Tag: ECE

Stories about Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Michigan Tech Wins ASME/IEEE Heat Sink Design Challenge

Michigan Tech’s Heat Sink team. Undergraduate students are Gracie Brownlow and Kelsey Brinks. Graduate students are Behzad Ahmadi, Masoud Ahmadi, and Behnam Ahmadi.

A student team from Michigan Tech has been awarded first place in the ASME/K16 and IEEE/EPS Student Design Challenge: Expanding the Possibilities of Heat Sink Design Using Additive Manufacturing.

The competition called upon student teams K-16 to expand the possibilities of heat sink design using additive manufacturing. The four finalist teams are Michigan Tech, Purdue University, University of Arkansas, and Berlin Institute of Technology.

Advanced heat sink designs offering augmented cooling capabilities are required for effective thermal management of high-power electronic chips. Future heat sink designs should not only offer an effective heat transfer but also be compact and cost-effective. 

Composed of Michigan Tech graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, the team was first selected as a semi-finalist in March. Now, as a finalist, one member of the team will defend their heat sink design in front of industry leaders in the form of an oral presentation, Behzad Ahmadi. That will take place during the IEEE ITherm 2022 Conference coming up in San Diego from May 31 – June 3, 2022.

Michigan Tech’s Energy-X team heat sink designs: expanding the possibilities of heat sink design using additive manufacturing.

Undergraduate students are Gracie Brownlow and Kelsey Brinks. Graduate students are Behzad Ahmadi, Masoud Ahmadi, and Behnam Ahmadi. Assistant Professor Sajjad Bigham is the team advisor. He is the director of the Energy-X Lab (Energy eXploration Laboratory) at Michigan Tech.

For the competition, all teams were asked to design, build, and validate an aluminum heat sink made with additive manufacturing techniques made available by GE Additive. Next, teams prepared a white paper that justified their designs.

The Michigan Tech team was among selected to print their heat sink with GE Additive machines. It was then sent for testing, which then helped determine the finalists, due to their top designs.

OHM and Michigan Tech Alumni team up to Lead Family Engineering Nights in Detroit Schools

Fifteen OHM staff helped present the Family Engineering Night sessions, including several Michigan Tech alumni.

From May 10-12, Michigan Technological University teamed up with OHM Advisors to provide STEM outreach at five schools in Detroit. 

The program they presented, Family Engineering, engages K-8 students and their families in engineering investigations. Family Engineering was created by Michigan Tech and partners in 2011 with a grant from the National Science Foundation. A key outcome of the program was the publication of the Family Engineering Activity & Event Planning Guide, published in 2011.

Sessions took place at the schools, followed by free pizza at Mackenzie Middle School, Clippert Multicultural Magnet Honors Academy, and Adams Middle School. The event began with short opener activities that adults and children explore together. These included: Glue is the Clue, Domino Diving Board, Who Engineered It?, Let’s Communicate, Boxing Beans, Picture This, Solid Ground, Hoop Glider, Inspired by Nature, Shifting Shapes, All The Right Tools, and Thrillseekers.

Next, families took part in three Engineering Challenges:

  1. Stop & Think – Why was this object designed? What need did it address? Can you make it better?
  1. Team Up – Discover why engineers work in teams. What helps a team work well together? How can we address challenges?
  1. Give Me Hand – How can an engineer help a person who has lost their hand, or some other part of their body?
Family Engineering Night took place recently in Detroit, with volunteer help from OHM Advisors.

Fifteen OHM staff helped present the sessions, including several Michigan Tech alumni.

Ron Cavallaro, Vice President of OHM Michigan, echoed the value of introducing kids to engineering at an early age. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Michigan Tech and is now a member of the Michigan Tech Department of Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering’s Professional Advisory Board. “Many of the families that attended the events brought younger siblings,” said Cavallaro. It was awesome to see the middle school students, their parents and siblings helping each other on the challenges.”

“OHM Advisors has been seeking out ways to get younger children interested in STEM fields. We are fortunate to have had MTU reach out to us to help with this program.”

Ron Cavallaro, Vice President of OHM Michigan

Chandler Park Academy High School and UPrep Science & Math High School hosted another Michigan Tech alum, retired Lt. Colonel Otha Thornton, chair of Michigan Tech’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Sense of Belonging (DEIS) Alumni Advisory Board, formed in Fall 2021. 

Lt. Colonel Otha Thornton

Thornton presented at four student assemblies as part of the outreach effort. He shared how students could find their own pathway to STEM and described STEM careers. Thornton also described highlights of his own career⁠—working directly with President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Biden in the White House, along with Congress, to promote passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act. The Act supports STEM education in K-12 schools. 

Thornton’s STEM work is preceded by a 21-year career with the U.S. military. He earned the Bronze Star Medal for exceptional performance in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His other military assignments included working with the White House Communications Agency and U.S. forces in Iraq. As the 53rd president of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Thornton was the first and only African American male to serve as President in the National PTA’s 125-year history. 

Any school can access the Family Engineering Activity & Event Planning Guide to provide positive engineering experiences for K-8 students and their families. For more info, contact: Joan Chadde, jchadde@mtu.edu or 906-487-3341.

Michigan Tech Partners with Lockwood STEM Center: Expanding Educational Access in the Great Lakes Bay Region

The Lockwood STEM Center in Hemlock, Michigan opened in 2020, a fantastic place for students to learn and practice robotics.

This month, Michigan Tech launched a partnership with the Lockwood STEM Center, part of Hemlock Public Schools in Hemlock, to provide educational outreach and opportunities to its students.

As part of the partnership, Michigan Tech established a scholarship program for Hemlock students who participate in robotics activities while in high school and then enroll at Michigan Tech as first-year students. The award provides $1,000 and is renewable annually. Two students will begin receiving the scholarship in Fall 2022 (still to be announced).

Students work on a robot in the Blue Marble Security Enterprise. It’s one of 25 different student-led Enterprise teams operating at Michigan Tech

At Michigan Tech a variety of options exist for students who want to pursue robotics. The University also has a new BS in Robotics, in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Several Enterprise teams are focused on Robotics, including the Robotics Systems Enterprise, advised by Michigan Tech Professor (and alumnus) Jeremy Bos.

“Our partnership with the Lockwood STEM Center is in recognition of the incredible academic opportunities it provides to Hemlock Public School District students. We are thrilled to show our support for the Hemlock community and Great Lakes Bay region,” said Cassy Tefft de Muñoz, Executive Director of Enrollment Initiatives at Michigan Tech.  

“Who has robots? We have robots,” says Michigan Tech’s Robotic Systems Enterprise team, open to all majors on campus.

The Lockwood STEM Center was the vision of Tom and Dana Lockwood, teachers at Hemlock High School (HHS) who sought to advance STEM educational opportunities in the community. The state-of-the-art facility is truly a community effort with support from local individuals, industry and Hemlock Public Schools.

Former HHS student Gary Gariglio earned two bachelor degrees at Michigan Tech—one in electrical engineering (’86), and the other in business (’87). He is now president of Interpower Induction in Almont, Michigan. He delivered a keynote address to students and attendees during a special event on May 4 celebrating the new partnership. Gariglio highlighted the value of his Michigan Tech education and emphasized the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity—giving special acknowledgement to Matt Pumford and Greg Turner of Pumford Construction for their commitment and support in the oversight and construction of the Lockwood STEM Center. Pumford earned his bachelors degree in civil engineering at Michigan Tech in 1988.

The collaboration with Hemlock Public Schools is a continuation of Michigan Tech’s strong presence in the Great Lakes Bay Region. This includes a longstanding partnership with Hemlock Semiconductor supporting educational outreach and student attendance at Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Programs (SYP).

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Read More

Jeremy Bos: What’s Next After First?

STEM Center Named: See photos and learn more about the new Lockwood STEM Center.

Registration for Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Programs is open and more information is available at mtu.edu/syp.

Three Michigan Tech Alumni Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Congratulations to Dr. Sam Jenekhe, Boeing-Martin Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington; Dr. Sarah Rajala, former James L. and Katherine S. Melsa Dean of Engineering at Iowa State University; and Dr. Bill Hammack, William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois. All three have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. New members of the NAE will be formally inducted in October at the NAE’s annual meeting.

Dr. Sam Jenekhe

Samson A Jenekhe ’77 is honored for discovery and understanding of conjugated materials for organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) widely used in the commercial sector. A professor of chemistry and the Boeing-Martin Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington, Jenekhe studies the fundamental physical and chemical properties of semiconductor materials, as well as their practical applications. Research topics have included organic and flexible electronics, the use of organic light-emitting diodes for lighting and displays, energy storage and conversion systems, semiconducting polymers and polymer-based photovoltaic systems.

Dr. Sarah Rajala

Sarah A. Rajala ’74 is honored for “innovations in engineering education: outcomes assessment, greater participation and retention of women in engineering, and an enhanced global community.” Rajala is an internationally-known leader in the field of engineering education and a ground breaker for women in engineering. She serves as a role model for young women and is passionate about diversity of thought and culture, especially in a college environment.

Dr. Bill Hammack

William S. Hammack ’84 is honored for innovations in multidisciplinary engineering education, outreach, and service to the profession through development and communication of internet-delivered content. As an engineer, Hammack’s mission over the last 25 years has been to explain engineering to the public. His media work — from his work in public radio to his books to his pioneering use over the last decade of internet-delivered video— has been listened, read, or viewed over seventy million times. He also recorded more than 200 public radio segments that describe what, why and how engineers do what they do. Hammack’s videos (The Engineer Guy) have more than 1.2 million followers on YouTube.

Michigan Tech Teams Win at CMU’s 10th Annual New Venture Challenge

Congratulations to these Michigan Tech New Venture Challenge 2022 Award Winners! L to R: Husky Innovate Program Manager Lisa Casper, students Jordan Craven, Bayle Golden, Ali Dabas, Rourke Sylvain, Jakob Christiansen, and Husky Innovate Co-Director Jim Baker

Central Michigan University (CMU) and Michigan Tech collaborate each year to offer Michigan Tech students a chance to compete in CMU’s New Venture Challenge (NVC). This showcase event provides an opportunity for students at both universities to present their businesses and network with prospective investors, mentors and partners. Student participants at NVC compete for a total of $60,000 in prizes and in-kind services.

On Friday (April 22), four Michigan Tech student teams pitched their ideas and businesses in person at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. Michigan Tech Husky Innovate co-director Jim Baker and program manager Lisa Casper attended the event to support teams, as well as strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship connections.

Michigan Tech engineering management student Bayle Golden presents her pitch for her new wearable child safety device, SafeRow, at the CMU New Venture Challenge.
Michigan Tech construction management student Jakob Christiansen delivers his two-minute pitch for his new supply chain e-commerce platform, ProBoard.

Students had an opportunity to compete in either the two-minute pitch competition or the seven-minute business model competition. There was also a gallery competition, where teams had tables with individual displays and took questions from attendees.

The competition took place out of town during the last hectic week of spring semester at Michigan Tech. But in the end, all their hard work paid off: Michigan Tech teams brought home $21K in prizes for their ideas.

“Congratulations to our Husky Innovate student teams—your ideas have the potential to change the world.”

Lisa Casper, Husky Innovate Program Manager

Michigan Tech’s New Venture Challenge award winners:

Two-Minute Pitch Competition

  • Jakob Christiansen (construction management) won first place and received $4,000. Christiansen pitched “ProBoard,” an e-commerce platform to solve issues in the construction material supply chain.

Seven-Minute Pitch Competition

  • Bayle Golden (engineering management) won first place in the Social Mission category and received $10,000. Golden pitched “SafeRow,” an innovative wearable device designed to keep children safe when every second counts.
  • Rourke Sylvain and Ali Dabas (both biomedical engineering) won second place in the High Tech High Growth category, receiving $5,000. Their pitch was “imi (integrated molecular innovations),” an electrochemical biosensor for T4 detection.
  • Jordan Craven (management information systems, minoring in computer science) won third place in the High Tech High Growth category and received $2,000. Craven pitched “Tall and Small Designs,” a technology company that provides software as a service to retailers who sell clothes online.

“The results speak to the tireless efforts of our students—and the impact of the programs provided by Husky Innovate and its partners.”

Jim Baker, Husky Innovate Co-Director
Michigan Tech biomedical engineering students Ali Dabas and Rourke Sylvain discuss their electrochemical biosensor start-up, “imi”

In preparing for the New Venture Challenge, Michigan Tech students participated in a number of Husky Innovate workshops and review sessions. They also benefited from resources and expertise available within MTEC SmartZone, the local state-funded technology business incubator, and the Upper Peninsula Regional Small Business Development Center, which is hosted by Michigan Tech’s Office of Innovation and Commercialization in collaboration with the College of Business.

“Thanks go out to our distributed team of mentors and our sponsors at Michigan Tech, including the Pavlis Honors College, Office of Innovation and Commercialization, College of Business, College of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Civil Engineering,” said Casper. “We also thank Central Michigan University, and especially Julie Messing, director of the Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship, for the collaboration and congenial hospitality.”

Michigan Tech management information systems student Jordan Craven pitched “Tall and Small Designs,” a new kind of software for retailers who sell clothes online

Student Awards Announced for Michigan Tech’s 2022 Design Expo

More than 1,000 students in Enterprise and Senior Design showcased their hard work last Thursday at Michigan Tech’s 22nd Annual Design Expo event. As we’ve come to expect, the judging for Design Expo is often VERY CLOSE. This year we had several ties. 

Teams competed for cash awards totaling nearly $4,000. Judges for the event included corporate representatives, community members and Michigan Tech staff and faculty.

The Enterprise Program and College of Engineering are proud to announce the award winners. Check them out here, or visit the Design Expo website, at mtu.edu/expo, where you can view videos and project info submitted by all the teams who took part. Congratulations and a huge thanks to everyone for a very successful Design Expo!

ENTERPRISE AWARDS (Based on video submissions)

First Place (2-way tie)
CinOptic Communication/Media
Team Leaders: Matthew Brisson, Communication, Culture, and Media; Julianna Humecke, Scientific and Technical Communication
Advisor Erin Smith, Humanities
Sponsors: Isle Royale National Park, NSF CAREER Grant
Video

Velovations
Team Leaders: Jorge Povich and Eamon McClintock, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor Steve Lehmann, Biomedical Engineering
Sponsors: Cleveland Cliffs, Senger Innovations, Enterprise Program
Video

Second Place (2-way tie)
Aerospace Enterprise
Team Leaders: Nolan Pickett and Kyle Bruursema, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: L. Brad King, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Sponsors: Auris: Air Force Research Laboratory, Stratus: NASA
Video

Supermileage Systems Enterprise
Team Leaders: Luis Hernandez, Mechanical Engineering and Olivia Zinser, Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Rick Berkey, Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology
Sponsors: General Motors, Aramco Americas, A&D Technology, Dana Inc., SAE International, Halla Mechatronics, Meritor, Oshkosh Corporation, Ford Motor Company, John Deere, Caterpillar, Henkel, BRP Inc., RapidHarness, Wetherington Law Firm, Danaher, Watermark, Top Flight Automotive, Shipley Energy, TEAMTECH, Gamma Technologies, Velocity USA, Enterprise Manufacturing Initiative funded by General Motors
Video

Third Place: 
Clean Snowmobile Challenge
Team Leaders: Katy Pioch and Daniel Prada, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Jason Blough and Scott Miers, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Sponsors: GM (General Motors), Aramco, A&D, Dana, Milwaukee Tool, Caterpillar, Meritor, Oshkosh, Ford, John Deere, BRP (Ski-Doo), Kohler, Mahle, Yamaha, Castle, Gamma Technologies, Quincy Compressor, Shipley Energy, Top Flight Automotive, Superior Graphics
Video

Honorable Mention: 
Formula SAE
Team Leaders: John Herr and Luke Quilliams, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: James DeClerck, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Sponsors: General Motors, Aramco Americas, A&D Technology, Dana Inc., SAE International, Yamaha, Halla Mechatronics, Meritor, Oshkosh Corporation, Ford Motor Company, John Deere, Caterpillar, Henkel, BRP Inc., RapidHarness, Wetherington Law Firm, Danaher, Watermark, Top Flight Automotive, Shipley Energy, Superior Graphics, TEAMTECH, Gamma Technologies, Enterprise Manufacturing Initiative funded by General Motors
Video

SENIOR DESIGN AWARDS (Based on video submissions)

First Place
IoMT Device Security
Team Members: Jacson Ott, Stu Kernstock, Trevor Hornsby, and Matthew Chau, Cybersecurity
Advisor:Guy Hembroff, Applied Computing
Sponsor: Dept. of Applied Computing
Video

Second Place
MR Compatible Transseptal Needle with Integrated System for Confirming Left Atrial Access
Team Members: Lydia Ragel Wilson, Natalie Reid, Jared Martini, Braxton Blackwell, and Aydin Frost, Biomedical Engineering
Advisor: Hoda Hatoum and Jeremy Goldman, Biomedical Engineering
Sponsor: Imricor
Video

Third Place
Britten Water Filtration System
Team Members: Nika Orman and Nick Hoffebeck, Electrical Engineering, Matt Zambon, Kyle Clow, Luke Schloemp, and Gabby Sgambati, Mechanical Engineering, and Evan McKenzie, Computer Engineering
Advisor: Tony Pinar, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sponsor: BoxPop powered by Britten, Inc.
Video

Honorable Mention 1
Locomotive Pinion Cutter Feed System
Team Members: Seth Jensen-Younk, Sam Barwick, Matt Krause, Nick Sand, and Stephen Mleko, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Cameron Hadden, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Sponsor: Dr. Pasi Lautala, Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering
Video

Honorable Mention 2
Rapid Corrosion Screening of Engineered Structural Fastener Coating Systems for Treated Lumber
Team Members: Sophie Mehl, Isabelle Hemmila, and Kendal Kroes, Materials Science and Engineering and Luke Owens, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Paul Sanders, Materials Science and Engineering
Sponsor: Altenloh, Brinck & Company US, Inc
Video

Honorable Mention 3
Cycle Time Improvements in Medical Device Manufacturing – Laser Welding
Team Members: Abigail Martin, Hannah Loughlin, Zachary Alesch, and Megan Cotter, Biomedical Engineering
Advisors: Jeremy Goldman and Chunxiu (Traci) Yu, Biomedical Engineering
Sponsor: Boston Scientific (BSC)
Video

Honorable Mention 4
Stromberg Carlson Electric Tongue Jack Redesign Phase 2 Application Development
Team Members: Dustin Duclos, Sean Parker, and Shane O’Brien, Computer Engineering
Advisors: Trever Hassell and Mark Sloat, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sponsor: Stromberg Carlson
Video

DESIGN EXPO IMAGE CONTEST (Based on image submitted by the team)

First Place: 
Aerospace Enterprise — “Physical Model of Auris Spacecraft.”

Physical Model of Auris Spacecraft. Photo credit: Aerospace Enterprise

Second Place: 
Blizzard Baja Enterprise — “Blizzard Baja Competition Vehicle.” Photo credit: Andrew Erickson

Blizzard Baja Competition Vehicle. Photo credit: Andrew Erickson

Third Place
Dollar Bay School SOAR — “A member of the SOAR team troubleshoots one of the service grade ROVs.”

A member of the SOAR team troubleshoots one of the service grade ROVs. Photo credit: Dollar Bay Soar High School Enterprise

DESIGN EXPO INNOVATION AWARDS (Based on application)

First Place
Lydia Ragel Wilson, MR Compatible Transseptal Needle with Integrated System for Confirming Left Atrial Access, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Sponsor: Imricor

Second Place
Veronika Orman, Britten Water Filtration System, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sponsor: Britten, Inc.

Third Place
Jerod Warren, HACK Cybersecurity Kit, Department of Applied Computing 

DESIGN EXPO AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD (Based on receiving most text-in voting during Design Expo)

Enterprise
Consumer Product Manufacturing
Video

Senior Design
Britten Water Filtration System
Video

ENTERPRISE STUDENT AWARDS

Rookie Award: Brian Geiger, CFO, Multiplanetary Innovation Enterprise (MINE)

Innovative Solutions: Pete LaMantia, ITOxygen

Outstanding Enterprise Leadership: Brooke Bates, Consumer Product Manufacturing

ENTERPRISE FACULTY/STAFF AWARDS

Behind the Scenes Award: Tania Demonte Gonzalez, PhD Student Researcher, Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. 

Outstanding Enterprise Advisor: Tony Rogers, Associate Professor and Faculty Advisor, Consumer Product Manufacturing, Department of Chemical Engineering

Michigan Tech SWE Section travels to Wisconsin for ‘Spring Forward’ Professional Day

Michigan Tech SWE section members and alumnae gather for a photo at Spring Forward 2022.

Nine student members of Michigan Tech’s section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and their advisor, Gretchen Hein (MMET), recently attended Spring Forward, a professional development day in Kohler, Wisconsin, hosted by the SWE-Wisconsin.

Laura Kohler, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Stewardship and Sustainability at Kohler Company gave the keynote address. She spoke about her career path, the importance of diversity, and leadership. 

Michigan Tech SWE Section members toured the Kohler Design Center after attending SWE-Wisconsin Spring Forward 2022

Mechanical Engineering alumna Jackie (Burtka) Yosick ‘14 also works at Kohler. She was on hand to discuss her work with engines and generators.

“We were also pleasantly surprised to meet Helene Cornils, director of the Advanced Development Kitchen and Bath Group at Kohler and the parent of a current Michigan Tech biomedical engineering student,” said Hein.

Two former Michigan Tech SWE Section presidents, Katie Buchalski ’19 and Andrea (Walvatne) Falasco ’12 were also present at the event. Buchlaski is an environmental engineering alumna now working at Ruekert-Mielke, where she designs municipal road and utility projects with a focus on modeling the stormwater runoff from individual sites to city-wide studies. Falasco, a mechanical engineering alumna, is lead mechanical engineer at Kimberly Clark, where she designs new equipment to make products that include Kleenex, Huggies, and Kotex. 

Numerous Michigan Tech students won SWE awards at the event, as well. One of those was biomedical engineering major Kathleen Heusser, who won a first place scholarship from the GE Women’s Network.

“Receiving the first-place 2022 GE Women’s Network Scholarship was an incredible honor,” said Heusser. “In addition to the tuition assistance it provides, the scholarship affirms my confidence in the value of my resume, my education, and my professional references, as well as my scholarship essay on what being an engineer means to me,” she explains. “The last paragraph in my essay shares how my work as an engineer will be motivated by my love of others in order to work hard–creating solutions to the problem of an individual, a company, or a society.

Michigan Tech biomedical engineering student, Kathleen Heusser, receives the GE Women’s Network Scholarship

Another highlight of the day: Michigan Tech’s SWE section received the SWE-Wisconsin President’s Choice Award.

After the conference, each Michigan Tech student in attendance reflected on their participation and what they learned:

Aerith Cruz, Management Information Systems: “It was a great opportunity for Michigan Tech SWE members to bond and connect with one another. Being able to travel as a section and experience professional development together is a fulfilling experience. We are able to share learning opportunities and build long-lasting connections with one another. It is also incredibly fun getting to know each other while exploring the area.”

Kathryn Krieger, Environmental Engineering: “It was inspiring to hear the paths of various women, and the impacts they have made. I really enjoyed hearing about modern, female-centered design that benefits women in impactful ways–rather than the stereotypical ‘pink and shrink’ method.”

Natalie Hodge, Electrical and Computer Engineering (dual major): “Laura Kohler shared this quote in her presentation, attributed to Cassie Ho: ‘Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s like comparing the sun and the moon. The sun and the moon shine at their own time.’” 

Katherine Baker, Chemical Engineering: “I especially enjoyed attending the session, ‘Navigating Early Stage Careers: The First 10 Years’. It had a great panel that gave a ton of advice on how to advance as an engineer in the workplace.”

Maci Dostaler, Biomedical Engineering: “Women are necessary when it comes to inclusive design, which was covered during one of the sessions, ‘Breaking the Glass Ceiling’”.

Alli Hummel, Civil Engineering: “Laura Kohler talked about the importance of making time for your personal life and how that is necessary to succeed at work. She is a great example of a woman who succeeds in prioritizing both work and family life.”

Lucy Straubel, Biomedical Engineering: “I really enjoyed the whole experience. It was great to hear all the advice everyone else could give me. And making friends and memories was a bonus, too.”

Amanda West, Mechanical Engineering: “One of the things I liked most about the conference was keynote speaker Laura Kohler’s speech, where she mentioned the importance of having and maintaining relationships with your mentors, an important part in developing your career and professional skills.”

Kathleen Heusser, Biomedical Engineering: “In one session called Navigating Early Stage Careers: The First 10 Years, Tess Cain of DSM, among others, gave insightful tips about saying ‘no’ to a project or demand from management that’s just not feasible. She pointed out that how others accept your ‘no’ depends a lot on how you say it. You should use a response that includes ‘I can’t/Here’s why/Here’s what I would need to make this work’ in order to go in a doable direction with the project. And another inspiring quote, overheard during the Nonlinear Careers and the Versatility of Engineering Degrees panel, was that ‘100 percent of candidates are not 100 percent qualified.’ Raquel Reif of Kohler, in particular, stressed that already having expertise in a job field is not a necessary prerequisite to apply for the job you want.”

Tom Werner: Butterflies, Moths, and Fruit Flies in the Keweenaw

Butterly or moth? Find out during Husky Bites!

Thomas Werner shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, April 4 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new in just 30 minutes (or so), with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Dr. Thomas Werner

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 4/4 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Biological Sciences Associate Professor Thomas Werner. Joining in will be one of his former students, alumna Tessa Steenwinkel.

Tessa Steenwinkel

Steenwinkel earned her BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and her MS in Biology/Biological Sciences, all at Michigan Tech. She works now as an Educational Assistant at Madison Country Day School near Madison, Wisconsin, and she will start a PhD program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, this fall.

During Husky Bites, they will share the most beautiful butterflies, moths, and fruit fly species of the Keweenaw Peninsula. And we’ll learn much more about their Encyclopedia of North American Drosophilids. Be sure to bring your questions!

Dr. Werner started studying insects as a childhood hobby, at age 10, when a beautiful butterfly flew in the window of his family’s 9th floor apartment in Erfurt, in East Germany. Many years later, his interest in insects is still strong, as he leads a fruit fly research lab at Michigan Tech. 

Werner’s research bridges the miniscule and the massive in an effort to better understand the mechanisms behind several unique features of fruit flies, such as the developmental genetics of color pattern formation as well as those of mushroom toxin resistance, among several other questions. Some of their research questions aim to provide insight into human cancer development.

For being so small, fruit flies have had a large impact on genetic research, thanks in great part to Dr. Tom Werner at Michigan Tech.

Werner also teaches courses on general immunology, introduction to genomics, developmental biology, and he used to teach genetics and with a genetic techniques lab. He’s been bestowed with the state-wide Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award 2021 and won Michigan Technological University’s Distinguished Teaching Award twice (both in the non-tenured and the tenured categories).

Callout quote:

“Werner is the epitome of the scholar-teacher. His enthusiasm in the classroom is remarkable, as is his devotion to mentoring more than 100 undergraduate researchers,” says David Hemmer, dean, College of Sciences and Arts.

“Thinking about the long winters here, I would call teaching a powerful antidepressant.”

Dr. Thomas Werner

Steenwinkel started at Michigan Tech in the fall of 2017 by joining the Pavlis Honors College. She majored in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology-Biological Sciences with a minor in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Originally from the Netherlands, Steenwinkel has lived in the United States since she was 12 years old.

“On Michigan Tech’s annual Preview Day in March 2017, Tessa visited my lab at Michigan Tech as a high school student,” Werner recalls. “I offered her a job on the spot, because I felt that she would become the best student I have ever mentored. And I was correct about that: As my undergraduate research assistant and master’s student, she has published two books and 10 papers with me, while she won 8 university-wide and national awards!”

Tessa at work in the Werner Lab

“When I walked into the lab, I knew that this could be the place for me,” adds Steenwinkel. “After getting started at Tech, I immediately reconnected with Dr. Werner and essentially started working in the lab the next day. I worked there for over four years, working alongside grad students, leading my own project, and managing the lab even when Dr. Werner went on sabbatical in Singapore. I was always so grateful to have Dr. Werner as a mentor.”  

During her first year, Steenwinkel went from assisting in Werner’s research lab to becoming a co-author on his book, Drosophilids of the Midwest and Northeast, with John Jaenike, a professor of biology at the University of Rochester. The three later published a second book together “Drosophilids of the Southeast”, published under the umbrella name “The Encyclopedia of North American Drosophilids.” Both books welcome researchers, teachers, and young students alike into the amazing world of flies and the diversity of their potential use in research.  

The Encyclopedia of North American Drosopholids, Vol 1: covers the Midwest and Northeast.
The trio’s second book covers the Drosophilids of the Southeast.

The books also include a significant outreach component that speaks to young children about science and nature in the form of a bedtime story about fruit flies written by Steenwinkel. Open-access books, they can be downloaded for free here and here.

While at Michigan Tech, Steenswinkel became the first recipient of the Soyring Foundation Scholarship. John Soyring, Tech alumnus and Pavlis Honors College External Advisory Board member, established the scholarship for Pavlis Honors students expressing interest in research and innovation related to water quality management, renewable energy, or solutions to prevent and cure cancer. 

Prof. Werner, what sparked your interest in biology, fruit flies and genetics?

I am a biologist by heart. It all started in former East Germany when a butterfly entered my bedroom on the ninth floor in the middle of the city. On that July morning in 1981, I started collecting butterflies as a 10-year-old boy. This moment defined my life, and today I am associate professor of genetics and developmental biology.

Family?

I have a wife Megan, a daughter Natalia (10), and two sons: Oliver (7) and Oscar (5).

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

As a hobby, I collect and rear butterflies and moths. I like camping (and collecting fruit flies on these trips for my next field guides). I also have a dog named Frosty, who also likes camping.

Tessa, what sparked your interest in science?

My brother with Down Syndrome first got me interested in biology. From there, I started to learn about genetics, development, and diversity. This is what brought me to Michigan Tech and to start working in Dr. Werner’s lab, where he was using fruit flies to model human cancer. When I started working there, he had just published his first book on fruit flies, and I was immediately fascinated by the beauty and diversity of these small bugs. 

Hometown, family?

I’m originally from the Netherlands. I grew up there with my parents and two younger brothers. In 2012, we moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before moving to Madison, Wisconsin, in 2014. In 2017, I decided to start college at Michigan Tech, where I obtained my undergraduate and master’s degrees.

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

When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy running outside and teaching ski lessons to the local kids. When you live in Houghton, you have to make the best out of it. I’m currently getting ready to start my PhD. I currently have two very enthusiastic turtles. 

Fernando Ponta: The Wind Beneath My Wings/Sails/Turbines

“Since the emergence of the first windmill in ancient times, through the windmills of the middle ages, to the high-tech wind turbines of today, there has been an intimate relationship between the evolution of wind rotors and sailing rigs,” says Fernando Ponta.

Fernando Ponta shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, 3/28 at 6 pm. Learn something new in just 30 minutes or so, with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Fernando Ponta

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 3/28 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Fernando Ponta, the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professor of Wind Energy. Joining in will be one of Dr. Ponta’s mechanical engineering PhD students, Apurva Baruah, who brings industrial experience to his research with Dr. Ponta. Baruah is also a member of the crew on Dr. Ponta’s J-80 sailboat, the Avanti Bianc.

“There’s no better way to understand the wind than trying to harness its power on sails,” says Baruah.

The Avanti Bianc: “I’ve been Apurva’s boat skipper since 2015, and his PhD advisor since 2017,” says Dr. Fernado Ponta. “We’re both part of Michigan Tech’s ‘Wind-Warriors’ team.”

During Husky Bites, Ponta and Baruah will explain the evolution of wind power technology from its beginnings until the current development of next-generation, advanced, mega-scale wind turbines. One aspect of their research involves modeling the wakes of many wind turbines operating in a huge wind farm. They’ll discuss the importance of understanding and modeling these wakes in order to optimize both offshore and inland wind farm performance.

Apurva Baruah

“We’ll also share a brief review of our collaborative work with Sandia National Labs,” adds Baruah. “That includes the novel, aeroelastic-vortex-lattice codes we use to study cutting-edge wind energy technologies.”

At Michigan Tech, Ponta’s research team seeks to understand the detailed physics of a wind-turbine–from the rotor structure and aerodynamics, to turbine control and drivetrain electromechanics. 

“Since the emergence of the first windmill in ancient times, through the windmills of the middle ages, to the high-tech wind turbines of today, there has been an intimate relationship between the evolution of wind rotors and sailing rigs,” he says. “Ancient windmill designs used the principle of aerodynamic drag to produce the forces acting on the blades in the same manner that square rigs used drag to propel ships.”

Rembrandt’s The Mill, year 1645-48. Oil on Canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

“In a period of several centuries, sailing rigs progressively evolved into the use of sail arrangements that propel ships via the generation of lift force, which not only give ships the great advantage of going faster in the same conditions, but also of sailing partially into the wind,” adds Ponta. “All this technological experience translated into the evolution of wind rotors that also use lift as their physical mechanism for torque and power generation. In the case of a wind rotor, it has resulted in a dramatically higher efficiency of the conversion process from the kinetic energy of the wind, into mechanical power on the shaft.”

This parallel development was fundamental to the evolution of current wind energy technology, says Ponta. “The basic concept of the lift-driven wind rotor, conceived in the late middle-ages, is essentially the same as the high-tech wind turbines of today. The inherent energy efficiency of the lift generation process versus the generation of drag—with all its associated frictional losses—is the physical underpinning of this fundamental progress.”

Wind turbine blades average almost 200 feet long, and turbine towers average 295 feet tall—about the height of the Statue of Liberty.
Comparison between velocity patterns measured by SNL’s LiDAR at SWiFT facility in Lubbock, Texas, and MTU’s DRD-BEM-GVLM simulation results at spherical surfaces at distances of (a) 2, and (b) 5 five rotor diameters downwind. Dr. Ponta and Apurva promise to interpret and explains these models for us during Husky Bites.

In modern times, a similar parallel can be traced between the optimization of the kinds of aerodynamic surfaces used in aeronautics, and the refinements of the latest generations of high-tech wind turbines, notes Ponta.

Over a period of years Ponta has developed a novel aeroelastic model for optimizing the rotor blades used in “smart” turbines and the collective control strategies of mega wind farms. The resulting modeling tool is now being applied by Sandia National Labs (SNL) for the study of the advanced lightweight rotors of their National Rotor Testbed (NRT) project. The result is a complete picture of how a wind turbine behaves under various conditions. Ponta’s modeling can be used to design blades and simulate the interaction of multiple wind turbine wakes in a wind farm, as well—particularly, the thousands of meters long wakes of the utility-scale megawatt turbines of today, and the super-turbines of tomorrow. 

Vortex lattice (rear view), in a two-turbine scenario of a typical night-time wind profile, part of the National Rotor Testbed project conducted in partnership with Sandia National Lab’s SWiFT facility in Lubbock, Texas.
Dr. Ponta and his daughter enjoy skiing at Mont Ripley, Michigan Tech’s own ski area.

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

I’ve always been fascinated with science and technology, even when I was a kid. In my high school years, I attended what in my country of origin is called an industrial college, with a specialty in electronics. I started as a naval and mechanical engineering student, and then I decided to switch to a full career in mechanical engineering. With the years, I focused more and more into computational and theoretical fluid mechanics, in particular as they apply to the study of wind turbines and other renewable energy systems.

Hometown?

I was born in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, even though my family lives now in the Patagonia region. Curiously, they live at the same latitude that we are here in Houghton, but in the southern hemisphere. That is, the same temperatures but with a six-month shift! 

The Avanti Bianc, on Traverse Bay

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In summer, sailing and swimming. I own a sailboat which I skipper regularly in the regattas of the Onigaming Yacht Club, of which I’m a member of the directory board. In winter, I ski a lot at Mont Ripley. Alpine skiing is my favorite sport, and I’ve been skiing since I was in my teens in the Andes range in Patagonia. I lift weights all year round.

The skyline of of Mumbai

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

Apurva is passionate about aviation, too. “Since 2017 I’ve been visiting the EAA AirVenture, a summer air show and gathering of aviation enthusiasts in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at Oshkosh.”

I’ve been fascinated with aircraft from a very young age. I had an amazing physics teacher throughout grade school and figured engineering was the path forward in order to work with airplanes.

During my undergrad years, I just naturally ‘flowed’ towards fluids and aerodynamics. After a few years working in industry, I decided to pursue a graduate degree at Tech. Our research in wind turbines and their wakes in a wind farm is a perfect blend of my interests.

Hometown?

I was born and raised in Mumbai, India. My mom’s terrified yet excited to visit the Keweenaw! She frequently catches our blizzard-y days by watching the HuskyCam feeds!

Apurva’s Wind Group lab setup. Note the paper plane!

Any hobbies?

Thanks to Dr. Ponta, I’ve found an immense passion for sailing. It’s an important aspect of our summer ‘research’. I also frequent Michigan Tech’s Student Development Center, aka “the SDC” for racquet sports, including tennis, badminton, and table tennis, and the shooting range. I’m the range safety officer for Michigan Tech’s Competition Rifle team.

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Open Water

Engineering Study Abroad: Cosmo Trikes

While traveling abroad during the pandemic may seem difficult to some, others navigate this landscape with relative ease. Especially if you’ve got the attitude of Cosmo Trikes, an electrical engineering student at Michigan Tech. Challenges and adversity are no stranger to Trikes, but when presented the opportunity to study abroad nothing could have stopped him!

Cosmo Holding a Husky Flag
Cosmo Trikes

A Bit About Cosmo Trikes

In a Michigan Tech “Humans of Tech” interview last year, Trikes describes himself like this: “A lot of people say I bring a good energy to places. I’m excited about life and I love to help. I want to make things better, to learn as much as I can. I try to be remembered and get involved anywhere I go.” His mindset of sticking to his values–even in times of uncertainty–and his moral character both speak volumes for the person he is.

How did you get interested in Studying Abroad?

When I first visited Michigan Tech as a prospective student, I went to a study abroad info session, probably at the encouragement of my mother who did a study abroad in Zimbabwe as an undergrad. Before I started college, I had already traveled to Iceland, Africa, the Bahamas, and across the US. So I knew I wanted to continue traveling. I also knew that it was a rare opportunity to travel abroad for three months in the way you can while studying abroad. Being immersed in a college environment, taking a light course load, traveling around wherever and whenever. It can’t be done at any other time in your life.

“It’s easy to be optimistic and positive when things are going well. But when things go awry, when we encounter obstacles, only then is when we truly have an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of our virtues.”

Cosmo Trikes
Cosmo in Front of Curtin University
In Perth at Curtin University

Where did you study and live?

I attended Curtin University, an Australian public research university located in Bentley, Perth, in Western Australia. I lived in a flat neighborhood. A flat is basically an apartment. The neighborhood was a gated community, with a front desk building, and common areas where everyone could get together. Each building was three stories tall, and each level was a flat that housed six people. It was great to be surrounded by a community like that! Nearby there was a little mall with a market and a few other shops. I think I might have loved that the most. It was convenient to simply walk over and get groceries, especially since I didn’t have a car.

Why did you choose Australia? 

Since my second year started, I had a plan. I would go to a career fair, get a co-op, work for the summer and fall, and instead of coming back to MTU in the winter, I would study abroad and then return for the following school year. Even though I got injured, I still followed through with my plan. I never considered where I would go until the time came to choose. I wanted somewhere warm, of course, and somewhere accessible. Turns out Australia was the place to go. And even though Australia doesn’t have an equivalent to the American Disabilities Act (ADA) that the US has, it was actually more accessible than Michigan Tech, which made my time with friends and exploring a lot of fun!

What was your academic experience like in Australia? 

Cosmo and Other Study Abroad Students in their living space.
With his flatmates and friends in Bentley

Academically speaking, I learned a lot but at the same time I didn’t. A few weeks after I arrived in Australia the COVID-19 lockdown first began. I had hardly started my courses when they were switched to online. We all got called back to Michigan Tech. 

First, Curtin University is enormous, in terms of both campus and student body size. The entire university and facilities were so modern, with automatic doors throughout and so many cool things integrated into the campus that I spent many days just exploring. Even before the pandemic, the lectures were already being recorded with a camera in the back of the class. As a result, my transition to remote learning was not as hard, but in regard to the missing out on the labs–the lack of a learning environment, and enduring the isolation–it was a struggle. The experience shrunk from thousands of students for me to meet and interact with, to pretty much just me. I took engineering classes, and they went well. The teaching style in Australia was very different and I liked it a lot. I didn’t learn as much as I would have back at Tech, but that also wasn’t my only focus. While there, exploring and traveling were also in the forefront of my mind!

Cosmo Skydiving.
Skydiving in Australia!

What was the best part of the experience?

Well I made a lot of friends, explored as much as I could, and read a lot, but I think what I came away with the most was a lot of personal growth. With the short time we isolated, I had a lot of time for introspection. I started my blog during that time, and every Sunday I would write a multiple page summary of the past week with a lot of detail. I sent it out to a select few people as a weekly email to keep them updated on what I did and how I felt. 

What was the most challenging part of the experience?

Definitely the most challenging part of any traveling or just anything in general is using a wheelchair. Although the campus was really accessible, there were a lot of hills and many things I couldn’t do, like going sand surfing, for example. Luckily I had my friends to help out a bit, so I still did a lot, regardless.

Did you visit any other cities or countries?

Perth, Australia is one of the most remote locations in the world. While there, I was maybe going to travel to Bali or somewhere similar, but then COVID struck. Perth does have other cities nearby, such as Fremantle and some others, but I visited Rottnest Island off the nearby coast where I went skydiving! It was a small island with a lot of great views, and a ton of fun wierd little animals called quokkas.

Cosmo with a quokka.
Cosmo with a quokka.

When will you graduate, and what are your plans for the future?

I will graduate at the end of April 2022. After that I’ll be going to Colorado to work as a software engineer for Oracle. I found that job through Disability:IN, when I joined one of their programs.