Category: News

Gracie Brownlow : Women in STEM Wednesday

This week the Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University proudly presents Women in STEM Wednesday. This week we feature Third year student, Gracie Brownlow.

Gracie Brownlow

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

Berlin, WI

DEGREE | WHAT YEAR?

I am a third year with a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in manufacturing.

WHAT GROUPS ARE YOU INVOLVED IN?

I volunteer in the Energy-X lab and I work in the ME-EM office.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL?

I enjoy crocheting, reading, and going for walks and bike rides.

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE AREA?

The trails in Copper Harbor and Agate Beach.

FUN FACTS / PETS / FAVORITE QUOTE

I have seen over 40 different rock and alternative bands live.

I have a cat named Lizzy.

“Well-behaved women seldom make history”-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Gracie Brownlow

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TECH?

It was Tech or UW-Platteville.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT TECH?

I like how Tech isn’t too far from different trails and national parks since it gives students an easy way to go outside and be able to get away from a computer when necessary. It’s also really nice how Tech has a lot of opportunities to further your experience and what you learn.

HOW HAS TECH IMPACTED YOUR VIEW OF STEM?

Tech has really helped me in expanding my knowledge on what you can do with a STEM degree. Especially with working in the Energy-X lab, I learned that there is far more to being a mechanical engineer than I originally thought. 

WHAT ORIGINALLY INTERESTED YOU IN STEM?

Being in robotics in middle and high school was really the start of my interest in STEM. After only a year of designing and building robots, I found that there was nothing like watching something you created come to life and be successful. That’s when I knew I wanted to go into the STEM field but it wasn’t until my high school physics class made me finally decide on going into engineering, although the class led me to civil engineering, I quickly found my way to mechanical engineering at Tech.

Gracie Brownlow

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

I would tell myself to be confident in my choices. It was unnecessarily difficult to decide to go to Tech and to go for engineering after being told by multiple people I’d be a good English teacher, and then deciding to change my major after getting to Tech. I was always worried I was making the wrong decision, even though I wasn’t excited to go anywhere else or do anything else. I’m glad to say that I’m really happy with the choices I’ve made since they have done a great deal to get me to where I am today.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO STUDENTS THAT ARE INTERESTED IN STUDYING STEM?

Be prepared to put the work in because it is something that you only get out what you put in. For the best experience and education, you have to give your all. I’d also recommend that you get to know professors, especially in classes you enjoyed being in. You never know if they have a research opportunity or if they can help you find your passion in your field.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO TO CHANGE THE WORLD?

I don’t need to change the world by myself but I would like to help in research to help the issue of climate change. Whether that is helping make home appliances run more energy efficient or designing new planet friendly ways to get power, fresh water, or even dispose of waste, I hope that whatever I achieve is able to snowball effect into something bigger for the betterment of people’s livelihood and the planet’s well-being.

If you would like to nominate someone for Women in STEM Wednesday, email Donna Jeno-Amici (djenoami@mtu.edu) or Meg Raasakka (mraasakk@mtu.edu)

NASA LUNABOTICS Mining Competition

The Michigan Technological University Lunabotics team is headed to the Kennedy Space Center in Orsino, Florida to compete in the NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition.

Students monitor the robot inside of the Lunar Simulant Sandbox, where fine particles layered on rock mimic the Lunar surface.

Six of the students on the 16-member Lunabotics team advised by Dr. Paul van Susante will display their combined work during a two-day mining event. They will be traveling on Friday, May 20th to compete Monday and Tuesday.

The Lunabotics competition brings university-level students from all around the country to compete in two two-day mining events. Groups 1-25 will compete on Monday and Tuesday, with groups 26-50 competing on Thursday and Friday. The 50 student groups have been working on the fabrication of their lunar vehicles with the goal of mining. Judges will score based on the following eight competition categories: Gravel Mined, Average Data Bandwidth Use, Camera Bandwidth Use, Mining Robot Mass, Energy Consumed, Dust Tolerant Design, Dust Free Operation, and Autonomy.

“I’m super excited for getting to go down to the Kennedy Space Center for the first time and actually compete. We joined the competition 2-3 years ago, but due to Covid, the competition hasn’t taken place in person,” says Timothy Hamilton. Team members Timothy Hamilton, Chuck Carey, Taylor Hammond, Brendan McRoberts, Eric Mossner, and Lunabotics Project Manager Karson Linders, along with Dr. van Susante, will represent Michigan Tech in Florida.

Through the Michigan Tech Enterprise program, they were able to develop their robot in the Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab, or PSTDL. Multiplanetary’s Regolith Pursuing Husky, or MuRPHy, is the result of that research. Regolith is the dust-like crushed rock surface that mimics surfaces such as asteroids, Mars, or our closest companion the Moon. Working in the Lunar Simulant Sandbox in the PSTDL, their lunar rover, MuRPHy, starts mining into an automated collection bin that will then dump the mined material behind the robot. Timothy says, “We have scoped out some of the competition and think that we can do well, but it all comes down to how our robot and our competitors perform on the day of competition, so it’d be great if everyone could wish us luck and safe travels!”

Learn more about the Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab at: https://huskyworks.space/, https://huskyworks.space/facilities/sandbox

Learn more about Lunabotics at: https://mine.geo.mtu.edu/Lunabotics.html, https://www.nasa.gov/content/lunabotics-information, https://www.facebook.com/Lunabotics.Competition/

Mady VanWieren : Women in STEM Wednesday

The Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics department is proud to feature students and other community members in Women in STEM Wednesday. This week we take a look at Third Year Mechanical-Engineering student, Mady VanWieren.

“Focus on the things that challenge you the most and set your
mind to getting better at them.” Mady VanWieren

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

Holland, Michigan

DEGREE / WHAT YEAR?

3rd Year Mechanical Engineering Major

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE AREA?

I love running on the trails in Copper Harbor!

FUN FACT

I have an Australian Shepard named Jake

Mady VanWieren backpacking and camping

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL?

Run (I’m on the cross country and track teams at tech)
Backpacking & camping

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TECH?
I chose Tech because it is a really good engineering school with really good opportunities, like our career fair. I knew that if I went to Tech I would have lots of opportunities to network and get in touch with potential employers, and learn the skills I need to be successful in my career! I also chose to come to Tech because I would be able to continue my running career.

WHAT ORIGINALLY INTERESTED YOU IN STEM?

Since I was a little kid I’ve always been curious about the world around me. I loved to fiddle with things and figure out how they work. I grew up making Rube Goldberg machines and looking at microscope slides with my Dad. I originally got interested in STEM because I got to do these things with him.

Mady VanWieren

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT TECH?

My favorite thing about Tech is the mentality of the student body. Classes are tough, but everyone is
happy to be here and working hard. Tech students really embody the phrase “Crazy Smart”.

HOW HAS TECH IMPACTED YOUR VIEW OF STEM?
Tech has shown me that there is so much more to getting a STEM degree than taking a bunch of math
classes. It has taught me that there are so many different opportunities and paths to take with a STEM degree. This school is mostly engineers, but everyone has such diverse interests and is pursuing unique paths.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO STUDENTS THAT ARE INTERESTED IN STUDYING STEM?
STEM is so broad, I would say to find something you’re passionate about. STEM degrees are challenging but rewarding, I have learned so much and am very excited to go out into the world and make a difference.

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
You are capable of more than you think. Focus on the things that challenge you the most and set your
mind to getting better at them. You can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it and decide you
are going to do it.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO TO CHANGE THE WORLD?
My passion is renewable energy. After I graduate I plan to work to make renewable energy
infrastructure more efficient and affordable. I want to help to change how the country produces its
power and I want to help to reach net carbon neutral goals.

Audrey Levanen : Women in STEM Wednesday

The Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics department is proud to feature students and other community members in Women in STEM Wednesday. This week we take a look into the life of Hancock local Audrey Levanen, a third-year student studying Mechanical Engineering.

Audrey Levanen

WHAT ORIGINALLY INTERESTED YOU IN STEM?
As a local kid, I had so many opportunities to engage with STEM, most of which were associated with MTU. In elementary school, I always looked forward to Family Science Night – my whole family would come to school and do fun activities (who doesn’t want to dissect owl pellets?!). I think the first time I started seriously thinking about STEM as a career was in 8th grade. A bunch of my classmates and I were excused from school for a day to go to GetWISE (Women In Science and Engineering), a women in STEM event hosted at Tech. The main event was a bridge building competition (my team didn’t win), but the entire day was a lot of fun.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TECH?

I chose Tech because it was close to home and it offered the degree I was initially looking for (engineering management) while most of the other places I was looking at did not. 

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT TECH?

Other than the people, one thing I really like about Tech is that there’s a way for everyone to get involved on campus with activities they enjoy. There’s over 200 student organizations on campus, which made finding a group of people with common interests a breeze.  I do local K-12 STEM outreach with Engineering Ambassadors, which is a way for me to share with young students some of the STEM experiences I got as a local. I’ve found a supportive community in the Society of Women Engineers, and an enthusiastic crowd of climbers through Ridge Roamers.

if you’re willing to apply yourself and think critically, I truly believe that you’re capable of succeeding! – Audrey Levanen

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL?

I enjoy a lot of physical activities like hiking, rock climbing, paddlesports, XC skiing and snowshoeing. I also read quite a bit (I prefer memoirs, personal & professional development, and other nonfiction works, but I’ll read pretty much anything), and I have a lot of houseplants. 

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE AREA?

I really like Freda, but anywhere on the shoreline is a good place to be!

HOW HAS TECH IMPACTED YOUR VIEW OF STEM?

“STEM” covers a vast range of areas and opportunities. One of the biggest impacts MTU has had on my view of STEM is how collaborative it is. Perhaps I’m biased, since I can really only speak from the “E’s” perspective here, but teamwork is a huge part of what engineers do! 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO STUDENTS THAT ARE INTERESTED IN STUDYING STEM?

Rock on! Studying STEM can be challenging; if you’re willing to apply yourself and think critically, I truly believe that you’re capable of succeeding! And hey, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re not expected to know everything. If it weren’t for my classmates and tutors, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

I do believe that small things I do every day can impact the lives of those around me. – Audrey Levanen

In an academic sense, I’d tell myself to ask more questions, because struggling alone won’t get me anywhere.

In a non-academic sense, I’d tell myself that it’s okay to go alone. (I used to be intimidated to do things by myself, whether that was going for a walk on the beach or eating at a new restaurant.) 

FUN FACTS / FAVORITE QUOTE

I love Dr. Seuss, I’m a fountain of random information, and I have an affinity for horrible dad jokes. 

“Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.” -Unknown

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO TO CHANGE THE WORLD?

This is a tough one. I guess I don’t really have any desire to be widely known for rocking the world with some big change, but I do believe that small things I do every day can impact the lives of those around me. I fall back on kindness and gratitude – in the grocery store, on the bus, with my friends and family, etc. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re not expected to know everything. If it weren’t for my classmates and tutors, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Audrey Levanen

If you would like to nominate someone for Women in STEM Wednesday, email Donna Jeno-Amici (djenoami@mtu.edu) or Meg Raasakka (mraasakk@mtu.edu)

Julia Westfall: Women in STEM Wednesday

The Department of Mechanical Engineering- Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University is proud to present Women in STEM Wednesday! This week we’re featuring 3rd year student Julia Westfall.

DEGREE | WHAT YEAR?
Mechanical Engineering | 3rd Year

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Marysville, Michigan

Julia Westfall at Michigan Tech: “You got this. It’ll be difficult.. but worth it!”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL?
I like participating in STEM outreach, planning activities with friends, and doing anything that will get me up and moving!

FAVORITE PLACE IN THE AREA?
Any place where there are waterfalls.

FAVORITE QUOTE
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how” – Friedrich Nietzsche

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE MICHIGAN TECH?
I heard it was a great school for engineering and Tech sent me birthday cards every year (so I thought I’d apply)

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT TECH?
The opportunities available to students inside and outside of school. Specifically, for job/internship opportunities and extra curriculars.

HOW HAS MICHIGAN TECH IMPACTED YOUR VIEW OF STEM?
Tech has shown me that with perseverance, determination, and a desire to succeed, anyone can pursue a STEM degree.

WHAT ORIGINALLY INTERESTED YOU IN STEM?
The problem solving aspect as well as the creativity and design you can incorporate into it. The ability to study something to understand how it works then using that knowledge to redesign it to make it better!

“Stop comparing yourself to your classmates and just keep trying your best,” says Julia Westfall.

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Stop comparing yourself to your classmates and just keep trying your best. I was super scared that I would not be able to keep up with my classmates that came from STEM families or that aced all their AP exams. Doing the best you can do and being persistent in giving it your all can do more for you than you could ever imagine.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO STUDENTS THAT ARE INTERESTED IN
STUDYING STEM?

First—“High five!!”
Then—“You got this. It’ll be difficult.. but worth it!”

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO TO CHANGE THE WORLD?
I just want to provide a sense of encouragement and energy in other people’s lives in hopes of inspiring them to be the best they can be and to pass that theme on for generations to come.

“Tech has shown me that with perseverance, determination, and a desire to succeed, anyone can pursue a STEM degree.”

Julia Westfall

Stephen Morse Selected as ME Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to Assistant Professor Stephen Morse for winning the 2022 Mechanical Engineering (ME) Teacher of the Year Award! Morse taught a double section of MEEM 2150 Mechanics of Materials for the 2021-22 academic year.

Morse has been with the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM) since 2017, with a joint appointment in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE). He earned his PhD from Texas Tech University in 2009, and he previously served as an assistant professor at Texas Tech in the civil, environmental and construction engineering department. Morse’s areas of research expertise include window glass strength and design, wind loads on structures, finite element modeling of brittle materials, large-scale data processing and data mining.

The ME Teacher of the Year Award is selected solely by mechanical engineering students and conducted by the Mechanical Engineering Student Advisory Committee (MESAC). It is a two-step process similar to the process employed by the University teaching award. The first stage is the selection of the top three, voted upon by ME students. In the second stage, MESAC students go into all the spring classes of the three finalists with a questionnaire, which contains several questions about the finalists’ teaching, including why students believe they should be the ME Teacher of the Year.

Morse received a certificate and his name on the ME Teacher of the Year plaque with past winners in the lobby of the R.L. Smith Building (MEEM).

The award was announced during ME-EM’s 2022 Order of the Engineer ceremony, which was held in the Memorial Union Ballroom on April 19. This year’s runners-up were ME-EM Senior Lecturer Jaclyn Johnson and ME-EM Lecturer Mary Zadeh.

By Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Cindy Wadaga and Karen Bess are Exceptional Staff Members

This year’s awardees for the Graduate Student Government (GSG) Merit Awards have been decided. A total of 37 nominations were received from departments all across campus. The decision process was not an easy one, as there was a very strong pool of nominations this year. We are very grateful to all of our nominees for all of the work they put in to improve and enrich the life of our graduate students.

Among the award winners in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics are Cindy Wadaga, coordinator of graduate programs, and Karen Bess, executive assistant.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you for all you have done for our graduate students.

By Graduate Student Government.

Cindy Wadaga
Cindy Wadaga
Karen Bess
Karen Bess

Seeking PhD Student Interested in Climate Change Impacts on Electrical Power Systems

PhD Funded Student Position Available

Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Seeking a motivated student interested in the impacts of climate change on electrical power systems (bulk electricity grid). Research may be related to the impacts of climate change on renewable and conventional energy, electricity transmission infrastructure, and electricity use and how those impacts interact with energy transitions to wind, solar, and electric vehicles on the grid. This work is primarily computational and may include using optimization software to model bulk electric power systems, modeling the performance of conventional and renewable power plants, managing large data sets, and visualizing spatial information.

Dr. Dyreson’s lab is in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Technological University. We collaborate with the Great Lakes Research Center, Keweenaw Energy Transitions Laboratory, Advanced Power Systems Laboratory, and departments across campus including civil, environmental, and geospatial engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and social sciences.

Applicants should therefore bring a strong fundamental engineering background along with interest in energy systems and interdisciplinary work.

Required Background

  • MS in Mechanical Engineering or related field
  • Solid programming skills
  • Introductory coursework in thermodynamics
  • TOEFL > 90 iBT or IELTS > 7.0 overall band score (international students)

Desired Background

Candidates should demonstrate at least one of the following strengths (academic
research or industry experience are accepted):

  • Wind or solar power modeling, resource estimation, or forecasting
  • Electrical transmission or distribution systems modeling, operating, or planning
  • Thermoelectric, renewable, or hydroelectric power plant analysis or operation
  • Energy efficiency, demand side management, or building HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning)
  • Energy-water nexus
  • Accessing and using climate data (general circulation models)

Michigan Technological University is located in Houghton, Michigan. This is a small rural town with abundant, year-round outdoor activities, access to National Parks and historic sites, and cultural activities centered on campus.

We seek students that want to be part of and promote an inclusive workplace. For more information on research activities in Dr. Dyreson’s lab see the faculty directory and faculty website.

To Apply

Send an email to adyreson at mtu.edu as follows:

  1. Use the subject line “Interest in climate impacts on power systems”,
  2. describe your interests and confirm one or more of the items listed under “Desired Background” above, and
  3. attach a C.V.

Note that applications to this position are separate from applications to the graduate program.

Ana Dyreson is an ISR Faculty Research Fellow

Ana Dyreson
Ana Dyreson

The Tech Forward Initiative on Sustainability and Resilience (ISR) is happy to announce the selection of two Sustainable and Resilient Communities Faculty Research Fellows!

Judith Perlinger is a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering (CEGE) and an established scholar working in the realm of sustainability and resilience.

Ana Dyreson is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM) who works in the realm of energy systems transitions and the energy-water-climate nexus.

Perlinger and Dyreson will both be relieved of one course for the fall 2022 semester in order to focus on developing and submitting research funding proposals that will enhance Michigan Tech’s leadership in impactful sustainability and resilience research.

Perlinger will be working on new proposals for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Coastlines and People (CoPe) program, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Dyreson will be working on proposal submissions for NSF programs, including the NSF CAREER award program, and for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

With this fellowship program, ISR aims to support researchers in developing new collaborations and opportunities to grow research activities that address contemporary research challenges in sustainability and resilience. This program will propel research leaders at Michigan Tech to pursue new opportunities and increase impactful research activities. ISR is delighted to support these dedicated scholars through the Faculty Research Fellows program.

For more information or with any questions, please contact Chelsea Schelly at cschelly@mtu.edu

By Tech Forward Initiative for Sustainability and Resilience.

Pandemic Research and Scholarship Impact Mitigation Grants

Susanta Ghosh
Susanta Ghosh
Trisha Sain
Trisha Sain

The ADVANCE Initiative, Provost’s Office, Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Vice President for Research Office and University Marketing and Communications have been working together over the past year to identify and begin to mitigate some of the ways that scholars, creators and researchers have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. This collaboration resulted in a session to learn specific impacts and discuss solutions.

One of the primary results of our joint work is the COVID impact statement document faculty are requested to develop and add to Digital Measures. This group has also solicited and published an ongoing Unscripted research blog series where Tech employees share how the pandemic impacted their work. In addition, the VPR office recently solicited and received proposals for funding to help mitigate financial losses to research, creative and scholarly work associated with the pandemic. Many individuals experienced significant negative impacts and applied for the funds. Unfortunately, we were unable to fund them all.

The following individuals in the College of Engineering were selected to receive one of these grants:

  • Susanta Ghosh (ME-EM)
  • Trisha Sain (ME-EM)

By Associate Vice President for Research Development.