Category: News

It’s Engineers Week 2023!

It’s Eweek 2023! Join us for some special events on campus at Michigan Tech.

We’re celebrating National Engineers Week (Feb. 19-25). 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 U.S. engineer.

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


Ever wanted to try your hand in the Michigan Tech Foundry? Make something small, come pick it up later, after it cools!

Monday, Feb. 20
Metal foundry in a box with Materials United, 1-3 PM
M&M Engineering Building U109


Do you know Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers yet? If not, you must!

Tuesday, Feb. 21
Demonstrations with Mind Trekkers, 11AM-1PM
Fisher Hall Lobby


Delicious cake from Roy’s Bakery – a great way to celebrate, relax for a while in the Engineering Fundamentals department, and add a treat to your day.


Wednesday, Feb. 22
E-Week Cake, courtesy of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals, 11AM-2PM
Dillman 112


The Tau Beta Pi “bent” is located on campus at Michigan Tech.

Thursday, Feb. 23
Tau Beta Pi Alumni Panel,
5-6PM
Dow Building, room 0642

Zoom: https://michigantech.zoom.us/j/82536199550

Panelists:

Katelyn Ramthun BME/ME) – Product Engineer at Plexus
Jennifer Larimer (ChemE) – Research Scientist at Dow
Quinn Horn (PhD MSE) – Principal Engineer at Exponent
Tim Obermann (MSEE) – Director of Power Tool Technology at Milwaukee Tool


Learn how to solder your own circuit board—with students in the Blue Marble Security Enterprise, at the team’s headquarters on campus.

Friday, Feb. 24
Circuit Boards with Blue Marble Security Enterprise, 4-6 PM
EERC Building – 0738


One important goal: to motivate youth to pursue engineering careers in order to provide a diverse and vigorous engineering workforce.

Nationwide, Eweek is a formal coalition of more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. This year’s theme: Creating the Future. Dedicated to raising public awareness of engineers’ positive contributions to quality of life, Eweek promotes recognition among parents, teachers, and students of the importance of a technical education and a high level of math, science, and technology literacy. One important goal: to motivate youth to pursue engineering careers in order to provide a diverse and vigorous engineering workforce.

Ana Dyreson: Solar Energy in Cold Climates

This single-axis solar photovoltaic system is located at a Michigan Tech’s APS Labs site near Calumet, Michigan.

Ana Dyreson recently shared her knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar hosted by Dean Janet Callahan. Get the full scoop and register for future sessions of Husky Bites at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Ana Dyreson

Ana Dyreson is an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech. Her work centers on solar and alternative energy—and the impacts of climate change on those systems in the U.S. Great Lakes region through her Great Lakes Energy Group.

“In the last few decades, solar photovoltaics (PV) have become extremely cost-competitive,” she says. “This economic reality, combined with a push for decarbonization of the electric power sector in general, means that large-scale solar PV is growing—not only in traditional southern climates but also in the north where significant snow can reduce power output.”

Joining in on the conversaton were two of Dr. Dyreson’s PhD students at Michigan Tech, Ayush Chutani and Shelbie Davis. Each presented their research on how to better understand just how solar PV systems shed snow, in particular, single-axis tracking systems. They also delved into some of the modeling they’ve done to explore how widespread snow events might impact future power system operations.

“We are energy engineers who work in the context of a changing environment.”

Dr. Ana Dyreson’s Great Lakes Energy Group
Ayush Chutani

Dyreson and her team use energy analysis and grid-scale modeling to study the performance of renewable technologies.

“Our research links power plant-level thermodynamic models, climate models, hydrology models, and electricity grid operation models—all to understand how weather and climate change impact future power systems,” she explains.

Starting last August, Dyreson began conducting research at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Regional Test Center (RTC), a newly built Michigan Tech facility operated by the Advanced Power Systems Laboratory (APS LABS) at Michigan Tech. Dyreson’s research on single-axis tracking systems is possible thanks to the support of Array Technologies, Inc., who supplied a ten-row, single-axis tracking solar system and continues to partner on research.

To learn more about earning a degree or graduate certificate online, Michigan Tech Global Campus is a good place to start. 

Under the technical oversight of Sandia National Laboratories, the RTC program represents a consortium of five outdoor solar research sites across the U.S. that evaluate the performance and reliability of emerging PV technologies. 

Shelbie Davis

The RTC program gives U.S. solar companies access to these sites and to the technical expertise of Sandia and its academic partners, to drive both product innovation and commercialization of new high-efficiency solar products.

Last December 2022, Dyreson was awarded a grant just shy of $500,000 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for a project called “Electrification and Climate Resilience in the Rural North: Challenges and Opportunities.” She’ll be identifying social and technological challenges to resilient and equitable low-carbon electrification. And she’ll be seeking answers to questions on how to best electrify the energy sector while adapting electric power systems to climate change, including this one: Which are the most technically feasible and socially acceptable system pathways?

Dr. Dyreson earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and her MS in Mechanical Engineering at Northern Arizona University. She conducted post-doctoral research in electricity grid modeling at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Dr. Dyreson holds a BS in Engineering Mechanics from University of Wisconsin–Madison, and she’s a registered Professional Engineer in Wisconsin.

Shelbie took this photo at Michigan Tech’s new solar energy DOE Regional Test Center.

“I am lucky to work with talented PhD students including Ayush and Shelbie,” says Dyreson. “They each have unique professional backgrounds and personal interests in the work that they do, and it’s fun to see their work unfold.”

“Although we had never met, I sought Ana out as my faculty advisor before I even started at Michigan Tech,” says Shelbie. “I was fascinated by her work with alternative energy systems, specifically solar power. And Ayush has been a great PhD colleague and resource, as he is further in his PhD process and is also focusing on solar energy generation.”

Shelbie is earning her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech remotely, while working as a laboratory manager and instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, near Olympia, the state capitol. Within the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech, students can earn a PhD remotely in either Mechanical Engineering or Civil Engineering

“I have not yet met Shelbie in person yet but we meet over Zoom calls on a regular basis to share our research progress and goals,” notes Ayush. “ I hope to meet her sometime soon!” 

In November 2021, Ayush was one of a Michigan Tech delegation at the 26th United Nations climate change summit, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland. In fact, Ayush was previously a guest on Husky Bites to share his experiences at COP26, along with Sarah Green, professor of chemistry at Michigan Tech. 

Then, last November Chutani traveled to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt to attend COP27 again with Dr. Green and the Michigan Tech delegation.

Ayush Chutani takes part in a discussion panel at COP27 (Ayush is third from the right).

“Energy is something you cannot taste, see, or touch, yet it powers our lives—what magic!” 

Ana Dyreson
Dr. Dyreson is passionate about teaching and improving the diversity of Mechanical Engineering as a discipline.

Prof. Dyreson, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

From a young age I have been interested in how society manages energy. Following one of my older sisters into engineering was an obvious way to explore this passion, and lead me to mechanical engineering and work on renewable energy and electric power systems.

Hometown, family?

I am from Portage, Wisconsin. I grew up on a south central Wisconsin farm with my parents and three sisters.

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

I enjoy spending time with my family, especially biking and camping together. I love to run in all weather conditions, by myself or in a group, on road or trail, for fun or for competition—I love to run!

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

Ayush and co-delegate at COP27

I first got into engineering after looking at my dad’s use of Auto CAD software to make plans for houses since he is a civil engineer and then also the shows on Nat Geo and Discovery channel played a big role in shaping me towards engineering. Also in India, if you are good at science then pretty much you dream to go into IITs which are the best engineering colleges in India so in a way, the path to engineering paved its own way.

Hometown, family?

I am from Faridabad city, which lies south of New Delhi, India, and is a part of NCR (National Capital Region). I have my mom and dad in my family, but no siblings.  

Any pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?

I do not have a pet—yet—but I am thinking of either adopting a cat that looks like a lion (Lion King, and name would be of course Simba) or a corgi, because the queen of England loved them. 

I am a decent cook so food dictates some of my spare time. I also draw and sketch, so as long as I am inspired I will create some art piece. During the rest of the time, I consume a lot of virtual media, like movies, TV shows, Anime, magazines, Reddit discussion forums and yes Youtube. 

Shelbie’s first visit to the shore of Lake Superior

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

As a child, I loved puzzles. When the puzzles became too easy, I would flip them over and put them together without the pictures. As I grew up, I enjoyed knowing how things worked, which eventually led me to pursue mechanical engineering. After taking many sustainable engineering classes in college, I was hooked on understanding the complexities of energy generation and electric power systems.

Hometown, family?

I was born in Seattle, Washington. We moved when I was four to Manson, a small town in eastern Washington. At age ten, we moved back to Olympia, Washington where I spent my middle school and high school years with my mom, dad, and my dog. I am an only child.

What do you like to do for fun?

When I am not working at Saint Martin’s University or working on my PhD, I enjoy traveling with my husband and dog, Sunny. We love exploring new places by either doing day trips or weekend trips. I love to see new things and meet interesting people.

Research note:

Dyreson’s research on single-axis tracking systems is part of a project led by Sandia National Laboratories and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies office Award Number 38527.

Read more:

MTU, Sandia to Cut Ribbon on New DOE Regional Test Center for Emerging Solar Technologies

Watch:

During Husky Bites, Dr Dyreson explains the impacts of snow on high solar-share power systems of the future, from the solar module to the power grid.

Check out the full session of Dr. Ana Dyreson’s Husky Bites webinar.

Volunteer to Judge at Michigan Tech’s Design Expo 2023


Save the date! Design Expo will be held on campus at Michigan Tech on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, from 10 am to 2 pm.

Interested in supporting Michigan Tech students as they engage in hands-on, discovery-based learning? Volunteer to serve as a judge at Design Expo 2023.

A finger points at a small student-designed device on a table
More than 1,000 students showcase their team projects at Michigan Tech’s Design Expo, now in its 23rd year.

“We welcome judges from various professions, disciplines, and backgrounds to serve as judge,” says Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program associate director at Michigan Tech.

Now is the time to register to serve as a distinguished judge at Design Expo, coming up on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 from 10 am to 2 pm. This year the annual event will be held in person in two locations on campus at Michigan Tech: the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library, and the Memorial Union Ballroom.

Hosted by the Enterprise Program and the College of Engineering, Design Expo highlights hands-on, discovery-based learning at Michigan Tech. More than 1,000 students in Enterprise, Senior Design, and other Student Project teams will showcase their work and compete for awards.

In-person judging on the day of the event usually takes about an hour, depending on the number of volunteers.

Who should judge?

Sudents take part at design Expo while at their tables and posters.
A scene from Design Expo 2022
  • Anyone with interest in supporting our students as they engage in hands-on, discovery-based learning
  • Alumni
  • Industry representatives
  • Faculty and staff 
  • Community members

This year, prior to the event on April 18, judges will gain access to a digital gallery of student-created videos, in order to preview the videos prior to judging.

Design Expo 2023 is generously supported by industry and University sponsorship, including over 100 project and program supporters who make a strategic investment in our educational mission at Michigan Tech.

Sign up here to serve as a Distinguished Judge
at Design Expo on April 18, 2023.

Please visit Michigan Tech’s Design Expo Judges and Guests page for more information and to register to judge as soon as possible.

A judge talks to a student while other judges and students look on, at Design Expo
Volunteer judges play an important role at Michigan Tech’s Design Expo.

The Duties of a Design Expo Judge:

  1. Attend Design Expo for about an hour, sometime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 18, 2023, to visit assigned teams.
  2. Review and score assigned team videos via RocketJudge, an online platform prior to the start of Design Expo.
  3. Each judge will be assigned 3-5 teams to score throughout the judging period. 

“Whether a judge or simply a guest, your involvement in Design Expo is greatly valued by our student teams.”

Briana Tucker, The Enterprise Program

Questions? 

Feel free to contact Briana Tucker, Associate Director, Programming and Campus Engagement
The Enterprise Program at bctucker@mtu.edu

Aerial view of the Michigan Tech campus in the late spring.
Did you know that Design Expo at Michigan Tech is now in its 23rd year? Save the date: Tuesday, April 18, 2023!

Matt Jennings: Digging It—Volleyball at MTU

“Michigan Tech is a special and unique place that provides unlimited opportunity to its students, employees and the Houghton community,” says MTU Head Volleyball Coach Matt Jennings

Matt Jennings will share his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar Monday, 2/13 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.

Matt Jennings

What are you doing for supper this Monday 2/13 at 6ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Matt Jennings, Head Volleyball Coach at Michigan Tech. Joining in will be a former player, Jen (Jung) Lucas ’09, and a current player, Kaycee Meiners.

Women’s Volleyball first started at Tech in 1975. Jennings is the seventh Women’s Volleyball coach at MTU, having led the team over the past decade to the most wins of any previous coach. He is credited with transforming the program (In his first year as coach in 2012, the team at MTU went from a 2-25 record to a 12-19 record) but by building the team with an important emphasis on full athlete development. The team’s overall record for 2022-23 season: 20:10.

In addition to his job as coach, Jennings teaches Sports Psychology at Michigan Tech. During Husky Bites, he’ll talk about balancing academics and athletics, and what players bring forward—communication, teamwork, handling pressure, and resiliency.

Jennings earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Political Science from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois in 2003. He earned an MBA from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa in 2006.

“There is no doubt that, with some sweat, sacrifice, and teamwork, the volleyball team can find success on many levels.”

Matt Jennings
Jen Lucas

Alumna Jen (Jung) Lucas ‘09 was a middle blocker on Tech’s women’s volleyball team while earning her degree in Scientific and Technical Communications at Michigan Tech. She’s now back on campus again, this time working as MTU’s assistant vice president of alumni relations.

As a volleyball player at Michigan Tech, she won the GLIAC Commissioner’s Award, presented to athletes that excel both in the classroom and on the fields of play. Lucas was chosen as Team MVP in 2006 and 2008; named the Raymond L. Smith Award Winner for Outstanding Senior Female Student-Athlete in 2009; earned All-GLIAC all four years of her career, earned All-Region and All-American accolades her senior year, and was named GLIAC North Division Volleyball Player of the Week a few times in her tenure. And she still holds a few school records (or the 2nd spot) in various blocking categories.

Kaycee Meiners is studying Biological
Sciences (Pre-Veterinary Studies) at Michigan Tech

“I’ve followed how well Matt’s led the program since he started here a little over a decade ago,” says Jung. “It’s so exciting as an alumna to see the program and current players succeed.”

In addition to some great memories and stories, during Husky Bites Coach Jennings and Jen will share what it’s like being an athlete at Michigan Tech, where the MTU volleyball program has been—and where it’s going next.

Coach Jennings, how did you first choose coaching and why volleyball? What sparked your interest?

Sports play a huge role in my family, my sister was a record setting setter at the D1 level and spent time coaching at the high school and youth club level; my grandfather played in the NFL for 8 years after his time as a lineman at Ohio State; and my mom was a three-sport athlete at Wisconsin Whitewater. She met my dad after college, while coaching and teaching at a high school outside of Chicago. Sports and coaching are in my blood!

I first started coaching in 2004 at a small college in Iowa. I had been working in Chicago in finance at the time when my college coach called me and told me about the position—head coach on the men’s varsity and women’s varsity teams, but paid like a graduate assistant. I took it, as I was becoming discouraged with my time in the finance world. I earned my MBA there while turning around the men’s team over a two-year span.  

November 5, 2022

After I earned my degree I took a shot in the contracting and finance worlds again—and was rescued by my sister’s coach at Eastern Kentucky University in 2007, where I was brought on as the first assistant. I’ve been coaching ever since.

Hometown, family?

My wife Mary and I are the proud parents of three. We came here together in 2012 from Pittsburgh and were married in Copper Harbor. Jack Henry is 5, Ellenor James is 3 (and in charge) and Connor Evan is 10 months. All three are native Yoopers!

I grew up in suburban Chicago and in the city itself. I’ve also lived in Pittsburgh, Richmond, Kentucky, the Quad Cities (Illinois & Iowa), and Orange County California. I’ve lived here in Houghton for over a decade now. My extended family is mostly based in Chicagoland, although my only sibling, Kelly, and her family live outside of Boulder, Colorado.  

What do you like to do in your spare time?

With three little ones under 5 years old, the concept of free time is relative these days. Fair to say I spend most of it loving and caring for my family. Outside of that, I love to travel, read, listen to music, and follow all things Chicago sports (besides the White Sox) and Buckeye football. I also enjoy spending time outside in the summer months in the Copper Country.

Jen and Stephen, digging living in the UP!

Jen, how did you first choose Michigan Tech? What sparked your interest?

I was part of the small percentage of my graduating class from Tech with a non-engineering degree, Scientific and Technical Communication (STC) from the Department of Humanities, but I’m forever grateful that I chose to attend and play volleyball at Michigan Tech. 

As a junior in high school, I was recruited to play collegiate volleyball by a variety of D1 and D2 programs, Tech being one of them. I knew that while volleyball was a passion of mine and was 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. 

So beyond the usual factors one considers when being recruited (what schools offered my degree of interest, and how did I fit into their volleyball program) I considered which University would set me up for the best success after graduation. Michigan Tech clearly was the top choice considering that, with its impressive rankings, job placement percentages, reputation, I also loved the community and culture on campus. At age 17  I made one of the best decisions of my life and committed to Michigan Tech. I am still thanking “younger me” for being so smart!

Jen and her folks at Christa’s poster at Michigan Tech’s Student Development Complex. Christa Jung Cooper ’09, Jen’s twin sister, serves as head women’s volleyball coach at University of New Haven, Connecticut.

Hometown, family? 

I was born in Nebraska, but spent most of my life in Minnesota. I have a twin sister (who also played volleyball with me at Michigan Tech) and we have 3 younger siblings. I met my husband, Stephen (who went to Iowa State), while living in St. Paul, Minnesota after graduation. We lived in Minneapolis for a few years and then in Salt Lake City for nearly 3 years until we moved to Houghton a year ago for my current role as Assistant Vice President of Alumni Engagement here at Michigan Tech. Though Stephen didn’t attend Michigan Tech, he has loved living in the UP.

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

No pets yet  (besides our robot vacuum we call “Richard”). Stephen and I like to stay active outdoors in all seasons whether that be hiking, biking, snow shoeing, kayaking, etc. I do hope to learn how to cross country ski one of these days as well. I enjoy watching and discussing all sports, but especially volleyball, football, and hockey. We also enjoy good food and drinks, so whenever we are traveling for work or for fun, we like to try different restaurants or local favorites.

In high school, says Kaycee, “the more I played the more I realized I wanted to take my game further and into the college level.”

Kaycee, how did you first get into volleyball? What sparked your interest?

I first got into volleyball by watching my sisters, who were in high school at the time, we would play outside as a family often and watching my sisters be successful on our high school varsity team made me want to be like them. Once I started playing though I instantly fell in love with it and never looked back, I played soccer as well when I was younger but ended up quitting to really focus on volleyball because the more I played the more I realized I wanted to take my game further and into the college level. 

Kaycee with her parents, Dan and Joan Meiners

Hometown and family?

I grew up in the town of DeForest, Wisconsin in a family of five. My parents, Joan and Dan Meiners are the biggest supporters of my volleyball career and continue to support me in everything I do. I have two older sisters who are both happily married and my biggest role models in life. My oldest sister and her husband are the parents of two little ones, a three year old and a two month old, who I absolutely love and adore. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Outside of school and volleyball I enjoy reading, traveling and spending time with my family and friends (especially my niece and nephew!). I also enjoy volunteering at the local animal shelter and have on campus jobs that keep me busy but involved with life in Houghton! I don’t currently have a pet in Michigan with me, but back at home my family has a dog who I look forward to seeing every time I go home! 

Read more

MTU Spirit Times Two: Q&A with the Jung Twins

Shout Out: Matt Jennings, a Barrington High School alum who coaches volleyball

Coach Matt Jennings with members of the the MTU Women’s Volleyball team in November 2022.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Pasi Lautala

Pasi Lautala
Pasi Lautala

The College of Engineering and the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE) are pleased to announce Pasi Lautala as the featured instructor for this week’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

Lautala will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other spring showcase members, and is a candidate for the next CTL Instructional Award Series.

Lautala is being honored for excellence in teaching across a 20-year effort focused on railway engineering. Because of his passion for rails as a highly energy-efficient mode for land transportation, he established and now manages Michigan Tech’s railway engineering program. The educational aspects of this program benefit students at Michigan Tech and across the nation.

“Dr. Lautala had a vision of a world-class rail engineering program at Tech. Through steadfast determination, Pasi made that happen,” said College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan. “Because of Pasi’s trailblazing efforts, Tech students can pursue an undergraduate minor in rail transportation. And those who do are highly sought after for employment by rail companies and their contractors on our continent and beyond.”

In addition to the minor he established, Lautala mentors students in the Rail Engineering Activities Club (REAC) at Michigan Tech, reinforcing their curricular experiences with extracurricular activities. Students interact with rail industry professionals to learn even more about train systems and establish important industry contacts. This club is the inaugural student chapter of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA), the national organization for rail engineering professionals. That the inaugural student chapter was established at Michigan Tech speaks volumes about Lautala’s impact in railway engineering education.

Lautala has also had an enormous impact across the continent. In 2008, he helped establish the Railroad Engineering Education Symposium (REES) under the auspices of AREMA, which he continues to lead. Its purpose is to expand and encourage railway engineering education throughout North America. In 2015, with the help of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), this was augmented with the passenger-rail symposium (p-REES) to look at issues particular to transit, commuter and inter-city services. Lautala’s vision has led hundreds of faculty members and dozens of universities to incorporate rail engineering into their educational offerings.

“Dr. Lautala is a visionary in rail education and his impact is significant,” said Audra Morse, chair of CEGE. “I have heard about this work through colleagues and department heads around the country. Our students benefit from Pasi’s passion, technical competence and industry connections. The rail program draws students from all over the country to Michigan Tech.”

Lautala has also worked to develop a pipeline of students passionate about rail as an energy-efficient mode of transportation through Michigan Tech’s summer youth program. This has led to the “Tracks to the Future” collaboration with University of Illinois and Penn State Altoona, which, with funding from the Federal Railroad Administration, expands the program and includes these other campuses.

For his impact on education at Michigan Tech and beyond, the College of Engineering is honored to recognize Pasi Lautala in the Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

SAE Winter Baja Invitational: Driving Innovation from the Ground Up

Michigan Tech is the home of the Winter Baja Invitational, which recently brought 22 universities and 45 student-built off-road vehicles to campus on January 28, 2023.

Winter Baja is one of the most exciting invitational events in the SAE Collegiate Design Series. It also serves as a frozen dress rehearsal for the official SAE International Baja competitions, which take place each spring and summer in different locations across the country. Student engineers design and build their vehicles from scratch around an SAE-designated engine.

Blizzard Baja, a student-led team, part of Michigan Tech’s award-winning Enterprise program, organizes this event annually—on top of designing and building a new vehicle for entrance into one or more of the national SAE Baja events. 

This year, Winter Baja was held on Saturday, January 28, 2023, near the Student Development Complex at Michigan Technological University. It attracted 45 off-road vehicles from 22 universities, which raced around a one-mile snow/ice circuit course.

The day started with the pickled egg slalom race. This event requires drivers to reach the end of the course, hop out of their vehicle and eat a pickled egg. Then a new driver must jump in the vehicle and drive it back to the starting line. Next was the hill climb race, where vehicles drive as high as possible up the snow bank. 

Michigan Tech Blizzard Baja Enterprise team hosts the SAE Winter Baja Competition every year, and takes part in the competition, as well.

Finally, the main event—the endurance race—started at 10:30 AM as cars gridded up at the starting line. TV6 News reporter Tristan Hendrick covered the event: Michigan Tech hosted annual Baja race to give students work experience.

University of Iowa’s Iowa Baja came in first, with 55 laps around the course. Results of the endurance race are available here: https://winterbaja.enterprise.mtu.edu/downloads/WinterBaja2023FinalLapResults.pdf

Congratulations to The Iowa Baja, University of Iowa, which took first place in the endurance race, completing 55 laps around the course in 3:39:02.
Virginia Tech’s Baja Valkyrie took second, completing 51 laps in 3:39:27.

The Michigan Tech Blizzard Baja Enterprise team is advised by Kevin Johnson, assistant teach professor in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Steven Ma, professor of practice in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Michigan Tech computer engineering student Rithik Sawant served as this year’s Winter Baja Coordinator. “The 42nd annual Winter Baja Race this year was one of the largest we have ever held,” he said.

“Winter Baja is the ultimate test for your vehicle—we don’t skimp on the difficulty of the track and size of the jumps.”

Rithik Sawant

Michigan Tech’s Baja team has a long history of success in SAE competitions since the 1970s. Students use modern engineering and manufacturing processes to enhance vehicle performance by focusing on reduction of vehicle mass, maximization of drivetrain efficiency, improvement of driver visibility and comfort, and optimization of off-road vehicle handling and maneuverability.

The 2023 SAE Winter Baja Competition events took place around the clock on January 28 at Michigan Tech.

The Winter Baja Invitational pays tribute to the roots of the Baja SAE Collegiate Design Series and began at Michigan Tech in 1981. Michigan Tech professors emeritus Bill Shapton and Larry Evers created the event to provide students with hands-on engineering experience. One of the first baja races led students through beaver dams and sand pits, from the abandoned Keweenaw town of Mandan up to Copper Harbor. It evolved into a global engineering series with annual official SAE collegiate Baja racing events taking place in North America, South Africa, Brazil, and South Korea.

The starting lineup for the endurance race.
MTU Blizzard Baja’s test vehicle, Hornet, competed with a new front suspension system for research and development.

SAE Winter Baja 2023 Event Sponsors

Special thanks to all SAE Winter Baja event sponsors: McLaren Engineering, Milwaukee Tool, TeamTech, Daimler Truck, Kohler, Caterpillar, Pratt Miller, Ford, Professional Fabricating, Extreme Canopy, and locally, Diamond House International, LevelUp, Keweenaw Petroleum Service, Houghton Powersports, Houghton Fire Department, and Superior Search and Rescue.

Winter Baja photography by: Andrew Erickson, Mackenzie Johnson, and Peter LaMantia.

Engineering Alumni Social at the Dog House this Thurs. at 3pm

Do you remember the Dog House from your time at Michigan Tech?
Hope to see you there!

Are you coming to the Michigan Tech campus for Winter Carnival? Take a break from viewing the statues on Thursday, February 9 from 3-5 pm to enjoy a beverage and some snacks!

Join Dean Janet Callahan, the College of Engineering department chairs, and fellow Michigan Tech engineering alumni for a social at the Dog House in downtown Houghton (aka Armando’s, at 517 Shelden Avenue). You’ll also have a chance to learn more about how to support the college during Give Back to the Pack, Michigan Tech’s 48-hour giving challenge.

Anyone who donates $100 or more to the College of Engineering or any of its departments during the social will get a College of Engineering t-shirt.

Want to see all the College of Engineering giving challenges thus far? Here’s a link: https://www.mtu.edu/engineering/giving-day

And for complete information, go to https://www.giveback.mtu.edu

Joe Foster: Geospatial Imagery

AFTER: A 3d-printed Winter Carnival snow statue created by Michigan Tech students, one that never has to melt!

Joe Foster will share his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar Monday, 2/6 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.

Joe Foster

What are you doing for supper this Monday 2/6 at 6ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Joe Foster, Professor of Practice in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering at Michigan Tech. Joining in will be four of his geospatial engineering students—Brayden Brincks, Wes Hyslop, Case Vander Heide, and Jacob Wysko. They’re all three members and leaders of the Douglass Houghton Student Chapter of the National Society of Professional Surveyors (aka DHSC of NSPS).

During Husky Bites they’ll share details of their unique new endeavor at Michigan Tech’s annual Winter Carnival (coming up soon, February 8-13, 2023.) 

One of the most thrilling things featured at Winter Carnival are the larger-than-life snow statues built by a Michigan Tech students—spectacular, elaborate displays of snow and ice. When Winter Carnival comes to a close the statues eventually melt. While there are lots of photos to remember them by—now there’s something much more tangible.

BEFORE: Winter Carnival 2022’s winning snow statue, by Phi Kappa Tau. Look familiar? Scroll back up to compare.

Recently, Foster and his students have found a way to take the love of Winter Carnival one step further using LIDAR (Light Imaging Detecting and Radar) to scan the snow statues, with help from Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, plus top-of-the-line equipment and support from Seiler Instrument & Manufacturing.

“LIDAR data collected from this endeavor, literally millions of points, enables us to 3D-print an entire snow creation as a trophy, given to each of the prize-winning snow sculpture student teams,” Foster explains. 

During Husky Bites, they’ll walk us through the process and show us the amazing results.

Joe Foster snapped this photo of his geospatial engineering students during Winter Carnival last year.

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

I first got interested in Surveying/Geospatial Engineering while studying forestry at Michigan Tech. Surveying was one of the courses in the program. That’s where I learned there could be an entire profession centered on surveying alone. I was hooked. It incorporated everything I had come to enjoy about forestry—working outside, using sophisticated equipment, drafting, and actually putting all the math I had learned to practical use. After earning my first bachelor’s degree in Forestry, I decided to get a second bachelor’s degree in Surveying and to pursue that as my career. 

Hometown?
I was born and raised in Muskegon, Michigan, but spent a fair amount of time in the U.P. over the years visiting. I have strong family ties to the U.P. I came to Michigan Tech after graduating from Mona Shores High School in the fall of 1982. I’m glad to be back in the Copper Country.

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend time outdoors enjoying what the Copper Country has to offer.  And I always have my “sidekick” Deirdre (5 year old hound mix rescue) with me.

Brayden Bricks hangs out with Chief on a suspension bridge he built himself using recycled materials.

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

As with most students in high school, I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do after graduation. However, I was decent in mathematics and enjoyed both indoor and outdoor work. While the field of geospatial engineering is often unadvertised, with a little research I found it to contain a wide range of career opportunities, a very strong future outlook, and a dense concentration of “good” people—people you are willing and want to spend your entire career working with. Michigan Tech was the second closest school I found (11.5 hours from home compared to Eastern Tennessee’s 11.25 hour drive).

Michigan Tech was the first (and only) university I visited in high school. When I met Prof. Foster during my trip I knew Michigan Tech—and the rest of the very welcoming Houghton community—was a perfect fit.

Hometown and family?
I grew up on a farm outside of Maryville, Missouri, a small college town about the same size as Houghton, near the Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas state borders in the heartland of the country. I have one younger sister who will be graduating high school this year. And yes, it does snow, but only 15″ a year on average. 

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?
In the winter I enjoy downhill and cross country skiing, and when the snow is not on the ground you can probably find me “gravel cycling.” I also have two pets back home, Tater a small toy poodle, and Chief, a large black lab. In addition to the community at DHSC I can often be found hanging with friends from Saint AL’s, a student parish here at Tech.

“I first met Professor Foster while visiting Michigan Tech. Since then, he has been a supportive teacher, and a great advisor.”

Brayden Bricks
Photo of the Arvon Range, by Wes Hyslop
Wes Hyslop, on a recent trip to Colorado.

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

I kind of stumbled into Land Surveying/Geospatial Engineering as a major, like a lot of students do. I came to Tech after a gap semester after high school. One of the classes I ended up taking was Intro to Surveying. From there I just kind of fell in love with the profession and everything that goes into it. The technology, ability to have my office be the great outdoors, and the history behind it all heavily sparked my interest.

Hometown, family?
I was born in Laurium, Michigan, but have lived in Houghton for the last 18 years. My father is a lecturer in the Department of Forestry and head of the MGIS program (that’s Master of Geographic Information Science) at Michigan Tech. My mother runs her own small business, and I have three brothers.

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy basketball, hiking, fishing, and hunting, and doing basically anything outdoors in my free time. I have two dogs—a Viszla and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever Mix, as well as a cat.

Jacob Wysko has loved computer software ever since he was five years old, and these days he also enjoys flying drones.

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

Ever since I was young, I’ve always had a keen interest in mapmaking and cartography. I liked to make detailed maps of the house and property that I grew up in. Finding out that there is a degree and career based around making detailed and accurate surveys really sparked my interest. 

I initially started out in Computer Science, thinking I wanted a job that utilized technology, but after learning of the Geospatial Engineering program, I discovered that I could combine both of these aspects—technology and mapping—into a career. It’s been a wonderful experience being able to use and learn the latest technology that surveyors and geoinformaticists use to map the world.

Hometown, family?
I lived in Haslett, Michigan until about the age of 12, then moved to Okemos, Michigan. I attended and graduated from Haslett Public Schools. My dad is an electrician for the Enbridge pipeline station in Mackinaw City, and my mom owns a local healthcare business in the Greater Lansing area.

Any hobbies? Pets? What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have a strong computer background. My mom always tells the story of how when I was age five or six, my granddad got me a cheap, hand-me-down Windows XP computer that had no internet access. I would play on that computer and look through all the settings and learn all the features of each program. Because of that, my primary hobby today is software development. I find it thrilling to slave and ponder over a problem that I could make a computer solve—I love spending hours crafting and perfecting code to make some sort of software. Besides that, I also enjoy flying drones, playing bass guitar, and practicing stenography.

Time to Give Back to the Pack

Paws courtesy of Echo, Dean Janet Callahan’s very own Siberian Husky. Meet Echo in the video posted further down in this blog.

Celebrate Winter Carnival 2023 from wherever you are and Give Back to the Pack on Feb. 8–10!

Your gift—big or small—will create an immediate impact on the lives of Michigan Tech students and the community.

Huskies from across the country and globe are coming together during this time-honored Michigan Tech tradition to make a difference in the lives of our 7,000+ students.

Give Back to the Pack starts at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8 as Winter Carnival recess begins on campus. It ends 48 hours later on Friday, Feb. 10. All giving will be routed through the website: giveback.mtu.edu. Gifts can be made in any amount and to any area of campus. Dozens of exciting giving challenges from departments and individuals across campus will increase the impact of gifts with dollar-for-dollar matches.

Curious to see all the giving challenges? Visit giveback.mtu.edu

In addition to making a gift, you can make a difference by spreading the word about Give Back to the Pack. Sign up to be an official ambassador for the 48-hour giving challenge, or simply tell others through your channels and help us spread the word.

Worth noting: Michigan Tech’s last giving day event was in April 2019 and raised $570,813 from 1,337 gifts.

This event celebrates what makes Tech special: our strong culture of philanthropy among alumni, faculty, staff, students and the community.

Thank you for supporting Michigan Tech. Together we can make a great impact for our University!

Go Huskies!

Play Give Back to the Pack – Days of Giving 2023 video
Preview image for Give Back to the Pack - Days of Giving 2023 video

Give Back to the Pack – Days of Giving 2023

Tau Beta Pi Honor Society at Michigan Tech Initiates 13 New Members

Congratulations to our Fall 2022 Tau Beta Pi Initiates! (Not pictured here: Yifan Zhang and Nathan Machiorlatti.)

The College of Engineering inducted 11 students and two eminent engineers into the Michigan Tech chapter of Tau Beta Pi at the end of the Fall 2022 semester.

Tau Beta Pi is a nationally recognized engineering honor society and is the only one that recognizes all engineering professions. Students who join are the top 1/8th of their junior class, top 1/5th of their senior class, or the top 1/5th of graduate students who have completed 50% of their coursework. The society celebrates those who have distinguished scholarship and exemplary character, and members strive to maintain integrity and excellence in engineering.

Fall 2022 Initiates

Undergraduate Students:

Brodey Bevins, Civil Engineering
David Bradbury, Biomedical Engineering
Erin Ganschow, Environmental Engineering
Heather Goetz, Mechanical Engineering
Madison Ide, Biomedical Engineering
Samuel Kuipers, Civil Engineering
Michael Loucks, Mechanical Engineering

Graduate Students:

Anna Li Holey, MS Environmental Engineering
Nathan Machiorlatti, MS Civil Engineering
North Yates, PhD Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Yifan Zhang, MS Environmental Engineering

Eminent Engineers

Dr. Jin Choi, Professor and Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dr. Jason Blough, Interim Chair and Distinguished Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics