Category Archives: Students

Mark Wallach Ranks High Among Cadets

Mark Wallach
Cadet Mark Wallach. Photo from U.S. Army Cadet Command (ROTC).

Mark Wallach, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, was recently ranked eighth of eight thousand plus graduating cadets across the nation. The competitive ranking process takes into account academics, physical fitness, student involvement, and performance during advanced camp, a grueling 37-day training event in Fort Knox Kentucky.

He has had an award filled tenure at Michigan Tech. His name can be found on the dean’s list all six semesters, graduated the Army Air Assault School in Fort Campbell Kentucky, traveled to morocco to study their culture, and finished first out of his platoon of 40 at Advanced Camp where he also earned the coveted Recondo badge.

Wallach currently serves as the Cadet Battalion Commander leading a program of 80 undergraduate students. On May 2, Mark will be commissioning into the Army Engineer branch as a Second Lieutenant with hopes of becoming a Sapper.


Sustainable Waste Project Recognition for PhD Student and Alumni

SWANA Second Prize

The prestigious SWANA (Solid Waste Association of North America) professional society has awarded second prize in the student design competition to a team from Michigan Tech. Advised by Ezra Bar-Ziv, the team members are:
SWANA-SWDC logo graphic

  • Stas Zinchik (ME-EM PhD ’19)
  • Shreyas Kolapkar (MSME ’18)
  • Zhuo Xu (current ME-EM PhD student)

The competition took place in the 2019 WasteCon conference in Phoenix, AZ, on October 21.

SWANA’s International Solid Waste Design Competition (SWDC) is a student team competition to solve “real world” problems faced by solid waste professionals.

The competition aims at providing design experience to the students interested in pursuing an education and/or career in solid waste management. The 2019 project challenged students on “Evaluating Recycling Rate Metrics and Achieving Recycling Goals.”

SCPPE Best Oral Presentation

In addition, graduate student Zhuo Xu was recently awarded Best Oral Presentation at the 5th International Conference on Sustainable Chemical Product and Process Engineering (SCPPE) on June 30-July 3, 2019, in Tianjin, China. Zhuo Xu’s presentation “Sustainable waste to clean energy solutions” was presented in the ‘Alternative and renewable energy systems and supply chain’ session of the Conference.

2019 Frontiers Spotlight Finalist

Ezra Bar-Ziv’s research group co-authored “Properties of Torrefied U.S. Waste Blends” in Frontiers in Energy Research: Bioenergy and Biofuels. The article is part of a special topic collection.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fenrg.2018.00065

The article collection, “Advancements in Biomass Feedstock Preprocessing: Conversion Ready Feedstocks,” is one of 10 finalists for the 2019 Frontiers Spotlight Award, which supports important fields of research published as special issues in Frontiers journals. The topic was selected via peer review, based on scientific and societal importance, from approximately 1,000 Frontiers topics in 2019. The topic’s readership is among the most globally diverse of the finalists.


Jacob Franz Collaborates on 3D Printing Guide

Jacob Franz
Jacob Franz

The open-source book “Printing 3D Models for Chemistry – A Step-by-Step Open-Source Guide for Hobbyists, Corporate Professionals, and Educators and Students in K-12 and Higher Education“, by undergraduate students Elisabeth Grace Billman-Benveniste (Chemistry), Jacob Franz (Mechanical Engineering), and Associate Professor Loredana Valenzano-Slough (Chem) was recently featured in the news section of “3dprint.com – Voice of 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing.”

Jacob is a mechanical engineering student at Michigan Technological University.

After completing his BS degree in mechanical engineering (graduating in spring 2020), Jacob is planning to continue his education in the accelerated Master of Business Administration program at Michigan Tech (graduating in fall 2020) in hopes of taking on leadership and upper management roles in industry.


Engineering Ambassadors Fall 2019 Information Session

Engineering AmbassadorsDo you want to be a part of an effort to middle and high schoolers to reach out about engineering?

Do you want to grow in your professional communication skills?

You should check out Michigan Tech’s Engineering Ambassadors Program. Join a group of students who present an engineering topic and conduct a hands-on activity at local schools to excite students about engineering.

We will have an info session at 6 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 5, 2019) in Fisher 130. Our first general meeting will at 6 p.m.Thursday, Sept. 12 also in Fisher 130. Join us, and bring a friend to learn more about the program and help excite young students about STEM.

Contact advisors Jaclyn Johnson or Nancy Barr to be added to the email list, and with any questions. Also check us out on Facebook or our website to learn more. We look forward to seeing you.


Enterprise Teams Take Vehicles to School

Formula SAEMembers of Michigan Tech’s Enterprise competition teams in Formula I, Supermileage, Baja and Clean Snowmobile will visit with eighth-grade students at Houghton Middle School on April 26, 2019.

The eighth graders have been engaged in four-week long STEM projects led by Michigan Tech students and their instructors. These projects have immersed the middle school students in the engineering and testing of fuel cell automobiles. The project incorporates many science standards and practices. Today’s visit by the Enterprise teams, along with their vehicles, is the culmination of these projects.

The vehicles will be on display outside the Houghton Middle School from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. In addition, there will be demonstrations.

By Sarah Geborkoff.

Tech Enterprise students teach hands-on engineering to middle school students

Friday, the Tech students brought vehicles from the Clean Snowmobile Challenge, Baja and Formula Enterprise teams to explain the competitions to students.

Eighth-grader Katy Fay said the Tech students had been helpful in the projects, and in teaching the components of cars and fuel cells.

“I had no idea what it was,” Fay said of the fuel cell. “It looked just like a box. Now I know what it is, and how it actually can power things.”

Fay, who is considering becoming an engineer, said after some tinkering, her team had gotten its vehicle to travel far.

“It started pretty rocky, but we got it together,” she said.

Tech mechanical engineering student Patrick Gilland, who oversaw the outreach, said students performed well.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.


Aerospace Enterprise Prepares for Launch of Satellite

OculusThe students in the Aerospace Enterprise and their faculty advisor, L. Brad King (ME-EM), are preparing to launch their Oculus satellite, which was designed and built by students.

Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department Chair William Predebon said, “This is an exciting time for our students, and Michigan Tech. The students worked on it for several years to get it ready for launch. Current students in the Aerospace Enterprise will be receiving data from outer space from Oculus during its mission in lower Earth orbit. Oculus will be in space for about 9 months and the launch is set for June (2019).”

According to SpaceX, Oculus will be the first small satellite ever deployed from the Falcon Heavy. The launch information is available on SpaceX’s website. If you scroll down to “The Mission” you will see a title bar below it with Oculus listed.

By Aerospace Enterprise.


Passing the Torch: Engineering Ambassadors Visit Local Schools

Barkell Elementary signSure signs of spring in the Copper Country are robins returning, ice leaving and Michigan Tech’s Engineering Ambassadors (AE) inspiring students.

For the eighth year, the engineering students that make up EA will visit local elementary and middle schools to create excitement for engineering disciplines through programs and hands-on activities designed for students in third through tenth grades.

Nancy Barr, professor of practice in engineering communications, said the Ambassadors present a 10-minute talk on a science or engineering topic to a classroom. Following the talk, the EAs engage students in a fun, 30-minute activity designed to reinforce the concepts presented in the talk. Each talk and accompanying activity are geared toward a particular age.

“The objective is twofold,” Barr said. “It helps our students develop confidence in their presentation skills and it gets younger students thinking about science and engineering as a possible career path.”

Barr said a unique aspect of the program is that it gives the college students an opportunity to share their own experiences with local school children. “We encourage our EAs to talk about why they chose engineering as a major, what cool projects they’ve had and where they plan to work after graduation. We try to recruit from across the College of Engineering, but the majority of students come from ME-EM.”

Jaclyn Johnson (ME-EM), advises EA, while Barr provides training on presenting science to young audiences and then offers feedback on their presentations.

The program, modeled after a similar program at Penn State, was started in 2012 by Michele Miller (ME-EM) a research professor and Danise Jarvey, director of academic services in the School of Technology.

Johnson said the program is part of a network of at least 30 Universities in the U.S. and internationally. “Since the fall of 2012, we’ve reached 2,936 students in eight schools within a 100-mile radius of Michigan Tech. During that time, we’ve had a total of 65 ambassadors.”

This spring, nine different AEs, working in pairs or groups of three, will visit two third-grade and three fifth-grade classes at the Barkell Elementary School in Hancock and four classes at Houghton Middle School. The program will run through April 12.

William Predebon, chair of ME-EM, said EA has been quite successful. “The Engineering Ambassador program is a terrific opportunity for engineering students to develop their communications skills and an important strategy to excite elementary and middle-school students to pursue engineering and science.”

More information can be found on the Engineering Ambassadors webpage.


Nancy Barr Presents on Undergraduate Portfolios

2019 CCCC

Nancy Barr (ME-EM) presented an overview of the the ME-EM Department’s undergraduate portfolio program as part of a panel at the Council on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) annual convention.

The panel, titled “The Performance of Portfolios Across the Curriculum,” highlighted the use of portfolios in undergraduate program assessment and student development at a range of universities.

The 2019 Conference on College Composition and Communication was held March 13-16 in Pittsburgh, PA.


Tech Does Well in SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge

Clean Snowmobile Challenge SledMichigan Tech fared well in the 2019 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge (CSC) held March 4-9 at the Keweenaw Research Center.

There were 22 university teams competing this year from the U.S. and Canada, 13 in the Spark Ignition Gasoline Class and nine in the Compression Ignition Diesel Utility Class. The teams came from as far east as Clarkson University and as far west as Idaho University.

The Michigan Tech CSC team took first place in the Combustion Ignition Diesel Utility Class. They received a trophy and $1,000 prize, sponsored by Oshkosh. The team received one of the Can-Do E-Controls Innovation Awards with the prize of $1,000 in value products.

The Michigan Tech CSC team also earned the Most Sportsmanlike Award ($1,000 sponsored by AVL) as recognized by the other teams.

In the Spark Ignition Gasoline Class, the Michigan Tech CSC team received the Polaris Best Handling Award. They also received a MSA Award Plaque for Endurance, having completed the 100 mile endurance and fuel economy event.

By Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. Photos by Janet Callahan.

Clean Snowmobile Challenge Group


2019 Rekhi Innovation Challenge Winners

Beach ChallengeThe 2019 Rekhi Innovation Challenge ended Feb. 28. This year there were seven teams competing. The Rekhi Challenge is a crowdfunding competition to help promote and support student innovation and entrepreneurship through Michigan Tech’s crowdfunding site, Superior Ideas. A total of $3,035 was raised between the projects. Congratulations to the Automated Beach Safety Flag project for raising the most at $2,245. This project team will receive a matching gift of $1,000.

Here are results in the other prize categories:

Most Unique Visitors – 1st Place Wins $50 For Their Project

  • 1st place – Audio to Visual Translator
  • 2nd place – Automated Beach Safety Flag
  • 3rd place – LifePro Jackets

Most Unique Funders – 1st Place Wins $50 For Their Project

  • 1st place – Audio to Visual Translator
  • 2nd place – Automated Beach Safety Flag
  • 3rd place – LifePro Jackets

Social Media Engagement – 1st Place Wins $50 For Their Project

  • 1st place – Automated Beach Safety Flag
  • 2nd place – Audio to Visual Translator
  • 3rd – LifePro Jackets

Most Creative Marketing Communications Strategy – 1st Place Wins $50 For Their Project

  • 1st place – Automated Beach Safety Flag

The Audio to Visual project won a total of $100 in prize money and the Automated Beach Safety Flag project won a total of $1,150. Thanks to all of the donors that contributed to these projects. Your support for student innovation and entrepreneurship at Michigan Tech is greatly appreciated.

Superior Ideas was established in 2012 to help bring University research and public service projects to life. The site uses crowdfunding to raise money and awareness for University research and public service projects that may not qualify for grant funding.

Meet the Researchers

Audio to Visual Translator

Automated Cellular Beach Safety Flag System

  • Jacob Soter
  • Andrew Barnard is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.