Tag: GMES

Stories about Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

Engineering Study Abroad: Estefanio Kesto

“Being present and living in the now” is the motto Estefanio Kesto lives by, and his goals are ever changing, expanding, and adapting as life takes him in new directions.

Estafanio Kesto standing near a chalkboard with many digits of Pi.
Estefanio Kesto, next to digits of Pi in the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), in the Skolkovo District of Moscow

A bit about Estefanio Kesto

Estefanio Kesto is an electrical engineering student at Michigan Tech with a focus on Photonics—the study of light detection, manipulation, and generation. He’s involved in SPIE, the International Society for Optics and Photonics, as well as performing experimental research under the guidance of Professor Miguel Levy in the Department of Physics. Kesto is also involved in Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society and Eta Kappa Nu, the honor society of IEEE. He describes himself as an outdoorsman and an avid cyclist, as well. “If you approach me with any activities that involve the outdoors, then you can count me in!”

How did you get interested in Studying Abroad?

Many engineering students don’t seem to take the opportunity to study abroad. This is generally due to the misconception among them that transferring the course credits can be very involved and difficult. Additionally, many students are intimidated by the financial aspects. I also hesitated due to both of these things, which postponed my own study abroad endeavor. I eventually attended a meeting hosted by Vienna Leonarduzzi, then Michigan Tech’s study abroad coordinator. She discussed many options to overcome these obstacles.

The process of studying abroad looks hefty from the outside, but once you get more involved, you quickly learn that there are not only many options for engineering coursework to transfer into your degree program, but also options for merit and need-based scholarships to alleviate the potential financial burden.

How did you end up funding your trip?

In my case, I was privileged to be supported by the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The Gilman scholarship gives underrepresented individuals higher priority when it comes to financial support. As it turns out, engineering students are considered to be underrepresented when it comes to studying abroad! Use this fact to your advantage when writing scholarship essays for funding. Additionally, there may be university-wide study abroad scholarships available to relieve some of the financial burden. In any case, be sure to discuss your funding options with the study abroad coordinator at Michigan Tech before jumping to conclusions. For me, it was the Gilman program that truly enabled me to study abroad. I even discovered post-study abroad incentives that come with being a Gilman alum! 

I also discovered that the process of transferring courses taken abroad is significantly easier when done earlier in your degree program. So, my recommendation would be to study abroad as early in your degree program as possible! Studying abroad, say, as a freshman or sophomore, gives you more options in choosing your host country, too. This is because general education, free electives, and lower-level engineering courses are much easier to be replaced with study abroad courses, compared to senior level classes.

This was not the case for me, though. I first began to search for study abroad programs that would satisfy course requirements in the final year of my undergraduate studies. As a result, it quickly became discouraging—until Vienna informed me that courses offered through the European Project Semester (EPS) program can be used to satisfy the engineering senior design requirements for my electrical engineering degree. So, if you find yourself in my shoes, find a European Project Semester program in a host country of your liking and jump on it!

Estafanio next to Novia University logo.
At the University of Novia

Where did you study and live?

I lived in the town of Vaasa, which is on the southwest coast of Finland, located on the Gulf of Bothnia. Vaasa was not what I was expecting. It turned out to be one of the largest Swedish speaking towns in Finland (the second language in Finland is Swedish). Only 6 percent of the Finnish population speaks Swedish, but 50 percent of the people in Vaasa speak Swedish. This caught me off guard, as I was expecting a full Finnish-speaking town.  

Why did you choose Finland?

There is a strong Finnish heritage presence in the Keweenaw, where Michigan Tech is located. It inspired me to want to better understand who the Finnish people are, and in my opinion, there’s no better way to do that than fully immersing yourself in the culture of their home country, Finland!

What was your academic experience like in Finland?

European Project Semester (EPS) is a collaborative learning program for undergraduate students studying any of the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). There are 19 host institutions across 13 countries that make up this program today. It’s project-based, with projects often sponsored by companies in industry. This gives students the opportunity to apply their theoretical studies in the real working world. 

Students work in multinational, interdisciplinary teams of three to six students. At the beginning of the semester, EPS presents the engineering projects, and students choose their preferences. My project relied heavily on the internet of things (IoT), automation, and other aspects of software/mechanical/electrical engineering.

The main objective of my collaborative project was to develop an IoT platform to facilitate the integration of different-branded smart devices in an automated living environment for disabled or elderly individuals, all within one intuitive user-interface. For example, products coming from Samsung, LG, Nest, and other electronic brands all have their own app. Our task was to integrate them all into one user-friendly app to control this automated living environment. It turns out the IoT could easily realize this problem. In addition to successfully creating an intuitive user-interface, my team and I further innovated the automated living environment by taking devices which were not considered ‘smart’ devices (i.e., had no connectivity capability) and turned them into ‘smart’ devices with the help of an ESP32 which is a microcontroller with Wi-Fi capabilities.

The experience was absolutely phenomenal. The university I attended, Yrkeshögskolan Novia (Novia University of Applied Sciences), and the faculty who guided my team, went above and beyond in providing my team with the resources and guidance to accomplish the task at hand. Additionally, working in a multi-cultural and interdisciplinary team of engineers allowed me to better understand how different cultures approach academia, work, and day-to-day life.

Estafanio with his housemates.
With housemates in Yrkeshögskolan Novia, Finland

What was the best part of the experience?

Living in a housing accommodation full of exchange students from all over the world! This did have its pros and cons, though. The biggest pro was the gaining of mutual cultural understanding from a diverse cohort of exchange students. The biggest con was that there was only one Finnish student, and I had been searching for native Finnish students to ‘adopt’ me into their cultural traditions. The ‘adoption’ was quite difficult considering I wasn’t able to socialize with Finnish students in my everyday life.

What was the most challenging part of the experience?

If you think it’s dark and cold here in the Keweenaw, you’re mistaken, because Finland beats the Keweenaw in that respect. The cold wasn’t so challenging, but the lack of winter daylight, at least in comparison to the Keweenaw, was the most challenging thing for me. The sun would start to rise around 10am and set by 4pm. I found it tough to cope. It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around how Finland has consecutively been rated the happiest country in the world in spite of the lack of daylight they receive.

Estafanio on a boat with the Norweigan flag hanging above him.
On a boat in the fjords of Norway

Did you visit any other cities or countries?

When you study abroad, you shouldn’t stay in your college town for the entire duration of your studies. This would make it very difficult to gain sufficient mutual understanding of your host culture. Luckily, my international coordinator at Yrkeshögskolan Novia encouraged exchange students to travel with the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) as much as possible. ESN subsidizes travels for exchange students around the EU, which makes the cost of traveling significantly cheaper than traveling on your own. I visited Oulu, Tampere, Turku, and Helsinki which are all cities within Finland. Outside of Finland I visited Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, and France. Additionally, Professor Levy organized an opportunity for me to visit the Russian Quantum Center in the Skolkovo district of Moscow, where I was able to meet some of our collaborators and observe their experimental techniques.

Estafanio in front of St. Basil's Cathedral
In front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

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

Life changes, and you must be present in the now to adapt. Being present, and in the moment, allows you to adjust your professional goals accordingly. A strict, long-term professional goal that isn’t malleable can quickly deteriorate, due to challenges life throws at you. In turn, not meeting that goal within your perceived and specified timeframe can result in self-discouragement. 

The motto that best describes and dictates where I find myself in life is ‘being present and living in the now.’ In other words, I don’t have a strict long-term goal in regard to where I want to be in my professional life at any certain time. My professional goals change and will change in proportion to what’s happening now.

I do have an idea of where I want to be. I’d like to be working as a professor, instructing the next generation of scientists and engineers—or I’d like to work as a research scientist, making contributions that impact our society even more broadly. This is by no means a strict goal that I’m holding over my head. 

As for my post-baccalaureate plans, I’ve been admitted into a doctoral program in the University of Michigan’s Department of Physics, where I will be continuing my research studies within the optical sciences.

Caryn Heldt: The Making of a Vaccine

Caryn Heldt shares her knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, March 14 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

“Our goal is to bring biotherapies to market faster,” says Dr. Caryn Heldt.

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 3/14 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Chemical Engineering Professor Caryn Heldt, to learn how different vaccines are made. Heldt, the James and Lorna Mack Endowed Chair of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, will talk about the different types of vaccines, how they are created and designed, and the FDA approval process. 

Caryn Heldt

Joining in will be one of Dr. Heldt’s former students, Dylan Turpeinen, who worked as an undergraduate and graduate researcher in the Heldt Bioseparations Lab at Michigan Tech. Dr. Turpeinen earned his BS in 2016, and his PhD in 2020, both in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech. He’s now a downstream process development scientist at the Florida-based biopharmaceutical company Resilience (formerly Ology Bioservices). In his role, Dr. Turpeinen operates and optimizes purification unit operations to produce vaccines.

Heldt is an alumna, as well. She graduated from Michigan Tech in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. She earned a Masters in Chemical Engineering in 2005 and her PhD in Chemical Engineering in 2008, both from North Carolina State University. After post-doctoral studies in chemical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2010, she joined the chemical engineering faculty at Michigan Tech. Then, in 2015, Heldt won a prestigious NSF CAREER Award, which boosted her efforts and focus on vaccine research and development. She’s a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Society of Biological Engineers, and the Biophysical Society.

Pictured: the ultrastructural details of an influenza virus particle, or “virion”. Dr. Heldt is PI on a joint research project with Johns Hopkins University, funded by the FDA, “Integrated and Continuous Manufacturing of an Influenza Vaccine.”

Heldt teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes at Michigan Tech. Her lab, the Heldt Bioseparations Lab, is busier than ever, with seven graduate and five undergraduate students and two postdocs⁠—her vaccine research dream team. “Our lab focuses on the science of viral surface interactions and applies it to vaccine manufacturing and purification,” she explains. “We are interested in how viruses interact with different surfaces and chemistries. This could be important in how viruses infect cells, but we focus on how we can change surfaces to improve purification and manufacturing of viral therapies.”

Dylan Turpeinen

Turpeinen started out in the lab with Dr. Heldt as undergraduate researcher, fabricating and testing graphene-based electrochemical biosensors for rapid protein detection. He shared his enthusiasm for biosensors with middle and high school students the summer after he graduated with his BS, teaching at Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program (SYP) and then started work on his master’s degree, conducting graduate research on biosensors to detect malaria.

We are interested in how viruses interact with different surfaces and chemistries.

Turpeinen’s research then shifted to developing and testing a gold nanoparticle aggregation assay for virus detection, which could be used to ensure surface cleanliness on cruise ships, at hospitals or doctor’s offices between patients. His doctoral dissertation was entitled, “Development of Detection and Purification Strategies for Viral Products,” successfully defended (virtually due to the Pandemic) in July 2020.

Observing these chemical reactions in a test tube sometimes reminded him of a sunset: “The gold nanoparticles are the sun that start above the lake displaying a red-ish pink color and as the sun begins to set behind the lake, the color changes to a deep purple. When the sun is set, only the crisp blue color of Lake Superior is left behind.”

“Integrating graduate and undergraduate training in the lab inspires and guides the next generation of engineers. It also enhances our research.”

Caryn Heldt
A day in the life in the Heldt Bioseparations Lab

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

Ever since grade school, I planned on being an engineer. At first, I wanted to work at mission control at NASA. Later, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. My mom and sister are nurses, and while I didn’t want to be a medical doctor, making medicines really intrigued me. Now as an engineer I can still make a difference without working directly with patients. 

“A few years ago my son had the Grand Champion chicken in the Houghton county Fair!”
Looking good!
Dr. Heldt is a quilter!

Hometown, family?

I grew up in Pinconning, Michigan. My dad dropped out of school in 8th grade to help on the family farm and my mom has an associate’s degree in nursing. They instilled in me the importance of education and pushed me to get a bachelor’s degree. They were a little surprised when I took it so far as to get a doctorate degree. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I live in Atlantic Mine with my husband Gary and our three children. At home we have about 25 chickens (give or take a few) that give us fresh eggs. I enjoy quilting in my spare time. I’ve even started quilting viruses and microscopes, so my love for science is bleeding over into my hobbies. As a family, we downhill ski, snowshoe, and camp. I’ve also served on the Michigan Tech Preschool board, and was a FIRST Lego League coach, too.

“Gold nanoparticle size increase reminds me of a sunset over Lake Superior.”

Dylan Turpeinen, spoken as a chemical engineering PhD student at Michigan Tech

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

As a kid, I was always using Lego blocks to build anything I could imagine—houses, planes, and spaceships. When I got older, I found myself thinking about how and why something worked. I knew I needed to learn techniques to figure out how. When I visited Michigan Tech in high school, the professors I talked to made me very excited about Chemical Engineering.They explained how it was the “jack of all trades” of engineering. I knew pursuing an engineering degree would teach me the techniques I needed in order to figure out most things at a base level. To this day I deep-dive into any project I am interested in to understand how it works.

Ellie and Momo: they get along great!

Hometown, family?

I was born in Orlando but grew up in Houghton where I stayed for almost 15 years. I currently live in sunny Gainesville, Florida with my wife LiLu Funkenbusch and our two fur babies, Ellie (dog) and Momo (cat).

Any hobbies?

I like woodworking, PC gaming, and visiting local breweries to enjoy any and all IPAs (aka India Pale Ales). I also enjoy making various improvements to our new house.

Watch

Play How Vaccine Manufacturing is a Bit Like Making Salad Dressing video
Preview image for How Vaccine Manufacturing is a Bit Like Making Salad Dressing video

How Vaccine Manufacturing is a Bit Like Making Salad Dressing

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Chemical Engineering Major Wins Portage Health Foundation Scholarship

Q&A with Bhakta Rath Award Winners Pratik Umesh Joshi and Caryn Heldt

Volunteer to Judge at Michigan Tech’s Design Expo 2022

Save the date! Design Expo 2022 will be held in person this spring, on Thursday, April 21, from 10 am to 2 pm at the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library on campus at Michigan Tech. Want to serve as a judge? Please visit Michigan Tech’s Design Expo Judges and Guests page to register to judge by Friday, April 8, 2022.

Just how well do students involved in Michigan Tech’s Enterprise, Senior Design, and Capstone Design address design challenges? You be the judge—volunteer at Design Expo 2022!

Now’s the time to consider serving as a distinguished judge at Design Expo, coming up on Thursday, April 21, 2022 from 10 am to 2 pm at the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library. The event will take place in person this year.

“We welcome judges from various professions, disciplines, and backgrounds to serve as judge,” says Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program Coordinator at Michigan Tech.

Hosted by the Enterprise Program and the College of Engineering as an annual event, Design Expo highlights hands-on, discovery-based learning at Michigan Tech. More than 1,000 students in Enterprise and Senior Design teams showcase their work and compete for awards, allowing students to gain valuable experience and direct exposure to industry-relevant problems.

In-person judging at the Opie Library on the day of the event usually takes about an hour, depending on the number of volunteers.

This year, prior to the event on April 21, judges will gain access to a digital gallery of student-created videos, in order to preview the videos prior to judging.

“Whether a judge or simply a guest, your involvement in Design Expo is greatly valued by our student teams and makes an important contribution to their education.”

Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program Coordinator, Enterprise Program Office, Michigan Tech

Design Expo 2022 is generously supported by industry and University sponsorship, with Thompson Surgical as Executive Partner, and ITC Holdings as Directing Partner for the eleventh consecutive year. Additional partners include Globalization Partners, Property Management Inc., Winning by Design, Plexus, Husky Innovate, Altec. Inc., and OHM. These nine partners, along with more than a hundred project and program supporters, have made a strategic investment in our educational mission at Michigan Tech.

Sign Me Up!

Please visit Michigan Tech’s Design Expo Judges and Guests page for more information and to register to judge by Friday, April 8, 2022.

To be considered as a judge, please commit to the following: 

  1. Attend Design Expo for about an hour, sometime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 21, 2022, to visit assigned teams.
  2. Review and score assigned team videos via RocketJudge, an online platform, between April 18 and April 21, 2022, prior to the start of Design Expo.

Each judge will be assigned 3-5 teams to score throughout the judging period. 

Judges will then evaluate and score their same assigned teams during the in-person Design Expo event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 21 at the Opie Library on campus.

Who should judge?

  • Faculty and staff 
  • Community members
  • Alumni interested in seeing the accomplishments of today’s undergraduate students
  • Those looking to network with Michigan Tech faculty and students
  • Industry representatives interested in sponsoring a future project
  • Anyone with interest in supporting our students as they engage in hands-on, discovery-based learning

Questions? 

Feel free to contact Briana Tucker, Enterprise Program Coordinator from Michigan Tech’s Enterprise Program Office, at bctucker@mtu.edu.

TECH SCEnE Offers the Best of Both Worlds in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal members share their knowledge, wisdom, and culture with TECH SCEnE REU students. Apply for TECHSCEnE Summer 2022 by March 15 at https://www.techscene.mtu.edu. Tentative program dates are June 3, 2022- July 29, 2022. Tribal college, community college or university students, women and students from underrepresented backgrounds are all encouraged to apply.

What are you doing this Summer 2022? Want to combine cutting-edge engineering research with direct community involvement and impact? With a generous stipend, travel allowance, plus all expenses paid for 8 weeks?

Samantha Haynes, future biomedical engineer, spent 8 weeks as a TECH SCEnE REU researcher last summer.

Biomedical engineering student Samantha Haynes decided to immerse herself in something entirely new via TECH SCEnE, a National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Experience (REU) at Michigan Technological University. Haynes came all the way from Arlington, Virginia, where she studies biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech.

The 8-week, all-expense paid program offered at Michigan Tech is called TECH SCEnE (short for Technology, Science and Community Engagement in Engineering). Haynes stayed on campus, went on outdoor trips throughout the Keweenaw Peninsula, guided by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, and conducted hands-on research in campus labs alongside a faculty mentor.

TECH SCEnE research projects include water quality testing for heavy metal contamination, smart adhesives for underwater applications, remote monitoring and mobile robots, simulating daylight for hatcheries, and in vitro modeling of the impact of heavy metals.

Samantha is seventh from the left. TECH SCEnE stands for Technology, Science and Community Engagement in Engineering

In addition to hands-on laboratory experience, Haynes and her fellow students took plenty of field visits to the beautiful lakeshores of Lake Superior and Keweenaw Bay. Application deadline for Summer 2022 is March 15. Tentative program dates are June 3, 2022- July 29, 2022.

This year is forecast to be outstanding for viewing the Northern Lights in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Located just 20 minutes or so from the Michigan Tech campus, McLain State Park on Lake Superior is a great potential viewing spot!

Haynes pioneered research on heavy metal contamination in the soil and wild rice beds around the Keweenaw last summer as an undergraduate researcher taking part in TECH SCEnE. She also worked alongside members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), her fellow REU students, and other volunteers to plant over 75 trees, build hoops houses, harvest foods, and upkeep a large community garden, the tribe’s People’s Garden.

Wild rice, known as manoomin, the good berry, is both a spiritual and nutritional staple of the Keweenaw Indian Community.

Samantha, what did you like most about TECH SCEnE?

I applied to TECHScENE REU because I thought the internship was very unique. I was excited to have the opportunity to work in Michigan and learn about the local Indian community. I personally value diversity and learning about different communities very much, so I appreciated that this type of internship existed. I’m also passionate about creating positive social change, helping to protect the environment, and using science to bridge gaps in education and educate the public on pressing issues.

What was the best part?

Samantha and fellow volunteers tending to plants in one of the many Hoop Houses of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community People’s Garden

Out of all the experiences activities we did throughout TECH ScENE, building relationships with my fellow peers, mentors, and the Native American community was my favorite part.

What was the most challenging aspect?

The unlearning process of everything I thought I knew about Native Americans. We participated in weekly workshops to unlearn false, preconceived ideas and to learn factual information about Native American tribes and tribal members, especially those we were working with as part of TECH SCEnE. 

“Boozhoo! Welcome to our wellness trail,” says this sign, located on Keweenaw Bay Indian Community tribal land. Take a moment to learn a few words of the Ojibwe language. “Miikaans means “trail”. “Aki” means Earth. And “boozhoo!” means “greetings!” or “hello!”

What next? What are your future plans?

Currently I am a junior in biomedical engineering, so the next step is to secure another internship for summer 2022, in order to gain more experience. Once I graduate, I plan to start working and possibly consider graduate school after a year or two.

Samantha’s final presentation, with her TECH SCEnE research mentor, Professor Rupali Datta

Are you an adventurous college student? Want to learn how to use science and technology to benefit both the community and the environment? Apply to TECH SCEnE by March 15. Tribal college, community college or university students, women and students from underrepresented backgrounds are all encouraged to apply. Learn more and apply for free at techscene.mtu.edu.

Students, Faculty and Staff: Sign Up for LEED Green Associate Training at Michigan Tech

Better buildings equal better lives. This is Discover Elementary in Arlington, Virginia. LEED Zero Energy. Photo by Alan Karchmer

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building types, LEED provides a framework to design, construct and operate healthy, highly efficient, cost-saving, green buildings.

Michigan Tech’s Joe Azzarello is one of the founders of the US Green Building Council and has led LEED training workshops throughout the United States, Mexico, South America, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Kohler Co.

Are you a student, faculty member or staff at Michigan Tech? If so, you are invited to prepare for, and when ready, take the LEED Green Associate exam. The prep will take place during two sessions, at a low cost, right here at Michigan Tech, with expert training from an original founding member of the US Green Building Council—Michigan Tech alumnus Joe Azzarello.

The LEED exam prep training at MTU will take place over two days. Azzarello will teach on campus in two 5-hour sessions, from 12-5 pm on both Sunday, March 20 and Sunday, March 27. The room is ChemSci 211. Those who cannot attend in person can attend via Zoom. LEED exam training costs $80.00, which includes notes and printed materials. Attendees are expected to purchase their text book, which varies in cost from $73.00 to $115.00, depending on e-book or vendor.

“Attendees will be well trained in what to study for the exam to become accredited as a LEED Green Associate,” notes Azzarello. “Then they must register, take, and pass the LEED GA exam from the USGBC at a later date in order to receive accreditation. The complete costs for LEED Green Associate accreditation varies. The USGBC website provides information on the Steps to Become a LEED Green Associate.

There is no need for a college degree. “Literally anyone can take the course if they can read, memorize some information, and add and subtract,” says Azzarello.

The USGBC LEED Green Associate exam measures general knowledge of green building practices and how to support others working on LEED projects. “The exam is ideal for those new to green building. It’s an accreditation that can enhance your current endeavors, and also open doors to new career opportunities,” Azzarello explains. “LEED accreditation is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.”

Depending on interest, Azzarello may offer more LEED training to Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff. Next up would be the LEED Accredited Professional Exam for individuals who actively work on green building and LEED projects.

Azzarello is a LEED AP® and a registered and active USGBC® Faculty™. He is licensed to instruct multiple USGBC workshops and has led workshops throughout the United States, Mexico, South America, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam. He truly enjoys instructing and sharing his 20-plus years of USGBC and LEED experience while bringing new professionals into the green building movement.

Azzarello earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech 1978 and an MS in Environmental Engineering in 1996 from Wayne State University. He is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and also serves as advisor to Michigan Tech’s Alternative Energy Enterprise team. 

“I am at the stage of my life now where it is time to give back to Michigan Tech and the community and am in the position to do so,” says Azzarello. “Without a degree from MTU I am not sure how my life would have turned out. I feel very fortunate to be able to give back.”

Prior to joining Michigan Tech, Azarello retired from Kohler Co. as a senior staff engineer focused on sustainability, directing the company’s green building efforts and serving as a global consultant to customers developing green building projects. With decades spent in the environmental field, Azzarello’s resume touts myriad experiences with recycling, energy efficiency, sustainability, co-generation, marketing, sustainable product design and green building design, and construction programs for several Fortune 500 companies, along with multiple smaller organizations as a sustainability consultant. He also served as Yellowstone National Park’s green building consultant. 

Azzarello has been a part of the green building movement since its beginning. He served on the USGBC’s first Board of Directors as Vice Chairman, actively involved as a Board member during its formative years. He helped pave the way for LEED by participating in the Beta testing of the newly developed green building guidelines that became known as LEED v1.0. Read Joe Azzarello’s full bio.

Read more:

Feathered Friend Helps Launch Green Career: Kohler’s Resident Green Building Guru Started on a Very Different Career Path

Research links continents to key transitions in Earth’s oceans, atmosphere and climate

Mountain peaks, glaciers, and prayer flags near the Kunzum La Pass, a high mountain pass connecting the Lahaul and Spiti valleys in the Indian Himalaya. Credit: Timothy Paulsen, UW Oshkosh

A recent study led by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh geologist Timothy Paulsen advances the understanding of the role continents have played in the chemical evolution of Earth’s oceans, with implications for understanding atmospheric oxygenation and global climate oscillations. The research team includes Chad Deering and Snehamoy Chatterjee, Dept. of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Technological University, and Jakub Sliwinski and Olivier Bachman, Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology, ETH Zurich.

Tim Paulsen

The team’s research article, Continental Magmatism and Uplift as the Primary Driver for First-Order Oceanic 87Sr/86Sr Variability with Implications for Global Climate and Atmospheric Oxygenation, is featured on the cover of the February issue of GSA Today, published by the Geological Society of America.

The team analyzed a global database of the chemistry of tiny zircon grains commonly found in the Earth’s continental rock record. “We use zircon because it is very resistant to weathering and breakdown over a wide span of environmental conditions and can be dated accurately,” Deering explains. Zircon grains are about the size of the width of human hair; typically around 150microns.

Chad Deering

“Oceans cover 70% of Earth’s surface, setting it apart from the other terrestrial planets in the solar system,” said Paulsen, the lead author on the paper. “Geologists have long recognized that there have been profound changes in ocean chemistry over time.”

Yet there are significant questions about the drivers for changes in ocean chemistry in Earth’s past, especially associated with the ancient rock record leading up to the Cambrian explosion of life approximately 540 million years ago.

“Continents tend to be worn down by weathering and rivers tend to transport this sediment to the oceans, leaving scattered puzzle pieces for geologists to fit together,” said Deering, associate professor of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech, and coauthor on the paper. “There is increasing evidence that important pieces of the puzzle are found in the ancient beach and river sediments produced through continental weathering and erosion.”

The researchers’ findings, based on an analysis of an exceptionally large zircon data set from sandstones recovered from Earth’s major continental landmasses, may signify key links in the evolution of the Earth’s rock cycle and its oceans.

GSA Today highlights articles that appeal to a broad geoscience audience. On the cover:

“Our results suggest that two major increases in continental input from rivers draining the continents were related to the break-up and dispersal of continents, which caused increased weathering and erosion of a higher proportion of radiogenic rocks and high-elevation continental crust,” Paulsen said.

“Both episodes are curiously associated with snowball Earth glaciations and associated steps in oxygenation of the atmosphere-ocean system. Geologists have long recognized that oceans are required to make continents. It would appear based on our analyses that the continents, in turn, shape the Earth’s oceans, atmosphere and climate.”

This study was funded by University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Faculty Development Program.

This news story written by Natalie Johnson, UW Oshkosh Today

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Natalie Johnson, UW Oshkosh
Kim Geiger, Michigan Tech

Martha Sloan: Tech Tales Emeritus

Professor Emerita Martha Sloan changed the face of both Michigan Tech and engineering education.

Martha Sloan shares her knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, February 28 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.

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 2/28 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Michigan Tech Professor Emerita Martha Sloan, whose impact on people on and off the Michigan Tech campus has been monumental. During Husky Bites, Prof. Sloan will share stories from an earlier time at Michigan Tech, when women in engineering were few and far between.

Joining in during Husky Bites will be Dan Fuhrmann, the Dave House Professor of Computer Engineering and chair of the Department of Applied Computing at Michigan Tech.

“Martha was a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering when I first came to Michigan Tech in 2008 to take the position of ECE department chair,” notes Fuhrmann. “Shortly thereafter I appointed her as associate chair, a position she held until 2012, just before her retirement after 43 years of service at Michigan Tech.”

Applied Computing Department Chair Dan Fuhrmann

A pioneer in many aspects of her career, Sloan is also a legendary mentor who always has time to help anyone who asks. She was the first woman to be hired as a faculty member in the Michigan Tech ECE department, and later became the first woman to serve as chair of the department. Sloan was also the first woman to become the president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the largest professional organization in the world.

Sloan earned all of her three degrees–a BS in Electrical Engineering with great distinction, an MS in Electrical Engineering, and a PhD in Education–at Stanford University. She earned her BSEE in 1961, Phi Beta Kappa and with great distinction, as the only woman among approximately 600 engineering graduates.

Prof. Sloan took home the ASEE Outstanding Young Electrical Engineering Educator Award.

In the 1960s she worked at the Palo Alto Research Laboratory of the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company. She began a PhD program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but, feeling isolated there and pregnant with her first child, she did not complete the program. Instead, she moved to Germany, where she taught for two years at the Frankfurt International School. 

“My German was not good enough to be able to work as an engineer, so I taught 7th and 8th grade science, and picked up a MS in secondary education–all  in German–while I was there, too,” Sloan recalls. 

In 1969 Sloan moved to Houghton, Michigan with her husband, Norman Sloan, who had accepted a position as a professor of ornithology, forestry, and wildlife management at Michigan Tech.

As a role model and mentor, Dr. Martha Sloan supports women across campus and around the globe.

“I found myself looking for a job once again and thought I’d go back to teaching,” she says. “At the time there was no need for math or science teachers in the Houghton area. On sheer impulse, I wandered into Michigan Tech’s EE department, just to see if they needed a teacher, since I had a master’s degree. I was hired on the spot to teach Circuits.”

Needing a doctorate for her new job at Michigan Tech, Sloan returned to Stanford to earn a PhD in Education in 1973. Her thesis was on the COSINE Committee, an NSF-funded project to include computer engineering as part of the electrical engineering curriculum. 

Sloan became active in engineering professional societies, serving as treasurer, vice president, and president of the IEEE Computer Society, IEEE, and AAES. She served for nine years on the board of trustees of SWE, the Society of Women Engineers.

To pay tribute to Dr. Martha Sloan’s impressive legacy at Tech and her groundbreaking achievements, ECE alumna Jane Fryman Laird ’68 dedicated a bench at Husky Plaza in Dr. Sloan’s honor. 

Over the years Sloan has been honored with the Frederick Emmons Terman Award by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the IEEE Centennial Medal, and the IEEE Richard E. Merwin Distinguished Service Award. She received an honorary doctorate from Concordia University, was elected fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, given the Distinguished Engineering Educator Award of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and earned the Michigan Tech Distinguished Service Award, too. (Read Professor Sloan’s complete bio on Wikipedia.)

In 1991 Sloan became a fellow of the IEEE “for contributions to engineering education, leadership in the development of computer engineering education as a discipline, and leadership in extending engineering education to women.”

I’ve liked math and science since grade school, especially physics.

Professor Emerita Martha Sloan

Prof. Sloan, How did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

Dr. Sloan holds her infant grandchild
Prof. Sloan is recognized by the Michigan Tech Alumni Association as an Honorary Michigan Tech Alumna.

The summer before my senior year in high school, I attended a five-week science and technology program at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute, with lectures and labs on all science and engineering programs Northwestern offered, plus field trips to industry in northern Illinois and Indiana. I was particularly enchanted by a unit on AC circuits taught from a book by Kerchner and Corcoran, which I later learned was the standard college text on the subject. By the end of the summer I was the top student in the program—I didn’t know there was a contest—and won a full scholarship to Northwestern. But I didn’t go to Northwestern; I went to Stanford, which I chose because the campus was so beautiful. This was before Stanford was as highly ranked as it is today (it was near the bottom of the top 20).

Prof. Sloan with her children and their spouses, all highly accomplished and then some.

I intended to major in physics, but then, in the  summer just before my freshman year, a letter arrived from Stanford advising me that if I had any thought of possibly majoring in engineering, I should start in engineering because transferring out was easy but transferring in might delay my graduation. So I chose electrical engineering, based on liking AC circuits.

Hometown and family?

I was born in Aurora, Illinois to an obstetrician and stay-at-home mom. They had both majored in chemistry in college. My brother became a math professor and assistant chair of the math department at the University of Illinois.

Three of Prof. Sloan’s adorable grandkids!

My daughter is a law professor at Chicago Kent. Her daughter (my granddaughter) earned an MS in Public Health and conducts research in Boston on comorbidities, when a patient has two or more diseases or medical conditions the same time. She has boy-girl twins who are now both studying medicine at different medical schools in Chicago. In addition, my great granddaughter’s longtime boyfriend is studying at a third Chicago medical school—so the family has Chicago medical schools almost covered! 

My son graduated from the US Naval Academy, spent 20 years in the Marines, and is now working on safety aspects of autonomous vehicles for General Motors. He and his wife, also a USNA graduate, have three young children.

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

I have two springer spaniels. I spend my spare time reading–and doing some writing, too. I’ve taken two classes on writing memoirs in the past year.

Prof. Dan Fuhrmann’s research focus: signal processing.

Prof. Furhmann, how did you first get into engineering and computing? What sparked your interest?

I was good at math and science in junior high and high school, so it just seemed like a natural path.

Hometown, family?

Born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and later moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am the youngest of four children. Currently married 26 years with three grown children in a blended family.

Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or Steamboat Springs, Colorado? Find out during Husky Bites!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Jamming on the deck!

I’ve played piano semi-professionally my entire adult life, including jazz, pop, rock, and salsa. I enjoy both downhill and cross-country skiing. I try to take advantage of the Copper Country winters!

Read more

Jane Fryman Laird ’68 and Dr. Martha Sloan – Blazing a Trail for Generations of Tech Women
Martha Sloan IEEE Computer Society President and Award Recipient
Oral History Transcript – Martha Sloan: Engineering and Technology History Wiki

Reimagining the Possible! Happy Engineer’s Week 2022!

Reimagine what seems impossible –  to become the Possible! It’s National Engineers Week Feb 20-26.

This week, we’re celebrating National Engineers Week (Feb. 20-26). Everyone’s invited to special events on campus sponsored by Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society student chapter at Michigan Tech.

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951, Eweek is celebrated each February around the time of George Washington’s birthday (February 22) because Washington is considered by many to be the first US engineer. Engineers create new possibilities all the time. From green buildings to fuel-efficient cars to life-saving vaccines, engineers work together to develop new technologies, products and opportunities that change how we live for the better.

At Michigan Tech, the week is organized by Tau Beta Pi, and celebrated with special events on campus, many hosted by student organizations. Everyone is welcome! Please feel free to stop by and check out Eweek events as your schedule allows:

Monday, Feb. 21

5pm to 6pm
Tau Beta Pi Alumni Panel
Contact Jacob Stewart, Tau Beta Pi, for details (jacstewa@mtu.edu).

Dr. Zhanping You shares his methods and results on building new roads from recycled waste tires and old pavement rubble!

6 pm to 7 pm
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Husky Bites Zoom Webinar
Join Professor Zhanping You and PhD student Kobe Jin to learn how old tires + pavement rubble are becoming new recycled, better roads!

Tuesday, Feb. 22

3:30pm to 5:30pm
Egg Drop Design Challenge
Makerspace in the MUB Basement
Some may remember this activity from past years. Experts and novices alike are welcome to give it a try. Mind Trekkers adds their own twist!

Are you up for the (egg drop) challenge?

Wednesday, Feb. 23

11am to 2pm
Eweek Cake
112 Dillman
Delicious cake from Roy’s Bakery, hosted by the Department of Engineering Fundamentals, it’s a longtime Eweek tradition at Michigan Tech!

Come grab your piece of cake!

5pm to 6pm
Spaghetti Towers
Fisher 129
Test your engineering skills with SSC and Built World Enterprise: Who can build the tallest spaghetti and marshmallow skyscraper?!?

Thursday, Feb. 26

2pm to 4pm
Metal Foundry in a Box

M&M room U109
Never been in a foundry before? The students at Materials United will help you feel right at home. Make something small. Let it cool, then come pick it up later.

Not an MSE, but still want try your hand at making something in the foundry at Michigan Tech? Here’s your chance!

Friday, Feb. 25

4 pm to 7 pm
Escape Room
MUB Ballroom A2
Join Mind Trekkers for an engineering Escape Room that is truly above and beyond!

Interview with Dr. Sarah Rajala ’74

Sage advice from Dr. Sarah Rajala: “Take ownership of your learning!”

Michigan Tech electrical engineering alumna Dr. Sarah Rajala is professor emeritus and former dean of engineering at Iowa State University. She’s an internationally-known leader in the field of engineering education—and a pioneering 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.

This month we celebrate with Dr. Rajala—she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest professional recognitions in engineering.

Dr. Rajala, how did Michigan Tech prepare you as a leader in engineering education? Or simply as a leader?

Being the only female in my electrical engineering class, I experienced numerous gender biases. In the early 1970s, there was still much skepticism about whether ‘a girl could be an engineer’. My experiences laid a foundation for my commitment to creating a more inclusive culture in engineering and in engineering education, in general. 

You have kept busy, pushing the boundaries across your entire career. What advice do you have for mid-career people looking for their next challenges and opportunities?

First, take advantage of the opportunities that are offered, especially if they allow you to expand your boundaries. Don’t be shy about raising your hand and indicating your interest. Professional societies are great places to find new challenges and opportunities. Of course, it is also important to set your priorities and know when to say no. Also keep in mind that there is no single path that is right for everyone.  

Based on what you’ve learned as an educator, do you have one or two pieces of advice for a high school junior or senior?

We each learn new material in different ways. Don’t decide you dislike a subject because you don’t like the way the teacher presents the material. And don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask the teacher if she/he can present the topic differently. Alternatively, work with your fellow students or another teacher who can help you explore the topic in a different way. Search the internet. There are many good resources out there that can supplement what you are learning in class. Take ownership of your learning!

What qualities do students need to develop in themselves in order to become solvers of problems?

Start with the fundamentals. Be inquisitive. Write down what you know and try to start working the problem. If you are really stuck, ask for help. Show someone what you have done so far, then ask for a hint to help you get started.  You will learn more, if you can get started and work the rest out for yourself.

Where do you think engineering education will be 20 years from now?

I hope we are more inclusive! No matter how one learns, we should be able to adapt our instructional approaches to engage and motivate everyone. Technology will likely play a larger role in the learning process. There will be an increasing number of new subjects to learn. Students and educators will all need to adapt to new ways to teach and learn. 

William S. Hammack Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Prof. William S. Hammack

Michigan Tech chemical engineering alumnus William S. Hammack ’84 has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Hammack is honored for innovations in multidisciplinary engineering education, outreach, and service to the profession through development and communication of internet-delivered content.

Hammack earned a BS in Chemical Engineering at Michigan Tech, and an MS and PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois — Urbana-Champaign. He taught at Carnegie Mellon for a decade before returning, in 1999, to the University of Illinois, where he now teaches in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. 

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), with more than 1.2 million followers on YouTube) are licensed under creative commons so they can be fully used to serve the public. They have been used by both industrial giants and small firms to train their workforce, in college classrooms to hone budding engineers, in K-12 classrooms, and by home schools to excite the next generation of engineers.

Among his many other honors, Hammack in 2020 was awarded the Hoover Medal, given by a consortium of five engineering societies. The award is named for its first recipient, US President Herbert Hoover, who was an engineer by profession. Established in 1929 to honor “great, unselfish, nontechnical services by engineers to humanity,” the award is administered by a board representing five engineering organizations. Previous winners include presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter; industrialist David Packard, the founder of Hewlett-Packard; and inventor Dean Kamen.

In 2018 Hammack was presented with the Carl Sagan Award for the Public Appreciation of Science, given by the Council of Scientific Society Presidents to recognize outstanding achievement in improving the public understanding and appreciation of science. 

Professor Bill Hammack’s upcoming book, The Things We Make: The Unknown History of Invention from Cathedrals to Soda Cans, is due out this Fall 2022.

Hammar is the author of seven books. His newest, a book on the engineering method, “The Things We Make: The Unknown History of Invention from Cathedrals to Soda Cans,” will be published later this year. In it Hammack shares human stories, perception-changing histories of invention, and accessible explanations of technology–revealing a panorama of human creativity across millennia and continents.

Hammack has also received the Public Service Award from the National Science Board, the Ralph Coats Roe Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Distinguished Literary Contribution Furthering the Public Understanding of the Profession (IEEE), and the President’s Award, American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Read more on his website, billhammack.org.

Read more:

NAE Bridge: An Interview with . . . Bill Hammack, Engineer Guy

“Engineering Guy” Bill Hammack