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    Human Factors Grad Student Wins Hackathon, Cites Pandemic for Opportunity

    One Michigan Tech graduate student found a silver lining of the pandemic-driven shift to remote study: the ability to gain experiences previously prevented by distance. And “gained experience” is an understatement, as Brooke Poyhonen recently was on the winning team in the Texas Health Care Challenge, an online hackathon that sought solutions to problems in health care.

    The winning project, from Team WatsonCares, focused on women’s postpartum health and proposed a suite of services for new mothers:

    • A natural-language chatbot, powered by IBM Watson’s AI, to answer patient questions about both mental and physical health
    • A community feature allowing postpartum women to support one another
    • Deep informational and support resources

    Poyhonen said the team came together because after hearing initial “problem pitches,” in which existing teams outline the projects they want to tackle, some were uninterested in the originally pitched ideas. So they created their own team. “Ideally, we want the chatbot to be personalized to the patient’s history,” she said. “And we wanted to create a safe space for women to talk to each other.”

    Poyhonen will complete her accelerated M.S. in applied cognitive science and human factors this spring. She earned a B.S. in psychology from Michigan Tech in 2020. Both degrees are offered by the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department in the University’s College of Sciences and Arts.

    The Texas challenge is normally on-site only, and she appreciated the chance to participate and urges other students to seek out similar opportunities. “It was great to meet people from around the country and work with a team on a real-world goal,” Poyhonen said. “It’s a great networking opportunity and gives me a concrete project to discuss in interviews. It was just so rewarding.”

    The team’s prize included $120,000 in credits toward IBM products and services, a smaller cash award, and temporary office space with a Dallas venture capital firm. Poyhonen is working with team members on the project as a start-up while also pursuing other opportunities.

    She got her first taste of hackathons over the winter in the Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Grand Challenge, run by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The challenge was to help the up to 90% of sonographers who develop disorders such as occupational overuse syndrome. Her team, which included a sonography mentor, an engineering student and two sonography students, created the Air Buddy, a device to help sonographers apply pressure to a probe with reduced physical stress. Poyhonen’s team won first place after judges deliberated for an entire week after the month-long window for teams to work on the problem.

    Kelly Steelman, interim chair of the Cognitive and Learning Sciences Department, said hackathons are great supplements to classroom experiences. “I commend Brooke for taking the initiative to seek out design challenges as a way to build her portfolio of experiences and hone the skills she’s learned in our program,” Steelman said. “Brooke took advantage of opportunities through outside organizations, but we also offer hack-a-thons right here on campus.”

    She said Husky Innovate is currently planning their inaugural hack-a-thon as part of an initiative to grow the human-centered design community at Michigan Tech. For more information on this, contact Lisa Casper.

    Dr. Steelman is a member of the Human-Centered Computing research group of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

    Michigan Tech’s graduate program in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors teaches students how to apply principles of psychology to the design and evaluation of human-technological systems. Steelman said Beth Veinott, director of the Center for Human-Centered Computing, frequently reinforces for students that, “If you get the psychology right first, you design the right system, it is easier to train, and people are more likely to adopt it.”


    Register for Michigan Tech’s Design Expo, Thursday, April 15

    by Pavlis Honor College

    Now’s the time to register to attend Virtual Design Expo, the annual Enterprise and Senior Design project showcase at Michigan Tech.

    Once again, for the second time ever in its 21-year history, Design Expo will take place virtually. We’ve excitedly taken lessons learned from last year’s first virtual Expo and fused it with new ways of connecting to make the 2021 Design Expo more engaging and safe to attend in real-time!

    Design Expo puts our undergraduate student innovators and their corporate and community sponsors and faculty advisors front and center.

    Every year, teams showcase their solutions to complex, real-world and life-changing challenges. Teams compete for thousands of dollars in cash awards—and receive priceless, well-deserved recognition. 

    Guests and judges will need to register in order to attend by April 9. 

    This year’s event will happen in multiple segments online via Zoom and Gatherly. 

    Monday, April 12

    • Noon — Remote, asynchronous viewing and judging of team videos opens on the Design Expo website, mtu.edu/expo.

    Thursday, April 15

    • 11 to 11:30 a.m. — Opening remarks via live Zoom webinar
    • 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Synchronous event with student teams begins: take part in real-time interaction/Q&A with students using Gatherly
    • 3 to 3:30 p.m. — Presentation of Awards via Zoom live webinar
    • 3:30 p.m. — Virtual Design Expo 2021 concludes


    Spring Celebration Update

    In light of recent changes to Michigan’s COVID-19 epidemic orders that increase the size of allowable group gatherings, Michigan Technological University has modified its graduation celebration planned for April 30, 2021 to allow families and guests to participate alongside their graduate.

    As announced in an earlier email to students, the University will host a graduation walk through campus to celebrate this significant milestone. Students may now invite up to six guests to walk with them. Details, including the start times, are still being worked out. Graduates who would like to participate will be asked to sign up prior to the celebration. A signup link will be emailed to all eligible graduates on March 22.

    As a reminder, Michigan Tech remains committed to the health and safety of our campus community. All guests and graduates will be required to wear a face mask at all times and practice social distancing during the event. Please be sure to check www.mtu.edu/commencement for the latest information.

    Congratulations, Huskies—you did it! The pride you feel now will only grow stronger with time. Your Michigan Tech family and our community joins you and your loved ones in celebrating your completion of this journey. 

    Regalia Update

    Regalia is encouraged, but not required at the outdoor event. Regalia can be ordered through Herff Jones with direct delivery to the graduate. If you have questions regarding your order, contact Michele Nash from Herff Jones at mnash@herffjones.com or 248-667-9018. 

    Class of 2021, you’ve done an amazing job! If you have any questions, contact commencement@mtu.edu.

    Please Note

    Neither participation in the commencement ceremony nor inclusion in the program constitutes official completion of degree requirements or the attainment of honors or other recognitions.

    Graduates do not receive their diploma at the commencement ceremony. Diplomas are mailed to the graduate approximately six weeks after degree requirements are met.



    CyberCorps SFS Program: Info Session #1 Is March 22, 7 pm

    Monday, March 22, 2021 6-7 p.m.

    An exciting scholarship opportunity has been announced for Michigan Tech students who wish to pursue cybersecurity-related degrees and work for government agencies after graduation.

    Two informational sessions will be presented, on March 22 and March 30, both from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. EST, to help students complete the application process for the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) Program.

    Both sessions will provide the same information. Prior registration is required. Following, you will receive a confirmation email and instructions for joining the session.

    View the blog post here: https://blogs.mtu.edu/computing/2021/02/19/info-sessions-for-cybercorps-scholarship-are-march-22-march-30/

    More info about the SFS Program: https://www.mtu.edu/sfs/


    SASE at Michigan Tech Is Newest Student Organization

    A new student organization has been officially approved through the office of Student Leadership and Involvement

    The mission of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) at Michigan Tech is to support and promote the personal and professional development of Asian/Asian-American students and their friends.

    Any and all interested students (including all majors and identities) are welcome to join SASE at Michigan Tech. Faculty and staff are also welcome to be involved as honorary members of the RSO.

    Find more info and contact the SASE at Michigan Tech on the group’s Involvement Link webpage.

    An APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) subcommittee will plan activities centered specifically around the Asian American experience,. Sudent leaders are working to officially affiliate the group as a national SASE chapter, in addition to its status as a Registered Student Organization (RSO) at the University.

    The SASE group is co-advised by Distinguished Professor of Transportation Engineering Dr. Zhanping You (CEE) and Liz Fujita, Academic Advisor and Outreach Specialist in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department.

    Information about the national work of SASE can be found here.



    Spring Commencement Update

    by Registrar’s Office

    The commencement team has begun planning an exciting celebration for our 2020 and Spring 2021 graduates. Unfortunately, the indoor commencement ceremony has been canceled, and students were recently notified, but that isn’t stopping us from celebrating their successes.

    In place of the traditional ceremony, graduates will be celebrated in an outdoor event along the campus mall on the afternoon of Friday, April 30. While planning is in the early stages, departments will be asked to take part in the celebration by cheering on their students as they participate in this sendoff. With that, departments, faculty, and staff are asked to save the date. The time is approximately 1 to 4 p.m., though not everyone will celebrate at the same time as graduates will be split into groups by their college to keep gathering sizes smaller.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance and support. Additional information will be provided as plans progress.


    2021 Design Expo Continues As Virtual Event

    by Pavlis Honors College

    The 21st Design Expo will continue virtually, but with a twist! Combining lessons learned from our first successful Virtual Design Expo and the desire to engage student teams synchronously, the Design Expo committee is excited to invite the Michigan Tech community, program friends and sponsors to register for this year’s Design Expo held via Gatherly, a platform used to simulate synchronous interactions and discussions, similar to a live MUB ballroom event.

    Similar to last year’s Virtual Design Expo, more than 1,000 students in the Enterprise and Senior Design programs will come together to put on a virtual showcase of their work and compete for awards. This year, a panel of judges, made up of distinguished corporate representatives, alumni, community members, and Michigan Tech staff and faculty will critique videos of team projects, solutions, and results. We will kick-off and close the event via Zoom. At 11:30 AM participants will transition over to Gatherly, for the live two-hour synchronous showcase for student projects.

    This event is free and open to the public. We encourage current and future students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, families of students. etc to help us celebrate our students and their achievements—register today to virtually attend Design Expo.

    2021 Schedule of Events:

    Monday, April 12

    • Noon — Remote judging open

    Thursday, April 15

    • 11 a.m.: Opening remarks via live webinar
    • 11:30 a.m.: Gatherly event opens
    • 1:30 p.m.: Gatherly event closes
    • 3 p.m.: Presentation of Awards via live webinar
    • 3:30 p.m.: 2021 Design Expo concludes

    Interested in judging for the 21th annual Design Expo? This year, judges will have the flexibility to judge team videos anytime between noon on April 12 through 1:30 p.m. on April 15. In addition to video judging, judges will be asked to attend Design Expo between 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. during the Judging Hour on April 15 to visit assigned teams via Gatherly.

    Judges will be selected based on the availability to attend Design Expo during the synchronous event starting at 11:30 a.m. Judges will be assigned three to five teams to view and evaluate team videos over a four-day period (April 12-15) using an electronic ballot sent out via email and/or text message.

    Judges will then judge the same three to five teams during the synchronous events 11:30-1:30 p.m. There will be a designated judging hour 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. but judges may continue scoring teams until 1:30 p.m.

    Please consider serving as a judge — we welcome all Michigan Tech faculty, staff, alumni, industry representatives, community members, and anyone interested in the great work of our students!.

    Click here for more information on attending and judging Design Expo. Check out all of the details of Design Expo here. For questions, please reach out to Briana Tucker.


    GRC Registration Closes Soon

    by Graduate Student Government

    Registration for this year’s virtual Graduate Research Colloquium (GRC) will close at 11:59 PM tomorrow (March 2). The event will be held on Thursday April 1, and Friday April 2.

    GRC is a great opportunity to work on your presentation skills and prepare for upcoming conferences. Students are free to give an oral presentation, a poster talk, or both. All talks will be scored by judges from the same field as the presenter, who will give valuable insight and feedback on how you can improve your talk. Cash prizes are available for the top 3 places in both oral and poster presentations ( 1st – $300, 2nd – $200, and 3rd – $100). Registration closes Tuesday, March 2, at 11:59 PM. Only a research abstract is due at the time of registration. Register today.

    Guidelines to record a video for the poster session and to compile slides for an oral presentation are available on the event website. The video and slide submission deadline for the event is 11:59 PM, Monday March 22, 2021. Full information on the event can be found on our website.

    Feel free to contact Sarvada Chipkar if you have any questions or concerns.


    Info Sessions for CyberCorps Scholarship Are March 22, March 30

    An exciting scholarship opportunity has been announced for Michigan Tech students who wish to pursue cybersecurity-related degrees and work for government agencies after graduation.

    Two informational sessions will be presented, on March 22 and March 30, to help students complete the application process for the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) Program.

    Both sessions will provide the same information. Prior registration is required. Following, you will receive a confirmation email and instructions for joining the session.

    Recently funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the SFS Program provides full scholarships for two or three years of support for undergraduate and graduate students in selected cybersecurity-related degree programs.

    In return, following graduation recipients must agree to work for for the U.S. government in a cybersecurity-related position for a period equal to the duration of the scholarship.

    Applications are being accepted for the 2021-2022 cohort. The deadline to apply is June 1, 2021. View the list of eligible degree programs on the SFS website.

    Session #1 is on Monday, March 22, 2021, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. EST. Register for Session #1 here.

    Session #2 is on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. EST. Register for Session #2 here.

    For more information, please visit the SFS website at https://www.mtu.edu/sfs/, or contact Professor Yu Cai (cai@mtu.edu).

    Read a Michigan Tech press release about this new scholarship opportunity:
    https://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2021/february/cybercorps-offers-huskies-scholarship-for-service-opportunity.html


    Computing Programs Ranked Among Best in Nation

    Several Michigan Tech College of Computing degree programs have been ranked among the best in the nation by Intelligent.com. In addition, the research guide ranked the University number three among all colleges in Michigan.

    Intelligent.com looked at nearly 2,300 accredited colleges and universities nationwide making evaluations based on curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation and post-graduate employment. Programs were evaluated on a scale of 0 to 100 with Michigan Tech making it to the final list for 12 separate degree programs.

    The four College of Computing programs and their national ranking as rated by Intelligent.com are:

    Additional Michigan Tech degree programs included in the ranking are: