In the aftermath of the eruption of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala, the risk now is for lahars triggered by extreme rain events. Guatemala’s rainy season started in May and typically runs through the month of October. Lahar hazards are the result of fresh (loose) eruptive deposits on steep slopes that experience heavy rainfall, creating mud and debris flows that can scour landscapes and inundate lower lying areas. The hazards are exacerbated by the steepness of the slopes, recent loss of vegetation, and the rainy season.
Rudiger Escobar Wolf, a volcanologist at Michigan Technological University and native of Guatemala, shares a set of preliminary crisis hazard maps of the threat of lahars at Fuego volcano in Guatemala, created with INSIVUMEH, Guatemala’s Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanologia, Meterologia e Hidrologia, as well as USGS/VDAP, and others.
Lahars often initiate at upper most elevations and flow down through stream channels and gullies. Scientists forecast lahar hazards using computer models of the slopes in conjunction with estimates of the lahar volume at the outset, which is very challenging to estimate. For instance, in October 2005, Santa Ana erupted in El Salvador and lahars from this fresh ash were triggered overnight due to Hurricane Stan. And in November 2009, Hurricane Ida triggered devastating lahars from San Vicente volcano. Those deposits were from a large eruption of a nearby Ilopango Volcano that occurred more than 1500 years prior and had been sitting precariously on the slopes of San Vicente until 36″ of rain fell in 18 hours.
Escobar Wolf has worked on the most active three volcanoes in Guatemala (Fuego, Pacaya, and Santaguito) since he was a little boy. Michigan Tech Volcanology Professor (Emeritus) Bill Rose and others worked with him as a young adult and recruited him to Michigan Tech for graduate studies. Escobar Wolf is in frequent communication with CONRED (sort of like FEMA) and INSIVUMEH (sort of like USGS) about the eruptive symptoms of Guatemala’s active volcanoes.
The eruptive activity of Fuego Volcano is so frequent, in fact, it is the classic “cry wolf” scenario.
“Most volcanoes are either ‘on’ or ‘off’, but Fuego has been simmering since 1999,” says Kyle Brill, a doctoral candidate in geophysics at Michigan Tech. Brill also monitors seismic activity at Fuego Volcano. “Less than one percent of the volcanoes around the world have had eruptions lasting longer than a decade, and Guatemala has three volcanoes that always seem active to some level,” he says. “Questions naturally arose in hindsight in the days following the eruption as to why people around Fuego didn’t receive/heed evacuation warnings earlier, and the answer to that, sadly, was that Fuego is so active normally that it is very difficult to forecast when changes in activity could become deadly.”
Brill is a returned Peace Corps volunteer. He served in Guatemala under the Environmental Conservation and Income Generation Program as a Master’s International student in the Mitigation of Natural Geologic Hazards program at Michigan Tech.
Despite the frequent eruptive behaviors, aspects of this eruption were much different than recent events at Fuego. In particular, some of the pyroclastic flows overbanked the drainages.
NPR’s Here & Now on WBUR-FM features an interview with Rudiger Escobar Wolf, Ph.D. ’13, MS ’07, talking about the Volcán de Fuego eruption. Listen at “Rescue Operations Underway In Guatemala After Deadly Volcano Eruption”
Finland is actually a relatively new country but has already built up a solid international reputation in education. When I first arrived in Finland, they were celebrating a century of independence.
Finnish universities are all public and among the top 2 percent of international rankings. For example, Aalto University ranks 137th globally. For perspective that puts it several spots above of Michigan State at 149th.
Finnish universities are actively recruiting foreign students. By making education free for their own students and low-cost for the top international students, Finland is clearly gaining a competitive advantage.
Editor’s Note: Michigan Tech professor Joshua Pearce is spending his sabbatical in Finland at Aalto University on a Fulbright Fellowship. In this first-person narrative series, he shares some of personal observations and insights on Finland’s educational system.
Biomedical engineering is a rapidly growing and evolving field. The need to have a well trained workforce with the ability to integrate life sciences, engineering, and the practices of modern medicine is a pressing issue.
The Department of Biomedical Engineering is offering four new minors related to biomedical engineering beginning Fall 2018:
- Biomaterials Engineering
- Biomedical Engineering
- Medical Devices and Instrumentation
- Tissue and Stem Cell Engineering
The minor programs will help to prepare students for careers in the medical device or related industry sectors. They may pursue graduate study at the interface of life science and engineering. The minors also help prepare students for professional careers, such as medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, or occupational therapy.
Michigan Tech invites students from all disciplines to learn the fundamental concepts of biomedical engineering. The minors are structured in such a manner that they are accessible to a broad range of majors, such as materials science and engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, general engineering, and mechanical engineering. Science majors can take these minors if the pre-requisite math and engineering courses are met.
Students will broadly understand key concepts and principles of biomedical engineering. They will develop the beginnings of an understanding of how the life sciences and other engineering disciplines can be integrated to solve biomedical engineering problems.
As more human activity enters the Arctic, it is important to be able to detect and classify the resulting impact from human behaviors. Examples of anthropogenic impact sources might include shipping through the Northwest Passage, natural resource exploration, and tourism.
A simple way to measure this impact is to use a sparse array of acoustic and seismic sensors. In order to do that, we need to understand the propagation of acoustic energy through and between the ice, air, and water domains. With this work we begin to understand the energy propagation, which will guide us in designing and building future sensing systems in the evolving Arctic.
This work has been published by Miles B. Penhale, Andrew R. Barnard, Robert Shuchman, “Multi-Modal and short-range transmission loss in thin, ice-covered, near-shore Arctic waters,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 143(5).
Last Tuesday (May 15, 2018), faculty and staff members, along with their guests, gathered at the Memorial Union Ballroom for an awards dinner recognizing 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years of service to Michigan Tech.
Within the College of Engineering, the following employees were recognized:
Bruce Mork, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Timothy Schulz, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Warren Perger, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Charles Van Karsen, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
David Hand, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Lawrence Sutter, Materials Science and Engineering
Surendra Kawatra, Chemical Engineering
Congratulations to all honorees. This year’s Staff Service Recognition Luncheon will be held Wednesday, June 6.
By Human Resources.
Michigan Tech’s Frozen Engineers were selected to represent Tech at the Make48: College vs. College competition this August in Baltimore, MD. Teams are given 48 hours to plan, prototype, and pitch an idea for prizes and licensing potential.
The Michigan Tech team consists of Mike Gazdecki (material science and engineering), Patrick Guyon (mechanical and electrical engineering), Rachel Kolb (mechanical engineering), and Ryan Thompson (mechanical engineering). The Frozen Engineers took fourth place in Michigan Tech’s 2018 Consumer Products Challenge for their single serve Margarita Machine.
The Vice President for Research Office announced the 2018 Research Excellence Fund (REF) awards and thanked the volunteer review committees, as well as the deans and department chairs, for their time spent on this important internal research award process. The awardees in the College of Engineering are listed below:
Infrastructure Enhancement (IE) Grants
- Daisuke Minakata (CEE/IMP) – SUNTEST XLS+Solar Light Simulator
- Joseph Lacavoli (MSE/IMP) – Laser Welder
- Jeremy Bos (ECE) – Interchangeable Parts – Sensor Pods
- Noel Urban (CEE/GLRC) – DMA8232 Mercury Analyzer
- Paul Fraley (MSE/IMP) – Testing Load Frames
Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Infrastructure Enhancement (IE) Grants
- Jingfeng Jiang “JJ” (BME/LSTI) – Electromechanical Biomechanical testing apparatus (ACUMEN [3KN systems])
Research Seed (RS) Grants
Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Mid-Career (MC)
Jim Baker (Pavlis Honors College and Innovation and Industry Engagement) and Adrienne Minerick (CoE) participated in the Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) 12 @ 12 event in Ann Arbor on Tuesday (April 24, 2018). The event included 12 participants identified by MVCA as leaders from Michigan’s entrepreneurial community to participate in a roundtable discussion on strategies to create greater access to capital and associated challenges for early-stage technology commercialization activities including building investment expertise across the state and retaining entrepreneurial talent within the state.
Tissue engineered vascular grafts (TEVGs) are beginning to achieve clinical success and hold promise as a source of grafting material when donor grafts are unsuitable or unavailable.
Daniel Radke, Wenkai Jia, Dhavan Sharma, Kemin Fena, Guifang Wang, Jeremy Goldman, and Feng Zhao have a review accepted in Advanced Healthcare Materials. The article “Tissue Engineering at the Blood-Contacting Surface: A Review of Challenges and Strategies in Vascular Graft Development” is an invited review which is a follow-up to a previous research publication: “Aligned nanofibrous cell-derived extracellular matrix for anisotropic vascular graft construction,” Advanced Healthcare Materials. 2017; 6:1601333 (1-6).
This is a timely and comprehensive review article that references extensive publications. It covers significant technological advances regarding tissue engineered vascular grafts for cardiac disease treatment. The review focuses on the challenge of developing a biocompatible blood-contacting surface.
The research group includes faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students in the department.