Category: College of Engineering

Paige Fiet ’21, Electrical Engineering, 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.

A young woman holds up a green circuit board in an electronics lab for students. Her shirt says Michigan Tech.

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

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

Guy Meadows, Research Professor, Marine Engineering Lab Director

I was born and raised in the City of Detroit, and attended Detroit Public Schools. When I went to college I had to work to make ends meet. I got a job as a cook in the dorm, and eventually worked my way up to lead cook. I was cooking breakfast for 1,200 people each morning. One of my fellow classmates was studying engineering, too. He had a job working for a professor doing research on storm waves and beaches. I had no idea I could be hired by a professor and get paid money to work on the beach! I quit my job in the kitchen and went to work for that professor instead. I had been a competitive swimmer in high school, and the beach was where I really wanted to be.
When I graduated with my degree, I went to work for Ford. I have to thank my first boss for assigning me to work on rear axle shafts. After about two months, I called my former professor to see if I could come back to college.
My advice for students just starting out is to spend your first year exploring all your options. Find out what you really want to do. I had no idea I could turn a mechanical engineering degree into a job working on the beach. Turns out, I could⁠—and I’m still doing it today.
Because I grew up in Detroit, I had the opportunity to live, work, and grow in a very diverse community. While a faculty member at the University of Michigan, I was part of a great team that started the M-STEM Academies and became its founding director. The M-STEM mission is ‘to strengthen and diversify the cohort of students who receive their baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), with the ultimate goal of increasing the number and diversity of students who are well prepared to seek career opportunities or to pursue graduate or professional training in the STEM disciplines in the new global economy.’ This effort has been a very important part of my journey. –Guy Meadows, Director, Marine Engineering Laboratory, Robbins Professor of Sustainable Marine Engineering, and Research Professor, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics #mtuhumans

Rebecca Ong, assistant professor, chemical engineering

Rebecca Ong preps a switchgrass sample in the lab.

I’m a born Yooper who grew up in a small town in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan and came back to the UP for school. I love the Copper Country and MTU students so much, I managed to persuade my husband to come back to Houghton five years ago. Now I live near campus with my husband, daughter, our Torbie cat and our curly-haired dog. We read science fiction and fantasy stories; play board games; kayak on the canals and lakes while watching for signs of wildlife; make new things out of yarn, fabric, wood, and plastic (though not all at the same time) and practice herbology and potions in the garden and kitchen.
I first became interested in engineering in high school when I learned it was a way to combine math and science to solve problems. I loved math and science and thought that sounded brilliant. However, I didn’t understand at the time what that really meant. I thought “problems” meant the types of problems you solve in math class. Since then I’ve learned these problems are major issues that are faced by all of humanity, such as: How do we enable widespread access to clean energy? How do we produce sufficient amounts of safe vaccines and medicine, particularly in a crisis? How do we process food products, while maintaining safety and nutritional quality? As a chemical engineer I am able to combine my love of biology, chemistry, physics, and math to create novel solutions to society’s problems.

One thing I love about MTU is that the university gives students tons of hands-on opportunities to solve real problems, not just problems out of a textbook (though we still do a fair number of those!). These are the types of problems our students will be solving when they go on to their future careers. –Rebecca Ong, assistant professor, chemical engineering

#mtuhumans #mtugrad

Brad King, Professor in Space Systems, Aerospace Enterprise Advisor

A man in a blue shirt with blurred background of equipment in a mechanical engineering aerospace lab smiles at the camera.

I have always been interested in building things—long before I knew that was called “engineering.” I don’t recall when I became fascinated with space but it was at a very early age. I have embarrassing photos of me dressed as an astronaut for Halloween and I may still even have an adult-sized astronaut costume somewhere in my closet—not saying.
The desire to explore space is what drives me. Very early in my studies I realized that the biggest impediment to space exploration is propulsion. Space is just so big it’s hard to get anywhere. So I dedicated my professional life to developing new space propulsion technologies. There is other life in our solar system. That is a declarative statement. It’s time that we find it. The moons of Jupiter and Saturn hold great promise and I’m determined to see proof in my lifetime.
I was born and raised just north of Houghton (yes, there actually is some habitable environment north of Houghton). I received my BS, MS, and PhD from the University of Michigan. I spent time traveling around the country working at NASA in Houston, NIST in Boulder, and realized that all of my personal hobbies and proclivities were centered around the geography and climate of northern Michigan. I returned in 2000 and began my career as a professor at MTU. I enjoy fishing, boating, hockey, and spent more than 15 years running my dogsled team all over the Keweenaw Peninsula. –Brad King, Henes Endowed Professor in Space Systems, MTU Aerospace Enterprise Advisor #mtuhumans

Maneet Singh

Sometimes my name tag says Taylor 2.0. It’s a running joke with one of my coworkers; basically, we were arguing about who is better at their jobs, and I said, “You’re Taylor and I’m better, so I’m Taylor 2.0 now.” So that’s been my name tag ever since. It’s a fun joke at work and everyone says, “You don’t look like a Taylor.” And I say, “I don’t look like Taylor, but I’m Taylor 2.0, so that’s a different person.”

Emi Colman

Emi Colman with rocket

I’m super into rocketry. In high school, I was the captain of one of the rocket teams and was on the team for three years. Actually, Mr. Ratza, our advisor, also recommended I do the women in engineering Summer Youth Program (SYP), so I attribute a lot to him. I came for SYP the summer into my senior year. Michigan Tech is the only school I applied to. I’m studying mechanical engineering, I’m outreach coordinator of the Keweenaw Rocket Range student organization, and I’m staying over the summer to take classes and be a SYP weekend counselor. In the fall, I’ll be an orientation team leader. I’m a very sociable person, so it’s not hard for me to be outgoing. Just genuine talking—I’m good at that.

The way I got the job (as outreach coordinator) was by raising my hand at the info session. No one else raised their hand. I’m actually really enjoying it. We’re going to New Mexico for a competition in June. Even though I’m really heavy into rocketry and this leadership stuff, I think it’s important to not get focused solely on those things, but rather, be flexible and versatile. I’m also interested in videography. Because mechanical engineering is so broad, I don’t want to specialize myself in the beginning of my college career, I’d rather be open and see where it takes me, and if rocketry doesn’t end up being my career, I can just make it a hobby because I like it; so that’s my advice—flexibility.


Lauren Fallu

A woman in a jersey holding a volleyball

I’m a fourth-year biomedical engineering student. I chose Michigan Tech because I knew I wanted to be an engineer. I saw Tech had a really high rate of employment and that was really attractive. And the small classroom sizes. I’m an introvert, so it was more appealing to me. And Michigan Tech has just worked out awesome. I’m from a suburb in Detroit. Nine hours from here. I’m so glad I stayed. I’ve made really close friends and all my professors I’m super close with—because of small class size, I can form great relationships with them, and I just feel really welcome here.

I’m on a club volleyball team so that’s another group of girls I’m close with; I’ve been playing volleyball my whole life, I’m so glad I could continue playing while at Tech. I’m close with a lot of the brothers in the fraternity that sponsored me as a Winter Carnival Queen candidate. They asked me if I would want to represent them and I was excited and a little scared because, like I said, I’m an introvert, so putting myself out there and being on stage in front of everyone is really scary to me. But it is something I can be proud of that I did and got over. Also, it’s my last semester so I want to keep making memories before I leave campus. I think it’s really important to put yourself out there and see what you like and don’t like; while you have the time on campus, it’s really important to expose yourself to anything you can because now is the time to figure it out. I’ve been able to do that here.

One of the memories I’ll take with me when I leave campus is snowshoeing. Downstate we don’t ever get enough snow to snowshoe. There are so many beautiful trails here. And Mont Ripley. There’s no ski hill back home so it’s the only time I can go. I also love to go to the Copper Country Humane Society. It’s super small so I can play with all the cats and dogs. Where I’m from I could never do that. Everything is much more personal up here.

I thought I wanted to go into research after I graduated. I got involved in a professor’s biomedical engineering research and I found I didn’t like it. That experience helped me narrow what I am interested in: industry, actual devices instead of the work to develop the devices. I think Tech makes it a priority to give students diverse classes. I’ve had a class on cardiovascular engineering, ethics, and medical devices. I’ve been able to see what specific field I want to go into, what’s interesting to me. Cardiovascular engineering is definitely what I want to go into. But if I wouldn’t have taken that class, if it hadn’t been offered, I would have never known. It’s so awesome that the department and professors expose you to different areas.

Sylvie Rokosh

I was born in England and raised in Canada, but I’m excited to stay and work in the Midwest. I might not play volleyball again, but I get to go out in the world and be a part of a whole new team as a mechanical engineer for Yanfeng Automotive Interiors. A team isn’t just what you see on the court. Sport is a lot more than running up and down or jumping. It’s sacrifice. We’ve been 0 and 20 and we’ve experienced a 10-game winning streak. Even just a taste of success gets you through the droughts. My coaches provided a framework for what kind of athlete, and what kind of person I want to be. The world is ready for strong, athletic female leaders.