Category Archives: News

David House Endowed Professorship for Kui Zhang

Kui Zhang
Kui Zhang

The College of Sciences and Arts is pleased to announce the David House Endowed Professorship in Statistics, Data Mining, and Data Analytics for Kui Zhang. Professor Zhang, a new faculty member in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, is pursuing methodological developments and seeking collaborations in statistical genetics and genomics, bioinformatics, and biostatistics.

David House is one of Michigan Tech’s leading strategic supporters. As department chair Mark Gockenbach has noted, “It is gratifying that Mr. House recognizes the importance of statistics and data science in today’s world. His support has been critical in helping Michigan Tech to move forward, and I am very grateful for his latest contribution to the university.”



Gorgin receives the MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award

The Midwestern Association of Graduate School annually solicits for the Excellence in Teaching Award in recognition of graduate students who exemplify excellence in the teaching/learning mission of the member universities.

image58794-pers

Elaheh Gorgin, PhD Candidate in Mathematical Sciences

Photographs and details of awards and fellowships coordinated by the Graduate School. For a complete list of award and fellowship winners


Creative Canvas Course Contest (C-4) Winners Announced

Dr. Todd King was selected as one of the eight spring 2015 CTL Creative Canvas Course Contest (C-4) winners.

This spring semester, the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning hosted an explosive program intended to showcase the most effective and user-friendly Canvas Courses at Michigan Tech. The third-annual C-4 competition focused on Canvas courses that are intuitive and easy to navigate, feature good course design, provide convenient access to information and materials students need and offer resources and activities that help students succeed in class. Canvas courses were nominated almost entirely by students, but other faculty and chairs were eligible to nominate Spring 2015 term courses for C-4 too.

Congratulations to this year’s C4 winners:

  • Laura Brown (CS 4821)
  • Steve Elmer (EH 5310)
  • A.J. Hamlin (ENG 1102)
  • Amber Kemppainen (ENG 1102)
  • Todd King (MA 3520)
  • Bryan Lagalo (EC 3002)
  • Chelsea Schelly (SS 4001)
  • Leo Ureel II (CS 1121)

From Tech Today


Dean’s Teaching Showcase

Dean Bruce Seely of the College of Sciences and Arts has chosen to recognize David Olson, a senior lecturer in mathematical sciences as the final Dean’s Teaching Showcase member for spring 2015.

Dean Seely commented on this selection by saying, “Up to this point I have selected younger faculty whose ideas and approaches seem naturally to align with the national patterns of past practices in the class room. For the third selection, however, I am focusing on a person whose demonstration of sustained excellence in teaching and instruction should motivate everyone–David Olson. He has been a leader in teaching in a department noted for excellence. He has taken on the task of adding the necessary knowledge and the external certifications of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) that allow him to guide the department’s actuarial sciences concentration. He has helped advise majors and served on numerous curricular committees. But the most important reason for recognizing Olson is the length of time he has been so good.”

Olson’s initial reaction to Seely’s nomination was “Yikes, I’ve been here 20 years. How did that happen?” But his second reaction was more serious and significant, for it signals the reality of the challenge university faculty face in the classroom. “Teaching technology is progressing so rapidly that I’m hopelessly far behind,” he noted, before adding “If anyone is not hopelessly far behind, they’re not paying attention. I’m sometimes on the bleeding edge, like when Canvas came out, but mostly I look for items where the process just got simpler, like recording class for student-athletes. BIG change, and one that will make it much easier to put together videos.”

Seely sees this technology question as “an obvious conundrum for faculty today.” He and Olson agree that it’s not enough just to know “what the newest ideas and approaches are.” Instructors need to find out “…which ones make sense for the needs at Michigan Tech.” Seely emphasizes, “Novelty for its own sake almost never makes sense in such a dynamic environment. DavidO’s key understanding is that technology needs to facilitate student learning.”

In order to help with this process, Olson focuses on interaction. “My biggest trick is that I listen to students, face-to-face. How is the class going? Concerns? Are there any issues that aren’t clear? What’s really helping you learn? Do you have a good study group? How’s life? What’s your favorite movie? Every now and then a student tells me that some random classroom activity really helped, and so I’ll do more of it, and ask other students whether it’s helping them.” Moreover, Olson notes the vital necessity of talking to other faculty members as well to find out what they are trying, what’s working, and what’s not.

The point is that Olson is never satisfied. “In that last desperate 15 minutes before class, I’m usually asking myself the following questions: ‘What am I trying to accomplish? What activities might work?’ Experiment. Tweak, tweak, tweak.”

The final gauge of this desire to always seek better outcomes can be found in Olson’s last comment. “I have dreams of a revolution, a new STEM sequence that takes advantage of what’s now possible with multimedia and the internet: Scientific Modeling with Calculus and Computers.”  Seely indicates that this goal matches nicely with some ideas circulating within the department, so he fully expects to see such a class take shape in the near future. Seely emphasizes, “But at root, this initiative will grow from Olson’s constant drive to do things better to help students learn.”

Olson will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon during 14th week. Please join Dean Seely and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Olson for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Sciences and Arts.

From Tech Today


Tivitz Tournament at Michigan Tech

The 10th Annual Tivitz Tournament took place at the college campus, where more than 100 students in grades four through seven from seven Western Upper Peninsula schools competed in the board game that draws upon their math and logic skills.

MTU Center For Pre–College Outreach Event Coordinator Amanda McConnon said, “Tivitz is a math game.  It’s similar to checkers but you leave all your pieces on the board and you have to get them from one side to the other and at the end, there’s math equations using the numbers on the Tivitz, which are like dice, and you have to use math to figure out the answers and add up who has the most points.”

Michigan Tech’s Center for Pre–College Outreach partners with the Copper Country Intermediate School District to put on the tournament. And don’t let these kids know, but they are having fun doing math.

South Range Elementary sixth–grader Christian Hocking said, “It’s just fun to play other people in the Tivitz tournament.  When you get older you’re going to need to know math operations and everything for work and stuff.”

The fun coupled with the learning is what makes this event worthwhile.

McConnon said, “We’re teaching them strategy, a little bit of math, and they’re also working with people they might not know from a different school so they’re also having to meet new people.”

From ABC10


Michigan Tech Hosts Tivitz Tournament – March 18

Michigan Tech Hosts Tivitz Tournament

Michigan Tech’s Center for Pre-College Outreach (CPCO) will be hosting the 10th annual Tivitz Tournament today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the SDC Wood Gym. Seven schools from the western Upper Peninsula will be sending about 150 students from grades 4 through 7.

Tivitz is a board game that combines the logic and strategy of checkers/chess with arithmetic problem-solving. Students move their play pieces (tivits) across the game board, one at a time, until they reach goal spaces. Once they reach the other side of the board, they must solve the indicated math problem correctly to score the most points. Pairs of students will play one practice and three scored rounds in a friendly competition to wind up among the highest-scoring in their grade.

Between rounds of Tivitz play, students and staff of Michigan Tech will lead several hands-on activities that demonstrate mathematical concepts.

“Our goal is to show interesting demos that involve math to compliment Tivitz game play,” says Liz Fujita, coordinator at CPCO. “There is a lot of math in everyday life, and a lot of little oddities that are fun to consider.”

The Tivitz Tournament is made possible by the CPCO in partnership with the Department of Mathematical Sciences and the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education.

From Tech Today




Elizabeth Reed Nominated for Distinguished Teaching Award

The William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning seeks input for its annual Distinguished Teaching Awards, which recognize outstanding contribution to the instructional mission of the University.

Based on more than 50,000 student rating of instruction responses, ten finalists have been identified for the 2015 awards. The selection committee is soliciting comments from students, staff, faculty and alumni to aid in its deliberation process.

Senior Lecturer Beth Reed is one of the finalists in the Assistant Professor/Lecturer/Professor of Practice category.

Comments on the nominees are due by Friday, April 3, and can be completed online.

The process for determining the Distinguished Teaching Award recipients from this list of finalists also involves the additional surveying of their classes. The selection committee makes the final determination of the award recipients. The recipients of the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award will be formally announced in May 2015.

Read more at Tech Today.