Tag: MMET

Stories about Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology.

MTU Engineering Welcomes 18 New Faculty Members

The College is honored to welcome 18 new faculty members this fall. They bring a range of expertise among seven multidisciplinary research areas: Energy and Sustainability, Advanced Manufacturing, Autonomy and Mobility, Engineering Infrastructure, Engineering for Health, Space and Aerospace, and Navigating our Environment.

Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering

Quang Tran

Dr. Quang Tran joins the faculty as an assistant professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from Harvard Medical School, Harvard affiliated hospitals, and the UIUC Bioacoustics Research Lab, where he dedicated three years to postdoctoral research. Dr. Tran earned a PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, an MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering at California State University, Fullerton, and a BS in Industrial and System Engineering at Ho Chi Minh University of Technology, Vietnam. His research focuses on non-invasive ultrasound for material characterization applications in civil engineering and biomedical fields, diagnosing and monitoring the health of infrastructures and humans.

Ishi Keenum

Dr. Ishi Keenum joins the faculty as an assistant professor. She comes to Michigan Tech from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where she completed postdoctoral research. She earned a BS in at the University of Michigan, and an MS and PhD at Virginia Tech, all in Environmental Engineering. Keenum serves as the lead of the bioinformatic working group for the International Microbiome and Multi’Omics Standards Alliance (IMMSA). Her research is focused on the dissemination and treatment of antibiotic resistance through wastewater and water systems, and the microbiology of water systems.

Bo Xiao

Dr. Bo Xiao joins the faculty as assistant professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where he worked as a research assistant professor. He earned a BEng in Civil Engineering at Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology in China, an MS from Concordia University in Canada, and a PhD at the University of Alberta, Canada. His research seeks to advance the digital transformation of the construction industry by adopting automated technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and digital twinning, for modular construction, as well as visual monitoring of construction sites.

Mazi Erfani

Dr. Mazi Erfani joins the faculty as an assistant professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned a PhD in Civil Engineering. He earned a BS in Civil Engineering and MSc, in Construction Engineering and Management at the University of Tehran in Iran. His research interests include data-driven infrastructure management, Smart construction, equity and diversity, risk management, text analytics and natural language processing, and AI modeling.

Kerri Sleeman

Kerri Sleeman joins the faculty as a professor of practice. After working in the automotive and construction industries as an engineer she joined Michigan Tech staff, directing MTU Facilities Management. She earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Engineering, both at Michigan Tech. Sleeman brings strong industry experience to students in the Construction Management Program, and will increase sustainable construction course offerings for students.

John Bean

John Bean joins Michigan Tech as a visiting professor of practice in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering. He earned an MS in Civil and Structural Engineering at the University of Connecticut and a BS in Civil Engineering at the University of New Hampshire. He also earned a graduate certificate in Surveying Engineering at the University of Maine. His focus for teaching includes surveying, mapping and database support to engineering field-based research projects. He has over 40 years of experience in surveying, civil engineering, and GIS, both in teaching and in practice. His work has taken him to Antarctica, the North Slope of Alaska, and the Mojave Desert, among other places.

Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller joins the faculty as a professor of practice. She earned a Master’s in Business Administration at Central Michigan University and a BS in Civil Engineering at Michigan Tech. Her teaching interests focus on construction management. She has more than 20 years of construction experience, including working for General Contractors, Specialty Contractors, design firms, and governmental entities including Michigan Department of Transportation.

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Anna Stuhlmacher

Dr. Anna Stuhlmacher joins the faculty as an assistant professor. She comes to Michigan Tech from the University of Michigan. She earned a BS at Boston University and an MS and PhD at the University of Michigan, all in electrical engineering. She interned at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and grew up in the Chicago area. Her research explores optimizing and controlling distributed energy resources (like solar panels, batteries, and electric vehicles) in the power grid to provide flexibility in the transition to more sustainable and reliable energy systems.

Department of Engineering Fundamentals

Gabriel Draughon

Dr. Gabriel Draughon joins the faculty as an assistant teaching professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from the University of Michigan, where he earned an MS and PhD in Civil Engineering (Intelligent Systems). He earned a BS in Biosystems Engineering at the University of Kentucky. His research and teaching interests involve Smart Cities, and how sensing technologies in urban settings help better understand how people move through, interact with, and derive benefits from social infrastructure.

Department of Chemical Engineering

Kaiwu Huang

Dr. Kaiwu Huang comes to Michigan Tech from Virginia Tech, where he worked as a research associate in the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering. He earned a BS in Mining and Minerals Engineering at China University of Mining and Technology in Beijing, and an MS and PhD in Mining and Minerals Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research focus is on sustainable mining, including mineral processing, mineral flotation, solid/liquid separation, carbon ore beneficiation, rare earth extraction, and copper concentration.

Luis Manzano

Dr. Luis Manzano comes to Michigan Tech from Monterrey, Mexico, where he earned an MS and PhD in Biotechnology at the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM). He earned his undergraduate degree in Biotechnology Engineering, Universidad Politécnica de Pachuca. His research focuses on the sustainable purification of PEG-modified proteins/enzymes (PEGylated), used as biopharmaceuticals in the treatment of disease and potentially in the recovery and purification of anticancer, low-molecular weight compounds such as flavonoids.

Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology

Rachel Store

Rachel Store joins the faculty as an assistant teaching professor. She earned a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, both at Michigan Tech. Her research focus is on friction stir processing and Lean and Quality manufacturing. Her teaching and research interests include additive manufacturing, forming processes, and materials manufacturing with friction stir processing.

Department of Material Science and Engineering

Alexandra Glover

Dr. Alexandra Glover joins the faculty as an assistant professor. She comes to Michigan Tech from Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she worked as a research and development engineer with Sigma Division. Glover earned an MS and PhD at the Colorado School of Mines in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, and a BS in Materials Science and Engineering at Michigan Tech. Her research interests include mechanical behavior of materials, strengthening mechanisms, deformation processing and design for manufacturing, steels, shape memory alloys, and deformation induced phase transformations.

Joshua Mueller

Dr. Joshua Mueller joins the faculty as an assistant professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from the Dynamic-Structure Design and Engineering Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked as a research and development engineer. Mueller earned an MS and PhD at the Colorado School of Mines in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, and a BS in Materials Science and Engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests include physical metallurgy, phase transformations, thermodynamics, and microstructure evolution.

Sriram Vijayan

Dr. Sriram Vijayan joins Michigan Tech as an assistant professor. He earned a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Connecticut, a Master’s in Materials Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and a Bachelors in Materials Engineering at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University. His research interests include understanding microstructural evolution in materials under complex thermal conditions,
process-structure-property relationships of additively manufactured builds, and materials for nuclear reactor applications.

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Shawn Brueshaber

Dr. Shawn Brueshaber comes to Michigan Tech from Western Michigan University, where he earned an MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering. He earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. After graduating, he spent several years in industry. His research is focused on the polar atmospheric dynamics of the giant planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, with a goal of developing a comprehensive theory of weather and climate applicable to all planetary bodies with an atmosphere.

Chad Walber

Dr. Chad Walber joins the faculty as an Associate Teaching Professor. He earned an MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan Tech, and a BS in both Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, also from Tech. He worked at PCB Piezotronics as a research and development engineer and at Michigan Tech as a visiting professor of practice. His teaching and research focus includes metrology, dynamic systems, noise and vibration, acoustics, and the test and measurement of those quantities, including developing specification and calibration standards for microphones and sound level meters.

Bhisham Sharma

Dr. Bhisham Sharma joins the faculty as an associate professor. He comes to Michigan Tech from Wichita State University, where he worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. He earned an MS and PhD in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Purdue University, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pune in Pune, India. Sharma was also a post-doctoral research associate and a visiting assistant professor at Purdue. His research involves the overlap of solid mechanics, structural dynamics, acoustics, and advanced manufacturing. He investigates the fundamental mechanics and acoustics of novel engineered material systems such as acoustic metamaterials, phononic structures, architected lattice structures, stochastic foams, and advanced manufacturing.
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SWE Section Attends SWE WE23 Societal Conference

Conference collage of speaker, expo, and background with Live Without Limits.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section at Michigan Tech had 16 students attend the SWE WE23 Societal Conference in Los Angeles, California, with Gretchen Hein, SWE advisor. The students greatly enjoyed and benefited from the conference sessions. They also met with MTU alumni from L.A. and engaged with several MTU SWE alumnae. They especially enjoyed hearing stories about Tech and how campus has changed.

The SWE WE23 Career Fair is the largest career fair for women in the world. This year, SWE members had 20 interviews and one job offer from participating. Most will hear back on internships and full-time offers in two weeks.

The conference took place over three days, October 26–28, inviting attendees to Live Without Limits.

SWE thanks our corporate sponsors for their generous support, which enabled us to fund 100% of the students’ travel!

  • Grace Moeggenborg, junior (applied ecology and environmental science): “The conference celebrated all women and minorities in the workplace and helped me redefine being a woman in STEM.”
  • Kelsey Jensen, junior (biomedical engineering): “Attending the WE23 conference was such an amazing experience that furthered my career and inspired me to strive for positions in my career that I originally wouldn’t think of going for.”
  • Rixlie Fozilova, second-year master’s student (environmental engineering): “This was my first time at the SWE national conference and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
  • Katherine Baker, junior (chemical engineering): “My favorite part of the conference was attending an exclusive networking event through the SWE Collegiate Leadership Institute, which I’ve participated in for two years.”
  • Skyler Brawley, senior (computer engineering): “I look forward to the conference all year for the amazing lessons I learn at the sessions and the great career opportunities presented at the career fair.”
  • Olivia O’Brien, senior (electrical engineering): “I’ve come out of this conference a more motivated, driven and ambitious engineer!”
  • Kathryn Krieger, junior (environmental engineering): “I hope to carry the knowledge and connections I made this weekend throughout my career.”
  • Aerith Cruz, senior (management information systems): “It’s incredible how the Michigan Tech network extends beyond Houghton.”
  • Victoria Berger, senior (materials science and engineering): “I was able to grow my professional network through the career fair and various networking activities.”
  • Emma Quinn, senior (materials science and engineering): “This conference reaffirmed my love for engineering and allowed me to envision my career path.”
  • Carissa Best, second-year (mechanical engineering), SWE section president-elect: “I am leaving this conference with the knowledge and tools to become an engineer who isn’t afraid to live life without limits!”
  • Tory Cantrell, second-year (mechanical engineering): “Attending the WE23 conference meant so much to me because I was surrounded by so many other women in STEM who all want to strive to be the best they can and help others succeed just as much.”
  • Marisa Mathews, first-year (mechanical engineering): “I attended 12 different informational sessions and learned more about engineering, leadership and industry than I imagined could be possible in two days.”
  • Talia Olson, senior (mechanical engineering): “I was able to attend a multitude of informative sessions, and one that stuck out to me was learning about how companies are trying to bring more neurodivergent individuals in the workforce.”
  • Amanda West, senior (mechanical engineering), SWE section president: “It is incredible that 16 of us were given a chance to network, interview with and learn from these amazing women and leaders.”
  • Maci Dostaler, junior (software engineering): “As I continue to grow as a leader, I will strive to use all the advice given to me — by some very impressive people — to good use.”

By Jaclyn Johnson and Gretchen Hein, Advisors, Society of Women Engineers at Michigan Tech.

Related

SWE Section Attends WE22 Conference

Aerith Cruz Receives SWE Societal Outstanding Collegiate Award

Aerith Cruz

by Jaclyn Johnson and Gretchen Hein, Advisors, Society of Women Engineers at Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section is proud to announce that senior Aerith Cruz (management information systems), former section president, has been recognized by the Society of Women Engineers for her impact on the Society and our section and community with the Outstanding Collegiate Member Award.

Cruz will be accepting the award at the SWE Societal Conference, WE23, being held Oct. 26-28 in Los Angeles, California.

The Outstanding Collegiate Member Award is presented to “a SWE collegiate member with SWE collegiate involvement who has made an outstanding contribution to SWE, other engineering organizations (including but not limited to SWE’s partner organizations), their community and campus.”

Gretchen Hein and Aerith Cruz

Cruz, section members and SWE advisor Gretchen Hein will be attending WE23. Hein is honored to have completed Cruz’s nomination and is looking forward to attending the awards ceremony with her. “After the conference, we will be publishing an in-depth article about Cruz, her award and accomplishments,” says Hein.

Cruz was honored with the Michigan Tech President’s Award for Leadership last April. She will graduate in December 2023 with a B.S. in Management Information Systems, and a Minor in Statistics, from the College of Business.

Additional honors Cruz has earned include Michigan Tech’s Leading Scholar Award, National Business Scholar, and the MTU Dean’s List. She has presented twice at SWE Societal Conferences, during WE21 and WE22. She also received the Rising Star of the Year award during the 2021 MTU Student Leadership Awards.

Her activities and groups include Michigan Tech Center for Diversity and Inclusion President’s Council, Fencing Club (President), Society of Asian Scientists & Engineers, and Copper Country Robotics FIRST Alumni.

Cruz is the second SWE section member at Michigan Tech to receive this award since the founding of the section in 1976. Electrical Engineering alumna Kaitlyn Bunker ’10 ’12 ’14 received the Outstanding Collegiate Member Award in 2018, at WE18.

Congratulations, Aerith!

SWE Places Third in SWE Global Outreach Competition

MTU’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Section participated in the global SWE Outreach Competition, where they presented on Engineering Day!, a K-5 outreach program.

Undergraduates Skyler Brawley (computer engineering) and Carsyn Boggio (environmental engineering) described the program developed and hosted jointly by the SWE section and Engineering Ambassadors, which reached over 600 K-5 students and Girl Scouts last year. MTU’s SWE section partnered with the SWE Professional Section in Grand Rapids to host an event for Daisies, Brownies and Juniors scouts. We hosted another at Michigan Tech for Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula Girl Scouts. Locally, Engineering Day! was held at Lake Linden-Hubbell Elementary, Barkell Elementary and Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Elementary. We were especially thrilled for the first- and second-place sections, both of whom were from Africa and had developed innovative ways to connect with girls and help youth learn about STEM careers and engineering.

The SWE section and Engineering Ambassadors will continue to host Engineering Day! in local schools and with Girl Scouts. We have already begun planning for the Fall and are looking forward to another fun and exciting year of outreach.

The section thanks SWE, Michigan Tech and our industry sponsors for their outreach support.

By Gretchen Hein, Advisor, Society of Women Engineers.

Carsyn Boggio
Skylar Brawley
Michigan Tech SWE faculty advisor Gretchen Hein helps out during SWE outreach events, too.

Related

SWE, Engineering Ambassadors Host Engineering Day Events During March 2023

MTU Blizzard Baja Team Succeeds at Baja SAE Competition

“It’s only up from here,” wrote Michigan Tech’s Blizzard Baja team after their success in Oshkosh. Follow the team on Instagram. They’re also on Twitter and Facebook.

Michigan Tech’s Blizzard Baja team took home an 8th place finish at the recent Baja SAE North American Competition in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in May. 

In addition to a steering arm failure, the pit team also had to deal with mud build up during the race.

“Our 8th place finish was sealed by a 4th place finish in the final 4-hour Endurance event Sunday morning,” says team faculty advisor, Assistant Teaching Professor Kevin Johnson. “We were in 2nd place in the Endurance event for a long time until we had a steering arm failure on the car. The team quickly replaced the steering knuckle in the pits and got back on the track with a half hour remaining in the race. Regardless of this setback we were able to finish in 4th place.”

Earlier in the race, the team received a black flag, due to their car numbers not being visible due to mud buildup. The team had to enter the pit to clean them off, which set them back a bit, as well.

“This year we had a very strong team with outstanding participation,” adds Johnson. “The team had two major obstacles; a working reliable 4 wheel drive system and a new larger Kohler engine to replace the Briggs that had been used for many years previously.”

The team raced with their newest vehicle, the Matador.

Michigan Tech’s Blizzard Baja is one of 25 Enterprise teams, part of Michigan Tech’s award-winning Enterprise Program.

The Blizzard Baja team consists of numerous sub-teams. One of those, the 4×4 Senior Design team with members William Rivet and Alec Pominville, scrapped the 4×4 design from last year due to major issues. “They went through some iterations including a belt and a chain drive and finally ended up with a drive shaft, gearbox, and differentials design,” notes Johnson. “They put countless hours into design, manufacturing, and testing the last two semesters with help from a number of other students.”

This year, Michigan Tech served as host to Fei Baja, the SAE Baja team from Centro Universitário FEI, a university in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. “The team from Brazil contacted our team through social media asking if MTU Baja SAE would be willing to host them,” said Johnson. It turned out to be a fantastic experience for both teams.

MTU Blizzard Baja hosted friends from Brazil, team Fei Baja, during the competition.

“The best part of the competition was seeing all of our hard work pay off in the form of a top 10 finish,” said Gregory Jowett, a mechanical engineering student who serves as President of Michigan Tech’s Blizzard Baja SAE team. 

“Whether someone was directly working on the vehicle, doing modeling or simulation, or making sure the trip ran smoothly, it’s incredibly rewarding to see everyone’s effort culminate in a successful experience like it did in Oshkosh,” he says.

“I am extremely proud of the entire team and feel they represented Michigan Tech very well.”

Prof. Kevin Johnson, Blizzard Baja faculty advisor

“Needing to modify our frame to pass technical inspections and breaking an a-arm during the endurance race were some of the larger setbacks we faced. In both cases, the team was able to efficiently work together to quickly solve both problems. Even after an early morning and 3.5 hours of racing, the team was able to replace the a-arm in the pits and get our driver back out on the track in less than 10 minutes.”

The success experienced by our team is a direct reflection of Blizzard Baja’s “work hard, play hard” culture,” adds Jowett. “We enjoy team bonding when we have free time, but when there are things to do, none of our members hesitate to selflessly step up and get things done.”

“Props to our pit crew!”

Gregory Jowett, Blizzard Baja president

As for joining the team, the Blizzard Baja enterprise conducts interviews for prospective new members twice per year. For more information, students can visit the website at baja.mtu.edu or email the team at baja@mtu.edu.

Learn more about the team online at https://baja.mtu.edu.

Thought-provoking, Intriguing and Sweet: Huskies Remember One of their Own

round disc-shaped chocolate with gear or wheel shape on top
The winning design, close-up!
Zachary stands on a stone, in front of a roaring waterfall
Zachary’s legacy of kindness and integrity lives on at Michigan Tech.

Winners were announced on April 19th, Zachary Podkul’s birthday.

This year, for the Third Annual Zachary Richard Podkul (ZRP) Memorial Scholarship Challenge, Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) students honored their fellow Husky’s fondness for Michigan Tech, machine design, cooking—and of course, chocolate!

Six MET students in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology rose to the challenge to design custom chocolates.

The students began their thought process on what to design late last year when the contest was announced at the end of fall semester.

They started out by creating a 3D CAD model of their design. Each chocolate could be no larger than 2”x2”x1”. Next, a 3D print of the model was created in the MMET Department’s Additive Manufacturing facility, using the Stratasys Fortus 400 MC, which uses Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) to extrude plastic filament. 

The students then each built a flask from poster board strips. The flask held their 3D printed patterns (the positive). Food-safe silicone was poured over the top to cast a silicone mold (the negative).

Once set, students removed their silicone mold from the flask, filled the new mold with melted chocolate, chilled it all to delicious perfection, then popped out their chocolate confections to enjoy—and also to be judged as part of the challenge.

MMET faculty members judged the entries by the following criteria:

  • 3D CAD Model—Utilizes sketches fully constrained with parametric features
  • Originality—Unique and innovative design representative of Michigan Tech
  • Quality—Uniformity, strength and surface finish
  • Manufacturability—Ability for chocolate to be easily formed in mold
  • Detail—The chocolate conforms to the mold intended design

And the winner is…Michael Havens! He won a $1,000 scholarship!

Cathy and Michael stand arm in arm.
Congratulations to Michael Havens!
A plate with a single chocolate on a table, with the mold and 3d print.
Michael’s work: note his 3D printed pattern (black), and his silicon mold (blue).
Michael looks at large computer screen with picture of his wheel-shaped chocolate 3d design
Michael Havens presents his design to the judges.

Justin Hannah earned Second Place and a $500 scholarship.

Justin stands between Cathy and Richard holding his silicon mold.
Congratulations to Justin Hannah!
three chocolates on a white plate with Justin Hannah sign nearby
Justin’s wonderful designs.

David Watkins earned third place and a $250 scholarship.

David Watkins between Cathy and Richard, holding his 3rd place certificate
Congratulations to David Watkins!
Plate of chocolates, plus molds, 3d prints and cookie cutters on a table.
David’s winning work in both white and dark chocolate!

According to the Podkul’s, everyone was a winner!

The Podkul’s also gave gift certificates to the other three MET student who submitted entries: Beaumont Ujlaky, Teresa Hoving, and RJ Slater.

Cathy sits at a table and looks at the judges with her 3dDesign on a big screen behind her.
Teresa Hoving presents to the judges.
Five-sided chocolates on a plate plus a stuffed Husky dog toy and some cookies in cellophane and a blue silicon chocolate mold.
Teresa’s wonderful design
RJ sits at a table with Bryant in the background. Chocolates on a plate in the foreground.
RJ Slater presents his design to the judges.
Beaumont stands and holds his blue chocolate silicon mold with Cathy and Linda on either side
Beaumont Ujlaky, with Cathy Podkul and her sister, Linda Daleo
oval-shaped chocolate on a plate with a Keweenaw peninsula design on the top.
Just one of Beaumont’s chocolates. He designed several.
Nick holds a section of gray 3d print on a piece of plexiglass while Linda looks on.
Linda Daleo, Zachary’s aunt, was on hand for the event. Here she learns about the Stratasys Fortus 400 MC in the Michigan Tech’s AM Lab with MMET Professor of Practice Nick Hendrickson
Bow of cellophane wrapped frosted cookies with cookie cutters on a table.
Cathy kept the student-designed cookie cutters from the 2022 ZRP Memorial Challenge. She hired a professional baker to make delicious cookies using the cutters to share at the event. (Does that mean we’ll enjoy both cookies and chocolate at next year’s award ceremony??!!)

Zachary’s family supports the ZRP Design Challenge and an MET student scholarship through their endowment. It’s intended to ease the financial burden for students who share his MTU experience and for those who live with chronic health conditions. Zachary will always be remembered by his Michigan Tech family and alumni.

Want to join the Podkul family in supporting the Zachary Richard Podkul Engineering Memorial Scholarship? Learn more here.

This year, the Podkuls were able to meet all of the students in person who participated. “We were amazed at their designs and the level of detail,” said Cathy. “And we especially enjoyed hearing the thought process that went into their designs.”

The family is at home by an open closet door with board games on the shelf behind them.
Zachary with his mom, Cathy, and sister, Gabby
Zachary wears his cap and gown and has his arm around his father's shoulder.
Zach and his Dad

“Zachary’s best times were his college days here at Michigan Tech.”

Cathy Podkul
A table with Zachary's diploma, and other photos and mementos.
Loving memories of Zachary

During the Challenge award presentation, Cathy shared a bit more about her late son, Zachary, who was born eight weeks premature and fought for his health his entire life. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the young age of 10, and spent the next 15 years of his life battling the disease. He passed away in 2020.

“From the beginning Zachary had a mechanical mindset,” she said. “As a young boy, he was always inquisitive and curious about how things worked.”

With this passion for knowledge he enrolled in Michigan Tech and graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology.

Cathy describes Zachary as quiet, conservative, intelligent, original, sensitive, and witty, with a great sense of humor. At times, he was strong-willed and determined, too, which of course made him all the more lovable. 

“We miss Zachary so much. It’s such a rewarding feeling to support this and to be able to present the awards on his birthday (April 19). My husband and I are grateful to Dr. Irwin, Bryant Weathers, and the MMET faculty and staff for their time and dedication to making these challenges successful for three years in a row.”

The group stands against a white-painted brick wall.
L to R: Richard Podkul, Bryant Weathers, Cathy Podkul, Linda Daleo, and John Irwin

The Podkuls plan to honor their late son Zachary with an MET Design Challenge every year. What will they come up with next? Details about the 2024 Challenge will be announced in about six months.

SWE Section Travels to SWE-Wisconsin Professional Day

Very large group of women at SWE Spring Forward 2023.
Image from SWE-Wisconsin Spring Forward 2023 Facebook page.

Last Saturday (April 15, 2023), MTU’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section attended the Annual SWE-Wisconsin Professional Day in Madison. We enjoyed visiting with the SWE-Wisconsin Professional Section, developing career skills and learning about engineering opportunities.

  • Gretchen Hein, SWE advisor, led an #IamRemarkable workshop, where participants learned how to advocate for themselves and others, and the importance of those skills in career development.
  • Second-year student Kathryn Krieger (environmental engineering) was honored as the 2023 GE-Healthcare Scholarship recipient. The scholarship committee was impressed with her involvement in SWE, Engineers without Borders and Delta Phi Epsilon.
  • The section received the Collegiate Section Achievement Award for establishing the SWE Section Endowed Scholarship.
  • We were also excited to see Andrea Falasco ’12 (B.S. Mechanical Engineering) and learn about her career path during the panel discussion on working for big versus small companies.

Nine section members attended:

  • Amanda West, junior (mechanical engineering):
    “I enjoyed networking with the other SWE sections in the region. It was great to learn how other students handle their organization and use it to help improve our own.”
  • Talia Olson, junior (mechanical engineering):
    “I enjoyed getting inspired by other women engineers and learning from their experiences. I learned how to brand myself and to own my strength in the workforce.”
  • Cassandra Borr, second-year (mechanical engineering):
    “I found this conference to be very empowering, as we were able to see what other women in the industry have accomplished and how they achieved it.”
  • Carissa Best, first-year (mechanical engineering):
    “I really enjoyed having the opportunity to hear the stories of confident women in STEM who were interested in empowering other women.”
  • Kathryn Krieger, second-year (environmental engineering):
    “SWE has grown to be such an important part of my college career. I am constantly inspired by the women around me and grateful for the opportunities for both personal and professional growth.”
  • Catherine Huston, second-year (materials science and engineering): 
    “Learning to own who I am and how to recognize my accomplishments was empowering and an experience I will carry with me as I navigate my path in life.”
  • Tory Cantrell, first-year (mechanical engineering):
    “The most important piece of advice that I will take away from this conference is how it is important to step outside of your comfort zone and evolve your leadership brand as you grow.”
  • Rixlie Fozilova, graduate student (environmental engineering):
    “The Spring Forward SWE conference provided me with an amazing opportunity to network with fellow engineering students and professionals from a wide variety of companies and backgrounds.”
  • Lydia Minzey, first-year (environmental engineering):
    “The conference empowered participants to believe in their abilities and reach out to achieve their full potential, even while being a minority in their field. I’m very grateful to have been able to attend and learn from the wise women present.”

SWE thanks the College of Engineering and engineering departments for supporting SWE throughout the year. We also thank the Undergraduate Student Government and our corporate sponsors, whose support made this travel possible.

By Gretchen Hein, Advisor, Society of Women Engineers.

Design Expo 2023: Awards Results!

Michigan Tech’s Design Expo 2023 was a huge success. Many thanks to our hardworking students—and the faculty advisors who generously and richly support them.

Hundreds of Michigan Tech students presented their innovative work last week at Michigan Tech’s 23rd annual Design Expo. Each project entails hands-on, experiential, discovery-based learning. Teams competed for cash awards totaling nearly $4,000.

“Design Expo gives students an opportunity to showcase their creativity and innovation,” says Nagesh Hatti, who oversees Enterprise.

“The students,” adds Leonard Bohmann, associate dean of the College of Engineering, “create new things, solve global problems and make lives better.”

Many of the Senior Design and Enterprise projects on display at Design Expo are supported by external industry sponsors, allowing students to gain valuable experience through direct exposure to real industrial problems.

In Senior Design, students explore and solve real industry challenges throughout their senior year—from ideation to realization. In the Enterprise Program, teams of first- through fourth-year students from a variety of disciplines operate much like real companies to develop products, services and solutions. 

Project Sponsors Support Michigan Tech’s Educational Mission

“Project sponsors generously support our educational mission by providing invaluable project experiences, along with guidance and mentorship for our students,” adds Hatti. “Industry and academia working together as partners in higher education give our students a tremendous learning experience.”

Design Expo’s industry event sponsors make Design Expo, a large campus event, possible. “Their generous support often continues year after year,” says Hatti.

Thompson Surgical Instruments is Design Expo’s 2023 executive partner. ITC Holdings is the event’s directing partner for the 12th consecutive year, joined by fellow directing partner Aramco. And Plexus, OHM Advisors, Altec Inc. and Husky Innovate are collaborating partners.

This year, more than 100 student teams competed for awards. A panel of judges, made up of corporate representatives, community members, and Michigan Tech staff and faculty members, critiqued the projects. “Our esteemed judges give their time and talent to help make Design Expo a success,” adds Hatti.

The judges’ scoring was used to arrive at the awards. Visit the Design Expo website awards page to see the full list of award winning teams (and project videos, too).

The College of Engineering and the Enterprise Program are pleased to announce award winners, below. Congratulations and thanks to ALL teams for a very successful 2023 Design Expo!

ENTERPRISE

FIRST PLACE

Velovations, Michigan Tech’s Bicycle Design Enterprise team, took first place in the Enterprise category at the 2023 Design Expo.

123: Velovations

Led by: Ethan McKenzie and Michael Balentine, Mechanical Engineering

Advised by: Steve Lehmann, Biomedical Engineering

Sponsored by: Cleveland Cliffs, Tongy Senger Innovations, Milwaukee Tools


SECOND PLACE

Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise team took second place in the Enterprise category.

106: Aerospace Enterprise

Led by: Seth Quayle, Mechanical Engineering and Kyle Bruursema, Electrical Engineering

Advised by: L. Brad King, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Sponsored by: Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)


THIRD PLACE

104: Supermileage Systems

Supermileage Systems Enterprise took third place in the Enterprise category.

Led by: Olivia Zinser and Ben Klein, Electrical Engineering

Advised by: Rick Berkey, Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology

Sponsored by: GM, Aramco Americas, Oshkosh, Milwaukee Tool, A&D Technology – GIK, and Dana


HONORABLE MENTION

117: Innovative Global Solutions

The Innovative Global Solutions Enterprise team earned an Honorable Mention in the Enterprise category.

Led by: Cynthia Wurtz, Mechanical Engineering and Riley Dickert, Physics

Advised by: Radheshyam Tewari, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and Nathan Manser, Geological and Mining Engineering

Sponsored by: Tree Frog Aquagric

SENIOR DESIGN

FIRST PLACE

233: Social Engineering for High School Students

College of Computing students Kayla Blunt and Connor Langdon won first place in the Senior Design Category for their project, Social Engineering for High School Students

Team Members: Connor Langdon, Cybersecurity and Kayla Blunt, Computer Network and System Administration

Advised by: Tim Van Wagner and Victoria Walters, Applied Computing


SECOND PLACE

232: Shot Sleeve Re-design for Steel High Pressure Die Casting (HPDC)

A team of five Materials Science and Engineering students won second place for their senior design project, Hot Sleeve Re-design for Steel High Pressure Die Casting, sponsored by Mercury Marine

Team Members: Ryan Cesario, Henry Summers, Victoria Berger, Caleb Minasian, and Katherine Jarvis, Materials Science and Engineering

Advised by: Paul Sanders and Walter Milligan, Materials Science and Engineering

Sponsored by: Mercury Marine


THIRD PLACE

214: Design of a Method to Characterize the Depletion Mode Medical Device Battery – Phase 2

This team of biomedical engineering students earned third place for their senior design project, which was sponsored by the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health: Design of a Method to Characterize the Depletion Mode Medical Device Battery – Phase 2.

Team Members: Cole Hebert, Cameron Karnosky, Kristin King, William Poster, and Kelsey Moyer, Biomedical Engineering

Advised by: Orhan Soykan and Smitha Rao, Biomedical Engineering

Sponsored by: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH)


HONORABLE MENTION

224: Movable Bookshelf Network

This team of ECE students earned an honorable mention in the senior design category for their project, Movable Bookshelf Network.

Team Members: Spencer Crawford and Ryan Briggs, Computer Engineering and Josh Cribben and Emily Fischer, Electrical Engineering

Advised by: Kit Cischke, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Sponsored by: Michigan Tech Van Pelt and Opie Library


HONORABLE MENTION

227: Physiological Sensing Using a Smart Port-a-Cath

This team’s project, Physiological Sensing Using a Smart Port-a-Cath was sponsored by Lifebridge Health. They earned an honorable mention in the senior design category.

Team Members: Marli Hietala, Savannah Page, Etienne Michels, Ali Dabas and Giovanni Diaz, Biomedical Engineering

Advised by: Sean Kirkpatrick, Biomedical Engineering

Sponsored by: LifeBridge Health

HONORABLE MENTION

231: Renewable Energy Powered Portable Plastic Waste Breakdown Machine

This team of ECE and mechanical engineering students earned an honorable mention in the senior design category for their project, Renewable Energy Powered Portable Plastic Waste Breakdown Machine, sponsored by ITC.

Team Members: Aaron Hogue and Hunter Indermuehle, Electrical Engineering, Ruizhi Ma, Computer Engineering and Zarvan Chinoy, Mechanical Engineering

Advised by: John Lukowski, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Sponsored by: ITC Holdings Corp.

HONORABLE MENTION

237: Utilizing Motor Oil to Rejuvenate RAP Materials

This civil engineering team earned an honorable mention for their senior design project, Utilizing Motor Oil to Rejuvenate Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP) Materials.

Team Members: Kira Olson, Construction Management, Alli Hummel, Jacob Cleaver, and AJ Clarey, Civil Engineering

Advised by: Zhanping You, Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering

Sponsored by: Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering

Design Expo Innovation Awards (Based on Application)

FIRST PLACE

301: AAA [Affordable, Accessible, Authentic] Prosthesis
Advised by: Jon Herlivich, Chemical Engineering

The AAA team won a first place Design Expo Innovation Award. They are part of Michigan Tech’s Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise.

SECOND PLACE

The Implantable Pulse Generator (IPG) and Lead team earned a second place in the Design Expo Innovation Award.


203: Implantable Pulse Generator (IPG) and Lead
Advised by: Jingfeng Jiang and Chunxiu (Traci) Yu, Biomedical Engineering

THIRD PLACE

237: Utilizing Motor Oil to Rejuvenate RAP Materials
Advised by: Zhanping You, Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering

SWE, Engineering Ambassadors Host Engineering Day Events During March 2023

Instrument with electronics circuit board.
Instrument in the Plexus Lab.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section at Michigan Tech and Engineering Ambassadors hosted an Engineering Day at Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Elementary for K-5 students last Friday (March 24).

Kindergarten and first grade students learned about buoyancy by making tinfoil boats and loading them with marbles until they sank. Second and third graders made roller coasters for marbles and explored the concepts of potential and kinetic energy. Fourth and fifth graders learned about photovoltaic cells and that they cannot store energy while making series and parallel circuits. We especially loved the survey comment: “Electricity is cool!” We thank the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City students and teachers for learning with us and we’d love to host another Engineering Day with you.

Last Saturday (March 25), SWE hosted their annual Engineering Day for Girl Scouts. Youth from northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula came to campus to learn about engineering. The Daisies and Brownies made their own paddle boats and paper airplanes with SWE and Concrete Canoe. They loved seeing the concrete canoe in the Dow building and seeing the difference in weights of the canoe concrete and concrete that is used in sidewalks. One Brownie named Amy (third grade) wrote: “I Loved it here. I amy want to come here for colage.”

The Juniors explored electrical and computer engineering (ECE) with SWE members from the ECE department and Blue Marble Security Enterprise. They met the robot, Ned, who sorts LEGO blocks. They visited the Plexus Lab and watched a shamrock circuit board being made. They explored series and parallel circuits using Play-Doh and LEDs. The most exciting parts were the Arduino and FPGA — students connected a three-color LED to an Arduino and then modified the code to change the rate at which the lights cycled. Each youth changed the code for the FPGA such that their name or a word scrolled across the screen. A fourth grade Junior commented, “I loved this! I really want to do this again,” while a fifth grader said, “It was amazing! Thank you!”

SWE members enjoyed working with the Girl Scouts — this is one of our favorite outreach events. The section is already planning for next year’s event.

By Gretchen Hein, Advisor, Society of Women Engineers.

Related

Engineering Ambassadors and SWE Host Engineering Day on MLK Day 2023

SWE Attends WELocal Detroit Conference 2023

Conference room with stage and tables of attendees.

Five student members of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section at Michigan Tech and SWE advisor Gretchen Hein (MMET) attended the WELocal Detroit conference, held Saturday and Sunday (February 18–19).

The attending students were SWE President Aerith Cruz (junior, management information systems), seniors Lukas Pyryt (mechanical engineering) and Kathleen Pakenas (biomedical engineering), and second-year students Kathryn Krieger (environmental engineering) and Ella Merklein (biomedical engineering).

At the conference, Krieger and Merklein gave a presentation titled “SWE Section and Engineering Ambassadors Host K-5 Engineering Days.” Hein participated in a panel discussion titled “Journeys in Academia, The Perks and Challenges” with faculty from Kettering University.

“Attending the WELocal conference and presenting on our outreach programs was an empowering experience,” said Krieger. “It was a great opportunity to showcase the incredible work being done by our section and a reminder that by working together, we can make a meaningful impact on the next generation of engineers.”

“Being my first conference, I very much enjoyed attending the WELocal conference,” said Pyryt. “This was a chance for me to truly become an ally for SWE and learn more ways to support this organization. I am very thankful for all connections I gained at this conference, as well as new information gained in sessions helping push more to become a better engineer in the process.”

The section celebrated with the SWE-Wisconsin Professional Section the achievements of Andrea Falasco ’12 (BS mechanical engineering) who was selected as an Emerging Leader in Technology and Engineering (ELiTE). “It was great seeing my SWE friends again and meeting new ones at the conference,” said Falasco. “I am honored to be chosen for one of the New ELiTE awards and am grateful for those who nominated me. I learned a lot at the conference and hope to bring this insight back to work and home.”

The SWE section at MTU thanks our alumnae, corporate sponsors, and the College of Engineering for their support of our section and travel to conferences.

By Gretchen Hein, Advisor, Society of Women Engineers.