Category: News

Meet a Six-Time Fellow at Michigan Tech

By working at the interface of theory and experiments, Dr. Yun Hang Hu is building a bright future for energy devices and technology.

Have you ever met a professor bestowed with the distinguished honor of Fellow…six times? At Michigan Tech, that professor is Yun Hang Hu, the Charles and Carroll McArthur Endowed Chair Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Hu is an international leader in energy research for his innovative processing of materials.

He has been named a Fellow six times for the breadth and rigor of his work:

  • Fellow of the American Physical Society – 2020: “For pioneering contributions to the dynamic control of structures and properties for carbon nanomaterials in their chemical synthesis, for the discovery of phase-disorder effects on memristive behaviors of metal sulfides, and for advances in chemical physics of catalysis and photocatalysis.”
  • Fellow of the ASM International – 2020: “For outstanding contributions to research and innovation in energy conversion materials; including application in solar cells, supercapacitors, hydrogen production and hydrogen storage.”
  • Fellow of the American Chemical Society – 2020: “Recognized for pioneering the synthesis and application of shape-controlled 3D graphene, discovering memristive behavior of 2D layer materials, inventing thermal-photo hybrid catalytic processes, designing efficient electrodes for energy devices, and inventing novel hydrogen storage materials.”
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science – 2014: ”For distinguished contributions in the field of novel materials and catalysts, particularly for molecular design and synthesis of nanomaterials for energy conversion, storage, and utilization.”
  • Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers – 2013: “Recognized for his exceptional, sustained accomplishments in energy, materials, catalysis and novel processes.”
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry – 2013: “More than five years in a senior position….efforts have made an impact in any field of the chemical sciences.”
Microscopic view of a material that flakes in thin, angular sheets.
Hu’s research has resulted in the development of promising new memrister materials. Electrical circuits made of molybdenum disulfide nanosheets (pictured above) can potentially store massive amounts of data in a miniscule amount of space on a computer. Memristers could make today’s iPhones as powerful as a supercomputer. Image credit: Yun Hang Hu

Hu innovates the processing of hydrogen production, hydrogen storage materials, greenhouse gas conversion, and energy conversion and storage. 

His groundbreaking work has led to several brand-new materials and processes, innovations will help in a number of applied technologies—from supercapacitors that run elevators to solar cell banks to computer data storage to making hydrogen fuel from water and sunlight.

In particular Hu investigates advanced materials for energy applications—their characterization and synthesis—using both chemical and physical approaches. His research areas include graphene for solar energy, dye-sensitized solar cells, photocatalysis, synthesis of novel solid materials and liquid fuels from CO2, hydrogen storage materials, and heterogeneous catalysis for energy and fuels. 

Hu also conducts research on 3D graphene materials for supercapacitors and solar cells and has developed several processes to synthesize 3D graphene with excellent performance for dye-sensitized solar cells and perovskite solar cells.

In addition to being elected a Fellow thrice in 2020, Hu earned the Distinguished Service Award from the Energy and Fuels Division of the American Chemical Society that same year.

And most recently, in 2022, for his pioneering contributions to hydrogen energy, Hu won the Rudolf Erren Award from the International Association of Hydrogen Energy (IAHE). The award is given for “Leadership in the Thermochemical Area (involvement with heat engines and combustion, thermochemical production, facets of hydrogen transmission, distribution and storage, such as metal hydrides).”

Read More

A Bright Future for Energy

Memristors: Making a New Generation for Digital Memory and Computation

Yun Hang Hu Wins Both Research Award and Bhakta Rath Award

John Lenters: Eyes On the Water—Great Lakes Research from Buoys and Lighthouses

First deployment of a “Spotter” wave buoy near Stannard Rock lighthouse on Lake Superior, with fishing boat shown in the background. Photo credit: John Lenters

John Lenters, associate research scientist at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center will share his knowledge on Husky Bites Live during Alumni Reunion 2022. The session takes place Friday, August 5 at 4 pm ET at the Great Lakes Research Center, Conference Room 201/202. Everyone in attendance will learn something new, with plenty of time after for Q&A. 

Can’t make it in person? Join us remotely. Use this link to join the Zoom webinar on August 5 starting at 3:45 pm.

Dr. John Lenters retrieves a wave buoy near Grand Marais, Michigan.

Environmental research on the Great Lakes—the largest lake system on the planet—is challenging. Even basic information such as weather conditions are largely invisible to mariners due to massive data gaps across vast expanses of water. 

Dr. John Lenters will explain how Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center and collaborators use scientific instruments on buoys and lighthouses to better understand the physical processes of the Great Lakes, such as wind, waves, circulation, evaporation, and ice cover.

Dr. Lenters, when did you first get into atmospheric science? What sparked your interest?

I was always interested in weather and science as a kid, and I grew up downstate near Lake Michigan. So after I got my PhD in Atmospheric Science at Cornell, I returned to the Great Lakes region and began a postdoc position at UW-Madison to study the impacts of weather and climate on lakes.

Satellite image of stamp sands near Gay, Michigan and the track of a Spotter buoy drifting to shore on November 16, 2021.

I deployed my first “weather buoy” on Sparkling Lake (in northern Wisconsin) in 1999. I’ve been conducting similar studies on a variety of lakes ever since. This includes saline lakes in western Nebraska, Arctic lakes in northern Alaska, and the Great Lakes region.

Family and Hometown?

I grew up in Holland, Michigan and still have family down there (both parents). I have two sisters, one in Massachusetts and one in Wyoming. My fiancé, Amanda, is a wildlife biologist and forester with the Wisconsin DNR. We’ll be getting married in Copper Harbor on New Years Eve.

“Captain Dingo” (aka John and Amanda’s dog, Copper) pilots their pontoon boat on Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My hobbies include cross-country skiing, kayaking, birding, storm chasing, and playing the drums. Amanda and I have a dog named Copper who we think is mostly an Australian shepherd, but we call her the dingo, because she looks exactly like one!

In my spare time I like to travel, play music, take our pontoon boat out on the lake, and get some exercise (I run, swim, ski, kayak, and go on plenty of dog walks). I’ve done some triathlons in the past. My last one was the Copperman, many years ago.

Hungry for some brain food? Join us for a bite during Husky Bites!

More about Husky Bites

Launched by Dean Janet Callahan in 2020 near the start of the pandemic, Husky Bites is an interactive Zoom webinar that takes place each fall and spring.

“Feel free to invite a friend,” says Dean Janet Callahan about her Zoom webinar series, Husky Bites. “Everyone is welcome!”

During the semester, every Monday at 6 pm ET, each “bite” is a suppertime mini-lecture, presented by a different Michigan Tech faculty member who weaves in a bit of their own personal journey, and brings a co-host, as well—an alum or a current student who knows a thing or two about the topic at hand.

The Fall 2022 Husky Bites weekly Zoom webinar series resumes starting Monday, Sept. 12. “We’ve had attendees from nine countries, and a great mix of students, alumni, our Michigan Tech community and friends,” says Dean Callahan, who mails out prizes for (near) perfect attendance.

Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Dr. Larry Sutter Retires from Michigan Tech with a New Focus: Carbon Neutral Concrete by 2035

Lawrence L. Sutter P.E., Assistant Dean of Research and External Relations, College of Engineering, Michigan Tech
Now that he has retired, Dr. Larry Sutter plans to do a lot more consulting, with a strong focus on the development of sustainable concrete.

After 43 years of distinguished service to Michigan Tech as a staff member, former student, professor, and leader, Dr. Larry Sutter, associate dean of research and external relations in the College of Engineering, and professor of materials science and engineering, officially retired from the University as of June 30.

Sutter first came to Michigan Tech in 1979 to work in the former Department of Metallurgical Engineering, operating and maintaining their powerful electron microscopes. He had previously earned an associates degree in electronics at DeVry University in Ohio and had worked for an instrument vendor for three years. Taking advantage of Michigan Tech’s tuition benefit, while working full time, Sutter took a few undergraduate courses, and then a few more–eventually earning a BS in Metallurgical Engineering. He didn’t stop there. Sutter went on to earn an MS in Environmental Engineering, and finally a PhD in Civil Engineering—all at Michigan Tech.

While pursuing his doctoral degree, Sutter joined the faculty in Michigan Tech’s former School of Technology, teaching courses in civil engineering technology and construction management for nearly a decade, becoming a tenured professor. 

In 2007 Sutter became director of the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI), which served as a link between Michigan Tech researchers and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and other state DOTS, as well as the Federal Highways Association. Under Sutter’s direction MTTI expanded, growing to 25 employees, focused on transportation research, education and training, outreach, product development and technology transfer, with over $3 million in research expenditures.

He also served as director of the US Department of Transportation-sponsored UTC-MiSTI (University Transportation Center for Materials in Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure). Sutter became actively involved with research through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, sharing his extensive knowledge of concrete making materials. He also contributed through his strong expertise in material characterization measures, which enabled him to accurately assess concrete durability and the deterioration of concrete pavements.

Sutter joined Michigan Tech’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 2013 as a full professor. He advised graduate students and taught courses in scanning electron microscopy, and continued research on  concrete-making materials and concrete durability.

Over the years Sutter’s research focus honed in on various recycled and secondary materials for sustainable concrete, including fly ash and blast furnace slag. He is recognized nationally as a leader in development of standard tests and specifications for using these materials in concrete. 

“My professional goal now is to be a contributor to making the cement and concrete industry carbon neutral by 2035. It is a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) but I feel strongly it can be done.”

Dr. Larry Sutter

In recent years Sutter earned several major awards. He was named a Fellow of ASTM International, formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials. ASTM is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services.

In naming him a Fellow, ASTM recognized Sutter as “a valuable resource and advocate for the responsible use of sustainable materials in concrete mixtures, and a forward-thinking leader in integrating new and developing technologies into new and existing standards.”

Sutter’s dedication is underscored with a summary of his involvement: he is active on ASTM Committee C01 Cement, as well as C09 Concrete. He serves as vice-chair of committee C09, the second largest committee within ASTM, and serves as chair of subcommittee C09.24 Supplementary Cementitious Materials. Sutter is also chair of subcommittee C01.14 Non-hydraulic Cements, and serves on the executive committees of both C01 and C09.

“There are numerous professional activities I am involved in, to get the cement and concrete industry to carbon neutral,” says Sutter.

Sutter was also named Fellow of the American Concrete Institute, or ACI, in 2019. He currently serves as chair of ACI Committee 321 Durability Code, Vice-Chair of Committee 232 on Fly Ash and Bottom Ash Use in Concrete, and secretary of Committee 201 on Durability. He serves on the ACI Board of Direction. And now, he serves as chair of the board of the newly formed ACI Center of Excellence for Carbon Neutral Concrete (NEU).

Sutter earned the Jean-Claude Roumain Innovation in Concrete Award from ACI’s Strategic Development Council, which recognized his strong leadership in concrete materials education and research. The award committee cited Sutter’s work, which has “resulted in the advancement of knowledge of deicer-induced damage to concrete, utilization of fly ash and alternative cements, and characterization of a concrete air-void system to overall improve the sustainability and durability of concrete.” Sutter also received the Delmar L. Bloem Distinguished Service Award from ACI in 2018. 

In 2022 Sutter received the Champion Award from the American Coal Ash Association, the 8th recipient of the award over the past 10 years.

Larry with his wife Patty and daughter Lena.

Sutter made his mark outside the world of concrete and Michigan Tech, too. After enjoying hockey as a spectator all of his life, at the age of 37, he got the opportunity to get on the ice and enjoy the game as a participant. This happened because he casually commented to his graduate school office mate, John Sandell, now a faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering, that he would love to play hockey—but only if he could play goalie. 

“John assured me that if I wanted to play goalie I could play 7 days a week—because no one else wanted to do it!”

Sutter has played hockey ever since, and even founded the Tuesday Night Hockey League, which involves the game (of course) but also a veritable locker room feast that Sutter prepares himself each week for his teammates.

Sutter’s love of hockey is contagious off campus, too. For each of his many ACI meetings, held in different cities across the country, where possible, Sutter manages to organize an ACI hockey game, which involves finding a rink nearby, recruiting 20 of his ACI colleagues, and playing, too. The game is followed by a reception and the event is always done as a fundraiser for the ACI Richard Stehly Scholarship with each game raising well over a thousand dollars to support the scholarship fund.

Tuesday Night Hockey League at Michigan Tech: first the game, then Larry’s homemade feast! (Larry is first on the lower left).

Sutter is a member of the National Academies Transportation Research Board, and the National Concrete Consortium. Both are leading venues for the dissemination of concrete research. He’s also a volunteer at Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, something he has done for the past 42 years. 

So what are Sutter’s next steps after retirement?  “My plan is to do a lot more consulting now, with a strong focus on the development of sustainable concrete,” he says. “It’s time to give back.”

Making concrete stepping stones with fourth grade students (as a Mother’s Day gift) became an annual outreach event for Larry. “That was always a highlight of the year.”

Dr. Sutter generously answered our questions about himself and his plans for retirement.

Hometown?

I was raised in a small town Western New York called Perrysburg, about 50 miles south of Buffalo. I am #4 of six children, 3 brothers and two sisters

Why did you choose Michigan Tech?

Actually, Michigan Tech chose me. I came here in 1978 to install an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer in the Metallurgical Engineering department and while I was here I learned of a job opening in the electron microscope lab. I was looking for an opportunity to work at a university and continue my education, and I loved the small town environment of Houghton, so I applied for the job. I came to the interview in December of 1978, the record snow year. Professor Al Hendrickson picked me up at the airport with his VW bug and as we drove to town in that little car, with no heat, with snow banks 6 feet high on either side, I knew this was the place for me. Eventually I was hired, moved here in March of 1979, and so it began.

Part of the job you enjoyed most?

There were many highlights. Operating the electron microscopes, especially the electron microprobe, was a “gadgeteers” dream. That was and always will be the most fun and interesting job. But that wasn’t as professor or dean, that was as a research engineer.

Probably the highlight of my professor time was as director of the UTC. I worked with a very competent and resourceful staff person, Beth Hoy, and we did some very innovative things. We were able to fund a large number of students and we had numerous outreach programs to engage K12 students. Somewhere along that timeline we started making concrete stepping stones for a Mother’s Day present with 4th grade students. That was always a highlight of the year. The students would come, learn about microscopes, materials, and then get dirty making concrete.

Most rewarding aspect of your job?

Teaching in the School of Technology was rewarding as it was a two-year associates degree and I saw a lot of students that reminded me of myself at their age. The associates degree is a path into higher education that allows students to take an incremental step and prove to themselves that they can be successful. I saw so many students come in year one with the attitude that 6 months from now they will be a failure, only to find they like learning, and they can be successful in college, and by the end of year 2 they are looking at BS programs, or going to work with an associates degree and a much different career trajectory than would have been the case without the degree. I saw a lot of young people’s lives change for the better.

“If there is spare time, my first choice is to travel. I have a life goal of seeing every NHL team on their home ice at least once.” (Hopefully that includes at least a few destinations with beautiful beaches!)

Who were some of the people that influenced or helped you along the way?

In my time in the Metallurgical Engineering department as research engineer, the two influences were Professor Don Mikkola and Professor Duane Thayer. Don was the main reason I came to MTU. At one point I turned down the job offer and he called and talked me into coming; Don had a very convincing manner. Over the years he was always a supporter and a mentor, and a close personal friend. Duane Thayer was a major influence on my education and on my ultimate career path, and also a close personal friend. I became interested in the local copper history when I first came to Michigan Tech, and Duane, aka ‘Dewey’, filled in a lot of stories. I became interested in mineral processing/extractive metallurgy and that became my academic pursuit, under his tutelage. And for everyone reading this who was one of ‘Dewey’s Boys’ (and there were girls too), we all know we are in a special fraternity. Knowledge from that training is still serving me today as I work in the cement and concrete industry.

Plus, Dewey told me early on the secret of being a Yooper:  “Be the same way every day. Whatever you are, just be that way and don’t be changing on us.” 

Another major influence of mine came from another Dewey, Civil Engineering Professor George Dewey. He got me engaged in fly ash and concrete. Had he not supported me in my transition from research engineer to graduate student to faculty member, it never would have happened. He introduced me to ACI (the American Concrete Institute) and taught me much about how the construction industry works. His support early in my career was foundational. And more than anyone, he taught me how to write.

Last but not least, I worked with two professional staff, that without their skills, much of the research I led would not have had anywhere near the same level of impact. Those were Dr. Karl Peterson, who is now a professor at the University of Toronto, and Jerry Anzalone, now a successful entrepreneur and beachcomber in central California. Both were graduate students under my supervision at the time, but I received far more from them than I gave. Their laboratory skills and their work with students on the front lines made our research program successful.

Your biggest goal now?

My professional goal now is to be a contributor to making the cement and concrete industry carbon neutral by 2035. It is a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) but I feel strongly it can be done.

What will you do in your spare time? 

I don’t see a lot of spare time coming up in the near term. There are numerous professional activities I am involved in, to get the cement and concrete industry to carbon neutral. Plus I have leadership roles in ASTM and also in ACI, most notably as Chair of the Board for the new ACI Center of Excellence for Carbon Neutral Concrete (NEU). But if there is spare time, my first choice is to travel. I also have a life goal of seeing every NHL team on their home ice at least once. So far I have 16 of the 32 teams done. I’ve been to multiple arenas for some teams, like Detroit. I try to see a couple of teams each year. 

Larry as goalie.

What advice do you give to new students? New faculty?

My advice for new students: Put your phones away, listen to your professors, and read the book. And most importantly, ask questions. It will make them a better professor and it will help you understand that not every question has an answer, and for a young engineer that’s job security.

“With intelligent questions, not nonsense, drive your professor to the point where they say ‘I don’t know.'”

Larry Sutter

My advice for new faculty: Nothing is easy but everything is possible. Don’t take “No” for an answer and never forget the importance of the professional staff at the university. They are the cog that makes the machine work. Respect them and make them part of your team.

The College of Engineering and Michigan Tech are thankful for Dr Sutter’s leadership and friendship and wish him every happiness in his retirement!

Environmental Engineering Presentations at AEESP 2022

Environmental Engineering at the Confluence AEESP St. Louis 2022

Rose Daily and Benjamin Barrios, both PhD students in environmental engineering, traveled to St. Louis with their advisor, Daisuke Minakata (CEGE). They attended the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) Conference on June 28-30, where they presented their research findings.

Daily gave her podium presentation about advanced reduction technology for the remediation of organic contaminants in water including per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Barrios presented a poster about an aquatic photochemistry project supported by the National Science Foundation.

The AEESP Research and Education Conference addresses the most critical environmental challenges of this era. Its theme, “Environmental Engineering and Science at the Confluence,” is designed to span the field of environmental engineering, to explore convergence and to highlight emerging developments.

Dr. Yongchao Yang Awarded 2022 Achenbach Medal

Dr. Yonchao Yang, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, Michigan Tech

Yongchao Yang, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University, is the recipient of the 2022 Achenbach Medal. This international award recognizes a young investigator, within 10 years of earning their PhD, who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of structural health monitoring. This includes the monitoring of bridges, aircraft, pipelines, buildings and other infrastructure and engineering systems. Each year a single individual worldwide is selected for the honor.

The Achenbach medal is named in honor of Jan Achenbach, professor emeritus and Walter P. Murphy Professor and Distinguished McCormick School Professor at Northwestern University. The medal was presented to Dr. Yang in the International Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring (IWSHM) on July 6 at the European Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring (EWSHM 2022) in Palermo, Italy. The workshop is held each year, rotating between Stanford University and a location in Europe.

Yang came to Michigan Tech from Argonne National Lab in August 2019, where he worked as a staff scientist. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Engineering at Harbin Institute of Technology in 2010, and a PhD in Structural Engineering at Rice University in 2014. He was a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 2015 to 2018.

“The process of implementing a damage identification strategy for aerospace, civil and mechanical engineering infrastructure is referred to as structural health monitoring, or SHM,” says Yang, quoting the definition proposed by one of the pioneering SHM researchers, Dr. Charles Farrar at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Yang worked with Farrar during his postdoctoral research.

Dr. Yang works with a laser Doppler vibrometer system, coupled with an AI-based algorithm for full-field scanning and detection of metal structures, in this case, aluminum plates. In the back far right, PhD student Faraz Azad works at the computer on the measurement software and AI detection algorithm.

Yang’s research centers around structural dynamics in the broad areas of cyber-physical systems. “I hope to better understand the dynamic behaviors of structures and systems, in order to enable intelligent engineering systems–including software applications for structural health monitoring, and less invasive and non-destructive evaluations. That includes inferring and detecting any abnormal change in the dynamic features indicative of damage in the system.”

Yang leads the Dynamics & Intelligent Systems Group at Michigan Tech, consisting of postdocs, doctoral, master’s and undergraduate students. The group’s specific research includes sensing, modeling, analysis, and control of dynamic structures and systems.

“Our work in the lab spans the broad areas of system identification and control. We leverage approaches from experimental and computational mechanics, computer vision and machine learning—deep learning—with optical and acoustical tools,” Yang explains. “We seek to develop novel computational sensing tools and ‘physics-guided’ machine learning methodology. Our goal is to enable high-fidelity modeling and characterization of complex structural, material, and system behaviors.”

Sponsors of Yang’s research include the US Department of Energy, US Federal Highway Administration, Argonne National Lab, Los Alamos National Lab, Hyundai Corp., the MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing at Wayne State University, and DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Dr. William Predebon Retires Today After 47 Years at Michigan Tech

Dr. Bill Predebon is retiring today after a stellar career as professor and chair. He will remain always a mentor, advisor, colleague, and friend.

Today at Michigan Technological University, it feels like the end of an era.

But for Dr. William W. Predebon, J.S. Endowed Department Chair and Professor, it is the beginning of something absolutely new. Dr. Predebon will retire today after 25 years as the chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, and nearly 47 years at Michigan Tech.

“As I look back on all those years as department chair, I want to acknowledge that the progress we made was on the shoulders of those that came before us and the great faculty, staff, students and alumni who have been a part of this journey with me,” he says.

“If there was a hall-of-fame for mechanical engineering department chairs, Bill would get in on the first ballot,” says Greg Odegard, the John O. Hallquist Endowed Chair in Computational Mechanics. “Bill is a tremendous mentor. He worked hard to help young faculty develop into world-class researchers and teachers. He has a very calm, non-dramatic approach to leadership. He is simply honest and straight-forward.”

Under Predebon’s respectful and brilliant watch, the ME-EM department made great strides in conducting interdisciplinary research, growing the doctoral program, expanding research funding, and updating the curriculum and laboratories. He also brought diversity to both the faculty and student body.

Predebon joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech in 1976. He served as the department’s director of graduate studies, and then, in 1997 he became chair of the department.

“The world is changing, and we need to respond to its challenges and opportunities.”

Dr. Bill Predebon

“I’ve been fortunate to work with Bill on many projects over the past 25 years,” says Gordon Parker, the John and Cathi Drake Endowed Chair in Mechanical Engineering. “Bill brought a level of positivity that exceeded the circumstances in every case. This, along with his unwavering focus and kindness, resulted in success.”

“Bill has had a profound and lasting impact on the careers of many students, faculty, and staff,” adds Parker. “He’s a ‘true believer’ in Michigan Tech and the people that define it.”

“Bill made great effort on the development and retention of minority and women faculty members,” says ME-EM Professor Bo Chen. “When I joined Michigan Tech, he assigned two mentors for me, including a woman mentor. Bill has always been supportive of my teaching and research. He always tried his best to accommodate my requests for teaching assistants and research space. I greatly appreciate his help on my career journey at Michigan Tech.”

“Bill is the reason I came to Michigan Tech, and the reason I am still here today,” says Brad King, Richard and Elizabeth Henes Endowed Professor of Space Systems. “When I interviewed 22 years ago, Bill convinced me of his vision to broaden MEEM into new areas, which could include aerospace, and I jumped at the chance to be a part of that change.”

“True to his word, Bill always made room for new ideas and encouraged and rewarded innovation,” adds King. “As a result, there are now hundreds of Michigan Tech alumni in leadership positions within the commercial and government space industry, one Michigan Tech satellite orbiting the Earth, and two more in development. Just last week I saw a commuter bus driving around Houghton with a big satellite graphic on the side. Because of Bill, space and satellites are now an integral part of Michigan Tech’s identity.”

“By hiring talented faculty and staff, together with our great students, our generous and supportive alumni, and with the support of the university administration, we have been able to innovate, push boundaries, be creative, take risks, and be entrepreneurs,” Predebon says.

Over the past 10 years he led the ME-EM Department to rapidly evolve its educational methods, infusing into 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.

“Bill is the master of the long game.”

John Drake ‘64, ‘69, Michigan Tech mechanical engineering and business alumnus
Dr. Predebon’s early days at Michigan Tech

Predebon grew up in New Jersey, then earned his 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. After he graduated, Predebon held summer appointments at Argonne National Laboratory, Southwest Research Institute, and Honeywell Inc./Alliant Techsystems Inc.

Predebon’s research in ceramics, computational modeling and simulation of impact phenomena, and explosive fragmentation has involved experimental, analytical, and computational elements and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and other government agencies and industrial partners. He has over forty publications and two US patents.

A Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Predebon has received numerous honors, including the Outstanding Service Award for his work with the student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers. At Michigan Tech he earned the first annual Martin Luther King Award by Michigan Tech’s Black Student Organizations; and the Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award. He received the Distinguished Faculty Award from the Michigan Association of Governing Boards of Colleges, and the Michigan Tech Honorary Alumni Award. He also gained membership in Michigan Tech’s Academy of Teaching Excellence.

In 2015 Predebon was recipient of the Michigan Tech Diversity Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of a faculty or staff member who contributes to diversity and inclusion through exemplary leadership and actions. Predebon stood out for his long-term persistence in working on issues of diversity.

“Bill has been known for his willingness to try out-of-the-box strategies for recruiting underrepresented minorities and female faculty and students,” said Carl Anderson, ME-EM professor emeritus and former associate dean of research in the College of Engineering. “He recognized the importance of a diverse workforce well before it became part of the common expectation of a department chair. He led the way.”

“My observations, from over 20 years of Dr. Bill Predebon’s leadership:

Passionate
Resourceful
Enthusiastic
Dedicated
Energetic
Balanced
Optimistic
Notable

Gerald Haycock ‘68, mechanical engineering alumnus

Predebon also led efforts to create the Michigan Tech Learning Resource Center for Self-Paced Programmed Instruction, the ME-EM Engineering Learning Center, as well as a distance learning doctorate degree in mechanical engineering, and a Design Engineer Certificate program with General Motors in 2000. More than six hundred GM employees earned the certificate.

In 2010 Predebon started a Peace Corps Master’s International program in mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech, the first and only one of its kind in the nation.

Predebon is a captain in the US Army Reserves and is a member of four honor societies: Tau Beta Pi (engineering), Phi Kappa Phi (academic excellence), Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership), and Theta Tau (engineering).

In 2019 he was inducted into the Pan American Academy of Engineering, which brings together engineers from across the continent of North America, South America and Mexico—a total of 18 countries.

At Michigan Tech he advised both the Nordic and Alpine ski teams and Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, and chaired building committees for both the Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building and the Great Lakes Research Center.

“The ME-EM department and Michigan Tech are better as a result of Bill’s hard efforts. I only wish I had an opportunity to be one of his students!”

Geoff Weller ‘75, mechanical engineering alumnus

So what are Dr. Predebon’s next steps after retirement? He plans to keep working—this time in development and outreach activities for Michigan Tech, as a Professor and Chair Emeritus.

“Bill is a pioneer at Michigan Tech in advancement. He showed the university how it could be done successfully,” notes Parker.

And Dr. Predebon just might journey with his family to Italy at some point, in order to meet relatives there for the very first time.

“ I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.

Dr. Bill Predebon

Engineering Alumni Activity Summer 2022

Paige Fiet
Paige Fiet

Paige Fiet (’21 electrical engineering) writes about the IPC chapter formation at Michigan Tech in 2019 in “The New Chapter: My Time on the IPC Board of Directors—Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” in I-Connect007. Fiet is a process engineer at TTM-Logan, a former student director on the IPC Board of Directors, and an IPC Emerging Director.

Paul Rogers
Paul Rogers

DBusiness Magazine quoted Major General Paul Rogers ‘88 ‘04 (BS, PhD, mechanical engineering) in a feature article lauding Michigan as a hub of innovation and synergy between public and private sectors working to invent, test, and produce military technologies. Rogers, the adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard, speaks at length in the article about his vision for the National All-Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC) and its operations in the lower peninsula.

Brenda Ryan
Brenda Ryan

Brenda Ryan ’76 (BS, metallurgical and materials engineering), the current vice chair of Michigan Tech’s Board of Trustees, was the featured guest on an episode of Let Them Lead, a podcast discussing the risks and rewards of leadership today.

Patricia Nadeau
Patricia Nadeau

Alumna Patricia Nadeau ’11 (PhD, geology) was mentioned in the July 7 edition of Volcano Watch, a weekly article and activity update written by U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The story explained how researchers study Hawaiian volcano plumes. Nadeau, a current member of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory gas geochemistry group, studied the summit plume using a UV camera in 2010 while a graduate student at Michigan Technological University. Nadeau is a volcanologist with a specialization in volcanic gases.

Larry Carbary
Larry Carbary

Metal Architecture and Metal Construction News covered the presentation of ASTM International’s Werner H. Gumpertz Award to Michigan Tech alumnus Larry Carbary ’82 (chemical engineering). Carbary was recognized for his role in creating industry standards in the 1980s, his mentorship in the organization and his world-leading career in research and development of the building envelope. He is an internationally recognized author and speaker on the performance of building facades.

Melissa Baumann
Melissa Baumann

The first public appearance of alumna Melissa Baumann ’83 (metallurgical and materials engineering) as the prospective president of Ohio Northern University was the subject of a news story by Your Hometown Stations. Baumann will be the 12th president at ONU and will also be the first woman to hold the position.

Jin W. Choi Appointed Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University

Dr. Jin W. Choi is the new Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech.

Jin W. Choi has been appointed Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University, effective July 1, 2022.

Dr. Choi comes to Michigan Tech from Louisiana State University, where he served as the Mark and Carolyn Guidry Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. At LSU, Choi led the graduate program in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and was director of the BioMEMS and Bioelectronics Laboratory.

Choi earned his BS and MS in Electrical Engineering at Seoul National University in Seoul, Korea, and his PhD at the University of Cincinnati. His work as a faculty member at Louisiana State University received numerous recognitions for excellence in teaching and mentoring, scholarship, and innovation in engineering research. His research interests include MEMS and BioMEMS, biomedical and bioelectronic devices, microfluidic devices and systems, lab-on-a-chip systems, and various sensors and sensor systems. He holds 8 US patents, including one recently issued to Choi and collaborators for a wireless implantable neural stimulator, designed to help patients with neurodegenerative diseases control pain and improve quality of life.

Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering, says Choi brings with him a wealth of experience and perspective.

“Dr. Choi’s entrepreneurial approach to research and teaching strongly equips him to carry out the department’s mission of teaching the next generation of electrical, computer and robotics engineers,” says Callahan. “At Michigan Tech he will creatively facilitate the development of technological innovations across a wide field of areas.”

“I am excited to be part of building a better tomorrow with our students, faculty, and staff in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.”

Jin W. Choi

Choi says he was highly drawn to Michigan Tech’s electrical and computer engineering program. He cites several factors that contributed to his decision to move north from Baton Rouge all the way to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“When I came for an interview, I saw great potential for the ECE department to move forward and advance even further,” he says. “The solid and envisioning leadership of the College and the University was strongly encouraging, as well. Most importantly, the motivated students, talented faculty, and supportive staff made me want to join Michigan Tech in this leadership position.”

With Choi at the helm, the ECE department will continue its strong pursuit of excellence in education, research, and service. A primary goal of Choi’s is to promote collaboration within the university, and beyond.

“The horizon of electrical and computer engineering stretches from power engineering to modern and future electronics, space technology, communication and connectivity, computing devices, healthcare, robotics, automobiles, and much more,” Choi explains. “Electrical and computer engineering undoubtedly provide backbone technologies to our modern society as we undergo the 4th industrial revolution. Michigan Tech is patently where a better tomorrow begins.”

“Our goal as engineers is to contribute to our society and to the wellness of human beings.”

Jin W. Choi

At Michigan Tech, the ECE department prepares members of the future workforce and promotes innovative research, notes Choi. “As ECE department chair, I hope to continuously improve the quality of learning—by exploring opportunities for students, assisting students and faculty for their success, and elevating our engagement of alumni and stakeholders to the department.”

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Michigan Tech Wins ASME/IEEE Heat Sink Design Challenge

Michigan Tech’s Heat Sink team. Undergraduate students are Gracie Brownlow and Kelsey Brinks. Graduate students are Behzad Ahmadi, Masoud Ahmadi, and Behnam Ahmadi.

A student team from Michigan Tech has been awarded first place in the ASME/K16 and IEEE/EPS Student Design Challenge: Expanding the Possibilities of Heat Sink Design Using Additive Manufacturing.

The competition called upon student teams K-16 to expand the possibilities of heat sink design using additive manufacturing. The four finalist teams are Michigan Tech, Purdue University, University of Arkansas, and Berlin Institute of Technology.

Advanced heat sink designs offering augmented cooling capabilities are required for effective thermal management of high-power electronic chips. Future heat sink designs should not only offer an effective heat transfer but also be compact and cost-effective. 

Composed of Michigan Tech graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, the team was first selected as a semi-finalist in March. Now, as a finalist, one member of the team will defend their heat sink design in front of industry leaders in the form of an oral presentation, Behzad Ahmadi. That will take place during the IEEE ITherm 2022 Conference coming up in San Diego from May 31 – June 3, 2022.

Michigan Tech’s Energy-X team heat sink designs: expanding the possibilities of heat sink design using additive manufacturing.

Undergraduate students are Gracie Brownlow and Kelsey Brinks. Graduate students are Behzad Ahmadi, Masoud Ahmadi, and Behnam Ahmadi. Assistant Professor Sajjad Bigham is the team advisor. He is the director of the Energy-X Lab (Energy eXploration Laboratory) at Michigan Tech.

For the competition, all teams were asked to design, build, and validate an aluminum heat sink made with additive manufacturing techniques made available by GE Additive. Next, teams prepared a white paper that justified their designs.

The Michigan Tech team was among selected to print their heat sink with GE Additive machines. It was then sent for testing, which then helped determine the finalists, due to their top designs.

Michigan Space Grant Consortium Awardees for 2022-2023

Michigan Space Grant Consortium NASA

The University of Michigan – Michigan Space Grant Consortium has announced grant recipients. Michigan Tech faculty and staff researchers receiving grants are:

Faculty Led Fellowships for Undergraduates

Brendan Harville for “Seismic Amplitude based Lahar Tracking for Real-Time Hazard Assessment.”

Sierra Williams for “Understanding the Controls of Solute Transport by Streamflow Using Concentration-Discharge Relationship in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.”

Graduate Fellowships

Espree Essig for “Analyzing the effects of heavy metals on vegetation hyperspectral reflectance properties in the Mid-Continent Rift, USA.”

Caleb Kaminski for “Investigation of Ground-Penetrating Radar Interactions with Basaltic Substrate for Future Lunar Missions.”

Katherine Langfield for “Structural Characteristics of the Keweenaw and Hancock Faults in the Midcontinent Rift System and Possible Relationship to the Grenville Mountain Belt.”

Tyler LeMahieu for “Assessing Flood Resilience in Constructed Streambeds: Flume Comparison of Design Methodologies.”

Paola Rivera Gonzalez for “Impacts of La Canícula (“Dog Days of Summer”) on agriculture and food security in Salvadoran communities in the Central American Dry Corridor.”

Erican Santiago for “Perchlorate Detection Using a Graphene Oxide-Based Biosensor.”

Kyle Schwiebert for “LES-C Turbulence Models and their Applications in Aerodynamic Phenomena.”

HONES Awards

Paul van Susante for “Lunabotics Competition Robot.”

Research Seed Grants

Xinyu Ye for “Analyzing the effects of potential climate and land-use changes on hydrologic processes of Maumee River Watershed using a Coupled Atmosphere-Lake-Land Modeling System.”

Pre-College Educational Programs

Jannah Tumey for “Tomorrow’s Talent Series: Exploring Aerospace & Earth System Careers through Virtual Job-Shadowing.”