Tag: CEE

Stories about Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering.

SWE Hosts Girl Scout Engineering Days 2024 at MTU and Grand Rapids

NASA Earth Observatory satellite image of the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin.

Girl Scouts Engineering Day at MTU

On March 9, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section at Michigan Tech hosted their annual Girl Scouts Engineering Day for over 35 scouts in the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin.

The Brownies and Daisies “Molded the Future,” using Play-Doh to create robotic gripper designs to pick up unique shapes. The scouts then used a digital scanner to see what their models looked like on a computer and learned about the 3D printing process. This session was led by Shane Oberloier, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).

The Juniors and Cadettes participated in sessions sponsored by MTU’s Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF) program and ECE. In one session, the scouts learned about human factors under the guidance of Kelly Steelman, chair and associate professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences (CLS), while the second session, “FANtastic Controllers,” focused on computer programming, microcontrollers and circuit building. The scouts assembled a circuit that included an Arduino board, a power supply module, a logic chip and a DC motor to create a working fan. Next, they engaged in programming the circuit, gaining insights into the fundamentals of computer science and serial communication.

To make this event successful, Tech students from Blue Marble Security Enterprise and the Open Source Hardware Enterprise volunteered. SWE appreciates the support we received from ACSHF and ECE. Planning has already begun for the 2025 Girl Scout event!

Engineering Days in Niles and Grand Rapids

SWE members Tory Cantrell (mechanical engineering) and Carsyn Boggio (environmental engineering), ECE students Skyler Brawley (computer engineering) and Emily Roth (electrical engineering), and SWENexter Jenna Beaudoin, a Lake Linden-Hubbell High School senior, worked with Girl Scouts and Ring Lardner Middle School students in Niles, Michigan, on April 6. Sophie Owen ’22 (B.S. Electrical Engineering) helped the students construct their circuits.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amy (Palmgren) Rokos ’08 (B.S. Computer Engineering) joined us and helped with the event. Lilly, a fourth grader and Junior Girl Scout, commented, “I liked the programing. I had to do math, but it was fun! I’m excited to do more things with my kit at home.” (Every participant not only used components, but was given an Arduino kit to take home.)

SWE sends a huge shoutout to Brawley and Beaudoin, who worked hard to design this integrated outreach activity, and to academic advisor Lauren Huested (ECE), who obtained the funding for this trip through a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The funds needed to be used on K-12 outreach that would teach students about EE concepts (specifically motors), making the Arduino/motorized fan kit a perfect fit!

Thanks to our vice president for Global Campus and continuing education, David Lawrence, who permitted us to use the grant funding, we were able to pay for the cost of supplies and travel for the events.

SWE also thanks the College of Engineering and the ECE department for their support, along with the CLS department. Outreach events are exciting opportunities for us to interact with future Michigan Tech Huskies!

By Jaclyn Johnson and Gretchen Hein, Advisors, Society of Women Engineers.

2024 World Water Day: GLRC Student Poster Award Winners

22 March World Water Day 2024 Water for Peace banner.

Congratulations to the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) Student Poster Award winners, in recognition of World Water Day 2024.

The GLRC winner for the Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Symposium coordinated by the Pavlis Honors College on March 22 was:

A big thank-you to our graduate student judges: master’s students Hunter Roose and Ryan Heines (both Biological Sciences) and Cassandra Reed-VanDam (Applied Ecology).

The GLRC winners at the Graduate Student Government (GSG) Graduate Research Colloquium on March 26 placed as follows:

Thank you to all the student participants and their GLRC-affiliated advisors.

By the Great Lakes Research Center.

Sustainability Awards for Claire Christen and Robert Handler

View of Michigan Tech, Portage Canal, and Portage Lift Bridge in summer.

It takes many hands, hearts and minds to create a sustainable campus. As a part of Earth Month programming, join the Office of Sustainability and Resilience in celebrating four individuals who go the extra mile, dedicating their time and energy to supporting a more sustainable Michigan Tech.

This year’s Campus Sustainability Leadership Awardees are:

Please join us on April 17 for a celebration of the award winners and their accomplishments, a brief update on sustainability work at Michigan Tech and some time to enjoy snacks and interact with your peers. Feel free to bring lunch.

Celebration Details:

What: Sustainability Awards Gathering
When: Wednesday, April 17, from noon to 12:45 p.m.
Where: MUB Ballroom B1

By Alan Turnquist, Office of Sustainability and Resilience.

Jennifer Becker and Kerri Sleeman are Finalists in Michigan Tech’s Distingushed Teaching Awards

Jennifer Becker and Kerri Sleeman

Share your thoughts and show your support for these deserving finalists. Comments for the finalists are due by March 31, 2024, and can be submitted online.

The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is seeking input for its annual Distinguished Teaching Awards, which recognize outstanding contributions to Michigan Tech’s instructional mission. Based on more than 35,000 student ratings of instruction responses, 10 finalists have been identified for the 2024 awards. The selection committee is soliciting comments from students, staff, faculty and alumni to be referenced during their deliberations.

Among the finalists are Associate Professor Jennifer Becker and Professor of Practice Kerri Sleeman. Both are faculty in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE). Their dedication to teaching and commitment to their students have set them apart as exceptional educators.

Becker is known by her students for her passion for teaching and seeks to create interactive learning environments, and her efforts to be accessible to both undergraduate and graduate students are extraordinary. One of Becker’s students echoes this, saying: “Dr. Becker’s dedication to her students’ learning is just one quality that raises the bar for professors everywhere. Her willingness to help students succeed extends beyond the classroom, where she responds to emails promptly and accommodates students’ needs by taking time out of her busy schedule to help them, even at odd hours, until they feel confident with the material. Becker also aids students by letting them know exactly what is expected from them and holds them to a high standard, which demonstrates true concern for her students’ education.” Read more at Deans’ Teaching Showcase: Jennifer Becker

“Jennifer goes above and beyond what is expected and her students really appreciate it,” says Brian Barkdoll, interim chair of the CEGE department. “She spends countless hours of her time meeting with students on theory and modeling. She is to be commended.”

Sleeman began working as a  full-time faculty member this past fall in the Construction Management Program. She taught as an adjunct faculty member over the years while working at Tech as executive director of facilities management at Michigan Tech. Teaching helped her keep the larger picture of the University in focus. Another goal of Sleeman’s: to increase sustainable construction course offerings for students. Read more at New Faculty Spotlight: Kerri Sleeman.

“Kerri has accomplished something remarkable in achieving this level of teaching recognition in her very first semester teaching,” adds Barkdoll.


The process for determining the Distinguished Teaching Award recipients from among the finalists will involve additional surveying of their spring 2024 classes. The selection committee makes the final determination of the award recipients. The 2024 Distinguished Teaching Awards will be formally announced in June.

Assistant Professor/Teaching Professor/Professor of Practice finalists:

  • J. W. Hammond (HU), assistant professor
  • Xin Li (COB), assistant professor
  • Gord Patterson (BioSci), assistant professor
  • Kerri Sleeman (CEGE), professor of practice
  • Paul Weiss (Army ROTC), assistant professor

Associate Professor/Professor finalists:

  • Jennifer Becker (CEGE), associate professor
  • Carsten Külheim (CFRES), associate professor
  • Joel Neves (VPA), professor
  • Jennifer Nish (HU), associate professor
  • Charles Wallace (CS), associate professor

For more information, contact the CTL at ctl@mtu.edu or 906-487-3000.

MTU Engineering Welcomes 18 New Faculty Members

The College is honored to welcome 18 new faculty members this fall. They bring a range of expertise among seven multidisciplinary research areas: Energy and Sustainability, Advanced Manufacturing, Autonomy and Mobility, Engineering Infrastructure, Engineering for Health, Space and Aerospace, and Navigating our Environment.

Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering

Quang Tran

Dr. Quang Tran joins the faculty as an assistant professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from Harvard Medical School, Harvard affiliated hospitals, and the UIUC Bioacoustics Research Lab, where he dedicated three years to postdoctoral research. Dr. Tran earned a PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, an MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering at California State University, Fullerton, and a BS in Industrial and System Engineering at Ho Chi Minh University of Technology, Vietnam. His research focuses on non-invasive ultrasound for material characterization applications in civil engineering and biomedical fields, diagnosing and monitoring the health of infrastructures and humans.

Ishi Keenum

Dr. Ishi Keenum joins the faculty as an assistant professor. She comes to Michigan Tech from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where she completed postdoctoral research. She earned a BS in at the University of Michigan, and an MS and PhD at Virginia Tech, all in Environmental Engineering. Keenum serves as the lead of the bioinformatic working group for the International Microbiome and Multi’Omics Standards Alliance (IMMSA). Her research is focused on the dissemination and treatment of antibiotic resistance through wastewater and water systems, and the microbiology of water systems.

Bo Xiao

Dr. Bo Xiao joins the faculty as assistant professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where he worked as a research assistant professor. He earned a BEng in Civil Engineering at Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology in China, an MS from Concordia University in Canada, and a PhD at the University of Alberta, Canada. His research seeks to advance the digital transformation of the construction industry by adopting automated technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and digital twinning, for modular construction, as well as visual monitoring of construction sites.

Mazi Erfani

Dr. Mazi Erfani joins the faculty as an assistant professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned a PhD in Civil Engineering. He earned a BS in Civil Engineering and MSc, in Construction Engineering and Management at the University of Tehran in Iran. His research interests include data-driven infrastructure management, Smart construction, equity and diversity, risk management, text analytics and natural language processing, and AI modeling.

Kerri Sleeman

Kerri Sleeman joins the faculty as a professor of practice. After working in the automotive and construction industries as an engineer she joined Michigan Tech staff, directing MTU Facilities Management. She earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Engineering, both at Michigan Tech. Sleeman brings strong industry experience to students in the Construction Management Program, and will increase sustainable construction course offerings for students.

John Bean

John Bean joins Michigan Tech as a visiting professor of practice in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering. He earned an MS in Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Connecticut and a BS in Civil Engineering at the University of New Hampshire. He also earned a graduate certificate in Surveying Engineering at the University of Maine. His focus for teaching includes surveying, mapping and database support to engineering field-based research projects. He has over 40 years of experience in surveying, civil engineering, and GIS, both in teaching and in practice. His work has taken him to Antarctica, the North Slope of Alaska, and the Mojave Desert, among other places.

Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller joins the faculty as a professor of practice. She earned a Master’s in Business Administration at Central Michigan University and a BS in Civil Engineering at Michigan Tech. Her teaching interests focus on construction management. She has more than 20 years of construction experience, including working for General Contractors, Specialty Contractors, design firms, and governmental entities including Michigan Department of Transportation.

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Anna Stuhlmacher

Dr. Anna Stuhlmacher joins the faculty as an assistant professor. She comes to Michigan Tech from the University of Michigan. She earned a BS at Boston University and an MS and PhD at the University of Michigan, all in electrical engineering. She interned at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and grew up in the Chicago area. Her research explores optimizing and controlling distributed energy resources (like solar panels, batteries, and electric vehicles) in the power grid to provide flexibility in the transition to more sustainable and reliable energy systems.

Department of Engineering Fundamentals

Gabriel Draughon

Dr. Gabriel Draughon joins the faculty as an assistant teaching professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from the University of Michigan, where he earned an MS and PhD in Civil Engineering (Intelligent Systems). He earned a BS in Biosystems Engineering at the University of Kentucky. His research and teaching interests involve Smart Cities, and how sensing technologies in urban settings help better understand how people move through, interact with, and derive benefits from social infrastructure.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Kaiwu Huang

Dr. Kaiwu Huang comes to Michigan Tech from Virginia Tech, where he worked as a research associate in the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering. He earned a BS in Mining and Minerals Engineering at China University of Mining and Technology in Beijing, and an MS and PhD in Mining and Minerals Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research focus is on sustainable mining, including mineral processing, mineral flotation, solid/liquid separation, carbon ore beneficiation, rare earth extraction, and copper concentration.

Luis Manzano

Dr. Luis Manzano comes to Michigan Tech from Monterrey, Mexico, where he earned an MS and PhD in Biotechnology at the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM). He earned his undergraduate degree in Biotechnology Engineering, Universidad Politécnica de Pachuca. His research focuses on the sustainable purification of PEG-modified proteins/enzymes (PEGylated), used as biopharmaceuticals in the treatment of disease and potentially in the recovery and purification of anticancer, low-molecular weight compounds such as flavonoids.

Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology

Rachel Store

Rachel Store joins the faculty as an assistant teaching professor. She earned a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, both at Michigan Tech. Her research focus is on friction stir processing and Lean and Quality manufacturing. Her teaching and research interests include additive manufacturing, forming processes, and materials manufacturing with friction stir processing.

Department of Material Science and Engineering

Alexandra Glover

Dr. Alexandra Glover joins the faculty as an assistant professor. She comes to Michigan Tech from Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she worked as a research and development engineer with Sigma Division. Glover earned an MS and PhD at the Colorado School of Mines in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, and a BS in Materials Science and Engineering at Michigan Tech. Her research interests include mechanical behavior of materials, strengthening mechanisms, deformation processing and design for manufacturing, steels, shape memory alloys, and deformation induced phase transformations.

Joshua Mueller

Dr. Joshua Mueller joins the faculty as an assistant professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from the Dynamic-Structure Design and Engineering Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked as a research and development engineer. Mueller earned an MS and PhD at the Colorado School of Mines in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, and a BS in Materials Science and Engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests include physical metallurgy, phase transformations, thermodynamics, and microstructure evolution.

Sriram Vijayan

Dr. Sriram Vijayan joins Michigan Tech as an assistant professor. He earned a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Connecticut, a Master’s in Materials Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and a Bachelors in Materials Engineering at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University. His research interests include understanding microstructural evolution in materials under complex thermal conditions,
process-structure-property relationships of additively manufactured builds, and materials for nuclear reactor applications.

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Shawn Brueshaber

Dr. Shawn Brueshaber comes to Michigan Tech from Western Michigan University, where he earned an MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering. He earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. After graduating, he spent several years in industry. His research is focused on the polar atmospheric dynamics of the giant planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, with a goal of developing a comprehensive theory of weather and climate applicable to all planetary bodies with an atmosphere.

Chad Walber

Dr. Chad Walber joins the faculty as an Associate Teaching Professor. He earned an MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Tech, and a BS in both Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, also from Tech. He worked at PCB Piezotronics as a research and development engineer and at Michigan Tech as a visiting professor of practice. His teaching and research focus includes metrology, dynamic systems, noise and vibration, acoustics, and the test and measurement of those quantities, including developing specification and calibration standards for microphones and sound level meters.

Bhisham Sharma

Dr. Bhisham Sharma joins the faculty as an associate professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from Wichita State University, where he worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. He earned an MS and PhD in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Purdue University, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pune in Pune, India. Sharma was also a post-doctoral research associate and a visiting assistant professor at Purdue. His research involves the overlap of solid mechanics, structural dynamics, acoustics, and advanced manufacturing. He investigates the fundamental mechanics and acoustics of novel engineered material systems such as acoustic metamaterials, phononic structures, architected lattice structures, stochastic foams, and advanced manufacturing.
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SWE Section Attends SWE WE23 Societal Conference

Conference collage of speaker, expo, and background with Live Without Limits.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section at Michigan Tech had 16 students attend the SWE WE23 Societal Conference in Los Angeles, California, with Gretchen Hein, SWE advisor. The students greatly enjoyed and benefited from the conference sessions. They also met with MTU alumni from L.A. and engaged with several MTU SWE alumnae. They especially enjoyed hearing stories about Tech and how campus has changed.

The SWE WE23 Career Fair is the largest career fair for women in the world. This year, SWE members had 20 interviews and one job offer from participating. Most will hear back on internships and full-time offers in two weeks.

The conference took place over three days, October 26–28, inviting attendees to Live Without Limits.

SWE thanks our corporate sponsors for their generous support, which enabled us to fund 100% of the students’ travel!

  • Grace Moeggenborg, junior (applied ecology and environmental science): “The conference celebrated all women and minorities in the workplace and helped me redefine being a woman in STEM.”
  • Kelsey Jensen, junior (biomedical engineering): “Attending the WE23 conference was such an amazing experience that furthered my career and inspired me to strive for positions in my career that I originally wouldn’t think of going for.”
  • Rixlie Fozilova, second-year master’s student (environmental engineering): “This was my first time at the SWE national conference and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
  • Katherine Baker, junior (chemical engineering): “My favorite part of the conference was attending an exclusive networking event through the SWE Collegiate Leadership Institute, which I’ve participated in for two years.”
  • Skyler Brawley, senior (computer engineering): “I look forward to the conference all year for the amazing lessons I learn at the sessions and the great career opportunities presented at the career fair.”
  • Olivia O’Brien, senior (electrical engineering): “I’ve come out of this conference a more motivated, driven and ambitious engineer!”
  • Kathryn Krieger, junior (environmental engineering): “I hope to carry the knowledge and connections I made this weekend throughout my career.”
  • Aerith Cruz, senior (management information systems): “It’s incredible how the Michigan Tech network extends beyond Houghton.”
  • Victoria Berger, senior (materials science and engineering): “I was able to grow my professional network through the career fair and various networking activities.”
  • Emma Quinn, senior (materials science and engineering): “This conference reaffirmed my love for engineering and allowed me to envision my career path.”
  • Carissa Best, second-year (mechanical engineering), SWE section president-elect: “I am leaving this conference with the knowledge and tools to become an engineer who isn’t afraid to live life without limits!”
  • Tory Cantrell, second-year (mechanical engineering): “Attending the WE23 conference meant so much to me because I was surrounded by so many other women in STEM who all want to strive to be the best they can and help others succeed just as much.”
  • Marisa Mathews, first-year (mechanical engineering): “I attended 12 different informational sessions and learned more about engineering, leadership and industry than I imagined could be possible in two days.”
  • Talia Olson, senior (mechanical engineering): “I was able to attend a multitude of informative sessions, and one that stuck out to me was learning about how companies are trying to bring more neurodivergent individuals in the workforce.”
  • Amanda West, senior (mechanical engineering), SWE section president: “It is incredible that 16 of us were given a chance to network, interview with and learn from these amazing women and leaders.”
  • Maci Dostaler, junior (software engineering): “As I continue to grow as a leader, I will strive to use all the advice given to me — by some very impressive people — to good use.”

By Jaclyn Johnson and Gretchen Hein, Advisors, Society of Women Engineers at Michigan Tech.

Related

SWE Section Attends WE22 Conference

MTU’s Arnold Air Society Leading the Nation

ROTC Building in spring with the American flag in the foreground.

The Arnold Air Society (AAS), in collaboration with the Air Force ROTC, is a dynamic student organization committed to advancing national defense education, fostering professional development and actively engaging in community service. At Michigan Technological University, there are currently 22 active members. On a broader scale, the AAS extends its reach nationwide, with a membership of over 2,000 students from 115 universities across 48 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. This organization operates under the guidance of student leaders, broken up into operational units to include local squadron commanders, 11 regional staff and a national staff, who collectively steer its activities and initiatives throughout the academic year.

In early April 2023, nine MTU students were elected to assume nationwide leadership roles as the national staff of the AAS. This outstanding achievement began with months of preparation, culminating in the development of a vision and strategic goals for the organization. They then presented these to an audience of hundreds of cadets at the 2023 National Conclave in Las Vegas. The conclave recognized the Michigan Tech cadets’ efforts and chose them to be this year’s national leaders of the organization. As leaders, they shoulder responsibilities that encompass overseeing training programs and service hour tracking, managing awards and scholarships, and leveraging their computer coding expertise to streamline registration data for over 2,000 cadets.

In September, our MTU cadets, serving as national staff, had a valuable experience attending the Air and Space Forces Association National Convention in National Harbor, Maryland. During the event, they collaborated with representatives from 11 different universities to strategize for the upcoming year. Moreover, they had the privilege of attending keynote addresses delivered by prominent military and industry leaders, such as the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., and the chief of space operations, Gen. B. Chance Saltzman. They also engaged in small-group Q&A sessions with many high-ranking military and civilian officials.

From this valuable experience, these cadets were able to bring back their experiences and actively seek out new avenues for enhancing opportunities in their organization. They have initiated dialogues with industry leaders to expand the availability of technical internships for AAS cadets nationwide. Furthermore, their creative endeavors in the realm of social media aim to spotlight the organization’s remarkable service initiatives in local communities while igniting the enthusiasm in new student members to serve.

The 2023-24 Michigan Tech AAS National Staff Roster:

  • Kyle DeNeef (mechanical engineering), national commander
  • Eliya Huebner (biochemistry), national vice commander
  • Carinn Tryon (mechanical engineering), national director of operations
  • Jack Dedrick (computer science), national director of information management
  • Brandon Collins (mechanical engineering), national director of support
  • Sam Russ (computer science), national director of financial management
  • Catherine Prince (mechanical engineering), national director of training
  • Cody Scholz (civil engineering), national director of public affairs
  • Jonathan Willis (physics), national director of joint relations

By Ben Zuniga, Air Force ROTC, Arnold Air Society Advisor.

2023 Curriculum Development and Assessment Award for Lautala and Tewari

CTL Instructional Awards and Luncheon Announced

Pasi Lautala
Pasi Lautala
Radheshyam Tewari
Radheshyam Tewari

The Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) congratulates the following 2023 Deans’ Teaching Showcase members who have been selected to receive 2023 CTL Instructional Awards.

  • Elham Asgari (COB) — Innovative or Out of Class Teaching
  • Tim Wagner (Math) — Large Class Teaching
  • Pasi Lautala (CEGE) and Radheshyam Tewari (ME-EM) — Curriculum Development and Assessment

This year’s recipients will present an overview of the efforts that led to their teaching awards at a CTL Lunch and Learn event on Sept. 12 at noon in the MUB Alumni Lounge. Each presenter will receive formal recognition and a cash award.

Please register in advance to attend the luncheon.

The CTL would also like to thank previous instructional award recipients who were instrumental in the selection process.

We’re looking for nominations for the upcoming 2024 Deans’ Teaching Showcase during spring semester. Please consider suggesting (to your dean or chair) instructors whom you’ve seen make exceptional contributions in curriculum development, assessment, innovative or out-of-class teaching, or large class teaching.

Contact the CTL at ctl@mtu.edu for more information.

By the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.

Civil Engineering Student Cody Scholz to run Wausau Marathon for Gold Star Families

Cody Scholz

by Jalen Maki, Tomahawk Leader

Cody Scholz, a Michigan Tech civil engineering student is training to run in an area marathon in an effort to raise funds for families who have lost a family member in active duty military service.

Scholz, who graduated from Tomahawk High School in Wasau, Wisconsin, is a member of Air Force ROTC, which allows college students to take part in three- or four-year programs that offer a mix of normal college courses and the Air Force ROTC curriculum, covering everything from leadership studies to combat technique. Upon completion of a program, a student enters the U.S. Air Force as an officer.

Scholz said he chose to raise funds for Gold Star Families because he did not know what they were prior to being in Air Force ROTC, and after talking to family and friends, they were also unsure.

“This made me realize that many people in my community and surrounding area may also be unaware of Gold Star Families, their sacrifice and the support they need,” Scholz stated.

In response to this, Scholz decided to make an effort to educate those in his community about Gold Star Families and raise money for those families while training for and running the Wausau Marathon, slated for Saturday, Aug. 19.

The roughly 26-mile race will be Scholz’s first marathon. Scholz has set a fundraising goal of $5,000.00. “All support given is appreciated and makes a difference, no matter the size of the gift,” Scholz stated.

To contribute to Scholz’s efforts, visit his GoFundMe page.

Read the full news story on the Tomahawk Leader website.

Pasi Lautala Named College of Engineering Associate Dean for Research

Pasi Lautala, Associate Dean for Research, College of Engineering

Pasi Lautala has been named College of Engineering (CoE) associate dean for research. He is a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE); director and founder of Michigan Tech’s Rail Transportation Program (RTP); and director of the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute.

In his new position as associate dean, Lautala will support faculty and staff engagement with agencies that fund research projects — ranging from one-year, single-investigator projects to complex multidisciplinary projects involving several institutions, spanning years.

“Dr. Lautala will work to further expand the University’s mission of discovering new knowledge through research, and launching new technologies through innovation,” said Audra Morse, interim dean of the College of Engineering. “He has a strong track record of working with faculty members to form highly competitive research teams. He’s going to continue doing that work, and also expand his efforts to help others lead large, collaborative research proposals.”

Under Lautala’s direction, Michigan Tech developed one of the largest multidisciplinary rail transportation research and education portfolios in the nation. RTP projects include improving grade crossing safety through improved inspection techniques and data analytics that utilize drones, communications research between automated and connected highway/railway vehicles, and better understanding of driver behavior at crossings. 

Michigan Tech researchers are involved in additional rail projects, including development of a life cycle analysis framework for rail infrastructure, rail transportation resiliency and lowered environmental footprint through locomotive emissions analysis, and predicting track vulnerabilities for short- and long-term natural disruptions.

Lautala serves as chair of the Rail Group on the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a unit of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS).

“It has been a great experience to work with the Rail Transportation Program, the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute, and colleagues in the CEGE over the last 15 years,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to this new adventure. For me, the most exciting part of research has always been identifying opportunities that allow our greatest minds to cross-pollinate and use their expertise to address the variety of issues facing us on a daily basis. It’s going to be a steep curve to learn all the facets of research that take place within and beyond the College of Engineering, but I’m excited about the opportunity. I will do my best to help continue the expansion of our research in new directions.”

Lautala joined the Michigan Tech faculty in 2007, and soon after established the RTP to advance rail education and research across disciplines. He first came to Tech from Finland in 1996 to earn an M.S. in Civil Engineering. After his graduation, he worked for five years as a railroad and highway engineering consultant in Chicago before returning to Michigan Tech for a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering – Transportation.

Materials Science and Engineering Professor Emeritus Larry Sutter was the previous associate dean for research. He retired in July 2022.