Winter Carnival 2022: Meet the Dean

Coming to Michigan Tech for Winter Carnival this year? Stop by the Dean’s office to warm up with some hot cocoa and snowflake cookies on Friday, February 11, from 1-4 pm.

Come meet Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech. Everyone’s welcome!

The College of Engineering dean’s office area is located on the 7th floor of the M&M (Minerals & Materials) building, room 712. The M&M, a newer building, has two parts connected by an overhead walkway. We’re on the water side of the walkway, just to the west/northwest of Douglass Houghton Hall.


Kanwal Rekhi Receives Michigan Tech’s Highest Honor: Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction

Kanwal Rekhi talking with students at Michigan Tech’s Design Expo

Kanwal Rekhi, a visionary who routinely works to forward entrepreneurial skills and educational opportunities at Michigan Tech and around the world, received the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction during mid-year Commencement in December. The medal is awarded to individuals associated with Michigan Tech who, like its Nobel prize-winning namesake, have exhibited extraordinarily distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. Rekhi, who earned his master’s in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969, is managing director of Inventus Capital Partners in California.

The native of Punjab, in what was then British India (now Pakistan), earned a master’s in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969. In the more than half a century since his time on campus, MTU has never been far from Rekhi’s thoughts–and generosity.

After leaving Michigan Tech, Rekhi worked as an engineer and manager before becoming an entrepreneur. In 1982, he co-founded Excelan, a company that made Ethernet cards to connect PCs to the fledgling Internet. Excelean became the first Indian-owned company to go public in the U.S. In the early 90s, he became a venture capitalist investing in more than 50 startups and sitting on the board of directors of more than 20 companies.

In the past few decades, Rekhi has been a tireless supporter and benefactor to Michigan Tech. He developed and funded the Rekhi Innovation Challenge, a crowdfunding competition to help promote and support student innovation. He provided major funding for the Silicon Valley Experience, an immersive tour during spring break of San Francisco area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni, and is a sponsor of the 14 Floors Entrepreneur Alumni Mentoring Sessions.

Additionally, every student who has walked the Michigan Tech campus in the past 15 years has passed the Kanwal and Ann Rekhi Computer Science Hall, dedicated in April of 2005.

The Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is bestowed on individuals associated with the University who have exhibited especially distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. It is named for 1931 Michigan Tech alumnus Melvin Calvin, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for unraveling the biochemical secrets of photosynthesis. The series of biochemical reactions Calvin identified is known as the Calvin Cycle.

“Kanwal and his accomplishments epitomize the values we share as an institution. His passion for Michigan Tech is unparalleled and he is most deserving of this award.”

Rick Koubek, President, Michigan Technological University

While the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is Michigan Tech’s highest honor, it is far from the first recognition the University has given Rekhi. He has received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Board of Control Silver Medal, an honorary Doctorate in Business and Engineering, and was inducted into the Electrical Engineering Academy.


Husky Bites Starts Up Again on Monday, January 24!

Join us for a Bite!

Craving some brain food, but not a full meal? Join us for a bite at mtu.edu/huskybites!

Grab some dinner with College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan and special guests at 6 p.m. (ET) each Monday during Husky Bites, a free interactive Zoom webinar, followed by Q&A. Have some fun, and learn something new. Everyone is welcome!

Husky Bites is a free family-friendly webinar that nourishes your mind. The Spring 2022 series kicks off this Monday (January 24) with “Winter Carnival—One Hundred Years,” presented by University Archivist and alumna Lindsay Hiltunen. From queens to cookouts, snow statues to snowballs, skating reviews to dog sled races, discover the history of Winter Carnival across the decades, through rich images of fun and festivities via the Michigan Tech Archives. Joining in will be mechanical engineering alumna Cynthia Hodges, who serves as a Wikipedian in Residence (WiR) for Michigan Tech. To celebrate the 100th anniversary, she is organizing a Winter Carnival Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, and alumni and students are welcome to help. 

Check out the full Spring 2022 “menu” at mtu.edu/huskybites.

“We created Husky Bites for anyone who likes to learn, across the universe,” says Dean Callahan. “We aim to make it very interactive, with ‘quizzes’ (in Zoom that’s a multiple choice poll) during the session. Everyone is welcome, and bound to learn something new. Entire families enjoy it. We have prizes, too, for attendance.” 

The series features special guests—engineering professors, students, and even some Michigan Tech alumni, who each share a mini lecture, or “bite”. During Husky Bites, special guests also weave in their own personal journey in engineering, science and more.

Have you joined us yet for Husky Bites? We’d love to hear from you. Join Husky Bites a little early on Zoom, starting at 5:45 pm, for some extra conversation. Write your comments, questions or feedback in Chat. Or stay after for the Q&A. Sometimes faculty get more than 50 questions, but they do their best to answer them all, either during the session, or after, via email.

“Grab some supper, or just flop down on your couch. This family friendly event is BYOC (Bring Your Own Curiosity).”

Dean Janet Callahan

Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites. Check out past sessions, there, too. You can also catch Husky Bites on the College of Engineering Facebook page.


Engineering Alumni Activity Spring 2022

Christine Andrews
Christine Andrews

A profile story featuring Michigan Tech alumna Christine Andrews ’06 ’12 (mechanical engineering, Tech MBA) was posted on GE Aviation’s blog. Andrews is a leader in a cooperative project between GE Aviation and NASA to develop a technology demonstration of a hybrid electric engine for commercial aircraft. After graduating from Michigan Technological University, she worked for Gulfstream Aerospace as both a certification engineer and a structural engineer until 2013, when she joined GE Aviation to be closer to family in Cincinnati.

Anurag Kamal
Anurag Kamal

Alumnus Anurag Kamal ’18 (MS, mechanical engineering) is one of 10 standouts featured by Forbes in a story on this year’s 30 Under 30 who are leading the green energy transition. Kamal co-founded ElectricFish, the company behind a containerized combination battery backup system and EV charger that can connect into existing, ubiquitous electrical infrastructure.

Amy Trahey
Amy Trahey

The ACEC 57th Annual Engineering & Surveying Excellence Award Gala was held on March 19, 2022. Amy Trahey, ’94 Civil Engineering alumnus, was presented the ACEC/M Vernon B. Spalding Leadership Award to honor her outstanding leadership roles in ACEC and several community organizations. Trahey is founder of the Great Lakes Engineering Group.

Wesley Davis
Wesley Davis

A Q&A with Michigan Tech alumnus Wesley Davis (civil engineering) was published by Civil Engineering Magazine in “Passion and communication are key to a successful career.” Davis is the principal engineer at Bogart, Pederson & Associates, a 25-person transportation firm in Becker, Minnesota. At an age of just 31, Wesley P. Davis, P.E., M.ASCE, has progressed quickly in his career as a roadway and transportation engineer.

Chaitanya Bhat
Chaitanya Bhat

Michigan Tech alumnus Chaitanya Bhat was profiled in Asphalt Magazine. Bhat is the Asphalt Institute’s (AI) first sustainability engineer. He completed his PhD in civil engineering in 2020 advised by Amlan Mukherjee (CEGE). One major project for Chait will be to collaborate with AI members and agencies to guide AI’s efforts to update and enhance their Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) models for asphalt binders, binder additives and modifiers.

Todd Brassard
Todd Brassard

Michigan Tech alumnus Todd Brassard of Calumet Electronics was quoted by Forbes in a story on the need to rebuild the nation’s domestic microelectronics ecosystem. “Whoever can build the highest density, highest speed systems is going to win,” Brassard asserts. Brassard has a BS in Electrical Engineering.


SWE Celebrates Graduating Seniors and Scholarship Recipients

Michigan Tech’s section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) celebrated the end of the semester with a banquet sponsored by Oshkosh.

Graduating seniors recognized at the event are:

The section also awarded two $1,000 scholarships to our upper-division students. The scholarships were sponsored by Ruby & Associates Inc. and Deployed Technologies to recognize students for their contributions to the SWE section and the University community.

Scholarship recipients are:

By Gretchen Hein, Society of Women Engineers Advisor.


Tau Beta Pi Inducts 15 New Members at Michigan Tech

Congratulations to our Fall 2021 Tau Beta Pi Initiates! (Not pictured here: Andrew Scott and Dr. Mary Raber)

The College of Engineering recently inducted 14 students and one eminent engineer into the Michigan Tech chapter of Tau Beta Pi.

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

Mary Raber is Chair of Michigan Tech’s Department of Engineering Fundamentals

Fall 2021 Initiates

Undergraduate Students: Dom Bianchi, Mechanical Engineering; Sean Bonner, Civil Engineering; Sam Breuer, Computer & Electrical Engineering; Sophia Brylinski, Materials Science & Engineering; Spencer Crawford, Computer Engineering; Jacqui Foreman, Chemical Engineering; Stephen Gillman, Computer Engineering; Michael Kilmer, Materials Science & Engineering; Emerald Mehler, Chemical Engineering; Ben Stier, Computer Engineering; Alex Stockman, Computer Engineering; and Jordan Zais, Biomedical Engineering

Graduate Students: Tonie Johnson, MS, Biomedical Engineering; and Andrew Scott, MS Electrical & Computer Engineering

Eminent Engineer

Dr. Mary Raber


The Portage Lake Bridge

Portage Lift Bridge, Hancock, Michigan

An ASCE National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark

Dr. Tess Ahlborn

Located a little more than a stone’s throw from the Michigan Tech campus, the Portage Lake Bridge connects the cities of Houghton and Hancock, Michigan. The Lift Bridge was named as an ASCE National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in late 2019, following a State Historic Landmark designation in 2018.

The Michigan Tech trio who submitted its 300-page application to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) includes Professor Tess Ahlborn and two of her former students, Michael Prast ’19, now a timber structural engineer at Fire Tower Engineered Timber in Calumet, Michigan; and Emma Beachy ‘19, a design engineer at Corbin Consulting in Portland, Oregon. Both earned both their BS and MS degrees in civil engineering at Michigan Tech.

Emma Beachy wearing patterned knit capstands in front of a waterfall in the wood.
Emma Beachy ’19

“Emma and Michael are two of Michigan Tech’s best students,” says Ahlborn. “I mentioned the topic of National Historic Landmarks during Bridge Design class, and let the class know I would be delighted if someone wanted to work on a nomination application for the Portage Lake Bridge. It didn’t take long for Emma and Michael to speak up, and the rest is history. I can’t thank them enough for taking on this project and seeing it through the application process.”

Michael leans at a wooden deck looking out over a harbor on Lake Superior with sailboats
Michael Prast ’18

Prof. Ahlborn is a Michigan Tech alum, too. She earned her BS and MS at Michigan Tech, then went to the University of Minnesota to earn a Doctorate of Philosophy in Civil Engineering in 1998. She’s been a member of the faculty at Michigan Tech for the past 26 years, teaching structural engineering courses focusing on concrete and the design of concrete buildings and bridges.

Ahlborn has a passion for bridges, something that began when she was quite small. “Growing up, I once told my mom I loved bridges. After that, she started taking me to look at a different bridge each week. Michigan has such beautiful bridges!”

“Bridges are structural art! A piece of art fully exposed to the elements. They involve so many people every day.”

Prof. Tess Ahlborn

As the former Director of the Center for Structural Durability within the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute, Ahlborn has worked with the MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) and USDOT (US Department of Transportation) to seek solutions to improve resiliency of our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

In 2020, Ahlborn was appointed to the American Concrete Institute Committee 318, placing her in the small group of people who establish the ACI structural concrete building code used around the world, a “Supreme Court” of concrete, if you will.

After water, concrete is the most widely used substance on the planet. As a member of the committee, Ahlborn helps to chart the future of structural concrete—its safety, sustainability, technological advances and environmental impacts.

Ahlborn is also a world expert in remote sensing applications for bridge condition assessment.

As for her secrets to good teaching, she insists there aren’t any. “All you have to do is be fair and consistent and crack a joke once in a while,” said Ahlborn.


Engineering Alumni Activity Fall 2021

Mike Pulick Jr.
Mike Pulick Jr.

Michigan Tech class of 2021 celebrates midyear commencement with speaker Mike Pulick Jr. Pulick built an exceptional career through developing the business leadership skills he first learned at Tech. The 1986 electrical engineering (EE) graduate also knows about following in family footsteps — and in his case, those steps led to extraordinary family ties with Michigan Tech.

Eugene Manley, Jr.
Eugene Manley, Jr.

Michigan Tech alumnus Eugene Manley Jr. discussed science, mentoring and STEM diversity as a “brilliant but not famous” guest on the Research Evangelist podcast. He is Director, Scientific Programs at the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Technological University, a masters in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, and PhD in Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology and Biochemstry from Boston University.

Jim Morrison
Jim Morrison

Civil Engineering ’81 BS, ’82 MS alumnus Jim Morrison has joined STV Incorporated as VP and engineering chief for tunneling and geotechnical engineering. In this role, Morrison will serve as a project lead and senior advisor on projects with geotechnical and tunneling elements.

Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts

The appointment of MTU alumnus Eric Roberts (‘93 ME-EM) as the new executive director of 20Fathoms was featured in the Traverse City Record-Eagle. Roberts said 20Fathoms has more than 90 members, a record high. 20Fathoms also taught more than 250 people skills — often virtually — through its HealthSpark Accelerator, tccodes and tccyber through a pandemic.


Tinu Folayan Welcomed as Write-D Facilitator

Writing in the Discipline (Write-D) and the Department of Chemical Engineering are pleased to welcome Tinu Folayan as the department’s Write-D facilitator beginning in the spring 2022 semester.

Write-D provides a dedicated time and space for graduate students to get work done and receive support on writing projects within their discipline, such as manuscripts, research proposals, etc. Guest speakers from the department and industry visit to briefly present research, writing and publishing tips.

Current departments and facilitators include:

Write-D is a free program open to all graduate students. If your department is not listed but you would like to participate, contact Write-D coordinator Sarah Isaacson at sisaacso@mtu.edu.

By Sarah Isaacson, Write-D Coordinator.


Fall 2021 Research Seed Grants for Engineering PIs

The Vice President for Research Office announces the Fall 2021 Research Excellence Funds (REF) awards. Congratulations to all the principal investigators!

Thanks to the individual REF reviewers and the REF review panelists, as well as the deans and department chairs, for their time spent on this important internal research award process. Awardees in the College of Engineering include:

Research Seed Grants

By Kathy Halvorsen, Associate Vice President for Research Development.