Category Archives: News

Michigan Tech Students Bring Home the Material Advantage Excellence Award

L to R: Michigan Tech seniors Emily Tom, Katie Kiser, Oliver Schihl, Brendan Treanore, and Josh Jay.

Michigan Tech students received a Material Advantage Chapter of Excellence Award at the recent Materials Science & Technology (MS&T) 2019 conference in Portland, Oregon. The award recognized the accomplishments of the Materials United (MU), Michigan Tech’s joint chapter of the American Foundry Society and Materials Advantage.

As a student professional society, Materials United was established on the Michigan Tech campus to promote among its members self-sought, increasing knowledge of metallurgy, materials science, engineering, and related fields. Materials United is advised by Dr. Walt Milligan, interim chair of the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technology, and professor of Materials Science and Engineering.

The MS&T Chapter of Excellence Award reflects participation in events, member involvement, professional development, and more. Oliver Schihl, president of the Michigan Tech chapter of Material Advantage, accepted the award. Schil is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering technology.

In the photo, students featured from left to right are Emily Tom, Katie Kiser, Oliver Schihl, Brendan Treanore, and Josh Jay. Tom, Kiser, Treanore and Jay are all Michigan Tech seniors majoring in materials science and engineering. Each are members of  the Materials United E-board, and Material Advantage.

Now in its 17th year, the annual MS&T conference and exhibition hosts over 3,200 attendees, more than 2,000 presentations, a robust plenary speaker lineup, society-based special events, and a collaboration among four leading materials science societies.


Michigan Tech Accepted for Membership in UCAR

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

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

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

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


Eisele, Chaterjee Appointed to State Mining Council

Snehamoy Chatterjee
Snehamoy Chatterjee

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

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

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

Timothy C. Eisele
Timothy C. Eisele

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

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

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

By Mark Wilcox.


NSF Funds Collaborative Study on Energy System Transitions

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

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

By Sponsored Programs.

Extract

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

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

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

Read more at the National Science Foundation.


Dr. Edmond O. Schweitzer III: An Inventor Who Helps Keep the Lights On—in 164 Countries Around the World

Michigan Technological University, at night.

Michigan Tech welcomes to campus today inventor Edmond O. Schweitzer III, recognized as a pioneer in digital protection. 

“Why shouldn’t we invent, and wake up every day wanting to go to work to find a better way to do something for other people?” says global innovator and inventor Dr. Edmond O Schweitzer, III, Chair, President and CEO of Schweitzer Electronics.

Dr. Schweitzer was recently inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for inventing the first-ever digital protective relay. Digital protective relays detect electrical faults that cause power outages.

The first protective relays relied on coils and were electromagnetic. Schweitzer’s microprocessor-based digital protective relay is multifunctional, protecting power systems, recording data and detecting faults in lines more effectively. “His first revolutionary ‘relays’ came on the market in the 1980s,” said Bruce Mork, electrical engineering professor at Michigan Tech. “The design has led to reduced costs, flexible operation options and increased reliability. The product lines have been enhanced with many patents and with the utilization of today’s smart grid technologies.”

Schweitzer Electronics Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) based in Pullman, Washington is a longtime partner of Michigan Tech—supporting the Power System Protection Lab at Michigan Tech since 1993, and hiring at least 40 Michigan Tech ECE graduates over the years, plus a dozen more students thus far in 2019.

Inventing runs in Schweitzer’s family, and while on campus he will present a lecture on Creativity and Innovation at 4:15 pm in EERC 103. Wednesday’s lecture is open to the public. All are welcome to attend. Schweitzer will also join a roundtable of power companies to discuss Cybersecurity.

Todd Brassard, VP Operations of Calumet Electronics, arranged Dr. Schweitzer’s visit to Michigan Tech. Calumet Electronics Corporation is a key supplier-partner of printed circuit boards (PCBs) to SEL. The company, based in Calumet, Michigan, is an American manufacturer, supplying PCBs for applications demanding zero failures, zero downtime, and requires a lifetime of performance. Celebrating 50 years, Calumet is a critical supplier to mission critical industries including power grid management, , medical device, aerospace, industrial controls, and defense. Calumet is one of the few PCB manufactures who have made a commitment to American manufacturing.

At Michigan Tech, “SEL has supported us for years, incrementally donating lab equipment since 1993 when I started the protection course and lab here on campus,” adds Mork. “I became aware of their new technology and product lines while working as a substation design engineer in Kansas City in the mid-1980s. As a PhD student at North Dakota State University, I facilitated getting it into the labs there, and again at Michigan Tech after I arrived in 1992. I first met Ed when he presented a paper at the American Power Conference in 1993—it’s a paper I still use today when introducing microprocessor-based protection to my students.”

 


Michigan Tech Students Earn First place in ASM International Undergraduate Design Competition

L to R: Advisor Dr. Walt Milligan; student Kyle Hrubecky; William Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer of ASM International; student Erin VanDusen; and advisor Dr. Paul Sanders. Not pictured: students Lucas Itchue and Jacob Thompson.

A team of Michigan Technological University students won first place in ASM International’s 2019 Undergraduate Design Competition. Their capstone senior design project, “Cobalt reduction in Tribaloy T-400,” was sponsored by Winsert, Inc. of Marinette, Wisconsin.

Team members Lucas Itchue, Kyle Hrubecky, Jacob Thompson, and Erin VanDusen—all MSE majors at Michigan Tech—were recognized at a student awards banquet on Monday, September 30 during the Materials Science and Technology (MS&T) Conference in Portland, Oregon.

Winsert currently uses an alloy similar to Tribaloy T-400, a cobalt based alloy, in the production of internal combustion engine valve seats. Cobalt is an expensive element with a rapidly fluctuating price, due to political instability in the primary supplier country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tribaloy T-400 contains approximately 60 wt. percent cobalt, contributing significantly to its price. The student team investigated the replacement of cobalt with other transition elements such as iron, nickel, and aluminum using thermodynamic modeling.

The Michigan Tech undergraduate team’s micrograph of Tribaloy T-400. “Using compositions from literature, we cast this alloy at Michigan Tech. We then examined the microstructure to see if it matched that in literature. That way we knew our casting process was valid and acceptable,” said student Erin VanDusen. “All the casting and imaging was done at Michigan Tech.”

“Michigan Tech was allowed one entry in the competition,” says Michigan Tech MSE Department Chair Stephen Kampe. “The ‘LoCo’ team project was selected by MSE’s External Advisory Board following final student presentations last April. All of our senior design projects use advanced simulation and modeling tools, experimental calibration, and statistical-based analyses of the results,” he explains. “This project utilized CALPHAD (Pandat) with machine learning (Bayesian Optimization) to identify new and promising alloy substitutions. These are very advanced techniques that are rarely introduced at the undergraduate level in most other MSE programs.”

MSE Professor Walt Milligan, Interim Chair of the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Paul Sanders, Patrick Horvath Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, served as team co-advisors.

This isn’t the first time, we’ve won!
According to Kampe, an MSE student team from Michigan Tech team won first place in the ASM International Undergraduate Design Competition last year, too, for their aluminum brake rotor project. Phil Staublin, Josh Dorn, Mark Ilenich, and Aaron Cook developed a new, castable, lightweight high temperature aluminum alloy for project sponsor Ford. “Developmental aluminum rotors have passed every test at Ford Motor Company—all except the extreme ‘Auto Motor and Sport’ test, which subjects the rotors to temperatures above 500 degrees Celsius,” said advisor Paul Sanders. “The team introduced thermally-stable intermetallic phases with high volume fractions that enabled the alloy to provide modest strength for short times at extreme temperatures.” Dr. Tom Wood, Michigan Tech MSE research engineer, also advised the team.

“Michigan Tech’s entry has placed in the top three all but once over the past 8 years at the ASM International Undergraduate Design Competition,” adds Kampe.

“We’re very proud of the world-class senior design projects our students experience,”said Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech. “Where else do teams win first place two years in a row, for alloy design, in an era where it isn’t about randomly mixing elements, but rather, about predictive modeling based on known materials parameters? These projects⁠—they’re centered on fundamentally interesting questions, coupled with faculty and industry expertise. No wonder we’re still the go-to place for materials engineers!”


SWE Evening with Industry

Honor Sheard
Honor Sheard

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

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

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

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

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

By Zoe Ketola and Gretchen Hein.


Stimulate Your Thought Processes: Meet Dr. Edmund O. Schweitzer, III at Michigan Tech This Week

“Why shouldn’t we invent, and wake up every day wanting to go to work to find a better way to do something for other people?” says global innovator and inventor Dr. Edmond O Schweitzer, III, Chair, President and CEO of Schweitzer Electronics.

Global Innovator Dr. Edmund O. Schweitzer, III, who comes from a family of inventors, will be on campus at Michigan Tech to deliver a lecture, “Creativity and Innovation,” this Wednesday, October 2 at 4:15PM in EERC 103. All are welcome. 

Dr. Schweitzer is recognized as a pioneer in digital protection and holds the grade of Fellow in the IEEE, a title bestowed on less than one percent of IEEE members. He received the IEEE 2012 Medal in Power Engineering, the highest award given by IEEE, for his leadership in revolutionizing the performance of electrical power systems with computer-based protection and control equipment.
Earlier this year, Schweitzer was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the first microprocessor-based digital protective relay.  According to the NIHF, “Digital protective relays detect electrical faults that cause power outages. The first protective relays relied on coils and were electromagnetic. Schweitzer’s first microprocessor-based digital protective relay, the SEL 21, was multifunctional, protecting power systems, recording data and detecting faults in lines more effectively. His design has led to reduced costs, flexible operation options and increased reliability.”
He is the founder of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) based in Pullman, Wash. The company invents, designs, and builds digital products and systems that protect power grids worldwide. SEL’s products also protect homes, hospitals and businesses in 163 countries around the world.
Dr. Schweitzer’s visit to campus is sponsored by Calumet Electronics Corporation, key supplier-partner to SEL of printed circuit boards. Their goal for the visit is to share ideas, advance innovative thinking, and build new bridges.
“SEL has supported the Power System Protection Lab here in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech since 1993,” said Professor Bruce Mork. “SEL employs at least 40 Michigan Tech ECE graduates, as well.”

William Predebon Inducted into the Pan American Academy of Engineering

William Predebon is the JS Endowed Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University. “I am honored to be inducted into the Pan American Academy of Engineering and humbled to be included with other leaders from the Americas and Mexico,” he says.

William Predebon, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University, traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to be inducted into the Pan American Academy of Engineering.

The Pan American Academy of Engineering was started in 2000 in Panama City, the first of its kind. It brings together engineers from across the continent of North America, South America and Mexico—a total of 18 countries. The Pan American Federation of Engineering Societies and the National Federations North America, South America, Mexico established the Academy to publicly honor the exceptional engineers, who, prestige of their profession, have contributed decisively to the progress of their country and continent.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1965 and his master’s and doctorate from Iowa State University in 1968 and 1970, respectively. He joined Michigan Tech’s ME-EM department in 1975. He was associate chair from 1993-1997. He has been chair of the department since 1997, and has transformed the program.

Under his watch, the ME-EM department has made great strides in conducting interdisciplinary research, growing the doctoral program, expanding research funding, and updating the curriculum and laboratories.

“The world is changing, and we need to respond to its challenges and opportunities,” says Predebon. “Most recently, we have witnessed the rise of big data as the fourth industrial revolution gets underway, leading to the digital mechanical engineering space. To produce leaders during this change, our Department is rapidly evolving our educational methods and our methods of research. We are leading the effort to infuse into our undergraduate and graduate curriculum the knowledge and critical skills to use big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence in the solution of engineering design problems.”

Predebon has been involved with the Pan American Academy of Engineering for just about two years—attending meetings, giving talks, and advising on mechanical engineering education and research—and will continue to do so in the future. “I am honored to be inducted into the Pan American Academy of Engineering and humbled to be included with other leaders from the Americas and Mexico,” he says.

 


Mechanical Engineering Among the Best in the Nation

Undergraduate students at work near the Wave Tank in Michigan Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

The Mechanical Engineering program at Michigan Tech has once again been ranked among the finest in the country. Michigan Tech’s ME program is 34th in the 2020 U.S. News and World Report rankings of the “Best Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Programs Among All Doctoral Granting Universities.”

William Predebon, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM) called the rankings a “major milestone” for the undergraduate ME program and a testament to the quality of the faculty and staff in ME-EM. “This ranking puts the Michigan Tech ME undergraduate program among the top doctoral granting ME programs in the nation. This ranking is recognition by our peers of the efforts of the faculty and staff to continually update our ME curriculum to reflect the future needs of our students. It is a team effort of faculty, staff and the support of the administration.”

U.S. News and World Report annually publishes rankings of the major undergraduate engineering degree programs in doctoral granting universities. The methodology used by U. S. News to make the list of top

programs, is that a department must receive seven or more top 15 nominations in a particular discipline. The nominations are from the department chairs of the respective engineering disciplines who are asked for nominations of up to 15 of the best engineering programs in their respective disciplines.

The U.S. News rankings are available here.