Dean’s Teaching Showcase: David Labyak

David Labyak
David Labyak

Dean Janet Callahan has selected David M. Labyak, assistant professor in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET), for this spring’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

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

Labyak brings his 23 years of professional industry experience to life in the classroom. He relates engineering project examples from General Motors in manufacturing and process engineering; Copper Range Company and Raytheon Missile Systems in project engineering; and Great Lakes Sound and Vibration in simulation analysis. All offer students an endless supply of practical applications to help understand engineering theory.

Labyak first developed new assignments and restructured machine design courses MET 3242 and MET 3451. Then, he developed new graduate courses: MET 5800 and MET 5801 for the mechatronics M.S. and online course MFGE 5200 for the manufacturing engineering graduate certificate.

In these courses, Labyak relates course theory to industrial applications of sheet metal design and fabrication, mining facility maintenance, and missile assembly processes. In addition, he uses examples from his family-owned farm in Ontonagon, where he maintains tractors and farm equipment. Vibrations, reliability and fatigue in mechanical components such as bearings, gears, drive systems, clutches and brakes provide examples students can easily grasp.

Labyak’s ability to explain where and how students will utilize the course content in their careers also makes him a great recruiter and advisor. “David often volunteers to meet with prospective students and their families,” says John Irwin, chair of MMET. “His industry knowledge in terms of engineering needs provides insight to guide MET students throughout their career paths.”

MET alum Mickala Kohtz ’21 explains how Labyak was effective in teaching MET 4660 CAE and FEA Methods. “He took the time to understand the way that I learned best and would walk me through difficult concepts. Dave was always willing to help his students, whether it was after class, the weekends, and even to lend a listening ear about job offers or Senior Design help.”

Likewise, former student Joshua Olusola says Labyak is very friendly and open to students anytime you find him available, even on Saturdays. “He gave sufficient in-class practice questions to ensure that the concept was understood before he assigned homework.” MET 5801 was Olusola’s first encounter with the Simulink software, but he transitioned smoothly using instructional labs prior to lab assignments. “I would say almost every student who had a course with Dave always jumped at an opportunity to take another with him due to his exceptional teaching technique and friendly personality. These traits indeed made students more open to learning.”

Dean Callahan recognizes Labyak’s ability to connect with students. “The personal relationships that Dave is able to develop with his students demonstrates the best parts of the high-tech, high-touch education that is Michigan Tech’s trademark. He is an inspiration to us all.”

Michigan Tech SWE Section travels to Wisconsin for ‘Spring Forward’ Professional Day

Michigan Tech SWE section members and alumnae gather for a photo at Spring Forward 2022.

Nine student members of Michigan Tech’s section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and their advisor, Gretchen Hein (MMET), recently attended Spring Forward, a professional development day in Kohler, Wisconsin, hosted by the SWE-Wisconsin.

Laura Kohler, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Stewardship and Sustainability at Kohler Company gave the keynote address. She spoke about her career path, the importance of diversity, and leadership. 

Michigan Tech SWE Section members toured the Kohler Design Center after attending SWE-Wisconsin Spring Forward 2022

Mechanical Engineering alumna Jackie (Burtka) Yosick ‘14 also works at Kohler. She was on hand to discuss her work with engines and generators.

“We were also pleasantly surprised to meet Helene Cornils, director of the Advanced Development Kitchen and Bath Group at Kohler and the parent of a current Michigan Tech biomedical engineering student,” said Hein.

Two former Michigan Tech SWE Section presidents, Katie Buchalski ’19 and Andrea (Walvatne) Falasco ’12 were also present at the event. Buchlaski is an environmental engineering alumna now working at Ruekert-Mielke, where she designs municipal road and utility projects with a focus on modeling the stormwater runoff from individual sites to city-wide studies. Falasco, a mechanical engineering alumna, is lead mechanical engineer at Kimberly Clark, where she designs new equipment to make products that include Kleenex, Huggies, and Kotex. 

Numerous Michigan Tech students won SWE awards at the event, as well. One of those was biomedical engineering major Kathleen Heusser, who won a first place scholarship from the GE Women’s Network.

“Receiving the first-place 2022 GE Women’s Network Scholarship was an incredible honor,” said Heusser. “In addition to the tuition assistance it provides, the scholarship affirms my confidence in the value of my resume, my education, and my professional references, as well as my scholarship essay on what being an engineer means to me,” she explains. “The last paragraph in my essay shares how my work as an engineer will be motivated by my love of others in order to work hard–creating solutions to the problem of an individual, a company, or a society.

Michigan Tech biomedical engineering student, Kathleen Heusser, receives the GE Women’s Network Scholarship

Another highlight of the day: Michigan Tech’s SWE section received the SWE-Wisconsin President’s Choice Award.

After the conference, each Michigan Tech student in attendance reflected on their participation and what they learned:

Aerith Cruz, Management Information Systems: “It was a great opportunity for Michigan Tech SWE members to bond and connect with one another. Being able to travel as a section and experience professional development together is a fulfilling experience. We are able to share learning opportunities and build long-lasting connections with one another. It is also incredibly fun getting to know each other while exploring the area.”

Kathryn Krieger, Environmental Engineering: “It was inspiring to hear the paths of various women, and the impacts they have made. I really enjoyed hearing about modern, female-centered design that benefits women in impactful ways–rather than the stereotypical ‘pink and shrink’ method.”

Natalie Hodge, Electrical and Computer Engineering (dual major): “Laura Kohler shared this quote in her presentation, attributed to Cassie Ho: ‘Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s like comparing the sun and the moon. The sun and the moon shine at their own time.’” 

Katherine Baker, Chemical Engineering: “I especially enjoyed attending the session, ‘Navigating Early Stage Careers: The First 10 Years’. It had a great panel that gave a ton of advice on how to advance as an engineer in the workplace.”

Maci Dostaler, Biomedical Engineering: “Women are necessary when it comes to inclusive design, which was covered during one of the sessions, ‘Breaking the Glass Ceiling’”.

Alli Hummel, Civil Engineering: “Laura Kohler talked about the importance of making time for your personal life and how that is necessary to succeed at work. She is a great example of a woman who succeeds in prioritizing both work and family life.”

Lucy Straubel, Biomedical Engineering: “I really enjoyed the whole experience. It was great to hear all the advice everyone else could give me. And making friends and memories was a bonus, too.”

Amanda West, Mechanical Engineering: “One of the things I liked most about the conference was keynote speaker Laura Kohler’s speech, where she mentioned the importance of having and maintaining relationships with your mentors, an important part in developing your career and professional skills.”

Kathleen Heusser, Biomedical Engineering: “In one session called Navigating Early Stage Careers: The First 10 Years, Tess Cain of DSM, among others, gave insightful tips about saying ‘no’ to a project or demand from management that’s just not feasible. She pointed out that how others accept your ‘no’ depends a lot on how you say it. You should use a response that includes ‘I can’t/Here’s why/Here’s what I would need to make this work’ in order to go in a doable direction with the project. And another inspiring quote, overheard during the Nonlinear Careers and the Versatility of Engineering Degrees panel, was that ‘100 percent of candidates are not 100 percent qualified.’ Raquel Reif of Kohler, in particular, stressed that already having expertise in a job field is not a necessary prerequisite to apply for the job you want.”

Tom Werner: Butterflies, Moths, and Fruit Flies in the Keweenaw

Butterly or moth? Find out during Husky Bites!

Thomas Werner shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, April 4 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.

Dr. Thomas Werner

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 4/4 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Biological Sciences Associate Professor Thomas Werner. Joining in will be one of his former students, alumna Tessa Steenwinkel.

Tessa Steenwinkel

Steenwinkel earned her BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and her MS in Biology/Biological Sciences, all at Michigan Tech. She works now as an Educational Assistant at Madison Country Day School near Madison, Wisconsin, and she will start a PhD program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, this fall.

During Husky Bites, they will share the most beautiful butterflies, moths, and fruit fly species of the Keweenaw Peninsula. And we’ll learn much more about their Encyclopedia of North American Drosophilids. Be sure to bring your questions!

Dr. Werner started studying insects as a childhood hobby, at age 10, when a beautiful butterfly flew in the window of his family’s 9th floor apartment in Erfurt, in East Germany. Many years later, his interest in insects is still strong, as he leads a fruit fly research lab at Michigan Tech. 

Werner’s research bridges the miniscule and the massive in an effort to better understand the mechanisms behind several unique features of fruit flies, such as the developmental genetics of color pattern formation as well as those of mushroom toxin resistance, among several other questions. Some of their research questions aim to provide insight into human cancer development.

For being so small, fruit flies have had a large impact on genetic research, thanks in great part to Dr. Tom Werner at Michigan Tech.

Werner also teaches courses on general immunology, introduction to genomics, developmental biology, and he used to teach genetics and with a genetic techniques lab. He’s been bestowed with the state-wide Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award 2021 and won Michigan Technological University’s Distinguished Teaching Award twice (both in the non-tenured and the tenured categories).

Callout quote:

“Werner is the epitome of the scholar-teacher. His enthusiasm in the classroom is remarkable, as is his devotion to mentoring more than 100 undergraduate researchers,” says David Hemmer, dean, College of Sciences and Arts.

“Thinking about the long winters here, I would call teaching a powerful antidepressant.”

Dr. Thomas Werner

Steenwinkel started at Michigan Tech in the fall of 2017 by joining the Pavlis Honors College. She majored in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology-Biological Sciences with a minor in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Originally from the Netherlands, Steenwinkel has lived in the United States since she was 12 years old.

“On Michigan Tech’s annual Preview Day in March 2017, Tessa visited my lab at Michigan Tech as a high school student,” Werner recalls. “I offered her a job on the spot, because I felt that she would become the best student I have ever mentored. And I was correct about that: As my undergraduate research assistant and master’s student, she has published two books and 10 papers with me, while she won 8 university-wide and national awards!”

Tessa at work in the Werner Lab

“When I walked into the lab, I knew that this could be the place for me,” adds Steenwinkel. “After getting started at Tech, I immediately reconnected with Dr. Werner and essentially started working in the lab the next day. I worked there for over four years, working alongside grad students, leading my own project, and managing the lab even when Dr. Werner went on sabbatical in Singapore. I was always so grateful to have Dr. Werner as a mentor.”  

During her first year, Steenwinkel went from assisting in Werner’s research lab to becoming a co-author on his book, Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast, with John Jaenike, a professor of biology at the University of Rochester. The three later published a second book together “Drosophilids of the Southeast”, published under the umbrella name “The Encyclopedia of North American Drosophilids.” Both books welcome researchers, teachers, and young students alike into the amazing world of flies and the diversity of their potential use in research.  

The Encyclopedia of North American Drosopholids, Vol 1: covers the Midwest and Northeast.
The trio’s second book covers the Drosophilids of the Southeast.

The books also include a significant outreach component that speaks to young children about science and nature in the form of a bedtime story about fruit flies written by Steenwinkel. Open-access books, they can be downloaded for free here and here.

While at Michigan Tech, Steenswinkel became the first recipient of the Soyring Foundation Scholarship. John Soyring, Tech alumnus and Pavlis Honors College External Advisory Board member, established the scholarship for Pavlis Honors students expressing interest in research and innovation related to water quality management, renewable energy, or solutions to prevent and cure cancer. 

Prof. Werner, what sparked your interest in biology, fruit flies and genetics?

I am a biologist by heart. It all started in former East Germany when a butterfly entered my bedroom on the ninth floor in the middle of the city. On that July morning in 1981, I started collecting butterflies as a 10-year-old boy. This moment defined my life, and today I am associate professor of genetics and developmental biology.

Family?

I have a wife Megan, a daughter Natalia (10), and two sons: Oliver (7) and Oscar (5).

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

As a hobby, I collect and rear butterflies and moths. I like camping (and collecting fruit flies on these trips for my next field guides). I also have a dog named Frosty, who also likes camping.

Tessa, what sparked your interest in science?

My brother with Down Syndrome first got me interested in biology. From there, I started to learn about genetics, development, and diversity. This is what brought me to Michigan Tech and to start working in Dr. Werner’s lab, where he was using fruit flies to model human cancer. When I started working there, he had just published his first book on fruit flies, and I was immediately fascinated by the beauty and diversity of these small bugs. 

Hometown, family?

I’m originally from the Netherlands. I grew up there with my parents and two younger brothers. In 2012, we moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before moving to Madison, Wisconsin, in 2014. In 2017, I decided to start college at Michigan Tech, where I obtained my undergraduate and master’s degrees.

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

When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy running outside and teaching ski lessons to the local kids. When you live in Houghton, you have to make the best out of it. I’m currently getting ready to start my PhD. I currently have two very enthusiastic turtles. 

Fernando Ponta: The Wind Beneath My Wings/Sails/Turbines

“Since the emergence of the first windmill in ancient times, through the windmills of the middle ages, to the high-tech wind turbines of today, there has been an intimate relationship between the evolution of wind rotors and sailing rigs,” says Fernando Ponta.

Fernando Ponta shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, 3/28 at 6 pm. 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.

Fernando Ponta

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 3/28 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Fernando Ponta, the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professor of Wind Energy. Joining in will be one of Dr. Ponta’s mechanical engineering PhD students, Apurva Baruah, who brings industrial experience to his research with Dr. Ponta. Baruah is also a member of the crew on Dr. Ponta’s J-80 sailboat, the Avanti Bianc.

“There’s no better way to understand the wind than trying to harness its power on sails,” says Baruah.

The Avanti Bianc: “I’ve been Apurva’s boat skipper since 2015, and his PhD advisor since 2017,” says Dr. Fernado Ponta. “We’re both part of Michigan Tech’s ‘Wind-Warriors’ team.”

During Husky Bites, Ponta and Baruah will explain the evolution of wind power technology from its beginnings until the current development of next-generation, advanced, mega-scale wind turbines. One aspect of their research involves modeling the wakes of many wind turbines operating in a huge wind farm. They’ll discuss the importance of understanding and modeling these wakes in order to optimize both offshore and inland wind farm performance.

Apurva Baruah

“We’ll also share a brief review of our collaborative work with Sandia National Labs,” adds Baruah. “That includes the novel, aeroelastic-vortex-lattice codes we use to study cutting-edge wind energy technologies.”

At Michigan Tech, Ponta’s research team seeks to understand the detailed physics of a wind-turbine–from the rotor structure and aerodynamics, to turbine control and drivetrain electromechanics. 

“Since the emergence of the first windmill in ancient times, through the windmills of the middle ages, to the high-tech wind turbines of today, there has been an intimate relationship between the evolution of wind rotors and sailing rigs,” he says. “Ancient windmill designs used the principle of aerodynamic drag to produce the forces acting on the blades in the same manner that square rigs used drag to propel ships.”

Rembrandt’s The Mill, year 1645-48. Oil on Canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

“In a period of several centuries, sailing rigs progressively evolved into the use of sail arrangements that propel ships via the generation of lift force, which not only give ships the great advantage of going faster in the same conditions, but also of sailing partially into the wind,” adds Ponta. “All this technological experience translated into the evolution of wind rotors that also use lift as their physical mechanism for torque and power generation. In the case of a wind rotor, it has resulted in a dramatically higher efficiency of the conversion process from the kinetic energy of the wind, into mechanical power on the shaft.”

This parallel development was fundamental to the evolution of current wind energy technology, says Ponta. “The basic concept of the lift-driven wind rotor, conceived in the late middle-ages, is essentially the same as the high-tech wind turbines of today. The inherent energy efficiency of the lift generation process versus the generation of drag—with all its associated frictional losses—is the physical underpinning of this fundamental progress.”

Wind turbine blades average almost 200 feet long, and turbine towers average 295 feet tall—about the height of the Statue of Liberty.
Comparison between velocity patterns measured by SNL’s LiDAR at SWiFT facility in Lubbock, Texas, and MTU’s DRD-BEM-GVLM simulation results at spherical surfaces at distances of (a) 2, and (b) 5 five rotor diameters downwind. Dr. Ponta and Apurva promise to interpret and explains these models for us during Husky Bites.

In modern times, a similar parallel can be traced between the optimization of the kinds of aerodynamic surfaces used in aeronautics, and the refinements of the latest generations of high-tech wind turbines, notes Ponta.

Over a period of years Ponta has developed a novel aeroelastic model for optimizing the rotor blades used in “smart” turbines and the collective control strategies of mega wind farms. The resulting modeling tool is now being applied by Sandia National Labs (SNL) for the study of the advanced lightweight rotors of their National Rotor Testbed (NRT) project. The result is a complete picture of how a wind turbine behaves under various conditions. Ponta’s modeling can be used to design blades and simulate the interaction of multiple wind turbine wakes in a wind farm, as well—particularly, the thousands of meters long wakes of the utility-scale megawatt turbines of today, and the super-turbines of tomorrow. 

Vortex lattice (rear view), in a two-turbine scenario of a typical night-time wind profile, part of the National Rotor Testbed project conducted in partnership with Sandia National Lab’s SWiFT facility in Lubbock, Texas.
Dr. Ponta and his daughter enjoy skiing at Mont Ripley, Michigan Tech’s own ski area.

Dr. Ponta, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I’ve always been fascinated with science and technology, even when I was a kid. In my high school years, I attended what in my country of origin is called an industrial college, with a specialty in electronics. I started as a naval and mechanical engineering student, and then I decided to switch to a full career in mechanical engineering. With the years, I focused more and more into computational and theoretical fluid mechanics, in particular as they apply to the study of wind turbines and other renewable energy systems.

Hometown?

I was born in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, even though my family lives now in the Patagonia region. Curiously, they live at the same latitude that we are here in Houghton, but in the southern hemisphere. That is, the same temperatures but with a six-month shift! 

The Avanti Bianc, on Traverse Bay

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In summer, sailing and swimming. I own a sailboat which I skipper regularly in the regattas of the Onigaming Yacht Club, of which I’m a member of the directory board. In winter, I ski a lot at Mont Ripley. Alpine skiing is my favorite sport, and I’ve been skiing since I was in my teens in the Andes range in Patagonia. I lift weights all year round.

The skyline of of Mumbai

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

Apurva is passionate about aviation, too. “Since 2017 I’ve been visiting the EAA AirVenture, a summer air show and gathering of aviation enthusiasts in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at Oshkosh.”

I’ve been fascinated with aircraft from a very young age. I had an amazing physics teacher throughout grade school and figured engineering was the path forward in order to work with airplanes.

During my undergrad years, I just naturally ‘flowed’ towards fluids and aerodynamics. After a few years working in industry, I decided to pursue a graduate degree at Tech. Our research in wind turbines and their wakes in a wind farm is a perfect blend of my interests.

Hometown?

I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. My mom’s terrified yet excited to visit the Keweenaw! She frequently catches our blizzard-y days by watching the HuskyCam feeds!

Apurva’s Wind Group lab setup. Note the paper plane!

Any hobbies?

Thanks to Dr. Ponta, I’ve found an immense passion for sailing. It’s an important aspect of our summer ‘research’. I also frequent Michigan Tech’s Student Development Center, aka “the SDC” for racquet sports, including tennis, badminton, and table tennis, and the shooting range. I’m the range safety officer for Michigan Tech’s Competition Rifle team.

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Open Water

Engineering Study Abroad: Cosmo Trikes

While traveling abroad during the pandemic may seem difficult to some, others navigate this landscape with relative ease. Especially if you’ve got the attitude of Cosmo Trikes, an electrical engineering student at Michigan Tech. Challenges and adversity are no stranger to Trikes, but when presented the opportunity to study abroad nothing could have stopped him!

Cosmo Holding a Husky Flag
Cosmo Trikes

A Bit About Cosmo Trikes

In a Michigan Tech “Humans of Tech” interview last year, Trikes describes himself like this: “A lot of people say I bring a good energy to places. I’m excited about life and I love to help. I want to make things better, to learn as much as I can. I try to be remembered and get involved anywhere I go.” His mindset of sticking to his values–even in times of uncertainty–and his moral character both speak volumes for the person he is.

How did you get interested in Studying Abroad?

When I first visited Michigan Tech as a prospective student, I went to a study abroad info session, probably at the encouragement of my mother who did a study abroad in Zimbabwe as an undergrad. Before I started college, I had already traveled to Iceland, Africa, the Bahamas, and across the US. So I knew I wanted to continue traveling. I also knew that it was a rare opportunity to travel abroad for three months in the way you can while studying abroad. Being immersed in a college environment, taking a light course load, traveling around wherever and whenever. It can’t be done at any other time in your life.

“It’s easy to be optimistic and positive when things are going well. But when things go awry, when we encounter obstacles, only then is when we truly have an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of our virtues.”

Cosmo Trikes
Cosmo in Front of Curtin University
In Perth at Curtin University

Where did you study and live?

I attended Curtin University, an Australian public research university located in Bentley, Perth, in Western Australia. I lived in a flat neighborhood. A flat is basically an apartment. The neighborhood was a gated community, with a front desk building, and common areas where everyone could get together. Each building was three stories tall, and each level was a flat that housed six people. It was great to be surrounded by a community like that! Nearby there was a little mall with a market and a few other shops. I think I might have loved that the most. It was convenient to simply walk over and get groceries, especially since I didn’t have a car.

Why did you choose Australia? 

Since my second year started, I had a plan. I would go to a career fair, get a co-op, work for the summer and fall, and instead of coming back to MTU in the winter, I would study abroad and then return for the following school year. Even though I got injured, I still followed through with my plan. I never considered where I would go until the time came to choose. I wanted somewhere warm, of course, and somewhere accessible. Turns out Australia was the place to go. And even though Australia doesn’t have an equivalent to the American Disabilities Act (ADA) that the US has, it was actually more accessible than Michigan Tech, which made my time with friends and exploring a lot of fun!

What was your academic experience like in Australia? 

Cosmo and Other Study Abroad Students in their living space.
With his flatmates and friends in Bentley

Academically speaking, I learned a lot but at the same time I didn’t. A few weeks after I arrived in Australia the COVID-19 lockdown first began. I had hardly started my courses when they were switched to online. We all got called back to Michigan Tech. 

First, Curtin University is enormous, in terms of both campus and student body size. The entire university and facilities were so modern, with automatic doors throughout and so many cool things integrated into the campus that I spent many days just exploring. Even before the pandemic, the lectures were already being recorded with a camera in the back of the class. As a result, my transition to remote learning was not as hard, but in regard to the missing out on the labs–the lack of a learning environment, and enduring the isolation–it was a struggle. The experience shrunk from thousands of students for me to meet and interact with, to pretty much just me. I took engineering classes, and they went well. The teaching style in Australia was very different and I liked it a lot. I didn’t learn as much as I would have back at Tech, but that also wasn’t my only focus. While there, exploring and traveling were also in the forefront of my mind!

Cosmo Skydiving.
Skydiving in Australia!

What was the best part of the experience?

Well I made a lot of friends, explored as much as I could, and read a lot, but I think what I came away with the most was a lot of personal growth. With the short time we isolated, I had a lot of time for introspection. I started my blog during that time, and every Sunday I would write a multiple page summary of the past week with a lot of detail. I sent it out to a select few people as a weekly email to keep them updated on what I did and how I felt. 

What was the most challenging part of the experience?

Definitely the most challenging part of any traveling or just anything in general is using a wheelchair. Although the campus was really accessible, there were a lot of hills and many things I couldn’t do, like going sand surfing, for example. Luckily I had my friends to help out a bit, so I still did a lot, regardless.

Did you visit any other cities or countries?

Perth, Australia is one of the most remote locations in the world. While there, I was maybe going to travel to Bali or somewhere similar, but then COVID struck. Perth does have other cities nearby, such as Fremantle and some others, but I visited Rottnest Island off the nearby coast where I went skydiving! It was a small island with a lot of great views, and a ton of fun wierd little animals called quokkas.

Cosmo with a quokka.
Cosmo with a quokka.

When will you graduate, and what are your plans for the future?

I will graduate at the end of April 2022. After that I’ll be going to Colorado to work as a software engineer for Oracle. I found that job through Disability:IN, when I joined one of their programs.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Christopher Middlebrook

Christopher Middlebrook
Christopher Middlebrook

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected Christopher Middlebrook, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), as our ninth Dean’s Teaching Showcase member of spring 2022.

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

Middlebrook was selected for growing his work with printed circuit board (PCB) design into something extraordinary. He recognized a training need for electronic design engineers and put all the pieces in place to address a national security problem and offer employment opportunities for Michigan Tech students.

Like most great things, it started small. Middlebrook had an idea that if students like building electronic circuits, they might enjoy designing the printed circuit boards as well. His involvement with the Institute for Printed Circuits (IPC), a trade association founded to standardize assembly and production of electronic equipment, led to an IPC student chapter being formed in ECE. He gathered free materials and used equipment from local and national suppliers and launched an undergraduate course in PCB design. It was a huge hit. Local PCB manufacturer Calumet Electronics Corporation worked closely with him to offer the students an in-depth view of the design process from schematic capture to tested and accepted final product. Calumet Electronics Director of Engineering Services Rob Cooke describes Middlebrook as a “key strategic partner.” Cooke says: “Chris continually pushes to get feedback from our company about what students need to learn to be successful. He believes, as do we, that being able to see, touch and work with materials and processes is a key to being able to design and build.”

The industry connection did not stop there. Plexus Corporation, a dominant force in the electronics manufacturing industry, has a strong interest in the strength of the electronic system design education. Christina Jufliak, Michigan Tech alumna and a manager at Plexus, learned of Middlebrook’s efforts through the department’s External Advisory Committee. She saw a benefit to both her employer and the University. In her words: “As a Michigan Tech student, I saw firsthand the school’s efforts to provide relevant and hands-on experiences for students to prepare them for their careers.”

Middlebrook worked with Jufliak, the Michigan Tech Office of Advancement and the Plexus Corporation Charitable Foundation to secure $150,000 to create the Plexus Innovation Center on the sixth floor of the Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC). Jufliak summarizes: “I am very excited that the Plexus Innovation Lab will continue supporting these efforts, preparing students to take on internships and full-time positions within their respective fields.”

This professional-grade makerspace has become a lighthouse for the design, fabrication and testing of electronic systems for researchers, Senior Design and Enterprise projects across the campus. Dean Callahan comments: “Middlebrook’s educational leadership has made a difference to what students are able to design and build, right here in the EERC.”

Sarah Green: Glasgow—Michigan Tech Agents of Change

Michigan Tech delegation, colleagues and friends at COP26 in Glasgow

Sarah Green shares her knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, March 21 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.

Dr. Sarah Green: “The ultimate challenge to understanding how things work is to consider the whole Earth as a system of physical, biological and human processes.”

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 3/21 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Professor Sarah Green, interim chair and professor of Chemistry. Last November, six Michigan Tech students and three alumni helped lead events and a press conference at the 26th United Nations COP26 event in Glasgow, Scotland. The group was accompanied by Green, whose interests include all aspects of environmental chemistry, from molecular analytical methods to global climate change. 

The group’s effort was part of the Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education (YEAH), a multidisciplinary research and education network involving 10 universities. Formed in 2019 with support from the National Science Foundation, YEAH prepares students to engage on climate-related issues across disciplines and cultures—and to be part of the climate solution as scientists and emerging leaders. 

On the trip were Jessica Daignault, who earned her PhD in Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech in 2021, and current mechanical engineering PhD student Ayush Chutani. During Husky Bites we’ll hear about their experiences at COP26—and what comes next.

Daignault is now a professor civil engineering at Montana Tech. Chutani is conducting doctoral research at Michigan Tech, testing new solar panel coatings designed to shed snow.

We’ll also get a head start in celebrating United Nations World Water Day, coming up on Wednesday March 22, 2022. At Michigan Tech, World Water Day celebration at the Great Lakes Research Center for a week!

Ayush Chutani: “For me, finding solutions to global problems is as important as our approach to finding them.”
Dr. Jessica Daignault: “There must be transparency and accountability in the negotiation process, and the voices of minority populations must be heard.”

“We are linked to our environment by flows of atoms, and some of them are causing planet-wide changes,” notes Green. “Chemical flows help visualize the big picture of climate change and the human impacts. The ultimate challenge in understanding how things work is to consider the whole Earth as a system of physical, biological and human processes,” she says.

Green first joined the Department of Chemistry at Michigan Tech in 1994, then served as department chair for the next nine years. Her research includes carbon cycling in the Lake Superior basin; origin and fate of organic carbon in terrestrial, lake, and marine environments, response of aquatic systems to climate change; integration of biological, geological, physical, and chemical data for understanding of global cycles, and the communication of climate change science.

At Michigan Tech Green was instrumental in several major climate-related environmental monitoring efforts, beginning with KITES, an NSF-funded project that spawned many subsequent environmental monitoring efforts in the upper Great Lakes. The work continues today with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Alliance for Coastal Technologies and NOAA’s Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS). 

In 2013 she was named a Jefferson Science Fellow by the US State Department, and spent a year working in the Bureau of East Asia-Pacific Affairs. Then, from 2015-2019, Green served as co-chair for the Scientific Advisory Panel on the Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6), United Nations Environment Programme.

Part of the MTU delegration at COP26 in Glasgow

Green’s work with the State Department and with UN Environment has given her direct experience at the science-policy interface. “Perhaps the most important aspect of policy is listening carefully to identify the key concerns of all players,” she says. “My work with policy has also exposed me to a few of the many smart and dedicated people who are striving to improve the world.”

Green has brought both experiences back to her teaching, especially in her Climate Science and Policy course at Michigan Tech. She also teaches a course on Green Chemistry. 

“I first met Dr. Sarah Green while I was a student in her climate policy course during graduate school,” says Daignault. “Since then I have had the privilege of attending two United Nations COP meetings with her and other MTU delegates.”

“I was a student in Dr. Green’s course on climate policy last semester,” adds Chutani. “I was fortunate to attend COP26 in person last year. I hope to go next year as a part of the MTU delegation.”

“We have the technology to drastically slow global warming,” says Dr. Sarah Green.

“Climate change is an enormously multifaceted problem,” says Green. “Many actions are urgent, so removing impediments to action may be the most critical starting point. Innumerable opportunities are emerging and many would flourish if obstacles were removed.”

“We have the technology to drastically slow global warming,” she says. “The best case scenario is that we collectively commit to deploying that technology, and that we skillfully manage potential economic and social disruption that can result from such large scale changes. The faster we act, the better the chance of keeping global temperatures within tolerable limits.” 

Adds Green: “The worst-case scenarios are bad—and unpredictable. Humans have no experience with a climate warmer by 2 degrees Celsius than the one where civilization developed.”

“Imagine taking the entire population of Earth to a new planet with unknown weather patterns, unknown ecology, new disease pathways and unpredictable crop yields.” 

Dr. Sarah Green

“People can contribute to climate solutions by working on myriad fronts, including new energy systems, cultural change, modern materials, ecology, art, hydrology, communication, transportation systems, philosophy, chemistry and especially cross-disciplinary exchanges.”

Dr. Green, how did you first get interested in chemistry and Earth system science?

I have always wanted to understand how things work. My dad encouraged me to take things apart to figure them out. In college, I spent a few months replacing the engine in my car and saw how mechanical, electrical and chemical processes all join in a coherent system.

Chemical reactions are themselves tiny systems that work when atoms and molecules line up in the right places with the right energies and electron arrangements to transform.

My graduate work focused on carbon-containing molecules in the ocean, which led me toward what is now known as earth system science.”

What do you like best about your work now?

I really like collaborating with people from diverse fields because I always learn new perspectives on the world, new tools to understand it and new connections between its parts.

“Climate change cannot be addressed without considering social justice, gender equality, capitalism, freshwater and ocean resources and impacts to biodiversity.”

Dr. Jessica Daignault

Dr. Daignault, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest? 

Michigan Tech’s Leading Scholars program was my gateway. I wasn’t sure which specific engineering discipline I was going to pursue until I got to campus my first year, where I discovered Environmental Engineering. I was excited to find a program that combined my aptitude for math and science with the physical, chemical, and biological processes related to the environment. 

Hometown, family?

I grew up in Marquette, Michigan on a small hobby farm. I have a deep love for the Upper Peninsula. I have a dog named Smith and a horse named Diams. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to get outside and adventure on horseback, bicycle, or foot. 

I am interested in energy equity and just transitioning towards a sustainable future.

Ayush Chutani

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

My engineering interests stem back to a young age from watching Nat Geo and Discovery Channel shows. I always wanted to be a creator and inventor and pretty much started with mechanical engineering; my journey started with aerospace engineering. Still, I later transitioned to renewable energy, sustainability, and climate change during my masters. For me, finding solutions to global problems is as important as our approach to finding them. Also, I am interested in energy equity and just transitioning towards a sustainable future. 

Hometown? And what do you like to do for fun?

I grew up in Faridabad, India, in the National Capital Region. I like to draw, sketch and cook in my free time. I also spend considerable time enjoying popular fiction, including movies and games. I try to look out for unique foods and interesting local stores when I travel.

Read More

Sarah Green Named Jefferson Science Fellow

Reflection and Perspectives from Inside COP25

Engineering Study Abroad: Estefanio Kesto

“Being present and living in the now” is the motto Estefanio Kesto lives by, and his goals are ever changing, expanding, and adapting as life takes him in new directions.

A bit about Estefanio Kesto

Estafanio on a boat with the Norweigan flag hanging above him.
On a boat in the fjords of Norway

Estefanio Kesto is an electrical engineering student at Michigan Tech with a focus on Photonics—the study of light detection, manipulation, and generation. He’s involved in SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, as well as performing experimental research under the guidance of Professor Miguel Levy in the Department of Physics. Kesto is also involved in Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society and Eta Kappa Nu, the honor society of IEEE. He describes himself as an outdoorsman and an avid cyclist, as well. “If you approach me with any activities that involve the outdoors, then you can count me in!”

How did you get interested in Studying Abroad?

Many engineering students don’t seem to take the opportunity to study abroad. This is generally due to the misconception among them that transferring the course credits can be very involved and difficult. Additionally, many students are intimidated by the financial aspects. I also hesitated due to both of these things, which postponed my own study abroad endeavor. I eventually attended a meeting hosted by Vienna Leonarduzzi, then Michigan Tech’s study abroad coordinator. She discussed many options to overcome these obstacles.

The process of studying abroad looks hefty from the outside, but once you get more involved, you quickly learn that there are not only many options for engineering coursework to transfer into your degree program, but also options for merit and need-based scholarships to alleviate the potential financial burden.

How did you end up funding your trip?

In my case, I was privileged to be supported by the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The Gilman scholarship gives underrepresented individuals higher priority when it comes to financial support. As it turns out, engineering students are considered to be underrepresented when it comes to studying abroad! Use this fact to your advantage when writing scholarship essays for funding. Additionally, there may be university-wide study abroad scholarships available to relieve some of the financial burden. In any case, be sure to discuss your funding options with the study abroad coordinator at Michigan Tech before jumping to conclusions. For me, it was the Gilman program that truly enabled me to study abroad. I even discovered post-study abroad incentives that come with being a Gilman alum! 

Estafanio Kesto standing near a chalkboard with many digits of Pi.
Estefanio Kesto, next to digits of Pi in the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), in the Skolkovo District of Moscow

I also discovered that the process of transferring courses taken abroad is significantly easier when done earlier in your degree program. So, my recommendation would be to study abroad as early in your degree program as possible! Studying abroad, say, as a freshman or sophomore, gives you more options in choosing your host country, too. This is because general education, free electives, and lower-level engineering courses are much easier to be replaced with study abroad courses, compared to senior level classes.

This was not the case for me, though. I first began to search for study abroad programs that would satisfy course requirements in the final year of my undergraduate studies. As a result, it quickly became discouraging—until Vienna informed me that courses offered through the European Project Semester (EPS) program can be used to satisfy the engineering senior design requirements for my electrical engineering degree. So, if you find yourself in my shoes, find a European Project Semester program in a host country of your liking and jump on it!

Where did you study and live?

I lived in the town of Vaasa, which is on the southwest coast of Finland, located on the Gulf of Bothnia. Vaasa was not what I was expecting. It turned out to be one of the largest Swedish speaking towns in Finland (the second language in Finland is Swedish). Only 6 percent of the Finnish population speaks Swedish, but 50 percent of the people in Vaasa speak Swedish. This caught me off guard, as I was expecting a full Finnish-speaking town.  

Why did you choose Finland?

There is a strong Finnish heritage presence in the Keweenaw, where Michigan Tech is located. It inspired me to want to better understand who the Finnish people are, and in my opinion, there’s no better way to do that than fully immersing yourself in the culture of their home country, Finland!

Estafanio next to Novia University logo.
At the University of Novia

What was your academic experience like in Finland?

European Project Semester (EPS) is a collaborative learning program for undergraduate students studying any of the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). There are 19 host institutions across 13 countries that make up this program today. It’s project-based, with projects often sponsored by companies in industry. This gives students the opportunity to apply their theoretical studies in the real working world. 

Students work in multinational, interdisciplinary teams of three to six students. At the beginning of the semester, EPS presents the engineering projects, and students choose their preferences. My project relied heavily on the internet of things (IoT), automation, and other aspects of software/mechanical/electrical engineering.

The main objective of my collaborative project was to develop an IoT platform to facilitate the integration of different-branded smart devices in an automated living environment for disabled or elderly individuals, all within one intuitive user-interface. For example, products coming from Samsung, LG, Nest, and other electronic brands all have their own app. Our task was to integrate them all into one user-friendly app to control this automated living environment. It turns out the IoT could easily realize this problem. In addition to successfully creating an intuitive user-interface, my team and I further innovated the automated living environment by taking devices which were not considered ‘smart’ devices (i.e., had no connectivity capability) and turned them into ‘smart’ devices with the help of an ESP32 which is a microcontroller with Wi-Fi capabilities.

The experience was absolutely phenomenal. The university I attended, Yrkeshögskolan Novia (Novia University of Applied Sciences), and the faculty who guided my team, went above and beyond in providing my team with the resources and guidance to accomplish the task at hand. Additionally, working in a multi-cultural and interdisciplinary team of engineers allowed me to better understand how different cultures approach academia, work, and day-to-day life.

Estafanio with his housemates.
With housemates in Yrkeshögskolan Novia, Finland

What was the best part of the experience?

Living in a housing accommodation full of exchange students from all over the world! This did have its pros and cons, though. The biggest pro was the gaining of mutual cultural understanding from a diverse cohort of exchange students. The biggest con was that there was only one Finnish student, and I had been searching for native Finnish students to ‘adopt’ me into their cultural traditions. The ‘adoption’ was quite difficult considering I wasn’t able to socialize with Finnish students in my everyday life.

What was the most challenging part of the experience?

If you think it’s dark and cold here in the Keweenaw, you’re mistaken, because Finland beats the Keweenaw in that respect. The cold wasn’t so challenging, but the lack of winter daylight, at least in comparison to the Keweenaw, was the most challenging thing for me. The sun would start to rise around 10am and set by 4pm. I found it tough to cope. It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around how Finland has consecutively been rated the happiest country in the world in spite of the lack of daylight they receive.

Did you visit any other cities or countries?

When you study abroad, you shouldn’t stay in your college town for the entire duration of your studies. This would make it very difficult to gain sufficient mutual understanding of your host culture. Luckily, my international coordinator at Yrkeshögskolan Novia encouraged exchange students to travel with the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) as much as possible. ESN subsidizes travels for exchange students around the EU, which makes the cost of traveling significantly cheaper than traveling on your own. I visited Oulu, Tampere, Turku, and Helsinki which are all cities within Finland. Outside of Finland I visited Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, and France. Additionally, Professor Levy organized an opportunity for me to visit the Russian Quantum Center in the Skolkovo district of Moscow, where I was able to meet some of our collaborators and observe their experimental techniques.

When will you graduate, and what are your plans for the future?

Estafanio in front of St. Basil's Cathedral
In front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

Life changes, and you must be present in the now to adapt. Being present, and in the moment, allows you to adjust your professional goals accordingly. A strict, long-term professional goal that isn’t malleable can quickly deteriorate, due to challenges life throws at you. In turn, not meeting that goal within your perceived and specified timeframe can result in self-discouragement. 

The motto that best describes and dictates where I find myself in life is ‘being present and living in the now.’ In other words, I don’t have a strict long-term goal in regard to where I want to be in my professional life at any certain time. My professional goals change and will change in proportion to what’s happening now.

I do have an idea of where I want to be. I’d like to be working as a professor, instructing the next generation of scientists and engineers—or I’d like to work as a research scientist, making contributions that impact our society even more broadly. This is by no means a strict goal that I’m holding over my head. 

As for my post-baccalaureate plans, I’ve been admitted into a doctoral program in the University of Michigan’s Department of Physics, where I will be continuing my research studies within the optical sciences.

Caryn Heldt: The Making of a Vaccine

Caryn Heldt shares her knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, March 14 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

“Our goal is to bring biotherapies to market faster,” says Dr. Caryn Heldt.

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 3/14 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Chemical Engineering Professor Caryn Heldt, to learn how different vaccines are made. Heldt, the James and Lorna Mack Endowed Chair of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, will talk about the different types of vaccines, how they are created and designed, and the FDA approval process. 

Caryn Heldt

Joining in will be one of Dr. Heldt’s former students, Dylan Turpeinen, who worked as an undergraduate and graduate researcher in the Heldt Bioseparations Lab at Michigan Tech. Dr. Turpeinen earned his BS in 2016, and his PhD in 2020, both in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech. He’s now a downstream process development scientist at the Florida-based biopharmaceutical company Resilience (formerly Ology Bioservices). In his role, Dr. Turpeinen operates and optimizes purification unit operations to produce vaccines.

Heldt is an alumna, as well. She graduated from Michigan Tech in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. She earned a Masters in Chemical Engineering in 2005 and her PhD in Chemical Engineering in 2008, both from North Carolina State University. After post-doctoral studies in chemical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2010, she joined the chemical engineering faculty at Michigan Tech. Then, in 2015, Heldt won a prestigious NSF CAREER Award, which boosted her efforts and focus on vaccine research and development. She’s a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Society of Biological Engineers, and the Biophysical Society.

Pictured: the ultrastructural details of an influenza virus particle, or “virion”. Dr. Heldt is PI on a joint research project with Johns Hopkins University, funded by the FDA, “Integrated and Continuous Manufacturing of an Influenza Vaccine.”

Heldt teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes at Michigan Tech. Her lab, the Heldt Bioseparations Lab, is busier than ever, with seven graduate and five undergraduate students and two postdocs⁠—her vaccine research dream team. “Our lab focuses on the science of viral surface interactions and applies it to vaccine manufacturing and purification,” she explains. “We are interested in how viruses interact with different surfaces and chemistries. This could be important in how viruses infect cells, but we focus on how we can change surfaces to improve purification and manufacturing of viral therapies.”

Dylan Turpeinen

Turpeinen started out in the lab with Dr. Heldt as undergraduate researcher, fabricating and testing graphene-based electrochemical biosensors for rapid protein detection. He shared his enthusiasm for biosensors with middle and high school students the summer after he graduated with his BS, teaching at Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program (SYP) and then started work on his master’s degree, conducting graduate research on biosensors to detect malaria.

We are interested in how viruses interact with different surfaces and chemistries.

Turpeinen’s research then shifted to developing and testing a gold nanoparticle aggregation assay for virus detection, which could be used to ensure surface cleanliness on cruise ships, at hospitals or doctor’s offices between patients. His doctoral dissertation was entitled, “Development of Detection and Purification Strategies for Viral Products,” successfully defended (virtually due to the Pandemic) in July 2020.

Observing these chemical reactions in a test tube sometimes reminded him of a sunset: “The gold nanoparticles are the sun that start above the lake displaying a red-ish pink color and as the sun begins to set behind the lake, the color changes to a deep purple. When the sun is set, only the crisp blue color of Lake Superior is left behind.”

“Integrating graduate and undergraduate training in the lab inspires and guides the next generation of engineers. It also enhances our research.”

Caryn Heldt
A day in the life in the Heldt Bioseparations Lab

Dr. Heldt, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

Ever since grade school, I planned on being an engineer. At first, I wanted to work at mission control at NASA. Later, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. My mom and sister are nurses, and while I didn’t want to be a medical doctor, making medicines really intrigued me. Now as an engineer I can still make a difference without working directly with patients. 

“A few years ago my son had the Grand Champion chicken in the Houghton county Fair!”
Looking good!
Dr. Heldt is a quilter!

Hometown, family?

I grew up in Pinconning, Michigan. My dad dropped out of school in 8th grade to help on the family farm and my mom has an associate’s degree in nursing. They instilled in me the importance of education and pushed me to get a bachelor’s degree. They were a little surprised when I took it so far as to get a doctorate degree. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I live in Atlantic Mine with my husband Gary and our three children. At home we have about 25 chickens (give or take a few) that give us fresh eggs. I enjoy quilting in my spare time. I’ve even started quilting viruses and microscopes, so my love for science is bleeding over into my hobbies. As a family, we downhill ski, snowshoe, and camp. I’ve also served on the Michigan Tech Preschool board, and was a FIRST Lego League coach, too.

“Gold nanoparticle size increase reminds me of a sunset over Lake Superior.”

Dylan Turpeinen, spoken as a chemical engineering PhD student at Michigan Tech

Dr. Turpeinen, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

As a kid, I was always using Lego blocks to build anything I could imagine—houses, planes, and spaceships. When I got older, I found myself thinking about how and why something worked. I knew I needed to learn techniques to figure out how. When I visited Michigan Tech in high school, the professors I talked to made me very excited about Chemical Engineering.They explained how it was the “jack of all trades” of engineering. I knew pursuing an engineering degree would teach me the techniques I needed in order to figure out most things at a base level. To this day I deep-dive into any project I am interested in to understand how it works.

Ellie and Momo: they get along great!

Hometown, family?

I was born in Orlando but grew up in Houghton where I stayed for almost 15 years. I currently live in sunny Gainesville, Florida with my wife LiLu Funkenbusch and our two fur babies, Ellie (dog) and Momo (cat).

Any hobbies?

I like woodworking, PC gaming, and visiting local breweries to enjoy any and all IPAs (aka India Pale Ales). I also enjoy making various improvements to our new house.

Watch

Play How Vaccine Manufacturing is a Bit Like Making Salad Dressing video
Preview image for How Vaccine Manufacturing is a Bit Like Making Salad Dressing video

How Vaccine Manufacturing is a Bit Like Making Salad Dressing

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Q&A with Bhakta Rath Award Winners Pratik Umesh Joshi and Caryn Heldt

Volunteer to Judge at Michigan Tech’s Design Expo 2022

Save the date! Design Expo 2022 will be held in person this spring, on Thursday, April 21, from 10 am to 2 pm at the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library on campus at Michigan Tech. Want to serve as a judge? Please visit Michigan Tech’s Design Expo Judges and Guests page to register to judge by Friday, April 8, 2022.

Just how well do students involved in Michigan Tech’s Enterprise, Senior Design, and Capstone Design address design challenges? You be the judge—volunteer at Design Expo 2022!

Now’s the time to consider serving as a distinguished judge at Design Expo, coming up on Thursday, April 21, 2022 from 10 am to 2 pm at the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library. The event will take place in person this year.

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

Hosted by the Enterprise Program and the College of Engineering as an annual event, Design Expo highlights hands-on, discovery-based learning at Michigan Tech. More than 1,000 students in Enterprise and Senior Design teams showcase their work and compete for awards, allowing students to gain valuable experience and direct exposure to industry-relevant problems.

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

This year, prior to the event on April 21, judges will gain access to a digital gallery of student-created videos, in order to preview the videos prior to judging.

“Whether a judge or simply a guest, your involvement in Design Expo is greatly valued by our student teams and makes an important contribution to their education.”

Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program Coordinator, Enterprise Program Office, Michigan Tech

Design Expo 2022 is generously supported by industry and University sponsorship, with Thompson Surgical as Executive Partner, and ITC Holdings as Directing Partner for the eleventh consecutive year. Additional partners include Globalization Partners, Property Management Inc., Winning by Design, Plexus, Husky Innovate, Altec. Inc., and OHM. These nine partners, along with more than a hundred project and program supporters, have made a strategic investment in our educational mission at Michigan Tech.

Sign Me Up!

Please visit Michigan Tech’s Design Expo Judges and Guests page for more information and to register to judge by Friday, April 8, 2022.

To be considered as a judge, please commit to the following: 

  1. Attend Design Expo for about an hour, sometime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 21, 2022, to visit assigned teams.
  2. Review and score assigned team videos via RocketJudge, an online platform, between April 18 and April 21, 2022, prior to the start of Design Expo.

Each judge will be assigned 3-5 teams to score throughout the judging period. 

Judges will then evaluate and score their same assigned teams during the in-person Design Expo event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 21 at the Opie Library on campus.

Who should judge?

  • Faculty and staff 
  • Community members
  • Alumni interested in seeing the accomplishments of today’s undergraduate students
  • Those looking to network with Michigan Tech faculty and students
  • Industry representatives interested in sponsoring a future project
  • Anyone with interest in supporting our students as they engage in hands-on, discovery-based learning

Questions? 

Feel free to contact Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program Coordinator from Michigan Tech’s Enterprise Program Office, at bctucker@mtu.edu.