Category Archives: Alumni

Dennis Martin ’98 Leads Sales and Marketing for Enstrom Helicopter

Enstrom employees in front of a helicopterMichigan Tech alumnus Dennis Martin ’98, has taken over leadership of the Sales and Marketing Department of Enstrom Helicopter Corporation, of Menominee.

The story was reported in AirframerVerticalAviationpros and WLUC TV6.

New leadership for Enstrom Helicopter Corp

Tracy Biegler, CEO & President of Enstrom Helicopter Corporation is announcing that he is stepping down from his position at Enstrom in order to pursue other opportunities. Biegler will be replaced by Matthew Francour, who will be taking the position of Interim CEO & President while a replacement is sought.

In addition, Dennis Martin has taken over leadership of the Sales & Marketing department. Martin graduated from Michigan Tech University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After working in the auto industry, and in retail, he joined Enstrom in 2007 as a salesperson for the company. At Enstrom he worked various positions in the Sales & Engineering departments before being elevated to the Sales Manager in 2015. Martin is a commercial fixed wing pilot and a rotary wing pilot, as well as an FAA licensed A&P Mechanic.

Read more at WLUC TV6.


ME-EM Senior Recognition Banquet April 24, 2018

Banquet and Program

The ME-EM Senior Recognition Banquet and Order of the Engineer Program was held on April 24, 2018.

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Keynote Speaker

Jolyn Russell at the podium
Keynote Speaker Jolyn Russell

Jolyn L. Russell

Deputy Program Manager
Satellite Servicing Projects Division
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD

Jolyn Russell graduated from Michigan Tech with a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1998. She received her MS degree in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Tech in 2000.

After receiving her MS degree she was selected for the 2- year Ford College Graduate Rotational Program. In 2003 she became a Brake Integration Engineer and the program management lead for the implementation of Roll Stability Control on the E350, completing it in a record 18 months from kick-off to production launch. In 2005 she become Roll Stability Control Algorithm Engineer and algorithm module expert responsible for code development, vehicle tuning and production approval of wheel lift detection logic on all worldwide platforms including Ford, Volvo, and Land Rover.

In 2007 she joined SAIC at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a Lead Mechanical Systems Engineer responsible for planning, mechanical operations, mechanism testing and issue resolution for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Weather Satellites (GOES O and GOES P). One of the projects involved the implementation a new filter design on the sun telescope. In 2010 she advanced to Lead Mechanical Systems Engineer for the DESDynl, which involved leading efforts to coordinate the design and Engineering Tech Unit build for the instrument during the pre-Phase portion of the program.

In 2011 she was the Senior Mechanical Engineer for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Free Flyer, responsible for development of requirements supporting the satellite procurement, including mechanical inputs for the Statement of Work, Systems Requirements Document, and launch services interface requirements document. In 2013 she was the Raven Mechanical Lead in which she led a team of mechanical engineers, designers, analysts and technicians to design, integrate, and test the Raven Tech Demo experiment from preliminary design through launch in 18 months.

Since 2015 she is the Deputy Robotics Program Manager, Satellite Servicing Projects Division, at Goddard Space Flight Center where she manages a multi-disciplined team of Mechanical, Electrical, System, and Software Engineers supporting multiple programs in the division, focused primarily on the Restore Lower Earth Orbit mission. This includes maintaining the robot systems schedule and budget, responsible for initial cost estimates and several million dollars of procurements for the flight robot.

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Spring 2018 Outstanding Student Awards

Senior Capstone Design Team 14

Advisor Jaclyn Johnson

SCD Team 14, consisting of Carter Davis, Nathan Goering, Jesse Lassila, Benjamin Maat, Nick Monette and Jacob Pardy, has, as a whole, exhibited outstanding performance over the course of this project. The team has worked cohesively together to achieve the combined goal of creating a Trailed Agricultural Equipment Braking System. Team 14 has harnessed and leveraged each member’s unique strengths and areas of expertise, exhibiting impressive team dynamics, professionalism and respect. This includes the use of AMESIM modeling to validate the engineering feasibility of their design, extensive machining and manufacturing work for an effective prototype, and testing for validation. Many teams can deliver a successful prototype, however, few work as well together as Team 14 has over these two semesters, motivating each other to do better and be successful, with the end result being a superior team experience and a quality prototype which has significant potential for future success and implementation. Overall, this team has been successful due to their ability to use each individual’s skills to capacity, while exercising impressive team dynamics to meet their common final goal.

Senior Capstone Design Team 6

Advisor Fei Long

Kayla Buczkowski and Ryan Usimaki worked on Senior Capstone Design Team 6, which developed  the Next Generation Vehicle Entry/Exit Technology for Jeep. Kayla stands out for her excellent team management, customer communication as well as project planning skills. Team 6 has two student athletes with a lot of travelling throughout the academic year, which makes the team coordination and project planning very challenging. Kayla makes great efforts to keep the project moving forward with the contribution of all team members.  Ryan stands out for his excellent technical skills on both electronics and mechanics. Inspired by Ryan’s idea, team 6 decided to design a motion/gesture controlled vehicle door without a door handle, which is very innovative and challenging. Ryan takes the lead in the electronic system design and testing, and complete the prototype with the help of all other team members.

Enterprise Team Formula SAE

Advisor Jim De Clerck

Each one of the 12 graduating Formula SAE members has made significant contributions during their time on the team. Three members have made outstanding contributions:

Jayson Allison demonstrated outstanding skill and determination when he designed and machined the differential carrier and housing. Jayson continued to design and fabricate parts while he was on co-op.

Andrew Aerts outstandingly applied engineering skills from his classes to design, optimize, and fabricate two generations of differential brackets. Andrew’s latest innovative design uses cams to eliminate the need for a separate chain tensioner.

As the Chief Engineer, Conor Berndt has taken a personal responsibility to ensure that the car will be ready for competition in two weeks. Conor has worked tirelessly this year to define target performance requirements and work with team members to develop a car that meets these requirements.


Leslie Kilgore ’95 Honored by SAE International

Leslie Kilgore and Rodica Baranescu
Leslie Kilgore (left) and Rodica Baranescu (right)

Michigan Tech Alumna Leslie Kilgore ’95, vice president for engineering for Thomas Built Buses, was honored with the Rodica Baranescu Award for Technical and Leadership Excellence by SAE International. The article “Thomas Built Buses VP Honored for Engineering Excellence” appeared in Schoolbusfleet.com.

Thomas Built Buses VP Honored for Engineering Excellence

Thomas Built Buses executive was recognized on Tuesday for her leadership and her technical contributions to the automotive industry.

Leslie Kilgore, vice president of engineering for Thomas Built Buses, was honored with the prestigious Rodica Baranescu Award for Technical and Leadership Excellence in Automotive Engineering by SAE International (formerly the Society of Automotive Engineers). The award honors and celebrates the successes of women in the engineering profession and their contributions as leaders and technicians in commercial engineering.

Kilgore holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University, a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from Purdue University – West Lafayette, and a Global Business certificate from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Read more at Schoolbusfleet.com.


Kimberly Foster ’94 is a New Dean at Tulane

Kimberly Foster
Kimberly Foster

The naming of Michigan Tech Alumna Kimberly Foster ’94, as the new dean of Tulane University’s School of Science and Engineering was covered by several media outlets including the Times-Picayune and New Orleans City Business.

Tulane hires new dean for School of Science and Engineering

Tulane University has hired Kimberly Foster, a mechanical engineering professor from the University of California at Santa Barbara, as the new dean of the School of Science and Engineering. A university news release stated her first day is August 1.

Foster has been a part of the UCSB faculty since 1999, according to Tulane. She has a Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from Cornell University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University. She said in a released statement that she “knew Tulane was special” from the moment she set foot on campus.

Read more at the Times-Picayune, by Wilborn P. Nobles III.


ME-EM Senior Recognition Banquet December 12, 2017

Banquet and Program

The ME-EM Senior Recognition Banquet and Order of the Engineer Program was held on December 12, 2017.

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Keynote Speaker

Denise Rizzo
Keynote Speaker Dr. Denise Rizzo

Dr. Denise M. Rizzo

The speaker was Dr. Denise M. Rizzo, Senior Research Mechanical Engineer, Powertrain Modeling & Simulation Team at US Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC).  Rizzo is a 2014 alumna with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

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Fall 2017 Outstanding Student Awards

Colette Boileau
William Endres and Colette Boileau

Colette Boileau

Colette Boileau has taken Formula SAE Business and Marketing to the next level. She has been diligent about processing orders and budget tracking. Colette was a key driver to improve the team’s approach to Cost and Business Presentations events at the annual competition. Because of her leadership, Michigan Tech FSAE has connected with sponsors, alumni, and fans through social media. Colette’s team published weekly Facebook posts featuring team member profiles; created promotional videos; and sent newsletters to team sponsors.

Brett Michaud
William Endres and Brett Michaud

Brett Michaud

Brett Michaud has been a Formula SAE member during the entire time he has been at Michigan Tech. Brett was almost always at the Formula shop where he worked on the cars, helped other members develop skills, and occasionally did some homework. Brett was the FSAE Chief Engineer last year and he led the team through a successful competition. Brett’s dedication and “can-do” attitude serve as a model for other team members.

Erica Jacobson
William Endres and Erica Jacobson

Erica Jacobson

Erica Jacobson SCD 58 – Ask any successful engineer what one quality is most important in an engineer and they will respond, “Persistence”. The ability to stay engaged when project difficulties arise and thoughtfully work through those difficulties until a solution is achieved will make you successful. Erica Jacobson exhibited that quality as she led SCD Team 58 in the design of An Inertia Measurement Device. Erica’s persistence helped Team 58 overcome many design challenges and setbacks. As a result they were able to deliver an excellent product to their sponsor.

Aaron Mead

Aaron Mead (Senior Design Team 65) has shown mature perseverance when faced with a project of scale larger than what is dealt with in the classroom. Besides having keen technical acuity, he has a precocious understanding of the broader impact of a design decision on their team’s project.  Buoyed by his proactive team members, he emerges as a strongly motivated individual with the ability to apply himself to key technical aspects of the project for their customer. He works well with members of his team and this has produced several moments of positive synergy in their design process.

Logan Sheffield
William Endres and Logan Sheffield

Logan Sheffield

Logan Sheffield (Senior Design Team 57) has been nominated for the outstanding student award because of his team leadership and perseverance. Logan has been an exceptional leader for team 57, making sure the team was on top of all tasks and keeping to the schedule. He also stepped up to make sure things were completed on time. He put in the extra effort to complete the controls and electrical in order to finish the project. He also was determined to design the best product he could and put the extra time and effort in designing additional features to improve the final product.


2017 Best Paper Award of ASCE Journal of Aerospace Engineering Goes to Michigan Tech Collaborators

Fernando Ponta
Fernando Ponta

Xiao Sun (CEE, research assistant), Qingli Dai (CEE), Muraleekrishnan Menon (MEEM, research assistant) and Fernando Ponta (MEEM) co-authored “Design and Simulation of Active External Trailing-edge Flaps for Wind Turbine Blades on Load Reduction.”

The paper received the 2017 Journal of Aerospace Engineering Best Paper Award. An award banquet will take place at the 2018 Earth and Space Conference on April 9-12 in Cleveland.

https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)AS.1943-5525.0000771


Solar Powered Scooter by Alumnus Brett Belan

Brett Cameron Belan
Brett Cameron Belan

Ashland (Wisconsin) Daily Tidings reported on a solar-powered scooter built by mechanical engineering alumnus Brett Belan.

Sun powers Ashland man’s scooter

It’s a small, standup scooter with a can’t-be-missed 100-watt solar panel bolted to its handle bars. It has a battery but you don’t plug it in. The energy comes directly from the sun and will briefly store in the scooter’s battery.

It’s called the solarolla. Inventor and inveterate tinkerer Brett Cameron Belan put it together in his Ashland shop in a couple weeks, using a drill, chopsaw and a bag of bolts, quickly realizing that it’s unique for one-simple reason: You carry the charging system with you.

Belan, who previously built a large solar panel atop his Volkswagen bus, is a graduate of Michigan Tech, a public research university, where he got his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1997. He went on to work for Ford in Detroit and Jaguar in England.

Read more at Ashland Daily Tidings, by Andy Atkinson.


Three Inducted into Academy for Fall 2017

MEEM BuildingIn ceremonies held Oct. 28, the Academy of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech inducted three new members. The inductees were Christine R. Roberts (Przybysz), Xintan Chang and Thomas J. Bronz.

The Academy honors outstanding ME-EM graduates, recognizing those who exemplify excellence and leadership in engineering and civic affairs, and who will serve as inspirational role models for current and future students.

Christine Roberts graduated from Tech with a BS in mechanical engineering in 1991, later going on to earn a master’s in project management from George Washington University and her MBA in International Business at DePaul University in 2000. Roberts began her career at Motorola, Inc., where she worked for 20 years, rising from production manager to vice president of product management for Motorola Mobility. In addition to Motorola, she also held positions at Google and Netflix.

Currently, Roberts is at cloud communications services pioneer Twilio as vice president and general manager of Twilio’s Super Network and chairman of the board for the Twilio Sweden Group. She volunteers with programs advancing involvement in STEM fields for young women and underrepresented minorities through hands-on teaching.

Xintan Chang earned his master’s in mining engineering and PhD in engineering mechanics at Tech. Before coming to Tech, Chang had worked in Chinese coal mines for 11 years after earning his BS in mining engineering from Xi’an Mining Institute (now Xi’an University of Science and Technology) in 1969. While at Tech, he co-authored the Transient State Mine Ventilation Simulation Program MFIRE for US Bureau of Mines, which remains the most popular mine fire ventilation simulation software in the world.

Chang returned to Xi’an University in 1988, working his way up to full professor within five years. His research focused on mine ventilation, mine/civil fire simulation and fire-fighting, and public safety/safety management, earning a National Reward for his simulation accomplishments. Chang became president of Xi’an University in 2003, leading several expansions and improvements for the university during his tenure.

Thomas Bronz graduated with a BS in mechanical engineering from Tech in 1989, later earning an MBA from Northwestern University. After graduating from Tech, he worked in the commercial vehicles industry in a variety of management positions overseeing suspensions controls processes. In 2006, he served as the director of high performance product development at Brunswick Corporation where he improved development processes for freshwater boat lines.

Bronz returned to the commercial vehicles market in 2010, helping a start-up business to become a successful standalone within four years. He then moved on to become president and CEO of Hadley Products, once again returning to the suspensions controls field, before ending up as director of aftermarket sales at SAF Holland, where he supports hitches and suspensions for trucking fleets across North America.

William Predebon, chair of ME-EM, says that these alumni set a fine example for current students. “When I think about Tom, Xintan and Christine, I am struck by all they have done and continue to do, by their accomplishments, by the challenges they have faced and persevered, and by their leadership,” Predebon says.

“They have set a high standard for our future alumni to emulate. We are very proud of them and look forward to them returning to campus and interacting with our students.”

This induction honors some of the most successful of the more than thirteen thousand alumni of Michigan Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics. Portraits and a brief biography of Academy members are prominently displayed in the lobby of the ME-EM building to serve as inspiration for future mechanical engineering and engineering mechanics students.

By Noah Kozminski.


Smithsonian on Michigan Tech’s NASA Space Research Institute

Air and Space August 2017Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine published a feature article about Michigan Tech’s new NASA Space Research Institute, headed by Greg Odegard (ME-EM). The institute will work on using carbon nanotubes to create a composite that is lighter and stronger than any material used in load-bearing structures today.

Strong Stuff

These students are designing materials tough enough to land on another planet.

The project, called the Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP), is led by Michigan Technological University professor Greg Odegard, who assembled the 11-university team of experts in computational mechanics and materials science. The problem NASA has set for them to solve: Use carbon nanotubes to create a composite that is lighter and stronger than any material used in load-bearing structures today. Odegard says high-powered computers at his university and others are the key to success.

Will Pisani is in his first year of work toward his Ph.D. at Michigan Tech, and he’s already started some of the computational modeling the institute will use.

Using molecular dynamics, Matt Radue, who is just about to receive his Ph.D. from Michigan Tech, has created models to simulate the formation or breakage of chemical bonds between atoms; he calculates, by programming Newton’s laws of motion into the models, the velocities and accelerations of the atoms under different conditions, such as changes in temperature.

Julie Tomasi loves it when the materials in the lab behave the way the computer models predict. Tomasi, also pursuing a Ph.D. at Michigan Tech, has tested the mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties of epoxy with various embedded fillers, such as graphene (a carbon particle lattice).

Read more at Smithsonian Air & Space, by Linda Shiner.


Alumnus Pat Suhy Unveils New NASCAR Cup Race Car

Camaro ZL1
Camaro ZL1

The Daily Tribune published an article about the unveiling of the new Chevy Camaro ZL1, Chevrolet’s new NASCAR Cup race car, quoting alumnus Pat Suhy, manager of Chevrolet’s NASCAR Competition Group and a 1988 mechanical engineering alumnus of Michigan Tech.

New Chevrolet race car ‘exciting’ for team manager Pat Suhy

DETROIT >> Pat Suhy’s latest work project was such a big deal that a seven-time NASCAR champion introduced it to the world.

“It’s been exciting,” Suhy said. “We’ve been working hard on this for a very long time. Keeping it under wraps until we were ready to unveil it has been a challenge.

“We’ve had a large number of people engaged in this, including (aerodynamic) specialists from key Cup teams.”

The Camaro will debut at Daytona in February.

Read more and watch the video at the Daily Tribune, by George Pohly.