Tag: CHEM-ENGG

Several Hundred Earthquakes Later: Dean Pennington Retires

Dr. Wayne Pennington, Research Professor of Geophysical Engineering
Wayne Pennington, Research Professor of Geophysical Engineering & Professor Emeritus, Michigan Tech

As a young boy fascinated by geology, Dr. Wayne Pennington probably never imagined he would personally experience several hundred earthquakes during his lifetime. (Yes, several hundred.) He will retire tomorrow as the dean of engineering and professor of geophysics at Michigan Technological University.

He hasn’t retired from the geosciences, though—at least not yet. Dr. Pennington is a world-recognized expert in earthquakes, oil and gas exploration and development, and the intersection of those fields. He has worked in academia and industry, and conducted field work at sites around the world. In the 1970s he studied tectonic earthquakes in Latin America and Pakistan. In the early 1980s he was on the faculty at The University of Texas at Austin and studied the relationship of earthquakes to oil and gas production. In the early 1990s he worked at the research laboratory for Marathon Oil Company.

Pennington joined Michigan Tech in 1994 as a professor of geophysics. In a 1997 article in The Leading Edge, a journal of the Society of Exploration Geophyscists, he coined a new term, “seismic petrophysics”. It described the first purposeful application of rock physics theory—calibrated by laboratory and well measurements—to the interpretation of seismic data. It was also a turning point among professionals in petroleum exploration. Pennington asserted that a more comprehensive understanding of the geological and fluid factors affecting seismic energy propagation would yield results greater than the sum of the parts.

“Professionals in petroleum resource development know of the exploration expertise here at Michigan Tech in large part because of the research and educational activities of Wayne and his students and collaborators,” says Dr. John Gierke, current chair of the university’s GMES department. “Their efforts are aimed at integrating geological and geophysical understanding, a coupling encompassed in ‘seismic petrophysics’ that bolsters both disciplinary aspects of exploration. The result has been more insightful interpretations and more promising discoveries.”
“The data-driven emphasis of ‘seismic petrophysics’ requires a thorough understanding of the complex interactions of rock and fluid mechanics on the seismic response when exploring for and developing petroleum resources,” says Michigan Tech alumnus Dr. Joshua Richardson, a geophysicist at Chevron Corporation. “This integrated approach allows petroleum to be produced as efficiently and safely as possible.”

As a professor, Pennington taught his students at Michigan Tech how to interpret integrated (geophysical, geological, and engineering) data sets for reservoir characterization. He also used earthquake seismology to teach geology and physics to local middle and high school students. His lab, SPOT, encompassed “the people, the laboratory, the computers, the publications, and the projects associated with seismology, petrophysics, and their union: seismic petrophysics.”

Pennington became chair of Michigan Tech’s Department of Geological and Mining Engineering Sciences in 2004, and then Dean of the College of Engineering in 2013. He continued his research activities as Dean, advising graduate students and publishing research results. He oversaw increases in undergraduate and graduate enrollment, degrees granted, and research expenditures. He hired four outstanding department chairs and promoted interdisciplinary cooperation and research within the college and across campus.

He has held other important positions during his career, including president of the American Geosciences Institute, Jefferson Science Fellow at the US Department of State and USAID, as well as outstanding mentor, advisor, colleague, supervisor, and friend.

During his last few days as Dean, Dr. Pennington generously answered our questions about himself and his plans for retirement.

Hometown:
I was born as the middle child of three to a dairy-farming family outside of Rochester, Minnesota. By the time I was 8 years old, we moved east, settling in Weehawken, New Jersey (above the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan). I earned a scholarship to The Peddie School, a private boarding school, for my last three years of high school. So I don’t really have a hometown other than the Copper Country, where I have lived longer than anywhere else.

Family:
My wife, Laura is a retired schoolteacher, most recently having taught at Hancock’s Barkell Elementary School. Our older son, Matthew, is an MD/PhD anesthesiologist with the University of Washington in Seattle where his wife is a gynecological oncologist; their son has just completed kindergarten. Our younger son, Keith, has degrees in biomedical engineering and business and is currently a PhD candidate in business at the University of Minnesota; his wife is a biomedical quality engineer for a large consulting firm. Both of our sons are Eagle Scouts and graduates of Houghton High School.

Number of times you have visited the site of an earthquake:
I have been in two large damaging earthquakes: in Pakistan in 1974 (the “Pattan” earthquake”) while living there and maintaining a seismic array for Columbia University; and in southern Mexico in 1979 (the “Petatlan” earthquake, magnitude 7.7) while setting up a local seismic array to monitor what turned out to be foreshocks. Including the aftershock series from those events, and many other smaller events, such as rock bursts inside coal mines and volcanic earthquakes on the Aleutian Islands, I have experienced at least several hundred earthquakes. I visited Haiti twice after the 2010 earthquake there; once as a member of a team from the US State Department, and once on a team from the United Nations.

How/Why did you choose geophysics?
I always loved geology, even as a small child. But once I got to college and realized I could do geoscience using math, there was no question of the subdiscipline that beckoned. Field work in exotic locations was also a major draw.

How/Why did you choose Michigan Tech?
When I decided to leave a comfortable job at an oil company research center, having determined that the job I enjoyed there would not exist much longer, I looked for a return to academics at an institution that was the “right” size, where I could merge science and engineering, and where applied research was valued. Michigan Tech was one of the rare institutions that ticked all boxes. Returning to the northern Midwest was attractive, particularly because the earthquake hazard is low here.

Part of the job you enjoyed most as professor, chair and then dean?
All those positions had their positive aspects, but I must say that I missed teaching and working with graduate students once I got a couple years into my position as dean.

Most rewarding aspect of your job?
Retirement. You know the joke about the two happiest days in a boat-owner’s life (the day he buys his first boat, and the day he sells his last boat)? It’s like that: there were many exciting and rewarding aspects in each of my career stages, both in academia and in industry. Starting each new position was exciting, yet so is leaving the last one.

Number of graduate students advised?
I’m not sure, but it numbers in the dozens.

Your biggest goal now?
I have a few short-term goals: attending a bar-tending class to improve my skills at making craft cocktails; continuing to offer training to industry; better understanding induced seismicity from wastewater injection; and evaluating the possibility of writing a book on “seismic petrophysics”. All while maintaining my kayaking and trail-developing skills. I will spend February through May of 2019 on a Fulbright at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, researching ways to better monitor oil and gas production and carbon sequestration.

What advice do you give to new students? New faculty? New chairs? New deans?
Don’t let anything or anyone discourage you. Listen to opinions but make up your own mind. Maintain your integrity above all else.

Best advice you’ve gotten so far about retiring?
I haven’t listened to any of it.

Thank you, Dr. Pennington—we wish you the absolute best in your new endeavors as a professor emeritus and research professor of geophysical engineering!

Words of wisdom written by Dr. Pennington over the years, just a sampling:

Students
“Students these days are a bit different from when I was (or many of you were) sweating over finals and cheering for our teams. They understand the need for natural resources, but are equally concerned about people and the environment, and their own lifestyle choices. They want to know how to make use of natural resources sustainably (leaving no legacy for others to deal with), and how to allow indigenous peoples to benefit from the development. They are concerned with how Earth works, but they want to use that knowledge to directly aid those who live the path of volcanic flows, or in earthquake hazard areas—while learning details about the internal operations and mutual interactions of features from the core to the atmosphere, and beyond. They want to combine engineering applications with natural science observations. In short, they want to ‘do’ and not just ‘learn.’”

Valued colleagues and their retirement
“As many of our long-time faculty retire, they are, in some sense, replaced by new faculty. In another sense, of course, these retiring faculty can never be replaced. Who can claim the legacy of Lloyal Bacon, perhaps the most-loved professor I have ever met? Nobody.”

Teaching
“In most classrooms, the students work on a problem, they get the right answer, and they’re done. But we all know that, in the real world, you work on a project—something unexpected happens—and you have to figure out the problem, explain it to your colleagues, and collectively plan your response to the situation.”

Research
“The research we do is conducted through computer modeling, in the laboratory, or in the field—from inside the Earth to outer space and everywhere in between—but it has common goals.”

—Wayne Pennington


Outstanding Engineering Alumni 2018

The Michigan Tech Alumni Board of Directors is proud to recognize outstanding alumni and friends with their 2018 awards program. The following engineering alumni were recognized:

  • Outstanding Service Award—Presented to alumni and friends making significant contributions to the success of the Board of Directors and/or the University. This year’s winner is Sally P. Heidtke (Pearson) ‘81 Chemical Engineering.
  • Distinguished Alumni Award—Presented to alumni who have made outstanding contributions both in their career and to Michigan Tech over a number of years. The recipients are Susan B. Kiehl (Brechting) ’83 Metallurgical Engineering and Melvin J. Visser ’59 Chemical Engineering.
Sally Heidtke
Sally Heidtke ’81
Susan Kiehl
Susan Kiehl ’83
Melvin Visser
Melvin Visser ’59

Vote for the Whiz Kids tonight (Thurs. June 21) by 8:30 pm

The Lake Linden Whiz Kids eCybermission team along with advisors Engineering Fundamentals Senior Lecturer Gretchen Hein & 4th year chemical engineering student Ryan Knoll are in Washington DC this week. They will present their findings about using stamp sand in lightweight concrete. The presentations can be watched live and you can vote for their team for the People’s Choice Award.
 Voting is from 1:30-8pm today. They would love your support. The link is: http://ecyber18.hscampaigns.com/#9thgradeteams
They will be receiving a STEM in Action Grant Award tomorrow to continue their work and will be meeting with the EPA on Monday to discuss their project.  The meeting with the EPA would never have happened without help from Representative Jack Bergman. The team thanks the College of Engineering,  Chemical Engineering and Engineering Fundentals for their support.
Read past stories about the team here.
Lake Linden Whiz Kids
Lake Linden Whiz Kids

Four New Biomedical Engineering Minors for Fall 2018

Biomedical Engineering MinorsBiomedical engineering is a rapidly growing and evolving field. The need to have a well trained workforce with the ability to integrate life sciences, engineering, and the practices of modern medicine is a pressing issue.

The Department of Biomedical Engineering is offering four new minors related to biomedical engineering beginning Fall 2018:

  • Biomaterials Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Medical Devices and Instrumentation
  • Tissue and Stem Cell Engineering

The minor programs will help to prepare students for careers in the medical device or related industry sectors. They may pursue graduate study at the interface of life science and engineering. The minors also help prepare students for professional careers, such as medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, or occupational therapy.

Michigan Tech invites students from all disciplines to learn the fundamental concepts of biomedical engineering. The minors are structured in such a manner that they are accessible to a broad range of majors, such as materials science and engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, general engineering, and mechanical engineering. Science majors can take these minors if the pre-requisite math and engineering courses are met.

Students will broadly understand key concepts and principles of biomedical engineering. They will develop the beginnings of an understanding of how the life sciences and other engineering disciplines can be integrated to solve biomedical engineering problems.


2018 Employee Service Award Recognition

Last Tuesday (May 15, 2018), faculty and staff members, along with their guests, gathered at the Memorial Union Ballroom for an awards dinner recognizing 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years of service to Michigan Tech.

Within the College of Engineering, the following employees were recognized:

25 Years

Bruce Mork, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Timothy Schulz, Electrical and Computer Engineering

30 Years

Warren Perger, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Charles Van Karsen, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

35 Years

David Hand, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Lawrence Sutter, Materials Science and Engineering

40 Years

Surendra Kawatra, Chemical Engineering

Congratulations to all honorees. This year’s Staff Service Recognition Luncheon will be held Wednesday, June 6.

By Human Resources.

Bruce Mork
Bruce Mork
Tim Schulz
Tim Schulz
Warren Perger
Warren Perger
Charles Van Karsen
Charles Van Karsen
David Hand
David Hand
Larry Sutter
Larry Sutter
S. Komar Kawatra
S. Komar Kawatra

Minerick Attends Michigan Venture Capital Association Event

Michigan Entrepreneurial and Investment Map
Michigan Entrepreneurial and Investment Map

Jim Baker (Pavlis Honors College and Innovation and Industry Engagement) and Adrienne Minerick (CoE) participated in the Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) 12 @ 12 event in Ann Arbor on Tuesday (April 24, 2018). The event included 12 participants identified by MVCA as leaders from Michigan’s entrepreneurial community to participate in a roundtable discussion on strategies to create greater access to capital and associated challenges for early-stage technology commercialization activities including building investment expertise across the state and retaining entrepreneurial talent within the state.


Student Leadership Awards Ceremony 2018

Percy Julian Award winners from 2016, 2017 and 2018. Left to right, Neffertia Tyner, Jimmie Cannon, and Logan McMillan
Percy Julian Award winners from 2016, 2017 and 2018. Left to right, Neffertia Tyner, Jimmie Cannon, and Logan McMillan

Outstanding students, staff and a special alumna were honored Friday, April 20, at Michigan Tech’s 24th Annual Student Leadership Awards Ceremony. The event’s keynote speaker, Captain Amanda (Taylor) Nerg ’10, was also the winner of the 2018 Outstanding Young Alumna Award. Captain Nerg earned a bachelor’s in business administration at Michigan Tech and is currently the Chief of Contracting Office at Morón Air Base in Spain, where she supports multiple Air Force, Marine and NATO missions.

Nerg says Tech helped her discover who she wanted to be, “Everything you do and have done at this University has shaped you into who you are today. Aspire to be your best and do your job with integrity and passion,” she says.

The President’s Award for Leadership, perhaps the most prestigious undergraduate award, was presented to Sarah Jo Martens, who is pursuing a degree in Environmental Engineering. Her nominators cited Martens’ numerous accomplishments including serving as President of Blue Key Honor Society, Campus Tour Guide, Orientation Team Leader and co-section Leader of the Huskies Pep Band. Martens has also played an important role in the Michigan Tech Theatre Company, having taken part in seven productions.

Gina Roose was the recipient of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Advancement Award for Service, Hossein Tavakoli received the Exceptional Leadership in Student Governance Award. The Exceptional Enthusiasm as Student Leader Award was presented to Nathan Shaiyen and the Student Employee of the Year was awarded to Madison Olmstead.

The Rising Star of the Year, presented to a first or second year student showing great potential for leadership, was awarded to Gi West. Erica Coscarelli was named Outstanding Future Alumna and Brendan Beecham was named Outstanding Future Alumnus. These awards are presented to a student living the Alumni Board of Director’s motto of “Celebrating Traditions, Creating Connections.”

Other awards handed out included:

  • Exceptional Program of the Year: Undergraduate Student Government’s Snowman Left Behind
  • Most Improved Student Organization: Indian Students’ Association
  • Exceptional Community Service Project: Order of Omega – Fall & Spring Blood Drives
  • Claire M. Donovan Award: Hossein Tavakoli
  • Student Organization of the Year: Mind Trekkers
  • Student Organization Advisor of the Year: Ellen Horsch, Alpha Gamma Delta
  • The Provost’s Award for Scholarship was selected from the Departmental Scholars. This year’s recipient was Dillon Babcock, Departmental Scholar from Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics.

Award recipients who received their awards at previous ceremonies were also recognized Friday. They include:

  • Percy Julian Award: Logan McMillan
  • Exceptional Graduate Student Leader: William Lytle, PhD Student, Social Sciences Department
  • Exceptional Graduate Student Scholar: Haihang Ye, PhD Student, Chemistry
  • Exceptional Graduate Mentor: Chelsea Shelly, Associate Professor, Social Sciences Department and Kathleen E.

By Student Activities.

Related: 

Pavlis Students Recognized at 24th Annual Student Leadership Awards


Four Michigan Tech Teams Take Home Awards from the Central Michigan University New Venture Competition

CMU New Venture Competition people holding a big checkSix undergraduate student teams from Michigan Technological University traveled to Central Michigan University (CMU) to compete in the eighth annual New Venture Competition held Friday, April 13, 2018. The event was co-sponsored by Michigan Tech’s Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE). Student teams from Michigan Tech and CMU presented business plans and pitches to panels of experienced entrepreneurs. Four of Michigan Tech’s six competing teams, including those with engineering students, took home cash and in-kind awards.

Team Fitstop took first place in the pitch competition and was awarded $1,000. Fitstop founders, Gabe Giddings (computer science) and Jacob Carley (electrical engineering), participated in Michigan Tech’s I-Corps Site Program in January.

Pavlis Honors College student Kyle Ludwig won the $250 Audience Choice Award in the pitch component of the competition for his startup Looma. In addition, Looma was also awarded $1,500 in legal assistance from Foster Swift.

Michigan Tech’s Hinge was awarded second runner up in the pitch component of the competition and $250. Isaiah Pfund (mechanical engineering), Jack Horrigan (electrical engineering), and Tanner Sheahan (chemical engineering), of Hinge, participated in the Michigan Tech Consumer Products Challenge last January and are working on a self-sanitizing toilet as well as other consumer and industrial product ideas. Horrigan and Pfund were also winners of best elevator pitch at the Bob Mark competition last fall.

Read more at the Pavlis Honors College Blog, by Amy Karagiannakis.


2018 Fraternity and Sorority Life Awards Recognize Faculty and Staff

Cameron Hadden
Cameron Hadden

More than 300 Michigan Tech students gathered for the 12th Annual Fraternity and Sorority Life Awards Ceremony Sunday in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

In addition to the many student awards presented, Order of Omega, the Greek Life Honor Society that coordinates the awards, took the time to recognize some exceptional faculty and staff members. There are more than 560 students in fraternities and sororities at Michigan Tech, and Order of Omega wanted to emphasize that these awards were coming directly from the students.

When writing a nomination for the Outstanding Faculty Award, students were asked to consider faculty who:

  • Are dedicated to supporting students and helping them succeed academically
  • Demonstrate a passion for teaching and/or research
  • Utilize innovative teaching methods and promote academic integrity among students

When writing a nomination for the Outstanding Staff Award, students were asked to consider staff who:

  • Are dedicated to supporting students and helping them succeed both inside and outside the classroom
  • Demonstrate a passion for working with students
  • Promote and inspire the Michigan Tech values of Community, Scholarship, Possibilities, Accountability and Tenacity.

When writing a nomination for the Outstanding Advisor Award, students were asked to consider staff/faculty who:

  • Are dedicated to promoting the Michigan Tech Greek community values and chapter values
  • Are dedicated to developing leaders within the chapter; are dedicated to promoting a values-based organization
  • Promotes and role models ethical leadership and promotes academic success among members and the chapter as a whole.

The following faculty and staff members were nominated by members of the Greek community and were recognized at the 2018 Fraternity and Sorority Life Awards Ceremony

Faculty—Sean Clancey (ChE), Cameron Hadden (MEEM). Staff—Joseph Cooper (Student Financial Services), Scott Wendt (ChE). Advisors—Laura Bunzendahl-Bulleit (Dean of Students Office), Bobbie Dalquist (Financial Information Systems), James DeClerck (MEEM), Alyssa Fredin (Financial Aid).

Scott Wendt
Scott Wendt

These nominations were written by individual students and were supported by an entire fraternity or sorority. In the end, the Outstanding Faculty Award was presented to Cameron Hadden and the Outstanding Staff Award went to Scott Wendt. Advisor of the Year was awarded to Bobbie Dalquist.

Congratulations to all of these faculty and staff members who were nominated and thank you for inspiring and motivating students.

The full list of award winners and nominees can be found on the student activities website.

By Student Activities.


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Tony Rogers

Tony Rogers
Tony Rogers

Our second-to-last Deans’ Teaching Showcase member for this spring is Tony Rogers, associate professor in Chemical Engineering and co-advisor of the Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise.

He was nominated by Chair Pradeep Agrawal and selected by College of Engineering Dean Wayne Pennington for his long and excellent history of teaching in three “real-world” aspects of the chemical engineering undergraduate curriculum: Enterprise, the Unit Operations Lab and the Capstone Design course.

Rogers has taught the capstone plant design course (Process Analysis & Design) for senior-year students since 1993. He draws on his industrial design experience at Research Triangle Institute (RTI, Durham, North Carolina) working under contract for industrial clients.

Agrawal comments on Rogers’ unique focus within this course, saying “While safety and environmental constraints are critical to chemical process design, all project investments are based on economic considerations. Professor Rogers sees to it that chemical engineering students graduate with this important perspective and speak the language of cash-flow analyses and profitability. Economics is the deciding factor when choosing between competing technical options.”

Rogers has also been advising Consumer Product Manufacturing (CPM) since the Enterprise program first began in 2000. His goal in this role is to give students further industry insight through internship-like experience with corporate sponsors during the regular academic semester. Rogers observes, “It is a fun challenge in all of my courses to keep the students engaged in an era of advancing computer technology and entertainment. The trick is to realize that there are no short-cuts for the hard work of mastering engineering concepts. I try to contribute to my department’s goal of turning out industry-ready graduates who are ready to work.”

Pennington himself echoes this same practical, balanced focus in summarizing his selection, but emphasizes Rogers’ work in a third area—the Unit Operations lab. In Pennington’s words, “Every visitor to the Chemical Engineering Department comes away impressed with the Unit Operations lab and the hands-on training that our students receive, in addition to the usual formal education in the discipline. This relationship to the ‘real world’ of industrial (or research) chemical engineering practice has been largely driven by the initiatives and perseverance of Dr. Tony Rogers over the years. His combination of practical considerations, including safety, environment and economics, with the goal of production on a schedule and within specifications, is unique among undergraduate educational practices. Tony helps make Michigan Tech the respected institution that it is.”

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