Tag: MSE

My Mother’s Hands

Okay, so I have my mother’s hands. May she rest in peace. For her fiftieth birthday, many years ago, us four daughters decided to get her a nice piece of jewelry. We shopped, and together we tried out a bunch of rings. 

My other sisters’ hands are more delicate than mine. My hands call to mind a worker, or farmer, or crafter, hands with knuckles and calluses. While shopping, we decided my hands were the best model for the ring for our mother, and so I was the odd model on this shopping expedition, with the jewelry merchants looking at me with eyebrow askance. With their beautifully groomed hands they examined mine, seeking different shapes and kinds of rings to try on, to find something that would balance my knuckly fingers.

One day, many years later, I was inside watching some commotion in the driveway. My son needed to add water to his rusty old radiator. The cap was stuck. My son, his dad, and a friend were standing around the car, hood up, scratching their heads. 

Watching this from inside the house, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a go. Grabbing a kitchen towel, I wandered outside. Approaching the car, I asked about the problem, then casually swooped in with my towel and my mother’s hands. 

I doubled up the kitchen towel over the four-pronged, blunt radiator knob, grasped it with my dominant hand, then added my other hand over top, all fingers locking in to seal the strength. I locked wrists, forearms, elbows to my shoulders and slowly rotated my torso. Of course the cap gave way. I straightened up, pulled off the towel, brushed off the thanks, and walked back into the house.

From my dad, I got the engineer’s outlook, and from my mom these strong, wise hands. From both of them, I was given ample opportunity to try anything, fail, and try again. 

Where did I learn to do this, I wonder? To not use my wrist and hand alone? The feeling wasn’t pride exactly, but closer to gratitude—for my parents who taught me to roof and landscape, and to use my head to solve problems. From my dad, I got the engineer’s outlook, and from my mom these strong, wise hands. From both of them, I was given ample opportunity to try anything, fail, and try again. 

I am now an engineering professor and have been given tremendous responsibility as a dean. Problem solving is what we teach engineering students, mingled with theory and design. We also give them ample opportunity to learn by doing. Yet, the largest part of their problem-solving “knack,” will come from the projects they already did, well before arriving in college.

All the tasks given to a child, the forced labor assigned to teens, and the challenges you take on as an adult, add up. I remember Dad giving instructions with no more detail than, “Take down this wall,” and I could not have wished for a better engineering teacher. We lost him too soon, when he was just 48, to cancer.

I wear her ring now and it fits me well. I could never fill her shoes, but I can fill her gloves. Around the blister earned from raking this weekend and the snagged skin from a thorn, I look at my mother’s hands and imagine them still shuffling and playing cards, the way she did when our work was through. 

My mother passed ten years ago this month. Miss you Mom! Still feel your strong—and gentle—touch.

Do you have your own stories about your mom, or dad, to share? Please email me. I would love to hear them, callahan@mtu.edu.

Janet Callahan, Dean
College of Engineering
Michigan Tech



John Gierke: How the Rocks Connect Us

Pictured: Hungarian Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Credit: Jessica Rich, a Michigan Tech graduate and member of the MTU Geology Club

John Gierke shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, May 11 at 6 pm. Learn something new in just 20 minutes, with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

John Gierke stands with water behind him, on the shore of Portage Canal.
Water was John Gierke’s first love growing up. Now he is Professor and Chair of the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences at Michigan Tech, specializing in hydrogeology. Here he stands at the shore of Portage Canal, on campus.

A self-professed “Yooper graduate of the school of hard rocks,” John Gierke chairs the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences (GMES) at Michigan Technological University. He’s also an alumnus, earning a BS and MS in Civil Engineering, and a PhD in Environmental Engineering, all at Michigan Tech.

Q: How do the rocks connect us?

A: The geology of the Keweenaw and Western Upper Peninsula is quite unique and different than the Eastern Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula. The geology of the Keweenaw is more exposed and accessible. The experience of spending time in the Copper Country is enhanced if you understand more about the forces of nature that formed this beautiful place. While geologists are knowledgeable in identifying rocks, their truest natures are also wrapped in a yearning to be outdoors, exceptional observation skills, and insatiable curiosity to understand Earth processes. The processes that led to the geological formations that lie beneath us–and shaped our landscapes–are what dictated many of the natural resources that are found where each of us live.

Q: When did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

A: I began studying engineering at Lake Superior State College (then, now University) in the fall of 1980, in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. In those days their engineering program was called: General Engineering Transfer, which was structured well to transfer from the old “Soo Tech” to “Houghton Tech,” terms that some old timers still used back then, nostalgically. I transferred to Michigan Tech for the fall of 1982 to study civil engineering with an emphasis in environmental engineering, which was aligned with my love of water (having grown up on the St. Mary’s River).

Despite my love of lakes, streams, and rivers, my technical interests evolved into an understanding of how groundwater moves in geological formations. I used my environmental engineering background to develop treatment systems to clean up polluted soils and aquifers. That became my area of research for the graduate degrees that followed, and the basis for my faculty position and career at Michigan Tech, in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences (those sciences are Geology and Geophysics). My area of specialty now is Hydrogeology.

Q: Can you tell us more about your growing up? Any hobbies?

A: Growing up I fished weekly, sometimes daily, on the St. Mary’s River throughout the year. Sault Ste. Marie is bordered by the St. Mary’s River on the north and east. In the spring-summer-fall, I fished from shore or a canoe or small boat. In the winter, I speared fish from a shack just a few minutes from my home or traveled to fish through the ice in some of the bays. I was a fervent bird hunter (grouse and woodcock) in the lowlands of the EUP, waterfowl in the abundant wetlands, and bear and deer (unsuccessfully until later in life). I now live on a blueberry farm that is open to the public in August for U-Pick. I used my technical expertise to design, install, and operate a drip irrigation system that draws water from the underlying Jacobsville Sandstone aquifer.

Want to know more about Husky Bites? Read about it here.


Husky Bites: Join Us for Supper This Summer (Mondays at 6)!

Craving some brain food? Join Dean Janet Callahan and a special guest each Monday at 6 p.m. EST for a new, 20-minute interactive Zoom webinar from the College of Engineering at Michigan Technological University, followed by Q&A. Grab some supper, or just flop down on your couch. This family friendly event is BYOC (Bring Your Own Curiosity). All are welcome. Get the full scoop and register⁠—it’s free⁠—at mtu.edu/huskybites.

The special guests: A dozen engineering faculty have each volunteered to present a mini lecture for Husky Bites. They’ll weave in a bit of their own personal journey to engineering, too.

“We created Husky Bites for anyone who likes to learn, across the universe,” says Callahan. “We’re aiming to make it very interactive, with a “quiz” (in Zoom that’s a multiple choice poll), about every five minutes. “Everyone is welcome, and bound to learn something new. We are hoping entire families will enjoy it,” she adds. “We have prizes, too, for near perfect attendance!”

Topics include: Space, Satellites, and Students; Shipwrecks and Underwater Robots; A Quieter Future (Acoustics); Geospatial Wizardry; Color-Changing Potions and Magical Microbes; Scrubbing Water, There’s Materials Science and Engineering, in my Golf Bag, Biomedical Engineering the Future, How Do Machines Learn, Robotics, Math in Motion, and more. Get the full scoop and register (it’s free) at mtu.edu/huskybites

The series kicks off on Monday, May 11 with a session from GMES professor and chair John Gierke, a self-professed “Yooper graduate of the school of hard rocks.”

In his Husky Bites session, “How the Rocks Connect Us,” Gierke will talk about how the geology of the Keweenaw is more exposed and accessible. “The experience of spending time in the Copper Country is enhanced if you understand more about the forces of nature that formed this beautiful place,” he says. “The processes that led to the geological formations that lie beneath us and shaped our landscapes are what dictated many of the natural resources that are found where each of us live.” Gierke was born in the EUP (the Soo, aka Sault Sainte Marie) and graduated from Michigan Tech. He will provide practical explanations for why the mines are oriented as they are, where water is more prevalent—and the geological features that lead to waterfalls. You can read all about it here.

Other guests on Husky Bites include engineering faculty L. Brad King, Gordon Parker, Rebecca Ong, Guy Meadows, Andrew Barnard, Tony Pinar, Daisuke Minakata, Jeremy Bos, Joe Foster, Smitha Rao, and Steve Kampe.

Want to see the full schedule? Just go to mtu.edu/huskybites. You can register from there, too.


Everything has to be made out of something. The question is out of what—and how do we make it?

Ferrosilicon inoculant is added to a stream of liquid iron. Sparks fly as the inoculant reacts with the liquid iron.

These are the questions engineers at Michigan Tech have been asking since the university’s founding in 1885. It’s the task that graduates from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) have excelled at since its inception as one of the two founding departments at the Michigan School of Mines in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in 1885. Back then, the department was known as Metallurgy, and its focus was on ways to extract valuable metals, such as copper or iron, from their naturally occurring states within minerals and underground deposits.  

Today the discipline of Materials Science and Engineering finds ways to use the fundamental physical origins of material behavior—the science of materials—to optimize properties through structure modification and processing, to design and invent new and better materials, and to understand why some materials unexpectedly fail. In other words, the engineering of materials.  

The Michigan Tech campus is located on the Portage Canal near Lake Superior.

Contemporary materials engineers (aka MSEs) work with metals and alloys, ceramics and glasses, polymers and elastomers; electronic, magnetic, and optical materials; composites, and many other emerging materials. That includes materials such as 2-D graphene, nanomaterials and biomaterials, materials that have been 3D printed or additively manufactured, smart materials, and specialized sensors.

Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) connects and collaborates with many other disciplines. The products and processes developed by MSEs are used by others to make new or improved products.

Materials Science and Engineering is inherently interdisciplinary—students interact and collaborate with students and scientists in other engineering disciplines, and also science disciplines, including chemistry and physics. 

Despite its legacy and historical central importance to all engineering endeavors, the materials discipline is relatively small compared to other engineering disciplines such as mechanical, electrical, civil, and chemical engineering. In fact, many universities do not have stand-alone materials departments.

“But this is one of the best aspects of being an MSE,” says Michigan Tech MSE Department Chair Steve Kampe, “Class sizes are small, and students build strong networks with classmates, the faculty and staff, and with likeminded colleagues from other universities from around the world,” he says. “It enables strong learning and collaborative environments with lots of personalized interaction and one-on-one mentoring.”

Not only is Kampe a member of the Michigan Tech faculty, he is also an alumnus, earning a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD in Metallurgical Engineering, all from Michigan Tech. He joined academia after working in the corporate research laboratory for a major aerospace company, where scientists and engineers developed new products and technologies for the company’s future.

Examining material structure using the scanning electron microscope.

At Michigan Tech, the MSE department manages the university’s suite of scanning electron and transmission electron microscopes, including a unique, high resolution scanning transmission FEI Titan Themis. The facility also maintains excellent X-ray diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and Auger electron spectroscopy capabilities. In the university’s Institute of Material Processing (IMP), also led by MSE faculty, processing capabilities include melt processing, deformation processing, microelectronic fabrication, and particulate (powder)-based processing capabilities. All students use these world-class facilities—even as undergraduates.

Students at Michigan Tech can join one of 24 Enterprise teams on campus to work on real projects, for real clients. Students invent products, provide services, and pioneer solutions. Advanced Metalworks Enterprise (AME) is a popular enterprise among MSE students. Small groups within the AME team take ownership of metallurgical manufacturing projects, working closely with industry sponsors.

The Advanced MetalWorks Enterprise team, AME, at Michigan Technological University

“Being on an Enterprise team helps students build a résumé, develop teamwork skills, form professional relationships, and learn what to expect in the workforce,” says Kampe. “We’re grateful for our corporate sponsors’ help in offering students an opportunity to take textbook skills from the classroom and apply them in practical ways, to experiment, and get results.”

MSE students also get involved in Materials United (MU), a student professional organization that exposes them to all aspects of Materials Science and Engineering—learning about industry, sharing research, developing personal skills, participating in professional societies, and traveling to international conferences. 

As one example of student success, MSE students from Michigan Tech won first place in ASM International’s Undergraduate Design Competition the last two years in a row, based on entries from their capstone senior design projects. Last year, the winning entry was based on a project entitled “Cobalt reduction in Tribaloy T-400” sponsored by Winsert, Inc. of Marinette, Wisconsin.

Microstructure of Tribaloy T-400 containing a Co solid solution, a C14 Laves phase, and a Co solid solution-C14 Laves eutectic phase.

“Winsert currently uses an alloy similar to Tribaloy T-400, a cobalt-based alloy, in the production of internal combustion engine valve seats,” Kampe explains. “Cobalt is an expensive element with a rapidly fluctuating price, due to political instability in the supplier countries. The alloy contains approximately 60 wt. percent cobalt, contributing significantly to its price. There are also serious sustainability and environmental implications associated with the use of cobalt—both positive and negative,” he says. “Cobalt is one of the elements used as an anode material for lithium ion batteries that are now under heavy development for electric vehicles.” 

The student team investigated the replacement of cobalt with other transition elements such as iron, nickel, and aluminum using thermodynamic modeling. “All MSE senior design projects at Michigan Tech use advanced simulation and modeling tools, experimental calibration, and statistical-based analyses of the results,” notes Kampe. “The Winsert project utilized software called CALPHAD (Pandat) with a form of machine learning —Bayesian Optimization—to identify new and promising alloy substitutions. Such advanced techniques are rarely introduced at the undergraduate level in most other MSE programs.”

“Our department’s small size allows meaningful student involvement in hands-on laboratory activities, personal access to facilities, real participation in leading-edge projects, and close networking with peers, faculty and staff, alumni, and prospective employers,” adds Kampe. “The benefits of being a part of a strong professional network continues after graduation. Our strong learning community becomes our students’ first professional network after they graduate. It gives them a strong early foundation for a great career.”

A metal matrix composite created by infiltrating magnesium into a carbonized wood lattice. In this senior design project, the MSE team collaborated with Michigan Tech’s College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

Due to the importance of materials to the success of nearly all engineered products, MSEs enjoy employment opportunities in a wide range of industries and in a variety of functions. For example, MSEs are prominent within the automotive, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, and defense industries, performing duties such as new material design, material substitution and optimization, manufacturing science, and material forensics, such as material identification and failure analyses. 

MSE undergraduate students Kiaya Caspers, Jared Harper, Jonah Jarczewski, and Pierce Mayville.

“There are also rich opportunities in corporate and government research and development, since new products and functionalities often start with advancements in our understanding of materials, or in our ability to process them,” says Kampe. “MSE graduates from Michigan Tech enjoy nearly 100 percent placement at graduation due not only to the reputation of the department, but also due to the fact that just about all engineering-oriented companies rely on materials for their products.”


Design Expo 2020 Award Winners

More than 1,000 students in Enterprise and Senior Design showcased their hard work last Thursday, April 16 at Michigan Tech’s first-ever virtual Design Expo. Teams competed for cash awards totaling nearly $4,000. Judges included corporate representatives, community members and Michigan Tech staff and faculty.

The College of Engineering and the Pavlis Honors College are pleased to announce award winners, below. Congratulations and thanks to ALL teams for a very successful Design Expo 2020. But first, a few important items:

Design Expo Video Gallery

Be sure to check out the virtual gallery, which remains on display at mtu.edu/expo.

20th Anniversary of Design Expo
This year marked the 20th anniversary of Design Expo. Read the Michigan Tech news story here.

SOAR’s SSROV Royale deployed in summers on Isle Royale National Park as part of the Enterprise partnership.
SOAR’s SSROV Royale deployed in summers on Isle Royale National Park as part of the Enterprise partnership

Special Note:
In addition to all the Michigan Tech teams, SOAR, a high school Enterprise from Dollar Bay High School in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, also took part in this year’s virtual Design Expo. Advised by teacher Matt Zimmer, the team designs, builds, and deploys underwater remote operated vehicles (ROVs). SOAR partners with local community organizations to monitor, research, and improve the local watershed. Their clients include Isle Royale National Park, Delaware Mine, OcuGlass, and Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center. Check out the SOAR video here (SOAR is team 124).


Now, without further ado, here are the Design Expo award results!


ENTERPRISE AWARDS
Based on video submissions

First Place – $500
Blizzard Baja Enterprise
Team Leaders: Olivia Vargo, Mechanical Engineering, and Kurt Booms, Mechanical Engineering Technology
Advisor: Kevin Johnson, Mechanical Engineering Technology
Sponsors: General Motors, Aramco Americas, DENSO, SAE International, Magna, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Halla Mechatronics, Meritor, Oshkosh Corporation, Ford Motor Company, John Deere, Nexteer, IPETRONIK, FEV, Milwaukee Tool, Altair, Henkel, ArcelorMittal, TeamTECH, and Keysight Technologies
Overview: Building and innovating a single-seat, off-road vehicle for the SAE Collegiate Design Series-Baja events is the team’s focus. After passing a rigorous safety and technical inspection, they compete on acceleration, hill climb, maneuverability, suspension and endurance. The team also organizes and hosts the Winter Baja Invitational event, a long-standing university tradition dating back to 1981.


Second Place – $300
Mining INnovation Enterprise (MINE)

Team Leaders: George Johnson, Mechanical Engineering; and Breeanne Heusdens, Geological Engineering
Advisor: Paulus Van Susante, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Sponsors: Cignys, Cummins, General Motors, MEEM Advisory Board, Michigan Scientific Corporation, Michigan Space Grant Consortium, Milwaukee Tool, MISUMI, NASA, Raytheon, Wayland Wildcats
Overview: MINE designs, tests, and implements mining innovation technologies—in some hard-to-reach places—for industry partners. The team is developing a gypsum process to mine water on Mars funded by a grant from NASA. Gypsum is 20 percent water by weight and is found abundantly on the surface of Mars. A geological sub-team is developing methodology for deep sea mining research. Last but not least, MINE is creating a robot for the NASA Lunabotics competition, held every year at the Kennedy Space Center with 50 university teams in attendance.


Third Place – $200 (tie)
Innovative Global Solutions
(IGS)
Team Leaders: Nathan Tetzlaff, Mechanical Engineering; Marie Marche, Biomedical Engineering
Advisors: Radheshyam Tewari, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics; and Nathan Manser, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences
Sponsors: Cummins, Milwaukee Tool, and Enterprise Manufacturing Initiative funded by General Motors
Overview: IGS pursues solutions for the needs of developing countries, making contributions toward solving the Grand Challenges, an initiative set forth by the National Academy of Engineering. The team has designed, built and tested an innovative vaccine container to improve the transport of viable vaccines and increase accessibility. They have developed a low-cost, multifunctional infant incubator to help decrease infant mortality rates. They are also working on an open-source-based 3D printer that can recycle plastic to meet basic community needs.


Third Place – $200 (tie)
Aerospace Enterprise

Team Leaders: Troy Maust, Computer Engineering; and Matthew Sietsema, Electrical Engineering
Advisor: L. Brad King, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Sponsors: Air Force Research Laboratory, NASA
Overview: Space mission design and analysis, vehicle integration, systems engineering, and comprehensive ground-testing and qualification are all going on within the Aerospace Enterprise at any given time. All members contribute toward achieving specific project goals. The Auris mission demonstrates the technical feasibility of a CubeSat to provide situational data, in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The Stratus mission involves collecting atmospheric and weather data from a CubeSat in collaboration with NASA—a pathfinder toward developing new, complex space systems leveraging the low-cost and small size of CubeSats to achieve the performance of traditional, monolithic systems.


Honorable Mention – $100
Husky Game Development (HGD)

Team Leaders: Colin Arkens and Xixi Tian, Computer Science
Advisor: Scott Kuhl, Computer Science
Sponsor: Pavlis Honors College
Overview: Developing video games is the name of the game for HGD. Each year, the Enterprise breaks up into subteams of around six students who experience a full game development cycle, including ideation, design, and end product. HGD explores a wide variety of video game engines and platforms, including Windows, Android, Xbox, and an experimental Display Wall.


SENIOR DESIGN AWARDS
Based on video submissions

First Place – $400
Eddy Current Inspection In-line Integration

Team Members: Brett Hulbert, Austin Ballou, Britten Lewis, Nathan Beining, Philip Spillman and Sophie Pawloski, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Wayne Weaver, Mechanical Engineering- Engineering Mechanics
Sponsor: MacLean-Fogg Component Solutions-Metform
Overview: Eddy current testing (ECT) is a non-destructive method for testing metal surfaces for defects using electromagnetic induction to detect surface flaws in conductive materials. The team was tasked with developing an eddy current tester that would non-destructively test a washer for surface cracks and flaws before it is assembled with a nut. They created a testing operation that spins, tests, and ejects washers based on whether they pass or fail, all within the existing assembly cell.


Second Place – $250
Hospital Washer Auto Sampler Usage & Data Optimization
Team Members: Nick Golden and Jeremy Weaver, Biomedical Engineering; Jack Ivers, Mechanical Engineering
Advisors: Bruce Lee and Sangyoon Han, Biomedical Engineering
Sponsor: Stryker
Overview: Hospitals use wash systems to clean and sterilize instruments after use. Factors of the wash environment can harm surgical instruments. To solve this problem, the team designed a device that actively senses conditions inside a hospital washer to provide information on the effects of the wash environment, allowing for wash cycle optimization.


Third Place – $150
Direct Casting with Additive Manufactured Patterns
Team Members: James Driesenga, Riley Simpson, Camden Miner, Zach Schwab, TC Swittel, and Sean Frank, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Bob Page, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Sponsor: Mercury Marine
Overview: The team developed a lost-foam style casting process that uses a 3D printed pattern instead of expanded polystyrene in metal casting. The use of expanded polystyrene allows for complete part filling, but cost and time required to create a new pattern are high. The 3D printing of patterns eradicates the need for pattern tooling and significantly reduces the time required to produce a pattern.


Honorable Mention (1) – $100
Radiofrequency Ablation Modeling and Validation of Cannula Design
s
Team Members: Clare Biolchini, Matthew Colaianne, and Ellen Lindquist, Biomedical Engineering; Samuel Miller, Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Jeremy Goldman, Biomedical Engineering
Sponsor: Medtronic
Overview: Predictable lesion formation during radiofrequency (RF) ablation for pain control is a function of many factors and the subject of decades of research. Of specific interest to Medtronic is lesion formation in non-homogeneous tissues and structures. The team developed mathematical models and physical model validation for treatment scenarios, including knees and shoulders. Photo courtesy of Medtronic.


Honorable Mention (2) – $100
Airport Needs Design Challenge
Team Members: Derek Cingel, Jared Langdon, Bryce Leaf, Ruth Maki, and Douglas Pedersen, Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Paul van Susante, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Sponsor: Airport Cooperative Research Program
Overview: To help reduce the contamination of deicing fluid in small airports, the team developed a cart specially designed to collect a significant amount of the fluid that comes from the wings. Saving and reusing deicing fluid will save money, and reduce the runoff into streams and waterways.


Honorable Mention (3) – $100
Validation Test System for Boston Scientific IPP
Team Members: McKenzie Hill, Ahmed Al Dulaim, Nathan Halanski, and Katherine Wang, Biomedical Engineering
Advisors: Orhan Soykan and Sangyoon Han, Biomedical Engineering
Sponsor: Boston Scientific
Overview: Performing analyses, simulations, and engineering calculations, the team was able to estimate and predict the movement of IPP cylinders and resulting stress/strain. They designed new test procedures to perform physical testing and fabricated a physical test system.


Honorable Mention (4) – $100
Road Marking Reflectivity Evaluator
Team Members: Brian Parvin, Mechanical Engineering; Paul Allen, Electrical Engineering; and David Brushaber, Kurtis Alessi and Alex Kirchner, Computer Engineering
Advisor: Tony Pinar, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Sponsor: SICK, Inc.
Overview: When road stripes wear off, auto accidents increase. To solve this problem, the team developed software that uses reflectivity values obtained using a SICK lidar unit. Their new software identifies deterioration of road stripes and recommends timely repainting, which will also aid in the safety and reliability of self-driving vehicles on roadways. The team constructed a prototype to demonstrate functionality–a pushable cart that evaluates road markings. An intuitive user interface displays the markings being evaluated, and indicates if they meet necessary levels of reflectivity. With their project, the team is taking part in the TiM$10K Challenge, a national innovation and design competition.


20th Anniversary “People’s Choice” Award – $100
Based on receiving the most text-in votes during Design Expo

Connector and Coupling Actuator for Mobile Electrical Microgrids
Team Members: Trevor Barrett, Nathan Bondi, and Sam Krusinski, Mechanical Engineering; Travis Moon, Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Cameron Hadden, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
Sponsor: Center for Agile and Interconnected Microgrids
Overview: Imagine how someone living through a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Dorian must have felt—scared and helpless, with no way to call for assistance or let loved ones know they were okay. It could be days or weeks before first responders are able to restore power to the area. That is where our project comes in. Our team was tasked to design, prototype, and test a connector and coupling actuator that can establish an electrical connection between two unmanned ground vehicles that will be used to build temporary microgrids in areas that desperately need it.


DESIGN EXPO IMAGE CONTEST
Based on team photos submitted during Design Expo registration

First Place – $200
Formula SAE Enterprise

F-276 Racecar racing by on a speedway with the driver shown in his black helmet.
F-276 Racecar. Photo Credit: Brendan Treanore, 4th year, MSE

Second Place – $100
Flammability Reduction in Magnesium Alloys for Additive Manufacturing

Two orange-yellow flames jet up from a pike of ashes.
Flammability test of a magnesium AZ61 alloy. Photo Credit: Max Urquhart, 3rd year, ECE

Third Place – $50
Velovations Enterprise

Three fat tired bikes are parked in the snow along the Michigan Tech "Tech Trails" groomed trail system, covered in snow, with sunshine and trees in the background.
Velovations Enterprise: Testing dropper posts in the snow Photo Credit: Somer Schrock, 3rd year, ME

DESIGN EXPO INNOVATION AWARDS
Based on application
. Learn more here.

Microphoto of master alloy nanoindentation array of Al25Mn, courtesy of MSE 4th year student Ryan Lester
Microphoto of master alloy nanoindentation array of Al25Mn. Credit: Ryan Lester

First Place – $250
Increasing the Young’s Modulus of Cast Aluminum for Stiffness-Limited Applications

Team Members: Joel Komurka, Ryan Lester, Zeke Marchel, and
Wyatt Gratz, Material Science and Engineering
Advisor: Paul Sanders, Materials Science and Engineering
Sponsor: Eck Industries


Benchtop design which simulates physiological conditions in HLHS patients for testing of our stent prototype. (photo taken by Kelsey LeMay)
The team’s benchtop design, which simulates the physiological conditions in HLHS patients used to test infant heart stent prototype.

Second Place – $150
Transcatheter Sign Ventricle Device (BME)

Team Members: David Atkin, Kelsey LeMay, and Gabrielle Lohrenz, Biomedical Engineering
Advisors: Smitha Rao and Jeremy Goldman, Biomedical Engineering
Sponsor: Spectrum Health—Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital


a prototype of the vaccine transporter, which is about the size of a large breadbox, and fits inside a duffel bag.
Second iteration of the IGS team’s vaccine cold transport container for developing countries, which fits neatly inside a duffel bag.

Third Place – $100
Innovative Global Solutions (IGS)

Team Leaders: Nathan Tetzlaff, Mechanical Engineering; Marie Marche, Biomedical Engineering
Advisors: Radheshyam Tewari, ME-EM and Nathan Manser, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences
Sponsor: Enterprise Manufacturing Initiative funded by General Motors, Cummins, Milwaukee Tool

2020 ENTERPRISE AWARDS
Based on student, advisor, faculty and staff nominations.


Student Awards
Outstanding Leadership: Allysa Meinburg, Consumer Product Manufacturing

Rookie Award: Bryce Traver, Alternative Energy Enterprise

Innovative Solutions: Travis Wavrunek, Alternative Energy Enterprise

Industry/Sponsor Relations: Jordan Woldt, Blue Marble Security/Oshkosh Baja Suspension Team

Faculty/Staff/Sponsor Awards
Outstanding Enterprise Advisor: Dr. Tony Rogers, Consumer Product Manufacturing

Outstanding Enterprise Sponsor: Michael Bunge, Libbey Inc.

Behind the Scenes: Steven Lehmann, Biomedical Engineering


THANKS TO ALL!

Now, be sure to check out all the awesome Enterprise and Senior Design team projects at mtu.edu/expo.


Design Expo is Today!

Join today us online at mtu.edu/expo. All are welcome!

The 20th Design Expo starts today (April 16). Watch the Kick-off event live via Zoom and Facebook Live starting at 10 a.m. Register to virtually attend this event before 10 a.m. via Zoom, or tune into the Pavlis Honors College Facebook Page. No registration required to watch via Facebook Live.

Starting at 4 p.m. we will live stream the Awards Presentation via Zoom and Facebook Live.

Register to virtually attend this event before 4 p.m. via Zoom or tune into the Michigan Tech Facebook Page. No registration required to watch via Facebook Live.

Use Text in Voting to vote for your favorite video using the number 919-351-8683. Participants can vote for as many competitors as they like but can only vote once for each competitor. Text in voting will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.

To vote, a participant might text the following case sensitive message to the phone number above: “101” to vote for Blizzard Baja or “201” to vote for Medical Device Ball Bearing Temperature Test Fixture. Team numbers and videos will be available via the Design Expo website, and all who register for Live Webinars.

Get more details in “MTU Design Expo Unveils Student Innovations” on Michigan Tech News.


Online Science and Engineering Fair

In a classic example of turning lemons into lemonade, organizers of the Western U.P. Science and Engineering Fair are turning a disappointing situation into a new and exciting endeavor. 

The 22nd edition of the fair, which was to have been held Wednesday (March 18) in the Memorial Union Building, did not take place as planned. More than 125 students from Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, Ontonagon and Gogebic counties in grades four through eight were registered for the event. Due to directives to not gather in large groups and to maintain social distancing, the science and engineering fair didn’t take place. But that’s not to say it was cancelled. 

Emily Gochis, director of the Western UP MiSTEM Network and, in turn, the director of the Western U.P. Science Fair, said organizers have moved the fair to an online platform. 

“We wanted to offer this alternative method because we know how hard our students, parents and teachers have worked to develop and complete projects,” Gochis said. 

Under the new format, students as individuals or in pairs may use their assigned project numbers to submit a recorded project interview, photographs of the display board and a digital copy of the written report. The project numbers were provided to the students last week.

Gochis feels many of the students are up to this new challenge. “We are asking our students to be creative problem solvers and felt that we could do the same for them by developing a new submission process using out-of-the-box thinking and available technology in an authentic way.”

Gochis recognizes that not all students will have access to their projects or the needed technology with schools closed. “For that reason, projects can be submitted up to two weeks after K-12 classes resume,” she added. 

Students can submit projects by uploading photos, documents and a recording to a Google Drive folder identified by their assigned project number. “If needed, students can use FlipGrid, a free video capturing platform to record and submit their project interviews, up to five minutes in length,” Gochis said. 

In the face of a prolonged school closure, many parents are scrambling to find homeschooling options for their children. Gochis says participating in the science and engineering fair can certainly be of help.

“Science and Engineering Fair projects are one of the many ways for students to keep learning at home during school closures. A comprehensive student guide that includes a series of worksheets to help students and parents conduct a science investigation is located on the Western MiSTEM Network’s webpage.

Gochis said she realizes this new process isn’t ideal but she wanted to provide a mechanism for as many registered students to submit their projects as possible and felt this was better than canceling completely. 

“We have never tried this before and appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through this for the first time.”

Students and parents can receive a step-by-step online submission guide or direct any questions to Gochis via email. 

By Mark Wilcox.


COVID-19 Health Alert: Michigan Tech Suspends Face-to-Face Instruction, Effective March 16, 2020.

Michigan Tech has suspended face-to-face instruction, effective March 16, 2020. The University has released a series of protocols concerning travel, remote work, and large gatherings. Emails have been sent to students and faculty. For more information & updates, visit mtu.edu/covid-19.

Message to the Campus Community
Read President Koubek’s full message to faculty, staff, and students.

Message to Students
Read Important COVID-19 Update to students from Bonnie Gorman, Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs

Important Information for Students
Protocols, updates, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Michigan Tech Updates
The University is working closely with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and following the guidance of the CDC in monitoring COVID-19 developments. We have a pandemic preparedness plan in place, and six University task forces have convened to prepare for and respond to implications and impacts for the campus community. More information and updates at mtu.edu/covid-19

More about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
An outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus named “2019 Novel Coronavirus” or “COVID-19” is affecting a large number of countries around the world, including the United States, where it has been declared a National Emergency. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring developments and travel advisories are in place.


Mechanical Engineer Turned Fine Artist: Gary Johnson (Part 2)

Gary Johnson, a Michigan Tech alumnus in Fayetteville Arkansas, tells the story of his second career: “It has taken years to break my engineer’s exacting look, and feel comfortable having people see what they want to see in my work.”

When it comes to the abstract, my inspiration develops as I develop the painting. I always try to utilize the design principles of good balance between geometric and curvilinear shapes, development of value change throughout the painting, and a good use of complementary colors. But it’s all in the eye of the beholder whether you like it or not.

Star Gazing, 2019, Gary Johnson
Star Gazing, 2019, Gary Johnson

Other times I get inspired by just items around the house that we’ve collected over the years. It dawned on me that I hadn’t painted a still life piece in quite a while, so I started looking at some china pieces we collected and thought they’d make a wonderful painting.

Rhapsody in Blue, 2019, Gary Johnson
Rhapsody in Blue, 2019, Gary Johnson

Sometimes it isn’t so much that inspiration finds me, as much as it is that someone commissions a painting. Now that is the ultimate compliment: when someone has seen my work and trusts me to paint something they treasure. This requires a lot of careful consideration on my part to make a determination if I’m up to the task. First, I need a good photograph—not some pixelated picture, but a really good piece I can blow up as if I were right there to see it all with my own eyes. If I can take the photograph myself, so much the better as I like to take advantage of any shadows cast. Here’s one–a portrait of a dog named Maximus.

Portraits are difficult. My advice is this: always make sure you get the eyes right. Everything else from there will work out.

Maximus, Gary Johnson, 2016
Maximus, Gary Johnson, 2016

People ask where I paint. We designed our home with a studio in it. This makes it so much more convenient for me as I can wander up anytime during the day or night to work on a painting.

My studio is on the second floor of our house. When I decide I’m too old to walk up and down those stairs (18 in all, and yes, I counted them) it can easily be converted into a master suite or a mother in-law-suite as it has a closet and bathroom next to it. After all, watercolorists need water and a place to rinse out the brushes among other things. It’s approximately 300 square feet—a comfortable size to house my good old-fashioned drafting table, flat files, and shelving units needed to support my habit.

The artist in his studio.
The artist in his studio.

I’m sometimes asked about my outlook on life as an artist. Is it different than my outlook as an engineer/business executive? To be honest, it isn’t much different. I suppose now that I’m retired, I want to be sure I’m alive long enough to achieve some of my long-range goals. Goal setting is something I’ve always done, so not much change there.

I don’t have a concern about what my next job or position might be now that I’m a retired artist. In my working life, I wasn’t always in control of my destiny. That’s one big difference from the working world. If I don’t finish a painting today, I can always work on it tomorrow. I can take as long as I want to finish a painting.

Snack Time, Gary Johnson
Snack Time, Gary Johnson

Have I ever experienced a creative block? I sure have. That’s when I usually put the brushes aside and start to read and study another person’s work. It’s also good to make a change in my daily activity as well, to not get stuck in a rut, so to speak. Variety is the spice of life and that is true for artists as well. Change it up. Go fishing. Get outside. You’d be surprised how quickly new ideas can pop up to jumpstart the creative juices and get them flowing again.

Am I a perfectionist? Not really. I would have never taken up watercolor painting. It is extremely unforgiving. When I make an error, I consider it a happy accident and work around it, as opposed to trying to do it over again, or trying to fix it. Neither work well in watercolor painting.

Personality-wise, I’m pretty much an optimist and a fairly outgoing person. I suppose it’s because of the confidence I gained while managing companies and people. I enjoy making new contacts and I enjoy giving back to my community. That’s why I’ve become a teacher of art, and a leader in our art organization here in Fayetteville. I hope I’ve influenced people to become involved in the art scene.

People ask if I have developed a style in my art. I’m still working in it, although people are starting to recognize my abstract pieces more and more as I display them at galleries in the area. More people now say they can easily recognize a piece as one of mine.

A Day In the Park, Gary Johnson
A Day In the Park, Gary Johnson

Realistically, I think my style is still evolving, growing into a less-structured, photographic type of painting—a looser style that I personally love. It has taken years to break my engineer’s exacting look and feel comfortable having people see what they want to see in my work, as opposed to making it obvious.

Autumn Reflection, Gary Johnson
Autumn Reflection, Gary Johnson

I hope you enjoyed reading my story as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it in writing. Feel free to contact me at garyj357@yahoo.com.

Gary

Coming soon: Part 3 of Gary’s guest blog. Learn how to make your own beautiful watercolor pigments (from rocks), and read his sage adviceboth to young people starting out, and those about to move into retirement. Did you happen to miss Part 1? Here’s the link. Want to see more of Gary’s paintings? Find them at garyjohnsonfineart.com


Michigan Tech Engineer Captures the Northern Lights

North Canal Park, April 2019. Credit: Michigan Tech Alumnus Venkata Rajesh Chundru

Some of us have waited a decade or more to see the Northern Lights since moving to Houghton, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Then there’s Venkata Rajesh Chundru, now a research engineer at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. While earning his PhD in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech from 2014 to 2019, Chundru managed to see—and artfully capture—Aurora Borealis time after time. And he has generously offered to share some of his favorite photographs with us here.

Calumet Waterworks Park, September 2017. Credit: Venkata Rajesh Chundru

Eagle Harbor, September 2016. Credit: Venkata Rajesh Chundru

Calumet Waterworks Park, September 2017. Credit: Venkata Rajesh Chundru

McLain State Park, February 2017. Credit: Venkata Rajesh Chundru

Eagle Harbor, May 2016. Credit: Venkata Rajesh Chundru

Copper Harbor, March 2016. Credit: Venkata Rajesh Chundru

Calumet Waterworks Park, May 2019. Credit: Venkata Rajesh Chundru

Michigan Tech Campus, Canal Side, February 2016. Credit: Venkata Rajesh Chundru

The photographer at Copper Peak, September 2018. Thank you, Venkata! We wish you the very best of luck in your new home!

“Since moving to Texas I have been capturing cityscapes and doing some professional portrait sessions for events, while soaking in the Texan culture. These photographs bring back a lot of good memories from all those years in the U.P. I do intend to be back during summer for a week to capture some landscapes,” says Chundru. “Life in San Antonio has more of an urban feel. I miss the wide-open landscapes and warm people back in the U.P, and of course the snow.

“In my new job at Southwest Research Institute, I’m focused on developing control systems for automotive applications—specifically to control emissions from heavy-duty diesel engines, which is in line with my Ph.D. work at Michigan Tech. I also get to work on new research areas, such as connected vehicles and electric vehicle controls.”

As for COVID-19? “Stay safe out there,” he says. “Hope this passes soon.”

Want to see more beautiful photography? Be sure to visit Chundru’s photography page on Facebook, or his Instagram account.

Have some of your own Aurora Borealis images to share? Please reach out to Kimberly Geiger, kmgeiger@mtu.edu. If you like, we’d be glad to post them here on our blog.