Tag: MSE

Stories about Materials Science and Engineering.

Zhanping You: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Professor Zhanping You and his team of students have engineered crumb rubber from waste tires into a sustainable rubber asphalt material for a better road. 
Professor Zhanping You

Zhanping You shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, February 21 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new in just 30 minutes (or so), with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 2/21 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Zhanping You, a Distinguished Professor of Transportation Engineering in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering, who uses old tires to make new roads. Joining in will be one of Prof. You’s PhD students, Dongzhao “Kobe” Jin.

Kobe Jin

Dr. You works with recycled materials to improve asphalt pavement performance. Crumb rubber, made from scrap tires, is one such material. ”Crumb rubber in asphalt reduces rutting and cracks and extends life, and it lowers noise levels,” he says. 

Scrap tires are plentiful, though not in a good way. “Hundreds of millions of scrap tires are generated in the US every year,” he notes. “Those giant piles of waste tires pose concerns of potential contamination of local groundwater and fire risk.”

You and his team of students have engineered crumb rubber from waste tires into a sustainable rubber asphalt material for a better road. “We do it through various experimental and numerical modeling techniques,” You explains. “Our research team has also expanded the work to include field pilot projects, too. Over the past 6-7 years or so, we’ve constructed quite a few roads in Michigan that use recycled tire rubber.” The team works with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the EGLE Scrap Tire division, plus road commissions in Dickinson County, Kent County, St. Clair County, Clare County, and Bay County.

“Teaching provides me with broad dimensions to sharpen my research vision, while research helps me develop in-depth understanding so that I can teach better,” Dr. You says.

Another material You and his team employ: pavement rubble. “More than 94% of the roads in the United States are paved with asphalt mix—about 360 million tons each year. In turn, that generates over 60 million tons of old asphalt pavement waste and rubble,” he notes. Recycling these waste materials not only greatly reduces the consumption of neat asphalt mix, it also lowers related environmental pollution, he adds. 

Blending recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) with fresh asphalt mix has presented several challenges for You and his team. “One noticeable issue of using RAP in asphalt pavement is the relatively weaker bond between the RAP and neat asphalt, which may cause moisture susceptibility,” he says. “We have determined that modifying the asphalt mix procedure and selecting the correct neat asphalt can effectively address this concern.” 

At Michigan Tech, Dr. Zhanping You takes transportation waste and uses it to pave the way to better infrastructure.

Before the recycled asphalt-tire-gravel mix ever makes it outside, You and his research team do plenty of work indoors, using computer modeling and lab tests to make sure they put viable material out in the elements. 

“When crumb rubber is blended into an asphalt binder, the stiffness of the asphalt binder is increased,” You explains. “ A higher mixing temperature is needed to preserve the flowability of asphalt binder. Conventional hot-mix asphalt uses a lot of energy and releases a lot of fumes. To solve this problem we developed a warm mix technology, a foaming process at lower temperatures, that requires less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.” 

What can you do with 60 million tons of old asphalt rubble from torn up roads? Recycle it to make new roads!

You and his group developed and tested several foaming technologies for warm mix asphalt, integrating state-of-the-art rheological and accelerated aging tests, thermodynamics, poromechanics, chemical changes and multi-scale modeling to identify the physical and mechanical properties of foamed asphalt materials. 

You has other solutions in the works, too, including man-made asphalt derived from biomass. “We tried using bio oil (derived from biomass) in asphalt and found it also improved pavement performance,” he says. 

A Michigan Tech research team of students led by Zhanping You tests a new, cooler way to make rubberized asphalt in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Not even the pandemic can stop the construction of recycled roads in Michigan!

“Asphalt made from bio oil can potentially reduce the consumption of petroleum asphalt and lower the production temperature while road rutting resistance can be improved. We actively work with local, state, and national recycling efforts to develop better road materials, using plastics, waste glass, and several other recyclables, too,” he notes. “We hope our efforts will contribute to a circular and low-carbon economy.”

Prof. You, how did you first get into engineering? What sparked your interest?

I got into civil engineering accidentally, but started to love it. When I was little, I had debates with my friends on the possible damage on roads–was it the load or the pressure from the tires?

Hometown, family?

I view Houghton as my hometown now since I have been here almost 17 years, even though I was born and raised in Northwest China.

A lot of testing goes on in Dr. You’s lab at Michigan Tech.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to read books—non-engineering, engineering, history, and literature. I’m also a recently appointed coadvisor to the Michigan Tech student chapter of Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE). After years of service in various professional groups at Michigan Tech, I believe an organization of Asian students involved in science and engineering is really needed.

Says Kobe: “Dr. You’s humor, lifestyle, rigorous academic attitude, and profound understanding of sustainable pavement all impact me a lot.”

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

The first time I got interested in engineering was when they were paving the concrete road in my hometown. I became interested in how and why a mix of some aggregate, sand, and water could create such a hard road.

Hometown, family?

My hometown is a small county in Henan Province, China. I have two sisters and I love my family.

Kobe enjoys the Houghton Waterfront Park near campus (even in the middle of winter!)

Any hobbies? Pets? 

I like cats and basketball (I go by Kobe in honor of my favorite basketball player). I read science fiction books during my spare time.

Read More

Q&A with Research Award Winner Zhanping You
When Rubber Becomes the Road

TECH SCEnE: Adventure is Calling Your Name

TECH SCEnE REU 2021 alum Elizabeth Chery studies biomedical engineering at Florida International University, in Miami, Florida.

Want to combine engineering research with direct community involvement and impact? Biomedical engineering student Elizabeth Chery did, and she took the plunge just last summer at a National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Experience (REU) at Michigan Technological University.

The 8-week, all-expensed paid program is called TECH SCEnE (short for Technology, Science and Community Engagement in Engineering). Chery stayed on campus, went on outdoor trips throughout the Keweenaw Peninsula, guided by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, and conducted hands-on research on campus with her team right alongside a faculty mentor.

“I found it very refreshing to be surrounded by nature in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and to enjoy endless outdoor activities like fishing, biking, hiking, and going to state parks.”

It was nearing the end of spring 2021. Summer was just around the corner. Chery found herself eager to start applying some of the knowledge she had gained in her college courses out in the real world.

“I wanted to see how what I was learning could connect to my future—or who I could help. I also wanted to get more exposure to research, to find out what it might be like in graduate school,” she explains.

“I have a passion for service, too, so when I discovered TECHSCEnE—an REU that emphasize bi-weekly organic gardening and indigenous culture visits—I was highly motivated to apply. This program was everything I wished for!

“TECH SCEnE is great for any student deciding whether to go into research or industry. There will be a balance of both to help guide you to your decision.”

Elizabeth Chery, TECH SCEnE REU 2021
“Being in Houghton I soon discovered my love for the outdoors, and learning about indigenous cultures.”


Elizabeth, what did you like most about TECHSCEnE?

The beautiful remote location of the program is what I enjoyed the most! I went to school in the big city. People fly to Miami to visit all the trendy hotspots I grew up with as a child. I found it very refreshing to be surrounded by nature, and to enjoy endless outdoor activities like fishing, biking, hiking, and going to state parks.

I liked being around many different kinds of people—and learning how to work together. Although we’re all in the same age group, we came from different parts of the United States, each with our own different social norms and upbringing. Despite TECHSCEnE’s overall goal—to consider research as a career—the faculty did a phenomenal job of educating us about team building. I met great people and we made tons of special memories together! We went on numerous field trips, some centered on career information, and others focused on social skills. Both are essential components for working in the real world. 

Elizabeth Chery presents her research results during the final days of her TECH SCEnE NSF REU at Michigan Tech

What was the most challenging aspect?

Staying organized was a definite challenge with all the data we collected during the experiments. It was absolutely imperative that I document and create a daily report, so that I could make a strong bi-weekly presentation to my peers in the TECHSCEnE program. They were not as well-versed in my topic, so I needed to take an abstract idea and relate it to something more common without being too repetitive or complex. Their bi-weekly feedback helped me find the sweet spot of not over-explaining, yet still being clear and understandable.

What next? What are your future plans?

“This hiking trip in North Carolina for my birthday (in September) was inspired by the scenic beauty in I enjoyed during TECH SCEnE.”

After completing TECHSCEnE, I joined a research lab at my own university to continue my interest in research. I recently added a minor in chemistry to my major, too. My goal for the upcoming summer is to intern for a biomedical technology company or pharmaceutical company. And my future career goal remains the same: to pursue a graduate degree in biomedical engineering with a concentration in tissue engineering. My ultimate goal is to become a physician-scientist.

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

Michigan Tech Alumna Sarah Rajala Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Dr. Sarah Rajala

Sarah A. Rajala ’74, a Michigan Tech electrical engineering alumna, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. It is one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Dr. Rajala is honored for “innovations in engineering education: outcomes assessment, greater participation and retention of women in engineering, and an enhanced global community.” New members of the NAE will be formally inducted in October at the NAE’s annual meeting.

Rajala is an internationally-known leader in the field of engineering education and a ground breaker for women in engineering. She serves as a role model for young women and is passionate about diversity of thought and culture, especially in a college environment.

Originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Skandia), Rajala earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Michigan Tech. She went on to earn masters and doctoral degrees at Rice University, and then embarked on primarily an academic career, working as a faculty member at North Carolina State University, Purdue University, and ultimately Iowa State University, where she served the engineering profession in a leadership role as the Dean of the College of Engineering until her recent retirement.

Rajala’s extensive professional leadership in the field of engineering education has included serving as president of the American Society for Engineering Education and chair of the Global Engineering Deans Council.

Across her career, in addition to working in a scholarly and teaching capacity as a professor of electrical engineering, Dr. Rajala also provided volunteer service in many professional and leadership roles. Her service roles to the societies for which she contributed culminated in important national leadership positions. These include serving as chair of the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, the engineering accreditation body for engineering programs, and also as president of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). 

At Michigan Tech, Rajala is a member of the Electrical Engineering Academy, inaugural recipient of the Academy for Engineering Education Leadership, and a member of the President’s Council of Alumnae, among many other honors. 

“Dr. Rajala has been an influential person to many people across her career, including me. I am incredibly proud to hear of Dr. Rajala’s election into the National Academy of Engineering,” said Dean Janet Callahan.

“I first met Sarah many years ago at the annual meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education. Later, she reached out to me when she heard I had joined Michigan Tech as the College of Engineering’s next dean. She told me, ‘You will love Michigan Tech—it is a supportive community that truly fosters the principle of tenacity.’”

Now an Iowa State professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering, Rajala continues to be an internationally known leader in engineering. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ABET, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Rajala has also received numerous other top awards including national engineer of the year award by the American Association of Engineering Societies and the national Harriett B. Rigas Award from the IEEE honoring outstanding female faculty.

Read more

An Interview with Dr. Sarah Rajala

To Learn From and Celebrate: Academy for Engineering Education Leadership Established

Watch

Among her many honors, Dr. Sarah Rajala received the ABET Fellow Award in 2016. This video, created by ABET in her honor, details Dr. Rajala’s inspiring accomplishments.

Hoda Hatoum: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? Flow Dynamics in Arrhythmias

Dr. Hatoum and PhD student Brennan Vogl test heart valves for overall performance and energetics, turbulence generated, sinus hemodynamics (aortic and pulmonic), as well as ventricular, atrial, pulmonic, and aortic flows.

Hoda Hatoum shares her knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, 2/14 at 6 pm. Learn something new in just 30 minutes or so, with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

Dr. Hoda Hatoum

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 2/14 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Hoda Hatoum, assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at Michigan Tech. She’ll talk about her cardiovascular research along with Brennan Vogl, one of the first PhD students to join her Biofluids Lab in the fall of 2020.

Atrial fibrillation (aka AF or AFib), when the heart beats in an irregular way, affects up to 6 million individuals in the US, a number expected to double by 2030. More than 454,000 hospitalizations with AFib as the primary diagnosis happen each year. Current AF treatment guidelines recommend antiarrhythmic drugs as initial therapy, but their efficacy is limited and comes with the risk of serious adverse effects. Another option, catheter ablation, electrically isolates the pulmonary veins—the most frequent site of AFib triggers—with more success and an excellent safety profile.

Brennan Vogl

“One of my goals in the lab is to evaluate and provide answers to clinicians so they know what therapy suits their patients best,” says Hatoum. During Husky Bites, by way of example, she’ll show us just how AFib ablation impacts the heart’s left atrial flow.

The left atrium is one of the four chambers of the heart, located in the heart’s upper half. It receives oxygenated blood from the lungs, and pumps it down to the left ventricle through the mitral valve. The left ventricle then pumps the oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body through the aortic valve.

An actual human heart is about the size of your fist, shaped like an upside down pear. Every cell in your body gets blood from your heart (except for your corneas).

Hatoum’s research seeks to better understand flow dynamics of the heart during arrhythmia, as well as the complexity of structural heart biomechanics, prosthetic heart valve engineering, and the structure-function relationships of the heart in both health and disease.  

Hatoum earned her BS in Mechanical Engineering from the American University of Beirut and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the Ohio State University (OSU). She was awarded an American Heart Association postdoctoral fellowship, and completed her postdoctoral training at the Ohio State University and at Georgia Institute of Technology before joining the faculty at Michigan Tech.

“One of my goals is to evaluate and provide answers to clinicians so they know what therapy suits their patients best.”

Hoda Hatoum

Why hearts? “It all started with my doctoral program,” Hatoum recalls. “I had the opportunity to work closely with clinicians, to attend their structural heart meetings, and to plan with them the appropriate therapy to be administered for patients. Every patient is very different, which makes the problem exciting and challenging at the same time.”

Now, working in her own Biofluids Lab at Michigan Tech, Hatoum integrates principles of fluid mechanics, clinical expertise with collaborators nationwide (including Mayo Clinic, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Piedmont Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital Vancouver), and design and manufacturing–all to find solutions for cardiovascular flow problems. 

Play Biomedical Engineering Biofluids Lab Aortic Valve Models video
Preview image for Biomedical Engineering Biofluids Lab Aortic Valve Models video

Biomedical Engineering Biofluids Lab Aortic Valve Models

These aortic valves open and close based via the contraction of a pump, controlled by a LabView program. See more during Husky Bites!

Hatoum designed and built a pulse duplicator system—a heart simulator—that emulates the left heart side of a cardiovascular system. She also uses a particle image velocimetry system that allows her to characterize the flow field in vessels and organs. Hatoum and her team of students use these devices to develop patient-specific cardiovascular models, conducting in vitro tests to assess the performance and flow characteristics of different heart valves. “We use idealized heart chambers or patient-specific ones,” she notes. “We test multiple commercially available prosthetic heart valves—and our in-house made valves, too.”

Hatoum and her team design their own heart valve devices. “With the rise of minimally invasive surgeries, the clinical field is moving towards transcatheter approaches to replace heart valves, rather than open heart surgery,” she explains. 

From the Biofluids Lab website: a wide array of current commercial bioprosthetic transcatheter mitral valves.

“Currently, transcatheter heart valves are made of biological materials, including pig or cow valves, that are prone to degeneration. This can lead to compromised valve performance, and ultimately necessitate another valve replacement.” To solve this problem, Hatoum collaborates with material science experts from different universities in the US and around the world to utilize novel biomaterials that are biocompatible, durable and suitable for cardiovascular applications. 

Which area of research pulls Dr. Hatoum’s heartstrings the most? “Transcatheter aortic heart valves,” she says. (Look closely at this photo to see the closed leaflets of an aortic valve.)

“With the challenges that come with TAVs, and with the low-risk population targeted, I believe this is an urgent field to look into, so we can minimize as much as possible any adverse outcomes, improve valve designs and promote longevity of the device.”

Congenital heart defects in children are another strong focus for Hatoum and her team. “We devise alternatives for highly-invasive surgeries for conditions such as pulmonary atresia, Kawasaki disease, and more.” Hatoum collaborates with multiple institutions to acquire patient data, then, using experimental and computational fluid dynamics, she examines the different scenarios of various surgical design approaches. “One very important goal is to develop predictive models that will help clinicians anticipate adverse outcomes,” she says.

“In some centers in the US and the world, the heart team won’t operate without engineers modeling for them—to visualize the problem, design a solution better, improve therapeutic outcomes, and avoid as much as possible any adverse outcomes.”

Hoda Hatoum
Dr. Hoda Hatoum grew up in Lebanon. She’s a big fan of road trips.

Brennan Vogl was the first student to begin working with Hatoum in the lab when she arrived at Michigan Tech in 2020. “It is a great pleasure to work with Brennan,” says Hatoum. “He is very responsible and focused. He handles multiple projects, both experimental and computational, and excels in all aspects of them. I am proud of the tremendous improvement he keeps showing, and his constant motivation to do even better.”

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

As a high-school student, I got the chance to go on a school trip to several universities and I was fascinated by the projects that mechanical engineering students did. That was what determined my major and what sparked my interest.

Hometown, family?

I was raised in Kab Elias, Bekaa, Lebanon. It’s about 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The majority of my family still lives there.

‘My niece took this image from the balcony of our house in Lebanon, located in Kab Elias. It shows the broad landscape and the mountains, and the Lebanese coffee cup that’s basically iconic.”

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to watch TV, read stories (thrillers) and go on road trips.

The sun temple in the Haidara ruins near Kab Elias, believed to date back to the Roman era.
A recent snow in Kab Elias (photo taken within the last week).

How can a student request to join your Biofluids lab?

The student experience is an amazing one, and one that is rewarding. When a student first joins the lab, they do not have any idea about the problem. As they get exposed to it, they add their own perspective. I currently work with two PhD students and two undergraduates. Usually, an email with interest in the research that I do is sufficient. Our lab employs both mechanical engineering students and biomedical engineering students because of our focus on mechanics. 

Brennan loves to ski in Houghton’s plentiful powder, but he’s an even bigger fan of warm, sunny weather.

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

I first got into engineering when I participated in Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program (SYP). At SYP I got to explore all of the different engineering fields and participate in various projects for each field. Having this hands-on experience really sparked my interest in engineering.

Poppy is on the left and Milo is on the right.

Hometown, family?

I grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. My family now lives in Florida, so I get to escape the UP cold and visit them in the warm Florida weather.

Pets? Hobbies?

I enjoy skiing, and I have two Boston Terriers—Milo and Poppy. They live with my parents in Florida, I don’t think they would be able to handle the cold here in Houghton, as much as I would enjoy them living with me.

Michigan Tech Alumnus Dr. Teik C. Lim Named President of NJIT

Dr. Teik Lim came to Michigan Tech on a scholarship in 1983, and graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1985.

The Board of Trustees of New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) recently announced the appointment of Dr. Teik C. Lim as NJIT’s ninth president, following a national search and a unanimous vote of the Board on January 5, 2022. 

President-elect Lim, who also will be appointed as a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering, will begin his NJIT tenure on July 1, 2022. He is the university’s ninth president. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University, and later earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla and a doctoral degree from Ohio State University.

Lim presently serves as the interim president of the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), where he also holds the rank of professor within the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. 

“Michigan Tech is very proud of Dr. Lim’s accomplishments, and for his appointment as President of NJIT,”  said Dean Janet Callahan. “We are very proud to have been part of his academic training. Michigan Tech is known for developing leaders—what they learn here starts them on the path to the leaders they become.”

Originally from Malaysia, Lim came to Michigan Tech on a scholarship in 1983 and graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1985.

“I grew up with limited means, supported myself through college, and became the first member of my family to earn a college degree,” Lim recalls in a recent NJIT video. “I was able to come to the United States because of a generous undergraduate scholarship from Michigan Tech.”

William Predebon, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech, taught Lim in class. “He was an excellent student,” said Predebon. “Dr. Lim’s career is very impressive. His appointment is yet another example of the impact he is having in higher education. I am very proud of his accomplishments, as is all of Michigan Tech.” 

“I will never forget Dr. Predebon’s excellent teaching style—concise, clear, and very easy to follow,” notes Lim. “I learned to mimic him from memory when I first became a professor. Michigan Tech is where I started and Michigan Tech gave me a chance of a lifetime.”

Prior to assuming the interim presidency at UTA, Lim served as the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs from 2017 to 2020. He also spent approximately 15 years at the University of Cincinnati, where he held both academic and administrative appointments, the last of which was as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“I am an engineer and attended polytechnic universities for my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, so coming to NJIT brings me back to my roots,” said Lim. “The chance to lead NJIT’s continuing growth into a preeminent public polytechnic research university is very appealing to me, as is the opportunity to work with the talented faculty, staff, and students, many of whom are, like me, the first from their family to attend college. NJIT is a beacon of life-changing opportunities.” 

Read more

New Jersey Institute of Technology Names Dr. Teik C. Lim as University’s Ninth President

New NJIT president is first person of color to lead one of state’s most diverse colleges

Brad King: Bite-sized Satellites Changing the World!

The team’s spacecraft, Auris, is a small satellite, a 12U cubesat. Its size in centimeters is just 20 x 20 x 30 (smaller than a typical shoebox). Mass is 20 kg (about 44 pounds). And its mission? Auris will characterize radio frequency (RF) signal emissions. Image credit: Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise.

Lyon (Brad) King shares his knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive webinar this Monday, 2/7 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.

Dr. Lyon B. King specializes in spacecraft propulsion (and the launching of student careers).

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 2/7 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Brad King, Richard and Elizabeth Henes Professor of Space Systems and leader of Michigan Tech Aerospace—a collection of research, development, and educational labs dedicated to advancing spacecraft technology.

With the launch of the Michigan Tech student-built Oculus satellite in June 2019, Michigan Tech became a spacefaring university. Two more prize-winning satellites, Auris and Stratus, are currently under construction for future launch. Professor L. Brad King will tell us all about these satellites and, more importantly, about the student Aerospace Enterprise team that designs, builds, and operates them.

Nolan Pickett: “Did vacation flights, trips to air shows/space museums, and Space-X livestreams inspire you as well? Well, they definitely inspired me.”

Joining in will be mechanical engineering fourth year undergraduate Nolan Pickett, who handles logistical operations, personnel management, and external communications, and third-year mechanical and electrical engineering major Kyle Bruursema. Kyle is Chief Engineer for the Enterprise. He understands how the satellite works inside-and-out and oversees all technical/engineering decisions made within the team.

As the founder and faculty advisor of Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise, King empowers undergraduate students to design, build, and fly spacecraft, too. One of the team’s student-built satellites (Oculus) is now in orbit; their second small satellite (Stratus) is due to launch in 2022, and a third (Auris) now in progress.

Kyle Bruursema: “STEM fields have become the major topic of today’s world. It’s how we reach further, discover new possibilities, and build a brighter future.”

“Small satellites are changing the way humans do business and science in space,” says King. “The cost to build and launch a small satellite is now about the same as the cost to build and launch a software app. With the cost barrier removed, innovative students and start-up companies are building small satellites to provide capabilities that my generation has never even dreamed about. Michigan Tech is on the forefront of this movement.”

Forty centimeters? That’s about as wide as a large Domino’s pizza.

“There are so many small imaging satellites orbiting the Earth that soon it will be possible to have a complete inventory of every object on the Earth’s surface that is 40 centimeters or larger—we will have a ‘search bar’ for the Earth,” says King. “There are now more than 2,000 small communications satellites that can provide high-speed wireless internet anywhere on the planet.”

In addition to students in the Aerospace Enterprise, King mentors a large team of graduate students in his Ion Space Propulsion Lab at Michigan Tech. There, teams develop next-generation plasma thrusters for spacecraft. King is also a co-founder and CEO of a fast-growing satellite development company, Orbion Space Technology.

It’s “Inevitable”: During Husky Bites, Dr. King will explain why he chose this name for his 70-year old wooden boat.

Dr. King, why did you first choose engineering?

I have always been interested in and fascinated by space and have also loved building things. Aerospace engineering allows me to build things that go into space–the best of both worlds.

Hometown, family?

I was born and raised in Calumet, Michigan, which is about 10 miles north of Houghton. Yes – there is civilization north of Houghton.

Any hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?

Over the past few years I have restored a classic 70-year-old wooden boat. In all my spare time I am either working on the boat (constantly) to get ready for summer, or cruising Lake Superior and Isle Royale, where I spend summer days at remote docks working on my boat.

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

I first developed a strong interest in STEM through high school AP classes, and grew passionate about science and math. Engineering allowed me to apply the science and math concepts to real-life problems! This decision was further solidified after taking classes at Michigan Tech, doing internships around the Midwest, and spending time as a member of the Aerospace Enterprise (of course)!

Oculus, the Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise team’s first nanosatellite, was launched in June 2019. It now serves an imaging target for ground-based cameras for the Department of Defense.About the size of a mini-fridge, Oculus is visible here in the SpaceX rocket payload Can you spot it?

Hometown, family?

My family (four of us) is originally from Hopkins, Michigan. My father is an MTU alum.

Any hobbies?

My strongest passions are snowboarding and mountain biking. These were further amplified after moving to the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula! I’m also an avid music lover and enjoy getting to know my fellow Enterprise members.

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

STEM fields have become the major topic of today’s world. It’s how we reach further, discover new possibilities, and build a brighter future. Personally, I have always had an admiration for creating solutions to the world’s challenges and I have always had a love for space, so engineering was a great way to combine the two!

Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise Team

Hometown, family?

My family originates from Holland, Michigan! Both of my uncles have attended MTU.

Any hobbies?

In my spare time, I love to run and go snowmobiling. Gaming is also a major part of my life.


Read more:

And Then There Were Three: Oculus, Auris–and now Stratus
Enterprise at MTU Launches Spacecraft–and Careers
Michigan Tech’s Pipeline to Space
Mission(s) Accomplished!
Auris Wins! Michigan Tech is Launching Into Space—with Ears

Support the team:

Get Stratus to Space

Watch:

Play Stratus Assembly video
Preview image for Stratus Assembly video

Stratus Assembly

A quick render of the Stratus model assembly. Credit: Michigan Tech Aerospace Enterprise

Calling All Adventurous STEM Undergrads: What Are You Doing This Summer?

TECH SCEnE is short for Technology, Science and Community Engagement in Engineering. It’s a Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Are you a college student—tribal college, community college or university student—who wants to see your contributions make an impact?

Want to be part of a program structured to apply science and technology to benefit the community? 

How about a truly great way to spend eight weeks in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula this summer, expenses paid, along with a generous stipend of $4,800?

Check out the full details at mtu.edu/techscene. Then, be sure to apply by March 1, 2022.

Join us in Michigan’s gorgeous Upper Penninsula for TECH SCEnE, a Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by National Science Foundation (NSF).

TECH SCEnE is a program that combines STEM and engineering research with direct community involvement and impact. Stay on campus at Michigan Technological University. Go on amazing outdoor trips guided by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community KBIC Natural Resources Department. Do hands-on research on campus with your team, right alongside a faculty mentor.

Apply online for free. Women and students from underrepresented backgrounds are all encouraged to apply. Know anyone who might be interested? Please help spread the word!

Find full details about the program, the mentors, and the projects at techscene.mtu.edu

Note: all must apply to TECHSCEnE by March 1, 2022.

Breweries Above and Below the Bridge

Such beauty!

Breweries Above and Below the Bridge—Dick Gray, plus Cathy and Shawn Smalley share their knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, January 31 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new with time after for Q&A (heavy on the Q&A)! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 1/31 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Dick Gray ’82, co-owner of the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton, Michigan (located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, above the Mackinac Bridge)—plus Cathy ’88 and Shawn Smalley ’89, owners of Big Buck Brewery in Gaylord, Michigan (located below the Mighty Mac).

Above the Bridge: Dick Gray owns the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton, Michigan
Below the Bridge: Shawn and Cathy Smalley own Big Buck Brewery in Gaylord Michigan

Near the Michigan Tech campus in downtown Houghton, the Keweenaw Brewing Company (KBC) features finely crafted ales for the everyday consumer. About 300 miles away, in Gaylord, Michigan, Big Buck’s mission is to simply do things the right way. Both are small, independent microbreweries owned by Michigan Tech alums who brew and sell world-class ales and host guests (safely during the pandemic) in unique, inviting taprooms.

What makes a good beer? And what’s their advice to those who want to follow in their footsteps? Find out during Husky Bites. Joining in will be Michigan Tech alumna Jennifer (Jung) Lucas ’09, craft beer fan and assistant vice president of Alumni Engagement at Michigan Tech

While working toward his bachelor’s degree in geological engineering at Michigan Tech, Dick Gray, owner of Keweenaw Brewing Company, spent one summer as a roughneck on the north slope of Alaska. He must have liked it, because he spent most of his career in the oil and gas business (but not as a roughneck).

After graduating from Michigan Tech with a BS in Geological Engineering, Gray took a job with Amoco Production Company, which led him from Hobbs, New Mexico, to Casper, Wyoming, to their Research Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma (twice), before ending up as exploration manager in their Denver regional office.

Dick Gray, Keweenaw Brewing Company

After more than 16 years, Gray left Amoco and became the president of a privately held oil and gas company called Presco Western, LLC. He held this position from 1998 to 2005, when the company was sold. “It was a turning point,” he says. “I had seen the revitalization of downtown Denver through the creation and success of comfortable brewpubs there,” he recalls.

Together with his family, he figured a brewpub was just what the city of Houghton needed, as well–especially when two of his three children started attending Michigan Tech.

KBC’s outdoor patio

Gray and a colleague from Denver started the Keweenaw Brewing Company (KBC) brewing just enough beer to feed the pub. Now, with annual production of about 13,000 barrels and distribution across Michigan, northern Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, Keweenaw Brewery has grown to one of the 50th largest microbreweries in the United States, the eighth largest in Michigan.

Ironically, Gray’s wife, Stasi doesn’t drink beer, but she supports all of the KBC functions behind the scenes (including the design and purchasing of the iconic KBC t-shirts). In addition to the 200-plus students they have employed over the past seventeen years, the Gray’s have become tremendously involved with the Houghton business community.

The KBC production facility

The Grays have hosted countless Michigan Tech events and have supported various student and alumni activities. The KBC has become a vital community resource, meeting place, and place to relax, especially for Michigan Tech students, faculty, and staff.

Big Buck brews more than a dozen different beers, plus cider and sodas, too.

The Big Buck journey for Cathy and Shawn Smalley, owners of Big Buck Brewery, began about five years ago, in 2017, when a simple inquiry into a business that was in receivership became a reality. From that point, their transition away from corporate America began. The two officially opened Big Buck on October 1, 2018.

The welcoming entrance to Big Buck Brewery

“From the beginning, our focus was to restore the ‘Big Buck’ name and reputation instead of rebranding,” said Cathy. “We made updates to the logo and beer label designs, yet we still embrace the original Big Buck brand and decor.”

The Michigan Tech basketball team stopped by Big Buck last year for a wonderful meal while on their way back to Michigan Tech after a game downstate.

“Our passion is to brew and distribute beer, although we also acquired a restaurant with a
seating capacity of 327 guests that we are operating,” she adds. “All of this is made possible with two brewers, a head chef and many supportive team members!” The Smalleys currently brew about 800 barrels a year, but plan to grow.

The Smalleys’ Michigan Tech story dates back to the late 80’s. Shawn graduated from Kalamazoo College with a degree in chemistry and transferred to Tech to pursue Chemical Engineering (’89). Shawn worked at Marathon Oil for several years and transitioned to a career in automotive. Cathy attended a Women in Engineering workshop during high school and followed her older sister to MTU. She graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences (’88) and furthered her education at Wayne State University.

“People don’t brew beer. Mother Nature brews beer,” says Shawn Smalley. Pictured above, brewing tanks at Big Buck Brewery.

“I also worked in the auto industry and retired once Shawn’s job took our family on two expat assignments,” she says. Together they have three children: Collin (ME), Emma (ME) and Elyse (Exercise Science). “Our kids have all graduated. Collin went to U of M and Kettering. Emma and Elyse both went to Hope College.

“As for Shawn, he started his ‘career’ in brewing in our kitchen in 1990! Though he isn’t involved in brewing at Big Buck, he is actively involved in the process and has mastered the taste testing!” In their free time, the Smalleys enjoy boating, biking, skiing and family time.


As a student at Michigan Tech, Jen Lucas played on the volleyball team, earning Michigan Tech’s Raymond L. Smith Award for outstanding female senior student-athlete. She got her start in Michigan Tech’s Advancement office, working as a student caller for the Michigan Tech Telefund, eventually moving into the call center manager role upon graduation in 2009. From there, Lucas went on to work in alumni engagement and annual giving roles at several other educational institutions, and spent two years in industry relations at 3M. She started her new position at Michigan Tech last November 2021.

Jen (Jung) Lucas ’09 grew up in Minnesota and was recruited to play volleyball at Michigan Tech.

Jen, how did you first decide to attend Michigan Tech? What sparked your interest?

In high school, I was recruited to play collegiate volleyball by a variety of Division 1 and 2 programs, Michigan Tech being one of them. While volleyball was a passion of mine, opening the door to a future I would have never had in my grasp without it, it also had an expiration date. After college, volleyball would no longer be a dominating factor in my life. I would need to be prepared to enter the real world as a professional. I considered which University would set me up for the best success after graduation, and Michigan Tech clearly was the top choice. I also loved the Michigan Tech community and culture on campus, so as a 17 year old, I made one of the best decisions of my life. I am still thanking “younger me” for being so smart!

Hometown, family?

I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but spent most of my life in Minnesota. I have a twin sister (who also played on the volleyball team with me at Michigan Tech) and we have 3 younger siblings. I met my husband, Stephen, a couple years after graduation. We lived in Minneapolis for a few years and then also in Salt Lake City until we moved to Houghton for my current role as assistant vice president of Alumni Engagement here at Michigan Tech. Though Stephen didn’t attend Michigan Tech, he is very excited to call the UP home now with me.

Jen and Stephen moved all the way from Utah to become Yoopers!

Any hobbies, pets?

No pets (besides our robot vacuum we call “Richard”) but a lot of hobbies. Stephen and I like to stay active outdoors in all seasons—hiking, biking, and snowshoeing. We also hope to pick up cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. I enjoy watching and discussing all sports, but especially volleyball, football, and hockey. I also enjoy a good book, good beer, good food, and good company.

What goes into a microbrewed beer? Find out during Husky Bites!

Read more

The Buck is Back
Something’s Brewing
MLive: KBC is a community gathering place with $2.50 pints

2022 Design Expo Registration Now Open

Design Expo

The Enterprise Program and College of Engineering are excited to announce the 22nd Design Expo, being held in person from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21 in the Van Pelt and Opie Library’s first floor.

Design Expo has been expanded to highlight Senior Design/Capstone projects from all areas of the Michigan Tech campus, involving teams from the College of Business, College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and College of Engineering. 

RSVP for Design Expo Today!

The Michigan Tech community, friends and sponsors are invited to register for this year’s Design Expo.

More than a thousand students in the Enterprise and Senior/Capstone Design programs will come together to showcase their work and compete for awards. In addition, a panel of judges, made up of distinguished corporate representatives, alumni, community members, and Michigan Tech staff and faculty, will be able to critique videos of team projects, solutions and results in advance of the live event, then come to Design Expo to meet the teams and ask any questions in person.

Social Hour and Awards Ceremony

Starting at 2:30 p.m., all student teams, judges, sponsors and friends, and the Michigan Tech campus community are invited to a social hour at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts with light refreshments, entertainment and door prizes. Then, at 3:30 p.m., we will begin the Design Expo Awards Ceremony, where student teams will be recognized and more than $3,000 in cash will be awarded.

Both events are free and open to the public. We encourage current and future students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, families of students, and others to help us celebrate our students and their achievements. Register today to see a schedule of events and attend the 2022 Design Expo.

Become a Judge

Are you interested in judging for the 22nd annual Design Expo? We welcome all Michigan Tech faculty, graduate students, staff, alumni, industry representatives and community members interested in the great work of our students! Find out more at our Become a Judge web page.

This year, judges will have the flexibility to evaluate team videos anytime between noon April 18 and 2 p.m. April 21. Judges will be assigned three to five teams, and will evaluate each team’s video using an electronic ballot. In addition, judges are asked to attend Design Expo in person between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. April 21 to judge their teams in person. Judges will be selected based on their availability to attend Design Expo in person.

2022 Design Expo Website

For more information on attending and judging Design Expo, visit our website. For questions, please reach out to Briana Tucker at bctucker@mtu.edu.

By The Enterprise Program and College of Engineering.

Lindsay Hiltunen: Winter Carnival—One Hundred Years

Michigan Tech’s legendary Winter Carnival will soon take place—for the 100th time—February 9–12, 2022. This historical snow statue is an old Quincy shaft house. Source: Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections
Lindsay Hiltunen

Linday Hiltunen shares her knowledge on Husky Bites, a free, interactive Zoom webinar this Monday, January 24 at 6 pm ET. Learn something new in just 30 minutes (or so), with time after for Q&A! Get the full scoop and register at mtu.edu/huskybites.

What are you doing for supper this Monday night 1/24 at 6 ET? Grab a bite with Dean Janet Callahan and Lindsay Hiltunen, Michigan Tech’s University Archivist.

Cynthia Hodges

During Husky Bites Hiltunen will share the history of Winter Carnival, one of Michigan Tech’s most beloved traditions across the decades, through rich images of fun and festivities via the Michigan Tech Archives–from queens to cookouts, snow statues to snowballs, skating reviews to dog sled races, and more. Michigan Tech’s legendary Winter Carnival will take place this year for the 100th time February 9–12, 2022.

Joining in will be mechanical engineering alumna Cynthia Hodges, who serves as a Wikipedian in Residence (WiR) for Michigan Tech. To celebrate the 100th anniversary, Hodges is organizing a Winter Carnival Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, and alumni and students are welcome to help. (Find out how at the end of this blog).


Ice Carnival Elyfunt, circa 1924. Source: Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

It all began back in 1922, when a student organization presented a one-night Ice Carnival. The show consisted of circus-style acts, with students dressed up in animal costumes, bands playing, and speed and figure-skating contests. Twelve years later, in 1934, students in Michigan Tech’s Blue Key National Honor Society began organizing the event, changing the name from “Ice Carnival” to “Winter Carnival”. Students and local school children built their first snow statues that year, and the tradition grew. So did the statues, becoming bigger and more elaborate with each passing year.

Hiltunen is a Michigan Tech alumna and current PhD student with two master’s degrees in library science and United States history. She’s a trustee to the Historical Society of Michigan’s Board of Directors, chair of the Society of American Archivists Oral History Section, and vice president-president elect of the Michigan Archival Association (she’ll become MAA president in June 2022).

From the Daily Mining Gazette: “Snowballs Fly South,” to promote Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival back in 1969. Blue Key members load snowballs for airlift to Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos, Texas. Donor: Robert Skuggen. Source: Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections

Lindsay, how did you first get involved in library science? What sparked your interest?

I’ve had an interest in libraries and history since a young age. My grandfather was a history professor at Michigan Tech and the first lay president at what is now Finlandia University. The sunroom at my grandparents’ house on Summit Street was my favorite place; one wall of windows and three walls of history books from floor to ceiling. Anytime I was there to visit I would steal away to the sunroom and read and dream for hours. It wasn’t until I attended Michigan Tech as an undergrad and obtained student employment in the archives (then on the 3rd floor of the library) that I knew what an archivist did. I credit my grandpa for the spark and former university archivist, Erik Nordberg for showing me the path to library school.

My library career fully began at the District of Columbia Public Library as a library technician. I became an archivist at Michigan Tech in 2014, and University Archivist in May 2016. As a side note, I’m proud to say I’m now the steward of my grandpa Dave’s impressive book collection.

“I’m still an avid hockey fan,” says Hiltunen. “I love to blog and write about hockey. One of my articles was recently published in the 2021 Legends magazine, the official publication of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.”

Hometown and family?

I grew up in Tamarack City and graduated from Dollar Bay High School. My mom was an avid artist and my dad is the former director of a local social services coordinating agency. I have two brothers and one sister; all but one of us are Huskies. (The one who didn’t go to Michigan Tech has two husky dogs as pets, so that counts for something.)

We grew up playing every sport under the sun. Those sports we didn’t play, we were spectators of, took books and stats, or ran the clock. In the SDC ice rink and Dee stadium I was a competitive figure skater (ice dancing and synchronized skating) and coach. Off-ice practice was just as good because we got to watch the MTU hockey players practice, then attend games with dad and grandpa.

 “I even competed at the Nationals for Michigan Tech’s synchro skating team in 2001,” says Hiltunen. “We placed 8th in our national debut.”

I’m also proud to note that my husband of 17 years, Tom, is a Michigan Tech alum (EE 2005.) He now works as a Primary Patent Examiner for the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My vinyl collection has been a passion since I was a teenager. I have over 5,000 LPs and I’m on the lookout for new records all the time. I love to read for my PhD program and also for fun, so nine times out of ten there is a book within an arm’s reach. Painting and drawing bring me a lot of peace.  And I have three pets: A blue point Siamese cat, Little Nero, and two Weimaraners, Otto and Frankenstein. Our home on Keweenaw Bay also has many resident critters, including Swift the fox who runs by nightly, a few bald eagles that troll the shoreline, and many chickadees, finches, jays, and cardinals at our garden feeders. I consider them all friends!

Cynthia Hodges was inducted into Michigan Tech’s Presidential Council of Alumnae in 1996

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

I received a scholarship to attend Women In Engineering at Michigan Tech in the summer of 1981 when I was a junior in high school, through Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program. At that time, it was one of the few programs of its kind to encourage women to study engineering. 

After graduating with my BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering, I began a 32-year career at Ford Motor Company, working as a product test engineer in their durability engineering laboratory. I spent much of my career at Ford involved in chassis engineering, designing fuel and steering systems, suspension, tires, wheels, and brakes for many Ford cars and trucks. 

“When people ask me what has changed my life, WIE did,” says Michigan Tech alumna Cynthia Hodges. That’s her in the center, shaking hands with former Michigan Tech president, Glen Mroz.

Family and hometown?

My hometown is Warren, Michigan. My husband, Andrew Hodges, earned a BS in Civil Engineering at Michigan Tech in 1989. My son, Edward, is also an alum–he earned his BS in Forestry in 2019. My daughter, Jane, is a graphic designer. We tried to convince her to go to Michigan Tech as well, but there is no Bachelor of Fine Arts program. She went to Eastern Michigan University.

Hodges has a site on Etsy, Mom’s Kitchen Vintage, where you can find vintage cookbooks, retro glass kitchen magnets, Michigan Tech pillowcases, and even Pasty earrings!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to cook, sew, read and sing, and enjoy the outdoors in the Keweenaw—especially skiing, mountain biking, and hiking. 

How did you and Lindsay become friends?

That is interesting! We started out as facebook friends, because we have a lot of friends in common. I only met her in real life recently, but have admired her work for a long time. I really like history and enjoy visiting the Michigan Tech archives to research old recipes for my food blog, motherskitchen.blogspot.com

Hodges has been writing her blog since 2006. “I love cooking and the lost domestic arts like home canning and sewing. You know, the stuff they used to teach in home economics. Ironically, I hate housework.”

A few years ago Lindsay did an excellent presentation about the history of women at Michigan Tech for the Presidential Council of Alumnae. I am happy to count her as a friend, and excited to work on projects with her, too.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Winter Carnival, we will be improving Michigan Tech Winter Carnival information on Wikipedia. Alumni and students are welcome to help. If you are interested, please contact me at chodges@mtu.edu.

This year’s 100th Carnival logo was designed for Winter Carnival 2022 by civil engineering student Rachel May

Read more

History—and Awards—Run in the Family
Michigan Tech Archivists Preserve the Past for the Future
Ford Motor Company Donates Support for Women in Engineering Scholarships