Author: Kim Geiger

Miller Welding Donates MobileArc Simulator to Michigan Tech

A Michigan Tech MET student works with a new augmented reality welding system donated by Miller.

Miller Welding Donates MobileArc Simulator to Michigan Tech

A donation from ITW Welding North America (Miller Welding) will engage and introduce students to welding through a hands-on augmented reality experience. The device, a MobileArc Simulator, will be used in the MMET Department’s “Advanced Manufacturing” course to introduce students to the feel of the welding helmet and welding gun at optimal angle and speed with the workpiece. The device will also increase the efficiency of our instructors, by allowing students to practice their skills prior to beginning live welding. 

Miller MobileArc Augmented Reality Welding System

Once the class has progressed to the Machine Shop lab portion of the course, the second part of Miller’s  donation will come in quite handy–welding helmets with the newest clear vision technology. The lenses of these welding helmets are designed to enhance the clarity and natural color so more detail can be seen in the weld joint. The clearer and brighter view before, during and after the welding is accomplished by complementing the colors emitted from the welding arc.

“This donation doesn’t impact just one class,” says John Irwin, Chair of the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology. “Almost every project of the Blizzard Baja Enterprise involves welding tubular frames and steering components in the MMET Machine Shop. Students in other Enterprise teams use this equipment too–as well as MET students working on their Senior Design project.”

The new equipment will provide a more safe, efficient, and user-friendly experience for Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff.

Seasons Greetings from John Irwin, MMET Department Chair

Aerial view of campus and the Portage Canal in winter.
John Irwin portrait
Dr. John Irwin

Dear Friends,

The Michigan Tech MMET Department continues to prosper. Thirty MET students graduated in spring semester, and another nine this fall! Our total number of students continues to grow, due to the large incoming class of new and transfer students. 

One of the courses our students really enjoy is “Fundamentals of Machining,” where future engineers learn how parts are manufactured using traditional machining methods. Building a product from a piece of raw material is very satisfying. It’s an experience that lasts a lifetime. 

Making mistakes along the way is part of the process. It teaches the difficulty inherent in machining—and develops a lasting appreciation for manufacturing design—something that is instilled in every proud graduate from the MET program.

I hope you enjoy reading these stories about what has happened here at Michigan Tech over the past year.

Happy Holidays!


John L. Irwin, Professor and MMET Department Chair

group of MET students on campus
Introducing our Fall 2022 MET First Year Class
Group of MET students on campus
Congratulations to Fall 2022 MET Graduates!
Group of MET students on campus
Congratulations to all Spring 2022 MET Graduates!

Mason Petersen Named MMET Department Scholar

Congratulations to MMET student Mason Petersen!

The Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MMET) is pleased to announce that Mason Petersen has been selected as the 2022 MMET Department Scholar.

“Mason is a Mechanical Engineering Technology student who just completed his third year at Michigan Tech. He enjoys working with his hands on automotive and industrial machine projects,” says John Irwin, MMET department chair. 

“Once Mason challenged himself by purchasing a fully deconstructed motorcycle to reassemble, and with the help of a service manual and internet forums, he completed the build. This allowed him to analyze the engineering design features behind the motorcycle’s engine as well as establish priceless problem-solving skills for use later in his career,” adds Irwin.

Last year, Petersen served as R&D intern at International Woodworking Technologies (IWT) where he led the design and creation of a prototype for a new particle board concept. He applied numerous skills learned in his MMET courses at Michigan Tech, such as stress analysis and designing for manufacturability. While at IWT, Petersen worked closely with local machine and fabrication shops to produce parts for the prototype. This experience built the foundation for his understanding of process flow in the manufacturing industry.

This past year, Petersen’s leadership qualities were on display as treasurer and assistant coach of the Michigan Tech Men’s Rugby Football Club. He applied accounting skills and managed the budget for expenses, such as field maintenance, traveling, and game fees. He also leaned heavily on his communication and teamwork skills, and helped teammates train. 

Petersen is also involved with the Advanced Metalworks Enterprise (AME) team, where he collaborates with peers and Enterprise team advisor, MMET Assistant Professor David Labyak, to implement industry 4.0 technology into the Michigan Tech foundry. This includes adopting modern methods for monitoring molten metals as well as monitoring the moisture of the sand used for casting molds.

This summer, Petersen is working as an intern at General Motors focusing on engineering design in GM’s Cranktrain, Fuel Delivery, and Lubrication department. “This experience in the corporate environment will further develop Mason’s engineering skills,” notes Irwin. 

After graduation, Petersen plans on pursuing a MS in Mechatronics, and aspires to establish a business that provides automation solutions to manufacturing and production companies.

ZRP Memorial Scholarship Challenge: Cookie Cutter Contest Winners Announced

Hey, did someone take a bite out of that wrench? Cookies made by MMET Administrative Aide Pammi Washuleski.

The second annual Zachary Richard Podkul Memorial Scholarship Challenge at Michigan Tech has come to its (delicious) completion.

Students in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology set out to design a cookie cutter, one that the department could send out to prospective students, employers and alumni. Students were also required to provide an NX CAD assembly model of the process used to manufacture the cookie cutter.

This 3D CAD assembly model was provided to the students as a guide for size and configuration.

If you ever wondered how cookie cutters are made, just take a look at this YouTube video, which helped serve as the inspiration for the challenge. The sponsors, Richard and Cathy Podkul, wanted to honor their late son Zachary with a design contest that incorporated his passions for both cooking and machine design. The contest was announced in late fall semester, and students began their thought process on what to design.

During the spring semester, sophomore mechanical engineering technology (MET) students enroll in a parametric 3D CAD modeling course that teaches how to use Siemens NX CAD modeling software. Many of the students enrolled in this parametric modeling course submitted entries for the cookie cutter contest.

To help get them started, students were provided with a 3D CAD assembly model as a guide for size and configuration. Later this design was substituted with a wrench shape to use as a prototype—something that could be used by students to test and see how the cookie cutter assembly operates prior to submitting their own entries.

MMET machine shop student workers—with assistance from Master Machinist Scott Meneguzzo and Operations/Facilities Supervisor Nick Hendrickson—produced a working model of the cookie cutter manufacturing fixture. After two design iterations of the 3D printed pushers connected to the clamps, the first, successful wrench-shaped “test” cookie cutter was produced.

A working model of the wrench cookie cutter set-up
Wrench-shaped cookie cutter manufacturing set-up
Some wrench-shaped cookie cutters!

The material used for the cutter is a thin strip of brass, cut to the precise circumference of the cutter outline. It is then formed into a hoop, spot welded together, and tempered for formability. Each clamp is manually operated and each has a 2,500 pound holding force. The cookie cutter form in the center was 3D printed on the Fortus 400MC Stratasys 3D Printer, located in the MMET department’s Polymeric Additive Manufacturing Facility

Many interesting cookie cutters designs were evaluated by the contest judges for the following qualities: 1) Parametric⁠—3D CAD model(s) utilizes sketches fully constrained with parametric features and fully constrained parts in the assembly; 2) Originality—a unique and innovative design; 3) Optimized—minimized use of material, while not compromising strength; 4) Manufacturability—the part’s ability to be easily formed in manufacturing fixture; and finally 5) Ease of use—the manufacturing design is ergonomic and simple to use.

The results? Three students tied for second place in the contest. They were Ben Engle, who designed a gear-shaped cookie cutter; Luz Aparicio, who designed a lightbulb, and Patrick Moeller, who designed a Lift Bridge cookie cutter.

Second Place: a gear-shaped cookie cutter submitted by MET student Ben Engle (3-way tie for second place)
Second Place: a lightbulb-shaped cookie cutter submitted by MET student Luz Aparicio (3-way tie for second place)
Second Place: a Lift Bridge cookie cutter designed by MET student Patrick Moeller (3-way tie for second place)

In the end, the contest yielded the first-place winning cookie cutter, Hunter Wilke’s design, also in the shape of the Portage Lift Bridge.

First Place: a Lift Bridge cookie cutter designed by MET student Hunter Wilke. Congratulations!
The winning cookie cutter form is at the center of the manufacturing set-up. See the brass cookie cutter beneath.

All the winners were presented certificates at an awards ceremony on April 19, which was the celebration of Zachary’s birthday.

The next challenge for the Podkuls, together with Michigan Tech MMET department faculty, will be to develop an idea for the 3rd Annual ZRP Memorial Scholarship! With Zachary’s love of cooking, the outdoors and nature, writing, poetry, and his curiosity for discovering how things worked, it could be just about anything!

Congratulating the 2022 ZRP Memorial Scholarship Challenge winners! From L to R in photo: Hunter Wilke, Cathy Podkul, Luz Aparicio, Patrick Moeller, Richard Podkul, Ben Engle
Zachary and his mom, Cathy, together on Mt. Ripley

Richard T. and Catherine F. Podkul established an endowed scholarship in honor of their son, Zachary Richard Podkul ’18. Zach earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology at Michigan Tech. He suffered from Crohn’s disease, and died in 2020 at age 25. Thankfully, Zachary’s wonderful legacy lives on here at Michigan Tech, now and always.

Five Michigan Tech Students Inducted into Epsilon Pi Tau Honor Society

Epsilon Pi Tau Spring 2022 Inductees: Patrick D. Moeller (MMET), Mason Petersen (MMET), Oliver Shakal (MMET), Bradley Gipson (CNSA), and Keegan McInerney (MMET).

The Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology and the College of Computing inducted five Michigan Tech students into Michigan Tech’s Delta Zeta Chapter of the Epsilon Pi Tau Honor Society on April 7.

Epsilon Pi Tau is the international honor society for professions in technology, recognizing students and technology professionals for academic excellence.

Congratulations to Delta Zeta Chapter’s Spring 2022 Epsilon Pi Tau initiates: Bradley Gipson (CNSA), Keegan McInerney (MMET), Patrick D. Moeller (MMET), Mason Petersen (MMET), and Oliver Shakal (MMET).

For more information, contact Delta Zeta Chapter trustee John Irwin (MMET) at, co-trustee Todd Arney (CoC) at, or visit Epsilon Pi Tau’s website.

Happy Holidays: A Note from MMET Chair John Irwin

Dr. John Irwin, Chair, Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology

Dear Friends,

Even though it has been yet another pandemic year for us all, I want to share some good news. Despite all the challenges, we are still thriving here at Michigan Tech. We hope you are too.

This past week, 16 of our MET students graduated at Michigan Tech’s mid-year commencement, and most have accepted offers for engineering positions.

Our fall 2021 MET freshman class was again one of the larger groups in recent history at 24 students (same as last year). And our total enrollment for the MET degree program reached an all-time high: 172 students.

Several students enrolled in online courses to attain a graduate certificate in Manufacturing Engineering, which was initiated this year. The majority are MET alumni who work in manufacturing-related positions. In addition, we offer a new MS in Manufacturing Engineering and will soon begin accepting applicants for fall 2022.

Our annual MMET holiday lunch!

Here in MMET, we continue to support the very popular new interdisciplinary MS degree in Mechatronics, offering five graduate courses including an innovative new course, MET5400: Key Factors of Holistic Safety Programs.

We look forward to a productive new year for 2022. We will continue to strive to prepare hands-on professionals that can apply industry 4.0 methodology. Please visit MMET to see our newly developed Mission, Vision, and Goals.

We’ve already gotten about 31″ of snow so far this year…

Be sure to reach out to me with any questions, and let me know if you have any news you would like to share. I always enjoy hearing from you. 

On behalf of all of us in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering and Technology, I wish you all a very happy and healthy holiday season.

John Irwin, Professor and Chair
Support MET:

Have you seen these videos yet?

MMET student teams present their 2021 senior design projects, below. Enjoy!

Project: Wheelchair Seat Emergency Release System
Students: Karen Helppi; Mickala Kohtz; Darius Schultz
Advisor: Kevin Johnson

Project: Tailstock Redesign
Students: Hunter Rautiola; Taren Odette; Kaelan Redmond
Advisor: Nicholas Hendrickson

Watch the video: Tailstock Redesign

Project: Ice Resurfacer
Students: Eric Hoffman; Thomas Power
Advisor: John Irwin

Watch the video: Ice Resurfacer

MMET Applied Fluid Power Lab Thrives with Industry Support

New equipment in the Applied Fluid Power Lab, purchased with support from the Parker-Hannifin Foundation, was set up and operational by the start of classes in January 2021. In addition, grant funds from the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) were used to develop a revised curriculum.

“Our new hydraulic equipment includes an additional set of basic and advanced modules for our existing double-sided trainer (donated by Parker in 2019), plus a new double-sided trainer, pump, basic and advanced modules to equip both sides,” Irwin explains. “We immediately put this new equipment to good use.”

In the MMET Applied Fluid Power course, students perform all the labs in the basic and advanced Parker manuals during a two-hour lab session. They use Automation Studio software for the simulation and analysis of hydraulic circuits.

One brand-new 3-credit graduate course, Advanced Hydraulics: Electrohydraulic Components and Systems was offered for the first time in fall 2021 for students pursuing an MS in Mechatronics. The curriculum for the course was developed this past spring and summer.

Mechatronics MS student Namratha Karanam was hired to set up and test the electrohydraulic system components–an Electrohydraulic Module and an Electrohydraulic Expansion Module, both donated by Parker in 2019. 

“In addition, Donald Engineering President, Mark Gauthier, generously donated a Pump Test Stand to supplement our course learning objectives,” says Irwin. “Their donation enables MMET faculty and students to evaluate flow rate and temperature change in and out of the cooling unit for the hydraulic pump.”

MMET Department and Faculty Earn New Funding

New funding in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology includes a MiLEAP grant to support the creation and delivery of innovative, short-term programs in manufacturing to UP residents affected by COVID-19.

AIST Grant Supports Teaching Industry 4.0

MMET Assistant Professor David Labyak received a $25,000 Steel Curriculum Development Grant from the Association for Iron and Steel Technology (AIST). Dr. Paul Sanders (MSE), Dr. Nathir Rawashdeh (AC), and Dr. John Irwin (MMET) are co-PIs. The team will use the award to teach Industry 4.0 to MET students in pilot-scale metal/steel processing facilities at Michigan Tech.

Michigan Tech CTE Offers a Seamless Transition from High School to College

Last fall Michigan Tech launched a year-long Career and Technical Education (CTE) program for high school juniors and seniors in the area of mechatronics. The partnership allows local students a seamless transition from high school to college. The program is offered through a partnership between Michigan Tech and the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD).

This fall, Dr. John Irwin received funding from CCISD to support the two MS Mechatronics students who prepare, teach and administer the program. The CCISD provides a total of $40,000 per year from local millage funds to support the delivery of the program. “Our hope is that upon completion of the program students will enroll in mechanical engineering technology and/or applied computing degree programs at Michigan Tech,” says Irwin.

The CTE program utilizes facilities in Michigan Tech’s EERC building for specialized training. Courses take place from 10:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. each day.

MiLEAP: Getting Michigan Back to Work

Last summer a $1,695,000 grant was awarded to Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! to help UP residents transition from short-term education programs to high-wage employment. The funding from Michigan Learning and Education Advancement (MiLEAP) will implement innovative, short-term, customized education and training programs in manufacturing and healthcare, with the goal of assisting over 450 participants from across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Michigan Tech contracted $61,703 for the MMET department led by Dr. John Irwin, and $61,703 for the Advanced Power Systems Research Center (APSRC) Mobile Lab, directed by Dr. Jeremy Worm (ME-EM).
MiLEAP aligns with the state of Michigan’s “60 by 30” goal: to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree to 60% by 2030.

More details about specific training opportunities will be coming soon from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Employment and Training. Opportunities will be available until June 30, 2023. Learn more here.

Parker Donates Funds to Support Parker Motion and Control Lab

John Irwin, MMET Professor and Chair, received $8,500, a grant from Parker Motion and Control Lab Upkeep, in support of MMET Applied Fluid Power courses at Michigan Tech.

The upkeep funds have been allocated for a hydraulic platform, hydraulic pump, and hoses to expand the teaching labs in the Parker Motion and Controls Lab. An order has been placed with Triad Technologies for early February 2022 delivery, so that the new equipment can be used in the MMET Applied Fluid Power course. The course is available as a technical elective for students working toward BS and MS degrees in either Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics, as well as MET majors. 

“Fluid power engineering is growing in the US and globally, which is one of the conclusions of the recent 2021 NFPA Industry Brief,” says Irwin. “According to the brief, fluid power has a major downstream economic impact. It is estimated that the top industries that depend on fluid power represent thousands of companies in the United States, employing more than 845,000 people for an annual payroll of more than $60 billion.” 

MMET Faculty Research Publications

Aluminum OCMFs with different pore sizes and porosities. Photo credit: MMET Associate Professor Sunil Mehendale

Heat transfer and fluid flow in metal foams. Energy modeling and efficiency opportunities for a Public Library Building in the UP. Here’s a quick update on MMET faculty research.

Dr. John Irwin co-authored with Dr. Laura Kasson Fiss (Pavlis Honors College) and Dr. Sarah Tan (Engineering Fundamentals) a paper published and presented in the 2021 ASEE virtual conference proceedings, “S-STEM Student Reflections and IDP Process.”  

Dr. Irwin also co-authored with Dr. David Labyak and Dr. David Wanless, published and presented in the 2021 ATMAE conference proceedings titled “Manufacturing Engineering Certificate and MS Degree for the Working Professional.” Presented in Orlando, Florida at the ATMAE Annual Conference on November 4, 2021. 

Dr. Sunil Mehendale co-authored “Research on the Phase Transition Process of Sessile Droplet on Carbon Fiber Cold Surface,” an article published in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering. The study provides data and ideas for designing anti/de-icing carbon fiber equipment while operating in low-temperature environments, such as industrial refrigeration, aerospace, and more. 

Dr. Mehendale also co-authored, with ME-EM graduate student Amarnath Warty, “Energy Modeling and Energy Efficiency Opportunities for a Public Library Building in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.” The paper was published and presented n at the 2021 Purdue High-Performance Buildings conference. The research found that natural gas consumption of the building could be lowered by up to 20% using the furnace units alone (for instance, by dispensing with the boilers), while still meeting the building’s heating requirements.

Last but not least, Dr. Mehendale’s research was published in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Journal of Heat Transfer: “Thermal-Hydraulic Optimization of Open Cell Metallic Foams Used as Extended Surfaces.” His work investigates heat transfer and fluid flow in metal foams, encountered in a broad range of natural and industrial processes, which includes such diverse fields as compact heat exchangers, fuel cell technology, filtration, and physiological processes.