Author: Sue Hill

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Paul Sanders

Paul Sanders
Paul Sanders

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected Professor Paul Sanders of the Materials Science and Engineering Department for this week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase. Sanders coordinates MSE’s curriculum-critical capstone design course sequence, as well as the pre-capstone preparation course. Callahan notes, “Dr. Sanders has built MSE’s capstone program into a highly effective sequence that not only teaches critical design skills, but prepares his students to become highly sought-after employees.”

A six-sigma black belt engineer during his prior association with Ford Motor Co, Sanders has developed this sequence into a professionally-relevant, and sustaining experience for the department and its students. Subjects and approaches included in the MSE student preparatory course and later in capstone projects include hypothesis development, simulation and prediction, designed experiments, laboratory experiences, measurement system analysis, analysis of results, and communication skills. The amount of personal contact time and dedication that he provides the students far exceeds that which is normally expected or expended on coursework. He remains active and dedicated to its continuous improvement. In addition to and in support of these classroom duties, Sanders has been successful in securing 100% sponsorship of all capstone projects since he began leading these courses in 2010.

Sanders’ reputation as an effective and innovative educator is well known across the discipline and external to Michigan Tech. Michigan Tech’s MSE senior design teams have placed in the ASM International Undergraduate Design Competition in eight of the last nine years, taking first place in the last three; this level of success is unmatched by any other university nationwide in this international competition that began in 2008. Not surprisingly, yearly assessment and feedback from project sponsors and MSE’s external advisory board (EAB) underscore the relevance of his classroom activities to the duties of a practicing engineers, and the edge that these courses give our students. Tied to this success, Sanders delivered an invited presentation in the Materials Design Symposium at a TMS conference to summarize the successful implementation of the implementation of Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME; aka the “digitalization” of MSE via the federally-advocated Materials Genome Initiative) into an undergraduate curriculum, for which Michigan Tech has been recognized as a leading example and model program.

To make his accomplishments in the classroom all the more significant and impressive, Dr. Sanders is one of Michigan Tech’s most prolific and creative researchers. He holds the Patrick Horvath Endowed Professorship of Materials Science and Engineering, and leads and supports a large, externally funded research team; typically comprised of about 8 graduate students, several undergraduate interns and co-op engineers, and four technical staff members. His research focuses on alloy development, and in particular on alloy design using computational simulation which is followed up with subsequent processing, calibration, and optimization in MSE’s materials processing facilities.

MSE Department Chair Steve Kampe said, “Paul is an amazingly dedicated teacher and an effective mentor to our students at this formative and defining time in their educational experience at Michigan Tech. He is really able to capture and nurture the essence of what makes Michigan Tech students unique and valued as engineers and scientists.”

Sanders 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.

By Michael R. Meyer, Director William G. Jackson CTL.

Written by Stephen Kampe, Department Chair, Materials, Sciences and Engineering


Recognizing Outstanding Engineering Alumni in 2021

The Michigan Tech Alumni Board of Directors is proud to recognize outstanding alumni and friends with their 2021 awards program. The following are engineering alumni recognized this year:

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Presented to alumni under the age of 35 who have distinguished themselves in their careers. The award recognizes the achievement of a position or some distinction noteworthy for one so recently graduated.

Kaitlyn Bunker
Kaitlyn Bunker ’10 ’12 ’14
Electrical Engineering
Megan Kreiger
Megan Kreiger ’09 ’12
Mathematics and Materials Science and Engineering

Outstanding Service Award

Presented to alumni and friends making significant contributions to the success of the Board of Directors and/or the University.

Kathy Hayrynen
Kathy Hayrynen ’86 ’89 ’93
Metallurgical Engineering

Distinguished Alumni Award

Presented to alumni who have made outstanding contributions both in their career and to Michigan Tech over a number of years.

Julie Fream
Julie Fream ’83
Chemical Engineering


Michigan Space Grant Consortium Award Recipients in Engineering

Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff members received awards totaling $95,175 in funding through the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC), sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the 2021-2022 funding cycle. The following are recipients within the College of Engineering.

Undergraduates receiving $3,000 research fellowships:

  • Chloe Strach (CEE): “Understanding and Predicting the Fate of 1,4-Dioxane in the Aqueous Phase UV/Chloramine Advanced Oxidation Process” with Daisuke Minakata (CEE)

Graduate Students receiving $5,000 research fellowships:

  • Jessica Alger (CEE): “Promoting Green Space Equity in Urban Areas with Water Resources Challenges” with Dave Watkins (CEE)
  • Diana Bullen (GMES): “Using a Biologically Enhanced Silica Recovery System to Retrieve Valuable Non-Renewable Resources from Waste Material” with Nathan Manser (GMES)
  • Ian Gannon (GMES): “Critical Mineral Potential in the Vulcan Quadrangle and Adjoining Areas, Dickinson County, Upper Peninsula of Michigan” with James DeGraff (GMES)
  • Brock Howell (GMES): “Effective Optimization of Groundwater Extraction Through the Development of Computational Tools” with John Gierke (GMES)
  • Ryan Klida (GMES): “Satellite-Based Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Techniques for Earth Dam Monitoring and Failure Prediction” with Thomas Oommen (GMES)
  • Benjamin Mohrhardt (CEE): “Fate of Photo-Viable Dissolved Free Amino Acids Under Sunlight Irradiation in Natural Aquatic Environment” with Daisuke Minakata (CEE)
  • Katie Nelson (GMES): “Measuring CO2 Fertilization of Tropical Forests from Volcanic Soil Gas Emissions Using Remote Sensing: Volcán Rincón de la Vieja, Costa Rica” with Chad Deering (GMES)
  • Natalie Nold (ChE): “Improved Vaccine Production to Reduce Pandemic-Related Health Risks” with Caryn Heldt (ChE)
  • Kassidy O’Connor (GMES): “Using Satellite Aperture Radar to Improve Wildfire-Causing Debris Flow Mapping on the West Coast” with Thomas Oommen (GMES)
  • Jonathan Oleson (ME-EM): “A Machine Learning Model for Mechanics of Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes for Space-Composite Materials” with Susanta Ghosh (ME-EM)
  • Emily Shaw (CEE): “Toxicity in Fish Tissue: Redefining Our Understandings by Quantifying Mixture Toxicity” with Noel Urban (CEE)

Faculty and staff members receiving $5,000 or more for pre-college outreach and research seed programs include:

  • Luke Bowman (GMES): “Career Connection Explorations: Enriching Middle School STEM Curriculum Using NASA Resources” Includes augmentation


Teachers Can Earn SCECHs through Husky Bites

Welcome Teachers!

Teachers in Michigan are able to earn SCECHs for attending Husky Bites live on Zoom.

Earn 1 SCECH per Live Zoom Session you attend. Earn up to 8 SCECHs for the series.

Just register for the Husky Bites webinar to qualify, and then fill out the Husky Bites SCECH Attendance Request Form. If you have any questions, please email engineering@mtu.edu.

Attendance

For those of us who are not teachers, what is an SCECH? SCECHs is short for “State Continuing Education Clock Hours.” Our teachers all need these for the renewal of their educator certificates, issued by the Michigan Department of Education.

Husky Bites Webinars

Husky Bites is offering SCECHs through Copper Country ISD.

To be eligible to receive SCECHs for this activity 2021 Engineering Husky Bites Teacher Professional Learning Community (PLC) you must:

  1. Register for the Michigan Tech College of Engineering Husky Bites Series.
  2. Let us know you want to earn SECHs by registering for the 2021 Engineering Husky Bites Teacher PLC. We will send you a SCECHs Application Form where you will be able to sign in on each date of attendance.
  3. Sign-in at each session that you attended using the SCECHs Attendance Form. Attendance will be verified through Husky Bites facilitators.
  4. You must provide a * PIC#. If you do not have a PIC # please contact your REP person in your Admin office.
  5. Turn in your form and payment (checks payable to Copper Country ISD) into the CCISD at the end of the series.
    1. Mail Checks to
      Jamie Johnson, Assistant SCECH Coordinator
      Copper Country ISD
      809 Hecla Street, Hancock, MI 49930
    2. Email Jamie at jjohnson@copperisd.org for questions or to learn how to drop off payments directly at the Copper Country ISD
  6. You will complete the evaluation in MOECS.


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Smitha Rao

Smitha Rao
Smitha Rao

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected Smitha Rao, assistant professor in Biomedical Engineering, as our eighth spring 2021 Deans’ Teaching Showcase member.

Rao was selected for her extensive recruiting and supervision of undergraduates in student research. She has four to five undergraduate students each year that she mentors in her lab. Three of her students have won the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Award and she has participated in the Undergraduate Research Internship Program (URIP) six times. Both of these programs run out of the Pavlis Honors College.

Her approach to mentoring in her words is that she wants students to seek and gain a sense of accomplishment and ownership, to develop confidence in their own abilities, and — in the process — contribute to science. She likes to get undergraduates involved in topics that are of interest to them, so their efforts take on a deeper personal meaning. She sees mentoring undergraduate students as an opportunity to train the next generation of engineers while honing her own skills.

The results? Rao’s description of her work speaks for itself: “Out of the 20 plus students that I directly mentored either as an advisor or as an instructor, about 10 are in graduate school. One student from my lab was recently offered a full fellowship to pursue a PhD at a different university. I typically have about four to five undergraduate students each semester. However, this year I have 9 undergrad students (freshman through senior).”

Rao’s mentoring does not stop at just teaching them fundamental lab skills. She encourages them to participate in different events from competitions to conferences, provides them information relevant to their own interests, and continues to offer guidance as they gain independence in their own research projects. Many of them become co-authors on papers describing the research they help with and some have stayed on for graduate school. Several of her undergraduate students continue to remain in touch with her even after they graduated. She often discusses with students their future goals and expectations, offering them information about different ways to define and achieve success. Most importantly, she encourages leadership and independence. Students are encouraged to explore their interests, invest time and effort in their work, mentor others and enjoy their work.

She extends this approach to her teaching as well, peppering students with difficult challenges, coaxing responses, and sharing a laugh with over-the-top examples used to illustrate a point. In one student’s words, “When starting the Biomedical Engineering program in 2014, I was not expecting to build a relationship with any of the professors in the department. That all changed in the fall of 2016 when I took one of Dr. Rao’s classes. From there, so many doors of opportunity were opened for me just by reaching out to Dr. Rao. I was fortunate enough to work alongside her in her research lab gaining incredible experience in research. She was one of the most enthusiastic professors I had during my time at Michigan Tech and I attribute a lot of my success thus far to her guidance. During my last year, Dr. Rao helped revamp my resume, prepare me for interviews, and was excited to be a part of the process of helping me start my career. I will never forget when I got the call of being offered my dream job during a meeting with her and she was jumping up and down just as much as I was. Dr. Rao is truly a one-of-a-kind professor and person, I am so honored and thankful to have worked with her and continue to connect with her.”

A second student agrees that Rao’s mentoring extends to the classroom, saying “Dr. Rao’s mentorship of undergraduate students has been exemplary, giving students hands-on experience at applying exactly what they are learning in class towards solving real-world problems related to improving human health. Meaningful undergraduate research is part of the culture in our department and Dr. Rao has certainly promoted this important piece in the education of the next generation of engineers and scientists.”

Dean Callahan’s choice especially valued how seriously Rao takes mentoring. In her words, “Dr. Rao’s emphasis on hands-on science is inspirational. And in the classroom, she is well-known for engaging students with their learning. Working with students is her passion.”

Rao 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.

By Michael R. Meyer, William G. Jackson CTL.


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Jeremy Shannon

Jeremy Shannon
Jeremy Shannon

The College of Engineering has selected Jeremy Shannon, principal lecturer in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences (GMES), for this week’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase. Dean Janet Callahan selected him for teaching excellence in a field course.

Shannon joined GMES as a lecturer in 2007. He teaches a variety of courses throughout the year including Understanding the Earth (GE2000), a large course that is taken by many non-major students. Department Chair Aleksey Smirnov (GMES) says “Dr. Shannon provides a vital contribution to GMES undergraduate instruction and advising. He is an outstanding instructor and an impactful and trusted mentor.”

One of Shannon’s favorite courses is Field Geophysics (GE3900), a summer, a five-credit course required for Geological Engineering, Geology, and Applied Geophysics majors. Most geoscience programs only require a field geology course, so this class provides an extremely unique, hands-on experience for GMES students. The five-week-long class is set up like a consulting job with weekly projects. Each project uses a different geophysical technique, or a combination thereof, with specified goals. As one student put it, “Jeremy had an innate ability to connect with us all, especially on field trips. He utilized more field visits than any other professor I had at Tech. This gave me real-life scenarios and examples to help cement concepts I had learned in the classroom.”

A typical week involves fieldwork, the reduction, interpretation and modeling of data, and a final written report or oral presentation. Shannon worked for a few years in environmental consulting and likes that he can share with students his own experiences that mimic the format of this class, especially the report writing. This class offers one of the best opportunities in the GMES curriculum for practice in scientific writing, an invaluable skill that will translate directly for students that either choose employment or decide on graduate school. A recent alumnus observed that Shannon made sure the students also “focused on the hard work that occurred back in the classroom completing the reports to improve students’ report writing skills. Jeremy had very high standards for the reports. His resolve in consistent writing and proper formatting for all reports significantly influenced my use of proper documentation, even today.”

Shannon is an MTU alumnus and took the Field Geophysics class as an undergraduate in the summer of 1992. He was honored to take over the class in 2007 from his former professor and mentor Dr. Jimmy Diehl, who taught it for 25 years. He has continued and built upon this legacy to deliver a unique field experience to GMES students. In particular, Shannon has proactively worked to upgrade the geophysical equipment which is typically expensive. Over the last several years, with the help of departmental, alumni, and C2E2 funding, new seismic refraction and ground-penetrating radar systems were purchased. Other equipment includes magnetometers, electrical resistivity meters, electromagnetic instruments, and one precious gravity meter. And he makes using the equipment fun. Another student said, “Jeremy helps students to see the joy in fieldwork. He makes it exciting to see seismic waves be recorded by a geophone, or he encourages us to be patient in aligning the gravimeter.”

The class projects typically target objects or structures within tens of meters below the surface. The projects include determining depth to bedrock and water table, mapping contacts between different rock types, or locating buried metallic and non-metallic objects on the site of a Calumet & Hecla stamp mill in Lake Linden. About five years ago, Shannon collaborated with the Michigan DNR and had the class perform geophysical surveys to delineate a buried bedrock valley near McLain State Park. There is no definite surface expression of the valley as it is filled with glacial till, but a gravity survey showed that the ~3 km wide and 200 meters deep valley trends to the north through a portion of the park. The absence of bedrock near the surface where the valley is located is precisely the location where significant beach erosion is taking place. These results became part of the decision-making process, which resulted in the recent restructuring of the park layout.

Dean Callahan summarizes: “Shannon’s dedication to continually improve the field course provides a unique learning environment for our students in which they develop skills that they will use throughout their careers. He is very deserving of this recognition.”

Shannon will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon 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.

Written by Aleksey Smirnov, Chair of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.


Graduate School Announces Spring 2021 Finishing Fellowship Award Recipients

The Graduate School proudly announces the recipients of the Doctoral Finishing Fellowships for the spring semester, 2021. Congratulations to all nominees and recipients.

The following are award recipients in engineering graduate programs:


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Trever Hassell

Trever Hassell
Trever Hassell

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected Trever Hassell, Senior Lecturer in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) for week two of the Deans’ Teaching Showcase. Callahan selected Hassell for his strong engagement of students in large classes. In one student’s words, he “has done an excellent job providing world-class teaching even in the midst of the pandemic and the shift to online learning. He continues to lecture on the important course material while trying out ideas to encourage student interaction outside of the lecture setting.”

For his large section remote course, Hassell has been adapting iClicker questions used in previous semesters (pre COVID-19) for use with Reef (or iClicker Cloud). Simultaneously, he has been expanding his question bank. Implementation of the iClicker Cloud software during the Michigan Tech FLEX initiative allows Hassell to engage and stimulate student learning during lectures and receive real-time feedback regarding whether students are mastering the learning objectives of the course. Lecture iClicker questions are posted prior to the lecture for students to review in advance. During the lectures the iCloud clicker app is used for polling students, taking a screenshot question on the lecture computer screen and sending it to the students’ Reef app or mobile device webpage. Students respond to the question and their information is provided in real-time to the instructor. Class response results are then viewed, shared, and discussed. Utilizing the iClicker Cloud software has also allowed for uninterrupted course participation even as students have had to switch from remote to face-to-face modes. “Using technology to engage students keeps the Zoom sessions productive, helping students focus on understanding the material”, said Dean Callahan.

Having more than eight years of experience with “online/blended” courses, Hassell continually refines his online delivery. It is no surprise that pivoting to the FLEX mode of instruction presented him with an opportunity, rather than a burden. He found that transitioning from a touchscreen laptop using the ZoomIt app, which had a granular screen annotation resolution limitation, to a Windows Surface Pro and annotating with Microsoft OneNote vastly improved the annotation resolution, increasing student engagement in virtual activity. Interim ECE Chair Glen Archer said, “Trever has always been an experimenter and early adopter in the classroom. He’s always on the lookout for new tools and techniques that will make life in the classroom better.” In addition, Hassell has made course structural changes allowing for greater flexibility in the weekly assignments, course participation, and exams addressing student accommodations under COVID. Hassell gives students a choice, allowing participation by either synchronous iClicker questions or asynchronous communications within lecture discussions. As another student noted, “His courses are always very neatly organized, and his posting of lecture notes before our Zoom lectures each week has certainly helped. Mr. Trevor Hassel also encourages much-needed discussion both during and outside of lecture.”

Hassell has actively taken advantage of professional training and development opportunities. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has been a vital resource and asset for information and advice. Attending several of the CTL’s lunch and learn workshops played a key role in helping him integrate available tools and strategies into the classroom environment. And students appreciate it. As another student commented, “Being in Mr. Hassell’s class in Power Electronics has been a very enjoyable experience. He was always available and even though I took the class in the middle of the pandemic, I felt like we were in the same room with him all along.”

Hassell 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.


Engineering Alumni Activity Spring 2021

Nancy M. McClain
Nancy M. McClain

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has appointed Michigan Tech alumna Nancy M. McClain of Redford to the Michigan Board of Engineerings. McClain is the lead engineering at Giffels Webster in Birmingham. She is a licensed professional engineer and holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Michigan Technological University. She is appointed to represent professional engineers for a term commencing April 1, and expiring March 31, 2025.

Josh Ivaniszek
Josh Ivaniszek

Michigan Tech alumnus Josh Ivaniszek was feature “Cruising through Juneau’s Port Expansion,” in Directions Magazine. Ivaniszek began his surveying career after graduating from Michigan Technological University with a double major in forestry and land surveying. Chilkat Surveying owner Josh Ivaniszek endured a challenging schedule and adverse conditions to provide accurate construction layout through two Alaskan winters.

Kim Nowack
Kim Nowack

Congratulations to CEE alumna and recent Academy inductee Kim Nowack who has been named the recipient of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan’s Felix A. Anderson Image Award. The award is for outstanding individuals who take steps to improve the public image of the engineering profession. Nowack is the Mackinac Bridge Authority Executive Secretary.

Jason Arbuckle
Jason Arbuckle

Michigan Tech alumnus Jason Arbuckle who earned his BS, MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech, has been named to the newly formed role of Marine Autonomy Technology Lead for Brunswick Corporation. The story appeared in Yahoo Finance. Throughout his career, Arbuckle has been instrumental in the development of helm software for Mercury Marine products from single engine to six engine vessels and has been granted more than 45 patents related to marine control systems.

Ali Mirchi
Ali Mirchi

Civil Engineering PhD alumnus Ali Mirchi is quoted in the article “The return of a once-dying lake,” on the BBC. Mirchi, an assistant professor in the department of biosystems and agricultural engineering at Oklahoma State University, has extensively studied Lake Urmia in Iran. The lake is currently 3m (10ft) below its target water level. “So there’s quite a ways to go,” says Ali Mirchi.

Monique Wells
Monique Wells

DTE Energy announced the appointment of Monique Wells as its director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Wells will be responsible for accelerating DTE’s progress in building a workplace where everyone feels valued and able to contribute their best energy toward serving our customers, communities and each other. Wells graduated from the University of Toledo with her Master’s degree in Career and Technical Education, and graduated from Michigan Technological University with her Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. She serves on Spring Arbor University’s Engineering Advisory Board, as well as Michigan Tech University College of Engineering’s Advisory Board.

Marty Lagina
Marty Lagina

Michigan Tech alumnus Marty Lagina was mentioned in the article “Who Owns Oak Island of ‘The Curse of Oak Island’ Isn’t Exactly Clear,” in Distractify. Brothers Rick and Marty Lagina are known as the stars of The Curse of Oak Island. Marty Lagina graduated from Michigan Tech with his mechanical engineering degree in 1977.

Thomas Fudge
Thomas Fudge

Michigan Tech alumnus Thomas Fudge has been appointed as a director of First Majestic Silver Corporation. Mr. Fudge brings over 42 years of professional mining experience having previously worked with companies including Tahoe Resources, Alexco Resources, Hecla Mining, and Sunshine Precious Metals. Mr. Fudge holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mining Engineering from Michigan Technological University and has overseen numerous major mining construction projects in the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Yukon Territory, Guatemala, and Peru.

John Matonich
John Matonich

Alumnus John Matonich was recently appointed to the Gogebic Community College Foundation Board of Directors. Matonich holds a BS in Surveying from Michigan Tech. He is a retired CEO/Chairman of ROWE Professional Services Company.

Shannon Kobs Nawotniak
Shannon Kobs Nawotniak

Michigan Tech alumna Shannon Kobs Nawotniak, (BS geology, ’03), an associate professor at Idaho State University, presents on “Submarines, Volcanoes, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life” at Muskegon Community College. A graduate of Michigan Tech and SUNY Buffalo, Kobs Nawotniak serves as Geology Co-Lead on the NASA FINESSE project and Deputy Principal Investigator on the NASA BASALT project, both of which use terrestrial lavas to investigate planetary volcanoes.

Mike Olosky
Mike Olosky

Michigan Tech alumnus Mike Olosky (ME) has been named Chief Operating Officer of Simpson Strong-Tie. Olosky holds degrees in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University and Oakland University and received his MBA from Michigan State University’s Eli Broad School of Business.


Graduate School Announces Fall 2020 Award Recipients

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.