Category: People

Copper Country Scholars Funded by Jerry Davison ‘66 and Wife Judy

Jerry and Judy Davison
Jerry and Judy Davison

Kids across the United States dream and aspire for things bigger than them, whether that’s wanting to be an astronaut, a lawyer, a cowboy, etc… It’s no different in the small towns of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; where, thanks to the influence of Tech, many dream of being computer scientists, engineers, and scientists. Michigan Tech alumnus Jerry Davison ‘66 and his wife Judy, just made it easier for those dreams to come true by establishing the Copper Country Scholars Endowed Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is open to hard-working students in science, engineering, math, and computer science with financial needs who have graduated from Copper Country schools and are currently attending Michigan Tech with a minimum 2.75 GPA.

Growing up in the Copper Country is rigorous and difficult. Rugged terrain, Superior’s gales, bone-chilling cold, plentiful snow, and isolation- conditions that prepare students for the rigor and difficulty of Michigan Tech coursework. Jerry (and Judy, a Michigan graduate) knows it well as a Yooper from Calumet, just 13 miles from campus.

Jerry’s parents instilled their hard-working, blue-collar values from an early age. He saw those values in action in the community around him. Additionally, he also saw how the community stayed together and supported each other. His family was connected to Tech. Like his sister, he worked in the business office at Michigan Tech. Their father worked in the Maintenance Department. Jerry earned $1.25 per hour to pay his college tuition, toiling hard and persevering until his graduation with a B.S. in Mathematics.

Jerry had always been drawn to the field of computers. However, during his time at Tech, there was no Computer Science degree program available. “I started off my career interviewing with communications, steel, and aerospace companies and The National Security Agency, but my career took me all over. I worked for many companies over the course of my career, including communications laboratories, a national laboratory, investment bank, insurance companies, hospital system; you name it. I was always hoping for a challenging new opportunity, never settling for the mundane,” said Davison.

Jerry’s values of hard work and determination helped him forge his own path; values he learned from his family and community. He recognizes the power of community members coming together to support each other. It is this recognition that drove him to establish the Copper Country Scholars Endowed Scholarship Fund. Jerry is hoping to give others like him the chance to forge their own path forward, achieve success, and give back to the community.

Jerry wants to emphasize that this scholarship is open for donations and remains nameless, keeping with the community’s spirit of coming together for a shared goal, rather than recognition or glamor. “I want this scholarship to be open to donations to make sure that we give back to those who come after us,” said Davison.

The Davisons’ contribution to Michigan Tech students is appreciated and has not gone unnoticed. “I am so grateful for Jerry and Judy’s generosity, which will allow more of our own Copper Country students to afford the world-class STEM education that Michigan Tech provides, and hopefully inspire many more alumni to contribute to this scholarship,” said David Hemmer, dean of the College of Sciences and Arts.

If you would like to contribute to the Copper Country Scholars Endowed Scholarship Fund or inquire about other opportunities, please contact Karin Van Dyke, Michigan Tech University, Director of Advancement, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931. Email: Phone: 906-487-2464

“Always dislike the mundane” – Jerry Davison 

A Super Sweet Pi Day Celebration

Pi Day was celebrated in the Department of Mathematical Sciences on Tuesday, March 14 (3/14) at 1:59pm.

Are you starting to see a slight pattern here – 3.14159? Pi Day celebrations were held throughout the world on March 14 and we thought it would be fun to join in on the festivities.

As you probably already know, the Greek letter “Pi” is a mathematical symbol used to represent a constant. One of the most well known mathematical constants is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. So, in keeping with the mathematical related theme, pie was served!

Several members of the faculty, staff and student body in the math department joined together on Pi Day to chow down on their favorite variety of that sweet, circular treat – PIE. As a matter of fact, a total of 12.14159 different selections of pie adorned a conference table in the math lounge for sampling.

Additionally, undergrad math majors were invited to participate in a very irrational game of Pi Bee. Here, students tested their memory by recording as many digits of pi they could remember – unassisted.

Many entries were submitted, but there could be only one winner. Eli DeWitt (General Mathematics major) provided a heaping total of 43 correct and consecutive digits. His sweet reward for such an outstanding memory was a gift card to the Campus Book Store.

We look forward to the infinite possibilities for future celebrations. Check out our Facebook page to see some of the other interesting events taking place in the department.

Applied and Computational Mathematics Major Anthony Palmer Wins Best Poster at Computing [MTU] Showcase

Michigan Tech double major in applied and computational mathematics and physics, Anthony Palmer, along with computer science PhD candidate Elijah Cobb, won the best poster recently in the Computing [MTU] Showcase for “Universal Sensor Description Schema: An extensible metalanguage to support heterogenous, evolving sensor data.”

Learn more about their accomplishment.

Image of Anthony Palmer and Elijah Cobb with their poster at Michigan Tech’s Computing Showcase
Anthony Palmer (left) and Elijah Cobb present their poster at Michigan Tech’s Computing [MTU] Showcase

Applied Mathematics + Computer Engineering = 2x Experiences

Image of Drew Rosales, applied mathematics major at Michigan Tech
Drew Rosales

What to do if you’re a computer engineering major and have plenty of math credits from high school?

If you’re Drew Rosales, you add an applied mathematics major, Blue Marble Enterprise, use your love of coding to help a PhD student conduct his research, and co-op for 10 to 15 hours a week. This Husky knows all about personal and professional exponential growth!
Drew is from Ann Arbor. He chose Michigan Tech because he relished the chance to try something different, get away from his hometown with a few friends, and be more independent. Experience a different part of the world. Drew likes the personable campus and class sizes. “I love the level of bonding here,” he says. “It’s not cutthroat.”

Drew has always enjoyed the engineering process. He’s been competing in Vex Robotics
since middle school, programming and building robots to perform tasks. He’s always been interested in mathematics. Coursework in linear algebra and differential equations helped him to better understand how space and time functions worked and how they relate to the world around us. He found he could use math to describe how objects move through the air and how different variables like drag and torque impact the robots he worked with. The robot improved through increased knowledge of how to manipulate sensor data and control algorithms — a great intersection between math, computer science, and physics. Applied math seemed like a perfect addition to computer engineering. Looking at the influence of mathematical techniques on computer algorithms added excitement to Drew’s studies.

One of his favorite courses is numerical partial differential equations (NPDE). He worked with a group to make a finite element analysis (FEA) tool to create a virtual mesh around a real-world product. The mesh allows the group to use math to show how different forces might impact the product. For example, think about a bridge subject to stressors like winds, tides, and weight-bearing. The tool makes it possible to select the optimal designs and materials for essential project specifications and conditions well before production.

“In NPDE I gained insight into how to use the tool and work with group members. It really was a point at which my two worlds of coding and mathematics (came together).”

Drew Rosales, 2022, double major in applied and computational mathematics and computer engineering

“Research is fun,” says Drew, who’s grateful he’s been able to acquire valuable research experience as an undergrad. He enjoys writing code to support PhD student Praveen Hettige and Professor Ben Ong’s research to find structure in data using Geometric Multi-Resolution Analysis (GMRA). Drew reads academic papers — an art in itself — on GMRA, which is an approach for taking large amounts of high dimensional data and approximating it using affine hyperplanes (think line segments used to approximate a curve) enabling the data to be more easily stored and accessed. He grapples with challenges like creating data representations that can be easily interpreted as well as streamable and applicable to different scientific and engineering domains.

Praveen says Drew is a fast learner who’s up to the task. “In order to complete the coding parts, it’s necessary to have a basic understanding of the theoretical concepts about my research topic,” said the PhD student, who completed his master’s work in statistics at Michigan Tech. “ caught up with those concepts quickly.”

The research is aimed at taking data efficiently in smaller quantities instead of one big dump. Doing so makes it easier to process and analyze the information, reducing computation time and allowing data-based decisions to be made much faster and more efficiently.

Working on Real-World Projects with Michigan Tech Enterprise

Image of Drew Rosales working with the Blue Marble Security Enterprise team
Drew (far left) works with his Blue Marble Security project team

Drew is also a member of Michigan Tech’s Enterprise program, serving as president of Blue Marble Security, a virtual company focused on industry-sponsored R&D and commercial product development including security, the environment, and industrial process control. The team is currently involved in seven multi-disciplinary projects, from smart tow capability for the US Navy to vision sensing for General Motors. In addition to his leadership role, Drew is doing coding and engineering work for the Navy project. Drew’s presidential duties include making sure the teams are progressing in their projects and have the resources they need to be successful. He assists teams in assessing timelines and tasks, is the point person for check-ins with Glen Archer, project sponsors, and keeps the Board informed. “Blue Marble has been instrumental in building my leadership skills. I have to assess how the team is doing and determine how to respond,” Drew says.

Archer goes a bit farther in assessing Drew’s skill. “One of Drew’s strengths that I have come to really appreciate is his calm approach to events around him. He is pretty much imperturbable. Drew is also resolute in his pursuits. He has risen steadily from a project engineer to project manager to the most senior leader in the organization. “

“It’s a pleasure to work with him because I know that if I ask him to do something, he will ask the questions he needs answered in order to do a good job. Once he has the answers, he will not fail to complete the task.”

Glen Archer, Interim Chair, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Blue Marble Security Enterprise Advisor
Image of the Blue Marble Security Enterprise team
Blue Marble Security Enterprise Team, with Drew Rosales standing next to Glen Archer in the lower left.

A Co-op with Caterpillar Builds Skills and Confidence

In addition to classes, research, and Enterprise, Drew works as a co-op student for Caterpillar for 10 to 15 hours per week, a stellar addition to his engineering portfolio. His primary role has been to develop software for engine system sensors and to integrate the sensors into existing software. Drew conducts simulation testing on software for engines, validating that an engine reaches fuel efficiency guidelines and standards. The software allows Caterpillar to validate engine functionality before producing an engine en masse.

The work he’s put into presentation skills during his co-op has built confidence as well as a vision of what a bright future looks like. “I’ve learned more about how a full-time job works, how to work with others in a corporate setting, and what is expected of me on the job,” Drew says. “In addition, I have learned how to prepare myself while in college, building the skill set I need to be successful in my future career.”

Q&A on Drew’s Past, Present, and Future

Q: What have you learned about yourself and what advice would you give your high school self now?

DR: A lot of the time I see myself working on a task that might seem irrelevant or boring and tedious at the time, but it does come together, in the end, to be important. In college, with everything I have done, I’ve gained the ability to think about how to get better. Where are the gaps in knowledge I need to fill in and how do I go about doing it? It goes back to the dualities I’ve encountered between math and engineering, industry, and research. How can I grow and find value out of present and future opportunities? How does this influence what I find interesting and learned thus far?

Before college, I was more shy. Not as well-spoken. I always felt things would come together and fall into my lap. College helped me to see that I needed to be proactive, take initiative and make things happen. That breeds confidence. You would be surprised with the opportunities that you come across through networking, being bold, and sticking to your passions.

Q: Where do you go from here?

DR: I’m switching to a research role this summer doing predictive modeling with autonomous vehicles and possibly putting my GMRA research experience into practice. I plan to continue working at the intersection of math and computer science and putting research into practice. Eventually, I hope to go to graduate school.

2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium

Join us in congratulating Drew Rosales for taking third place!

Undergraduate Research Symposium took place on Friday March 25, 2022 at the Rozsa Lobby. The undergraduate students were able to present posters describing completed or ongoing research, receive feedback from distinguished judges, and learn from the experience.

Drew is double majoring in Computer Engineering and Mathematics. He is research is under supervision of Dr. Benjamin Ong. The presented work entitled “Incremental Geometric Multi-Resolution Analysis”.

What a great experience, and once again congratulations on your hard work!

CTL Instructional Presentation Series: Cécile Piret, 2018 Innovative and Out of Class Teaching Award Recipient

Cecile PiretIn the second presentation of our fall award series, Cécile Piret (Math), will discuss her use of 3-D printing techniques to visualize multivariable functions in teaching Calculus 3, titled “3-D Printing for Mathematics Education.” Her innovative approach has illustrated mathematical concepts that can be studied in unique and practical ways and was recognized as part of the Dean’s Teaching Showcase. Piret will present from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11.

Formal recognition of this award for Innovative and Out of Class Teaching will follow her presentation. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how you might innovate your own teaching and recognize Cécile’s success. Coffee and light refreshments will be provided to those who register by Monday, Oct 8.

Math Students Present at Undergrad Research Symposium

imedImageThe Undergraduate Research Symposium highlights the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on Michigan Tech’s campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students.

The students showcasing their work today have spent a significant portion of the past year working alongside Michigan Tech faculty and graduate students to explore, discover and create new knowledge. They’ve spent long hours in the lab or out in the field designing experiments, gathering data, creating new models and testing hypotheses. They’ve applied their classroom knowledge in new and sometimes unexpected ways, and developed new skills that will propel them forward in their careers.

Anthony Marcich – Applied and Computational Mathematics

Title: Preliminary Work for Autochrome Photograph Reconstruction: Scanning and Processing Design
Advisor: Dr. Cecile Piret
Overview: Marcich goal is to use Radial Basis Functions methods (RBF) to construct smooth and accurate images from scans of these photographs. Their investigation of RBF requires processing scanned photos into nodes. They then described the initial scanning and processing work necessary to obtain these nodes.

E. Yasmine Walton-Durst – Mathematics

Title: Rayleigh–Bénard Convection in Michigan Tech’s Cloud Chamber – A Statistical Analysis of High Frequency Temperature Fluctuations
Advisor: Dr. Will Cantrell
Overview: Walton-Durst used time series analysis and other statistical methods to identify trends in temperature fluctuations from a second to several minutes. We hypothesize that data from the temperature sensors can provide a signature of the characteristic fluid movement within the chamber.

Madison Heeringa – Acutarial Science Mathematics

Title: Finding Structure in Data
Advisor: Dr. Benjamin Ong
Overview: Heeringa’s goal is to learn about and understand PCA and multi-scale PCA. Which will eventually be used to classify land and canopy cover in satellite images.


A Year in Germany Gives Michigan Tech Student New Insights

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 2.33.40 PMWhy would someone put acceptance to a prestigious law school on hold to spend a year in Germany?  That’s just what Russell Lawson did, and he doesn’t regret a minute of it.

Lawson, who earned his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a minor in economics at Michigan Technological University in 2016, has been accepted into the University of Michigan Law School, but he chose to spend this year participating in the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange program.  In Germany, he’s going to school, working a job, immersing himself in the culture.

Lawson calls the competitive program, known as the ‘’Parlamentarisches Patenschafts-Programm’’ in German, a “cultural exchange program aimed at promoting understanding and cooperation between the two countries.”  It includes 75 participants chosen from all over the US, representing a majority of states and multiple fields of study. “We have engineers, bio chem majors, those who study music, politics, international relations, two welders and four chefs/bakers, really a diverse group,” Lawson explains.

Read the full story.

In the News: The Monroe News (Minnesota) published a feature article about Russell Lawson, a Michigan Tech student who is spending a year on a fellowship in Germany.

by Mary LeDoux, student writing intern

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Beth Reed

Math09232013021Bruce Seely, Dean of the College of Sciences and Arts, has chosen to recognize Beth Reed, senior lecturer and assistant to the chair in mathematical sciences as our first Spring 2017 Dean’s Teaching Showcase member.

Seely’s nomination was influenced by Brent Baltus, a senior on the hockey team, who singled Reed at the Faculty Appreciation event during a game on December 2nd.

Baltus, a senior major in Finance who started this year with a 3.73 GPA, named Reed as “the best professor he had encountered” at Michigan Tech. Baltus had taken a couple of classes from her during his first two years in statistics and math and added she was “an unbelievable professor.”

Seely asked Reed what she does that would lead a good student (and athlete) like Brent to value her efforts. She answered with several points from the recently submitted students teaching evaluations for Fall 2016 and offered several points. Reed knows every student’s name, signaling that they are individuals to her. This makes her approachable and shows she cares about them as people. She prepares a handout for every class session containing the concepts, problems, formulas and so on covered that day. This allows students to actually listen in class rather than struggling to write everything down. Her handout adds structure to the notes taken by the students while eliminating transcription errors. Reed dedicates some class periods to worksheet days, devoted to working problems while she walks around and answers questions from students.

Finally, she asks a lot of questions of the students during class sessions. Students report this makes them pay attention (especially at 8 a.m.). When a student offers an incorrect answer, she talks them through the process until they get to the correct answer. Seely also asked Reed if there was something she did that specifically helps student athletes, who must miss classes due to travel.

In addition to her willingness to meet with them outside of class, she noted the most important thing was to ask them to introduce themselves on the first day of class. That allows her to work with them and their schedules. From this initial discussion, it is much easier to ensure Reed has a heads-up when an assignment and/or exam might conflict with games and travel. Such communication allows her and the student to work around any conflicts.

These are the kinds of effort — small steps in some respects, but large in the aggregate — that make a difference in how well students do. While a student-athlete recognized Reed’s efforts, the more important fact is that she makes these attempts for any student.

Reed will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative teaching methods or work in curriculum and assessment.

New faculty joins Mathematical Sciences this semester

Today, we take a look at and welcome faculty who have started with the Fall Semester.

image143207-persJohn Gruver, PhD

John Gruver joins Michigan Tech’s Mathematical Sciences Department as an assistant professor. Gruver received a PhD in Mathematics Education in a joint doctoral program at San Diego State University and University of California, San Diego.

He previously worked as a research assistant at the Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence at the University of California, San Diego. Gruver has also worked as an instructor at San Diego State University, providing upcoming elementary educators with additional skills to be used when teaching mathematics. He also mentored student teachers at Brigham Young University. Among his many awards and publications, Gruver is a Winter 2015 Graduate Student Association Travel Grant winner.


image118342-persJie Sun, PhD

Jie Sun joins Michigan Tech’s Mathematical Sciences Department as an assistant professor. Sun is no stranger to Michigan Tech. She has been here since 2013 as a visiting assistant professor.

Sun earned a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, in 2009. She has also worked as an instructor at Michigan Tech and at the University of California, Berkeley. Sun served as a member of the organizing committee for the first annual Kliakhandler conference in 2015. She has received multiple awards in teaching and research.



image113156-persZeying Wang, PhD

Zeying Wang joins Tech’s Mathematical Sciences Department as an assistant professor. She has worked as a lecturer at Michigan Tech since 2012. She also served as a visiting assistant professor at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.

Wang supervised an undergraduate research project and presentation, as well as serving on the departmental undergraduate committee at Tech. She has worked as an instructor at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio; Ohio University, Athens, Ohio; and University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware.



Teresa Woods, MS

Teresa Woods joins Michigan Tech’s Mathematical Sciences Department as a lecturer. She received a BS in Chemical Engineering and Secondary Education at Tech. She obtained an MS from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is currently completing an MS in Applied Sciences at Michigan Tech, with an expected graduation date of 2017.

Woods has worked as a graduate teaching assistant and an instructor in Tech’s Department of Mathematical Sciences. She has worked as a health data researcher for the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and an online mathematics instructor for the Community College of Vermont. She also worked as a performance consultant with Vermont Technical College in Essex Junction, Vermont.