Category: News

Engineering Alumni Activity Summer 2021

Kimberly Zimmer
Kimberly Zimmer

Congratulations to Kimberly Zimmer, a 1995 Michigan Technological University alumna in civil engineering, for receiving the 2021 Michigan Department of Transportation Director’s Award. This is MDOT’s highest employee honor for outstanding service. Zimmer, honored in the officials and administrators category, played a critical role in MDOT’s successful response to last year’s historic flooding in Midland and Gladwin counties as well as excelling at other services.

Sheryl Sorby
Sheryl Sorby

Congratulations to professor emerita Sheryl Sorby for being named the ABET 2021 Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion recipient. Sheryl received her BS in Civil Engineering, MS in Engineering Mechanics, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech. Sorby is a professor of Engineering Education at the University of Cincinnati.

Meredith LaBeau
Meredith LaBeau

WLUC TV6 covered the appointment of Husky alumna Meredith LaBeau as chief technology officer at Calumet Electronics. LaBeau earned a master’s degree and PhD in environmental engineering and a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Michigan Tech.

Amanda DeCesare
Amanda DeCesare

Alumna Amanda DeCesare (Civil Eng Tech ’05, Construction Management ’07) has been named a Rising Star by Progressive Railroading. DeCesare is project manager of public projects at CSX. She is responsible for new at-grade crossing warning device installations, at-grade crossing consolidations and facilitating any type of construction project impacting operating right-of-way.

Sanjal Gavande
Sanjal Gavande

Michigan Tech alumna Sanjal Gavande is receiving media attention as a member of the team that built New Shepherd, the space rocket scheduled to launch Jeff Bezos into space on July 20. Profiles of Gavande ran in The Times of India and other international outlets. Gavande has an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech. She worked in marine and racing car companies before helping to build a spacecraft.

Julie Marinucci
Julie Marinucci

Michigan Tech alumna Julie Marinucci was named the new land commissioner and director of the St. Louis County Land and Minerals Department. As director, Marinucci will lead a staff of 52 responsible for managing approximately 900,000 acres of tax-forfeited trust lands. Marinucci holds a BS in Mining Engineering from Michigan Tech.

Jacob Soter
Jacob Soter

A pilot program for the Swimsmart Warning System, an automated warning light system for beachgoers developed by Michigan Tech graduate Jacob Soter and his advisor Andrew Barnard (ME-EM), was covered by 9&10 News. Soter has degrees in computer engineering, electrical engineering, and business administration.

Husky alumnae Meredith LaBeau and Audra Thurston were the focus of a feature article that ran in Printed Circuit Design & Fab. The article described LaBeau and Thurston’s participation in an upcoming Women in Aerospace virtual event intended to inspire K-12 students to pursue STEM careers. LaBeau holds a PhD degree from Michigan Tech in Environmental Engineering focusing on the integrated assessment of anthropogenic, climate and policy-induced changes on phosphorus export in the United States Laurentian Great Lakes watersheds, as well as an MS degree in environmental engineering and a BS degree in biomedical engineering from Michigan Tech. Thurston has a degree in chemical engineering.

Kim McGill
Kim McGill

Michigan Tech alumna Kim McGill, vice president of marketing at Lennox Residential, discussed the pandemic and indoor air quality on WFTX Fox 4, Fort Myers, Fla. Kim has a mechanical engineering degree from Michigan Technological University and an MBA in marketing from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University.


Michigan Tech Students Win 2021 NFPA Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge

This award-winning fluid-powered bike was designed, built and tested by a Michigan Tech student team in Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET).

Earlier this month a team of students from Michigan Technological University was declared the Overall Champions of the 2021 National Fluid Fluid Power Association Vehicle Challenge, a national competition.

The contest, dubbed “Hydraulics Meets the Bicycle,” combines human-powered vehicles along with fluid power and consists of three races—sprint, endurance, and efficiency.

The Challenge is hosted each year by Norgren, a respected world leader in motion control and fluid technology based in Littleton, Colorado. This year the competition was expanded into two separate virtual competitions hosted by Norgren plus a second company, Danfoss Power Solutions, in order to reach a wide range of students and industry members all over the country. 

The winning team! Left to right, Andrew Ward, Jake Lehmann, John Kurburski, and Alexander Provoast

John Kurburski, Andrew Ward, Alexander Provoast, and Jake Lehmann made up the winning team. All are students in Michigan Tech’s Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology. The fluid-powered bike project also served as their senior design project, required for graduation.

MMET Senior Lecturer David Wanless advised the team, and MMET Lecturer Kevin Johnson contributed to their understanding of pneumatic and hydraulic circuits in his fluid power class. 

Competing with twenty-two schools from all over the country, the Michigan Tech team placed first in efficiency, second in endurance, and third in the sprint race. After race results, two design reviews, conference participation and a final presentation the Michigan Tech team was awarded Overall Champion of the Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge for 2021.

close-up of the bike mechanism

They powered their bike using a hydraulic circuit—transferring pedal power through a hydraulic pump and motor to drive the rear wheel. “The circuit can also be powered with stored energy in an accumulator, which can be recharged mid-race through regenerative braking,” Wanless explained.

“A pneumatic circuit is also used to actuate the controls of the hydraulic circuit through the use of two switches,” added Alexander Provoast, MMET team member.

The competition was helpful to the students in several different ways, said MMET senior John Kurbuski. “The best part of competing was being introduced to members of the industry and the learning that came with it. I definitely gained a lot of knowledge relevant to my career.”

Due to Covid, NFPA organizers decided it would be best if each university created their own bike course according to the guidelines and rules. The Michigan Tech team first built their bike in the MMET Machine Shop on campus while following MTU Covid guidelines. To compete, teams then recorded their results and submitted them to NFPA. Reviews and mentor interactions were done via Zoom.

According to Kurbuski, the greatest challenge was figuring out how to create a fluid powered bike in such a short amount of time.

“There was a huge learning curve for our team. We had little knowledge about fluid power prior to the competition.”

MMET senior John Kurbuski

Most members of the team will be graduating soon, either this spring or summer. Kurbuski will graduate in April. His job hunt is now underway, with “NPFA Fluid Vehicle Challenge Grand Champion” as a great new addition to his resume. 

“I look forward to finding a career in the manufacturing industry,” adds Kurbuski.

Be sure to check out the team’s final presentation here


Two Engineering Students Awarded DoD SMART Scholarships

The Graduate School is pleased to announce the Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship awardees.

• Lauren Mancewicz, doctoral graduate student in environmental engineering, is a scholarship awardee. Mancewicz’s current research focuses on using a numerical variable-density groundwater flow and transport model to investigate the impacts of sea-level rise on island hydrology and freshwater resources.

• Casey Majhor, doctoral graduate student in electrical engineering, is a scholarship awardee. Majhor’s research focuses on improving and implementing autonomous ground vehicles and robotics. As a DoD SMART Scholar, Majhor plans to contribute to DoD project focus areas such as combat vehicle robotics and manned-unmanned teaming vehicle systems.

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

The DoD SMART Scholarship is part of the National Defense Education Program and its benefits include full tuition and education-related expenses payment, a stipend of $25,000-$38,000 per year, summer internships ranging from 8 to 12 weeks, health insurance, a miscellaneous allowance of $1,200 per year, mentorship at one of the DoD sponsoring facilities, and employment placement at a DoD facility upon degree completion.

By the Graduate School.


Award Results for Design Expo 2021

As we’ve come to expect, the judging for Design Expo 2021 was very close, but the official results are in. More than 1,000 students in Enterprise and Senior Design showcased their hard work on April 15 at Michigan Tech’s second-ever, fully virtual Design Expo.

Teams competed for cash awards totaling nearly $4,000. Judges for the event included corporate representatives, community members and Michigan Tech staff and faculty. The College of Engineering and the Pavlis Honors College announced the award winners below on April 15, just after the competition. Congratulations and a huge thanks to all the teams for a very successful Design Expo 2021.

Last but not least, to the distinguished judges who gave their time and talents to help make Design Expo a success, and to the faculty advisors who generously and richly support Enterprise and Senior Design—thank you for your phenomenal dedication to our students.

Please check out the Design Expo booklet and all the team videos.

ENTERPRISE AWARDS

(Based on video submissions)

  • First Place—Husky Game Development (Team 115) Advisor Scott Kuhl, (CC)
  • Second Place—Aerospace Enterprise (Team 106) Advisor L. Brad King, (ME-EM)
  • Third Place—Innovative Global Solutions (Team 116) Advisors Radheshyam Tewari (ME-EM) and Nathan Manser (GMES)
  • Honorable Mention—Consumer Product Manufacturing (Team 111) Advisor Tony Rogers (ChE)

SENIOR DESIGN AWARDS

(Based on video submissions)

  • First Place —Advanced PPE Filtration System (Team 240) Team Members: Matthew Johnson, Electrical Engineering; Bryce Hudson, Mary Repp, Carter Slunick, Mike Stinchcomb, Braeden Anex, Brandon Howard, Josh Albrecht, and Hannah Bekkala, Mechanical Engineering Advised by: Jaclyn Johnson and Aneet Narendranath, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Sponsored by: Stryker
  • Second Place—ITC Cell Signal Measurement Tool (Team 204) Team Members: Reed VandenBerg and Andrew Bratton, Electrical Engineering; Noah Guyette and Ben Kacynski, Computer Engineering Advised by: John Lukowski, Electrical and Computer Engineering Sponsored by: ITC Holdings Corp.
  • Third Place—Development of a Beta Brass Alloy for Co-Extrusion (Team 234) Team Members: Anna Isaacson, Sidney Feige, Lauren Bowling, and Maria Rochow, Materials Science and Engineering Advised by: Paul Sanders, Materials Science and Engineering Sponsored by: College of Engineering
  • Honorable Mention—EPS Ball Nut Degrees of Freedom Optimization (Team 236) Team Members: Brad Halonen, Rocket Hefferan, Luke Pietila, Peadar Richards, and David Rozinka, Mechanical Engineering Advised by: James DeClerck, Mechanical Engineering- Engineering Mechanics Sponsored by: Nexteer
  • Honorable Mention—Electric Tongue Jack Redesign (Team 230) Team Members: Jack Redesign and Brandon Tolsma, Mechanical Engineering; Collin Jandreski, Christian Fallon, Warren Falicki, and Andrew Keskimaki, Electrical Engineering Advised by: Trever Hassell, Electrical and Computer Engineering Sponsored by: Stromberg Carlson
  • Honorable Mention—Bone Access and Bone Analog Characterization (Team 212) Team Members: Sarah Hirsch, Mechanical Engineering; Elisabeth Miller and Christiana Strong, Biomedical Engineering; Morgan Duley, Electrical Engineering; Katelyn Ramthun, Biomedical Engineering Advised by: Hyeun Joong Yoon and Orhan Soykan, Biomedical Engineering Sponsored by: Stryker Interventional Spine Team
  • Honorable Mention—Blubber Only Implantable Satellite Tag Anchoring System (Team 221) Team Members: Quinn Murphy, Lidia Johnson, Joshua Robles, Katy Beesley, and Kyle Pike, Biomedical Engineering Advised by: Bruce Lee, Biomedical Engineering; Sponsored by: NOAA

DESIGN EXPO IMAGE CONTEST

(Based on image submitted by the team)

  • First Place—Blizzard Baja (Team 101): “Our current vehicle, Hornet, after a race.” Credit: Blizzard Baja team member
  • Second Place—WAAM Die Components (Team 237): “MIG welding robot printing a steel part.” Credit: Mike Groeneveld
  • Third Place—Aerospace Enterprise (Team 106): “Team photo, pre-Covid.” Credit: Aerospace Enterprise team member

DESIGN EXPO INNOVATION AWARDS

(Based on application)

  • First Place—Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise, Shareable Air project (Team 101) Advised by: Tony Rogers, (ChE)
  • Second Place—ITC Cell Signal Measurement Tool (Team 204) Advised by: John Lukowski (ECE) 
  • Third Place—Hospital Washer Autosampler Implementation (Team 218) Advised by: Sang Yoon Han and Houda Hatoum (BioMed)

DESIGN EXPO PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD

(Based on receiving most text-in voting during Design Expo)

ENTERPRISE STUDENT AWARDS

  • Rookie Award—Jack Block, CFO – Supermileage Systems Enterprise
  • Innovative Solutions—Cody Rorick, Alternative Energy Enterprise
  • Outstanding Enterprise Leadership—Andy Lambert, CEO – Supermileage Systems Enterprise and Daniel Prada, Spark Ignition (SI)
  • Team Lead—Clean Snowmobile Enterprise

ENTERPRISE FACULTY/STAFF AWARDS

  • Behind the Scenes Award—Kelly Steelman, Associate Professor and Interim Chair, Dept. of Cognitive and Learning Sciences, nominated by Built World Enterprise.


Society of Women Engineers Attend the SWE-Wisconsin Spring Forward Professional Day 2021

On April 10, Katy Pioch (Mechanical Engineering, Junior), Sophie Stewart (Mechanical Engineering Junior), Aleah Hummel (Civil Engineering, Sophomore), Aerith Cruz (Management Information Systems, First-Year), and Gretchen Hein (SWE Advisor and MMET) attended the SWE-Wisconsion Spring Forward Professional Day virtually.

Pioch gave the introductory welcome address. Stewart and Cruz gave a presentation and workshop summarizing our outreach efforts where with support from a Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Program Development Grant, the College of Engineering and Civil and Environmental Engineering, the section has virtually met with over 500 local and regional youth.

During the Spring Forward Celebration, Hummel was awarded the Society of Women Engineers- Wisconsin Section Martha Maxwell Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

The goal of the scholarship program is “To honor Martha Maxwell’s memory and continue fostering her excitement about engineering, math, and science for young girls and women.” At the event, Hummel was recognized for her work as the Evening With Industry chair and her internship where she worked on various construction projects. Scholarships are important for all students; here is what this one means to Alli: “I am very honored and grateful to be the recipient of the Martha Maxwell Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Being a part of SWE helps me grow academically and professionally. I am excited to continue my involvement in SWE as I progress throughout my academic and professional career.”

Hein notes that “Alli is a joy to have in class and is planning to continue her work with Evening with Industry in the fall. She is truly a person who exemplifies the goals of this scholarship”. Audra Morse, Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering, stated that “The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is proud of Alli’s scholastic achievements and her involvement in SWE. Congratulations to Alli for receiving a SWE-WI scholarship!”

The SWE Section at Michigan Tech recognizes the contributions of our members who presented at the professional day, and members, like Alli, who are recognized for their academic and societal efforts. We thank everyone for their support of SWE at Michigan Tech.


Engineering Students Recognized in 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium

The Pavlis Honors College has announced the winners of the 2021 virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium.

The students who presented this year represented a wide array of scientific and engineering disciplines and highlighted the diversity of research areas explored. Judges from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines volunteered their time to evaluate participant’s posters and video presentations. The results are:

Four students also received Honorable Mention:

Congratulations to all of the winners and honorable mentions and thank you to faculty, staff and students who judged and participated in the Symposium this year.

View the Engineering Research Presentations


Jared Wolfe: “Molti-Colored” Migratory Birds

Jared Wolfe shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, April 19 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new in just 20 minutes, with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites

Dr. Jared Wolfe

What are you doing for supper this Monday 4/19 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Jared Wolfe, Wildlife Biologist and Assistant Professor in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Tech. Joining in will be Wolfe’s longtime colleague and friend, Erik Johnson, Director of Bird Conservation, Audubon Louisiana. 

Dr. Erik Johnson

During Husky Bites, get ready for a wide-ranging, free-wheeling conversation about wild bird research, education and conservation. Be sure to bring your questions for these two world experts. 

“Here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, there is an incredible diversity of birds that show up to breed in the summer, but many of these birds are decreasing in abundance—they are diminishing,” says Wolfe. “We’ve lost 2.5 billion birds in North America over the past 30 years,” he adds. “Why?” 

For Wolfe and Johnson, much of their life and work has become dedicated to finding both why, and how. The two began collaborating at Louisiana State University, where they both earned their PhDs. Among their many joint projects is a book, Molt in Neotropical Birds; Life History and Aging Criteria. The volume, published in collaboration with the American Ornithological Society, describes molt strategies for nearly 190 species based on information gathered from a 30-year study of Central Amazonian birds.

Wolfe has spent 15-plus years working with tropical birds in Africa, Central and South America where he studies effects of climate and habitat change on sensitive bird species and wildlife communities. In North America, he works with managers to integrate wildlife management and conservation into sustainable forest stewardship.

Molt in Neotropical Birds, by Erik Johnson and Jared Wolfe, CRC Press, 2017, 412 pp.

Wolfe joined Michigan Tech in 2018, Determining how birds adapt lifecycle events to climate change and subsequent shifts in food resources is a central facet of his research. He uses monitoring data from California, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Brazil to measure changes in breeding and molting phenology, and survival relative to climate. He also studies bird communities within human dominated landscapes and adjacent habitat patches. 

Bird migration is an important focus in the Wolfe Lab at Michigan Tech. “Seasonal movements of birds have captured the imagination of naturalists for millennia,” he says. “The advent of diminutive tracking devices ushered in an era of discovery, where connectivity between breeding and wintering grounds are continually being revealed.” 

Wolfe and Johnson both employ geolocators and other technologies to study migration to better understand the movements of temperate birds. Photo credit: Erik Johnson

​Johnson has over 15 years of applied ornithological research experience in five countries. He completed his dissertation work studying the effects of forest fragmentation on avian communities at the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP) in coordination with the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA). His primary focus now at Audubon Louisiana involves avian conservation challenges along the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Prof. Wolfe, how did you first get into Wildlife Biology? What sparked your interest?

Jared Wolfe and his crew from Central Africa. Wolfe co-founded the Biodiversity Initiative in 2013. It seeks protect all wildlife–including forest elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, and hundreds of bird species – and conserve the rainforest across central Africa.

Growing up in downtown Sacramento, there wasn’t much opportunity to recreate in nature or see wildlife outside the city. There was a strip of riparian forest bordering the American River which served as a refuge from the city. Just a short bike ride from my house I would see coyotes, migratory birds, waterfowl, and beavers all seeking refuge, like me, from the city. These formative experiences helped develop a passion for wild places and wild things which led to a lifelong fascination with plants and animals. Luckily, I learned about the profession of wildlife ecology when I was 18, and never turned back!

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to go fishing, birding, hiking, camping, hunting, anything that gets me away from social media and my computer!

Wolfe founded a banding station at Michigan Tech’s Ford Center and Forest in Alberta, Michigan. “High capture rates and diversity make this a wonderful location to study bird populations,” says Wolfe.

Could you tell us a little about your family?

Sure, I am from Sacramento, California. My wife, Dr. Kristin Brzeski is a conservation geneticist who is also a professor at CFRES. We have one son, a covid baby, 7 month old Lawrence. We went into the pandemic barely pregnant, and to the surprise of our colleagues, are emerging with an infant! 

Prof. Johnson, how did you first get into Wildlife Biology? What sparked your interest?

Erik Johnson, Audubon Louisiana

I suppose I’ve always been into birds. My parents tell stories of me when I was little, being more interested in the pigeons than the lions, elephants, and zebras when we visited zoos. I started really picking up binoculars when I was about 10 and starting keeping bird lists when I was 11. My mom and aunt are casual bird watchers, and my whole family was an outdoorsy sort of family, so they embraced my interest from the beginning. From there I became focused on wildlife biology, ecology, and conservation more broadly.

What do you like to do for fun?

I really love to do anything outdoors—travel, hike, bike, garden. And of course, bird watching. Lately, I’ve been interested in photographing insects, with a particular interest in leafhoppers, planthoppers, and treehoppers. I dabble in guitar and violin, and used to really be into snowboarding, which is much harder to do in Louisiana!

Family and growing up?

On this Downy Woodpecker, can you spot it? Differences in coloration provide valuable information about a bird’s age. Find out how on Husky Bites this Monday 4/12 at 6 pm ET. Photo credit: Erik Johnson, Audubon Louisiana.

I live in Sunset, Louisiana, but grew up in Pittsburgh and was born in Boston. I have family all over the eastern US—my parents are still in Pittsburgh, my younger brother is in New Hampshire, and I have aunts, uncles and cousins in Ohio, North Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts, and more distant connections to Germany, where my mom was born. My wife, Ceci, is from Metairie, Louisiana (just outside of New Orleans), and we’ve been married 15 crazy years.

Read more

Fine Feathers: Migration and Molt Affect How Birds Change Their Colors

Watch

Where Research Goes Outdoors


Mary Raber is the New Chair of Engineering Fundamentals at Michigan Tech

Mary Raber is the new chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at Michigan Tech.

The College of Engineering at Michigan Technological University is pleased to announce that Mary Raber has accepted the position of chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals, beginning July 1, 2021.

“I am delighted that Dr. Raber will be chair of Engineering Fundamentals and I look forward to her joining the leadership team of the College,” states Dean Janet Callahan. “Her experience with design thinking, innovation and the principles of lean together inform her approach to solving problems. Dr. Raber’s industry background is an additional asset. Her experience will help us strongly align the engineering foundational first year with what we prepare our engineering graduates to accomplish.”

After a 14-year career in the automotive industry, Raber joined Michigan Tech in 1999 to lead the implementation and growth of the highly distinctive undergraduate Enterprise Program. She helped found the Pavlis Honors College, where she facilitated learning in leadership, human-centered design, and lean start-up and most recently served as assistant dean for academic programs.

A design-thinking and innovation enthusiast, Raber loves to help others embrace the tools and mindsets of innovation to effect positive change. She serves as co-director of Husky Innovate, Michigan Tech’s resource hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, and  she leads IDEAhub, Michigan Tech’s collaborative working group for educational innovation, as its Chief Doing Officer.

Raber earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Michigan and an MBA from Wayne State University. Her PhD in Mechanical Engineering was earned at Michigan Tech, with a focus on engineering education.

What first brought you to Michigan Tech?

In part, it was a decision to move back to the area to be closer to family, but the timing couldn’t have been better, as the innovative Enterprise Program had just received NSF funding and Michigan Tech needed someone to get the program up and running.  It was a perfect fit for my interests and background, and with a lot of support from our industry partners who immediately saw the benefits of the program we have been able to grow it into the award-winning educational experience it is today. That experience set me on a path of educational innovation and curricular program development focused on experiential learning through high-impact practices. It’s a passion that continues today through my work with IDEAhub and the Pavlis Honors College. I look forward to bringing these experiences with me to the Department of Engineering Fundamentals.

What do you enjoy most about your research and teaching?

My interests lie at the intersection of innovation, education and learning. The connections between these three can bring about transformational change to the learning experience, and better prepare students to fulfill their personal and professional goals. Teaching allows me the opportunity to connect with students and build empathy for their challenges and hopes. In turn, these insights can lead to innovations in the classroom, so that courses and programs are designed with the needs of the students in mind. 

What are you hoping to accomplish as chair?

I look forward to working with, and learning from, the Engineering Fundamentals team, and to help continue their tradition of educational innovation. We share many of the same passions for student success with a goal to strengthen and enhance the role of the first-year engineering learning experience in order to best prepare students to meet the needs of the 21st Century. 

As a key partner in delivering the strategic mission and vision of the College and University, the Engineering Fundamentals team plays an essential role in helping students transition into their college life. It will be a privilege to work with the team that helps students begin their path toward successful careers in engineering.


Register by April 9 to Attend Virtual Design Expo 2021 at Michigan Tech

Discovering Solutions Through Inspired Design is the theme of Design Expo at Michigan Tech on April 15, 2021. This year, due the pandemic, it’s will be a virtual showcase. Register in advance, by Friday, April 9, at mtu.edu/expo.

Join in as we celebrate our students at Michigan Tech’s Virtual Design Expo. This year, Design Expo will be a fully-virtual event. We wish everyone good health as we navigate safely through the global pandemic.

Please register in advance by Friday, April 9, at at mtu.edu/expo. Everyone’s welcome! Register for all or parts of the big day, which is Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Students will be ready to share their projects on a virtual event platform, Gatherly, where you can meet the teams, view projects, and ask questions in real time.

Hosted by the Pavlis Honors College and the College of Engineering as an annual event, Design Expo highlights hands-on, discovery-based learning at Michigan Tech. More than 1000 student teams showcase their work and compete for awards.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR THURSDAY, APRIL 15

11:00 a.m.: Opening Remarks via live Zoom webinar
11:30 a.m.: Virtual event opens on the virtual event platform, Gatherly. Meet the teams, view projects, and ask questions in real time.
1:30 p.m.: Gatherly virtual event and Remote Judging closes
3:00 p.m.: Presentation of Awards via live Zoom webinar
3:30 p.m.: 2021 Design Expo concludes


Kit Cischke: Students Boldly DOING Where No One Has Done Before

Kit Cischke and three graduating seniors from Michigan Tech’s Wireless Communications Enterprise team share their knowledge on Husky Bites this Monday, April 12 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new in just 30 minutes (or so), with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

What are you doing for supper this Monday 4/12 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Kit Cischke, senior lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at  Michigan Technological University. He’s also longtime advisor to Wireless Communications Enterprise (WCE), part of the University’s award-winning Enterprise Program.

“I can’t lie,” says Kit Cischke. “Part of the reason I got excited about Enterprise way back in 1999 (as a student) was because the name of the program was the same as my favorite fictional ship.”

Joining in will be Abby Nelson, Ken Shiver, and Michael Patrick:  all three are ECE students and senior members of WCE. During Husky Bites, they’ll walk us through their projects and share what it’s like for college students to serve industry clients—and think, work and operate like a company.

Part of the university’s award-winning Enterprise Program, WCE is focused on technology—wireless, optical, renewable energy and biomedical. The student-run enterprise works as a think-tank for companies looking to push their product lines to a higher level. And WCE members also work as entrepreneurs, taking their own ideas to a level where they can be useful for industry and consumers alike. 

A student sits in the lab, soldering another LED onto the printed circuit board she designed herself and fabricated on equipment sitting not two feet away. A group puts the finishing touches on a setup for an experiment to detect water leaks in washing machines. Two students are at a computer, debugging code. A 3D printer hums away as yet another prototype is fabricated. Amid all this are students just sitting on the couch, discussing events of the day. It’s 10:00 PM on a Tuesday in the middle of the semester. Nobody has made these students come; they are here by their own volition. This is the Wireless Communications Enterprise.

“There’s no shortage of interesting and meaningful projects,” says Cischke. “Just a sampling: Android tablet programming with machine learning algorithms; machine vision algorithms; estimating the power contribution of anaerobic digester systems; and establishing a Bluetooth connection to a smart power tool. Some are explicitly wireless, others are not. Regardless, student leadership abounds.”

As an ECE instructor and WCE advisor, Cischke has the fantastic ability to make complex topics easy to understand. He does this through analogies, humor, and being open and approachable to students. He strives to be a “complete human being” with his students, sharing stories about his family and life.

During Husky Bites, Nelson, Shiver and Patrick, along with Cischke (WCE faculty advisor) will walk us through their projects and share what it’s like for college students to serve industry clients—and think, work and operate like a company. 


“This is a Differential Amplifier Circuit used to sense the voltages of 4 cells in a battery pack,” says WCE team member Abby Nelson. “Version 5. It will be connected to an arduino so that we can remotely find out the charge of those cells in the battery.”

Cischke first came to Michigan Tech as a student in 1997. During his studies, he worked as an intern for IBM, verifying hard drive controllers in VHDL, and helped found one of the original Enterprise teams—the Wireless Communications Enterprise. He graduated in 2001 with a BS in Electrical Engineering, went to work for Unisys for about four and a half years and completed a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.

“When I gathered in a classroom in 1999 with 40 fellow students to found a new Enterprise team, WCE, we couldn’t have imagined how it is today,” he recalls. “We had no space to call our own. We had no equipment. We had no clear projects. Over time, we found our footing and established our course,” says Cishke.

“I graduated into the ‘real world’ and found that the structure we were striving toward in WCE was the very structure found in industry,” he adds. “It was a considerable shock when I returned to Michigan Tech in order to teach—and found WCE had become an engineering company, composed entirely of students, only five years later.”

I watch the final presentation of a student who has been in WCE for four semesters and heading off to the “real world” now. There is no comparison to the student he was before WCE. He is older, wiser and more experienced. He has worked in a team and led a team himself. He is ready to make his mark on the world. This is the Wireless Communications Enterprise.

“When I was first asked to advise WCE students, I was intimidated,” Cishke admits.”The previous advisor had nursed the group through the formative years and had them operating at a state I couldn’t imagine sustaining. My fears were unjustified.

“It takes active effort on the part of an advisor to upset the momentum the students have. Student leadership abounds. Turns out it’s not intimidating to be their advisor—it’s a pleasure.”

Kit Cischke

How did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

Actually, it was Star Trek. Some friends got me watching it in high school and my hero was Geordi LaForge (the chief engineer on the Enterprise). I don’t know that I expected “real” engineering to be like a day in deep space, but I loved the technology and problem solving. I first came to Michigan Tech as a budding chemical engineer, but realized that I liked playing with computers more than chemistry and switched into electrical and computer engineering. It’s a field that I enjoy and is constantly changing. 

The Star Trek character Geordi LaForge, portrayed by LeVar Burton.

What was the best part of taking part in WCE?

The best part is working with the students and watching them do cool things. When I started as a student, there was a sense that we didn’t know exactly what we were doing. What was our purpose? What was our value-add to the department and university? Now, the program and the students practically sell themselves. They accomplish so much and are so driven to do it. I have the “grade stick” to hold over them, but most of the students are internally motivated. 

Any hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?

Yes! I love bikes and the riding of bikes! I ride on mountain bike trails, paved roads, and gravel roads. I commute to the campus year-round on my bike—it’s far more possible than most people think. I’m a USA Cycling official too. When I’m not on a bike, I referee hockey, run, and I’m also learning how to do cross-country skate skiing and play guitar at my church.

Meet These Three Wireless Communications Enterprise Members at Husky Bites

Abby Nelson had two internships at John Deere, and accepted a job upon graduation. She’ll be taking part in the company’s development program for new engineers, with three 8-month rotations, all in different jobs and locations.

Abby Nelson ’21, Computer Engineering

Growing up I was always interested in how things worked. I caught onto computers pretty quickly. When I had to choose a college major, I chose computer engineering off the cuff. It turned out to be the right choice.

As soon as I walked on campus at Michigan Tech and saw the buildings and the people, I immediately knew that this was where I was going to go. In WCE, I’ve worked hands-on so much more than I would have in the classes I’ve taken in my major alone. I’ve met business connections and learned from other people, as well. WCE projects are student led (faculty advised), so there is a lot of problem solving involved in completing projects.

In my spare time, I enjoy biking, kayaking, and hiking around the UP. There are so many outdoor adventure opportunities, I wouldn’t trade this place for anywhere else. I will be graduating April 30th, 2021, and I am literally counting the days! Then I’ll move to Moline, Illinois to work at John Deere starting in May.

Kenny Shivers takes a break during a hike near Hungarian Falls.

Kenny Shivers ’21, Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering (Double Major)

During high school I took part in FIRST robotics. For those who aren’t familiar, every year a new game and game rules are released on the first Saturday of the year. Teams have six weeks during the “build season” to prototype, design, and build 120-pound competition robots to play against each other in 3v3 teams. After that come district, regional, state, and world championship competitions. All that fast-paced environment and creative problem solving got me interested in engineering. I ended up here at Michigan Tech as a result.

The best part about WCE are the people. This may sound a bit odd, since senior design or Enterprise are required to graduate. In WCE, those of us working on similar projects group together, which forms a sense of camaraderie. We’re all at Michigan Tech together and mostly dealing with similar problems. When it gets closer to the end of the semester, it’s crunch time, with more and more things to do on deadline. It’s a lot like a real job out in industry.

Like most Tech students I enjoy spending time outdoors and working with my hands. Last summer I stayed here in the Keweenaw because of the pandemic. I got an old, broken bike and fixed it up. It’s not a bike I would necessarily let someone else ride, but I know it well enough to trust it for myself. I also play piano and read a bit. Lately I’ve been focused on trying to make sure I have everything together to graduate and find a job. I’m actively looking for employment in embedded systems in Southeast Michigan.

Michael Patrick and his son, Charlie. “He’s an adorable little man.”

Michael Patrick ’21, Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering (Double Major)

I first became aware of engineering from my mother, a Michigan Tech chemical engineering graduate. She homeschooled me during my early education years. Then, in my FIRST Robotics team in high school, I was on the controls and electrical team (FRC Team 1718, The Fighting Pi). From that experience I knew I wanted to pursue electrical and computer engineering.

The best part of WCE, for me, have been the lab space and the community. I have made good friends in WCE, and the lab space has allowed me to tinker with electronics using tools I normally wouldn’t have access to. Right now I’m using it to repair a bluetooth speaker for a friend of mine.

Outside of school and becoming a new parent, I have a passion for cooking and healthy eating. I began a plant-based pescatarian diet 3 weeks ago, and never felt better. I also enjoy teaching and tutoring. I’m looking forward to having a side job as an online tutor once I graduate. Right now I’m still on the job hunt, looking ideally for an embedded software engineering position. Once I establish employment, I intend to start my loan payoffs and take a few years off from education, before pursuing a graduate degree.