Tag: MMET

Stories about Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology.

SWE Hosts Girl Scout Engineering Days 2024 at MTU and Grand Rapids

NASA Earth Observatory satellite image of the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin.

Girl Scouts Engineering Day at MTU

On March 9, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section at Michigan Tech hosted their annual Girl Scouts Engineering Day for over 35 scouts in the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin.

The Brownies and Daisies “Molded the Future,” using Play-Doh to create robotic gripper designs to pick up unique shapes. The scouts then used a digital scanner to see what their models looked like on a computer and learned about the 3D printing process. This session was led by Shane Oberloier, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).

The Juniors and Cadettes participated in sessions sponsored by MTU’s Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (ACSHF) program and ECE. In one session, the scouts learned about human factors under the guidance of Kelly Steelman, chair and associate professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences (CLS), while the second session, “FANtastic Controllers,” focused on computer programming, microcontrollers and circuit building. The scouts assembled a circuit that included an Arduino board, a power supply module, a logic chip and a DC motor to create a working fan. Next, they engaged in programming the circuit, gaining insights into the fundamentals of computer science and serial communication.

To make this event successful, Tech students from Blue Marble Security Enterprise and the Open Source Hardware Enterprise volunteered. SWE appreciates the support we received from ACSHF and ECE. Planning has already begun for the 2025 Girl Scout event!

Engineering Days in Niles and Grand Rapids

SWE members Tory Cantrell (mechanical engineering) and Carsyn Boggio (environmental engineering), ECE students Skyler Brawley (computer engineering) and Emily Roth (electrical engineering), and SWENexter Jenna Beaudoin, a Lake Linden-Hubbell High School senior, worked with Girl Scouts and Ring Lardner Middle School students in Niles, Michigan, on April 6. Sophie Owen ’22 (B.S. Electrical Engineering) helped the students construct their circuits.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Amy (Palmgren) Rokos ’08 (B.S. Computer Engineering) joined us and helped with the event. Lilly, a fourth grader and Junior Girl Scout, commented, “I liked the programing. I had to do math, but it was fun! I’m excited to do more things with my kit at home.” (Every participant not only used components, but was given an Arduino kit to take home.)

SWE sends a huge shoutout to Brawley and Beaudoin, who worked hard to design this integrated outreach activity, and to academic advisor Lauren Huested (ECE), who obtained the funding for this trip through a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The funds needed to be used on K-12 outreach that would teach students about EE concepts (specifically motors), making the Arduino/motorized fan kit a perfect fit!

Thanks to our vice president for Global Campus and continuing education, David Lawrence, who permitted us to use the grant funding, we were able to pay for the cost of supplies and travel for the events.

SWE also thanks the College of Engineering and the ECE department for their support, along with the CLS department. Outreach events are exciting opportunities for us to interact with future Michigan Tech Huskies!

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

Michigan Tech SWE Section, ME-EM Researchers Judge Inventions at Baraga Elementary

Baraga Elementary School students inventions include: Catnip Paw Covers. Shoes that would grow as the wearer grew. Kai’s Numbing Hair Gel. Hover car that would move based on the placement of magnets in the road. Pollution Vacuum Filtering Device. And many more!
The Henry Ford Invention Convention Worldwide

On February 15, 2024, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the MTU Waste Valorization Research Group volunteered to judge third- through fifth-grade Invention Convention projects at Baraga Elementary School.

Invention Convention Worldwide is a K-12 invention education program that teaches students problem-identification, problem-solving, entrepreneurship and creativity skills and builds confidence in invention, innovation and entrepreneurship for life. Prior to the competition, the Baraga students developed inventions that would impact their community.

SWE Advisor Gretchen Hein and members Skyler Brawley (senior, computer engineering) and Maci Dostaler (junior, software engineering) paired up with Assistant Teaching Professor Fei Long (ME-EM) and Research Engineers Shiying Cai and Adeyinka Adekunle (both ME-EM) to evaluate the inventions. The judges were impressed with the students’ excitement when describing their projects and the range of creative solutions.

The inventions included:

  • Snow plow for a strider bike
  • Snow plow for a remote controlled car
  • Motorized fishing lure that moved in the water
  • Shoes that would grow as the wearer grew
  • Multistation pencil sharpener
  • Hover car that would move based on the placement of magnets in the road
  • Pollution Vacuum Filtering Device
  • Basket Land board game
  • Handy Dandy Light Switch
  • Magic Pen 55
  • Spectacular Butter Lipstick
  • Upside Down gaming controller accessory for kids
  • Phone Holder 5000
  • Catnap Paw Covers
  • Keep-Away Can to keep dogs away from the trash can
  • Safari board game
  • Kai’s Numbing Hair Gel

The judges thank the teachers and staff, along with the enthusiastic student inventors, for inviting us to look over and judge at the Invention Convention. SWE and the MTU Waste Valorization Research Group would enjoy returning to evaluate projects next year.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: David Wanless

David Wanless
David Wanless

Dean Audra Morse has selected David Wanless, associate teaching professor in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET), for this spring’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase. Wanless will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other spring showcase members and is a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Series.

Students are motivated by Wanless’ use of projects similar to those they might experience in industry. He has developed and taught MET4210 Applied Quality Techniques for over 15 years, and all iterations have included laboratory experiences around the production of a product. Lately, he has designed and implemented an experiential learning project around stringed instrument production. This past fall, it was a banjo. In previous semesters, he had students produce an electric guitar and a bass guitar.

Wanless had 14 years of experience in quality engineering and management prior to entering academia. He utilizes the banjo project to engage students, as it relates to the course content. Students divide into groups that undertake each aspect of its production. While constructing the final working banjo, students actively apply quality methods, generate process control charts and implement process improvement methods.

“Dave’s Applied Quality class is a hands-on production-like environment,” one student commented. “It allows students to get a well-rounded understanding of quality control while working on a fun project.” Another student said, “Dave takes the applied portion to heart. He doesn’t hold your hand throughout the process. He knows what he wants from his students and sends them off to solve problems like a real engineer would.” Students draw on previous experience in machining, machine design or product design to select the proper production methods, design the process and then test the process to produce a working component for the instrument.

In addition, Wanless advises the MMET undergraduate two-semester capstone design sequence (MET4575 and MET4675 Senior Project I and II), where students participate in the National Fluid Power Association’s (NFPA’s) student fluid power vehicle challenge competition. Participating in the NFPA competition requires students to prepare and deliver technical presentations to industry experts who are assigned to mentor the teams. “Dave literally goes the extra mile to advise students, often traveling across the country for the NFPA competitions,” said John Irwin, chair of MMET. “His advising involves technical guidance in fluid power, but exceedingly it is about career guidance, whether related to the fluid power industry or not.” In the process, students are exposed to many potential employers in the fluid power industry, resulting in many graduates ending up in careers at major fluid power firms, such as Parker Hannifin and Ross Controls.

“Dr. Wanless’ engaging projects challenge our students in so many ways,” said Morse. “The experience they gain as they meet the expectations that he sets out for them gives them the skills that are highly sought after by potential employers.”

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.