Category: Students

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


Karrar Takleef Alofari Presents Poster at 2021 Alumni Reunion

The Michigan Tech Graduate Student Government (GSG) organized a poster presentation at the 2021 Alumni Reunion in the Rozsa Center on August 6. Presentations are also posted virtually. Among the presenters was Karrar Takleef Alofari, a PhD Student in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Karrar Takleef Alofari
Karrar Takleef Alofari

Karrar Takleef Alofari

Area of Focus

Multi-phase Flow in Porous Media

Topic

The Impact of Relative Humidity on The Porosity and The Structure of PEM Fuel Cell Catalyst Layer

Project Summary

Understanding and modeling of mass transport limitations in the catalyst layers in PEM fuel cells remain a challenge despite decades of commercial development. That challenge has led to the development of a novel ex-situ test to characterize mass transport resistances in these extremely thin porous layers. This test characterizes radial percolation of gas and liquid at varying fluid injection rates and relative humidities. Liquid percolation exhibits a dominant capillarity influence at low injection rates with lower final wetted areas and saturation as compared to high injection rates. Changes in relative humidity have a significant effect on percolation behavior for both gas and liquid. There is a significant jump in resistance when the relative humidity exceeds 65%.


Katy Pioch Interviewed by Xena Workwear for Women

An interview with Katy Pioch, a mechanical engineering student and former Society of Women Engineers (SWE) section president, was featured in a XENA Workwear for Women blog post titled “The Engineering Process.” 

In addition to her SWE involvement, Pioch is a resident assistant (RA) and was elected president of the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge Enterprise.

I think the secret sauce for getting an internship are connections and passion. I had a few connections at the defense company from career fairs and from my personal network. They boosted my confidence while applying and helped me get my foot in the door.

Katy Pioch


Nathan Ford is an Exceptional Leader in Student Governance

Nathan Ford
Nathan Ford

Outstanding students, staff, and a special alumni were honored Friday (April 16, 2021) during Michigan Tech’s 27th Annual Student Leadership Awards Virtual Ceremony.

Nathan Ford, a graduate student, and Larkin Hooker-Moericke, an undergraduate student, were recognized as Exceptional Leaders in Student Governance. Both have collaborated on numerous projects and contributions for their constituency over the past year. With the unconventional year, they have shown to pivot and jointly work together to serve the students of Michigan Tech. They have advocated for modifications to various academic policies that have made significant impacts, formed several new committees to address student concerns, and worked tirelessly to minimize disruptions to the student experience. Their nomination states that the list of all the specific things they have done is just too long, but what is really important is that at no point have Larkin and Nathan lost sight of their job: the well-being and success of all students.

Nathan, President of Graduate School Government, is a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

By Student Leadership and Involvement.


Senior Capstone Team Places in National Airport Design Competition

A project designed by a Michigan Tech Senior Capstone team placed second in the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) student design competition. The team’s submission in the Airport Environmental Interactions Challenge design category was “Glycol Collection Cart: A Design for Small Airports.”

Undergraduate team members are Derek Cingel, Jared Langdon, Bryce Leaf, Ruth Maki, and Douglas Pedersen. Amanda Moya and Alec Mitteer also participated the first semester of the project.

They were advised by Paul van Susante and Michigan Tech Senior Capstone Design Program Director William Endres.

The selection was made from 63 entries by a panel of industry, FAA and academic experts. For its entry, the team will receive a $2,000 award.

The Transportation Research Board is a program unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.


ME-EM Honors BSME Graduates, Faculty in Spring 2020

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


Clean Snowmobile Challenge Enterprise Team Takes First Place

The Michigan Tech Clean Snowmobile Challenge Enterprise Team captured first place in the Spark Ignition (SI), internal combustion engine category competition in the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge that took place last week at the Keweenaw Research Center.

Other awards the team received in the SI category are:

  • Best Lab Emissions Winner
  • Quietest Snowmobile Winner
  • Most Practical Winner
  • Most Sportsmanlike Winner ($1,000 and one of the most important prizes in the competition)

 In the Diesel Engine Category the team won the Quietest Snowmobile award. William Predebon,  J. S. Endowed Department Chair and Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics said the wins were impressive. 

“Teams from 14 universities from as far east as SUNY- Buffalo and as far west as the University of Idaho, and as well Ecole De Technologie Superieure in Canada participated in the competition. It is unusual to win so many categories in the SI competition. This is an impressive accomplishment by our team of students from several College of Engineering Departments.”

Predebon said with past wins in the Diesel and Electric Snowmobile categories Michigan Tech has accomplished wins in all three categories. The Electric Snowmobile category is no longer part of the Clean Snowmobile Challenge.

The CSC advisor is Jason Blough (ME-EM) and engine co-advisor is Scott Miers (ME-EM).