Category: News

Michigan Tech Alumnus Dr. Teik C. Lim Named President of NJIT

Dr. Teik Lim came to Michigan Tech on a scholarship in 1983, and graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1985.

The Board of Trustees of New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) recently announced the appointment of Dr. Teik C. Lim as NJIT’s ninth president, following a national search and a unanimous vote of the Board on January 5, 2022. 

President-elect Lim, who also will be appointed as a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering, will begin his NJIT tenure on July 1, 2022. He is the university’s ninth president. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University, and later earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla and a doctoral degree from Ohio State University.

Lim presently serves as the interim president of the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), where he also holds the rank of professor within the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. 

“Michigan Tech is very proud of Dr. Lim’s accomplishments, and for his appointment as President of NJIT,”  said Dean Janet Callahan. “We are very proud to have been part of his academic training. Michigan Tech is known for developing leaders—what they learn here starts them on the path to the leaders they become.”

Originally from Malaysia, Lim came to Michigan Tech on a scholarship in 1983 and graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1985.

“I grew up with limited means, supported myself through college, and became the first member of my family to earn a college degree,” Lim recalls in a recent NJIT video. “I was able to come to the United States because of a generous undergraduate scholarship from Michigan Tech.”

William Predebon, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech, taught Lim in class. “He was an excellent student,” said Predebon. “Dr. Lim’s career is very impressive. His appointment is yet another example of the impact he is having in higher education. I am very proud of his accomplishments, as is all of Michigan Tech.” 

“I will never forget Dr. Predebon’s excellent teaching style—concise, clear, and very easy to follow,” notes Lim. “I learned to mimic him from memory when I first became a professor. Michigan Tech is where I started and Michigan Tech gave me a chance of a lifetime.”

Prior to assuming the interim presidency at UTA, Lim served as the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs from 2017 to 2020. He also spent approximately 15 years at the University of Cincinnati, where he held both academic and administrative appointments, the last of which was as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“I am an engineer and attended polytechnic universities for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, so coming to NJIT brings me back to my roots,” said Lim. “The chance to lead NJIT’s continuing growth into a preeminent public polytechnic research university is very appealing to me, as is the opportunity to work with the talented faculty, staff, and students, many of whom are, like me, the first from their family to attend college. NJIT is a beacon of life-changing opportunities.” 

Read more

New Jersey Institute of Technology Names Dr. Teik C. Lim as University’s Ninth President

New NJIT president is first person of color to lead one of state’s most diverse colleges


Brad King: Bite-sized Satellites Changing the World!

The team’s spacecraft, Auris, is a small satellite, a 12U cubesat. Its size in centimeters is just 20 x 20 x 30 (smaller than a typical shoebox). Mass is 20 kg (about 44 pounds). And its mission? Auris will characterize radio frequency (RF) signal emissions. Image credit: Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise.

Lyon (Brad) King shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, 2/7 at 6 pm. Learn something new in just 20 minutes, with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Dr. Lyon B. King specializes in spacecraft propulsion (and the launching of student careers).

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 2/7 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Brad King, Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professor of Space Systems and leader of Michigan Tech Aerospace—a collection of research, development, and educational labs dedicated to advancing spacecraft technology.

With the launch of the Michigan Tech student-built Oculus satellite in June 2019, Michigan Tech became a spacefaring university. Two more prize-winning satellites, Auris and Stratus, are currently under construction for future launch. Professor L. Brad King will tell us all about these satellites and, more importantly, about the student Aerospace Enterprise team that designs, builds, and operates them.

Nolan Pickett: “Did vacation flights, trips to air shows/space museums, and Space-X livestreams inspire you as well? Well, they definitely inspired me.”

Joining in will be mechanical engineering fourth year undergraduate Nolan Pickett, who handles logistical operations, personnel management, and external communications, and third-year mechanical and electrical engineering major Kyle Bruursema. Kyle is Chief Engineer for the Enterprise. He understands how the satellite works inside-and-out and oversees all technical/engineering decisions made within the team.

As the founder and faculty advisor of Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise, King empowers undergraduate students to design, build, and fly spacecraft, too. One of the team’s student-built satellites (Oculus) is now in orbit; their second small satellite (Stratus) is due to launch in 2022, and a third (Auris) now in progress.

Kyle Bruursema: “STEM fields have become the major topic of today’s world. It’s how we reach further, discover new possibilities, and build a brighter future.”

“Small satellites are changing the way humans do business and science in space,” says King. “The cost to build and launch a small satellite is now about the same as the cost to build and launch a software app. With the cost barrier removed, innovative students and start-up companies are building small satellites to provide capabilities that my generation has never even dreamed about. Michigan Tech is on the forefront of this movement.”

Forty centimeters? That’s about as wide as a large Domino’s pizza.

“There are so many small imaging satellites orbiting the Earth that soon it will be possible to have a complete inventory of every object on the Earth’s surface that is 40 centimeters or larger—we will have a ‘search bar’ for the Earth,” says King. “There are now more than 2,000 small communications satellites that can provide high-speed wireless internet anywhere on the planet.”

In addition to students in the Aerospace Enterprise, King mentors a large team of graduate students in his Ion Space Propulsion Lab at Michigan Tech. There, teams develop next-generation plasma thrusters for spacecraft. King is also a co-founder and CEO of a fast-growing satellite development company, Orbion Space Technology.

It’s “Inevitable”: During Husky Bites, Dr. King will explain why he chose this name for his 70-year old wooden boat.

Dr. King, why did you first choose engineering?

I have always been interested in and fascinated by space and have also loved building things. Aerospace engineering allows me to build things that go into space–the best of both worlds.

Hometown, family?

I was born and raised in Calumet, Michigan, which is about 10 miles north of Houghton. Yes – there is civilization north of Houghton.

Any hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?

Over the past few years I have restored a classic 70-year-old wooden boat. In all my spare time I am either working on the boat (constantly) to get ready for summer, or cruising Lake Superior and Isle Royale, where I spend summer days at remote docks working on my boat.

Nolan, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I first developed a strong interest in STEM through high school AP classes, and grew passionate about science and math. Engineering allowed me to apply the science and math concepts to real-life problems! This decision was further solidified after taking classes at Michigan Tech, doing internships around the Midwest, and spending time as a member of the Aerospace Enterprise (of course)!

Oculus, the Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise team’s first nanosatellite, was launched in June 2019. It now serves an imaging target for ground-based cameras for the Department of Defense.About the size of a mini-fridge, Oculus is visible here in the SpaceX rocket payload Can you spot it?

Hometown, family?

My family (four of us) is originally from Hopkins, Michigan. My father is an MTU alum.

Any hobbies?

My strongest passions are snowboarding and mountain biking. These were further amplified after moving to the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula! I’m also an avid music lover and enjoy getting to know my fellow Enterprise members.

Kyle, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

STEM fields have become the major topic of today’s world. It’s how we reach further, discover new possibilities, and build a brighter future. Personally, I have always had an admiration for creating solutions to the world’s challenges and I have always had a love for space, so engineering was a great way to combine the two!

Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise Team

Hometown, family?

My family originates from Holland, Michigan! Both of my uncles have attended MTU.

Any hobbies?

In my spare time, I love to run and go snowmobiling. Gaming is also a major part of my life.


Read more:

And Then There Were Three: Oculus, Auris–and now Stratus
Enterprise at MTU Launches Spacecraft–and Careers
Michigan Tech’s Pipeline to Space
Mission(s) Accomplished!
Auris Wins! Michigan Tech is Launching Into Space—with Ears

Support the team:

Get Stratus to Space

Watch:

A quick render of the Stratus model assembly. Credit: Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise


Calling All Adventurous STEM Undergrads: What Are You Doing This Summer?

TECH SCEnE is short for Technology, Science and Community Engagement in Engineering. It’s a Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Are you a college student—tribal college, community college or university student—who wants to see your contributions make an impact?

Want to be part of a program structured to apply science and technology to benefit the community? 

How about a truly great way to spend eight weeks in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula this summer, expenses paid, along with a generous stipend of $4,800?

Check out the full details at mtu.edu/techscene. Then, be sure to apply by March 1, 2022.

Join us in Michigan’s gorgeous Upper Penninsula for TECH SCEnE, a Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by National Science Foundation (NSF).

TECH SCEnE is a program that combines STEM and engineering research with direct community involvement and impact. Stay on campus at Michigan Technological University. Go on amazing outdoor trips guided by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community KBIC Natural Resources Department. Do hands-on research on campus with your team, right alongside a faculty mentor.

Apply online for free. Women and students from underrepresented backgrounds are all encouraged to apply. Know anyone who might be interested? Please help spread the word!

Find full details about the program, the mentors, and the projects at techscene.mtu.edu

Note: all must apply to TECHSCEnE by March 1, 2022.


Breweries Above and Below the Bridge

Such beauty!

Breweries Above and Below the Bridge—Dick Gray, plus Cathy and Shawn Smalley share their knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, January 31 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new with time after for Q&A (heavy on the Q&A)! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 1/31 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Dick Gray ’82, co-owner of the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton, Michigan (located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, above the Mackinac Bridge)—plus Cathy ’88 and Shawn Smalley ’89, owners of Big Buck Brewery in Gaylord, Michigan (located below the Mighty Mac).

Above the Bridge: Dick Gray owns the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton, Michigan
Below the Bridge: Shawn and Cathy Smalley own Big Buck Brewery in Gaylord Michigan

Near the Michigan Tech campus in downtown Houghton, the Keweenaw Brewing Company (KBC) features finely crafted ales for the everyday consumer. About 300 miles away, in Gaylord, Michigan, Big Buck’s mission is to simply do things the right way. Both are small, independent microbreweries owned by Michigan Tech alums who brew and sell world-class ales and host guests (safely during the pandemic) in unique, inviting taprooms.

What makes a good beer? And what’s their advice to those who want to follow in their footsteps? Find out during Husky Bites. Joining in will be Michigan Tech alumna Jennifer (Jung) Lucas ’09, craft beer fan and assistant vice president of Alumni Engagement at Michigan Tech

While working toward his bachelor’s degree in geological engineering at Michigan Tech, Dick Gray, owner of Keweenaw Brewing Company, spent one summer as a roughneck on the north slope of Alaska. He must have liked it, because he spent most of his career in the oil and gas business (but not as a roughneck).

After graduating from Michigan Tech with a BS in Geological Engineering, Gray took a job with Amoco Production Company, which led him from Hobbs, New Mexico, to Casper, Wyoming, to their Research Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma (twice), before ending up as exploration manager in their Denver regional office.

Dick Gray, Keweenaw Brewing Company

After more than 16 years, Gray left Amoco and became the president of a privately held oil and gas company called Presco Western, LLC. He held this position from 1998 to 2005, when the company was sold. “It was a turning point,” he says. “I had seen the revitalization of downtown Denver through the creation and success of comfortable brewpubs there,” he recalls.

Together with his family, he figured a brewpub was just what the city of Houghton needed, as well–especially when two of his three children started attending Michigan Tech.

KBC’s outdoor patio

Gray and a colleague from Denver started the Keweenaw Brewing Company (KBC) brewing just enough beer to feed the pub. Now, with annual production of about 13,000 barrels and distribution across Michigan, northern Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, Keweenaw Brewery has grown to one of the 50th largest microbreweries in the United States, the eighth largest in Michigan.

Ironically, Gray’s wife, Stasi doesn’t drink beer, but she supports all of the KBC functions behind the scenes (including the design and purchasing of the iconic KBC t-shirts). In addition to the 200-plus students they have employed over the past seventeen years, the Gray’s have become tremendously involved with the Houghton business community.

The KBC production facility

The Grays have hosted countless Michigan Tech events and have supported various student and alumni activities. The KBC has become a vital community resource, meeting place, and place to relax, especially for Michigan Tech students, faculty, and staff.

Big Buck brews more than a dozen different beers, plus cider and sodas, too.

The Big Buck journey for Cathy and Shawn Smalley, owners of Big Buck Brewery, began about five years ago, in 2017, when a simple inquiry into a business that was in receivership became a reality. From that point, their transition away from corporate America began. The two officially opened Big Buck on October 1, 2018.

The welcoming entrance to Big Buck Brewery

“From the beginning, our focus was to restore the ‘Big Buck’ name and reputation instead of rebranding,” said Cathy. “We made updates to the logo and beer label designs, yet we still embrace the original Big Buck brand and decor.”

The Michigan Tech basketball team stopped by Big Buck last year for a wonderful meal while on their way back to Michigan Tech after a game downstate.

“Our passion is to brew and distribute beer, although we also acquired a restaurant with a
seating capacity of 327 guests that we are operating,” she adds. “All of this is made possible with two brewers, a head chef and many supportive team members!” The Smalleys currently brew about 800 barrels a year, but plan to grow.

The Smalleys’ Michigan Tech story dates back to the late 80’s. Shawn graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in chemistry and transferred to Tech to pursue Chemical Engineering (’89). Shawn worked at Marathon Oil for several years and transitioned to a career in automotive. Cathy attended a Women in Engineering workshop during high school and followed her older sister to MTU. She graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences (’88) and furthered her education at Wayne State University.

“People don’t brew beer. Mother Nature brews beer,” says Shawn Smalley. Pictured above, brewing tanks at Big Buck Brewery.

“I also worked in the auto industry and retired once Shawn’s job took our family on two expat assignments,” she says. Together they have three children: Collin (ME), Emma (ME) and Elyse (Exercise Science). “Our kids have all graduated. Collin went to U of M and Kettering. Emma and Elyse both went to Hope College.

“As for Shawn, he started his ‘career’ in brewing in our kitchen in 1990! Though he isn’t involved in brewing at Big Buck, he is actively involved in the process and has mastered the taste testing!” In their free time, the Smalleys enjoy boating, biking, skiing and family time.


As a student at Michigan Tech, Jen Lucas played on the volleyball team, earning Michigan Tech’s Raymond L. Smith Award for outstanding female senior student-athlete. She got her start in Michigan Tech’s Advancement office, working as a student caller for the Michigan Tech Telefund, eventually moving into the call center manager role upon graduation in 2009. From there, Lucas went on to work in alumni engagement and annual giving roles at several other educational institutions, and spent two years in industry relations at 3M. She started her new position at Michigan Tech last November 2021.

Jen (Jung) Lucas ’09 grew up in Minnesota and was recruited to play volleyball at Michigan Tech.

Jen, how did you first decide to attend Michigan Tech? What sparked your interest?

In high school, I was recruited to play collegiate volleyball by a variety of Division 1 and 2 programs, Michigan Tech being one of them. While volleyball was a passion of mine, opening the door to a future I would have never had in my grasp without it, it also had an expiration date. After college, volleyball would no longer be a dominating factor in my life. I would need to be prepared to enter the real world as a professional. I considered which University would set me up for the best success after graduation, and Michigan Tech clearly was the top choice. I also loved the Michigan Tech community and culture on campus, so as a 17 year old, I made one of the best decisions of my life. I am still thanking “younger me” for being so smart!

Hometown, family?

I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but spent most of my life in Minnesota. I have a twin sister (who also played on the volleyball team with me at Michigan Tech) and we have 3 younger siblings. I met my husband, Stephen, a couple years after graduation. We lived in Minneapolis for a few years and then also in Salt Lake City until we moved to Houghton for my current role as assistant vice president of Alumni Engagement here at Michigan Tech. Though Stephen didn’t attend Michigan Tech, he is very excited to call the UP home now with me.

Jen and Stephen moved all the way from Utah to become Yoopers!

Any hobbies, pets?

No pets (besides our robot vacuum we call “Richard”) but a lot of hobbies. Stephen and I like to stay active outdoors in all seasons—hiking, biking, and snowshoeing. We also hope to pick up cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. I enjoy watching and discussing all sports, but especially volleyball, football, and hockey. I also enjoy a good book, good beer, good food, and good company.

What goes into a microbrewed beer? Find out during Husky Bites!

Read more

The Buck is Back
Something’s Brewing
MLive: KBC is a community gathering place with $2.50 pints


Enter to Win a Jersey signed by John Scott (NHL) or Joe Berger (NFL)

Support Michigan Tech student scholarships with a raffle ticket. Gain the chance to win a jersey signed by a mechanical engineering alums John Scott (NHL) or Joe Berger (NFL).
John Scott earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Tech in 2010: “Getting my degree from MTU allowed me the confidence to transition from playing hockey to working in the professional field.”

What do NHL MVP John Scott and NFL player Joe Berger have in common? Both are Michigan Tech Mechanical Engineering alums. Both are now retired from pro sports. And both are ready to sign a jersey on February 12, to support ME-EM department initiatives— including student scholarships, plus support for senior design and faculty special projects.

Here’s how: Signed Jersey Raffle tickets are $50 each, available for purchase here. You need not be present to win (we will call or email you). Winners will be drawn during Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival hockey game against Bowling Green on February 12, 2022. John and Joe will be at the game to help announce the winners! (Please note: We have our State of Michigan raffle license # X05892.)

Purchase tickets by Saturday February 12, 2022 at 12 noon for a chance to win.

“Most people think being a professional athlete was the greatest accomplishment in my professional life,” says Scott. “They are always surprised to hear that earning my degree in Mechanical Engineering and being able to use that degree today is more gratifying than playing in the NHL. Getting my degree from MTU allowed me the confidence to transition from playing hockey to working in the professional field.”

“As a walk-on at Michigan Tech, I wouldn’t have had a football career without the mechanical engineering program to bring me up to campus in the first place,” says Berger. “The problem solving and teamwork skills that you learn in engineering have a direct correlation to football and sports in general. I enjoyed talking to my teammates about Michigan Tech throughout my career and am very thankful for the opportunity I was given. I look forward to using my mechanical engineering degree more in this next phase of life.”

Joe Berger earned his mechanical engineering degree at Michigan Tech in 2004: “The problem solving and teamwork skills that you learn in engineering have a direct correlation to football and sports in general.”

The ME-EM department is also hosting a Winter Carnival Alumni Hockey Skybox Social on Saturday, February 12, 2022, during the Michigan Tech vs. Bowling Green hockey game. It will take place in the Husky Suite South Skybox of the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. The social begins at 5 p.m. with a 5:07 p.m. start time for the game. John and Joe will attend the social. Tickets for the social are $40/person, which includes a $20 donation to the ME-EM Alumni Scholarship Fund. Buy ME-EM Skybox Social tickets here.


2022 Design Expo Registration Now Open

The Enterprise Program and College of Engineering are excited to announce the 22nd Design Expo, being held in person from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21 in the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s first floor.

Design Expo has been expanded to highlight Senior Design/Capstone projects from all areas of the Michigan Tech campus, involving teams from the College of Business, College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and College of Engineering. 

RSVP for Design Expo Today!

The Michigan Tech community, friends and sponsors are invited to register for this year’s Design Expo.

More than a thousand students in the Enterprise and Senior/Capstone Design programs will come together to showcase their work and compete for awards. In addition, a panel of judges, made up of distinguished corporate representatives, alumni, community members, and Michigan Tech staff and faculty, will be able to critique videos of team projects, solutions and results in advance of the live event, then come to Design Expo to meet the teams and ask any questions in person.

Social Hour and Awards Ceremony

Starting at 2:30 p.m., all student teams, judges, sponsors and friends, and the Michigan Tech campus community are invited to a social hour at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts with light refreshments, entertainment and door prizes. Then, at 3:30 p.m., we will begin the Design Expo Awards Ceremony, where student teams will be recognized and more than $3,000 in cash will be awarded.

Both events are free and open to the public. We encourage current and future students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, families of students, and others to help us celebrate our students and their achievements. Register today to see a schedule of events and attend the 2022 Design Expo.

Become a Judge

Are you interested in judging for the 22nd annual Design Expo? We welcome all Michigan Tech faculty, graduate students, staff, alumni, industry representatives and community members interested in the great work of our students! Find out more at our Become a Judge web page.

This year, judges will have the flexibility to evaluate team videos anytime between noon April 18 and 2 p.m. April 21. Judges will be assigned three to five teams, and will evaluate each team’s video using an electronic ballot. In addition, judges are asked to attend Design Expo in person between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. April 21 to judge their teams in person. Judges will be selected based on their availability to attend Design Expo in person.

2022 Design Expo Website

For more information on attending and judging Design Expo, visit our website. For questions, please reach out to Briana Tucker at bctucker@mtu.edu.

By The Enterprise Program and College of Engineering.


Lindsay Hiltunen: Winter Carnival—One Hundred Years

Michigan Tech’s legendary Winter Carnival will soon take place—for the 100th time—February 9–12, 2022. This historical snow statue is an old Quincy shaft house. Source: Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
Lindsay Hiltunen

Linday Hiltunen shares her knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, January 24 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 night 1/24 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Lindsay Hiltunen, Michigan Tech’s University Archivist.

Cynthia Hodges

During Husky Bites Hiltunen will share the history of Winter Carnival, one of Michigan Tech’s most beloved traditions across the decades, through rich images of fun and festivities via the Michigan Tech Archives–from queens to cookouts, snow statues to snowballs, skating reviews to dog sled races, and more. Michigan Tech’s legendary Winter Carnival will take place this year for the 100th time February 9–12, 2022.

Joining in will be mechanical engineering alumna Cynthia Hodges, who serves as a Wikipedian in Residence (WiR) for Michigan Tech. To celebrate the 100th anniversary, Hodges is organizing a Winter Carnival Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, and alumni and students are welcome to help. (Find out how at the end of this blog).


Ice Carnival Elyfunt, circa 1924. Source: Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

It all began back in 1922, when a student organization presented a one-night Ice Carnival. The show consisted of circus-style acts, with students dressed up in animal costumes, bands playing, and speed and figure-skating contests. Twelve years later, in 1934, students in Michigan Tech’s Blue Key National Honor Society began organizing the event, changing the name from “Ice Carnival” to “Winter Carnival”. Students and local school children built their first snow statues that year, and the tradition grew. So did the statues, becoming bigger and more elaborate with each passing year.

Hiltunen is a Michigan Tech alumna and current PhD student with two master’s degrees in library science and United States history. She’s a trustee to the Historical Society of Michigan’s Board of Directors, chair of the Society of American Archivists Oral History Section, and vice president-president elect of the Michigan Archival Association (she’ll become MAA president in June 2022).

From the Daily Mining Gazette: “Snowballs Fly South,” to promote Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival back in 1969. Blue Key members load snowballs for airlift to Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos, Texas. Donor: Robert Skuggen. Source: Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Lindsay, how did you first get involved in library science? What sparked your interest?

I’ve had an interest in libraries and history since a young age. My grandfather was a history professor at Michigan Tech and the first lay president at what is now Finlandia University. The sunroom at my grandparents’ house on Summit Street was my favorite place; one wall of windows and three walls of history books from floor to ceiling. Anytime I was there to visit I would steal away to the sunroom and read and dream for hours. It wasn’t until I attended Michigan Tech as an undergrad and obtained student employment in the archives (then on the 3rd floor of the library) that I knew what an archivist did. I credit my grandpa for the spark and former university archivist, Erik Nordberg for showing me the path to library school.

My library career fully began at the District of Columbia Public Library as a library technician. I became an archivist at Michigan Tech in 2014, and University Archivist in May 2016. As a side note, I’m proud to say I’m now the steward of my grandpa Dave’s impressive book collection.

“I’m still an avid hockey fan,” says Hiltunen. “I love to blog and write about hockey. One of my articles was recently published in the 2021 Legends magazine, the official publication of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.”

Hometown and family?

I grew up in Tamarack City and graduated from Dollar Bay High School. My mom was an avid artist and my dad is the former director of a local social services coordinating agency. I have two brothers and one sister; all but one of us are Huskies. (The one who didn’t go to Michigan Tech has two husky dogs as pets, so that counts for something.)

We grew up playing every sport under the sun. Those sports we didn’t play, we were spectators of, took books and stats, or ran the clock. In the SDC ice rink and Dee stadium I was a competitive figure skater (ice dancing and synchronized skating) and coach. Off-ice practice was just as good because we got to watch the MTU hockey players practice, then attend games with dad and grandpa.

 “I even competed at the Nationals for Michigan Tech’s synchro skating team in 2001,” says Hiltunen. “We placed 8th in our national debut.”

I’m also proud to note that my husband of 17 years, Tom, is a Michigan Tech alum (EE 2005.) He now works as a Primary Patent Examiner for the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My vinyl collection has been a passion since I was a teenager. I have over 5,000 LPs and I’m on the lookout for new records all the time. I love to read for my PhD program and also for fun, so nine times out of ten there is a book within an arm’s reach. Painting and drawing bring me a lot of peace.  And I have three pets: A blue point Siamese cat, Little Nero, and two Weimaraners, Otto and Frankenstein. Our home on Keweenaw Bay also has many resident critters, including Swift the fox who runs by nightly, a few bald eagles that troll the shoreline, and many chickadees, finches, jays, and cardinals at our garden feeders. I consider them all friends!

Cynthia Hodges was inducted into Michigan Tech’s Presidential Council of Alumnae in 1996

Cynthia, how did you first get involved in engineering? What sparked your interest? 

I received a scholarship to attend Women In Engineering at Michigan Tech in the summer of 1981 when I was a junior in high school, through Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program. At that time, it was one of the few programs of its kind to encourage women to study engineering. 

After graduating with my BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, I began a 32-year career at Ford Motor Company, working as a product test engineer in their durability engineering laboratory. I spent much of my career at Ford involved in chassis engineering, designing fuel and steering systems, suspension, tires, wheels, and brakes for many Ford cars and trucks. 

“When people ask me what has changed my life, WIE did,” says Michigan Tech alumna Cynthia Hodges. That’s her in the center, shaking hands with former Michigan Tech president, Glen Mroz.

Family and hometown?

My hometown is Warren, Michigan. My husband, Andrew Hodges, earned a BS in Civil Engineering at Michigan Tech in 1989. My son, Edward, is also an alum–he earned his BS in Forestry in 2019. My daughter, Jane, is a graphic designer. We tried to convince her to go to Michigan Tech as well, but there is no Bachelor of Fine Arts program. She went to Eastern Michigan University.

Hodges has a site on Etsy, Mom’s Kitchen Vintage, where you can find vintage cookbooks, retro glass kitchen magnets, Michigan Tech pillowcases, and even Pasty earrings!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to cook, sew, read and sing, and enjoy the outdoors in the Keweenaw—especially skiing, mountain biking, and hiking. 

How did you and Lindsay become friends?

That is interesting! We started out as facebook friends, because we have a lot of friends in common. I only met her in real life recently, but have admired her work for a long time. I really like history and enjoy visiting the Michigan Tech archives to research old recipes for my food blog, motherskitchen.blogspot.com

Hodges has been writing her blog since 2006. “I love cooking and the lost domestic arts like home canning and sewing. You know, the stuff they used to teach in home economics. Ironically, I hate housework.”

A few years ago Lindsay did an excellent presentation about the history of women at Michigan Tech for the Presidential Council of Alumnae. I am happy to count her as a friend, and excited to work on projects with her, too.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Winter Carnival, we will be improving Michigan Tech Winter Carnival information on Wikipedia. Alumni and students are welcome to help. If you are interested, please contact me at chodges@mtu.edu.

This year’s 100th Carnival logo was designed for Winter Carnival 2022 by civil engineering student Rachel May

Read more

History—and Awards—Run in the Family
Michigan Tech Archivists Preserve the Past for the Future
Ford Motor Company Donates Support for Women in Engineering Scholarships


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Melanie Watkins

Melanie Watkins
Melanie Watkins

Melanie Watkins, research assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE), has been selected for this spring’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

Watkins will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other spring showcase members, and is a candidate for this summer’s CTL Instructional Award Series.

“This nomination highlights a faculty member who is incorporating Fourth Industrial Revolution concepts into the curriculum so that our graduates will be leaders in their future jobs,” states College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan. “Dr. Watkins is integrating new concepts and skills into course learning outcomes and also developing new courses as industry aligns with digital and computing competencies.”

Watkins models the importance of lifelong learning. Her industrial experiences taught her to master new approaches and modeling tools to maintain a competitive advantage against other engineering consulting firms. Now in academia, she has completed multiple computing and data science courses, and remains thirsty to learn more.

Watkins used the skills she gained to design a new course first offered in spring 2021: CEE 4610/5610 Water Resources System Modeling and Design.

The course incorporates 2D hydraulic modeling with lidar data, Linux scripting, and OpenFOAM computational fluid dynamics. Additionally, Watkins included 2D modeling using lidar and computer programming in CEE 4620 River and Floodplain Hydraulics to extend student preparedness.

Watkins’ teaching approach ties the knowledge and skills students need to be successful into project-based instruction. In fall 2021’s CEE 4620, Watkins had students model and design a culvert for U.S. Highway 41 at Peepsock Creek, west of Pilgrim River, after the Michigan Department of Transportation gave a guest presentation overviewing the damage from the Father’s Day Flood. 

Former student Jenna Koenig says the Hydraulic Engineering Center’s River Analysis System and Aquaveo materials she encountered in Watkins’ class are giving her an edge.

“I have been in a unique position at my current job because I have quite a bit of experience in these areas where many of my colleagues don’t,” Koenig says. “Dr. Watkins did an amazing job with these courses and with Senior Design. I’m very prepared to tackle almost anything on any project I’ve been put on; it is a great feeling! The first couple of months have been a pretty steep learning curve, but it’s been a great experience so far. I’m thankful for her help in preparing me in a great way!”

Watkins’ efforts to keep pace with the changes in industry also make her a strong graduate student recruiter. “Melanie provides a positive impression on our junior and senior students, and she is a convincing salesperson,” says Audra Morse, chair of CEGE. “Our students want to keep their Michigan Tech connection after they complete their undergraduate degree.”

“The Water Resources Modeling Certificate, which Melanie led, is one of our most popular online certificates,” Morse adds.

“Dr. Watkins’ passion for learning permeates everything she does, and I commend her for her work in support of integrating the Fourth Industrial Revolution into the undergraduate curriculum,” concludes Callahan.

By the Center for Teaching and Learning.


Winter Carnival 2022: Meet the Dean

Coming to Michigan Tech for Winter Carnival this year? Stop by the Dean’s office to warm up with some hot cocoa and snowflake cookies on Friday, February 11, from 1-4 pm.

Come meet Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech. Everyone’s welcome!

The College of Engineering dean’s office area is located on the 7th floor of the M&M (Minerals & Materials) building, room 712. The M&M, a newer building, has two parts connected by an overhead walkway. We’re on the water side of the walkway, just to the west/northwest of Douglass Houghton Hall.


Kanwal Rekhi Receives Michigan Tech’s Highest Honor: Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction

Kanwal Rekhi talking with students at Michigan Tech’s Design Expo

Kanwal Rekhi, a visionary who routinely works to forward entrepreneurial skills and educational opportunities at Michigan Tech and around the world, received the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction during mid-year Commencement in December. The medal is awarded to individuals associated with Michigan Tech who, like its Nobel prize-winning namesake, have exhibited extraordinarily distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. Rekhi, who earned his master’s in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969, is managing director of Inventus Capital Partners in California.

The native of Punjab, in what was then British India (now Pakistan), earned a master’s in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969. In the more than half a century since his time on campus, MTU has never been far from Rekhi’s thoughts–and generosity.

After leaving Michigan Tech, Rekhi worked as an engineer and manager before becoming an entrepreneur. In 1982, he co-founded Excelan, a company that made Ethernet cards to connect PCs to the fledgling Internet. Excelean became the first Indian-owned company to go public in the U.S. In the early 90s, he became a venture capitalist investing in more than 50 startups and sitting on the board of directors of more than 20 companies.

In the past few decades, Rekhi has been a tireless supporter and benefactor to Michigan Tech. He developed and funded the Rekhi Innovation Challenge, a crowdfunding competition to help promote and support student innovation. He provided major funding for the Silicon Valley Experience, an immersive tour during spring break of San Francisco area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni, and is a sponsor of the 14 Floors Entrepreneur Alumni Mentoring Sessions.

Additionally, every student who has walked the Michigan Tech campus in the past 15 years has passed the Kanwal and Ann Rekhi Computer Science Hall, dedicated in April of 2005.

The Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is bestowed on individuals associated with the University who have exhibited especially distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. It is named for 1931 Michigan Tech alumnus Melvin Calvin, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for unraveling the biochemical secrets of photosynthesis. The series of biochemical reactions Calvin identified is known as the Calvin Cycle.

“Kanwal and his accomplishments epitomize the values we share as an institution. His passion for Michigan Tech is unparalleled and he is most deserving of this award.”

Rick Koubek, President, Michigan Technological University

While the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is Michigan Tech’s highest honor, it is far from the first recognition the University has given Rekhi. He has received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Board of Control Silver Medal, an honorary Doctorate in Business and Engineering, and was inducted into the Electrical Engineering Academy.