Tag Archives: ECE

Undergraduate Engineering at Michigan Tech Climbs Higher in US News & World Report 2020 Rankings

Dean Janet Callahan stands in front of the summer gardens on campus at Michigan Tech
“We’re different from most other universities because of our central focus on engineering and technology. What this means for students is that if they love solving high-tech problems—they belong here,” says Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering, Michigan Technological University

Michigan Technological University has moved up in the latest US News & World Report ranking for Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs. Michigan Tech is now ranked 66th among 206 undergraduate engineering programs at colleges or universities that offer doctoral degrees in engineering. Michigan Tech’s ranking was 75th in the same rankings last year.

Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech, said that while she is pleased to see the rankings increase during her first year as dean, she is not surprised. “The faculty at Michigan Tech are incredible. The rise reflects the growing reputation of Michigan Technological University’s strong engineering programs,” she says. “We’re different from most other universities because of our central focus on engineering and technology. What this means for students is that if they love solving high-tech problems—they belong here!”

The US News rankings of undergraduate engineering programs accredited by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, are based solely on the judgments of deans and senior faculty at peer institutions. Additional details on the methodology may be found herewhich states:

US News surveyed engineering school deans and faculty members in spring 2019 and asked them to rate each program they were familiar with on a scale from 1 (marginal) to 5 (distinguished) for these rankings. Two peer assessment surveys were sent to each ABET-accredited engineering program.

US News has separate rankings for 206 undergraduate engineering programs at colleges or universities that offer doctoral degrees in engineering and for 210 engineering programs at colleges where the terminal degree in engineering is a bachelor’s or master’s. Two separate surveys and respondent groups were used, which means that deans and senior faculty only rated engineering programs within their institution’s ranking category.

Research at the graduate level often influences the undergraduate curriculum, and engineering schools with doctoral programs in engineering tend to have the widest possible range of undergraduate engineering courses and program offerings. 

In spring and early summer 2019, of those surveyed in the group where the terminal degree in engineering is a bachelor’s or master’s, 51.7% returned ratings; 71.6% did so for the doctoral group. This compares to a response rate of 33% in the engineering bachelor’s or master’s survey in 2018 and 58% for the doctoral survey in 2018.

US News used the two most recent years’ responses to calculate weighted average scores of programs in both categories. For example, a program that received 55% of its total ratings in 2019 and the remaining 45% in 2018 would have 55% of its overall score determined by its 2019 survey results and 45% by its 2018 survey results.

Learn more at mtu.edu/engineering.


Finding a Research Mentor Workshop for Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate ResearchAre you interested in conducting research? Are you unsure how to locate a faculty member to work with? Join this interactive discussion featuring practical advice and tips for finding and approaching a faculty member for a research position.

In addition, learn about paid research internship opportunities at Michigan Tech and beyond. The one-hour workshop will be offered from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday (Sept. 10, 2019) in Fisher 133 and from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 in Fisher 133.

By Pavlis Honors College.


Outreach in Natural Resources and Engineering

Natural Resource and Engineering career activityEighteen high school students from Detroit and across the lower peninsula are spending six days at Michigan Tech from July 22-27, 2019, to explore Natural Resources and Engineering majors and consider attending Michigan Technological University. This is the 5th year that the program has been conducted.

Students will investigate drinking water treatment, autonomous vehicles, forest management, and more, with Michigan Tech faculty from Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM), Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), Electrical and Computing Engineering (ECE), as well as natural resource agencies, such as the US Forest Service. Students will participate in hands-on engineering explorations and enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, from kayaking to mountain biking and hiking at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Some of the engineering-related explorations include:

  • Value of STEM Careers, with Dr. Janet Callahan, Dean of the College of Engineering
  • Water Use and Cleaning Wastewater, with Joan Chadde, Center for Science and Environmental Outreach (CSEO)
  • Water Treatment and the Flint Water Crisis, with Brian Doughty, CSEO
  • Water Treatment Technologies, with Ryan Kibler, Benjamin Cerrados, Dr. Daisuke Minakata, CEE
  • Demo of acoustic triangulation and underwater autonomous vehicles, with Dr. Andrew Barnard and Miles Penhale, ME-EM
  • Stream Lab and Green Land and Water Management Practices, with Dr. Brian Barkdoll, CEE
  • Tour of Flood Damage in Houghton (and Detroit): Why does flooding occur and how can it be mitigated? with Dr. Alex Mayer, CEE, and Mike Reed, Detroit Zoological Society
  • Self-Driving Vehicles, with Dr. Jeremy P. Bos, ECE

The program is coordinated by Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, with funding from: Michigan Space Grant Consortium, Michigan Tech School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, College of Engineering, Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, Admissions, Housing and Residential Life, Great Lakes Research Center, and the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.

For more information, contact: Joan Chadde at 906-487-3341/906-369-1121 or jchadde@mtu.edu.


Mining Engineering Returns to Michigan Tech

A class of 14 Michigan Tech field geology students stand at the entrance of the Caledonia Mine, Ontonagon County, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Steve Chittick.
Michigan Tech field geology students stand at the entrance of the Caledonia Mine, Ontonagon County, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Steve Chittick.

Starting this summer, Michigan Technological University offers a new, multidisciplinary Mining Engineering degree program for graduate and undergraduate students.

Administered through the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, the multidisciplinary program includes core mining and geological engineering courses as well as classes from almost all of the departments in the College of Engineering.

“At Michigan Tech, it’s a part of our heritage, and it’s part of the future, too,” says Leonard Bohmann, associate dean of engineering. “There’s a definite need for mining engineers, now and into the future. We can help fill that need, which extends far beyond renewed local mining concerns,” he adds. “There’s a global need for mining engineers.”

Paige in the mine

“Complex endeavors require skilled people with the technical understanding and innovative mindset to design systems to safely address multifaceted challenges,” says John Gierke, GMES department chair. “To develop mineral resources in a socially and environmentally responsible manner, we need mining engineering professionals who are adept at solving complex problems.”

Back to the Future

Although the Michigan Mining School was created to train mining engineers in 1885, dwindling enrollments led to shelving the program 15 years ago. “Thanks to strong engagement from our alumni, coupled with the advancing digital revolution that is changing how the industry moves into the next generation, the foundation for reintroducing the mining engineering program at Michigan Tech allowed for its reinstatement,” says Gierke. “Sometimes, one does not fully appreciate what they have until it’s gone.”

Today, 134 years since its founding, students can pursue a degree in mining engineering at Michigan Tech to gain an understanding of the technical aspects of the mining industry and an appreciation for mining as a business; and an awareness of social-environmental issues and how these issues affect their roles as future professional engineers working for the general benefit of society.

Matt Portfleet shows safe rock drilling practices to geology major Elana Barth in the Adventure Mine. Photo courtesy of Matt Portfleet.
Matt Portfleet shows safe rock drilling practices to Michigan Tech geology major Elana Barth in the Adventure Mine in Greenland, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Matt Portfleet.

Mining engineering students learn about health and safety best practices from practitioners. They are involved in multidisciplinary, hands-on, and field-based courses; learning and research opportunities in exploration and resource development; complementary coursework in mineral processing and business; advanced technologies for mapping, exploration, and education; and advanced computing and data science for optimizing mine design and operations.

Across the entire country, now, only 14 mining engineering degree programs exist in the US. Michigan Tech offers students several important advantages. “Students will learn about mining engineering in a collaborative academic department that is home to non only mining engineering, but also geological engineering, geology, geophysics, and volcanology,” says Gierke. “Our expert faculty work together in applying and developing new technologies to better understand geologic processes—and better understand how to safely develop and manage Earth resources from discovery to closure.”

Aeromagnetic survey, courtesy of Michigan Tech alumnus Benjamin Drenth, '03. An aeromagnetic survey is a common type of geophysical survey carried out using a magnetometer aboard or towed behind an aircraft. The principle is similar to a magnetic survey carried out with a hand-held magnetometer, but allows much larger areas of the Earth's surface to be covered quickly.
Aeromagnetic survey, courtesy of Michigan Tech geological engineering alumnus Benjamin Drenth, ’03. A magnetometer is aboard or towed behind an aircraft. It is similar to a magnetic survey carried out with a hand-held magnetometer, but allows much larger areas of the Earth’s surface to be covered quickly.

“Another great advantage for our students is Michigan Tech’s location in Michigan’s historical Keweenawan native-copper district,” notes Gierke. “Our students will have an abundance of hands-on, learning opportunities in working mines,” he says.

“The new way of mining is more data intensive. For instance, drone mapping makes it easy and possible to map a pit every day, versus mapping a pit once or twice a year via surveying,” adds Gierke. “Our students will become adept and experienced with new technologies. We’ll be educating mining engineers of the future.”

Want more info on mining engineering at Michigan Tech? Learn more online.

 


You’re invited: Write a Guest Blog for the Michigan Tech College of Engineering News

Photo of white old fashioned typewriter on an old wooden desk or tabletop.
Remember these? We sure do! Photo by Bernard Hermant.

Michigan Tech electrical engineering alumnus Charles L. Hand ’62 recently authored a guest blog, Circumnavigating Lake Superior, featured on the College of Engineering news website. Now that Chuck has paved the way with his wonderful article, we hope more alumni will want to do the same!

If you are a Michigan Tech engineering alumni, and you’d like to share a story on our news blog, please email your idea and/or article to Kimberly Geiger, outreach coordinator in the College of Engineering, kmgeiger@mtu.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!

 


Michigan Tech Alum Sirak Seyoum Attempts Mount Everest

Sirak Seyoum stands in front of what seems to be a massive crevasse on his climb up Mount Everest
Sirak Seyoum admires the dynamic Khumbu Glacier on Mount Everest

This past spring Michigan Tech ECE alumnus Sirak Seyoum, an electrical engineer living in San Francisco, took time off his professional position at Cargill to climb Mount Everest. His goal: to become the first Ethiopian to conquer Everest, the highest mountain in the world.

As a young boy, Sirak Seyoum grew up in Gondar, Ethiopia, idolizing sports legends like soccer superstar Pelé and Olympic marathon champion Abebe Bikila. After discovering his own passion 11 years ago, Seyoum has been climbing mountains pretty much nonstop ever since, some more than once, about 21 in all. (Scroll down to the end of this post to see the full list.)

Seyoum and members of his rope team started their trek from Lukla to Everett Base Camp on April 5th. Their bid for the summit took place 41 days later. Starting at Camp 4 at 9pm on May 15th, the team climbed throughout the night. By 9:54 AM the next morning, Seyoum was just 200-300 meters from the summit of Everest, at 28,210 feet. “I could literally feel the summit and how beautiful it was, but obeyed the order from my Sherpa, telling me to go back down.”

Check out Seyoum’s Everest Power BI chart, to see the live data gathered from his Gen3 satellite device throughout his climb.

Now back home in the Bay Area, Seyoum is already preparing for next year. He’s planning to climb Everest once again, but this time via the north side in Tibet, China—a more challenging and difficult route.

A head and shoulders photo of Sirak with yellow tent behind him, at Everest Base Camp for the first time, sitting in the dining room.
At Everest Base Camp for the first time, sitting in the dining room.

Q: When did you first start to climb mountains?
I began climbing in 2008 while living in Las Vegas, Nevada. It started out with a small hike up a 5,000 ft. mountain after declining a coworker’s repeated invites and then finally accepting. I was hooked right away and spent every weekend hiking and climbing.

Q: Does being an engineer help you as a mountain climber? And how does being a mountain climber help you as an engineer?
Interesting question. Being an engineer helps support part of my mountain climbing with the necessary funds needed to train for such climbs. Being a mountain climber helps me purge thoughts, and sometimes great ideas come to life during my climbs.

Q: This year especially, there were many news reports about overcrowding on Mount Everest. What was your experience, and how might the problem best be solved?
Overcrowding has always been an issue over the years but what makes this year stand out most is the amount of inexperienced climbers and Sherpas. The combination of both together is deadly. This year there were only a few days to plan the summit bid, due to bad weather. Our team went for the summit during the coldest period of the 2019 season which didn’t attract most climbers hence traffic was minimal. The temps were at -40 degrees. The winds were estimated at 35-45 km/hr.

Q: Is descending the mountain harder than climbing up? Is there a greater risk of falling?
Very true. Descending is more challenging because of muscle loss and fatigue due to not having enough calories during the entire climb.

Q: During your bid for the summit, while climbing at night at such a high elevation, how did it feel?
The stars are way closer and the sky seems to be running out of room for them. What’s also incredible is that at Everett Base Camp, during the day when the sun is out, we could hear the melting of the glaciers all around us, sounding like a tropical island with a nearby stream or waterfall. In the evening, melting stops and sounds of avalanche cascade one after another throughout the night. It was incredible.

Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned by attempting Mount Everest?
Never ever stop supplementing your body with electrolytes, water, and energy bars (Ollybars) during and after climbing, especially on the summit bid day.

Q: What was the best part?
The views from Lhotse Face. Reaching Camp 4 with ease and feeling the summit.

Q: What was the biggest challenge?
Lhotse Face. Standing just below Hillary Step, feeling the peak and deciding to turn back around.

Q: You plan to climb next year, via the North side. How will you prepare⁠—mentally, emotionally, physically⁠—for this more difficult route?
Though every step of climbing via the south side was challenging in every way, I have learned a lot about my abilities, and most of all nutrition. My tolerance for high altitude was much higher than I expected, which provides me with a huge boost of mental confidence. The rest will come in line because the hardest part of training is the mental confidence.

Q: Anything more to add?
I would like to recognize and thank my sponsors, Walia and Ollybars. I’d also like to thank Brenda Rudiger, Assistant Vice President for Alumni Engagement at Michigan Tech, for mailing my MTU neck gator and MTU stickers. I have one showing on my mountaineering suit, top left side.

Seyoum’s conquest of some of the most challenging mountains around the world is testament to his level of fitness. Visit Sirak Seyoum’s Facebook page to read posts and watch videos from his climb of Mt. Everest, and learn more about his second attempt.

Last, but not least: While a little anxious, Seyoum’s mother, Dr. Fantaye Mekbeb is his number one fan. Seyoum’s father, Dr. Seyoum Taticheff, passed away in 2011 but was always proud and supportive of his son’s mountain climbing ambitions.

Crossing the Geneva Spu with oxygen mask onr, on exposed rocky sections. Around the bend is Camp 4.
Crossing the Geneva Spur, on exposed rocky sections. Around the bend is Camp 4.
Seyoum at Camp 2 holding up a big blue flag that says Walia prior to heading up to Camp 3, and higher. Walia beer, a product of Heineken primarily sold in Ethiopia, was one of Seyoum's climbing sponsors.
Seyoum at Camp 2 prior to heading up to Camp 3, and higher. Walia beer, a product of Heineken primarily sold in Ethiopia, was one of Seyoum’s climbing sponsors.
April 2019: Sirak Seyoum at High Camp Lobuche, Nepal
Sirak stands with backpack at Gorakshep, a small Himalayan Village at an elevation of about 16,942 ft. Note the iconic sign, "Way to Everest Base Camp".
At Gorakshep, a small Himalayan Village at an elevation of about 16,942 ft. Note the iconic sign, “Way to Everest Base Camp”.
Sirak with heavy backpack n the trail, shortly after leaving Hotel Everest View at about 13,000 ft.
On the trail, shortly after leaving Hotel Everest View at about 13,000 ft.
On the way back down, at one of the many suspension bridges, Seyoum takes a final selfie
On the way back down, at one of the many suspension bridges, a final selfie
Sirak Seyoum with fellow climbers Keval Kakka and Avtandil Tsintsadze in Lobuche, Nepal.
A previous climb: Sirak in the lead on Mt. Chopicalqui, Peru (2015)
Sirak Seyoum waves the Ethiopian flag atop Mt Chopicalqui, Peru (2015)
Atop Mt. Chopicalqui, Peru (2015)

All the mountains (excluding Everest at 8,848 meters) Seyoum has climbed to date:

UNITED STATES
Mt. Rainier, WA, 4392 meters
Mt. Whitney, CA, 4421 meters
Mt. Shasta, CA, 4321 meters
Mt. Wilson, NV, 2056 meters
Mt. Charleston, NV, 2289 meters
Griffith Peak, NV, 3371 meters
Black Mountain, NV 5092 meters
Bridge Mountain, NV, 6955 meters
Mummy Mountain, NV 2264 meters
Rainbow Wall, Red Rock Canyon, NV

MEXICO
Nevada de Toluca, 4680 meters

NEPAL
Mt. Kalapathar, 5644 meters
Island Peak, 6189 meters
Lobuche East, 6119 meters

PERU
Mt. Chopicalqui, 6345 meters
Mt. Pisco5752 meters
Mt. Urus, 5423 meters
Mt. Ishinca, 5530 meters

ECUADOR
Mt. Cotopaxi, 5897 meters
Mt. Chimborazo, 6263 meters
Mt. Antisana, 5704 meters

 


Expanded Online Engineering Programs, Certificates, and Course Offerings

Using computer simulation to design new materials and guide new processing methods, a student sits at a computer with code on one screen and microimages of metallurgical materials on a big screen above.
Using computer simulation to design new materials and guide new processing methods.

Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering is expanding undergraduate and graduate online course offerings. This will enhance learning opportunities for undergraduate students who are off-campus for an internship or coop experience, and also significantly increase graduate level opportunities for learning new skills.

Lifelong learning and professional development are desired by many employers. Get a leg up on your career advancement or take courses to fulfill continuing education requirements. Learn more about what online programs are currently available and to apply for regular admissions or non-degree seeking graduate student status.

Available online course offerings exist in civil and environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, engineering, materials science and engineering, and mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics. A sample of courses offered this Fall 2019 include MEEM5650 Advanced Quality Engineering, MEEM5655 Lean Manufacturing, CEE5212 Prestressed Concrete Design, EE5455 Cybersecurity Industrial Control Systems, and MSE5760 Vehicle Battery Cells and Systems.

A series of new graduate certificate offerings are under development, to be launched in 2020, including topics in Manufacturing, Industrial Applications and Practices, and more. These graduate certificates will typically have 9 or 10 credits, and can be “stacked” with each other over time, leading to a master’s degree from Michigan Tech.

Learn more about what online programs are currently available and to apply for regular admissions or non-degree seeking graduate student status.

Questions? Please contact College of Engineering Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Leonard Bohmann.


Karl (’85 BSME) and Christine LaPeer (’85 BSMT) to Receive Humanitarian Award

Karl and Christine LaPeer, photo taken at the son's recent wedding standing in front of a waterfall
Karl and Chris LaPeer

Karl and Christine (Blood) LaPeer practice their humanitarian efforts at Michigan Tech, funding seven, four-year scholarships—and also around the world. The LaPeers are both 1985 Michigan Tech graduates, Karl with a BSME degree, and Christine with a BSMT degree. Michigan Tech’s Alumni Association will present them with the University’s Humanitarian Award at the upcoming Alumni Reunion on August 2.

The Michigan Tech Humanitarian Award is presented to those alumni and friends who, through their outstanding involvement and dedication, have made a significant contribution of volunteer leadership or service which has improved or enriched the lives of others and the welfare of humanity.

During his time at Tech, Karl vividly remembers the second day of classes as his most memorable, saying “I met my future bride (now wife of 32 years) on the second day of classes in a calculus class. I would have to say that was the best thing that ever happened to me at Michigan Tech.”

After graduation, Karl joined Fanuc Robotics to design industrial robots for the automotive industry. He returned to his studies, in business this time, at the University of Michigan where he became a Henry Ford Scholar, graduated first in his class, and earned his MBA in 1993. After a few years working in the business world, Karl helped start Peninsula Capital Partners, an investment company, where he works to this day. His diverse background in engineering and business allows him to assess both the financial and operational aspects of an investment opportunity. He is a licensed professional engineer, speaks fluent German, and is a member of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute, a global association of investment professionals. He is also an active member in his church and frequently serves as a lay minister.

Over the course of the last decade Karl and Chris have helped fund one of the largest mission movements in history, and funded ministries ranging from Christian bands to missionaries and evangelists.

Between 2013 and 2014, the LaPeers and their children, working through the Angel House initiative, funded the building of three Angel House Orphanages (25 children each) and two freshwater wells in India. Angel House is a focused rescue initiative for abandoned orphans and trafficking victims throughout India and Southeast Asia. In May 2013 Karl, Chris, and their daughter, Elayna, dedicated an orphanage. In December 2013 their daughter, Heather, dedicated an orphanage and village well; in December of 2014 their son, Nate, dedicated another orphanage and village well.

The LaPeers served as part of the 1Nation1Day (1N1D) 2015 mission outreach in the Dominican Republic as part of a team of over 2,000 foreign aid workers providing pairs of shoes to children, distributing meals, training business leaders, and providing clean water. During this time Chris also worked in medical clinics around the country treating patients for free, while Karl and their daughter Elayna led the campaign’s University Forum program where 5,600 university students were empowered in 38 forums led by 33 business leaders from around the world.

In Nicaragua in 2017 (1N1D) Karl and Chris were part of a team of 2,800 foreign aid workers in which 8,941 people were treated for free at eight medical clinics, 270,000 meals were distributed, 438 small homes were built, 1,220 business leaders were trained, 16,000 people were provided with clean water, over 100,000 primary school students were given hope in school assemblies, 6,111 women were empowered at conferences, and 3,600 attended pastor conferences. Karl and Chris also headed the 1Nation1Day team in the department (state) of Boaco.

Most recently, the LaPeers traveled to Peru for 1N1D Un Solo Peru 2019, joining the team in Tarapoto, in the Amazon Region of Peru. They co-led the state, working with the 150 foreign missionaries. Chris ran a medical clinic with over 30 medical professionals that treated, at no cost, nearly 1,500 patients in five days. Karl gave lectures at universities, spoke at leadership and business conferences, churches, press conferences, and also gave media interviews.

Their son, Nate (25), daughter-in-law Elizabeth (25), and two daughters, Heather (29) and Elayna (12) also made the trip. “They spent the week in the schools, helping kids understand that they are special and uniquely designed to make a difference in the world by a personal God,” says Karl. “Along with our coworkers, we helped fund two clean-water projects, as well—one in Tarapoto and one in Cusco—that are now providing clean, safe water to people who have never had a drink of safe water in their lives.”

Their goal now, as a family, says Karl, is to “dig deeper to reach more people with a message of hope, purpose, and eternitynot just on foreign mission trips, but each day where we live and work,” says Karl.

The LaPeers are already planning future trips. First, a return trip to India to visit the four orphanages and two water projects they dedicated five years ago. Next summer a trip to Los Angeles, California to join with 20,000 missionaries from around the world. “We’re also being tugged back to Tarapoto, in Peru, to do some follow-up work with business leaders, university students, and churches—and there is an invitation to visit both Cambodia and Pakistan with organizations we know.” Adds Karl: “We can’t see how we can do it all, but we’ll see.”


College of Engineering Welcomes New Faculty Staff, Students, and Alumni

The Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology maintains a machine shop with comprehensive facilities available to Michigan Tech students. The shop also offers machining and fabrication services for the university research community. Students and a faculty member examine a large drill in the machine shop.
The Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology at Michigan Tech, recently joined College of Engineering. MMET maintains a machine shop with comprehensive facilities available to Michigan Tech students. The shop also offers machining and fabrication services for the university research community.

As of July 1, the College of Engineering welcomes the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and advisory board members associated with the degree programs of Surveying Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Construction Management, and Integrated Geospatial Technology.

The surveying engineering and integrated geospatial technology programs join the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). The construction management program will be jointly administered by the School of Business and Economics and CEE.

The mechanical engineering technology (MET) program will be housed in a new department in the College of Engineering, which will be named the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET).

Dean of the College of Engineering Janet Callahan has appointed Materials Science and Engineering Professor Walt Milligan to serve as interim chair effective July 1. Professor John Irwin will continue to support the MET program as associate chair. The MMET main office will be in the former School of Technology office (on the fourth floor of the EERC). Staff members Pam Washuleski and Danise Jarvey will continue in their roles as Office Assistant and Director of Academic Services, respectively.

In addition to advising for MMET, Danise will take on a college-level role in support of study abroad for undergraduate majors in the College of Engineering, working to identify, promote, and support study abroad programs that fit seamlessly into students’ plans of study.


Lift Bridge Wins Award, Snags Trailer⁠—Built to Last 

Portage Lake Lift Bridge is a double-deck, vertical lift bridge, the only one of its type in Michigan. Here shown with a blue sky and summer day in the background.
The monumental Portage Lake Lift Bridge—a double-deck, vertical lift bridge—is the only one of its type in Michigan.

The Portage Lake Bridge, or more commonly known as the Lift Bridge, was designated in May, 2019 as an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Michigan State Historic Civil Engineering Landmark of the Year. Built in 1959, the bridge provides a key role in connecting the Keweenaw’s local industries to the nation, and uses a first-of-its-kind intermediate lift span position. It also was an early example of accelerated bridge construction. 

The Lift Bridge is a double-deck vertical lift bridge⁠—the only one of its type in Michigan and uncommon nationwide. While the lower deck was originally used by trains; these days, snowmobiles roar through the lower deck in winter. This riveted steel bridge was built to support the Keweenaw’s copper mining and logging industries and to serve the nation’s need for copper and timber. So you might say, it’s built to carry heavy loads!

the Caterpillar motor in the boat Janet was in
One of two Caterpillar engines on Don’s boat.

I was invited one recent Friday to meet one of our civil engineering alumni from the class of ‘66, Donald R. Anderson. He was docked in Hancock, just east of the Lift Bridge, traveling with his son, up from Grand Haven. They were in town waiting for the extended family, to arrive and spend a few weeks together on the boat as they worked their way through the Apostle Islands area. We were chatting, taking a look at the engines, and enjoying some local cider when BAM! A very loud boom sounded from the Lift Bridge. We all turned to watch as a tandem trailer loaded with trailers pulled to a halt. Over the next hour, inspections of the rig, and bridge seemed to happen while we looked up from below with high-tech binoculars and speculated about the impact. We figured that being in tandem, one of the trailers rocked up just as the truck pulled through and snagged that edge a bit. The truck eventually pulled down and around and took time to do a safety check just behind the marina.

A section of the lift bridge is shown with a tandem trailer loaded with trailers inside
A tandem trailer loaded with trailers comes to a halt on the Lift Bridge

On my way home, pedaling across the bridge I stopped and took a few images. You can see how there is a bit of battered metal at the leading edge on the Houghton side. No easy way to tell what marks are new or old from down on the ground (and I am a metallurgist). My assessment⁠—that bridge was built to last. I bet it will still be in use for its 100th anniversary. They build things to last up here in the Keweenaw. And remember your metallurgy: steel can plastically deform and even strengthen as a result of the increased number of dislocations.

underside of Portage Lake Lift Bridge
Lift Bridge wear and tear 

Dr. Tess Ahlborn, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University, working with two recent civil engineering masters of science graduates Emma Beachy and Michael Prast, submitted the application of Lift Bridge for Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Award at both the state and national levels. While Lift Bridge has now won the state ASCE Landmark of the Year award, the jury’s still out on the national level award. You can read more about the Lift Bridge here.

Thank you Tess, Emma and Michael, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, for the 300 pages of historical content that supported the nomination.

Dr. Tess Ahlborn, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Center for Structural Durability at Michigan Tech