Engineering Ambassadors and SWE Host Engineering Day on MLK Day 2023

MLK Day of Service graphic.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Engineering Ambassadors (EA) hosted an Engineering Day at Barkell Elementary in Hancock, Michigan. Students from SWE, EA, Tau Beta Pi and Circle K “made it a day on, not a day off” through introducing kindergarten through fifth grade students to engineering.

Kindergarten and first grade students learned about buoyancy and stability through designing a constructing a foil boat to hold a load. Second and third grade students learned about potential and kinetic energy as they designed and constructed roller coasters for marbles. The fourth and fifth graders were introduced to series circuits as they constructed a BouncyBot.

We thank the Tech students for volunteering and the Barkell Elementary students for their enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

By Jaclyn Johnson, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and Gretchen Hein, Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Tony Pinar

Tony Pinar
Tony Pinar

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected Associate Teaching Professor Anthony (Tony) Pinar as the first member of this spring’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

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

Capstone design in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), the second-largest department in the College of Engineering, is a complex ecology formed of students, the Enterprise Program office, industry partners, faculty subject matter experts and other departments’ capstone programs. It takes someone very special to be able to balance the interests of all those constituents and maintain a robust educational experience for every possible combination of project, team and sponsor. Pinar manages it with grace and a resolute commitment to excellence. “Almost everything about the class was amazing,” one student commented. “Honestly, I believe this may be the best formatted, run and taught class I’ve taken so far at Tech.” That’s high praise from a tough audience.

The strategy Pinar takes with the ECE Senior Design applies a common framework of tasks and deliverables across all Senior Design teams and allows for relatively autonomous advisor roles. This means that all teams have overall similar capstone experiences, but faculty advisors are able to coordinate, manage and assess their teams using their own individual styles. The framework stresses the importance of objective decision-making, following appropriate engineering standards and communicating engineering problems to other engineers. The common framework also helps ensure that the program meets external assessment criteria (e.g., ABET) and also provides a mechanism for the department to assess a large number of ECE students for program improvement. Jin Choi, ECE department chair, said: “We are proud of the improvements Tony has made to make this a more effective program. The students have really benefited.”

Projects in Senior Design generally challenge the students’ technical skills. Pinar coordinates the ongoing relationships with our industry sponsors and manages expectations when necessary. He has a wealth of industry experience that provides context for the students and informs his individual coaching for students as they navigate the transition between communicating with peers and communicating in a professional environment as engineers. Teams are required to present several times throughout the yearlong project. Pinar has crafted a common rubric that allows faculty, staff and industry sponsors to evaluate the students’ technical approach as well as individual presentation skills. This provides an opportunity for meaningful feedback from a variety of perspectives. This increases the quality of our students’ technical presentation skills, and their communication skills when discussing technical topics with fellow engineers. This quality increase has been noted by our own internal faculty advisors and by members on our External Advisory Committee.

Callahan, in closing, stated: “Dr. Pinar’s hard work and expertise prepares our students for excellence. Through his efforts our graduates are well prepared not only to technically excel, but also to communicate within and beyond their team beginning from the first position they hold.”

Engineering Alumni Activity Spring 2023

Mike Rasner
Mike Rasner

UPWord mentioned Michigan Tech in a story about Advanced Blending Solutions, a custom machine manufacturing company in Wallace, Wisconsin, housed in the same building where owner and CEO Mike Rasner ’95 (BS Electrical Engineering) attended elementary school. ABS is grateful to be a part of an area with many other large manufacturing and engineering employers, providing a fruitful workforce. The company’s leading work with the fibers market, particularly carpeting made from recycled PET bottles, has also garnered recognition from the recycling industry.

Yahoo! Finance and the Assay ran a profile of Robert Leonardson ’63 ’66 (BS Geological Engineering, MS Geology), who recently joined NuLegacy Gold’s gold discovery team. Leonardson’s career spans over 55 years across the Western United States, Eastern Canada, and Chile, exploring for and mining numerous commodities including gold, silver, platinum, base metals, and iron ore for Anaconda, Molycorp and Barrick Gold Corp.

Arjang Roshan-Rouz
Arjang Roshan-Rouz

Grinding & Surface FinishingIndustrial Distribution and Gear Technology mentioned Michigan Tech in stories about the new CEO of Weiler Abrasives Group: Arjang Roshan-Rouz ’92 (BS Electrical Engineering). Arjang “AJ” Roshan-Rouz brings significant experience in leading a global organisation and will lead Weiler Abrasives into a new chapter of growth. As CEO, his job responsibilities include developing and executing strategy, implementing operating plans congruent with the company’s long-range plan.

Carin Ramirez
Carin Ramirez

Mile High CRE mentioned Michigan Tech in coverage of Carin Ramirez ’98 (BEng Geological/Geophysical Engineering) joining construction and family law firm McConaughy & Sarkissian, P.C. of Colorado as special counsel. Ramirez brings 12 years of legal experience to the firm and focuses her practice on civil litigation with an emphasis on defending construction defect lawsuits on behalf of corporate and individual clients including developers, general contractors and other construction professionals.

Gari Mayberry
Gari Mayberry

Discover Magazine mentioned Michigan Tech in a story taking a look at the evolution of women in volcanology. Gari Mayberry ’99 (MS Geology) was quoted in the story. Mayberry is currently a U.S. Geological Survey natural hazards and disaster risk reduction team lead and geoscience advisor. She leads international natural hazard-related assistance and helps to manage the USAID-USGS Volcano Disaster Assistance Program and Earthquake Disaster Assistance Team.

Angela Xydis
Angela Xydis

SAE International published a “Women in Mobility Spotlight” blog post featuring Angela Xydis ’20 (BS Mechanical Engineering), who is now a program manager for software defined vehicles at General Motors and a Concept Design event captain for the AutoDrive ChallengeTM II. AutoDrive is a collegiate competition tasking university teams to develop and demonstrate a full autonomous driving passenger vehicle, sponsored by SAE International and General Motors.

Stuart Pann
Stuart Pann

Yahoo! Finance covered Intel’s appointment of Stuart Pann ’81 (BS Electrical Engineering) as head of Intel Foundry Services. The story ran in more than 40 tech industry and business publications in the U.S. Pann will drive continued growth for IFS and its differentiated systems foundry offering, which goes beyond traditional wafer fabrication to include packaging, chiplet standards and software, as well as U.S.- and Europe-based capacity.

Melissa and Travis Marti
Melissa and Travis Marti

Ag Update profiled 2023 Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer award winners Melissa ’05 (BS Mathematics) and Travis Marti ’06 (BS Mechanical Engineering) in a story about how their STEM skills have helped them make their dairy and farming business near Vesper, Wisconsin, a success. With mechanical-engineering and mathematics degrees, together the two have heads for numbers and details. That shows in their 535-head dairy operation and 1,200-acre farming business near Vesper, said Dr. John Borzillo, their veterinarian.

Jennifer Hellberg
Jennifer Hellberg

Photonics Online and Novus Light Technologies Today mentioned Michigan Tech in stories about Jennifer Hellberg ’97 (BS Environmental Engineering) being appointed division vice president, business unit manager, at Zygo, which works with global organizations and sets standards by which the metrology and optics industries judge themselves. Prior to her nomination to Zygo, Hellberg was most recently Vice President & General Manager with Thermo Fisher Scientific based in Wisconsin, where her focus was on increasing responsibility in operational excellence and general management.

Michael Quinnell
Michael Quinnell

Civil + Structural Engineer Magazine ran a profile of professional engineer Michael Quinnell ’91 (BS Mechanical Engineering), who is joining planning, engineering and program management firm LAN as a senior project manager. Quinnell is a noted engineer with experience in managing water supply facilities, ground storage tanks, large diameter pipelines and stormwater pump stations.

George Miller
George Miller

The JAX Chamber of northeast Florida published a news release mentioning the promotion of George Miller ’99 (BS Civil Engineering) to executive vice president of construction engineering and inspection for England-Thims & Miller Inc. During his career, Miller has completed and led more than $1 billion in complex roadway, bridge and aviation projects across the Southeast.

Kevin Tomsovic
Kevin Tomsovic

Civil + Structural Engineer Magazine ran a story on the election of Kevin Tomsovic ’82 (BS Electrical Engineering) to the National Academy of Engineering. Tomsovic is a professor at the University of Tennessee. Tomsovic’s research focuses on power system computational methods and power engineering education. Tomsovic has served as the Kyushu Electric Endowed Chair for Advanced Technology for Electrical Energy at Kumamoto University in Japan and was the National Science Foundation program director of the Electrical and Communications Systems Division of the Engineering Directorate.

Andrew Dohm
Andrew Dohm

Leader Publications of southwest Michigan ran a profile of Michigan Tech alum Andrew Dohm ’96 (BS Mechanical Engineering), a science and math instructor at Southwestern Michigan College. Dohm always liked the process of education and learning from faculty members who were degreed professionals who either taught part-time or who switched from industry to teaching. He pursued mechanical engineering and hired into the automotive industry with Chrysler.

Leo Evans
Leo Evans

The Cañon City Daily Record mentioned Michigan Tech in a story about Cañon City’s new public works director, Leo Evans ’04 (civil engineering). Evans obtained his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University and, shortly afterward, went to work for the Michigan Department of Transportation, where he spent nearly 15 years. For five years, he was the public works director and city engineer for the City of Muskegon.

Julie (Varichak) Marinucci
Julie (Varichak) Marinucci

Business North mentioned Michigan Tech in a story about four new trustees appointed to the board of trustees for Blandin Foundation. Among them is Julie (Varichak) Marinucci ’02 (BS mining engineering). Marinucci of Hibbing understands Minnesota’s Iron Range communities and mining industry. She will help expand the foundation’s understanding of community wealth building through energy transition. As the current St. Louis County lands and minerals director, she manages more than 900,000 acres of public land used by mining and timber companies, recreation communities, and local governments. Hometown Focus in northern Minnesota also quoted Marinucci in a story about women who are leaders in minerals, mining and related fields.

Randy Vaas
Randy Vaas

Attorney Intel included MTU alumnus Randy Vaas ’84 (B. electrical engineering), a patent attorney at Google, in its 2023 list of notable Michigan attorneys. Before joining Google, Vaas spent over 23 years at Motorola, where he was most recently a Lead Patent Operations Counsel for mobile devices.

Mike Olosky
Mike Olosky

Civil + Structural Engineer ran a press release announcing Michigan Tech alum Mike Olosky ’91 (mechanical engineering) as the new CEO of Simpson Strong-Tie. Prior to joining Simpson, Olosky spent more than 22 years in numerous leadership positions at Henkel. He most recently served as President, Henkel North America and Senior Corporate Vice President and Head of the Electronics and Industrial Division.

Ryan Bauman
Ryan Bauman

Congratulations to alumnus Ryan Bauman ’07 (civil engineering) for being named an ENR Midwest Top Young Professional. The Engineering News-Record (ENR) recognized 20 individuals in the region under the age of 40 — all young leaders in design and construction who are helping shape the industry’s future. Bauman is a transit section manager at HDR Engineering Inc. in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. He was selected because he reshapes communities through public transportation access.

Peter Ray
Peter Ray

Railway Age covered the retirement of Peter Ray (civil engineering) as vice president, engineering, of Indiana Rail Road (INRD). In 2006, Ray joined INRD as General Manger, Engineering, and was elevated to Vice President, Engineering in 2009. Among his achievements are the 500-mile railroad serving southwest Indiana and eastern Illinois.

Mark Daavettila ’09 (civil engineering) was quoted by the Mining Journal in a story covering his appointment as department of public works director and city engineer in Negaunee, Michigan. Daavettila holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from MTU and has 11 years of experience working in the civil engineering field. He is a licensed professional engineer in Michigan and recently worked for Upper Peninsula Engineers and Architects.

Tasha Stoiber
Tasha Stoiber

Tasha Stoiber ’00 (BS, environmental engineering; BS, biological sciences) was a guest on ABC 2 News of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Stoiber joined the broadcast virtually to discuss an environmental report estimating that eating one freshwater fish is equivalent to drinking a month’s worth of forever chemicals in water. Stoiber is a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group in San Francisco, California, and co-authored the report. She researches contaminants in water, indoor air pollution, and chemicals in consumer products.

Karen Swager
Karen Swager

Yahoo! Finance covered the appointment of Karen Swager ’92 ’94 (B.S., M.S., metallurgical engineering) to the SSR Mining Inc. Board of Directors. She is currently the senior vice president, supply chain, at the Mosaic Company. Swager brings nearly three decades of mining experience to SSR Mining with expertise in operations, supply chain management and Environment, Health and Safety. She is a member of the Department of Chemical Engineering’s Distinguished Academy.

Phil Rausch
Phil Rausch

North American Clean Energy covered the appointment of Phil Rausch ’08 (chemical engineering) as Hemlock Semiconductor’s new senior director of commercial sales. He supported HSC’s rapid growth in several capacities, including manufacturing team leader, economic evaluator and finance analyst, project engineering manager and business development manager. Rausch will lead the HSC sales team across all four market-facing segments of HSC’s business: solar, semiconductors, advanced energy storage, and silicon-based chemicals.

Sally Heidtke
Sally Heidtke

A book written by Sally Heidtke ’81 (chemical engineering) was the subject of a story in the Iron Mountain Daily News. The book “Be Infinite: Access Your Unimagined Potential,” is a guide to living a richer, deeper life. Heidtke worked as a manager in the engineering field for 25 years before starting a career in intuitive services and guidance.

Craig Tester
Craig Tester

Distractify mentioned Michigan Tech in a story about the net worth of “The Curse of Oak Island” star Craig Tester, who earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from MTU. In addition to his work in the television industry, Craig is a successful entrepreneur and engineer, owning stakes in several companies throughout his time-honored career. From Terra Energy to Oak Island Tours Inc. to Heritage Sustainable Energy, eclectic engineering business ventures heavily inform Craig’s multi-million-dollar net worth.

Related

Engineering Alumni Activity Fall 2022

Husky Bites Returns for Spring Semester 2023

Looking good!

Craving some brain food, but not a full meal? Join us for a Bite!

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, learn a few things, and connect with one another as Huskies and friends.

The series features special guests—engineering professors, students, and even some Michigan Tech alumni, who each share a mini lecture, or “bite”.

The Husky Bites Spring 2023 series kicks off Monday (Jan. 23) with “Sliding into the Future of Mont Ripley,” presented by Nick Sirdenis, General Manager, Mont Ripley Ski Area. He will be joined by Dan Dalquist, ski Instructor for the Mont Ripley Ski & Snowboard School, and Josie Stalmack, student president of the Mont Ripley Ski patrol. We’ll hear about some new features at Mont Ripley currently in the planning stage, plus one now in the works. 

“Grab some supper, or just flop down on your couch. Everyone is welcome!”

Dean Janet Callahan

Additional topics and speakers coming up this spring semester include Making Skis (Jeffrey Thompson ‘12); Winter Carnival Geospatial Imagery (Joe Foster); Digging it—Volleyball at MTU (Matt Jennings); Solar Energy in Cold Climates (Ana Dyreson); Money Matters and MTU’s Applied Portfolio Management Program (Dean Johnson); Enterprise—Consumer Products Manufacturing (Tony Rogers); Bio-inspired Designs (Bruce Lee); the A.E. Seaman Museum—120 Years (John Jaszczak); and Birdwatching—Quality of Life (David Flaspohler). 

“We created Husky Bites for anyone who likes to learn, across the universe,” says Dean Callahan. “We aim to make it very interactive, with a ‘quiz’ (in Zoom that’s a multiple choice poll), about every 5-10 minutes. You’re bound to learn something new. We have prizes, too, for attendance.” 

You can also catch Husky Bites each Monday night at 6 pm ET via livestream on our College of Engineering Facebook page.

Get the full scoop and register! Check out recordings of all past sessions, too.

Heard on Husky Bites…

The desire to explore space is what drives me. Very early in my studies I realized that the biggest impediment to space exploration is propulsion. Space is just so big it’s hard to get anywhere. So I dedicated my professional life to developing new space propulsion technologies. There is other life in our solar system. That is a declarative statement. It’s time that we find it. The moons of Jupiter and Saturn hold great promise and I’m determined to see proof in my lifetime.

Prof. Brad King, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

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. I grew up in Pinconning, Michigan. My dad dropped out of school in 8th grade to help on the family farm. My parents 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.

Prof. Caryn Heldt, Chemical Engineering

Growing up I loved looking at a beautiful image of planet Earth, one with a very clear sky and blue water. However, as I began to learn how life on Earth suffers many difficult environmental problems, including air pollution and water contamination, I also learned that environmental engineers can be leaders who help solve the Earth’s most difficult sustainability problems. That is when I decided to become an engineer. The water quality and treatment classes I took were the toughest subjects for me. I had to work the hardest to understand the content. So, naturally, I decided to enter this discipline. And then, there’s our blue planet, the image. Water makes the Earth look blue from space. 

Prof. Daisuke Minakata, Civil and Environmental Engineering

I was born and raised in the City of Detroit. I went to Detroit Public Schools, and when I went to college I had to work to make ends meet. I got a job as a cook in the dorm, and eventually worked my way up to lead cook. I was cooking breakfast for 1,200 people each morning. One of my fellow classmates was studying engineering, too. He had a job working for a professor doing research on storm waves and beaches. I had no idea I could be hired by a professor and get paid money to work on the beach! I quit my job in the kitchen soon after, and went to work for that professor instead. My advice for students just starting out is to spend your first year exploring all your options. Find out what you really want to do. I had no idea I could turn a mechanical engineering degree into a job working on the beach. Turns out, I could⁠—and I’m still doing it today.

Prof. Guy Meadows, Mechanical Engineering, Great Lakes Research Center

I first became interested in engineering in high school when I learned it was a way to combine math and science to solve problems. However, I didn’t understand at the time what that really meant. I thought “problems” meant the types of problems you solve in math class. Since then I’ve learned these problems are major issues that are faced by all of humanity. As a chemical engineer I am able to combine my love of biology, chemistry, physics, and math to create fresh new solutions to society’s problems. One thing I love about MTU is that the university gives students tons of hands-on opportunities to solve real problems, not just problems out of a textbook. These are the types of problems our students will be solving when they go on to their future careers.

Prof. Rebecca Ong, Chemical Engineering

My Dad ran a turn-key industrial automation and robotics business throughout most of my childhood. In fact, I got my first job at age 12 when I was sequestered at home with strep throat. I felt fine, but couldn’t go to school. My Dad put me to work writing programs for what I know now are Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs); the ‘brains’ of most industrial automation systems. By the time I was in high school I was teaching classes at the local library on computer building, repair, and this other new thing called ‘The Internet’. A career in STEM was a certainty. I ended up in engineering because I like to build things (even if only on a computer) and I like to solve problems (generally with computers and math). 

Prof. Jeremy Bos, Electrical and Computer Engineering

The factors that got me interesting engineering revolved around my hobbies. First it was through BMX bikes and the changes I noticed in riding frames made from aluminum rather than steel. Next it was rock climbing, and realizing that the hardware had to be tailor made and selected to accommodate the type of rock or the type or feature within the rock. Here’s a few examples: Brass is the optimal choice for crack systems with small quartz crystals. Steel is the better choice for smoothly tapered constrictions. Steel pins need sufficient ductility to take on the physical shape of a seam or crack. Aluminum cam lobes need to be sufficiently soft to “bite” the rock, but robust enough to survive repeated impact loads. Then of course there is the rope—what an interesting marvel—the rope has to be capable of dissipating the energy of a fall so the shock isn’t transferred to the climber. Clearly, there is a lot of interesting materials science and engineering going on!

Prof. Erik Herbert, Materials Science and Engineering

Sliding into the Future of Mont Ripley

A Michigan Tech student takes the ultimate study break: snowboarding at Michigan Tech’s Mont Ripley
Nick wearing his blue Mt Ripley Shirt
Nick Sirdenis, General Manager, Mont Ripley

Nick Sirdenis, General Manager of Mont Ripley, Michigan Tech’s very own ski area, plus Dan Dalquist, and Josie Stalmack generously shared their knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar hosted by Dean Janet Callahan. Here’s the link to watch a recording of their session on YouTube. Get the full scoop, and see a listing of all the (60+) recorded sessions at mtu.edu/huskybites.

What are you doing for supper Monday night 1/23 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Nick Sirdenis, general manager Mont Ripley Ski Area at Michigan Tech. Joining will be Dan Dalquist, ski instructor supervisor for the Ski & Snowboard School, as well as Josie Stalmack, senior in biomedical engineering and student president of the Mont Ripley Ski Patrol. They’ll share plans to some future plans for Mont Ripley, including an updated and larger chalet, a true beginner run from top to bottom, and more parking.

Dan skiing
Dan Dalquist, Mont Ripley Ski School Supervisor

Mont Ripley welcomes all snow enthusiasts. The ski area is owned by Michigan Tech and sits in the middle of Houghton and Hancock, just a mile from campus. Mont Ripley is a star attraction of the scenic Keweenaw Peninsula, home to the most snow in the Midwest. Although Mont Ripley has a great learning area, it is mostly well known for its challenging terrain, from urban backcountry glades to terrain parks with more than thirty features—including jumps and slides. During Husky Bites, Sirdenis will talk about some new features at Mont Ripley currently in planning stages, plus one now in the works.

Two people on a chair lift
Josie Stalmack studies biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech. Here she is with her dad, also an MTU alum, patrolling together on the Husky Ski Lift at Mont Ripley.

Sirdenis graduated in 1979 from the Ski Area Management program at Gogebic Community College. He managed Blackjack Ski Area from 1981-2000 and lived in Ironwood Michigan. He was hired as a consultant in 1998 to design the snowmaking system and to oversee the construction, and then was hired as the general manager of Mt. Ripley. Originally from Detroit, Sirdenis and his wife Julie have 3 children and his entire family enjoys skiing.

Dan Dalquist is a Houghton High School and Michigan Tech alum and started skiing at Mont Ripley in the 1966-67 season, and joined the Mont Ripley Ski Patrol in January 1971. He became a professional ski instructor in 2001. For Dan, skiing at Mont Ripley was, and still is, a family event. His children learned to ski at 2 years old and they both still ski. All 4 of his grandchildren also ski. Dan graduated from Michigan Tech with a BSBA in Marketing Management in 1976.

“Nick and I have known each other since he first started at MTU,” says Dalquist. “And Josie is a fellow ski patroller who I’ve been privileged to work with. As a matter of fact, Josie’s dad is an MTU grad. He came to Tech as a patroller, and I was on the Michigan Tech Ski Patrol at that time, too, so I helped introduce Thad to Mont Ripley.”

An uphill view of the chair lift on Mont Ripley
An especially gorgeous day on Mont Ripley at Michigan Tech

An Ann Arbor native, Josie Stalmack learned to ski as soon as she could walk and picked up snowboarding when she was about 7 years old. Skiing and snowboarding have always been a part of her life, as her dad is a member of the National Ski Patrol. What really drew her to Michigan Tech was Mont Ripley and the fact that she could get certified and join the ski patrol.

“Nick and I have known each other since he started at MTU,” says Dan. “Josie is a fellow ski patroller I have been privileged to work with. Her dad is a MTU grad, too. I trained him to become a ski patroller when he was at Tech!”

“I met both Nick and Dan by joining the Mont Ripley Ski Patrol. Both have such a loving passion for skiing and Mont Ripley. I am just happy to be a part of such a wonderful ski hill.”

Josie Stalmack
Josie does a happy jump in front of the Mount Rainier lodge sign
Josie took a recent trip to another Mont, this one in Washington state: Mount Rainier

Nick, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Skiing, fishing, motorcycle riding. We always have dogs and birds, right now Ziggy the whippet and Sylvia the Pug and Yani the canary. I love doing construction. You’ll usually find sawdust in my pocket.

Dan, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I list cross country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing as my winter hobbies. I also bicycle: mountain bike and road bike, plus boating, fishing, and reading.

Josie, where did you grow up?
I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I am the youngest of four, with two older brothers and an older sister. I am also blessed with a wonderful brother-in-law, two nieces and a nephew. Lastly, I am engaged to be married, so I am also gaining a whole other family!

Any hobbies?
Outside of skiing and snowboarding, I really enjoy weightlifting, hiking and backpacking, reading, baking, and spending time with friends and family.

Ski patrol stand at Mont Ripley and talk.
Members of Mont Ripley Ski Patrol
lights on Mont Ripley twinkle in the distance
View of Michigan Tech’s Mont Ripley Ski Area from across Portage Canal

Click here to make a donation to the Mt. Ripley Expansion Fund

Michigan Tech Receives State-of-the-Art Software from Petroleum Experts Limited

MOVE, a geologic modeling software, provides a full digital environment for best practice structural modeling to reduce risk and uncertainty in geological models.

Petroleum Experts Limited has donated the equivalent of $2,764,444.18 to Michigan Technological University. The donation has come in the form of 10 sets of the MOVE suite of programs to be used for education and academic research at the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences (GMES).

Petroleum Experts, established in 1990, develops and commercializes petroleum engineering software for the oil industry. Petroleum Experts offers educational licenses to accredited universities that provide geology and/or petroleum engineering related Master and Ph.D. courses.

The state-of-the-art software will be installed in a computer laboratory at GMES, where it will be used in the Structural Geology course (GE3050), required for department undergraduate majors, and in graduate-level courses in structural geology. In addition, the MOVE suite will be utilized in academic non-commercial research on tectonics and structural geology, such as the mapping of the Keweenaw Fault and other complex structural systems in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“The researchers and students at GMES greatly appreciate this generous donation from Petroleum Experts,” says Dr. Aleksey Smirnov, chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech.

Joint ROTC Commissioning Ceremony December 17

Spring 2019 commencement ceremony with cadets on stage.

The Air Force and Army ROTC invite you to the Fall 2022 Commissioning Ceremony on Saturday (Dec. 17) at 7:30 a.m. at the Rozsa Center.

This semester we have three Air Force cadets and five Army cadets commissioning.

Those commissioning are from the following programs:

Civil Engineering | Environmental Engineering | Mathematics | Mechanical Engineering

We will also be streaming the ceremony if you prefer to watch it live on YouTube.

SWE Section Establishes Endowed Scholarship

Congratulations to Michigan Tech’s SWE Section as they announce the creation of a new endowed scholarship!

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Section at Michigan Tech is excited to announce the creation of a new endowed scholarship.

“The scholarship is in honor of our alumnae and alumni who have been part of our section since 1976,” says SWE advisor, Associate Teaching Professor Gretchen Hein.

“Eight years ago, in 2014, we hosted the SWE Region H Conference,” Hein explains. “With the funds received from SWE, we began saving with the goal of establishing an endowed scholarship. At long last, we have met our goal and will begin awarding an annual $1,000 endowed scholarship in 2026 to an active SWE section member.”

The new scholarship is in addition to the current section scholarships being awarded annually, notes Hein.

Michigan Tech SWE logo with gear

“As the President of SWE at Michigan Tech, I am excited that our section can provide an additional scholarship opportunity for our members,” said Aerith Cruz, a third year Management Information Systems student. “Our mission is threefold: ‘to stimulate women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity.’ The establishment of our endowed scholarship demonstrates our dedication to support the future of SWE at Michigan Tech.”

Details regarding the scholarship application process will be announced in 2026. The process will mirror SWE’s current scholarship application where students complete a short essay, have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, and provide a copy of their resume and a letter of recommendation.

Adds Hein: “Members of Michigan Tech’s SWE section greatly appreciate the guidance and assistance received from Jim Desrochers, director for corporate relations at Michigan Tech, and also Michigan Tech SWE advisor Elizabeth Hoy, director of business and program development at Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center. And we thank the University and our current and alumni members for their support!”

Would you like to support the SWE Endowed Scholarship?

Donations are welcome! Contribute via check or credit card. Visit mtu.edu/givenow for online donations or to find the mail-in form.

Key points:

  1. Gift Type is “Make a one time gift”
  2. Enter your gift amount
  3. Gift Designation: Select “Other” and enter “SWE Endowed Scholarship #5471″

SWE Congratulates Our Graduating Seniors and Scholarship Recipients

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Section at Michigan Tech congratulates our graduating seniors: Sophie Stewart and Audrey Levanen (mechanical engineering) and Kiira Hadden (biomedical engineering). We look forward to hearing from them as alumnae!

The section awarded two scholarships to active upper-division students. We are so proud of the accomplishments of Natalie Hodges (dual major: electrical and computer engineering) and Alli Hummel (civil engineering).

We will be awarding two scholarships in the spring to first- and second-year active members and will be posting the application information during the spring semester.

By Gretchen Hein, Advisor, Society of Women Engineers.

Five Times in a Row: Michigan Tech Students Earn First Place in ASM Undergraduate Design Competition–Again!

Michigan Tech’ 550-ton Breda direct extrusion press, just one of several tools used by MSE students at Michigan Tech.

Many engineers remember the excitement of applying their classroom knowledge to their capstone senior design project while also being a bit overwhelmed about how to actually do it. 

Paul Sanders, Patrick Horvath Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Michigan Tech

Back in 2010, this challenge was recognized in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) by Michigan Tech Professor Mark Plichta, an innovator in project-based engineering education, and Northwestern University Professor Greg Olson, a leader in the relatively new field of computational materials engineering. 

The two selected then Assistant Professor Paul Sanders, (who had a Michigan Tech BS and a Northwestern PhD and materials design experience at Ford Motor Company) to implement their vision for MSE capstone senior design. This vision involved using computational materials engineering—a tool that, at the time, was only taught in graduate school. Sanders (somewhat unknowingly) accepted the challenge, and through a sometimes bumpy, continuous improvement process developed the current curriculum in MSE at Michigan Tech.

“Michigan Tech undergrads, with their application mindset, hands-on, problem-solving skills, and openness to mentorship, provided the ideal culture for this endeavor.”

Paul Sanders

One condition of Olson, who provided the computational engineering software tool Thermo-Calc, was that Michigan Tech compete in the ASM Undergraduate Design Competition, an event that started in 2008 with Northwestern University winning first place. The Michigan Tech strategy was to utilize traditional hypothesis-based inquiry through application of engineering statistics coupled with design of experiments (DOEs) in both the modeling and laboratory environment. Eventually a methods course was developed for spring of the junior year that included a semester-long project to demonstrate the tools, followed by two semesters of the capstone senior design course. Prof. Sanders led this coursework and scoped projects to fit the Michigan Tech methodology. Long-term industry sponsors Eck Industries, ArcelorMittal, and Waupaca Foundry were critical to implementing the vision by providing industry-relevant projects that would allow students to use the toolset taught in the curriculum.

Michigan Tech first entered the ASM Design Competition in 2012 earning second place (Northwestern was first). Michigan Tech’s first five entries earned second place three times and third place twice. Starting in 2018, Michigan Tech started winning…and continued winning…for 5 years in a row. This is a credit not only to the student work on these projects, but also to the methodology and support of industry sponsors. As Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech states, “We’re very proud of our world-class senior design students’ experience. Where else do teams win first place five years in a row, for alloy design, in an era where it isn’t about randomly mixing elements, but rather, about predictive modeling based on known materials parameters? These projects⁠—centered on fundamentally interesting questions, are coupled with faculty and industry expertise. No wonder we’re the go-to place for materials engineers!”

Dr. Julio G. Maldonado, ASM Foundation, presents the award to Michigan Tech seniors Isabella Wakeham Jaszczak (2nd from left) Jacob Longstreth, (3rd from left) Jake Klotz (right). Team member Nick Hopp was unable to attend the conference and awards ceremony.

The student team that completed the “five-peat” in 2022 designed a process for modeling the extrusion of aluminum-magnesium (Al-Mg) alloys with cerium (Ce) additions that can maintain their strength at service temperatures up to 400°F. This student team was unique in that there was only one MSE student on the team, Isabella Wakeham Jaszczak, and three mechanical engineering students, Nick Hopp, Jake Klotz, and Jacob Longstreth. Even though the team graduated in spring of 2022, three of the four team members accepted their award at ASM International’s IMAT Conference in New Orleans on September 12, 2022. 

“The success of the MSE senior design program is due not only to current students embracing the time-consuming process of project engineering, but also our loyal alumni who provide the projects that continuously improve our process.”

Paul Sanders

Cerium is the most abundant (and lowest cost) rare earth element, and Ce is known to improve the properties of aluminum. Given that rare earths are often mined together and that the demand is higher for heavier rare earths, there is excess cerium. The project sponsor David Weiss, vice president of research and development at Eck Industries, collaborates on research teams who identify beneficial uses and markets for cerium in order to improve the economics of mining rare earth. Weiss suggested applying Ce to Al extrusion for Eck’s customer, Eaton Corporation.

Extrusion is the process of forming long, two-dimensional cross-sections by forcing hot metal through a die. The students were tasked with modeling the extrusion of Al-Mg-Ce alloys to predict the necessary extrusion force and resultant flow rate. The team used a DOE-based strategy to develop a deformation model for the alloy using elevated-temperature compression testing coupled with MATLAB data analysis. Material model parameters were then entered into the commercial extrusion modeling software Inspire Extrude from Altair to calculate the extrusion force and flow rate. These predictions were tested in Michigan Tech laboratories by permanent mold casting the custom Al-Mg-Ce alloys followed by extrusion on a 550-ton Breda direct extrusion press, donated by Alcoa. To better understand the project, please see the students’ excellent four-minute video .

No small feat: Michigan Tech engineering students designed a process for modeling the extrusion of aluminum-magnesium (Al-Mg) alloys with cerium (Ce) additions. These alloys can maintain their strength at service temperatures up to 400°F. Pictured above, extruding one of the alloys.

“My decision to return to Michigan Tech as an MSE faculty member was motivated in large part by the type of students Michigan Tech attracts,” reflects Sanders, now the Patrick Horvath Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. “They are smart, hardworking, and willing to learn.”

NASA, Artemis and Beyond: Inside Michigan Tech’s Multiplanetary INnovation Enterprise (MINE)

Dr. Paul van Susante’s Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab (PSTDL) at Michigan Tech is home of the Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber. It’s about as close to moon conditions as one can get on Earth!
Paul van Susante

Paul van Susante, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering—Engineering Mechanics talks about MINE, the Multiplanetary INnovation Enterprise team at Michigan Tech, along with electrical engineering majors Brenda Wilson and Gabe Allis; and mechanical engineering major Parker Bradshaw.

Wilson, Allis and Bradshaw—along with about 50 other student members of the MINE team—design, test, and implement robotic technologies for extracting (and using) local resources in extreme environments. That includes Lunar and Martian surfaces, and flooded subterranean environments here on Earth. Prof. van Susante helped launch the team, and serves as MINE’s faculty advisor.

The award-winning Enterprise Program at Michigan Tech involves students—of any major—working in teams on real projects, with real clients. Michigan Tech currently has 26 different Enterprise teams on campus, working to pioneer solutions, invent products, and provide services.

“As an engineer, I’m an optimist. We can invent things that allow us to do things that now seem impossible.”

Paul van Susante
Students in the Huskyworks Lab at Michigan Tech work on the T-REX rover (Tethered permanently-shadowed Region Explorer). The T-REX lays down lightweight, superconducting cable connected to a lander, and it won NASA’s top prize—the Artemis Award.

MINE team members build and test robotic vehicles and technologies for clients in government and the private sector. They tackle construction and materials characterization, too. It all happens in van Susante’s Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab (PSTDL) at Michigan Tech, a place where science fiction becomes reality via prototyping, building, testing—and increasing the technology readiness and level of tech being developed for NASA missions. The PSTDL is also known as Huskyworks.

Prior to coming to Michigan Tech, Prof. van Susante earned his PhD and taught at the Colorado School of Mines, and also served as a NASA Faculty Fellow. He has been involved in research projects collaborating with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, SpaceX, TransAstra, DARPA, NASA Kennedy Space Center, JPL, Bechtel, Caterpillar, and many others.

Prof. van Susante created the Huskyworks Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber himself, using his new faculty startup funding. It’s a vacuum-sealed room, partially filled with a simulated lunar dust that can be cooled to minus 196 degrees Celsius and heated to 150 degrees Celsius—essentially, a simulated moon environment. In the chamber, researchers can test surface exploration systems (i.e., rovers) in a box containing up to 3,000 pounds of regolith simulant. It’s about as close to moon conditions as one can get on Earth.

Students in the PSTDL move a testbox into position for testing in the Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber.

The NASA Artemis program aims to send astronauts back to the moon by 2025 and establish a permanent human presence. Building the necessary infrastructure to complete this task potentially requires an abundance of resources because of the high cost of launching supplies from Earth. 

“An unavoidable obstacle of space travel is what NASA calls the ‘Space Gear Ratio’, where in order to send one package into space, you need nearly 450 times that package’s mass in expensive rocket fuel to send it into space,” notes van Susante. “In order to establish a long-term presence on other planets and moons, we need to be able to effectively acquire the resources around us, known as in-situ-resource utilization, or ISRU.”

“NASA has several inter-university competitions that align with their goals for their up-and-coming Artemis Missions,” adds van Susante. 

Huskyworks and MINE have numerous Artemis irons in the fire, plus other research projects, too. We’ll learn a lot more about them during Husky Bites.

LUNABOTICS

A peek at the integrated system of MINE’s Lunabotics rover.
Six members of the Michigan Tech Astro-Huskies (plus Dr. van Susante) at NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, during the 2021-22 Lunabotics competition

Electrical engineering undergraduate student Brenda Wilson serves as the hardware sub-team lead of the Astro-Huskies, a group of 25 students within MINE who work on an autonomous mining rover as part of NASA’s Lunabotics competition. It’s held every year in Florida at the Kennedy Space Center with 50 teams in attendance from universities across the nation. This is the Astro-Huskies’ third year participating in the competition, coming up in May 2023. 

This year the Astro-Huskies are designing, building, testing, and competing with an autonomous excavation rover. The rover must traverse around obstacles such as mounds, craters, rocks; excavate ice to be used for the production of rocket fuel, then return to the collection point. By demonstrating their rover, each team in the competition contributes ideas to NASA’s future missions to operate on and start producing consumables on the lunar surface. 

DIVER

Mechanical engineering undergraduate student Gabe Allis is manager of the MINE team’s DIVER project (Deep Investigation Vehicle for Energy Resources). The team is focused on building an untethered ROV capable of descending down into the Quincy mine to map the flooded tunnels and collect water samples. The team supports ongoing research at Michigan Tech that aims to convert flooded mine shafts into giant batteries, or Pumped Underground Storage for Hydropower (PUSH) facilities.

What it looks like beneath the Quincy Mine in Hancock, Michigan. Illustration courtesy of Michigan Tech’s Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

“Before a mine can be converted into a PUSH facility it must be inspected, and most mines are far deeper than can be explored by a conventional diver,”Allis explains.

“This is where we come in, with a robust, deep-diving robot that’s designed for an environment more unforgiving than the expanse of outer space, and that includes enormous external pressure, no communication, and no recovery if something goes wrong,” he says.  

“Differences in water temperature at different depths cause currents that can pull our robot in changing directions,” adds Allis. “No GPS means that our robot may have to localize from its environment, which means more computing power, and more space, weight, energy consumption, and cooling requirements. These are the sort of problems that our team needs to tackle.”

TRENCHER

During Husky Bites, Bradshaw will tell us about the team’s Trencher project, which aims to provide proof-of-concept for extracting the lunar surface using a bucket ladder-style excavator. “Bucket ladders offer a continuous method of excavation that can transport a large amount of material with minimal electricity, an important consideration for operations on the moon,” Bradshaw says. “With bucket ladders NASA will be able to extract icy regolith to create rocket fuel on the moon and have a reliable method to shape the lunar surface.” Unlike soil, regolith is inorganic material that has weathered away from the bedrock or rock layer beneath.

Parker Bradshaw, also a mechanical engineering student, is both a member of MINE and member of van Susante’s lab, where he works as an undergraduate researcher. “Dr. van Susante is my boss, PI, and Enterprise advisor. I first worked with him on a MINE project last year, then got hired by his lab (the PSTDL) to do research over the summer.”

Bradshaw is preparing a research paper detailing data the team has gathered while excavating in the lab’s Dusty Thermal Vacuum Chamber, with a goal of sharing what was learned by publishing their results in an academic journal.

The PSTDL’s field-rover HOPLITE gets ready for field-test last winter.

“An unavoidable obstacle of space travel is what NASA calls the ‘Space Gear Ratio’, where in order to send one package into orbit around Earth, you need nearly 10 times that package’s mass in expensive rocket fuel to send it into space, and even more for further destinations,” van Susante explains. “So in order to establish a long-term presence on other planets and moons, we need to be able to effectively acquire the resources around us, known as in-situ-resource utilization, or ISRU.”

In the world-class Huskyworks lab (and in the field) van Susante and his team work on a wide variety of projects:

Paul van Susante served as a mining judge during the 2018 Regolith Mining Competition at the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center

NASA Lunar Surface Technology Research (LuSTR)—a “Percussive Hot Cone Penetrometer and Ground Penetrating Radar for Geotechnical and Volatiles Mapping.”

NASA Breakthrough Innovative and Game Changing (BIG) Idea Challenge 2020—a “Tethered permanently shaded Region EXplorer (T-REX)” delivers power and communication into a PSR, (also known as a Polarimetric Scanning Radiometer).

NASA Watts on the Moon Centennial Challenge—providing power to a water extraction plant PSR located 3 kilometers from the power plant. Michigan Tech is one of seven teams that advanced to Phase 2, Level 2 of the challenge.

NASA ESI Early Stage Innovation—obtaining water from rock gypsum on Mars.

NASA Break the Ice—the latest centennial challenge from NASA, to develop technologies aiding in the sustained presence on the Moon.

NASA NextSTEP BAA ISRU, track 3—”RedWater: Extraction of Water from Mars’ Ice Deposits” (subcontract from principal investigator Honeybee Robotics).

NASA GCD MRE—Providing a regolith feeder and transportation system for the MRE reactor

HOPLITE—a modular robotic system that enables the field testing of ISRU technologies.

Dr. van Susante met his wife, Kate, in Colorado.

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

Helping people and making the world a better place with technology and the dream of space exploration. My interest came from sci-fi books and movies and seeing what people can accomplish when they work together.

Hometown and Hobbies?

I grew up in The Netherlands and got my MS in Civil Engineering from TU-Delft before coming to the USA to continue grad school. I met my wife in Colorado and have one 8 year old son. The rest of my family is still in The Netherlands. Now I live in Houghton, Michigan, not too far from campus. I love downhill and x-country skiing, reading (mostly sci-fi/fantasy), computer and board games, and photography.

Dr. van Susante has been a huge help—not just with the technical work, but with the project management side of things. We’ve found it to be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome as a team this past year.

Brenda Wilson

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

My dad, who is a packaging engineer, would explain to me how different machines work and how different things are made. My interest in electrical engineering began with the realization that power is the backbone to today’s society. Nearly everything we use runs on electricity. I wanted to be able to understand the large complex system that we depend so heavily upon. Also, because I have a passion for the great outdoors, I want to take my degree in a direction where I can help push the power industry towards green energy and more efficient systems.

Hometown, family?

My hometown is Naperville, Illinois. I have one younger brother starting his first year at Illinois State in general business. My Dad is a retired packaging engineer with a degree from Michigan State, and my mom is an accountant with a masters degree from the University of Chicago.

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

I am an extremely active person and try to spend as much time as I can outside camping and on the trails. I also spend a good chunk of my time running along the portage waterfront, swing dancing, and just recently picked up mountain biking.

I got involved in the DIVER project in MINE, and have enjoyed working with Dr. van Susante. He’s a no nonsense kind of guy. He tells you what you need to improve on, and then helps you get there.

Gabe Allis
Gabe Allis

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

I first became interested in engineering when my great-uncle gave me a college text-book of his on engineering: Electric Circuits and Machines, by Eugene Lister. I must have been at most 13. To my own surprise, I began reading it and found it interesting. Ever since then I’ve been looking for ways to learn more.

Hometown, family?

I’m from Ann Arbor, Michigan, the oldest of nine. First in my family to go to Tech, and probably not the last. 

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

I like to play guitar, read fiction, mountain bike, explore nature, and hang out/worship at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church.

“Doing both Enterprise work and research under Dr. van Susante has been a very valuable experience. I expect to continue working in his orbit through the rest of my undergrad degree.”

Parker Bradshaw
Parker Bradshaw

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

I was first introduced to engineering by my dad, who manufactured scientific equipment for the University of Michigan Psychology department. Hanging around in his machine shop at a young age made me really want to work with my hands. What I do as a member of MINE is actually very similar to what my dad did at the U of M. I create research equipment that we use to obtain the data we need for our research, just for me it’s space applications (instead of rodent brains).

Hometown, family?

I grew up in Ann Arbor Michigan, and both of my parents work for the University of Michigan Psychology department. My dad is now retired.

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

I have a variety of things to keep me busy when school isn’t too overbearing. I go to the Copper Country Community Art Center Clay Co-Op as often as I can to throw pottery on the wheel. I also enjoy watercolor painting animals in a scientific illustration style. Over the summer I was working on my V22 style RC plane project.

Michigan Tech MINE team photo (taken last year). The constraints of the pandemic complicated some of their efforts, yet brought out the best in all of them.

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To the Moon—and Beyond

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Mine Video for Michigan Tech 2022 Design Expo