Category Archives: Education

Michigan Tech Students Attend WE18, the World’s Largest Conference for Women Engineers

Michigan Tech students at WE18. Back row, left to right: Britta Jost, Natalie Green, Erica Coscarelli, Laura Schimmel, Emily Crombez, Melanie Zondag, Claire Langfoss, Noelle Eveland, Adedoyin Adedokun, Karina Eyre, Katie Buchalski. Front row: Romana Carden, Allison Dorn, Amber Ronsman, Josie Edick, Mackenzie Brunet, Lauren Sandy, Jessica Geroux, Gretchen Hein

Seventeen members of the Michigan Tech chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) went to the national conference, WE18, October 18-20 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Advisor Gretchen Hein (EF) accompanied the delegation of 13 undergraduates and four graduate students. Three students received travel scholarships: first-year chemical engineering student Josie Edick, second-year civil engineering student Amber Ronsman and Adedoyin Adedokun, a graduate student in electrical engineering. “Gaining close friendships with the other women in the Michigan Tech section was the best part about the conference for me,” Edick says. “I gained a ton of advice and insight, which made me very excited to get more involved in SWE back on campus.”

The WE18 conference was attended by more than 14,000 SWE members, both collegiate and professional, from across the nation, who enjoyed professional development breakout sessions, inspirational keynotes, a career fair and multiple opportunities for networking.

On the evening prior to the conference, the group attended a Michigan Tech alumni gathering in Minneapolis along with Dean Janet Callahan of the College of Engineering. Katie Buchalski, section president and fourth-year student majoring in environmental engineering, enjoyed the abundance of networking at the alumni gathering. “We all had something in common to talk about … Tech,” said Buchalski. “It was nice to learn what people do after college, and see how Tech forms a special bond between people and between generations.”

Michigan Tech alumna Dr. Kaitlyn Bunker received the SWE
Distinguished New Engineer Award at WE18. She earned a PhD, MS, and BS in Electrical Engineering at Michigan Tech, and is now a manager at the Rocky Island Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

The next day, at WE18, the students participated in professional development activities and presentations. Some volunteered at different events and participated in SWE-sponsored institutes. At the Celebrate SWE! Awards Banquet, Kaitlyn Bunker ’17 who earned a PhD in electrical engineering at Michigan Tech, received the SWE Distinguished New Engineer Award for “contributing valuable research and renewable energy solutions in the Caribbean, and to underserved communities; and for steadfast leadership at all levels of SWE.” Bunker is currently working at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

The Michigan Tech section received a Silver Collegiate SWE Mission Award, which recognizes a group that embody SWE core values.

Laura Schimmel volunteered at SWE’s outreach event for middle and high school girls, “Invent It. Build It.” Schimmel led a STEM activity for middle school girls–building “wind power plants” to lift a payload using cardboard, plastic bottles, straws, and tape. “I am taking a wind energy class at Tech right now,” says Schimmel, a fifth year double major in materials science and engineering and mechanical engineering. “I was thrilled to be able to share what I’ve learned and encourage the girls to pursue STEM in the future. There were hundreds of girls and countless creative solutions.”

Erica Coscarelli, a master’s student in environmental engineering, participated in the SWE Future Leaders (SWEFL) program. And along with Karina Eyre, Coscarelli went to the SWE Collegiate Leadership Institute (CLI), a day-long leadership development event. Both programs, led by engineers working in industry and academia, help college students gain leadership skills. “Participating in the SWE Future Leaders (SWEFL) program has been extremely beneficial for me,” Coscarelli says. “As part of the program we have monthly conference calls and complete our tasks with a buddy. At WE18 we were able to meet in person. It was great putting faces to names.”

Hein moderated a panel discussion, “Obtaining your First Academic Job/Academic Job Search”. Panelists were from a range of different types of universities and community colleges.

Michigan Tech SWE section counselor, Alumna Britta Jost joined the Michigan Tech attendees at the Celebrate SWE! Awards Banquet. Jost earned a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering 2004 and a BS in Mathematical Sciences in 2002, both at Michigan Tech, and works now as engineering project team leader at Caterpillar, Inc. 

The SWE students raised travel funds through their annual SWE “Evening with Industry” event, held each fall just before the Michigan Tech Career Fair. ArcelorMittal, Black & Veatch, and John Deere all provided support for section travel to WE 18, as well.

The best part about WE18?

“Through the SWE18 Conference I was able to secure an interview, and received an internship offer with Boeing in Washington State. If you would have told me as a freshman that I would have an offer with Boeing, I would have thought you were crazy. But being in SWE has given me the courage and experience to pursue opportunities I would have never thought possible.”
-Allison Dorn, third year student, mechanical engineering

“SWE18 exposed me greatly to American culture. I am ecstatic that I got to meet awesome women in academia and was able to interact with them both intellectually and professionally. Overall, the conference was a rewarding experience!”
-Adedsyin Adedokun, master’s student, electrical engineering

“I loved getting to know my SWE chapter, SWE alums, and other chapters. I made a lot of new friends and we bonded as a group.”
-Noelle Eveland, fourth year student, chemical engineering

“I met so many people who were excited to see our chapter at the conference because they, or someone they were friends with, went to Tech. It made me feel proud of our school.”
-Emily Cromber, master’s student, computer engineering

“Being able to listen to and be inspired by amazing women who have been in our shoes, and who have gone on to have great careers and lives.”
-Lauren Sand, fourth year student, biomedical engineering

“Being surrounded by women who support each other as we break boundaries. My passion for engineering was mirrored in every woman I met.”
-Claire Langfoss, fourth year student, biomedical engineering

“Attending the amazing career fair with over 330 companies, and the Michigan Tech Alumni event in Minneapolis, where I met and networked with tons of Huskies.”
-Romana Carden, fourth year student, engineering management

“Attending a wide variety of sessions pertaining to professional development, leadership, and career management.”
-Melanie Zondag, fourth year student, geological engineering

“Engaging with a variety of inspirational women who have broken and continue to break boundaries.”
-Jessica Geroux, fifth year student, mechanical engineering

“It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by so many powerful and knowledgeable women. From the keynote to sessions, to the career fair; the ability to grow and prepare for the professional world was extremely rewarding.”
-Amber Ronsman, second year student, civil engineering

“My favorite part was the networking. I met some awesome ‘SWEsters’ from Wyoming as well as many company recruiters and professionals in systems engineering. I know these connections will assist me in the future, and the value is priceless.”
-Natalie Green, third year student, systems engineering

“Throughout the weekend I got to meet many other women in the field, both professionals and colleagues. It expanded my horizon and helped me to make valuable connections that will last a lifetime.”
-Mackenzie Brunet, third year student, engineering management

Katie Buchalski, Michigan Tech SWE section president

Systems Engineering Research Center Supports Undergraduate Student Projects

SERC

Joseph Thompson, Zachary Fredin and Richard Berkey of the Pavlis Honors College will receive $60,000 in undergraduate student project funding from the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC). SERC is a University Affiliated Research Center of the Department of Defense that collaborates with 22 universities across the United States to leverage the expertise of senior lead researchers. SERC represents a broad community of systems engineering researchers whose depth of knowledge spans a wide range of diverse interests and industries.

The initial 12 projects, funded through SERC, will provide students in biomedical engineering, electrical engineering and five different Enterprises with valuable hands-on experience serving Naval Systems Warfare, Army, Air Force Special Operations, Air Force Research Laboratory, Marine Corps Special Operations Command, United States Coast Guard and United States Special Operations Forces.

Inaugural project work will take place throughout the 2018-19 academic year.

By the Pavlis Honors College.


Michigan Tech’s New Academy for Engineering Education Leadership Inducts its First Two Members

“Leadership and Engineering Education—Thursday, Sept. 27. I invite you to join us as we learn from and celebrate the legacy of our two inaugural inductees to the Academy for Engineering Education Leadership. All are welcome.” Janet Callahan, Dean of Engineering

All are welcome at the inaugural induction of the Academy for Engineering Education Leadership, hosted by the College of Engineering. The induction and reception will take place today, Thursday, September 27, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. in the East Reading Room of the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library.  Sarah A. Rajala, PhD, and Karl A. Smith, PhD are the new academy’s first distinguished inductees. Both are outstanding Michigan Tech alumni.

Dr. Sarah Rajala is the James L. and Katherine S. Melsa Dean of Engineering at Iowa State University and a Michigan Tech alumna. She is an internationally known leader, past president of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and past chair of the Global Engineering Deans Council. She earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech, and an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Rice University.

Dr. Karl A. Smith is Cooperative Learning Professor in the School of Engineering Education, College of Engineering, at Purdue University. He is also the Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor and Executive Co-Director of the STEM Education Center, Technological Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Smith is a world expert in discipline-based engineering education research. He earned both a BS and an MS in Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Tech, and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

More events are offered in connection with the new Academy for Engineering Education Leadership. All events will take place this Thursday, September 27. Members of the campus community—faculty, staff and students—are all encouraged and welcome to attend.

Teaching at Tech: Breakfast Roundtable, “Learning Opportunities, Pitfalls, and Impacts on Students and the Institution,” with Dr. Karl Smith and Dr. Sarah Rajala. This event, for all who teach here on campus, takes place from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Van Pelt and Opie Library East Reading Room. No registration needed, and breakfast is included. Each will each offer short position statements and then lead an active question and answer session over breakfast. Dr. Smith’s experience as a STEM education researcher will be balanced by Dr. Rajala’s experience as an administrator with an exceptional track record. View the event. | Print the flyer.

Teaching at Tech: STEM Education Research Workshop with Dr. Karl Smith. This event will take place from 10:00 a.m. to noon. Please register online. This session is designed both for those who have some experience and those just looking to get started. Dr. Smith brings over 30 years’ experience working with faculty to redesign courses to improve student learning, with a focus on cooperative learning, problem formulation, modeling, and knowledge engineering. View the event. | Print the flyer.

Register Online

“Leadership Lessons from the Antarctic,” presented by Dr. Sarah Rajala, 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Fisher 135. This event is free and open to the public. One hundred and four years ago, under the leadership of polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Endurance set sail for the Antarctic. Shackleton had established a potentially history-making goal: to be the first to walk across the continent of Antarctica. Even though he never led a crew of more than twenty-seven men, and failed to reach most of the goals he set, Shackleton is still recognized as one of the world’s greatest leaders. In this presentation, Dr. Rajala will explore what made Shackleton a great leader–and how his leadership traits have influenced her own career. View the event. | Print the flyer.

More About the Inductees

Sarah Rajala
Dr. Sarah A. Rajala, Inaugural Member, Michigan Tech Academy Engineering Education Leadership.

Dr. Sarah A. Rajala consistently breaks new ground for women in engineering and serves as a role model for young women. She is passionate about diversity of thought and culture, especially as it relates to the college environment. Among her many honors, she received the national Harriett B. Rigas Award honoring outstanding female faculty from the Education Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2015. Dr. Rajala was also named National Engineer of the Year by the American Association of Engineering Societies in 2016.

In addition to serving as Iowa State’s Dean of Engineering since 2013, Dr. Rajala served as dean and department chair in the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. At North Carolina State University College of Engineering, she was associate dean for research and graduate programs and associate dean for academic affairs.

Prior to moving into administrative positions, Dr. Rajala had a distinguished career as a professor and center director. She conducted research on the analysis and process of images and image sequences and on engineering educational assessment. She has authored and co-authored more than 100 refereed papers, and made contributions to 13 books. She is a fellow of ASEE, IEEE, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Karl A. Smith
Dr. Karl A. Smith, Inaugural Member, Michigan Tech Academy Engineering Education Leadership.

Dr. Karl A. Smith has over 30 years of experience working with faculty to redesign their courses and programs to enhance student learning.

Dr. Smith adapted the cooperative learning model to engineering education, and in the past 15 years has focused on high-performance teamwork through his workshops and book, Teamwork and Project Management (McGraw-Hill Education, 2014).

His workshops on cooperative learning have helped thousands of faculty build knowledge, skills, and confidence for involving their students in more active, interactive, and cooperative learning both during class time and outside of class. The effects of the workshops are significant in terms of creating a sense of belonging and membership in a community, as well as much more engaged and deep learning.

Dr. Smith is a world expert in discipline-based engineering education research. His interests include building research and innovation capabilities in engineering education; faculty and graduate student professional development; the role of cooperation in learning and design; problem formulation, modeling, and knowledge engineering; and project and knowledge management.

He is the author of  eight books and hundreds of published articles on engineering education, cooperative learning and structured controversy, knowledge representation and expert systems, and teamwork.

For more information about the new Michigan Tech Academy for Engineering Education Leadership, contact the College of Engineering.


Graduate School Announces Fall 2018 Award Recipients

Engineering Grad Students working in the lab

The Graduate School announced the Summer and Fall 2018 award recipients. The following are award recipients in engineering graduate programs:

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Award

Ulises Gracida Alvarez, Chemical Engineering
Sanaz Habibi, Chemical Engineering
Long Zhang, Chemical Engineering
Shuaidong Zhao, Civil Engineering
Jingyuan Wang, Electrical Engineering
Zhimin Song, Environmental Engineering
Priscilla Addison, Geological Engineering
Hans Lechner, Geology
Huaguang Wang, Materials Science and Engineering
Shadi DaraniMechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Soroush Sepahyar, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship

Anindya Majumdar, Biomedical Engineering
David Rosen, Biomedical Engineering


North Macomb Students Attend Women in Engineering Program

Women in EngineeringA trio of local students recently had a chance to explore an array of engineering careers through Michigan Technological University’s Women in Engineering program.

The Women in Engineering program is a weeklong look at engineering careers in areas such as mechanical, computer, environmental, electrical, biomedical, civil, geological and materials engineering, school officials said in a news release.

Students accepted into the program received a scholarship that covered room and board, tuition and supplies.

Read more at The Voice, by Emily Pauling.


Study Abroad: Clean, Renewable Energy in Iceland

Zoe Ketola, Systems Engineering undergraduate, studied renewable energy in Iceland this summer.
Zoe Ketola, Systems Engineering undergraduate, studied renewable energy in Iceland this summer.
Zoé Ketola enrolled in the The Green Program, which offers short-term, experiential education about the world’s most pressing issues in sustainable development. Ketola took classes through Reykjavik University School of Energy, and also traveled extensively around Iceland. In Ketola’s group there were about 20 others students, coming from Penn State, University of Michigan, Colorado State, and some Canadian universities, to name a few.

Here at Michigan Tech, Ketola is turning her innovative ideas into a reality with a BSE degree in systems engineeringan engineering degree she can customize to fit her interests. She wants to work on improving and overhauling the US electrical grid—facilitating the transition from traditional to clean energy sources.

Why did you decide to go to Iceland for your study abroad?
Iceland is what fell into my lap. It is considered the world’s renewable energy capital and renewable and clean energy are my passion. I never set out looking to go to Iceland (or anywhere, really) but when the department chair of Engineering Fundamentals, Professor Jon Sticklen, told me about the opportunity I couldn’t think of a better place to learn about what I love. Plus, have you seen pictures of the place? It’s a dream if you like the outdoors.

What was your main project while you were there?
I worked on a project that detailed providing personal solar arrays to impoverished communities within the United States. My group focused on communities in West Virginia and we looked into providing the equipment, doing install, how we would run our company, etc. We did this outside of taking courses on hydropower, geothermal, biofuels, and icelandic culture/history.What did you learn about culture and society in Iceland?
The Icelandic people are very hearty. They are independent and they kind of do their own thing. The most interesting things to me included how independent the children are and just how important keeping their public places clean is. You don’t wear your shoes in homes or the public pools. The pools also have a monitor who makes sure you shower before swimming.

“Iceland changed my life. I know that sounds cliche but I felt like I was losing my fire to make things better. I met people who cared about the same things as me and wanted to save the world. Nothing felt better than that. I can never thank my professor enough for helping me to get there.”

How has studying abroad impacted or changed your outlook?
Well, I’m itching to go back to Iceland and have been since I landed back stateside. I’m now looking more seriously at pursuing a masters dealing with energy, maybe even in Iceland.  Iceland reignited my passion to help the planet and to focus on improving the renewable/clean energy sector.

Through the Green Program, Zoé Ketola studied abroad in Iceland with a strong focus on clean renewable energy
Through the Green Program, Zoé Ketola studied abroad in Iceland with a strong focus on clean renewable energy

What was your most memorable experience?
I hiked a little over 10 miles at Fimmvörðuháls in the Icelandic highlands. When we got to the top of our hike, I couldn’t believe I was there. I was standing in between two glaciers with 20 fantastic people from all over the world and it was so surreal. The world is so big yet we all ended up there together.

Outside of working and studying, what was everyday life like? What did you do for fun?
Mostly spent time outside. I hiked everywhere it feels like, including near the southern coast and in the highlands (where I also camped). We visited hot springs, public pools, mountains, glaciers, and a local hostel where we got to meet a band we had started listening to that morning on the bus. We also visited Iceland’s largest geothermal plant and two hydropower plants, one of which was built in the 1960s.

What are your career goals?

I want to work on improving and overhauling the US electrical grid and facilitating the transition from traditional energy sources to clean energy sources. I don’t know what that means yet because it doesn’t look like anyone is doing exactly what I feel like needs to happen but I’ll figure it out along the way. If I quit every time I wasn’t sure of how to move forward I would never get anything done.

Joshua Pearce on At-home Manufacturing

3D PrintingAn article written by Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) for The Conversation, Trade wars will boost digital manufacturing – at consumers’ own homes with personal 3D printers, was picked up by the Associated Press and published widely in several newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, San Antonio Express, Times Union in New York and others. The story was covered on WTOP radio in Washington, D.C. and on TEGNA Broadcast Media (46 television stations covering 50 million people).

Pearce is quoted in an article regarding the Michigan Tech student developed recycling system: Equipment spotlight: Boost for at-home filament extrusion, in Plastics Recycling Update.

In the News

An article written by Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) was reprinted by khou.com, the Times UnionFinancial SenseWorld News and several other media outlets.

Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) was quoted in the article “3D printing news Sliced Siemens, ExOne, Stratasys, Massivit, CELLINK, Formlabs, Star Rapid,” 3dprintingindustry.com.

Pearce was interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) for “3D Printing is Turning the Economics of Scale on its Head.” You can listen to the interview here.

Pearce writing on the trade wars and 3D printing was covered by Salon.


DENSO STEM Grant for Michigan Tech

DENSO sign outside the facilityMichigan Tech was listed among the 25 institutions of higher learning that shared in nearly $1 million in funding from DENSO International America, Inc.

DENSO Awards $1 Million in STEM Grants to 25 North American Colleges

DENSO, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers of technology and components, announced that its philanthropic arm will donate nearly $1 million in overall funding to 25 institutions of higher learning across North America to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational programming.

“Manufacturing and automotive companies need technically-minded associates now more than ever,” said David Cole, DENSO North American Foundation board member.

Read more at Fleet News Daily.


Alex Mayer is the First University Professor

Alex S. Mayer
University Professor Alex S. Mayer

Last September, University President Glenn Mroz and Jackie Huntoon, provost and vice president for academic affairs, announced the establishment of two new titles created to recognize outstanding faculty: Distinguished Professor and University Professor.

The University Professor title recognizes faculty members who have made outstanding scholarly contributions to the University and their discipline over a substantial period of time.

Alex Mayer was selected as the first University Professor.

Mayer is the Charles and Patricia Nelson Presidential Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has been at Michigan Tech since 1991 with a joint appointment in the Department of Geological Engineering and Sciences. Mayer was the co-founder and first director of the Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society. He teaches about environmental resources engineering and management. Recent research activity on collaborative solutions to water scarcity in semi-arid environments, hydro-economic modeling for watershed management, sea level rise impacts on island nations has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Agriculture.

Mayer is frequently recognized for his outstanding efforts to bring water-related research, education and outreach to the forefront at Michigan Tech. For his dedication to studying water quality and scarcity—and his unique approach to these complex problems—Mayer won Michigan Tech’s 2015 Research Award. In 2009, Mayer was recognized with the Rudolf Hering Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers. In the same year, he also received Michigan Tech’s Distinguished Faculty Service Award. Collaboration is a hallmark of Mayer’s research methods. He works across disciplines with academics, government, non-governmental organizations, and community stakeholders.

The confidential process for selecting recipients spans the academic year and recipients for each award were notified in May. A University Professor is recognized for their exemplary research, major invited lectures, prestigious awards, significant contributions to the advancement of their field, and other criteria. They are nominated by faculty members, departments, programs, or schools. University Professors will not exceed two percent of the total number of tenured and tenure-track faculty at Michigan Tech at any time.


Jarek Drelich and David Watkins are Distinguished Professors

Last September, University President Glenn Mroz and Jackie Huntoon, provost and vice president for academic affairs, announced the establishment of two new titles created to recognize outstanding faculty: Distinguished Professor and University Professor.

Jarek Drelich
Distinguished Professor Jarek Drelich

The title of Distinguished Professor recognizes outstanding faculty members who have made substantial contributions to the University as well as their discipline but are not presently recognized through an endowed position or faculty fellowship.

Jaroslaw (Jarek) Drelich and David Watkins are among the recipients in the inaugural group of Distinguished Professors.

Drelich is a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Adhesion of fine particles, biodegradable implants, surface wetting, and colloidal properties are among his research interests. Drelich leads SURFI, Surface Innovations at Michigan Tech. The SURFI research team recently reviewed the properties of fish scales in Advanced Biosystems, identifying many promising qualities that could be beneficial to material and surface innovators. Drelich also spearheaded the acquisition of a new atomic force microscope for looking at single molecules on a surface.

David Watkins
Distinguished Professor David Watkins

Watkins is a professional engineer and professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has been at Michigan Tech since 1999, teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses in fluid mechanics, engineering hydrology, water resources management, and others. He directs an international capstone design program, co-directed a Peace Corps Master’s International program, and advises a student chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA. Watkins maintains an active research program in water resources systems engineering, hydroclimatic forecasting, and climate change adaptation. His current research projects include robust water resources decision making in south Florida and understanding the climate impacts of food, energy, and water consumption.

The confidential process for selecting recipients spans the academic year and recipients for each award were notified in May. A Distinguished Professor is recognized for their noteworthy research, invited lectures, external awards, citations, continuing contributions to the advancement of their field, and other criteria. They are nominated by faculty members, departments, programs, or schools. Distinguished Professors will not exceed 10 percent of the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty in a specific college or school at any time.