Spring 2010 Finishing Fellowships Awarded

The Graduate School has awarded its Finishing Fellowships for spring 2010.

The following PhD candidates have received a one-time award:

  • Shreehari Elangovan, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Margot J. Hutchins, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
  • Aaron David LaLonde, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Sara Robinson, Forest Science
  • Yuejun Yin, Civil Engineering

The fellowships are made possible by the Graduate School.

Application procedures for the Graduate School fellowship programs and photographs of recent recipients can be found online. Nominations are currently open for Finishing Fellowships and Dean’s Fellowships.

If you have any questions, contact Debra Charlesworth.

Rail Transportation Program Announces Cross-Disciplinary Scholarship Opportunities

Over $10,000 in designated railroad scholarships are available for graduate or undergraduate students in any discipline with an interest in railroad transportation. Interested students are encourage to apply for AREMA, CSX Transportation and UP Railroad scholarships.

CSX Transportation offers two $1,000 Diversity Scholarships open to all undergraduate students in any discipline with an interest in railroad transportation. Preference will be given to females and minorities involved in rail activities.

UP Railroad has three scholarships available to students (graduate or undergraduate) in any discipline with an interest in rail transportation. Each scholarship is worth $2,000.

American Railway and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) has two $1,000 scholarships available for Rail Engineering and Activities Club (REAC) members. One scholarship will be available to an officer of REAC and another awarded to a student involved with the club. All applications to AREMA are eligible for over $37,000 of other AREMA scholarships. In the past, Michigan Tech students have received numerous AREMA scholarships.

CSX and UP applications must be received by Bill Sproule by Friday, March 5. AREMA scholarships must be received by AREMA by Friday, March 12. Only one AREMA application is necessary for all available AREMA scholarships.

Guidelines and applications
can be downloaded online.

Published in Tech Today

Notes from Iraq

We had a chance to talk with Lt. Col. Otha Thornton via email and a 15-minute telephone call.

The former leader of the Army ROTC program, who also was our commencement speaker in May of 2009, is stationed in Iraq at Camp Victory in north Baghdad. He is helping facilitate the drawdown of troops, but his biggest and most challenging job is what he calls “casualty operations,” which involves taking care of the wounded and the deceased.

“Probably one of the toughest jobs I’ve had,” he says. “We track the fallen from the time they go down until they get to the US. To perform these duties–from the front of the spear–truly reinforces the gravity of our business.”

How is he treated by locals?

“Very well. I deal with both civilians and military. They’re appreciative of what we’re doing.”

The war is divisive on the home front. What’s the mood among the soldiers?

“The morale is pretty good. They’re highly disciplined. They understand why they’re here and what they’re doing. In the military, you pray for peace but prepare for war.”

Are you in harm’s way?


Are you scared?

“No. I believe when it’s a person’s time to go, it’s time to go. I wake up and take care of my profession for the day. Then the next day I get up and do it all over again.”

Is the American public well-informed or misinformed about the war?

“Generally pretty well informed. They realize that Iraq can be a regional model of democracy.”

Where is your family?

“My wife and son are in Maryland. I talk to them at least once a week. The technology to do that from the battlefield is wonderful.”

Do you miss Houghton?

“Oh, yeah. I’m coming home in April and I’ll be up to visit in the spring or fall. I’m counting the days.”

Over 20 years in the military, Thornton has served in 22 countries but never traveled far from his values. “I am extremely proud to be an American,” he says.

He was stationed at Michigan Tech from 1999 to 2002 and served as a recruiter, public affairs officer and assistant professor of military science. While here, he earned a master’s degree in rhetoric and technical communication. He received the Outstanding Alumni Award in 2003.

by John Gagnon, promotional writer
Published in Tech Today

Getting Rid of the Bad Stuff

MBA student Cynthia Hodur learned firsthand about getting rid of trans fats, those ubiquitous bad food particles. On a student team in Dana Johnson’s operations and quality management class, she researched and applied her knowledge to a local hospital project and got great results.

“Instead of reading about it, we actually did it in a real-world way that will help the community,” she says of her experience on behalf of Portage Health. The hospital was the first in the Upper Peninsula to go trans-fat free, with help from the Tech students.

Hodur appreciated the opportunity to tackle such a timely problem with her team’s two-pronged approach, especially since she works as a facilities and event coordinator at the Memorial Union.

“First, our research group focused on policy,” she says. “We looked at what had been done globally, with the United Nations, and then we researched further from there: federally, state, and at the organizational level.”

She says the American Heart Association’s trans-fat lawsuit with McDonald’s restaurants was important. In the suit, McDonald’s was supposed to change its oil, but it didn’t. She had inside knowledge there, having worked for the American Heart Association at the time.

“We were working with the schools then,” she says, “building on an existing program.”

That background information also helped her at Tech, where her second group–applying the information they’d gleaned–looked at recipes and various food products to get rid of the trans fats at Portage Health.

“We looked at everything from cookbooks to working with vendors to vending machines,” she says. “We found substitutes for cooking, like applesauce for oil, and for baking, where a substitute for shortening has been used successfully, for example.”

Along the way, she learned from her teammates.

“There was a variety of people, and we were paired by interests,” she says. “One of the women was a Six Sigma Greenbelt expert on flowcharts!” So, Hodur’s process-chart-producing expertise was accelerated.

And they weren’t all MBAs, said Johnson, an associate professor in the School of Business and Economics. They had graduate students from civil engineering, mechanical engineering and elsewhere. Focusing on the same goal, Johnson said, they would come at it from different angles.

Johnson also stressed the importance of “students working with a real, live project, instead of case studies, which become outdated very quickly.”

The project did indeed take a well-rounded approach to the problem. “The students looked at cost benefits, working with vendors Sysco and Reinhart, even Portage Point (the hospital’s long-term senior housing operation), and its food service customer relations,” she said.

They worked closely with Paul Skinner, director of Portage’s nutritional services, she said. He was important from a management perspective, and he was in charge of recipes.

“We looked at processes and procedures to make sure they are accurate,” Johnson said, noting that they even looked at the definition of “trans fat-free,” which can still include .49 grams of trans fats. Portage Health went below that measure, she said.

“The costs involved in going trans fat-free were not as significant as they thought,” she added.

She also sees potential for future work.

“We plan on helping them with their seating capacity at Portage Health,” she said. “We’ll be working with them as they expand their capacity, using a green perspective to identify environmentally friendly dinnerware.”

They also plan on looking at the recycling in the hospital to make it more cost effective and efficient, Johnson said.

“We’ll be looking at Styrofoam,” she said, “how it can work within a recycling system.”

This marks the fourth year for the class tackling problems for Portage Health, and she’s also placed three interns into the organization.

Hodur truly enjoys the graduate school experience, including the Portage Health project, and her position at the Memorial Union. She has her sights set on a future marketing position.

“My husband and I moved here because we love the area,” she said. “Working and taking classes at Michigan Tech have been a nice bonus.”

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor
Published in Tech Today

Dow Chemical Hong Kong – Michigan Scholarship Program 2010-2011

U.S. doctoral students or recent Ph.Ds from a Michigan university who are studying in the
following areas Environment, Energy, Sustainability, Education,
Transnational Relations, Science and Technology and policy issues
related to these topics.  are eligible for the Dow Chemical Hong Kong- Michigan Scholarship Program.

The award is for the 2010-2011 academic year
to engage in dissertation research while affiliated with Hong Kong
University of Science and Technology.

Only U.S. citizens and permanentresidents (Green Card holders) are eligible.

The scholarship is modeled along the lines of a Fulbright Grant in Hong
Kong as it provides approximately $17K stipend, $5K travel, and $13K
living allowance, plus health insurance.  The total value is over

For more information about the scholarship opportunity please visit:  Dow Chemical Hong Kong Program Information

If you are interested in applying, please contact Jodi Lehman (jglehman@mtu.edu)

Hearst Foundations Funding Priorities

The Hearst Foundations

Education: The Hearst Foundations fund exemplary institutions of higher education dedicated to preparing students to succeed in a global society. Preference is given to undergraduate education at medium size private, liberal arts colleges and universities. In addition, a limited number of grants may also be awarded to support K-12 programs and graduate level study. Our funding interests are focused on endowed scholarships, as well as compelling programmatic and capital initiatives that advance an institution’s ability to provide quality education.

Culture: The Hearst Foundations fund cultural institutions that offer innovative programs in the arts and sciences, the majority of which enable access for young people, thereby enriching their lives. Our focus includes education initiatives for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. In addition, the Foundations support programs that nurture artistic development.

If interested, please contact Jodi Lehman (jglehman@mtu.edu) for more information.

ASEE/NSF Corporate Research Postdoctoral Fellowship


The Corporate Research Postdoctoral Fellowship Program provides recent engineering PhD recipients the opportunity to conduct postdoctoral research in a corporate setting. These creative and highly trained engineers will contribute to areas of great interest and relevance to the nation.  Each research fellow will receive a stipend of at least $75,000 plus health insurance benefits. The host company  will provide a minimum of $27,500 and other non-cash support.  With generous support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), this program will support  40 positions for a one-year appointment

To find out more about this position, please visit: https://aseensfip.asee.org/

MBA Student Granted EcoCAR Graduate Fellowship

The School of Business and Economics professors Dana Johnson and Junhong Min have been awarded a fellowship to continue funding Eric Joseph, a current MBA student, with the second installment of the EcoCAR Outreach/Communications Graduate Fellowship.The grant of $7,500, made possible by Argonne National Laboratory and the American Society for Engineering Education, will continue to fund the EcoCAR project here at Michigan Tech. Each EcoCAR university is expected to match the contribution in order to fund a full-time Outreach/Communications person for the EcoCAR project.

To read the full story, see the SBE news website.

Graduate Students Schwartz and Stream Garner National Research

The American Physiological Society (APS) announced awardees for the 2010 Carolyn tum Suden/Francis A. Hellebrandt Professional Opportunity National Award, and two Michigan Tech graduate students were on that list. Christopher Schwartz (PhD candidate, biological sciences) and Sarah Stream (MS candidate, biological sciences) were two of 38 awardees announced this week. Over 140 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows throughout the US and beyond applied for the award.

Christopher and Sarah were not quite sure what to expect when they applied for this abstract-based award this past fall.

“I think in the back of our minds we were hopeful one of us would get recognized,” said Schwartz. “We were both somewhat surprised that each of us received the award. It is quite an honor.”

The two graduate students conduct research in the Integrative Physiology Laboratory under the advisement of Jason Carter, chair of the Exercise Science, Health and Physical Education department. Schwartz’s research aims to determine the neurovascular responses to mental stress in normotensive and prehypertensive humans. Stream’s research focuses on the influence of acute alcohol consumption on neural control of blood pressure and orthstatic stability in healthy humans.

“It is remarkable that both Christopher and Sarah received this award,” said Carter. “This is a prestigious, well-recognized research award in the field of physiology. They were competing with graduate students and postdocs from some of the top universities and medical schools in our country. This award is a testament to their hard work, dedication and high caliber of research.”

Christopher and Sarah will be honored during the 2010 Experimental Biology conference in Anaheim, CA, this April. A full listing of all 38 awardees is available at the APS website.