Category: Announcements

Remembering Roger Kieckhafer

By Glen Archer, Interim Chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Roger cared deeply for his students, his family, and his profession. I think that may be the source we can draw upon to comfort our own sense of sadness and grief. The impact he had on hundreds of lives will shine on.

Professor Roger Kieckhafer was an inventor, engineer, researcher, educator, veteran and valued faculty member at Michigan Technological University. He died on Friday, July 17 in a tragic vehicle-bicycle accident. He was 69.

The loss to the faculty and staff in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the College of Engineering is immense. We will not recover quickly from the shock of his death.

Roger received his Bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 1974 and earned his Master’s and PhD in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1982 and 1983, respectively. The years between were spent in service to the United States Navy as a Nuclear Officer aboard the Trident missile submarine USS Abraham Lincoln. He also supervised the construction of the USS Indianapolis. His time in industry was also well spent, producing several patents that were licensed to Allied Signal, now Honeywell Corporation.

Roger was fond of classical music, particularly opera, and sang in the Copper Country Chorale, often accompanied by his daughter, Maggie, on organ. He also sang in the prestigious Pine Mountain Music Festival, including the premiere of the opera Rockland, based on the story of the 1906 miner strike in Rockland, Michigan.

Roger was instrumental in creating the computer engineering degree program at Michigan Tech. Working with Linda Ott in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Sciences and Arts, he bridged the gap between two departments in two separate colleges, crafting a program that educated hundreds—a new breed of engineer steeped in both worlds.

Even after the development of the computer engineering program, Roger’s collaboration with the Department of Computer Science continued. “We worked together on a strategic hiring initiative, multiple curricular issues, reorganization discussions and countless other issues,” said Dr. Linda Ott, Chair of the Department of Computer Science. “Roger was always supportive. He clearly believed that we would have stronger programs working together rather than competing.”

Roger was a strong advocate for the ABET accreditation process in the ECE department. He led the initial ABET accreditation of the Computer Engineering program. The procedures and processes he set in place then are still in play nearly 20 years later, guiding the department’s subsequent accreditation for both its electrical engineering and computer engineering degrees.

In the words of Computer Engineering faculty member Kit Cischke, “For Roger, it always boiled down to what was best for our students. The content of our classes. The things our students needed to know to get good jobs. The assignments. The kinds of things they needed to do in the real world. Students were forever contacting Roger after graduation, saying, ‘Thanks for teaching me that. I’m using it every day in my job.’”

Over the past few days, Roger’s former students have reached out to express their grief and sadness. They have shared how much Roger meant to them during their time at Michigan Tech and how well he prepared them for the success they enjoy today. One of those students was Joseph Rabaut. In his words, “I can’t tell you how devastated I am. Dr. Kieckhafer was an amazing person and one of the best professors at Tech. He helped me a lot throughout the past few years, giving me advice and recommendations, and helping me understand computer engineering. I don’t really know what else to say, because words can’t really describe losing him.”

Roger cared deeply for his students, his family, and his profession. I think that may be the source we can draw upon to comfort our own sense of sadness and grief. The impact he had on hundreds of lives will shine on.

As we move forward, his legacy will live on. As suggested by several people, a scholarship fund will be set up in Roger’s memory.

Roger is survived by his wife, Patricia Kieckhafer; son, Alexander Kieckhafer (Mallika Lavakumar) and thoroughly adored granddaughters, Ananya Kieckhafer and Ishani Kieckhafer of Cleveland, Ohio; daughter, Katherine Kieckhafer of Boston, Massachusetts; and Maggie Kieckhafer (Tahmoures Tabatabaei) of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Roger’s obituary can be read here.

Michigan Tech 17th Among 50 Public Colleges that Pay Off the Most

Michigan Tech was listed #17 among public institutions on the “The top 50 U.S. colleges that pay off the most in 2020,” published by CNBC.

CNBC Make It wants to help people get smarter about they you earn, save and spend money, according to their website. The website focuses on success, money, work and life, and provides information and inspiration to navigate big financial firsts: from landing your dream job, to starting a business, to investing in your future and leading a rich life.

Weihua Zhou Receives PHF Seed Grant

The Michigan Tech Vice President for Research office has announced the Spring 2020 Research Excellence Fund (REF) awards.

Among the recipients is Assistant Professor Weihua Zhou, Applied Computing/Health Informatics, who received a Portage Health Foundation Research Seed Grant.

Zhou’s areas of expertise include image processing and computer vision, machine learning, medical image analysis, health informatics, and text mining.

The proposed project represents Zhou’s continuous research on cardiac resynchronization therapy for patients with heart failure.

His co-investigators are Associate Professor Qing-Hui Chen, M.D., Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology, and Timothy Havens, the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor, College of Computing.

Ph.D. candidate Zhuo He, College of Computing, is a research assistant on the project. Rudy Evonich, MD, a cardiologist with the Department of Cardiology at UP Health System Marquette, Mich., is a clinical consultant.

Read the Tech Today announcement here.

Learn more about Michigan Tech REF awards here.

Signature Research, Michigan Tech win $1 Million NGA Research Award

Signature Research Inc. has partnered with Michigan Technological University to accomplish a Phase II STTR project sponsored by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The two-year, $1 Million project is titled, “Algorithms for Look-Down Infrared Target Exploitation-Phase II.” Michigan Tech’s portion of the $1 million contract is $400K.


Principal investigator of the project is Dr. Timothy Havens, director of the Institute of Computing and Cyberystems (ICC) and associate dean of research for the College of Computing. Havens is joined by Signature Research, Inc. (SGR) Program Manager Matt Blanck, who will lead the SGR side of the project.

At Tech, Havens will be assisted in accomplishing the goals of this project by Research Scientist Adam Webb of the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) and Nicholas Hamilton, a Computer Science Ph.D. candidate.

“This project will identify physics-based novel signatures and data processing techniques to exploit overhead infrared (IR) imagery using machine learning algorithms.”

“The SGR/MTU Team will generate, collect, and label a wide body of data, implement learning algorithms, develop use cases and tests on those data, and perform a comprehensive study to determine ways in which learning algorithms can automate IR imagery recognition tasks.”

Dr. Timothy Havens

And while this effort is focused on overhead IR imagery, Havens says the methods and software developed will have applicability to other sensing modalities, leading to investigations of multi-modal fusion of all-source data.


Signature Research, Inc. (SGR) solutions to DoD and Intelligence Community customers, and specializes in in Signature Phenomenology, Analysis, and Modeling of items of military interest covering the breadth of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a combat support agency under the United States Department of Defense and a member of the United States Intelligence Community, with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing, and distributing geospatial intelligence in support of national security.

The Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) promotes research and learning experiences in the areas of cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, data sciences, human-centered computing, and scalable architectures and systems for the benefit of Michigan Tech and society at large.

The Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) is an innovator in building information from data through the marriage of phenomenological understanding and implementation of mathematically rigorous algorithms. Together with University and other national and international collaborators, MTRI researchers and scientists work to solve critical problems in national security, protecting and evaluating critical infrastructure, bioinformatics, Earth sciences, and environmental processes, according to their website.

CS Ph.D. Candidate Ali Jalooli Awarded Finishing Fellowship

The Michigan Tech Graduate School has announced that Computer Science Ph.D. candidate Ali Jalooli is among the graduate students who have received a Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Award.

Jalooli’s research studies the optimization of message routing in heterogeneous wireless networks. His dissertation is titles, “Enabling Technologies for Internet of Things: Optimized Networking for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.”

Each semester, the Graduate School awards Finishing Fellowships that provide support to Ph.D. candidates nearing completion of their degrees. The fellowships, available through the generosity of University alumni and friends, are intended to recognize outstanding Ph.D. candidates who are in need of financial support to finish their degrees, and who are also contributing to the attainment of goals outlined in The Michigan Tech Plan. Support ranges from a $2,000 stipend to full support (stipend and tuition).

Jalooli’s research focuses on vehicular “networks in smart cities. He notes that research in this area is of great importance, as it advances cutting-edge connected and autonomous vehicle technologies.

“This has far-reaching consequences for many aspects of daily life, given the expanding world of the Internet of Things,” he explains. “Connected vehicles provide various benefits, spanning from advanced driver assistance, remote diagnostics, and infotainment for consumers to road safety, improving response time for emergency vehicles, and even improving national and international economies by ameliorating traffic congestion.”

“My work at Tech on the underlying networks that drive these technologies enhances the performance and feasibility of robust wireless networks,” Jalooli says. “During my time at Tech, I have also gained teaching experience and increased responsibility in course development and assessment as a teaching assistant and lead instructor.”

“I am grateful to the Graduate School and the Graduate School Dean Awards Advisory Panel for awarding me a Finishing Fellowship,” Jalooli says. “I am also grateful to my advisors, Dr. Kuilin Zhang and Dr. Min Song, for their support and guidance.”

Read a Grad School blog post about Ali Jalooli here.

Additional recipients of graduate student awards appear below.
Doctoral Finishing Fellowship Award: Elizabeth M. Barnes, Forest Science; Shahab Bayani Ahangar, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics; Haitao Cao, Geophysics ; Eassa Hedayati, Computational Science and Engineering; Pratik Umesh Joshi, Chemical Engineering ; Kevin C. Nevorski, Biological Sciences ; Bethel Worku Tarekegne, Environmental Energy and Policy; Hua Wang, Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship: Lavanya Rajesh Kumar, Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors; Dylan G. Turpeinen, Chemical Engineering
Matwiyoff & Hogberg Endowed Graduate Fellowship: Wenkai Jia, Biomedical Engineering
The DeVlieg Foundation 2020 Summer Research Award in Biology/Wildlife: Angela M. Walczyk, Biological Sciences

Profiles of all the current recipients can be found online.

Nathir Rawashdeh Publishes Paper in BioSciences Journal

A paper co-authored by Assistant Professor Nathir Rawashdeh (DataS, Applied Computing) on Skin Cancer Image Feature Extraction, has been published this month in the EurAsian Journal of BioSciences.

View the open access article, “Visual feature extraction from dermoscopic colour images for classification of melanocytic skin lesions,” here.

Additional authors are Walid Al-Zyoud, Athar Abu Helou, and Eslam AlQasem, all with the Department of Biomedical Engineering, German Jordanian University, Amman, Jordan.

Citation: Al-Zyoud, Walid et al. “Visual feature extraction from dermoscopic colour images for classification of melanocytic skin lesions”. Eurasian Journal of Biosciences, vol. 14, no. 1, 2020, pp. 1299-1307.

Rawashdeh’s interests include unmanned ground vehicles, electromobility, robotics, image analysis, and color science. He is a senior member of the IEEE.

Thomas Oommen PI of 41K RD Contract

Professor Thomas Oommen (DataS, GMES, EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a one-year project that has been awarded a $41K research and development contract with the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

The project is titled “Flood Hazard Map to Water Management & Planning.”

Oommen’s research focuses on developing improved susceptibility characterization and documentation of geo-hazards (e.g. earthquakes, landslides) and spatial modeling of georesource (e.g. mineral deposits) over a range of spatial scales and data types.

To achieve his research interests, he has adopted an inter-disciplinary research approach joining aerial/satellite based remote sensing for obtaining data, and artificial intelligence/machine learning based methods for data processing and modeling.

Recap: Virtual Parallel-in-Time Workshop 2020

The virtual 2020 Parallel-in-Time conference, co-organized by Assistant Professor Benjamin Ong (DataS, Mathematics), took place June 8 to 12, 2020.

The conference consisted of 20 presentations, including one by Mathematics department graduate student, Nadun Dissanayake.

140 participants in more than a dozen countries registered and participated in the conference. View the conference video lectures and program information here.

The primary focus of the Parallel-in-Time Workshop was to disseminate cutting-edge research and facilitate scientific discussions on the field of parallel time integration methods.

Download the conference program booklet here.

Flex Fall Faculty Workshops, Q-A Sessions from IDEA Hub, CTL

To help faculty prepare for Flex Fall, IDEA Hub and the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning have organized a series of events, each including Flex Fall Q&A sessions and discussions about teaching.

Click the below links to register and receive a Google calendar invitation and the Zoom link. Questions? Email margaret@mtu.edu.

Session #2: Wednesday, June 17, 3:00 – 4:30 pm. Online Teaching Showcase
Teaching, Q&A: 3 – 3:30 pm; Teaching Showcase, Discussion: 3:30-4:30 pm)

Session #3, Wednesday, June 24, 3-5 pm: Develop Innovative Solutions
(Teaching, Q&A: 3 – 3:30 pm, Design Thinking Workshop: Develop Innovative Solutions: 3:30 – 5 pm)

Session #4: Wednesday, July 1, 3 to 5 pm: Prototype Your Innovative Solutions
(Teaching, Q&A: 3 to 3:30 pm; Design Thinking Workshop–Prototype Your Innovative Solutions: 3:30 – 5 pm)

Read the full story in Monday’s Tech Today.

GSG to Present Webinar Series in Computer Programming

The Graduate Student Government (GSG) Professional Development Committee has organized a free webinar series in Computer Programming, which begins Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

July 14: “Introduction to Machine Learning with Python,” by Timothy Havens (CC)

July 15: “Managing Data” (Data Mining)” by MS Data Science candidate Sneha Nimmagadda

July 16: “Introduction to Deep Learning,” by Timothy Havens (CC)

Seats are not limited, but participants are asked to register so webinar organizers know how many attendees to expect.

Find more information, including links to register and join Zoom meetings, visit the GSG website.