Tag: ECE

Stories about Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Kit Cischke: Students Boldly DOING Where No One Has Done Before

The Wireless Communications Enterprise Team and Kit Cischke generously shared their knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar hosted by Dean Janet Callahan. Here’s the link to watch a recording of his session on YouTube. Get the full scoop, including a listing of all the (60+) sessions at mtu.edu/huskybites.

What are you doing for supper this Monday 4/12 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Kit Cischke, senior lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at  Michigan Technological University. He’s also longtime advisor to Wireless Communications Enterprise (WCE), part of the University’s award-winning Enterprise Program.

“I can’t lie,” says Kit Cischke. “Part of the reason I got excited about Enterprise way back in 1999 (as a student) was because the name of the program was the same as my favorite fictional ship.”

Joining in will be Abby Nelson, Ken Shiver, and Michael Patrick:  all three are ECE students and senior members of WCE. During Husky Bites, they’ll walk us through their projects and share what it’s like for college students to serve industry clients—and think, work and operate like a company.

Part of the university’s award-winning Enterprise Program, WCE is focused on technology—wireless, optical, renewable energy and biomedical. The student-run enterprise works as a think-tank for companies looking to push their product lines to a higher level. And WCE members also work as entrepreneurs, taking their own ideas to a level where they can be useful for industry and consumers alike. 

A student sits in the lab, soldering another LED onto the printed circuit board she designed herself and fabricated on equipment sitting not two feet away. A group puts the finishing touches on a setup for an experiment to detect water leaks in washing machines. Two students are at a computer, debugging code. A 3D printer hums away as yet another prototype is fabricated. Amid all this are students just sitting on the couch, discussing events of the day. It’s 10:00 PM on a Tuesday in the middle of the semester. Nobody has made these students come; they are here by their own volition. This is the Wireless Communications Enterprise.

“There’s no shortage of interesting and meaningful projects,” says Cischke. “Just a sampling: Android tablet programming with machine learning algorithms; machine vision algorithms; estimating the power contribution of anaerobic digester systems; and establishing a Bluetooth connection to a smart power tool. Some are explicitly wireless, others are not. Regardless, student leadership abounds.”

As an ECE instructor and WCE advisor, Cischke has the fantastic ability to make complex topics easy to understand. He does this through analogies, humor, and being open and approachable to students. He strives to be a “complete human being” with his students, sharing stories about his family and life.

During Husky Bites, Nelson, Shiver and Patrick, along with Cischke (WCE faculty advisor) will walk us through their projects and share what it’s like for college students to serve industry clients.

“This is a Differential Amplifier Circuit used to sense the voltages of 4 cells in a battery pack,” says WCE team member Abby Nelson. “Version 5. It will be connected to an arduino so that we can remotely find out the charge of those cells in the battery.”

Cischke first came to Michigan Tech as a student in 1997. During his studies, he worked as an intern for IBM, verifying hard drive controllers in VHDL, and helped found one of the original Enterprise teams—the Wireless Communications Enterprise. He graduated in 2001 with a BS in Electrical Engineering, went to work for Unisys for about four and a half years and completed a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.

“When I gathered in a classroom in 1999 with 40 fellow students to found a new Enterprise team, WCE, we couldn’t have imagined how it is today,” he recalls. “We had no space to call our own. We had no equipment. We had no clear projects. Over time, we found our footing and established our course,” says Cishke.

“I graduated into the ‘real world’ and found that the structure we were striving toward in WCE was the very structure found in industry,” he adds. “It was a considerable shock when I returned to Michigan Tech in order to teach—and found WCE had become an engineering company, composed entirely of students, only five years later.”

I watch the final presentation of a student who has been in WCE for four semesters and heading off to the “real world” now. There is no comparison to the student he was before WCE. He is older, wiser and more experienced. He has worked on a team and led a team himself. He is ready to make his mark on the world.

Kit Cischke

“When I was first asked to advise WCE students, I was intimidated,” Cishke admits.”The previous advisor had nursed the group through the formative years and had them operating at a state I couldn’t imagine sustaining. My fears were unjustified. I discovered that it takes active effort on the part of an advisor to upset the momentum the students have. Student leadership abounds. It’s not intimidating to be their advisor. It’s a pleasure.”

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

Actually, it was Star Trek. Some friends got me watching it in high school and my hero was Geordi LaForge (the chief engineer on the Enterprise). I don’t know that I expected “real” engineering to be like a day in deep space, but I loved the technology and problem solving. I first came to Michigan Tech as a budding chemical engineer, but realized that I liked playing with computers more than chemistry and switched into electrical and computer engineering. It’s a field that I enjoy and is constantly changing. 

The Star Trek character Geordi LaForge, portrayed by LeVar Burton.

What was the best part of taking part in WCE?

The best part is working with the students and watching them do cool things. When I started as a student, there was a sense that we didn’t know exactly what we were doing. What was our purpose? What was our value-add to the department and university? Now, the program and the students practically sell themselves. They accomplish so much and are so driven to do it. I have the “grade stick” to hold over them, but most of the students are internally motivated. 

Any hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?

Yes! I love bikes and the riding of bikes! I ride on mountain bike trails, paved roads, and gravel roads. I commute to the campus year-round on my bike—it’s far more possible than most people think. I’m a USA Cycling official too. When I’m not on a bike, I referee hockey, run, and I’m also learning how to do cross-country skate skiing and play guitar at my church.

Meet These Three Wireless Communications Enterprise Members at Husky Bites

Abby Nelson had two internships at John Deere, and accepted a job upon graduation. She’ll be taking part in the company’s development program for new engineers, with three 8-month rotations, all in different jobs and locations.

Abby Nelson ’21, Computer Engineering

Growing up I was always interested in how things worked. I caught onto computers pretty quickly. When I had to choose a college major, I chose computer engineering off the cuff. It turned out to be the right choice.

As soon as I walked on campus at Michigan Tech and saw the buildings and the people, I immediately knew that this was where I was going to go. In WCE, I’ve worked hands-on so much more than I would have in the classes I’ve taken in my major alone. I’ve met business connections and learned from other people, as well. WCE projects are student led (faculty advised), so there is a lot of problem solving involved in completing projects.

In my spare time, I enjoy biking, kayaking, and hiking around the UP. There are so many outdoor adventure opportunities, I wouldn’t trade this place for anywhere else. I will be graduating April 30th, 2021, and I am literally counting the days! Then I’ll move to Moline, Illinois to work at John Deere starting in May.

Kenny Shivers takes a break during a hike near Hungarian Falls.

Kenny Shivers ’21, Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering (Double Major)

During high school I took part in FIRST robotics. For those who aren’t familiar, every year a new game and game rules are released on the first Saturday of the year. Teams have six weeks during the “build season” to prototype, design, and build 120-pound competition robots to play against each other in 3v3 teams. After that come district, regional, state, and world championship competitions. All that fast-paced environment and creative problem solving got me interested in engineering. I ended up here at Michigan Tech as a result.

The best part about WCE are the people. This may sound a bit odd, since senior design or Enterprise are required to graduate. In WCE, those of us working on similar projects group together, which forms a sense of camaraderie. We’re all at Michigan Tech together and mostly dealing with similar problems. When it gets closer to the end of the semester, it’s crunch time, with more and more things to do on deadline. It’s a lot like a real job out in industry.

Like most Tech students I enjoy spending time outdoors and working with my hands. Last summer I stayed here in the Keweenaw because of the pandemic. I got an old, broken bike and fixed it up. It’s not a bike I would necessarily let someone else ride, but I know it well enough to trust it for myself. I also play piano and read a bit. Lately I’ve been focused on trying to make sure I have everything together to graduate and find a job. I’m actively looking for employment in embedded systems in Southeast Michigan.

Michael Patrick and his son, Charlie. “He’s an adorable little man.”

Michael Patrick ’21, Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering (Double Major)

I first became aware of engineering from my mother, a Michigan Tech chemical engineering graduate. She homeschooled me during my early education years. Then, in my FIRST Robotics team in high school, I was on the controls and electrical team (FRC Team 1718, The Fighting Pi). From that experience I knew I wanted to pursue electrical and computer engineering.

The best part of WCE, for me, have been the lab space and the community. I have made good friends in WCE, and the lab space has allowed me to tinker with electronics using tools I normally wouldn’t have access to. Right now I’m using it to repair a bluetooth speaker for a friend of mine.

Outside of school and becoming a new parent, I have a passion for cooking and healthy eating. I began a plant-based pescatarian diet 3 weeks ago, and never felt better. I also enjoy teaching and tutoring. I’m looking forward to having a side job as an online tutor once I graduate. Right now I’m still on the job hunt, looking ideally for an embedded software engineering position. Once I establish employment, I intend to start my loan payoffs and take a few years off from education, before pursuing a graduate degree.

Tim Schulz: Anatomy of a Fishing Season

A digital self portrait sketch by Tim Schulz. “I was fishing down at the Pilgrim River near town. I ended up using this for the cover of my book.”

Tim Shultz and Will Cantrell generously shared their knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar hosted by Dean Janet Callahan. Here’s the link to watch a recording of his session on YouTube. Get the full scoop, including a listing of all the (60+) sessions at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Tim Schulz, University Professor, Michigan Tech

What are you doing for supper this Monday 3/29 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Tim Schulz, University Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Prof. Schulz teaches electrical engineering at Michigan Tech, fishes for trout throughout Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and plays guitar and writes songs in his spare time. He is the author of The Habits of Trout: And Other Unsolved Mysteries, a collection of essays about fishing. 

Joining in will be Will Cantrell, associate provost and dean of Michigan Tech’s graduate school. Dean Cantrell is also a professor of Physics. His research focuses on atmospheric science, particularly on clouds. In the summer, he goes fly fishing, occasionally tying some of his own flies.

Will Cantrell, Dean of the Graduate School at Michigan Tech

During Husky Bites, Schulz will share the story of how he came to write his book, The Habits of Trout. It all began with a quest to explore the rugged backwoods environs where another author, John Voelker, found an abundance of wild trout and a dearth of crowds.

Schulz first came to Michigan Tech in 1992 as an assistant professor. He earned a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and then served as chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Schulz was appointed Dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Tech in 2007, then returned to the ECE department five years later as a professor. In 2019 Schulz was named a University Professor, a title recognizing faculty members who have made outstanding scholarly contributions to the University and their discipline over a substantial period of time.

“When my eye doctor asks if I ever see spots,” says Schulz, “I say ‘all the time.'” 

As a teacher, Schulz is widely acknowledged as one of the ECE department’s best, with his friendly, humorous style and his devotion to his students’ learning. He’s also a leader in using technology to deliver technical material in electrical and computer engineering. 

“There was a time when I believed I could solve the mysteries of trout in particular and of life in general. But now I think we sometimes need to get skunked. We need to break our line on a good fish every now and again, and sometimes we need to cast all day without a take. We need to be grounded by the humility of failure so we can be lifted by the hope of success.”

Excerpt with permission from The Habits of Trout and Other Unsolved Mysteries, by Timothy Schulz (Uptrout Press, 2018). All rights reserved.

Starting in 2012, Schulz created a series of videos collectively titled “Electric Circuits” and posted them on YouTube. Though he created them with his EE2111 (Electric Circuits 1) class in mind, they are reaching a much wider audience.  All combined, his educational videos have had over one million views on YouTube. One, “Thevenin Equivalent Circuits” has gotten more than 162,763 views. Since that time, Schulz developed a phone app of randomized electric circuit problems to use in this course, too. 

The Habits of Trout and Other Unsolved Mysteries is Schulz’s first book.

As a researcher, Schulz applies statistical signal-processing techniques to computational imaging and signal analysis. His methods have been used to clarify images from the Hubble Space Telescope and to miniaturize high-quality cameras for military surveillance and commercial applications. Shortly after the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, Schulz applied image processing methods to de-blur and improve images taken with the flawed telescope.

When and how did you discover a love of fly fishing? Did anyone teach you how?

Tim: One of my mom’s friends gave me a cheap fly rod when I was a kid, and I used that for bluegill. But I didn’t get serious about fly fishing in general, and fly fishing for trout in particular, until about 25 years ago when my wife Roxanne bid on fly fishing lessons that Ray Weglars donated to benefit a local art gallery. She has second guessed that ever since. 

Will: I helped my neighbor down the street, Lou Owen, with something. I think maybe it was his garage door opener. He insisted that I “take something” for my trouble. He ended up taking me fly fishing. That was my first experience with it. He showed me the basics. After that, I was self taught, and have no doubt taught myself some bad habits, especially with casting.

Rainbow Trout. Credit: Tim Schulz

Do you ever find yourself thinking about your research while you are out fishing? 

Tim: Sometimes, but not a lot. Mostly, I think about the flora, the fauna, and the fish. 

Will: Usually, when I’m fishing, I am thinking about the fish that’s rising, or where it might be if there’s not a fish rising, or how to get a fly to drift without dragging despite the three crosswise currents between me and where I want the fly…I am more likely to think about research problems when I’m walking the river to get where I will be fishing.

For those who have never ever tried it, what’s a good way to get started?

Tim: Go to a good fly shop and have them set you up. A good guide is invaluable for helping you get started. And read all you can on the subject. If you have a friend who fly fishes, take them to dinner, buy them beer, whiskey, or anything else they like. Fly anglers are secretive, but they have weaknesses, and they can be bought.

Will: Most fisherpeople will show you one or two spots that everyone knows about. What Tim suggests is probably the most reliable way.

“Here’s a brown I caught a couple of summers ago on
the Uncompahgre in Colorado,” says Cantrell.

How do you deal with the mosquitos and the biting insects?

Tim: From my chest down, I’m protected by waders. I always wear long sleeve shirts, and my wide-brim hat has been sprayed with bug-dope so much that the EPA has classified it as a minor environmental hazard. Also, if you do this long enough, you’ll learn to extend your lower lip in front of your upper lip and blow the bugs off your face. It really works.

Will: Badger Balm. Long sleeve shirt. If the bugs are biting you, there are also bugs on the water. Trout feed on bugs. I am much less bothered by biting insects when I’m casting to a rise that I think might be grandfather trout!

Brown Trout. Credit: Tim Schulz

In terms of fly fishing, what is your greatest strength? Your greatest weakness?

Tim: My greatest strength? Patience. I’m really good at sitting on a log or a rock and waiting for a fish to start feeding. I can do it for hours. Most of the big fish I’ve caught have been because of that. My greatest weakness? Patience. I’m really good at sitting on a log or a rock and waiting for a fish to start feeding. I can do it for hours. Most of my fishless days have been because of that. 

Will: My greatest weakness? Patience, lack thereof. I almost never do what Tim describes!

Word to the wise: Be careful if you decide to check out Madness and Magic, Prof. Schulz captivating blog. You may easily become hooked!

Recognizing Outstanding Engineering Alumni in 2021

The Michigan Tech Alumni Board of Directors is proud to recognize outstanding alumni and friends with their 2021 awards program. The following are engineering alumni recognized this year:

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Presented to alumni under the age of 35 who have distinguished themselves in their careers. The award recognizes the achievement of a position or some distinction noteworthy for one so recently graduated.

Kaitlyn Bunker
Kaitlyn Bunker ’10 ’12 ’14
Electrical Engineering
Megan Kreiger
Megan Kreiger ’09 ’12
Mathematics and Materials Science and Engineering

Outstanding Service Award

Presented to alumni and friends making significant contributions to the success of the Board of Directors and/or the University.

Kathy Hayrynen
Kathy Hayrynen ’86 ’89 ’93
Metallurgical 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.

Julie Fream
Julie Fream ’83
Chemical Engineering

Michigan Tech’s NSBE Student Chapter Will Reach 1,850 Detroit Middle and High School Students (Virtually!) During their 10th Annual Alternative Spring Break

Andi Smith is leading Alternative Spring Break 2021 for Michigan Tech Chemical Engineering student

Eleven members of Michigan Technological University’s student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Pre-College Initiative (PCI) plan to present to EVERY science class at Chandler Park Academy in Detroit—a total of 74 classes and 1850 students—during their 10th Annual Alternative Spring Break in Detroit from March 8-10. 

Their mission is twofold: encourage more students to go to college, and increase the diversity of those entering the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) career pipeline.

NSBE Pre-College Initiative 2021 Alternative Spring Break will be virtual this year.

The following NSBE students are participating:

Andi Smith – Chemical Engineering
Jasmine Ngene – Electrical Engineering
Jalen Vaughn – Computer Engineering
Kylynn Hodges – Computer Science 
George Ochieze – Mechatronics
Catherine Rono- Biological Science
Christiana Strong – Biomedical Engineering
Trent Johnson – Computer Engineering
Meghan Tidwell – Civil Engineering
Oluwatoyin Areo – Chemical Engineering
Kazeem Kareem – Statistics

The NSBE classroom presentations are designed to engage and inspire diverse students to learn about and consider careers in engineering and science by interacting with role models from their home town (most of the participating NSBE students are from the Detroit area).

Their effort is designed to address our country’s need for an increased number and greater diversity of students skilled in STEM (math, science, technology, and engineering). This outreach is encouraged by the NSBE Professional Pre-College Initiative (PCI) program which supports and encourages K-12 participation in STEM. 

At Michigan Tech, NSBE student chapter outreach is funded by General Motors and the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Effort is coordinated by members of the NSBE student chapter, with assistance from Joan Chadde, director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

High school students are informed of scholarships available to attend Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Programs, as well high school STEM internship opportunities at Michigan Tech.

For more information about the Michigan Tech NSBE student chapter’s Alternative Spring Break, contact Joan Chadde, Director, Center for Science & Environmental Outreach, Michigan Technological University, email jchadde@mtu.edu or call 906-369-1121.

Chee-Wooi Ten: Ahead of the Cybersecurity Curve

The Night Lights of the United States (as seen from space). Credit: NASA/GSFC.

Chee-Wooi and Junho Kong generously shared their knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar hosted by Dean Janet Callahan. Here’s the link to watch a recording of his session on YouTube. Get the full scoop, including a listing of all the (60+) sessions at mtu.edu/huskybites.

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 2/22 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Chee-Wooi Ten, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech. His focus: power engineering cybersecurity.

Associate Professor Chee-Wooi Ten at Michigan Tech

“For many years as a power system engineer, we referred to ‘security’ as the power outage contingency subject to weather-related threats,” says Ten. “The redefined security we need today, cybersecurity, is an emerging field on its own, one that works synergistically with security systems engineers.”

Joining in will be Electrical Engineering Assistant Professor Junho Hong from the University of Michigan Dearborn. He is a power engineer, and a cybersecurity colleague and a longtime friend of Dr. Ten’s.

In an era of cyberwarfare, the power grid is a high-voltage target. Ten and Hong both want to better protect it. 

At issue are electrical substations, which serve as intersections in the nation’s power system. Because they play such a key role in our infrastructure, substations could be attractive targets. 

Assistant Professor Junho Hong, University of Michigan Dearborn. His research areas include Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Power Electronics, and Energy Systems.

A physical attack could damage parts of the grid, but a cyberattack to interconnection substations could cripple the entire system simultaneously. 

Some power companies remain reluctant to fully implement electronic control systems because they could compromise security. “This is a controversial issue for most utilities,” said Ten. “If the substation network is compromised, the grid will be vulnerable. If hackers know what they are doing, that could result in a major blackout.“

With better security from cyberattacks, companies could use Internet Protocol (IP) communications to manage electronic control systems. “It would be faster, more efficient, and more economical, too,” says Ten. 

However, IP has a disadvantage: hackers are notoriously resourceful at breaking into IP networks, even when they are protected by firewalls.

Still, solutions to IP problems can be found, says Ten.

“Let’s say you check your front door once a day to make sure it is locked. Does that mean your house is secure? Probably not. Just because your door is locked doesn’t mean someone can’t get in. But if you put a camera in front of your house with incoming motion data to determine if there is movement around your house, you have more data so security can be better assessed.” 

““The key word, says Ten: “Interconnected.”

The power grid is too big, so we need to simulate cyberattacks to see what happens, adds Ten. “When it comes to power system research, data is really sensitive, and cybersecurity clearance requirements make it hard to get data. That is why simulations are important. We try to make simulations as close as possible to real systems. That we can ‘try out cyber attacks’ and see the impacts.

Running simulations saves utility companies time and money, and helps them prepare for the cascading effects of such an event, adds Ten. “We can emulate the real world without constructing the real thing, something called the ‘digital twin’.”

“We can solve the problems of cybersecurity by understanding them first. Then, we can apply analytical methods to deal with those problems.”

– Chee-Wooi Ten

Ten works with government agencies, power companies, and the vendors that provide products used to strengthen substations’ cybersecurity framework. By collaborating with all the stakeholders, he aims to transform the energy industry by improving efficiency, reliability and security, both in the power grid and cyberspace. No single vendor can do everything; it has to be synergistic,” says Ten.

It’s true: hypothetical impact analysis scenarios are a lot like one scene in the movie, Avengers. Dr. Ten will explain at Husky Bites!

Professor Ten, how did you first get involved in engineering. What sparked your interest?

I actually did not do well academically in high school. I was obsessed with computers. My dad had some money to sponsor my studies in the US. And since computers were invented in the US, I wanted to be part of that, so I went to Iowa State University. In Fall 1997, the Asian economic crisis hit and affected my studies, so I changed my major to power engineering, in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. When I look back, I have billionaire George Soros to thank. (Many people feel his aggressive Asian currency trades were to blame.) The power engineering program at Iowa State was one of the most historically established programs in the US. I was able to get involved in undergraduate research, with mentoring from a professor who taught me a great deal.

Family and hobbies?

I was born in Malaysia and was recently naturalized as a US citizen. My ethnicity is actually Chinese. My grandparents came to Malaysia from China early in the 20th century due to war and hunger, to pursue happiness. My brother is an engineer, too. My dad didn’t finish his university studies. I am the only one in our family with a doctorate degree.  My parents sent me to a foreign country to get a taste of life. (Imagine, I did not know how to speak English and had to relearn everything in the US!) I would not be who I am today had I stayed in Malaysia.

I’ve been living in Houghton now for about 11 years. My newest hobby is downhill skiing with my daughter. She’ll be turning 9 soon. Our ski hill, Michigan Tech’s Mont Ripley, is just 10 minutes from down the road.

Professor Hong, how did you first get involved in engineering? What sparked your interest? 

“In South Korea, two years of military service is a requirement after graduating from high school,” says Dr. Junho Hong. “Before going to college I served two years in the Navy, and learned a lot about technology on Navy ships.”

When I got to college, computer science was a hot topic but I wanted to better understand electricity. Without electricity how can we have technology? So, I chose electrical engineering. After graduation, I started looking at the much bigger work going on outside my country. I decided to earn my PhD. That’s how I met Chee-Wooi. We both studied at the University College Dublin in Ireland. We had the same doctorate advisor, Professor Chen-Ching Liu.

Dr. Hong (r) with his graduate advisor at Washington State University, Dr. Chen-Ching-Liu (l). Dr. Liu was also Dr. Ten’s PhD advisor at Washington State University. A world traveler, Dr. Liu is now at Virginia Tech. He was recently named a member of the US National Academy of Engineering in 2020 for his contributions to computational methods for power system restoration and cybersecurity.

Family and hobbies?

Before the pandemic, I used to go swimming at least once a day. Right now I’m doing a lot of training, instead. I’ve got equipment in my home—for cycling, weight training and working out. My wife and two kids are in South Korea for the time being. Early in the pandemic, my wife had some medical issues, and with hospitals here in Southeast Michigan overwhelmed with Covid patients, she had to go back home for medical treatment. It’s been hard to endure. I miss them greatly! My son and daughter are 9 and 6. 

Graduate School Announces Spring 2021 Finishing Fellowship Award Recipients

Michigan Tech campus at night in the winter with Husky statue.

The Graduate School proudly announces the recipients of the Doctoral Finishing Fellowships for the spring semester, 2021. Congratulations to all nominees and recipients.

The following are award recipients in engineering graduate programs:

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Trever Hassell

Trever Hassell
Trever Hassell

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected Trever Hassell, Senior Lecturer in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) for week two of the Deans’ Teaching Showcase. Callahan selected Hassell for his strong engagement of students in large classes. In one student’s words, he “has done an excellent job providing world-class teaching even in the midst of the pandemic and the shift to online learning. He continues to lecture on the important course material while trying out ideas to encourage student interaction outside of the lecture setting.”

For his large section remote course, Hassell has been adapting iClicker questions used in previous semesters (pre COVID-19) for use with Reef (or iClicker Cloud). Simultaneously, he has been expanding his question bank. Implementation of the iClicker Cloud software during the Michigan Tech FLEX initiative allows Hassell to engage and stimulate student learning during lectures and receive real-time feedback regarding whether students are mastering the learning objectives of the course. Lecture iClicker questions are posted prior to the lecture for students to review in advance. During the lectures the iCloud clicker app is used for polling students, taking a screenshot question on the lecture computer screen and sending it to the students’ Reef app or mobile device webpage. Students respond to the question and their information is provided in real-time to the instructor. Class response results are then viewed, shared, and discussed. Utilizing the iClicker Cloud software has also allowed for uninterrupted course participation even as students have had to switch from remote to face-to-face modes. “Using technology to engage students keeps the Zoom sessions productive, helping students focus on understanding the material”, said Dean Callahan.

Having more than eight years of experience with “online/blended” courses, Hassell continually refines his online delivery. It is no surprise that pivoting to the FLEX mode of instruction presented him with an opportunity, rather than a burden. He found that transitioning from a touchscreen laptop using the ZoomIt app, which had a granular screen annotation resolution limitation, to a Windows Surface Pro and annotating with Microsoft OneNote vastly improved the annotation resolution, increasing student engagement in virtual activity. Interim ECE Chair Glen Archer said, “Trever has always been an experimenter and early adopter in the classroom. He’s always on the lookout for new tools and techniques that will make life in the classroom better.” In addition, Hassell has made course structural changes allowing for greater flexibility in the weekly assignments, course participation, and exams addressing student accommodations under COVID. Hassell gives students a choice, allowing participation by either synchronous iClicker questions or asynchronous communications within lecture discussions. As another student noted, “His courses are always very neatly organized, and his posting of lecture notes before our Zoom lectures each week has certainly helped. Mr. Trevor Hassel also encourages much-needed discussion both during and outside of lecture.”

Hassell has actively taken advantage of professional training and development opportunities. The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has been a vital resource and asset for information and advice. Attending several of the CTL’s lunch and learn workshops played a key role in helping him integrate available tools and strategies into the classroom environment. And students appreciate it. As another student commented, “Being in Mr. Hassell’s class in Power Electronics has been a very enjoyable experience. He was always available and even though I took the class in the middle of the pandemic, I felt like we were in the same room with him all along.”

Hassell will be recognized at an end-of-term event with other showcase members, and is also a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Series (to be determined this summer) recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The College of Engineering believes that diversity in an equitable and inclusive environment is essential for the development of creative solutions to address the world’s challenges.

We stand together as a community to reject any actions associated with racism, hatred or fear. These actions are repugnant to the College of Engineering. They have no place in our classrooms, labs or offices, nor in our society.

Our faculty, staff and students are fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. There is much work to be done and we all have a part to play in order for meaningful change to occur.

Janet Callahan, Dean, College of Engineering
Leonard Bohmann, Associate Dean, College of Engineering
Larry Sutter, Associate Dean, College of Engineering
Sean Kirkpatrick, Chair, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
Pradeep Agrawal, Chair, Dept. of Chemical Engineering
Audra Morse, Chair, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Glen Archer, Interim Chair, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Brett Hamlin, Interim Chair, Dept. of Engineering Fundamentals
Aleksey Smirnov, Chair, Dept. of Geological and Mining Engineering and Science
Steve Kampe, Chair, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering
Bill Predebon, Chair, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics
John Irwin, Chair, Dept. of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology

Read more:
A Call to Action: Center for Diversity and Inclusion
Supporting Diversity, College of Engineering

Paul Bergstrom: Nanoscaled Epic Fails!

A cell of eight SET (single electron transistor) devices at room temperature. Paul Bergstrom, an electrical engineering professor at Michigan Tech, created the first operating SET of any kind accomplished with focused ion beam technology, the second demonstration of room temperature SET behavior in the US, and sixth in the world.

Paul Bergstrom and Tom Wallner generously shared their knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar hosted by Dean Janet Callahan. Here’s the link to watch a recording of his session on YouTube. Get the full scoop, including a listing of all the (60+) sessions at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Doing anything for supper this Monday night at 6? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Professor Paul Bergstrom for “Nanoscale Epic Fails!” Joining in will be one of Bergstrom’s former students, Tom Wallner, now an R&D engineer at PsiQuantum.

At Michigan Tech, ECE Prof. Bergstrom and his team of student researchers develop nanoelectronic devices.  The effort takes them down some (seemingly) impossible pathways. 

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” It’s one of Prof. Paul Bergstrom’s favorite lines from Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.

“Nanoscaled materials and devices that leverage quantum—or nearly quantum—scales enable extraordinary behavioral changes that can be very useful in sensing and electronics,” he says.

“Conducting research in this area constantly demonstrates that what we think we know is not always everything we need to know about how atoms and molecules interact. One experimental failure leads to understanding for the next. It’s a life lesson under the microscope.

“With the scientific method, we have an idea. We know where we want to go. We create a path to get there. Depending on our results, we decide whether or not we’re on the right path,” he explains.

Working in the nanoscale, it’s all about the size of things, he says. Bergstrom and his team use focused ion beam (FIB) systems to fabricate electrical devices at the nanoscale, using elemental gallium. He’ll explain the process in detail during his session on Husky Bites.

“We can see down to the 10s of hundreds of atoms and molecules, and see quantum mechanical effects that take place,” he says. “Many nanodevices exhibit quantum mechanical electronic behavior at subzero temperatures. There are lots of blind alleys we need to map out in order to understand where to go next with our research.”

“Experimental failure is not final. There can be success through failure, even epic failure.”

Paul Bergstrom

Bergstrom and his team had a goal: make a single electron transistor (SET) operable at room temperature. And they did: Theirs was the first operating SET of any kind accomplished with focused ion beam technology, the second demonstration of room temperature SET behavior in the US, and sixth in the world.

Room-temperature SETs could someday open up whole new aspects of the electronics industry, says Bergstrom. “Moving to nanoscaled electronic devices such as SETs that rely on quantum behavior will allow us to eliminate leakage current. The SET may also allow technology its continued migration toward high levels of integration—from hundreds of millions of transistors to hundreds of billions of transistors ultimately—so that cost per device will continue to drop at its historic rate, or even faster.”

Bergstrom’s effort goes beyond the SET. “We hope to find ways to create devices ultimately that will not transfer current when they do logic. That is the ‘Holy Grail’ for nanoelectronics. And we are taking that challenge seriously.”

He also takes it in stride. “In research, past failures define the starting place. Current failures define impossible pathways. We know our starting point and our end point. We just don’t know the path in between.” And that’s okay, even good, he says.

Jin and Tom during their college days at Michigan Tech. She earned her PhD in electrical engineering at Michigan Tech. Did they first meet in the lab? We’ll try to find out during Husky Bites.

Michigan Tech alum Tom Wallner graduated from Michigan Tech with a BS in 2002 and an MS in ‘04, both in electrical engineering. “From my undergrad work and throughout my career I’ve built things,” he says. “I’ve always been especially interested in building small things.” That fascination has led Wallner to some amazing places and workplaces. He also found the love of his life at Michigan Tech, Jin Zheng-Wallner.

After graduation, Wallner spent time at Sandia National Labs, and then joined IBM doing microelectronics R&D, including time spent in South Korea for IBM, working with Samsung. After nearly a decade Wallner moved to GLOBALFOUNDRIES, “a company formed out of a bunch of fabs.” (AKA chip fabricators). Then one day Wallner’s career path took a fortuitous turn. “Some old IBM buddies knocked on my door, some very good friends. They said, ‘Hey Tom, do you want to try this photonics stuff?”

“It turns out testing photonics devices is a wide open field,” he says. “Not many people have a background and skill set in that area. I thought to myself, well, I know a little about photonics, I’ll just go figure it out.” Wallner went to work at SUNY Polytechnic Institute as an integrated photonic test engineer. 

Recently Wallner joined PsiQuantum, a startup based in Silicon Valley. “Our mission is to build the world’s first useful quantum computer. We’re taking a photonic path to that, which is different than most quantum computing,” he says.

As a student at Michigan Tech, Wallner worked on a team that developed an unmanned vehicle. “It looked like a bumblebee—300 pounds of unmanned robotics, with cameras on it. We navigated it on a course we set up out on the Michigan Tech golf course.”

Wallner was a management advisor in Douglas Houghton Hall (DHH) and president of Michigan Tech’s IEEE chapter for 4 years. “I was in charge of the building.  If a hallway light went out, or a door got jammed, OR the one time there was a water line break and a whole floor flooded–that was my responsibility,” he recalls.

“Tom not only renovated the IEEE student lab—he even secured industry sponsorship to cover the costs,” says Bergstrom. The Kimberly Clarke plaque still hangs outside the door of Room 809 in the EERC.”

“Tom also started building the MFF for me, and he developed the tool set for our room temperature SET research,” notes Bergstrom. Today the Microfabrication Shared Facility (MFF) at Michigan Tech provides resources for micro- and nano-scaled research and development of solid state electronics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), lab-on-a-chip, and microsystems materials and devices, serving researchers across campus and across the country.

Prof. Bergstrom, when did you first get into engineering? 

I knew I wanted to be, specifically, an electrical engineer by the time I was 16. I am the son of an analytical chemist who trained chemical technicians for industry. When donated tools would come into his teaching laboratory, I would come in and either fix them or disassemble them and recycle the components that could be processed. A passion for high-end audio also led me to analog amplifier design and speaker assembly. My desire to learn about the coupled electromechanical physics and engineering in audio as a young teenager sparked my interest in electronics and microelectromechanical systems—and launched my career at the micro- and nanoscale.

An “Ent” from Lord of the Rings.

Hometown, Hobbies, Family?

I grew up in the suburbs of the Twin Cities of Minnesota with family roots in northwestern Wisconsin. After formative years in Minnesota came graduate school in Michigan, semiconductor research with Motorola, Inc. in Arizona, and the last 20 years in the Keweenaw as faculty. I have too many hobbies and acquired skills outside of my profession, but they mostly revolve around musical enjoyment and performance, or enjoying and utilizing the northern forest and timber, or both. My wife calls me an “ent” (one of those mythical tree creatures who move and talk in the Lord of the Rings).

ECE Alumnus Tom Wallner ’02 04 is now an R&D Engineer at PsiQuantum

Tom, how did you find engineering? 

I started getting interested way back in grade school when I learned that you can make electromagnets with a lantern battery, a nail, and some wire. Later, in high school, my part time job was at a family owned electronics shop. I loved working with customers to help solve their problems. This was back in the day of mobile phones being “bag phones” and then I saw the transition to smaller phones. I remember being blown away by the Motorola Startac flip phone. When I graduated high school, I wanted to take the next step and learn more about how such cool devices work and how they are made.

Hobbies and Interests?

I was born and raised in Ashland, Wisconsin. My parents still live in the house I grew up in. I enjoy playing trombone, hunting, fishing, woodworking, and language learning. I met my wife,  Jin, at Michigan Tech. She earned her PhD in electrical engineering at Michigan Tech, advised by Dr. Bergstrom. Our two sons, now aged 10 and 12, know all the technical jargon and acronyms. They talk about “SOP” (Standard Operating Procedure) while doing the dishes, and BKM (Best Known Method) while putting them away! 

Tim Havens: Warm and Fuzzy Machine Learning

A test vehicle to collect data for explosive hazards detection. Havens has spent the past 12-plus years developing new, improved methods to find explosive hazards, working with the US Army.

Associate Professor Tim Havens, director of the Michigan Tech’s Institute of Computing and Cybersystems and associate dean for research in the College of Computing, along with Hanieh Deilamsalehy generously shared their knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar hosted by Dean Janet Callahan. Here’s the link to watch a recording of his session on YouTube. Get the full scoop, including a listing of all the (60+) sessions at mtu.edu/huskybites.

“Nearly everyone has heard the term ‘Deep Learning’ at this point, whether to describe the latest artificial intelligence feat like AlphaGo, autonomous cars, facial recognition, or numerous other latest-and-greatest gadgets and gizmos,” says Havens. “But what is Deep Learning? How does it work? What can it really do—and how are Michigan Tech students advancing the state-of-the-art?”

Professor Tim Havens is a Michigan Tech alum. He earned his BS and MS in electrical engineering in 1999 and 2000.

In this session of Husky Bites, Prof. Havens will talked about everyday uses of machine learning—including the machine learning research going on in his lab: explosive hazards detection, under-ice acoustics detection and classification, social network analysis, connected vehicle distributed sensing, and other stuff.

Joining in will be one of Havens’ former students, Hanieh Deilamsalehy, who earned her PhD in electrical engineering at Michigan Tech. She’s now a machine learning researcher at Adobe. Dr. Deilamsalehy graduated from Michigan Tech in 2017 and headed to Palo Alto to work for Ford as an autonomous vehicle researcher. She left the Bay Area for Seattle to take a job at Microsoft, first as a software engineer, and then as a machine learning scientist. In April she accepted a new machine learning position at Adobe, “in the middle of the pandemic!”

Havens is a Michigan Tech alum, too. He earned his BS in ‘99 and MS in Electrical Engineering in ‘00, then went to the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where he worked on simulation and modeling of the Airborne Laser System, among other defense-related projects. From there it was the University of Missouri for a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering, researching machine learning in ontologies and relational data.

Nowadays, Havens is the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Computing. In addition to serving as director of Michigan Tech’s ICC, he also heads up the ICC Center for Data Sciences and runs his own PRIME Lab, too (short for Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Machines Engineering).

“An important goal for many mobile platforms—terrestrial, aquatic, or airborne—is reliable, accurate, and on-time sensing of the world around them.”

Tim Havens

Havens has spent the past 12 years developing methods to find explosive hazards, working with the US Army and a research team in his lab. According to a United Nations report, more than 10,000 civilians were killed or injured in armed conflict in Afghanistan in 2019, with improvised explosive devices used in 42 percent of the casualties. Havens is working to help reduce the numbers.

“Our algorithms detect and locate explosive hazards using two different systems: a vehicle-mounted multi-band ground-penetrating radar system and a handheld multimodal sensor system,” Havens explains. “Each of these systems employs multiple sensors, including different frequencies of ground penetrating radar, magnetometers and visible-spectrum cameras. We’ve created methods of integrating the sensor information to automatically find the explosive hazards.” 

As a PhD student at Michigan Tech, Deilamsalehy worked alongside Havens as a research assistant in the ECE department’s Intelligent Robotics Lab (IRLab). “My research was focused on sensor fusion, machine learning and computer vision, fusing the data from IMU, LiDAR, and a vision camera for 3D localization and mapping purposes,” she says. “I used data from a sensor platform in the IRLab, mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), to evaluate my proposed fusion algorithm.”

Havens is also co-advisor to students in the SENSE (Strategic Education through Naval Systems Experience) Enterprise team at Michigan Tech, along with ME-EM Professor Andrew Barnard. Students in SENSE design, build, and test engineering systems in all domains: space, air, land, sea, and undersea. Like all Enterprise teams, SENSE is open to students in any major. 

You’d never know it looking at this hat, but Dr. Havens is a cat person with two “fur children.” He is also musical, playing the bass and the trumpet.

Prof. Havens, when did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I first became an engineer at Michigan Tech in the late 90s. What really sparked my interest in what-I-do-now was my introductory signal processing courses. The material in these courses was the first stuff that really ‘spoke’ to me. I have always been a serious musician and the mathematics of waves and filters was so intuitive because of my music knowledge. I loved that this field of study joined together the two things that I really loved: music and math. And I’ve always been a computer geek. I was doing programming work in high school to make extra money; so that side of me has always led me to want to solve problems with computers.

Hometown, Hobbies, Family?

I grew up in Traverse City, Michigan, and came to Tech as a student in the late 90s. I’ve always wanted to come back to the Copper Country; so, it’s great that I was able to return to the institution that gave me the jump start in my career. I live (and currently work from home) in Hancock with my partner, Dr. Stephanie Carpenter (an author and MTU professor), and our two fur children, Rick Slade, the cutest ginger in the entire world, and Jaco, the smartest cat in the entire world. I have a grown son, Sage, who enjoys a fast-paced life in Traverse City. Steph and I enjoy exploring the greater Keweenaw and long discussions about reality television, and I enjoy playing music with all the local talent, fishing (though catching is a challenge), and gradually working through the lumber pile in my garage.

Hanieh earned her MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering at Michigan Tech. Before that, she earned an MS in Medical Radiation Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology – Tehran Polytechnic, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from K.N. Toosi University of Technology (KNTU).

Dr. Deilamsalehy, how did you find engineering? What sparked your interest?

I was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. I have always been into robotics. I was a member of our robotics team in high school and that led me to engineering. I decided to apply to Michigan Tech sort of by chance when a friend of mine told me about it. I looked at the programs in the ECE department, and felt they aligned with my interests. Then soon after I first learned about Michigan Tech, I found out that one of my undergraduate classmates went there. I talked to him, and he also encouraged me to apply. And that’s how I was able to join Michigan Tech for my PhD program. My degree is in electrical engineering but my focus at Michigan Tech involved computer science and designing Machine Learning solutions.

Hanging out above the clouds is one of Dr. Hanieh Deilamsalehy’s favorite pastimes. Since moving to Seattle she has hiked and climbed Mt. Rainier, Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker, Mt. Adams and other peaks in the Pacific Northwest.

Hobbies and Interests?

I now live in Seattle, famous for outdoor activities—kind of like the UP, but without the cold—so I do lots of mountaineering, biking, rock climbing, and in the winter, skiing. I learned how to ski at Michigan Tech, up on Mont Ripley. It’s steep, and it’s cold! Once you learn skiing on Ripley, you’re good. You can ski just about anywhere.