All posts by Brittany Buschell

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Chad Deering and Bob Barron

by Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and LearningPrint

This week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase selection, made by Dean Wayne Pennington of the College of Engineering, is a unique teaching partnership. Assistant Professor Chad Deering and Lab Manager Bob Barron were selected for “deftly leading our students for the past three summers” through the field course in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

GMES Chair John Gierke explains the unique demands and challenges of teaching the field geology course. “While most of us hold a fondness to participate in fieldwork, the glamour wears off when conditions get tough or if the work turns out tedious. Field geology starts a few days after Spring Semester. In addition to the rapidly changing and variable weather, UP fieldwork in May and June is accompanied by hordes of mosquitoes and black flies. The glamour evaporates by the second day. Moreover, field geology is fraught with uncertainty and figuring out the geological setting is tedious. Frustrations with the weather, bugs, and unknown are pervasive. It takes special people to lead students through the five week, all-day, every-day course.”
In addition, Michigan Tech’s field course has non-traditional timing which creates unique learning opportunities, but might make the teaching even more demanding. Pennington explains, “In most institutions, the ‘field course’ in geology is the final course, often following all other coursework. At Michigan Tech, it is usually taken after the second year. This enables students to have a better understanding of the basis for nearly all their subsequent courses … but only if the field course is taught in a way that encourages self-discovery and insight. For many years, Bob and Chad have taken the field course to new levels of integration with the concepts students are exposed to in their courses, helping the students to better master the concepts as well as the practices involved in the various disciplines that are based on these experiences. This approach to field experience is one of the things that makes Michigan Tech unique, and our students more successful upon graduation.”
Deering and Barron’s co-nomination for the Dean’s Showcase is based not on one particular innovation but their collective skills for success in developing students’ field skills in geology. Their complementary styles and knowledge have been an ideal pairing for leading the course, and student evaluations of instruction confirm their effectiveness. They approach each new site with a sequence that includes background literature, field observations, measurements and sampling, then further study in the microscopy lab.
They find ways to reinforce the mineralogy, petrology and structural geology skills developed in prerequisite courses, and insist on frequent individual and small-group interactions in the field to help the students persist, guiding them to an appropriate explanation for each site.
Intermingled through the learning experience are barbecues, brief periods of shooting the breeze in picturesque locales and other recreational activities. The fieldwork activities culminate with students creating geological maps and reports describing their findings. At this point in their studies, students span a spectrum of abilities for scientific writing and creating maps, which require artistic skills along with technical competence.
Gierke articulates the unique teaching challenges of the field course, saying “Achieving a balance of being critical of quality and yet maintaining morale is a knack that I have never mastered—I, unfortunately, excel at the being-critical part. Yet Bob and Chad have somehow figured out how to take students who are exhausted, sunburned and fly bitten and keep them sufficiently motivated to produce maps that could be framed (for some) and develop writing skills that help them through the rest of their curriculum.”
Deering and Barron will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and the team is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.


Tech Researcher Gets Mine Safety Grant

The iStock_000006629083Large_0US Mine Safety and Health Administration has awarded $10,537,000 in mine safety grants, including $249,257 to Michigan Tech. The funds are intended to reduce mining accidents, injuries, and illnesses by supporting safety and health courses and other programs.

Grant recipients will use the funding to provide miners with the federally mandated training required for all miners working at surface and underground coal and metal/non-metal mines.

Principal investigator on the grant at Michigan Tech is Matthew Portfleet (GMES), assistant director of the University’s Mine Safety Program.

 

(Original post by Jenn Donovan in Tech Today, November 20, 2017)


Black and White and Red All Over

sandstoneThe Keweenaw Peninsula shoreline tells a billion-year-old story forged in fire, sculpted by ice. Geoheritage tours teach visitors and residents how to read the variegated cliffs, long-tailed tombolos and shifting sands. To see where volcanoes, glaciers and humans irrevocably altered topography. Bill Rose, a Michigan Tech professor emeritus of geology who developed and leads the tours, calls it “geopoetry.” View full story here.



2017 American Geophysical Union HONORS Program Recognizes a GMES Alumna

An alumna of GMES is one of seventy-five distinguished scientists to receive the distinction from groups representing their disciplines within the American Geophysical Union.

Lauren N. Schaefer, University of Canterbury, is a recipient of the 2017 Natural Hazards Focus Group Award for Graduate Research. Lauren earned her Ph.D. in Geological Engineering from Michigan Tech in 2016 under the advising of Dr. Thomas Oommen.

Congrats, Lauren! We’re all cheering for your continued success. 

https://eos.org/agu-news/2017-agu-section-and-focus-group-awardees-and-named-lecturers

 


Geology Club T’s On Sale Now

Untitled-1
‘San Andreas isn’t my FAULT’

The Michigan Tech Geology Club is designed to allow students to discover the properties of minerals and geological environments through mineral collection excursions, mine tours, and geologically related field trips.

To order your long sleeve OR short sleeve GeoClub tee today, email Andrew at agdubay@mtu.edu.

For more information on the GeoClub visit: https://https://www.involvement.mtu.edu/organization/geology-club


GeoSeminar- Jeffrey Lynott: Mineral Exploration and Ore Deposits for the Great Lakes Region

.ore

GeoSeminar: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 from 4-5pm in DOW 610

Jeffrey Lynott: Mineral Exploration and Ore Deposits for the Greate Lakes Region.

Jeff will discuss his participation and observations based on 30 years in and around the business of mineral exploration and development in his backyard. He has worked on the Crandon Project for Exxon and later for Nicolet Minerals and Crandon Mining Company. He was then with Noranda when Lynne was discovered and worked on Back Forty beginning in 2002 – when they had three geologists and five drill rigs turning. Those were the days!

For a complete list of all upcoming GeoSeminars for the 2016-17 academic year visit: http://www.geo.mtu.edu/~raman/SilverI/Geoseminar/Welcome.html

Hope to see you all there!


President Barack Obama Honors Assistant Professor Colleen Mouw

President Barack Obama honors Assistant Professor Colleen Mouw with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” said President Obama.

All 106 recipients of the award are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach. The winners will receive their awards at a Washington, DC ceremony later this spring.

To read the official White House Press Release click here.