Category: News

Students, Faculty and Staff: Sign Up for LEED Green Associate Training at Michigan Tech

Better buildings equal better lives. This is Discover Elementary in Arlington, Virginia. LEED Zero Energy. Photo by Alan Karchmer

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building types, LEED provides a framework to design, construct and operate healthy, highly efficient, cost-saving, green buildings.

Michigan Tech’s Joe Azzarello is one of the founders of the US Green Building Council and has led LEED training workshops throughout the United States, Mexico, South America, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Kohler Co.

Are you a student, faculty member or staff at Michigan Tech? If so, you are invited to prepare for, and when ready, take the LEED Green Associate exam. The prep will take place during two sessions, at a low cost, right here at Michigan Tech, with expert training from an original founding member of the US Green Building Council—Michigan Tech alumnus Joe Azzarello.

The LEED exam prep training at MTU will take place over two days. Azzarello will teach on campus in two 5-hour sessions, from 12-5 pm on both Sunday, March 20 and Sunday, March 27. The room is ChemSci 211. Those who cannot attend in person can attend via Zoom. LEED exam training costs $80.00, which includes notes and printed materials. Attendees are expected to purchase their text book, which varies in cost from $73.00 to $115.00, depending on e-book or vendor.

“Attendees will be well trained in what to study for the exam to become accredited as a LEED Green Associate,” notes Azzarello. “Then they must register, take, and pass the LEED GA exam from the USGBC at a later date in order to receive accreditation. The complete costs for LEED Green Associate accreditation varies. The USGBC website provides information on the Steps to Become a LEED Green Associate.

There is no need for a college degree. “Literally anyone can take the course if they can read, memorize some information, and add and subtract,” says Azzarello.

The USGBC LEED Green Associate exam measures general knowledge of green building practices and how to support others working on LEED projects. “The exam is ideal for those new to green building. It’s an accreditation that can enhance your current endeavors, and also open doors to new career opportunities,” Azzarello explains. “LEED accreditation is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.”

Depending on interest, Azzarello may offer more LEED training to Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff. Next up would be the LEED Accredited Professional Exam for individuals who actively work on green building and LEED projects.

Azzarello is a LEED AP® and a registered and active USGBC® Faculty™. He is licensed to instruct multiple USGBC workshops and has led workshops throughout the United States, Mexico, South America, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam. He truly enjoys instructing and sharing his 20-plus years of USGBC and LEED experience while bringing new professionals into the green building movement.

Azzarello earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech 1978 and an MS in Environmental Engineering in 1996 from Wayne State University. He is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and also serves as advisor to Michigan Tech’s Alternative Energy Enterprise team. 

“I am at the stage of my life now where it is time to give back to Michigan Tech and the community and am in the position to do so,” says Azzarello. “Without a degree from MTU I am not sure how my life would have turned out. I feel very fortunate to be able to give back.”

Prior to joining Michigan Tech, Azarello retired from Kohler Co. as a senior staff engineer focused on sustainability, directing the company’s green building efforts and serving as a global consultant to customers developing green building projects. With decades spent in the environmental field, Azzarello’s resume touts myriad experiences with recycling, energy efficiency, sustainability, co-generation, marketing, sustainable product design and green building design, and construction programs for several Fortune 500 companies, along with multiple smaller organizations as a sustainability consultant. He also served as Yellowstone National Park’s green building consultant. 

Azzarello has been a part of the green building movement since its beginning. He served on the USGBC’s first Board of Directors as Vice Chairman, actively involved as a Board member during its formative years. He helped pave the way for LEED by participating in the Beta testing of the newly developed green building guidelines that became known as LEED v1.0. Read Joe Azzarello’s full bio.

Read more:

Feathered Friend Helps Launch Green Career: Kohler’s Resident Green Building Guru Started on a Very Different Career Path

Jason Blough Named Interim Chair of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Distinguished Professor Jason Blough

Jason Blough has agreed to serve as Interim Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech. He will officially start July 1, 2022, taking over from longstanding ME-EM Department Chair and faculty member Bill Predebon.

Blough, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, has a distinguished career, a thriving research group, and acquired many honors in recognition of his work, including the honor of Michigan Tech Distinguished Professor in 2021. He is himself a ME-EM graduate, having earned both BS and MS degrees at Michigan Tech before going on to earn his doctoral degree at the University of Cincinnati. 

Blough started his career in ME-EM as an assistant professor in 2003, and before that worked as a research professor at the Michigan Tech Keweenaw Research Center. Over the past year, he served as both associate chair and director of graduate studies for the ME-EM department. 

“I look forward to Dr. Blough becoming a member of the leadership team of the college and I am grateful for his willingness to serve ME-EM as interim chair,” said Dean Janet Callahan. 

Blough has been recognized for numerous contributions in teaching, research and service. He is a member of Michigan Tech’s Academy of Teaching Excellence and has received the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award. He is identified as an international leader in the research area of noise, vibration and harshness, having received the Blue Ribbon Coalition Scientist of the Year Award (2006), the SEM DeMichele Award (2021) and the SAE Arch T. Colwell Merit Award (1997). He is also a Fellow of SAE (2021) and serves as a member of the SAE Snowmobile Committee, responsible for the development of the noise testing procedures used by the industry. Blough also sits on the Scientific Board of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association Conference, hosted by Katholieke University in Leuven, Belgium. 

He has published his research in numerous journals and peer-reviewed conference papers, and given over 30 short courses to industry. Additionally, Blough’s 100-plus funded projects total more than $3.7 million as principal investigator (PI) and $2.3 million as co-PI.

Extremely active in service, Blough has graduated both doctoral and master’s students, chaired an international conference in his field, served on boards, edited papers and journals, and advised Michigan Tech’s SAE student chapter and the SAE Clean Snowmobile Enterprise team for over 15 years. SAE has recognized him multiple times as an outstanding faculty advisor.

Research links continents to key transitions in Earth’s oceans, atmosphere and climate

Mountain peaks, glaciers, and prayer flags near the Kunzum La Pass, a high mountain pass connecting the Lahaul and Spiti valleys in the Indian Himalaya. Credit: Timothy Paulsen, UW Oshkosh

A recent study led by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh geologist Timothy Paulsen advances the understanding of the role continents have played in the chemical evolution of Earth’s oceans, with implications for understanding atmospheric oxygenation and global climate oscillations. The research team includes Chad Deering and Snehamoy Chatterjee, Dept. of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Technological University, and Jakub Sliwinski and Olivier Bachman, Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology, ETH Zurich.

Tim Paulsen

The team’s research article, Continental Magmatism and Uplift as the Primary Driver for First-Order Oceanic 87Sr/86Sr Variability with Implications for Global Climate and Atmospheric Oxygenation, is featured on the cover of the February issue of GSA Today, published by the Geological Society of America.

The team analyzed a global database of the chemistry of tiny zircon grains commonly found in the Earth’s continental rock record. “We use zircon because it is very resistant to weathering and breakdown over a wide span of environmental conditions and can be dated accurately,” Deering explains. Zircon grains are about the size of the width of human hair; typically around 150microns.

Chad Deering

“Oceans cover 70% of Earth’s surface, setting it apart from the other terrestrial planets in the solar system,” said Paulsen, the lead author on the paper. “Geologists have long recognized that there have been profound changes in ocean chemistry over time.”

Yet there are significant questions about the drivers for changes in ocean chemistry in Earth’s past, especially associated with the ancient rock record leading up to the Cambrian explosion of life approximately 540 million years ago.

“Continents tend to be worn down by weathering and rivers tend to transport this sediment to the oceans, leaving scattered puzzle pieces for geologists to fit together,” said Deering, associate professor of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech, and coauthor on the paper. “There is increasing evidence that important pieces of the puzzle are found in the ancient beach and river sediments produced through continental weathering and erosion.”

The researchers’ findings, based on an analysis of an exceptionally large zircon data set from sandstones recovered from Earth’s major continental landmasses, may signify key links in the evolution of the Earth’s rock cycle and its oceans.

GSA Today highlights articles that appeal to a broad geoscience audience. On the cover:

“Our results suggest that two major increases in continental input from rivers draining the continents were related to the break-up and dispersal of continents, which caused increased weathering and erosion of a higher proportion of radiogenic rocks and high-elevation continental crust,” Paulsen said.

“Both episodes are curiously associated with snowball Earth glaciations and associated steps in oxygenation of the atmosphere-ocean system. Geologists have long recognized that oceans are required to make continents. It would appear based on our analyses that the continents, in turn, shape the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere and climate.”

This study was funded by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Faculty Development Program.

This news story written by Natalie Johnson, UW Oshkosh Today

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Natalie Johnson, UW Oshkosh
Kim Geiger, Michigan Tech

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Timothy Eisele

Tim Eisele
Tim Eisele

Dean Janet Callahan has selected Timothy Eisele, associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, as our seventh 2022 Deans’ Teaching Showcase member.

Eisele will be recognized at an end-of-term event with other showcase members and is also a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Series.

Eisele was selected for his record of engaging students in the classroom through hands-on experiential learning and relating material to real-world examples and his own research.

Among the variety of classes taught by Eisele are courses focused on the extraction of metal ions from fluids. While these align with his research expertise, available textbooks often don’t include the latest research in the field. Eisele fills that gap by working continuously to improve his class notes and handouts each year. He also develops unique in-class demonstrations and laboratories that elucidate these current topics. His priority is to make these accessible and connected to his students’ world. For example, in Hydrometallurgy/Pyrometallurgy, there is a copper electrowinning experiment students are able to conduct entirely at home. Eisele’s philosophy focuses on helping students develop a deep understanding of the subject material, so they can internalize what they are learning and remain engaged.

Callahan especially appreciates this ability to find and do science outside of the lab. “Dr. Eisele finds experiments to do — even in his own backyard,” she notes. “I recently had him as a guest for Michigan Tech’s Zoom webinar series, Husky Bites, where he relayed how he has developed a way to extract manganese and iron by using naturally occurring anaerobic iron-dissolving organisms.”

Chemical Engineering chair Pradeep Agrawal highlighted two other distinguishing features of Eisele’s teaching: his passion and genuine concern for engaging students. “The students readily sense his enthusiasm for the subject matter and his desire to engage them with the material,” writes Agrawal, who emphasizes that Eisele’s willingness to take time to relate class topics to the real world — while also respecting the parameters of being a student in today’s pandemic context — helps students as they master difficult topics.

“Active learning, enthusiasm for the subject, clear explanations and a strongly organized course are descriptors that align with Eisele’s approach to teaching,” summarized Callahan. “It is a pleasure to nominate Dr. Eisele for the Dean’s Teaching Showcase.”

2022-2023 Michigan Space Grant Consortium Awards

Michigan Space Grant Consortium NASA

A diverse, multitalented group of Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff members have been awarded fellowships and grants totaling an impressive $55,701 from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) for its 2022-23 funding cycle. This funding is sponsored by NASA.

Seismic amplitude-based lahar tracking, agriculture and food security, the effects of heavy metals on vegetation, and job shadowing aerospace and earth systems careers: these are just a few of the exciting, innovative projects that received funding.

The MSGC reflects NASA’s interests and promotes awareness, research and education in “space-related science and technology in Michigan.” To achieve this goal, the consortium not only funds fellowships and scholarships for STEM students, but also financially supports curriculum enhancement and faculty development. The MSGC is also deeply committed to supporting and upholding NASA’s policy of diversity and inclusion.

Congratulations to the winners and best of luck on your projects.

Thank you for representing Michigan Tech and making our University community proud!

Michigan Tech undergraduates who received $4,000 research fellowships are:

  • Brendan Harville (GMES) — “Seismic Amplitude-Based Lahar Tracking for Real-Time Hazard Assessment” with Greg Waite (GMES)
  • Sierra Williams (CFRES) — “Understanding the Controls of Solute Transport by Streamflow Using Concentration-Discharge Relationship in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan” with Fengjing Liu (CFRES)

Michigan Tech graduate students who received $5,000 research fellowships are:

  • Espree Essig (GMES) — “Analyzing the Effects of Heavy Metals on Vegetation Hyperspectral Reflectance Properties in the Mid-Continent Rift, USA” with Chad Deering (GMES)
  • Caleb Kaminski (GMES) — “Investigation of Ground-Penetrating Radar Interactions with Basaltic Substrate for Future Lunar Missions” with Aleksey Smirnov (GMES)
  • Katherine Langfield (GMES) — “Structural Characteristics of the Keweenaw and Hancock Faults in the Midcontinent Rift System and Possible Relationship to the Grenville Mountain Belt” with James DeGraff (GMES)
  • Tyler LeMahieu (CEGE) — “Assessing Flood Resilience in Constructed Streambeds: Flume Comparison of Design Methodologies” with Brian Barkdoll (CEGE)
  • Paolo Rivera Gonzalez (GMES) — “Impacts of La Canícula (“Dog Days of Summer”) on Agriculture and Food Security in Salvadoran communities in the Central American Dry Corridor” with Kari Henquinet (SS)
  • Erican Santiago (BioMed) — “Perchlorate Detection Using a Graphene Oxide-Based Biosensor” with Hyeun Joong Yoon (BioMed)
  • Kyle Schwiebert (Math) — “LES-C Turbulence Models and Their Applications in Aerodynamic Phenomena” with Alexander Labovsky (Math)

Michigan Tech faculty and staff members who received $2,200 or more for pre-college outreach and research seed programs are:

  • Paul van Susante (ME-EM) — Hands-On NASA-Oriented Experiences for Student Groups (HONES): “Lunabotics Competition Robot”
  • Jannah Tumey (Center for Educational Outreach) — “Tomorrow’s Talent Series: Exploring Aerospace & Earth System Careers Through Virtual Job-Shadowing”
  • Xinyu Ye (CEGE) — “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”

By the Graduate School and Shelly A. Galliah.

Martha Sloan: Tech Tales Emeritus

Professor Emerita Martha Sloan changed the face of both Michigan Tech and engineering education.

Martha Sloan shares her knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, February 28 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 2/28 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Michigan Tech Professor Emerita Martha Sloan, whose impact on people on and off the Michigan Tech campus has been monumental. During Husky Bites, Prof. Sloan will share stories from an earlier time at Michigan Tech, when women in engineering were few and far between.

Joining in during Husky Bites will be Dan Fuhrmann, the Dave House Professor of Computer Engineering and chair of the Department of Applied Computing at Michigan Tech.

“Martha was a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering when I first came to Michigan Tech in 2008 to take the position of ECE department chair,” notes Fuhrmann. “Shortly thereafter I appointed her as associate chair, a position she held until 2012, just before her retirement after 43 years of service at Michigan Tech.”

Applied Computing Department Chair Dan Fuhrmann

A pioneer in many aspects of her career, Sloan is also a legendary mentor who always has time to help anyone who asks. She was the first woman to be hired as a faculty member in the Michigan Tech ECE department, and later became the first woman to serve as chair of the department. Sloan was also the first woman to become the president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the largest professional organization in the world.

Sloan earned all of her three degrees–a BS in Electrical Engineering with great distinction, an MS in Electrical Engineering, and a PhD in Education–at Stanford University. She earned her BSEE in 1961, Phi Beta Kappa and with great distinction, as the only woman among approximately 600 engineering graduates.

Prof. Sloan took home the ASEE Outstanding Young Electrical Engineering Educator Award.

In the 1960s she worked at the Palo Alto Research Laboratory of the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company. She began a PhD program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but, feeling isolated there and pregnant with her first child, she did not complete the program. Instead, she moved to Germany, where she taught for two years at the Frankfurt International School. 

“My German was not good enough to be able to work as an engineer, so I taught 7th and 8th grade science, and picked up a MS in secondary education–all  in German–while I was there, too,” Sloan recalls. 

In 1969 Sloan moved to Houghton, Michigan with her husband, Norman Sloan, who had accepted a position as a professor of ornithology, forestry, and wildlife management at Michigan Tech.

As a role model and mentor, Dr. Martha Sloan supports women across campus and around the globe.

“I found myself looking for a job once again and thought I’d go back to teaching,” she says. “At the time there was no need for math or science teachers in the Houghton area. On sheer impulse, I wandered into Michigan Tech’s EE department, just to see if they needed a teacher, since I had a master’s degree. I was hired on the spot to teach Circuits.”

Needing a doctorate for her new job at Michigan Tech, Sloan returned to Stanford to earn a PhD in Education in 1973. Her thesis was on the COSINE Committee, an NSF-funded project to include computer engineering as part of the electrical engineering curriculum. 

Sloan became active in engineering professional societies, serving as treasurer, vice president, and president of the IEEE Computer Society, IEEE, and AAES. She served for nine years on the board of trustees of SWE, the Society of Women Engineers.

To pay tribute to Dr. Martha Sloan’s impressive legacy at Tech and her groundbreaking achievements, ECE alumna Jane Fryman Laird ’68 dedicated a bench at Husky Plaza in Dr. Sloan’s honor. 

Over the years Sloan has been honored with the Frederick Emmons Terman Award by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the IEEE Centennial Medal, and the IEEE Richard E. Merwin Distinguished Service Award. She received an honorary doctorate from Concordia University, was elected fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, given the Distinguished Engineering Educator Award of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and earned the Michigan Tech Distinguished Service Award, too. (Read Professor Sloan’s complete bio on Wikipedia.)

In 1991 Sloan became a fellow of the IEEE “for contributions to engineering education, leadership in the development of computer engineering education as a discipline, and leadership in extending engineering education to women.”

I’ve liked math and science since grade school, especially physics.

Professor Emerita Martha Sloan

Prof. Sloan, How did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

Dr. Sloan holds her infant grandchild
Prof. Sloan is recognized by the Michigan Tech Alumni Association as an Honorary Michigan Tech Alumna.

The summer before my senior year in high school, I attended a five-week science and technology program at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute, with lectures and labs on all science and engineering programs Northwestern offered, plus field trips to industry in northern Illinois and Indiana. I was particularly enchanted by a unit on AC circuits taught from a book by Kerchner and Corcoran, which I later learned was the standard college text on the subject. By the end of the summer I was the top student in the program—I didn’t know there was a contest—and won a full scholarship to Northwestern. But I didn’t go to Northwestern; I went to Stanford, which I chose because the campus was so beautiful. This was before Stanford was as highly ranked as it is today (it was near the bottom of the top 20).

Prof. Sloan with her children and their spouses, all highly accomplished and then some.

I intended to major in physics, but then, in the  summer just before my freshman year, a letter arrived from Stanford advising me that if I had any thought of possibly majoring in engineering, I should start in engineering because transferring out was easy but transferring in might delay my graduation. So I chose electrical engineering, based on liking AC circuits.

Hometown and family?

I was born in Aurora, Illinois to an obstetrician and stay-at-home mom. They had both majored in chemistry in college. My brother became a math professor and assistant chair of the math department at the University of Illinois.

Three of Prof. Sloan’s adorable grandkids!

My daughter is a law professor at Chicago Kent. Her daughter (my granddaughter) earned an MS in Public Health and conducts research in Boston on comorbidities, when a patient has two or more diseases or medical conditions the same time. She has boy-girl twins who are now both studying medicine at different medical schools in Chicago. In addition, my great granddaughter’s longtime boyfriend is studying at a third Chicago medical school—so the family has Chicago medical schools almost covered! 

My son graduated from the US Naval Academy, spent 20 years in the Marines, and is now working on safety aspects of autonomous vehicles for General Motors. He and his wife, also a USNA graduate, have three young children.

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have two springer spaniels. I spend my spare time reading–and doing some writing, too. I’ve taken two classes on writing memoirs in the past year.

Prof. Dan Fuhrmann’s research focus: signal processing.

Prof. Furhmann, how did you first get into engineering and computing? What sparked your interest?

I was good at math and science in junior high and high school, so it just seemed like a natural path.

Hometown, family?

Born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and later moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am the youngest of four children. Currently married 26 years with three grown children in a blended family.

Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or Steamboat Springs, Colorado? Find out during Husky Bites!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Jamming on the deck!

I’ve played piano semi-professionally my entire adult life, including jazz, pop, rock, and salsa. I enjoy both downhill and cross-country skiing. I try to take advantage of the Copper Country winters!

Read more

Jane Fryman Laird ’68 and Dr. Martha Sloan – Blazing a Trail for Generations of Tech Women
Martha Sloan IEEE Computer Society President and Award Recipient
Oral History Transcript – Martha Sloan: Engineering and Technology History Wiki

Reimagining the Possible! Happy Engineer’s Week 2022!

Reimagine what seems impossible –  to become the Possible! It’s National Engineers Week Feb 20-26.

This week, we’re celebrating National Engineers Week (Feb. 20-26). Everyone’s invited to special events on campus sponsored by Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society student chapter at Michigan Tech.

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951, Eweek is celebrated each February around the time of George Washington’s birthday (February 22) because Washington is considered by many to be the first US engineer. Engineers create new possibilities all the time. From green buildings to fuel-efficient cars to life-saving vaccines, engineers work together to develop new technologies, products and opportunities that change how we live for the better.

At Michigan Tech, the week is organized by Tau Beta Pi, and celebrated with special events on campus, many hosted by student organizations. Everyone is welcome! Please feel free to stop by and check out Eweek events as your schedule allows:

Monday, Feb. 21

5pm to 6pm
Tau Beta Pi Alumni Panel
Contact Jacob Stewart, Tau Beta Pi, for details (jacstewa@mtu.edu).

Dr. Zhanping You shares his methods and results on building new roads from recycled waste tires and old pavement rubble!

6 pm to 7 pm
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Husky Bites Zoom Webinar
Join Professor Zhanping You and PhD student Kobe Jin to learn how old tires + pavement rubble are becoming new recycled, better roads!

Tuesday, Feb. 22

3:30pm to 5:30pm
Egg Drop Design Challenge
Makerspace in the MUB Basement
Some may remember this activity from past years. Experts and novices alike are welcome to give it a try. Mind Trekkers adds their own twist!

Are you up for the (egg drop) challenge?

Wednesday, Feb. 23

11am to 2pm
Eweek Cake
112 Dillman
Delicious cake from Roy’s Bakery, hosted by the Department of Engineering Fundamentals, it’s a longtime Eweek tradition at Michigan Tech!

Come grab your piece of cake!

5pm to 6pm
Spaghetti Towers
Fisher 129
Test your engineering skills with SSC and Built World Enterprise: Who can build the tallest spaghetti and marshmallow skyscraper?!?

Thursday, Feb. 26

2pm to 4pm
Metal Foundry in a Box

M&M room U109
Never been in a foundry before? The students at Materials United will help you feel right at home. Make something small. Let it cool, then come pick it up later.

Not an MSE, but still want try your hand at making something in the foundry at Michigan Tech? Here’s your chance!

Friday, Feb. 25

4 pm to 7 pm
Escape Room
MUB Ballroom A2
Join Mind Trekkers for an engineering Escape Room that is truly above and beyond!

Interview with Dr. Sarah Rajala ’74

Sage advice from Dr. Sarah Rajala: “Take ownership of your learning!”

Michigan Tech electrical engineering alumna Dr. Sarah Rajala is professor emeritus and former dean of engineering at Iowa State University. She’s an internationally-known leader in the field of engineering education—and a pioneering ground breaker for women in engineering. She serves as a role model for young women and is passionate about diversity of thought and culture, especially in a college environment.

This month we celebrate with Dr. Rajala—she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest professional recognitions in engineering.

Dr. Rajala, how did Michigan Tech prepare you as a leader in engineering education? Or simply as a leader?

Being the only female in my electrical engineering class, I experienced numerous gender biases. In the early 1970s, there was still much skepticism about whether ‘a girl could be an engineer’. My experiences laid a foundation for my commitment to creating a more inclusive culture in engineering and in engineering education, in general. 

You have kept busy, pushing the boundaries across your entire career. What advice do you have for mid-career people looking for their next challenges and opportunities?

First, take advantage of the opportunities that are offered, especially if they allow you to expand your boundaries. Don’t be shy about raising your hand and indicating your interest. Professional societies are great places to find new challenges and opportunities. Of course, it is also important to set your priorities and know when to say no. Also keep in mind that there is no single path that is right for everyone.  

Based on what you’ve learned as an educator, do you have one or two pieces of advice for a high school junior or senior?

We each learn new material in different ways. Don’t decide you dislike a subject because you don’t like the way the teacher presents the material. And don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask the teacher if she/he can present the topic differently. Alternatively, work with your fellow students or another teacher who can help you explore the topic in a different way. Search the internet. There are many good resources out there that can supplement what you are learning in class. Take ownership of your learning!

What qualities do students need to develop in themselves in order to become solvers of problems?

Start with the fundamentals. Be inquisitive. Write down what you know and try to start working the problem. If you are really stuck, ask for help. Show someone what you have done so far, then ask for a hint to help you get started.  You will learn more, if you can get started and work the rest out for yourself.

Where do you think engineering education will be 20 years from now?

I hope we are more inclusive! No matter how one learns, we should be able to adapt our instructional approaches to engage and motivate everyone. Technology will likely play a larger role in the learning process. There will be an increasing number of new subjects to learn. Students and educators will all need to adapt to new ways to teach and learn. 

William S. Hammack Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Prof. William S. Hammack

Michigan Tech chemical engineering alumnus William S. Hammack ’84 has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Hammack is honored for innovations in multidisciplinary engineering education, outreach, and service to the profession through development and communication of internet-delivered content.

Hammack earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech, and an MS and PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois — Urbana-Champaign. He taught at Carnegie Mellon for a decade before returning, in 1999, to the University of Illinois, where he now teaches in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. 

As an engineer, Hammack’s mission over the last 25 years has been to explain engineering to the public. His media work — from his work in public radio to his books to his pioneering use over the last decade of internet-delivered video— has been listened, read, or viewed over seventy million times. He also recorded more than 200 public radio segments that describe what, why and how engineers do what they do. 

Hammack’s videos (The Engineer Guy), with more than 1.2 million followers on YouTube) are licensed under creative commons so they can be fully used to serve the public. They have been used by both industrial giants and small firms to train their workforce, in college classrooms to hone budding engineers, in K-12 classrooms, and by home schools to excite the next generation of engineers.

Among his many other honors, Hammack in 2020 was awarded the Hoover Medal, given by a consortium of five engineering societies. The award is named for its first recipient, US President Herbert Hoover, who was an engineer by profession. Established in 1929 to honor “great, unselfish, nontechnical services by engineers to humanity,” the award is administered by a board representing five engineering organizations. Previous winners include presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter; industrialist David Packard, the founder of Hewlett-Packard; and inventor Dean Kamen.

In 2018 Hammack was presented with the Carl Sagan Award for the Public Appreciation of Science, given by the Council of Scientific Society Presidents to recognize outstanding achievement in improving the public understanding and appreciation of science. 

Professor Bill Hammack’s upcoming book, The Things We Make: The Unknown History of Invention from Cathedrals to Soda Cans, is due out this Fall 2022.

Hammar is the author of seven books. His newest, a book on the engineering method, “The Things We Make: The Unknown History of Invention from Cathedrals to Soda Cans,” will be published later this year. In it Hammack shares human stories, perception-changing histories of invention, and accessible explanations of technology–revealing a panorama of human creativity across millennia and continents.

Hammack has also received the Public Service Award from the National Science Board, the Ralph Coats Roe Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Distinguished Literary Contribution Furthering the Public Understanding of the Profession (IEEE), and the President’s Award, American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Read more on his website, billhammack.org.

Read more:

NAE Bridge: An Interview with . . . Bill Hammack, Engineer Guy

“Engineering Guy” Bill Hammack

Samson A. Jenekhe, Michigan Tech Alumnus, Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Professor Sam Jenekhe’s pioneering polymer research paved the way for commercial OLEDs

Michigan Tech alumnus Samson A Jenekhe ’77 has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Dr. Jenekhe is honored for discovery and understanding of conjugated materials for organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) widely used in the commercial sector.

A professor of chemistry and the Boeing-Martin Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington, Jenekhe studies the fundamental physical and chemical properties of semiconductor materials, as well as their practical applications. Research topics have included organic and flexible electronics, the use of organic light-emitting diodes for lighting and displays, energy storage and conversion systems, semiconducting polymers and polymer-based photovoltaic systems.

Jenekhe is a Chemical Engineer who earned his BS at Michigan Tech and his MS, MA, and PhD at the University of Minnesota. Jenekhe worked as a research scientist for Honeywell, Inc. and later joined the faculty at the University of Rochester, before joining the faculty at the University of Washington in 2000.

He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Physical Society, which in 2021 also awarded him the Polymer Physics Prize. He also received the Charles M.A. Stine Award for Excellence in Materials Science from the American Institute for Chemical Engineers in 2014.

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Samson A. Jenekhe’s Pioneering Polymer Work Paved the Way for Commercial OLEDs
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Distinguished Chemical Engineering Seminar given by Professor Samson Jenekhe, University of Washington. Held on 2 March 2016 at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London.

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