resource Partitioning Among Two Sympatric Tilefish”
  • Emily Shaw, Ph.D. student — Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering
    • GLRC member advisor: Noel Urban
    • Attended: 2022 American Chemical Society Fall Meeting – Sustainability in a Changing World
    • Presentation: “Toxicity in Fish Tissue: Redefining Our Understandings by Quantifying Mixture and Combined Toxicity”
  • Enid Partika, Ph.D. student — Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering
    • GLRC member advisors: Judith Perlinger, Noel Urban 
    • Attending: Dioxin 22 – 42nd International Symposium on Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants 
    • Presentation: “Filling the Data Gap on Responses of Fish PCB Content to Remedial Actions in Torch Lake, Michigan”
  • James Juip, Ph.D. student — Social Sciences
    • GLRC member advisor: Donald Lafreniere 
    • Attending: Social Science History Association Annual Meeting – Reverberations of Empire: Histories, Legacies & Lineages 
    • Presentation: “Utilizing HSDIs to Support Community Engaged Interdisciplinary Education and Heritage Interpretation”
  • John McCall, M.S. student — Biological Sciences
    • GLRC member advisor: Gordon Paterson
    • Attending: The Wildlife Society Annual Conference
    • Presentation: “Evaluating Genotoxicity of Mine Tailings on Two Game Fish in a Spawning Reef in Lake Superior (Michigan)”

The GLRC awarded travel grants to the following students attending COP27, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, with Sarah Green (Chem):

  • Rose Daily, Ph.D. student — Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering, speaking on the U.S. Center Panel on the topic of “Climate Education in the US”
  • Ayush Chutani, Ph.D. student — Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, participating in U.N. side event “Climate Leadership Across Generations”
  • Katherine Huerta-Sanchez, M.S. student — Social Sciences, presenting “Voices and Visions: The Art and Science of Climate Action. Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education (YEAH ) and PEACE BOAT US”
  • Anna Kavanaugh, B.S. student — Social Sciences, presenting “From the Roots Up: Community Solutions for Reducing Food Waste”
  • Zachary Hough Solomon, M.S. student — Social Sciences, presenting “The Knowledge and Policy Disconnect: Using Local Knowledge to Inform Climate Science”

GLRC Student Travel Grant applications are accepted anytime and will be reviewed on the last Friday of each month. Applications must be submitted at least two weeks in advance of travel. GLRC Student Research Grant applications are accepted three times each year — Nov. 1, March 1 and July 1.

By the Great Lakes Research Center.

Educating the Next Generation of Climate Leaders with participating institution logos.
Panel of four people and host at the podium.
Climate action panel with Rose Daily speaking.
Rose Daily, Graduate Student, Michigan Technological University, speaking on stage.
Panel audience asking questions.
Climate Change Education panel of four people on stage.

Related

Engineering Day at Lake Linden Elementary

Lake Linden - Hubbell Elementary School exterior with bicycles.

WLUC TV6 and the Daily Mining Gazette covered Engineering Day at Lake Linden Elementary School. The event was hosted by Michigan Tech’s Society of Women Engineers and Engineering Ambassadors Program on October 28, 2022.

Gretchen Hein (MMET) and undergraduate students Audrey Levanen and Julia Westfall (both mechanical engineering) were quoted by TV6. 

Hein and undergraduate students Natalie Hodge (electrical and computer engineering) and Sam Jager and Robert Eckright (both mechanical engineering) were quoted by the Gazette.

Jaclyn Johnson (ME-EM) was mentioned in both stories.

The combined group engaged students with a variety of engineering activities. This included using tin foil boats to showcase buoyancy, making small-scale roller coasters, and even using batteries to make “robots” jump.

SWE Section Attends WE22 Conference

A World of Opportunity Awaits

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) WE22 Societal Conference was held in Houston, Texas, on Oct. 19–22. Twelve members of Tech’s SWE section and their advisor, Gretchen Hein, attended the conference.

The section’s conference activities included:

  • Hein, Aerith Cruz, Skyler Brawley and Talia Olson held an #IamRemarkable Workshop regarding how to advocate for yourself and others.
  • Alli Hummel and Kathleen Heusser presented on the SWE Section’s tiered funding model.
  • Julia Westfall applied and was accepted into the SWE Collegiate Leadership Institute.
  • The section was awarded the 2000 Gold Level Collegiate Mission Award.
  • Gretchen Hein was recognized for her review of Undergraduate Scholarship and the Multicultural Awards.

The students also enjoyed meeting many of our Tech alumni who attended the Houston Area Alumni Meet and Greet. It was interesting to learn about their experiences at Tech and how campus and classes have changed over the years.

The section and their advisor thank their corporate sponsors for supporting their travel to the conference. We look forward to attending SWE WE23 Societal Conference in Los Angeles, California, next year.

Each student’s conference experience was different, and their quotes are below:

  • Alli Hummel (civil engineering):
    “The most impactful part of the conference was talking to various students and company representatives after giving a presentation on our section’s tiered funding model.”
  • Abby Mello (chemical engineering):
    “It was inspiring to hear the stories of so many accomplished women in STEM. I look forward to seeing the women in our chapter follow in their footsteps, face challenges with the confidence they have earned, and lead impactful lives fulfilling their aspirations.”
  • Natalie Hodge (electrical and computer engineering):
    “It was amazing to hear stories and life lessons from many incredible women. It really helped me rethink the way I approach challenges and other situations.”
  • Victoria Berger (materials science and engineering):
    “I found the keynote speeches to be inspiring and motivating and loved how the women presenting them were so accomplished in life.”
  • Amanda West (mechanical engineering):
    “With the support of my SWE section and the environment of woman empowerment, I took full advantage of the career fair with hundreds of companies, learning how to network and sell my resume.”
  • Aerith Cruz (management information systems):
    “It was an incredible experience being able to share “#IamRemarkable” to a global audience.”
  • Skyler Brawley (computer engineering):
    “I had an amazing experience during my first time at the WE22 conference.”
  • Talia Olson (mechanical engineering):
    “I had the opportunity of presenting with such inspiring women leaders on the #IamRemarkable workshop.”
  • Kathleen Heusser Pakenas (biomedical engineering):
    “I was able to see the most amazing women in engineering leadership … The entire experience made me feel that I can have a place at the top of the engineering world too, if I’m willing to work hard enough for it.”
  • Sophie Stewart (mechanical engineering):
    “I have never seen so many women engineers in one place! I had so much fun attending the sessions, networking, and hearing everyone’s story.“
  • Josie Edick (chemical engineering):
    “As a graduating senior, I spent a lot of my time during WE22 at the career fair. … I was able to diversify my network and discuss opportunities with industries I never knew were possible to work in as a chemical engineer.”
  • Julia Westfall (mechanical engineering):
    “I learned MTU alumni are everywhere and frequently hold leadership positions wherever they are … I did not realize how well employers recognized our smaller-sized school.”

By Gretchen Hein, Advisor, Society of Women Engineers.

Engineering Students Place High in Computing[MTU] Showcase 2022

Trevor and Dominika stand next to their poster.
Trevor Petrin (left) and Dominika Bobik (right).

The Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) is pleased to announce the winners of the Computing[MTU] Showcase Poster Session of October 10. Congratulations and thanks to all the graduate and undergraduate students who presented their research posters!

Please visit the showcase’s Research Poster Session page to view the poster abstracts and photos from the event.

Undergraduate Winners

  • First Place: Dominika Bobik (ECE, Computer Engineering) — “An Educational Modeling Software Tool That Teaches Computational Thinking Skills”
  • Second Place: Niccolo Jeanetta-Wark (MEEM, Mechanical Engineering) — “Performance Measurement of Trajectory Tracking Controllers for Wheeled Mobile Robots”
  • Third Place: Kristoffer Larsen — “A machine learning-based method for cardiac resynchronization therapy decision support”

Graduate Winners

  • First Place: Shashank Pathrudkar (MEEM, Mechanical Engineering) — “Interpretable machine learning model for the deformation of multiwalled carbon nanotubes”
  • Second Place: Nicholas Hamilton — “Enhancing Visualization and Explainability of Computer Vision Models with Local Interpretable Model-Agnostic Explanations (LIME)”
  • Third Place (Tie): Zonghan Lyu (BME, Biomedical Engineering) — “Automated Image Segmentation for Computational Analysis of Patients with Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms”
  • Third Place (Tie): Tauseef Mamun — “When to be Aware of your Self-Driving Vehicle: Use of Social Media Posts to Understand Problems and Misconceptions about Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Mode”

Read more on the ICC Blog, by Karen Johnson.