NSBE Spreads Message of STEM During Break

NSBE-PCINine members of the National Society of Black Engineers Pre-College Initiative (NSBE-PCI) chapter at Michigan Tech are spending spring break in Detroit, participating in the annual Alternative Spring Break. They will visit six middle and high schools to encourage students to consider college and a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) career.

During the day, the Tech students will make classroom presentations to middle and high school students encouraging them to continue their education after high school, consider going to college or community college and choose a STEM career path. The NSBE students will also conduct Family Engineering events at three K-8 schools for students and their families.

High school students will have the opportunity to apply to participate in a six-day Engineering and Environmental Science Exploration at Michigan Tech from July 21-28 with a $600 scholarship, or apply for a five-day summer STEM internship at Michigan Tech in July. Application information is available through school principals or here.

The goal of the NSBE classroom presentations and Family Engineering events are to engage, inspire and encourage students to learn about and consider careers in engineering and science through hands-on activities.

This outreach effort is funded by the John Deere Foundation and the Michigan Tech Office of Admissions and the College of Engineering, in partnership with Detroit Public Schools Community District, and coordinated by the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

By Joan Chadde.


2018-19 Michigan Space Grant Consortium Awards

Michigan Space Grant Consortium logo

Michigan Tech faculty, staff and students received awards tallying $73,675 in funding through the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC), sponsored by NASA for the 2018-19 funding cycle.

Engineering undergraduates receiving $2,500 research fellowships:

  • Alex Oliver (BME): “Evaluating Biodegradeable Zinc Stent Materials,” with Jeremy Goldman
  • Katie Bristol (Applied Geophysics): “Investigation of the Solar Nebula’s Magnetic Field Strength from the Allende Meteorite Chondrules,” with Aleksey Smirnov

Engineering graduate Students receiving $5,000 research fellowships:

  • Erica Coscarelli (CEE): “Reaction Mechanisms for the Degradation of Trace Organic Contaminants through Advanced Oxidation Processes,” with Daisuke Minakata
  • Sanna Mairet (GME): “Investigating the Relationship between Volcanic Sulfur Dioxide Concentrations and Human Population and Land Use Changes through Geographic Visualization,” with Simon Carn
  • Brandi Petryk (GME): “The Origin of an Archean Batholith – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” with Chad Deering
  • Emily Shaw (CEE): “Mapping the Co-Distribution of Mercury and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Lakes,” with Noel Urban

Engineering faculty and staff members receiving $5,000 or more for pre-college, public outreach, teacher training, faculty seed and/or augmentation programs include:

  • Joan Chadde (CEE): “STEM Career Explorations for Detroit High School Students” (includes augmentation) Pre-college program
  • Brian Doughty (CEE): “Technology and Outdoor Learning” Pre-college program
  • Adrienne Minerick (COE): “Microfluidic Dynamic Cell Concentration Tuner for Medical Diagnostics” Faculty Seed Program

NASA implemented the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in 1989 to provide funding for research, education and public outreach in space-related science and technology. The program has 52 university-based consortia in the United States and Puerto Rico.

As an affiliate of the Michigan Consortium, Michigan Tech has been an active participant in MSGC for approximately 20 years. MSGC funding is administered through MTU’s Pavlis Honors College. For more information, contact Paige Hackney in the Pavlis Honors College, call 7-4371, or visit the MSGC website.

Original story by Pavlis Honors College.


Invent It Build It: Six Questions with Hannah Cunningham

Hannah Cunningham '18 BME, pictured here in the colored-glass walkway at the Aros Art Museum in Denmark. Credit: Taran Schatz
Hannah Cunningham ’18 BME, pictured here in the colored-glass walkway at the Aros Art Museum in Denmark. Credit: Taran Schatz

Hannah Cunningham, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech, has been working with kids since she was in high school. Volunteering several times at the Society of Women Engineers’ annual Invent it Build It event for middle school girls was a natural thing for her to do. She took part while attending SWE conferences in Nashville, Philadelphia, and most recently at the National SWE WE17 Conference in Austin, Texas.

Q: What’s it like to volunteer for Invent It Build It?
A: I’ve had a few different roles. I’ve worked directly with the girls as a table leader, I’ve staged materials during the event, and been a “floater” who simply fills in where help is needed with things like registration, grabbing forgotten supplies from the hotel, or pouring oil into cups.

I had the greatest interaction with the girls as a table leader. My primary job was to direct my table of four or five girls through the two activities during the day, while making sure they were thinking critically about the engineering challenge and developing their engineering skills. Luckily, they were middle schoolers, so it was easy to talk with them and learn more about them.

Q: Do you see yourself in any of the participants?
A: The girls who attend are local to the city where the conference is being held. For the most part they’re very similar. They don’t really have any idea what they want to do, but engineering could be their future. At the event they work together on engineering challenges with varying levels of teamwork, but all are capable of providing something to the challenge.

At that age it can be difficult to see your own contribution. It’s even more difficult to respect your own work without comparing it to everyone else’s. This event gives them a chance to build one thing as a team, with each participating in some way.

I try not to remember myself as a middle schooler, but some of the girls definitely remind me of myself. When faced with the project/challenge, they work at it, and work hard, until they’ve come to final product.

Hannah Cunningham '18 BMEQ: Are you involved in any other engineering outreach?
A: While at Michigan Tech I have taught various courses for first and second graders through the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach led by Joan Chadde-Schumaker. When I teach these classes, even if the topic is not related to engineering, such as wildlife exploration, I always make sure to develop a project to include engineering. I believe engineering projects challenge kids’ creativity, teamwork skills and technical skills. Engineering projects are fantastic for any classroom setting and the supplies can be simple, recyclable materials.

Q: What would you like to do when you graduate?
A: I am due to graduate with a BS in biomedical engineering this Spring (!). I plan to pursue an accelerated master’s degree in Kinesiology next year. I wan to finish my research and learn more about biomechanics. I’d like to become involved in a company or university that will allow me to develop and/or research products that can be beneficial for human health. I’m interested in biomechanics, so anything dealing with treating, modifying, or enhancing human movement is fair game.
Q: How has being involved with SWE impacted your life so far?
A: I’ve learned about the many different roles women can have in engineering. SWE has helped me develop my skills as a professional, by offering networking events with professionals and businesses. My own educational path has slowly directed me away from engineering, but I still feel strongly that I can still be involved even if my job title isn’t “engineer”.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Chad Deering and Bob Barron

Robert Barron
Robert Barron
Chad Deering
Chad Deering

This week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase selection, made by Dean Wayne Pennington of the College of Engineering, is a unique teaching partnership. Assistant Professor Chad Deering and Lab Manager Bob Barron were selected for “deftly leading our students for the past three summers” through the field course in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

GMES Chair John Gierke explains the unique demands and challenges of teaching the field geology course. “While most of us hold a fondness to participate in fieldwork, the glamour wears off when conditions get tough or if the work turns out tedious. Field geology starts a few days after Spring Semester. In addition to the rapidly changing and variable weather, UP fieldwork in May and June is accompanied by hordes of mosquitoes and black flies. The glamour evaporates by the second day. Moreover, field geology is fraught with uncertainty and figuring out the geological setting is tedious. Frustrations with the weather, bugs, and unknown are pervasive. It takes special people to lead students through the five week, all-day, every-day course.”

In addition, Michigan Tech’s field course has non-traditional timing which creates unique learning opportunities, but might make the teaching even more demanding. Pennington explains, “In most institutions, the ‘field course’ in geology is the final course, often following all other coursework. At Michigan Tech, it is usually taken after the second year. This enables students to have a better understanding of the basis for nearly all their subsequent courses … but only if the field course is taught in a way that encourages self-discovery and insight. For many years, Bob and Chad have taken the field course to new levels of integration with the concepts students are exposed to in their courses, helping the students to better master the concepts as well as the practices involved in the various disciplines that are based on these experiences. This approach to field experience is one of the things that makes Michigan Tech unique, and our students more successful upon graduation.”

Deering and Barron’s co-nomination for the Dean’s Showcase is based not on one particular innovation but their collective skills for success in developing students’ field skills in geology. Their complementary styles and knowledge have been an ideal pairing for leading the course, and student evaluations of instruction confirm their effectiveness. They approach each new site with a sequence that includes background literature, field observations, measurements and sampling, then further study in the microscopy lab.

They find ways to reinforce the mineralogy, petrology and structural geology skills developed in prerequisite courses, and insist on frequent individual and small-group interactions in the field to help the students persist, guiding them to an appropriate explanation for each site.

Intermingled through the learning experience are barbecues, brief periods of shooting the breeze in picturesque locales and other recreational activities. The fieldwork activities culminate with students creating geological maps and reports describing their findings. At this point in their studies, students span a spectrum of abilities for scientific writing and creating maps, which require artistic skills along with technical competence.

Gierke articulates the unique teaching challenges of the field course, saying “Achieving a balance of being critical of quality and yet maintaining morale is a knack that I have never mastered—I, unfortunately, excel at the being-critical part. Yet Bob and Chad have somehow figured out how to take students who are exhausted, sunburned and fly bitten and keep them sufficiently motivated to produce maps that could be framed (for some) and develop writing skills that help them through the rest of their curriculum.”

Deering and Barron will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and the team is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

By Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning


National Engineers Week 2018

2018 Eweek Poster FrontPlease join us in celebrating National Engineers Week at Michigan Tech. All are welcome!

National Engineers Week is celebrated at Michigan Tech this week with a variety of events on campus. It began yesterday and runs through Saturday (Feb. 24).

Events at Michigan Tech during Engineers Week, also known as Eweek, are sponsored by Tau Beta Pi, the local chapter of the Engineering Honor Society, and the College of Engineering. .

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951, EWeek is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers.

The week’s first event will be held this afternoon. How to Make a DIY Composter will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. today (Feb. 19) at Dillman 320. The Green Campus Enterprise will help you learn about composting and show you how you can start doing it yourself.

Additional Eweek events at Tech include:

  • Engineers Week Cake: Enjoy a free piece of cake with the Department of Engineering Fundamentals. Cake will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow (Feb. 20), at Dillman 112.
  • Engineering Though the Ages Presentation. Learn about the marvels of the past with Chelsey Rock. 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 22) in Fisher 138.
  • Build a Heart Rate Circuit Board. Build your own circuit board with Blue Marble Security Enterprise. 4 – 6 p.m. Friday (Feb. 23) in EERC 622.
  • Free showing of “The Martian.” Enjoy a free showing of “The Martian” on behalf of the College of Engineering and Film Board. The film will be shown at noon Saturday (Feb. 24) in Fisher 135.

National Engineers Week celebrates the positive contributions engineers make to society and is a catalyst for outreach across the country to kids and adults alike. For the past 60 years, National Engineers Week has been celebrated each February around the time of George Washington’s birthday, February 22, because Washington is considered by many to be the first US engineer.


Solar Farms, Not Tobacco Fields

Big Think Story HeadlineResearch by Electrical Engineering alumnus Ram Krishnan ‘16 and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) on converting tobacco farms to solar photovoltaic farms was covered widely in the media including; Modern FarmerPopular Mechanics and the Weather Channel.

An article about Joshua Pearce’s research on replacing tobacco fields with solar arrays was recently featured in IEEE Electronics 360Popular Mechanics, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the Fifth Estate (Australian business newspaper), Solar Thermal MagazinePV MagazineScience Daily, the Weather Channel and Big Think.

Related:

Farm Sunshine, Not Cancer: Replacing Tobacco Fields with Solar Arrays
Saving Lives and Money: The Potential of Solar to Replace Coal


Free Webinar for Engineering Department Chairs, Faculty, and Change Leaders

Diverse group of people

The Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and Purdue University College of Engineering are offering an evidence-based approach for fostering a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) engineering culture via a series of webinars. The first webinar is 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22.

In this interactive webinar you will learn:

  • Why to engage in DEI-focused change
  • How to lead DEI-focused culture change using the new, evidenced-based TECAID (Transforming Engineering Culture to Advance Inclusion & Diversity) Model
  • Who are other engineering department teams that have applied the TECAID Model
  • What additional resources are available to help engineers lead department culture change

Want to get MORE out of this webinar? Invite colleagues to participate with you by setting up a conference room and setting aside time after the webinar to continue the conversation about ways you can adapt the ideas presented in your own department. Watch this 3-minute 2017 NSF Showcase award winning TECAID Project Overview video.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics was one of five universities that participated in developing the TECAID model. (See this Tech Today article for more details.)

Department Chair William Predebon is one of the presenters in this webinar. Register at this link.

TECAID Transforming Engineering Culture To Advance Inclusion And Diversity

ME Department Teams are OSU, Purdue University, Texas Tech, Michigan Tech, and the University of Oklahoma


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Kris Mattila

Kris G. Mattila
Kris G. Mattila

Dean Wayne Pennington of the College of Engineering has selected Kris Mattila, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), as the second member of the Spring 2018 Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

CEE Chair Audra Morse nominated Mattila because “every student remembers Kris Mattila as a positive influence on their success at Michigan Tech and their career.” She calls Mattila a “highly skilled and innovative teacher,” and praises his unique ability to “connect with and challenge every student, in large or small classes.”

In addition, Morse wanted to recognize the leadership roles Mattila has taken in curriculum development and assessment, especially in courses related to professional practice.

Pennington echoes Morse’s sentiments, saying “Dr. Mattila stands out as a dedicated teaching professor—one who has made a determination to excel in student support and mentoring, and who has volunteered to take on additional challenges in undergraduate education. His work enables students to enter the workforce with a greater knowledge of their potential avenues to success in the ‘real world,’ with a firm foundation in the principles of construction and its practice. We are fortunate to have Kris leading the charge for excellence in teaching in this discipline.”

Mattila’s success as an instructor has made him a member of the Michigan Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence and a five-time recipient of the Howard E. Hill Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award. He has also been recognized for his contributions in construction engineering education, including an American Society for Engineering Education Outstanding Educator Award.

Mattila’s ability to focus on each student is, perhaps, the reason his teaching has been so well received. Morse, when asked to provide more detail about how Mattila connects with students, says: “Kris doesn’t see students in his class. Rather he sees people with individual needs he seeks to fulfill so that they are successful in his class and in our program. He learns students’ names and other details, and he weaves this information into the material he is teaching. He cares about students and increases their self-efficacy. Because he is open and caring, the students reciprocate, ensuring a high positive rapport is created in the classroom.”

Mattila will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 other showcase members. He is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative and outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

By Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.


Michigan Tech Researchers Honored for their Contributions in 2017

Researchers in the lab

At the Research Development Day held Jan. 11, 2018, the following individuals were recognized for their research contributions in calendar year 2017.

College of Engineering

Top research expenditures: Jeff Naber (ME-EM), Greg Odegard (ME-EM), Paul Sanders (MSE)

Related:

Michigan Tech Automotive Energy Efficiency Research Receives Federal Award of $2.8 Million from US Department of Energy

NASA Taps Tech Professor to Lead $15 Million Space Technology Research Institute

Chemical Engineering

Lei Pan received his first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Hui Yao (formerly CEE) received his first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

David Watkins received an award of more than $1 million.

Related:

Household Sustainability: Consuming Food, Energy, Water

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Jeremy Bos, Lucia Gauchia, and Tony Pinar each received their first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Snehamoy Chatterjee, James DeGraff, Mark Kulie, and Matthew Portfleet each received their first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

Materials Science and Engineering

2017 Michigan Tech Research Award: Yun Hang Hu

Bhakta Rath Research Award: Yun Hang Hu and Wei Wei

Joe Licavoli received his first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

Related:

Yun Hang Hu Wins Both Research Award and Bhakta Rath Award

Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Parisa Abadi, Chunpei Cai, Hassan Masoud, and Ye Sun each received their first external funding as a principal investigator at Michigan Tech.

Jeff Naber and Greg Odegard each received awards of more than $1 million.


Tech Students Learn Home Sustainability

From left, Cooper Mineheart, Hannah McKinnon, Mina Kukuk, Rose Turner and Thomas Richter.
From left, Cooper Mineheart, Hannah McKinnon, Mina Kukuk, Rose Turner and Thomas Richter.

HOUGHTON — For five Michigan Technological University students this year, their homework includes their actual home.

This is the first year for Tech’s Sustainability Demonstration Home, where the students are tracking their energy and waste, as well as carrying out projects on how to reduce energy use.

“This semester, we’re kind of working side by side,” said Rose Turner, a fourth-year environmental engineering student and the only of the house’s residents on the Enterprise team.

Cooper Mineheart, a second-year mechanical engineering student, has learned what he can and can’t recycle.

Thomas Richter, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, said his consciousness of how small changes add up will stick with him after he leaves the house.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.

Related:

Ho Ho Home (Sustainably) for the Holidays