Category: Alumni

Professor L. Brad King, Orbion Space Technology Team Named to Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies 2024” List

Turning dreams into reality is all in a day’s work for Lyon (Brad) King and his entire team at Orbion Space Technology. Case in point: Orbion Space Technology has been named to Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2024 list. Companies that send satellites into space on a rocket can use Orbion’s thrusters to maneuver them precisely to their final destination.

Dr. King is an experimentalist interested in studying electric space propulsion systems, including Hall-effect thrusters, ion engines, and arcjets. King is the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Endowed Professor (Space Systems) with MTU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. As faculty advisor for the Aerospace Enterprise, King works with undergraduate students to provide hands-on aerospace education and experience. Aerospace Enterprise places an emphasis on space mission design and analysis, vehicle integration, systems engineering, and comprehensive ground testing and qualification. The idea for launching Orbion began taking shape here: King and co-founder Jason Sommerville realized they had not only the core technology, but an incredible network of talent in the form of aerospace and Isp Lab alumni to meet an urgent need in the new space economy. King (CEO of Orbion Space Technology) and Makela started the company in 2016.

Products under construction at Orbion Space Technology. The company is based in Houghton, Michigan and several members of the leadership team are graduates of Michigan Technological University’s doctoral program in mechanical engineering. (Image Credit: Orbion Space Technology)

In a previous article, author Cyndi Perkins tells us that “Orbion now employs more than 40 full-time engineers in its Houghton facility, with seven holding PhD degrees. You’ll find Huskies at the helm in several key positions—CTO Sommerville is a 2009 PhD graduate—but the company is more than just an outgrowth of Michigan Tech.”

Other MTU ME-EM alums holding positions with Orbion:

Michigan Tech alums from other programs include Kanwal Rekhi, PhD (MS, Electrical Engineering) and John Rockwell (BS, Business Administration).

The Michigan Tech-Orbion connection brings a wealth of opportunities for students to connect theory with practice. Michigan Tech’s Aerospace Enterprise teams have already launched three satellites into space.

New Faculty Spotlight: Chad Walber

Dr. Chad Walber

Chad Walber recently joined the faculty as an Associate Teaching Professor. He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan Tech, then went to work for PCB Piezotronics for several years as a technical support engineer. He returned to Michigan Tech in 2007 to earn an MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering. After that, he returned to PCB, working as a research and development engineer for 12 years. He joined Michigan Tech as a Visiting Professor of Practice in January, before joining the ME-EM Department full time this fall.

“I like to tell people I have the Michigan Tech Grand Slam.”

Dr. Chad Walber

What drew you to Michigan Tech?

I’m originally from Wisconsin. I’ve loved the Houghton-Hancock area from the first moment I saw it, when I came up for a tour as a prospective undergrad. After living here and making some of the best friendships of my life during college, I knew I always wanted to end up back up here. To me, the Keweenaw is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

What is your primary area of research and what led you to it?

My background is in Dynamic Systems, Noise and Vibration, Acoustics, and specifically the test and measurement of those quantities. I was very interested in the Signal Processing aspect of all of this from my electrical engineering classes, and really dug into it more when I started to work for PCB. At PCB I helped develop not only new sensors, but new calibration methods for microphones and accelerometers. I am also very involved in microphone and accelerometer calibration standards through the IEC.

Can you share a little more about your research and what you like about it?

As a teaching professor, I’m not really focused on research. For my other professional activities though, I am involved in international standards with respect to microphones and accelerometers. I’ve helped develop both specification and calibration standards around microphones and sound level meters. I’m also involved in the sensors and instrumentation technical committee for the Society of Experimental Mechanics. This coming year at the International Modal Analysis Conference, I will also be teaching Modal Theory at the New/Young Engineer Workshop. 

When it comes to collaboration, I’m happy to help people with various measurement requirements. I’ve got a lot of experience in measurements of dynamics systems, but I’ve done a fair amount of destructive testing as well.

What do you consider an important long-term goal for your teaching, research, and outreach?

I’d like to get more people talking about Metrology. Part of almost every type of research that’s done here has a measurement component, but sometimes we don’t really think about how accurate our measurements really are, or if there might be a better way to measure that phenomena we look at. I worked a lot in calibrated dynamic transducers, and showing how different calibration methods can give you a slightly different answer as to the performance of the particular device.

“Ask for help on anything you have questions on. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s the best way to learn something.”

Dr. Chad Walber’s advice for incoming students

What do you hope to accomplish over the next few years?

The Starry Night (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh

I’d like to get to know my students better and help them figure out how best they learn. I feel like when folks come to MTU, they don’t realize that they can and should adapt their learning processes. The way a student learned things in high school may not be the best way for them to learn things going forward. 

I also want to make them all more curious about the world around them. I want my students to be okay with questioning things as well as understanding that it’s alright to not know all of the answers the first time.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m very much a tinkerer, and I’ve gotten into 3-D printing, carpentry, programmable electronics, and photography. Astrophotography is a hobby of mine. I also enjoy board games, computer games, and LEGOs. If you come by the ME-EM Department front desk, and my office, you’ll see some of the models I’ve built. I also enjoy camping and all forms of outdoor cooking. Grilling, smoking, and open fire foods are high on my list of favorites.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?

My favorite book is “The Martian,” by Andy Weir. My favorite movie is WALL-E. My favorite piece of artwork is The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. I just received the LEGO version of this painting today and will be putting it together in the coming week.

Any favorite spots on campus, in Houghton, or in the UP?

Anywhere along the Portage “canalside” is a great place to just sit and collect your thoughts. On campus I do enjoy the green space between the EERC and Rehki Hall. It’s a great place to relax in some shade, and enjoy the day.

Jeffrey Allen receives NASA funding for Physical Sciences Informatics (PSI) research

Professor Jeffrey S. Allen is the John F. and Joan M. Calder Endowed Professor in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics at Michigan Tech. Dr. Allen also serves as Associate Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the department.

Jeffrey Allen (Professor, ME-EM) is the principal investigator on a recently awarded NASA Physical Sciences Research Program grant that will build on prior reduced-gravity research to advance fundamental research in the physical sciences.

The project, titled “Reduced-order modeling of interfacial dynamics to enable large-scale, mission-length simulations of low-gravity propellant management using CVB PSI data”, is one of six funded proposals under this initiative. Anurag Ranjan, PhD (postdoc) is a co-investigator.

The overall objective of the proposed research is to develop a new efficient computational approach for fast, long duration, high fidelity simulations of the interface dynamics of liquid vapor mixtures in microgravity using a vortex sheet evolution equation coupled to a
vorticity-velocity bulk fluid solution in an extended FEM technique.

The Physical Sciences Informatics (PSI) system is an online database of completed physical science reduced-gravity flight experiments conducted on the International Space Station (ISS), Space Shuttle flights, Free Flyers, or commercial cargo flights to and from the ISS, and of related ground-based studies.

For more information:

Access Professor Allen’s publications here:

Visit Professor Allen’s faculty profile here:

Hannah Stoll : 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 alumna Hannah Stoll.


Lansing, MI

Currently live in the Twin Cities working for SICK Sensor Intelligence as a Test Systems Engineer


BS, Mechanical Engineering  |  2019

MS, Electrical Engineering  |  2020


I joined a beginner hockey league through AHA with a friend, and I sub in a sand volleyball league. 


I spend the majority of my time 3D printing, playing video games, creating models and graphics online, hanging out with friends and family, camping, and playing sports.


My favorite places in the Houghton area would have to be the waterfront trails and covered road. 


I am an only child!  |  No pets yet sadly.  |  Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”


I chose MTU to play college basketball, to enjoy the beautiful copper country and its community, and to go to an impressive engineering school.


I love the area and the people are just like family. The pep band is amazing and creates atmospheres like no other for all of the sporting events. At tech everyone has a place to feel welcome and a great opportunity to excel and prepare for the future.


MTU showed me how many different areas of STEM there really are and how fun it can be to dig into those topics. There is no getting bored as there is plenty to learn no matter what age you are! STEM also has so many great career opportunities to choose from. 


I have always enjoyed messing around on the computer, building things, and knowing how stuff works! I first took a class in my early high school years where I got to do some CAD modeling and woodshop work.


I would tell my younger self to get into programming sooner because it could have made my life a lot easier in school 😉 


I would tell them to ask their peers and professors about real world applications and focus on what interests them because it will help them go in the right direction to find a job they really like in the future! P.S. – The hard work is really worth it!


I will continue to work with new and upcoming technologies to advance our industries and make an impact on future generations. 

If you would like to nominate a student, graduate, or community member for Women in STEM Wednesday, please email Donna Jeno-Amici ( or Meg Raasakka (

ME-EM Honors BSME Graduates, Faculty in Spring 2020

Order of the Engineer for Over 50 Years

Order of the Engineer

The Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics recently honored its graduating BSME students and select faculty during its virtual Order of the Engineer Induction Ceremony. More than 200 people witnessed the induction of 132 BSME spring/summer graduates into the Order of the Engineer, marking the beginning of their careers as professional engineers.

ME-EM Teacher of the Year

Gordon Parker

Additionally, the department honored two faculty for their instructional efforts. Gordon Parker received the ME-EM Teacher of the Year Award, with Aneet Narendranath honored as the runner-up. Undergraduate students in the department select the recipients each year via their responses to a survey regarding which instructors have had the most positive impact on their education.

One student said of Parker, “He not only encourages the success and growth for each student in his class, but also provides the tools for everyone to do so. Not many students want to miss his lectures, as they are interesting, engaging, and fun. He spends a great deal of his free time creating quality notes and examples that are easy to follow and help a lot to understand the material.”

Of Narendranath, a student said, “He has regularly displayed exemplary teaching ability and a genuine interest in his students and their success, both in and outside of the classroom. He communicates course material clearly; keeps lectures interesting through stories, jokes, and fun facts; connects course material with real-world applications; and makes himself very approachable and available to his students.”

Spring 2020 Outstanding Student Awards

Finally, the following four graduating seniors were recognized for their outstanding contributions to their Enterprise or Senior Capstone Design projects:

  • Austin Arenz – Formula SAE
  • Eric Bauer – Blizzard Baja
  • Jake Fedie – Blizzard Baja
  • Ben Hubbard – SCD Team 18 Nexteer Bearing Noise Test Rig Design and Metric Development

Michigan Tech Alumnus, WSU Professor Hussein Zbib Dies

Hussein M. Zbib
Hussein M. Zbib

Michigan Tech alumnus Hussein M. Zbib passed away Feb. 10 at his home in Pullman, Washington, apparently as a result of injuries he sustained in a September traffic accident. He was 61 years old.

Zbib earned his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in mechanical engineering from Michigan Tech. He was a member of the ME-EM External Advisory Board and a ME-EM Academy inductee. He joined the faculty of Washington State University in 1987 as a professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. He also served as director of WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering for 11 years

William Predebon, chair of Michigan Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics said “Hussein was personally a dear friend and colleague. His death is a loss to all of us and to the engineering community.”

Funeral services will be held at a later date and a full obituary will be available at the website of the Kimball Funeral Home in Pullman.

ME-EM Senior Recognition Banquet December 10, 2019

Banquet and Program

MEEM Banquet 2019 showing attendees shaking hands.

The ME-EM Senior Recognition Banquet and Order of the Engineer Program was held on December 10, 2019.


Keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker Larry Staley
Keynote Speaker Larry Staley

Larry Staley

The speaker was Lawrence W. Staley, entrepreneur. Staley has a BS in mechanical engineering from Michigan Tech and an Executive MBE from the University of Toledo.

Fall 2019 Outstanding Student Awards

Dillon Babcock, FSAE Enterprise, Nominated by Dr. Jim De Clerck

I have been honored to observe Dillon Babcock evolve into an outstanding engineer. Dillon has intentionally applied concepts from nearly every engineering course to his Formula SAE projects. He developed habits to systematic to approach engineering problems. Dillon always demonstrates a positive, “can-do” attitude. He eagerly seeks help when he needs it. Dillon is always willing to anything to help the team and his teammates.

Nick Jensen, Senior Design, Nominated by Dr. Fei Long

SCD team 52 was assigned the ‘Thompson Surgical—Surgical Instrument Life Cycle Test System’ as the Senior Capstone Design project. In addition to the overall team success on this project, Nick stands out on his excellent team management, customer communication as well as project planning skills. He regularly applied himself on behalf of the team in these areas, the team also responding by delivering their best work towards satisfying the customer. In view of his performance, I recommend Nick Jensen for the Outstanding Student Performance Awards.

Andrew Boerman, Senior Design, Nominated by Dr. Bill Endres

Capstone Team 60 was engaged to develop a new standard process for making tensile test samples from bulk composite sheet.  Much of the challenge centered on understanding why tensile property results from previous sample manufacturing methods showed so much variation.  Identifying the numerous independent variables, designing the experiment and executing the subsequent data processing, was a major undertaking. This student demonstrated a highly competent understanding and ability to apply experimental design and data acquisition techniques.  He was fully committed, and supported by a strong set of teammates, delivered in an outstanding and much needed way. For this, Andrew Boerman is nominated for an Outstanding Student Performance Award.

Victoria Quinde Serrano Addresses Fall 2019 Graduates

Victoria Quinde Serrano
Victoria Quinde Serrano

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University’s Fall Commitment Ceremony took place Saturday morning. Over 500 graduates walked across the stage.

“I hope you will all look back on this day and all of the people who helped you along the way,” MTU President Richard Koubek said in his welcome address. Koubek also introduced the student speaker, Victoria Quinde Sorrano.

Sorrano graduated with a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. Originally from Ecuador, Sorrano was also a language coach and a tennis player while at MTU.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Jon Jaehnig.

Michigan Tech celebrates 2019 winter graduates

“Michigan Tech has been a really special. It’s unique. I don’t think there’s a place like this anywhere else so I’m really happy I made the decision of coming here,” said Student Commencement Speaker and Mechanical Engineering Major, Victoria Quinde.

Read more and watch the video at TV6 FOX UP, by Remi Murrey.


Michigan Tech To Celebrate Midyear Commencement

ME-EM Senior Recognition Banquet December 11, 2018

MEEM Fall 2018 Ceremonies

Banquet and Program

The ME-EM Senior Recognition Banquet and Order of the Engineer Program was held on December 11, 2018.


Keynote Speaker

Heidi Mueller
Keynote Speaker Heidi Mueller

Heidi Mueller

The speaker was Heidi Mueller, Supervisor – 2.3L GTDI Engine Calibration, Ford Motor Company.

Fall 2018 Outstanding Student Awards

Outstanding Senior Design Student Awards

John Hoffman, student Advisor Steven Ma

John Hoffman is a member of team 64 working on Laser Welding of Carbide Saw Blade contracted with Milwaukee Tool. His team’s advisor, Steven Ma, said that during the year working on the project John Hoffman has continuously shown graduate level skill in multiple areas of our senior design project in software/coding, CNC control, fixture design and hands-on machining and made great contribution to the success of the project. Although the whole team has worked well together and each individual contributed quality work, the project would not be at the point where it is currently without John’s knowledge, time, and commitment. His outstanding performance during this Senior Capstone Design project has been well recognized and is therefore nominated here for the Outstanding Student Performance Award.

Thomas Richter, SCD Team 59

Cam Hadden nominated Thomas Richter for his outstanding work on Team 59’s CAD model of the seatframe, as well as the work he has done with FEA. I believe that without his contribution, the team would not have nearly as impressive of a final presentation. From what I understand, he has done most of the modelling work by himself during semester 1, and he has done ALL of the FEA work by himself during semester 2. His FEA models are very impressive, which include not only stress analysis but also mass optimization for weight reduction… These were apparent in the team’s final presentation.

Nominee for Outstanding Enterprise Student

Cora Taylor, FSAE Enterprise

Nominated by Forumla SAE Advisor Jim De Clerck, Cora Taylor joined FSAE early in her college career. She has been involved in nearly every aspect of vehicle development and team operation. As team President, Cora proved that she could be counted on to get things done. Last May, Cora led the team through one of our most outstanding competition experiences ever.

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.