Tucker Nielsen, ’22, English, minoring in computer science, German and writing

A young man wearing a Michigan Tech t-shirt sits with LEGO products at a table.
Writing Center Coach Tucker Nielsen says it’s important to make time for the hobbies you enjoy.

I’m an AFOL, part of the growing community of adult fans of LEGO®. I bought my first, a Star Wars set, when I was 6. I enjoyed how each brick clicked together and changed depending on how it was placed. One minute, a slope brick was a roof shingle. The next, it was the top of a space reptile.

The infinite capabilities for rebuilding and the universal appeal still draw me. As someone on the autistic spectrum, my interests change frequently, from space and castles to Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean. But LEGO products cater to each of my changing interests and encourage me to build beyond the instructions. It’s a toy I’ve never grown out of because it grows with me.

My university experience has also been one that explores all the possibilities, and I’ve learned to hold on to my values and make time for hobbies and causes that matter to me. Initially drawn to Michigan Tech as a computer engineering major through my mechatronics courses at the Kent Career Technical Center in high school, I began realizing what my true interests were through editing and nature writing courses. I fully transitioned to an English major in summer 2020, with minors in writing, computer science and German. Since I faced the truth that I didn’t want to code for a living, I’ve found much more pleasure in schoolwork, connected more fully with my professors and peers, and become more active in my department. I work in the Michigan Tech Writing Center. In Room 107 of Walker Arts and Humanities, you’ll find our team of coaches helping clients with any kind of writing they bring — everything from resumes to cover letters. We even had a student bring in a Tinder bio (unfortunately, I wasn’t the coach who helped them!). Our goal is to help all students improve their writing as a communicative tool. For me, it’s great practice teaching what I enjoy. 

I was a Michigan Tech Orientation team leader in summer 2021 and am currently an ExSEL (Excelling the Student Experience of Learning) peer mentor. In both jobs, I work with incoming students to help them transition to college life. I use these opportunities to pass on lessons I’ve learned, such as utilizing a planner/calendar for all schoolwork, prioritizing your self-care needs and knowing when to ask for help. It’s also a chance to learn about new identities and cultures from the diverse body of students.

The organizations I’m involved in also allow me to work with people of different backgrounds across campus. I serve as vice president of Women’s Leadership Council, participating in  encouraging equality for everyone, especially for women and nonbinary individuals. I write and edit for our student newspaper, The Lode. And I serve as secretary of the Creative Writing Club, a group that encourages all writers to explore and develop their skills.  

A young man holds Oxford dictionary of literary terms and a German book in his hands behind a glass door that says Michigan Tech Writing Center
Michigan Tech’s Writing Center works with all Huskies who want to improve their writing skills.

I plan to work locally in content creation, including public relations and social media. I have my sights set on Michigan Tech, but I’m open to working for other companies in the area. I want to use social media to build up relationships, so businesses aren’t just selling products to customers. Many Keweenaw businesses are or should be incorporating community events, histories and culture into their brands. It goes beyond simply selling bikes, photos or food. In this field, I can see my creative potential fully realized.

If Michigan Tech has taught me anything about myself, it’s about being true to my passions. It’s about figuring out if you can push through the menial tasks in your field, so you can enjoy the fun parts and the skills that call to your strengths. It’s about finding a profession that’s interesting and worth growing in. I recommend embracing your interests, as long as they aren’t harming yourself or others. Life should include individual exploration and growth. Why are there infinite choices if we’re destined for only one path? These questions helped me find where I can grow from. Perhaps they’ll help you, too. 

– Tucker Nielsen ’22


Paige Fiet ’21, Electrical Engineering with a Biomedical Application

A young woman wearing a Michigan Tech shirt sits at a circuit board in an electronics makerspace at Michigan Tech with electronic equipment behind her.
Paige Fiet is honored to represent her peers at MTU and around the world as student liaison to the global association for electronics manufacturing.

“I’ve been interested in the STEM field for as long as I can remember — before I even really knew what it was (at my kindergarten graduation), boisterously announcing, ‘I want to be an engineer when I grow up!’ Now in my last semester pursuing a degree in electrical engineering with a biomed application, I find myself ready to embark on a career in the field I so eagerly sought to enter all those years ago.

My story of involvement in IPC (the association connecting electronics industries) begins with Professor Christopher Middlebrook. In spring semester 2020, when I was enrolled in the professor’s printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing course, he forwarded me an email from IPC’s Education Foundation announcing that, for the first time, the Board of Directors was seeking a student to join the board and advocate on behalf of IPC student members. Professor Middlebrook thought I would be an ideal candidate and asked if I would entertain a nomination. At first, I was very hesitant. Founded in 1957, IPC is responsible for international electronic standards development, and at that time I only had one prior internship experience working with those standards. But after some thought, I agreed to the nomination. 

About six weeks later I got another email. IPC announced its seven top national candidates. I was one of them! Members in IPC student chapters around the world received our candidate bios and were asked to vote. The third email arrived in my inbox about a month later. It was from IPC President and CEO Dr. John Mitchell announcing I’d been selected to serve as student liaison on the Board of Directors

Being part of the board has been a huge honor. I’m proud to bring the students’ perspective to leadership and to advocate for our needs, such as increasing education foundation funding.

Being a member of an IPC student chapter can open so many doors for students! IPC offers 50 annual $1,000 scholarships to students interested in the electronics industry. A student membership provides free access to two industry standards guidelines per year, opportunities to compete in design competitions, networking opportunities, opportunities to join the Emerging Engineer mentorship program and more.

Besides being student liaison on IPC’s Board of Directors, I’ve held many other leadership positions. In my hometown of Cadillac, Michigan, I was captain of the high school cross-country team and vice president of the Cadillac Area Youth Advisory Committee. In college, I became the president of MTU’s IPC & Electronics Club. It’s energizing and exciting to see my peers as passionate about a topic as I am. Their engagement and success make the extra time commitment and investment worth it.

My worst college experience was my freshman year, learning how to be a successful college student. In my first semester, I struggled to adapt to the required study hours. Now, I keep all my activities in order and my head above water by using my Google Calendar religiously. Scheduling time to focus on next steps for the club or creating new ideas for the Board is how I achieve success in specific areas of my life. I try to plan every week out on Sunday so I can fit as much in as possible. Developing these skills as a student will help me immensely in the professional world.

Since I mentioned the worst, I should say that my best college experience has been watching Michigan Tech Hockey. I’ve always been a hockey fan, but something about the Mac makes the games magical! And, going to Michigan Tech runs in the family. My brother is also a current student and my dad is an alumnus.

At this point in my education journey, I’ve had three professional internships. The first was at Avon Protection Systems in Cadillac. The following summer, I interned at Calumet Electronics in Calumet, Michigan. This past summer, I was at Gentex Corporation in Zeeland, Michigan. My internships reinforced and enhanced the engineering concepts and skills I’ve been learning at Tech with more hands-on experience dealing with real-world problems. Most importantly, I was fortunate to be paired with a great mentor at each company. I learned the value of having a mentor who believes in you, invests in you and helps you succeed. With graduation on the horizon, I’m focused on finding the position that’s right for me in the electronics industry. I look forward to continuing my work with IPC and plan to one day mentor other college students who share my love and passion for electronic design and manufacturing. – Paige Fiet, ’22
#mtuhumans


Charlotte Jenkins, MTU Ice Skate Rental Program

A young woman, Charlotte Jenkins, in a line drawing with rainbow colored hair, glasses, and a smilte.

Charlotte’s portrait by fellow Husky Meg Rotele.

“Ice skating is a winter activity that every Michigan Tech student should be able to experience and enjoy, and a skill every Husky should have by the time they graduate. It also provides a great way for students to be physically and socially active on campus. Recognizing this, MacInnes Student Ice Arena provides open ice time and learn-to-skate programs. These opportunities are wonderful for those who have their own skates, but sadly leaves those without their own equipment, or the means to purchase it, sitting on the bench.

In January 2021, the Michigan Tech community lost Charlotte Jenkins, an undergraduate student and resident assistant in East McNair and active member of our community. Almost immediately after receiving this difficult news, students shared stories of Charlotte’s impact. One oft-repeated anecdote was how Charlotte embraced and involved others, often inviting them to go ice skating. Invariably, she would discover someone didn’t have skates, so she would stop by her room or her car and produce a pair of skates just their size.

Charlotte loved winter sports and never wanted to leave anyone out of the fun, and since there were no skates available at the rink, she purchased them in a variety of sizes and kept them on hand for others. As news of Charlotte’s passing spread, so did the realization that Charlotte’s skate borrowing program would be sorely missed, and so emerged the idea for creating a skate rental program in the Student Development Complex in her honor.

Organizations across the community have come together to pool their resources to make this program a reality. Contributions have come from a variety of sources, including the Undergraduate Student Government, the Inter Residence Housing Council, the Wadsworth Hall Student Association, the McNair Housing Association, Residence Education and Housing Services, Physical Education, the Michigan Tech Parents Fund, the Charlotte Jenkins Memorial Fund and many others.

Of the $63,000 projected cost, including the purchase of skates and helmets, $55,000 has been secured, enabling renovation work on the ice level of the MacInnes Student Ice Arena, just a few dozen feet from the entrance to the rink. This space, which was used as a concession stand in the past, is perfect due to its proximity to the rink and size. Completely revamped, it’s ready to be opened for the fall 2021 semester, beginning on MTU Family Weekend, Oct. 1.

The diverse committee leading this effort represents each part of our community and welcomes your involvement. Please join us at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 16 at MacInnes Student Ice Arena for the dedication of the Skate Rental Program. This event will feature free rentals and open skating to all who attend. Program sponsors will also say a few words to dedicate the program in honor of both Charlotte and Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame inductee Cheryl DePuydt, well-known for her many contributions to both campus and community.

Charlotte S. Jenkins 2000-2021 patch with hockey stick and skates
Tax-deductible donations can be made directly to Michigan Tech at mtu.edu/givenow — reference the Charlotte Jenkins Fund. Students have also created patches and stickers like this one available for purchase via Venmo or Paypal. For details email norcross@me.com

Once complete, the facility will be a well-designed storefront capable of storing more than 300 pairs of skates and helmets with one or two staff members to efficiently serve skaters. The flooring between the space and the rink will be covered in a durable rubber material to provide traction for wearers and protection for the skates. Skate rentals will be $5 for students and community members for an open skate or student skate session. Helmets will also be offered free of charge to all individuals using the rink, even if they don’t need to rent skates. The facility will offer on-site sharpening for $5 during year one, allowing those who currently own skates to get their pairs sharpened before, during, and after their trip to the rink.”

–The Skate Rental Program at MacInnes Student Ice Arena Committee, inspired by Charlotte Jenkins

#mtuhumans


Cosmo Trikes ’22, Electrical Engineering

A lot of people say I bring a good energy to places. I’m excited about life and I love to help. I want to make things better, to learn as much as I can. I try to be remembered and get involved anywhere I go. 

What I believe to be the truth is that it’s easy to be virtuous—exemplifying all virtues—in virtuous situations. It’s easy to be optimistic and positive when things are going well. But when things go awry, when we encounter obstacles, only then is when we truly have an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of our virtues. Everything I am today, all my success, I attribute to being able to hold consistent, even amplify, my virtues in the turmoil of my injury. I could have had more courage, charm, wit, energy, optimism, strength of character, anything, before my injury, but few cared until they saw me joke with my doctor in the hospital, tell my therapists to push me harder in rehab, or to be optimistic—without illusions—of the future with certainty that I can figure things out during times of uncertainty.

I’m an electrical engineer with a minor in mathematics. This summer I did a lot of things I wanted. I had a virtual internship with Oracle working as a software engineer—how I got that job is a crazy story for another time. I’ll be a software engineer at Oracle after I graduate this spring. I really enjoyed my work and when I wasn’t working, I spent lots of time reading outside, hanging with my friends, kayaking, Oshkosh air show plus camping, and exploring. My girlfriend got a van and converted it to a camper, so the last week of summer we traveled around the West. I also wrote for my blog and recorded more videos, which I hope to continue to do during the school year.

To new Huskies—there are a lot of things I wish I had known as a college freshman, some of it trivial like how to best organize your laptop folders. The best advice I can offer is: 

Study abroad. You really won’t get another chance to explore the world for three months like you will doing a study abroad. Going to Australia was one of my best college experiences.

Read. Read books, read quotes, read speeches. Quotes are great—I have 10 pages of my favorite quotes and I read them all the time. I constantly read history, biographies, business, personal development, philosophy, etc. I also have a book of about 300 great speeches. Podcasts are great as well—I mainly listen to Tim Ferriss, who talks to very successful (by many definitions) people and asks great questions.

Go to office hours and establish relationships. Ask questions. Get to know your instructors.

Don’t cheat. You may get away with it, but you can’t get away from yourself, and who wants to be stuck with a cheater? 

Take your humanities seriously. Technology changes rapidly, but philosophy, critical thinking, law, and other humanities are timeless and will give you insane leverage in how you interview, approach tasks at work, and grow in your thinking, way of life, and overall performance. 

Don’t choose easy. Choose interesting classes, but don’t choose courses just because they’re easy. No one values that.

Stop complaining. I used to. A lot of students do. They get a bad grade and blame it on the instructor or something like that. I will not say a course is bad until I’ve read the texts, taken notes in every lecture, gone to office hours, gone to the Learning Center, watched videos online, completed the homework, and reviewed it with the grader or instructor. If I’ve done all I could and still get a bad grade, I look for additional ways to improve. Because it’s been done before. There are students who have gotten an A in every class, some probably as single parents, with English as a second or third language, or with other challenges to learning. All you need to know is that it’s possible.

Attitude is a skill. Determine how you want to be viewed and what success means to you. How you see yourself and how you behave is what others adopt as their view of you. 

It will be hard to remember, but obstacles are the only way to demonstrate your strength and character. Encounter those times as great opportunities. And follow me on Instagram, of course! –Cosmo Trikes #mtuhumans


Tammy Monette, (Van Pelt and Opie Library, Facilities)

A smiling woman wears a mask and a Michigan Tech polo shirt at the front of a Library desk where the toys she has collected are piled.

“The Cans for Kids–Toys for Tots idea started 10 years ago when I was working in Wadsworth Hall as a custodian on the second floor and just couldn’t believe all the cans and bottles being thrown away. I came up with the idea to collect them, and put some garbage cans out and signs up. The students were super receptive. I think we were all kind of shocked by how much we actually collected. I did the actual ‘returning’—and still do. 

The first couple of years, we donated the money to local charities. Seven years ago, we started partnering with Toys for Tots for fall semester and Husky FAN (food access network) for spring semester. That way our outreach included our local community and our campus. In the 2018-19 school year, we collected over $1,100 in cans! 

After working at Wads for 10 years, wanting a change but not wanting to leave the energy of the students, I transferred to the Library in May 2019. The Library staff were very supportive and the can collecting continued. Last holiday we collected a record-breaking $553!

In the midst of our 2020 Drop a Can–Be A FAN spring semester collection for the food pantry, COVID-19 hit and campus operations shut down. Can and bottle return centers closed. I had bags of returnables piled high in a corner of my garage and seriously thought about ending the chapter on this kind of fundraising. But in July, the return centers at local stores reopened the returnable section with a $25 daily limit and I started hauling them in again. 

This semester, campus is extremely different, to say the least. The usual hustle and bustle of the Library is replaced with quiet, masked visitors and a sadness of sorts. Can collecting continues at a snail’s pace compared to pre-pandemic. Thankfully, outside donations have fueled the project. Former co-workers, some Library staff, and random anonymous drop-offs have contributed to a surprising new record of over $650 for the Cans for Kids–Toys for Tots. Unbelievable!

The toys I choose are geared more toward the ‘believers’ as far as age goes. I usually have a cash donation as well to help cover any of the gaps that the Toys for Tots elves need to fill. The toys are picked up by Jim Mattson, the area Toys for Tots chairman and a retired Chem Eng professor from Tech! He’ll pick up this year’s collection on Monday, December 14.

My favorite part of working at Tech is the students. Throughout the past 15 years, I’ve been a cheerleader, mentor, therapist, mother, counselor, and friend. I have listened to countless stories, shared endless laughs, and offered up a whole lot of prayers for our students.

I may not be in one of the higher-paid positions at MTU, but dollar for dollar I have one of the most rewarding jobs—direct, daily contact with these young people. My hope has always been that I planted a seed with our students and someday they’ll see a Toys for Tots box or food pantry collection and donate!

For me, the holidays are about family, tradition, gratitude, laughter, and love. I am so blessed to have three grandbabies now. Through them I get to relive all the magic of Christmas again!”–Tammy Monette

#mtuhumans


Jeremy Wales, ’21, Biomedical Engineering

Six young people stand in front of a wall that says Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center
Jeremy Wales, third from left, and his fellow interns with their mentor in summer 2019.

“For me, the most exciting part about applying for a patent is the possibility of having my name associated with something I helped create that can help people.

I was introduced to the summer internship program that led to my first patent application by my uncle, who offered to get me a tour of the Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center at the University of Minnesota through a former co-worker of his who works there. During the tour, the Center guides pointed out all the cool equipment and tech they have, as well as some of the work they did in the past. 

But the Bakken MDC Internship Program is what really got my attention. It lasts a little over 12 weeks, and it takes you through the entire process from start to finish of what it’s like to develop a novel medical device. The program is on a volunteer internship basis but with the possibility of ending up with something worth patenting. They had a display of over 16 patents resulting from this program, and I was hooked. I thought it would be an incredible way to spend a summer using my degree and gaining some valuable skills for my future. The possibility of a patent before I even graduated college was enough to get me to apply and become interested in the process.

I worked with a team of four other interns in summer 2019, as well as a mentor assigned from the university. Our sponsor, a current MD student at the university close to finishing his degree, asked us to come up with a solution to some of the current criticisms regarding vascular dopplers, a medical device that is used to detect blood flow.

We currently have disclosed the IP with the proper department at the University of Minnesota, as well as submitted a technical brief that was accepted to the 2020 Design of Medical Devices Conference. At this time, we are still in the process of IP and provisional patent applications pending.

Michigan Tech encourages its engineering students to not only understand how the things we make work, but to also think about how they could work better. It wasn’t my initial plan to use my degree in the research and development side of the field, but after getting the experience and seeing what it takes, I definitely would like to have a few more under my belt some day.” –Jeremy Wales, ‘21 #mtuhumans


Nicole Bonenfant ’16 (Scientific and Technical Communications)

“As deputy clerk/assessor at Charter Township of Calumet, I help run all of the elections in Calumet Township, along with the head clerk. From now until Election Day, I will be in charge of sending out over 1,200 absentee ballots to voters who have requested them and checking them in once they have filled them out.

Once we get all of the ballots back from the voters, I check the signature on the ballot envelope and compare it to the signature we have on file. If it matches, their ballot is filed into our vault until Election Day. On Election Day, I’m in charge of making sure things go smoothly. If election workers have questions, they call me and I go to the precinct and help them solve the problem. 

My scientific and technical communication degree has been tremendously useful in this role. I’ve used my technical writing skills to write documentation for our election software, as well as instructions for other clerks in Houghton County to help them navigate the state’s Qualified Voter File. Most of our election workers have a hard time with technology, so I try to make their lives easier by making documents for them. The problem-solving aspect of technical communication has also come in handy.

There are a LOT of things that can go wrong on Election Day, and my education at Michigan Tech helped me navigate those challenges. Election Day can be very tense for some people and tempers can flare easily. Being able to communicate clearly and concisely, not only on paper but in person, has been important. It is a long day and anything can truly happen, so we have to be on our toes! But, we have a lot of fun. We always find time to joke with each other and make time fly. My mother is one of our election workers, so it is nice to work with her. Plus, I get to be her boss for the day!

Helping the community I grew up in exercise their right to vote is something I particularly enjoy about this job. Especially this year, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, it is extremely rewarding to assist in the democratic process. November 3 is going to be a very intense day for many different groups of people, so to help those who watched me grow up (and who I grew up with) make sure their vote counts is a great feeling. I try to do everything I can to help my community be heard, not only on the regional or state level, but at the federal level as well.” –Nicole Bonenfant ’16, deputy clerk/assessor Calumet Township

#mtuhumans


Chris Wilson ’19 (Sound Design)

Chris Wilson ’19 at his home in Plymouth, Michigan. Wilson majored in sound design while at Michigan Tech and minored in music composition.

After graduation, I applied to nearly every cruise line and was hired by Norwegian Cruise Line as a lounge technician. My main task was to set up the musicians for performances in the shipboard lounges. 

The COVID-19 pandemic started affecting shipboard operations on our last cruise from Australia to French Polynesia, after which we were supposed to head to Alaska for summer. Before guests even got on board, some ports were closed to all cruise ship traffic so immediately our itinerary changed. We were no longer traveling to Samoa and no one would be allowed to get off in New Caledonia. This initial change angered some guests but the rest were understanding. Midway through a three-day journey in French Polynesia, the captain informed us that all of French Polynesia closed their ports and we were heading back to Fiji. This infuriated a lot of the guests, made some happy, and confused the rest. This would be a recurring theme.

Since the cruise had essentially been canceled, our main objective was to disembark the 2,400 passengers safely in New Zealand. A day later, New Zealand closed their ports as well. 

Our ship was bouncing around the Pacific Ocean with nowhere to go. It seemed like we were at the mercy of the sea with no one reaching out to help. No one knew how much fuel we had left and those that did were told to keep their mouths shut. Food and water are easy enough to ration, but without fuel we would have had no navigation, limited communications, no electricity, and no ventilation. 

Guests started contacting their own governments. I guess they thought their government would be able to overrule the local government’s rules and let them leave before the other guests. This didn’t happen. 

Through all this, on-shore operations worked tirelessly to convince governments to open up their ports so we could at least refuel. We got word that American Samoa would let us in to refuel, but, strictly no one was allowed off the ship. 

I cannot tell you how beautiful the island looked when we first caught sight of it. I almost cried when I saw land. It was just so surreal to finally be there after all the uncertainty. It was the first time that we had hope. 

Shoreside operations formed a very detailed plan for us. From American Samoa, we were to sail to Hawaii. Once we arrived, the guests would disembark and take chartered flights provided by NCL. Very specific procedures were in place to minimize all contact between guests and officials on land. 

After 12 days at sea and countless changes to our plans, we made it to Honolulu. We were docked for five days and disembarked all the guests. This was our main goal. Employees would be fine staying on the ship as long as there were no guests to tend to. We left Hawaii for a  six-day journey to Los Angeles. 

We closed down all the restaurants, lounges, and other guest areas in preparation for an unknown amount of time, which meant, we finally got something rarely seen on cruise ships—a break. 

When we arrived in L.A., lists were posted detailing which crew members would be going home. At this point, most countries were closed so a majority of the crew had to stay on board. Fortunately, most U.S. citizens were able to leave the ship.

The adventure that began Feb. 27 finally ended with I arrived home in Plymouth, Michigan April 6.


Daisuke Minakata, Civil and Environmental Engineering

A professor in a Michigan Tech lab with seven undergraduate students
Minakata in the lab with students. Many have had the opportunity to do undergraduate research with him—and many more have the chance to talk to him about his research in the summer webinar series Husky Bites.

I was born and raised in Japan. I came to the US for the first time as a high school exchange student, just for one month. I lived in Virginia, in a place called Silverplate, a suburb of Washington, D.C. I went to Thomas Jefferson Science and Technology High School, which was the sister school of my Japanese high school, and one of the nation’s top scientific high schools. And I did like it. This triggered my study abroad dream. I was impressed by the high school education system in the US. It’s one that never just looks for the systematic solution, but values process, logic, and discussion-based classes.
I loved watching a beautiful image of planet Earth, one with a very clear sky and blue water, during my high school days. However, as I began to learn how life on Earth suffers many difficult environmental problems, including air pollution and water contamination, I also learned that environmental engineers can be leaders who help solve the Earth’s most difficult sustainability problems. That is when I decided to become an engineer.
In my undergraduate curriculum, the water quality and treatment classes I took were the toughest subjects to get an A in. I had to work the hardest to understand the content. So, naturally, I decided to enter this discipline as I got to know about water engineering more. And then, there’s our blue planet, the image. Water makes the Earth look blue from space.

The Blue Planet. (NASA image)


While in college, during my graduate studies, I took a one-year leave from Kyoto University in Japan and studied at University of Pennsylvania as a visiting graduate student. Then I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in order to get a PhD at Georgia Institute of Technology. I accepted my position at Michigan Tech in 2013.
I’m now a father of two. Both are Yoopers, born here in the UP of Michigan. My wife and I really enjoy skiing (downhill and cross country) with the kids each winter. I do like all the cities I have lived in. The place I am currently living is our two kids’ birthplace, and our real home. Of course it’s our favorite place, after our Japanese hometown. –Daisuke Minakata, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering #mtuhumans


Tony Pinar, Electrical and Computer Engineering lecturer and researcher, MTU grad

I was raised near the small town of Trout Creek, Michigan. I’ve always been obsessed with figuring out how things work. I was also interested in electricity from a young age, thanks to my dad, an electrician, who had me help him wire houses. These led me to pursue electrical engineering at Michigan Tech, where I learned EE was so much more than power distribution.
I had the opportunity to work on many interesting projects as a student, both applied and research-based. As an undergrad I contributed to projects such as a solar-tracking solar panel, a Tesla coil, and an industry-sponsored project concerning wireless power transfer. In graduate school I worked on projects involving autonomous underwater gliders, 3D metal printers, and explosive hazard detection using ground penetrating radar; my dissertation focused on the algorithms I developed and used for much of the explosive hazard detection problem.
What I like most about teaching electrical engineering is that teaching is like a puzzle where one may have to take a difficult concept, reduce it to digestible pieces, and deliver them to fresh minds in a way to maximize understanding and insight. That challenge is what drives me to be a better teacher. It keeps me on my toes, forces me to constantly identify holes in my knowledge, and drives me to continuously strive to learn new things.
I live in Hancock with my wife, Noelle, and our two boys. If I’m not spending time outdoors in the Keweenaw with my family, you’ll probably find me playing guitar or tinkering with a side project. –Tony Pinar, lecturer, researcher, and electrical engineering graduate (BS, MS, and PhD), Michigan Tech Electrical and Computer Engineering Department #mtuhumans