Tag: Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Graduate Programs Assessed

The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies has released a comparison of more than 5,000 doctoral programs at 212 universities across the nation, including Michigan Tech.

The assessment–seven years in the making–rated 12 PhD programs at Michigan Tech, giving highest marks to two in SFRES: forest molecular genetics and biotechnology, and forest science.

Other noteworthy Tech programs included chemical engineering, chemistry, environmental engineering, mathematical sciences, materials science and engineering and mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics.

“The NRC used a complex and very sophisticated statistical analysis procedure to attempt to objectively compare similar PhD programs,” said David Reed, vice president for research. “I’m very pleased that our programs in forestry–and in some of the engineering and science specialties–came out so well. It speaks very highly of the faculty and students involved.”

Although the results of the NRC study were described as “rankings,” graduate programs at different universities weren’t actually ranked or compared directly one to another. Rather, using a complicated statistical analysis of 21 variables and two sets of data, the programs were assigned “ranges.”

Both data sets were based on results of faculty surveys. In one survey, faculty members were asked what factors were most important to the overall quality of a graduate program. In the other, they were asked to rate the quality of a sample of programs in their field.

The results, which took several years to analyze, show the number of programs evaluated in each field and the range in which Tech’s programs fall. In forest science, for example, 34 programs were compared, and Michigan Tech’s were ranked between 2nd of 34 and 23rd of 34.

“The results are not rankings,” said Jacqueline Huntoon, dean of the Graduate School. “The report tells us that there is a 90 percent chance that the ‘true’ ranking of each of our programs falls somewhere within the reported range.”

“The results do have some interesting implications,” Huntoon went on to say. “We found out what is most important to a good reputation–the number of PhDs graduated, the number of publications of the faculty, and the research awards received by faculty. The results clearly show that the reputation of a graduate program depends on its size.”

“That validates the direction in which Michigan Tech has been moving–making a conscious effort to grow its Graduate School programs,” Huntoon added.

She expressed concern that the NRC data is out of date. It was collected in 2006-07 and included data from 2001-02 to 2005-06.

“We aren’t the same university or the same graduate school we were then,” Huntoon noted. “In 2005, we only had 870 graduate students. Now we have 1,241. We have made a major commitment to growing our graduate school.” The new data will be useful as a benchmark to measure future progress at Michigan Tech, she said.

The last NRC graduate program assessment was conducted in 1995. It evaluated only three PhD programs at Michigan Tech: geosciences, mechanical engineering and physics.

by Jennifer Donovan, director of public relations

Published in Tech Today

Parade and Festival: ‘What a Great Day’

The Parade of Nations and the Multicultural Food and Music Festival graced the campus and community Saturday for the 21st time. It was a day on which different people did the same thing–celebrate diversity. The theme of the day: “Many Nations, One Heart.”

Bob Wenc summed up the doings, “It’s like a rainbow. So many different cultures, styles and stories.” He says Tech has about 700 international students from more than 70 countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. He worked on the event as a representative of International Programs and Services. He loves the work. “Exiting,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m doing something for the community and the University. We all want to matter. This is my way.”

The parade wove through Hancock and Houghton like a ribbon. Flags danced. The native attire was gorgeous. The weather was windy with a fall chill in the air; the mood was calm and warm. Amid all the pageantry, the music was a clarion call for getting along.

Curbside, the little children watched in wonder. “This is great,” a retired elementary teacher said. “It’s good for our children–that they grow up accepting other cultures and sharing them. It helps to promote understanding.”

Abhijeet Vaidya, an Indian graduate student in mechanical engineering, has only been here a month. “I like it here very much,” he said. “It’s a very good place. It’s like home.” What does he want people to know about his culture? “Sacrifice. And respect for everybody.”

The Pep Band showed up in rousing full force–a wonderfully gaudy spectacle, accented by the trademark goofy hats that ranged from a sombrero to a witch’s hat to a stovepipe Mickey Mouse affair. Eric Anderson, a fifth-year student in civil engineering, plays the trombone. He is unabashedly upbeat about the Pep Band. “It’s something unique,” he said. “Other universities have their marching bands. We have the Pep Band. We’re able to do more things, and we have more fun.” He likes going beyond sport events and getting exposure in the community.

Tech’s Chris Anderson has been involved with diversity on campus for more than 20 years. The event, she said, “is a chance to embrace life and the things that make us similar. And we do it through music and food–the best ways to celebrate. It’s fun. It feels good.”

“It’s one of the highlights of the year,” said another observer. “I enjoy the parade. I enjoy the music. But it’s the food after.”

That food was served up in Dee Stadium. Sanchai Kuboon, a PhD student in MSE, is from Thailand. He said food is a marked characteristic of Thai culture. “We are proud of the variety of food in Thailand.” He says it is especially spicy. He was serving up beef curry; a sweet drink made with the longan fruit; and stir-fried noodles.

Another salient feature of Thai life, he said, is martial arts. And a third is respect for others, manifested in part by the Thai way of greeting people: hands together, as in prayer, and a bow. Kuboon summed up these cultural characteristics as “riches.” He likes Tech and Houghton. “You treat us as we are at home.”

Iltesham Z Syed, an Indian PhD student in ME-EM, manned a food station set up by the Muslim Student Association. He was serving up haleem, a combinaion of wheat, meat, and Indian spices, and an “Arabian dessert”–baklava. Proceeds will be donated to the flood victims in Pakistan.

Syed is from Mumbai, a city of 16 million. “I love this place,” he said Houghton. “I love country life.” He’s been here three years. He spoke of his religion: “My message is clear. It’s peace. It’s equality. It’s friendship.” He laments extremism in the culture. “I feel sad about this. This is not what we believe in. This is not what we preach. What we want is for everyone to live together in complete harmony.” He wears a sherwani, a nearly full-length, tan tunic with a Nehru collar. He says he only wears it on special occasions.

The marching band of Cass Technical High School from Detroit had Dee Stadium throbbing. 30 band members, 11 energetic dancers. Sharon Allen, director, said it was an honor to be involved in “cultural sensitivity–all nations getting along peaceably.”

Madeline Mercado Voelker, coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Outreach, is from Puerto Rico and has worked on this event since 1999. “What a great day,” she exclaimed. Amid all the nations, the local community stands out, too, she said. “I never felt like a minority here,” she said. “This is home. It’s a beautiful place. I wouldn’t change it for anything.” She knows a graduate who moved back to Puerto Rico; his wife is having a hard time readjusting to city life. “The UP stays in your heart wherever you go,” she said.

by John Gagnon, promotional writer

Published in Tech Today

First In Series of Federal Funding Workshops – Sept 15th and 16th.

A federal fellowship/scholarship writing workshop will be held on Wednesday, September 15th  and Thursday, September 16th at 4:00 in Fisher 135.

You will only need to attend one of the workshops, as they are the same workshop, different days and time.

During the workshop we will review 3 samples of NSF GRFP personal statement essays. Tips will be given on how to organize your essay, utilize wording, and meet the merit criteria expected by reviewers

Prepare for the workshop by:

1. Understanding how NSF defines “broader impacts”

2. Brainstorming answers to NSF “personal statement” questions

    If you (or someone you know) plan on attending, please RSVP to Jodi Lehman (jglehman@mtu.edu).

    New Theses and Dissertations Available in the Library

    The Graduate School is pleased to announce new theses and dissertations from the following programs:

    • Civil Engineering
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Environmental Engineering
    • Environmental Policy
    • Forest Ecology and Management
    • Forest Science
    • Industrial Archaeology
    • Mathematical Sciences
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

    are now available in the J.R. van Pelt and Opie Library.

    Alumni Race to the Altar

    Karl Walczak and Margot Hutchins after completing the Canal Run.  Photo courtesy of the Daily Mining Gazette.
    Karl Walczak and Margot Hutchins after completing the Canal Run. Photo courtesy of the Daily Mining Gazette.

    Karl Walczak and Margot Hutchins recently participated in the 35th annual Canal Run – and got married on the same day.  The Canal Run holds a special place in their hearts, as they also announced their engagement at the same event one year ago.

    The Graduate School wishes Karl and Margot the best as they begin their married life together.

    Read more about Karl and Margot in the Daily Mining Gazette.

    Summer 2010 Finishing Fellowships Awarded

    The Graduate School is proud to announce the following students are recipients of a one-time Summer 2010 Finishing Fellowship:

    • Atakan Altinkaynak, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
    • Rachel M Bradford, Biomedical Engineering
    • Archana Pandey, Engineering Physics
    • Edwar Romero-Ramirez, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
    • Eric M Winder, Biological Sciences

    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 for fall semester.  Nominations are due no later than 4pm on July 29, 2010.

    New theses and dissertations in Library

    The Graduate School is pleased to announce the following theses and dissertations are now available in the J.R. van Pelt and Opie Library:

    Haiying He
    Doctor of Philosophy in Physics
    Advisor: Ravindra Pandey
    Dissertation title: Electron Transport in Molecular Systems

    Fei Lin
    Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
    Advisor: Mohan D Rao
    Dissertation title: Vibro-Acoustical Analysis and Design of a Multiple-Layer Constrained Viscoelastic Damping Structure

    Christopher Nelson
    Master of Science in Industrial Archaeology
    Advisor: Larry D Lankton
    Thesis title: The C.R. Patterson and Sons Company of Greenfield, Ohio: Survival and Adaptation of a Back-Owned Company in the Vehicle Building Industry, 1865-1939

    Brandon Rouse
    Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering
    Advisor: Jeffrey Donald Naber
    Thesis title: Part Load Combustion Characterization of Ethanol-Gasoline Fuel Blends in a Single Cylinder Spark Ignition Direct Injection Variable Cam Timing Variable Compression Ratio Engine

    Karl Walczak
    Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
    Advisor: Craig R Friedrich
    Dissertation title: Immobilizing Bacteriorhodopsin on a Single Electron Transistor

    Jeff Allen, Ezequiel Medici Win First Bhakta Rath Research Award

    For their pioneering work to improve water management in low temperature fuel cells, Jeffrey Allen and his PhD student, Ezequiel Medici, have been named the first winners of the Bhakta Rath Research Award at Michigan Tech. Allen is an associate professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics.

    The award, endowed earlier this year by 1958 Michigan Tech alumnus Rath and his wife, Shushama Rath, recognizes a doctoral student at Michigan Tech and his or her faculty advisor for “exceptional research of particular value that anticipates the future needs of the nation while supporting advances in emerging technology.” Allen and Medici will share a $2,000 prize.

    “We are delighted to recognize Professor Jeff Allen and his accomplished student, Ezequiel Medici, for their outstanding research contribution in the field of mechanical engineering and engineering mechanics,” said Rath, who is associate director of research and head of the Materials Science and Component Technology Directorate at the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. “We have no doubt that their seminal contributions will advance the frontiers of our knowledge in the field and contribute to development of new technologies. My wife and I wish to join their family members, friends and colleagues in congratulating the recipients of this award.”

    When he endowed the award in April, Rath said he hoped it would promote and reward research excellence in the physical and natural sciences and engineering, fields in which Michigan Tech is emerging as a world leader in research and education.

    “I am honored and grateful to be one of the inaugural recipients of this prestigious award,” Allen said. “However, the credit for the success of this research belongs to Ezequiel.”

    His graduate student added, “I feel really honored to have our research recognized because of its potential impact on the fuel-cell industry.”

    Medici and Allen’s research focuses on improving the management of the water produced during the operation of a fuel cell, liquid that leads to performance loss and rapid degradation of the fuel cell, significantly reducing the life of the system. They developed a new technique for optimizing fuel cell electrodes and a simple, reliable computational tool that captures the nature of liquid water movement in fuel cell electrodes. Their work, sponsored by the US Department of Energy and conducted in collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology and General Motors, will reduce the research and development time and cost of improving fuel cell performance and durability.

    Bill Predebon, chair of ME-EM, noted the potential importance of Allen and Medici’s work. “The research being conducted by Ezequiel Medici and his advisor Dr. Jeffrey Allen on the improvement of water management in low temperature fuel cells will have a significant impact in the fuel cell industry in the design of the porous materials used in fuel cells.”

    by Jennifer Donovan, director of public relations
    Published in Tech Today

    New theses and dissertations

    The Graduate School is pleased to announce the following thesis and dissertations are now available in the J.R. van Pelt and Opie Library:

    Nicholas Krom
    Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences
    Advisor: Ramakrishna Wusirika
    Dissertation title: An Arrangement of Gene Pairs, Retrotransposon Insertions, and Regulation of Gene Expression in Plants

    Russell Lutch
    Master of Science in Civil Engineering
    Advisor: Devin K Harris
    Thesis title: Capacity Optimization of a Prestressed Concrete Railroad Tie

    Jason Sommerville
    Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics
    Advisor: Lyon Bradley King
    Dissertation title: Hall-Effect Thruster-Cathode Coupling: The Effect of Cathode Position and Magnetic Field Topology