Category: News

Chocolate Anyone? Announcing the 3rd Annual Zachary Richard Podkul ’18 MET Design Challenge

Who doesn’t like chocolate around the holidays? For the third annual Zachary R. Podkul Design Challenge, MET students are tasked with developing a mold to make their own chocolates. The process involves first designing a 3D CAD model of the finished chocolate—Michigan Tech related, of course!

Zach and his mom together on Mt. Ripley. Read more about Zachary R. Podkul Design Challenge here.

The MMET AM facility will 3D print patterns of all entries on the Stratasys Fortus 400 MC which uses Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process of extruding plastic filament. The students will create a flask made of poster board strips to hold the food safe silicone mold material and 3D printed patterns of the chocolates.

The students will remove their silicone mold from the flask. Fill the mold with melted chocolate, then freeze to perfection.

MMET Faculty judges will rate the student’s work on the following criteria:

  • 3D CAD Model – Utilizes sketches fully constrained with parametric features
  • Originality – Unique and innovative design representative of Michigan Tech
  • Quality – Uniformity, strength and surface finish
  • Manufacturability – Ability for chocolate to be easily formed in mold
  • Detail – The chocolate conforms to the mold intended design
Finally, the finished product will be ready for judging and eating (it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!)

Three winners will be announced on April 19, 2023 with the prize going towards Fall 2023 tuition.
First Place: $1,000
Second Place: $500
Third Place: $250

MMET Graduate Program Adds New Options

Students and faculty hard at work on the Parker fluid power equipment

There are now two options in the MMET Department for students who want to pursue graduate studies after receiving their undergraduate degrees: Graduate Certificates and Master’s degrees. 

“Our graduate students now represent 20 percent of our overall enrollment in the MMET Department,” says chair John Irwin. “This growth impacts our course offerings, lab needs, and research space. This is positive in most respects, although it presents certain challenges. We welcome the continued support from the friends of  the department.” 

MMET has been offering a multidisciplinary MS in Mechatronics for some time now, but new this fall is the department’s own MS in Manufacturing Engineering

Each of the MMET Department’s Manufacturing Engineering graduate courses are also offered online for any remote learners pursuing an advanced degree while employed. 

The Graduate Certificate in Fluid Power Mechatronics is composed of four courses totaling 10 credits. “Fluid power engineering is growing nationwide and globally. It has a major downstream economic impact because thousands of companies in the US depend on fluid power,” Irwin explains. “According to a 2021 National Fluid Power Association Industry Brief, these companies are estimated to employ more than 845,000 people representing more than $60 billion in annual payroll.”

Michigan Tech’s MMET Fluid Power Lab

Key Factors in Holistic Safety Systems is one of the courses required to earn the Mechatronics Graduate Certificate. It is also required to earn an MS in Mechatronics. “This course has tremendous support from industry, in particular from Donald Engineering and Ross Controls,” notes Irwin.  

Ross Controls Safety Working Demo

Ross Controls and Donald Engineering supplied working demonstration stands, to hold state-of-the-art safety equipment used in the safety industry. The equipment is used in the Safety course along with curriculum developed in partnership with Ross Controls. 

Associate Professor Scott Wagner attended safety training offered by Ross Controls at their Ferndale, Michigan facility. The training included a high-level introduction to fluid power and safety basics including LOTO standards followed by an in-depth and hands-on valve configuration review.

From the Desk of Pam Washuleski, MMET Administrative Aide

Pam Washuleski

It has been another great year at Michigan Tech and in the Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology. So many fun-filled events and great memories made with students, staff, faculty, and friends.

Some of those memories included honoring our top MET students at the Epsilon Pi Tau Honor Society Banquet, MET student competitions, open houses, graduation socials, and of course…the MMET department holiday potluck luncheon. We also honored former MET Academic Advisor Danise Jarvey upon her retirement in September 2022.

Happy Holidays, Everyone, and a Happy New Year, too!

Santa Claus made a visit to the MMET Department, or is this Adjunct Instructor Jay Kristola?
Spring 2022 MET graduates—who has more fun?

MMET Department News: People

A lovely retirement gathering for Danise Jarvey!
MMET Academic Advisor Danise Jarvey retired recently. She’ll be enjoying even more quality time with her grandkids!

The MMET Department has evolved since joining the College of Engineering, adding resources, staff, and faculty, especially over the past year. 

Laboratory resources have been added through industry donations from companies like Ross Controls, Miller Welding, Parker-Hannifin and Donald Engineering. 

The retirement of MMET Advisor Danise Jarvey brought a new addition to the department, Tricia Stein.

MMET Academic Advisor Tricia Stein

Tricia comes from her previous position as an Advisor in the ME-EM Department at Michigan Tech, so she is very familiar with Michigan Tech culture and students. 

Danise dedicated over 24 years to the University. Among the roles she has held: Director of Academic Services in the MMET Department and the former School of Technology; Senior Engineering Academic Advisor (ME-EM); Study Abroad Coordinator (College of Engineering); and Lab Instructor/Course Assistant (College of Business and former School of Business and Economics). Danise plans to spend time with her family and travel.

David Wanless Named Director of Graduate Programs

MMET Graduate Advisor and Associate Teaching Professor David Wanless
MMET Professor of Practice Nicholas Hendrickson

The addition of graduate degree offerings in the department has brought a new role for Dr. David Wanless. He now serves as Director of Graduate Programs in addition to his faculty position. In this role, Dr. Wanless reviews all candidate applications for acceptance into the graduate certificates and degree programs. He also oversees graduate program assessment, and the advising of MMET graduate students. 

Nicholas Hendrickson Joins MMET Faculty
Michigan Tech’s MMET Department is very pleased to announce that Nicholas Hendrickson has joined its faculty as a Professor of Practice (PoP). Hendrickson was previously the Operations/Facilities Supervisor for the MMET Machine Shop for the past 12 years, and also had been routinely teaching as an Adjunct Instructor. In addition to the PoP position, Hendrickson will direct all MMET Machining and Additive Manufacturing Facilities. He has expertise in all types of manufacturing, but specializes in AM.

Scott Meneguzzo Named New MMET Laboratory Operations Supervisor

MMET Laboratory Operation Supervisor Scott Meneguzzo
MMET Adjunct Instructor Jay Kristola

MMET has a new Laboratory Operations Supervisor, Scott Meneguzzo, who was previously the Master Machinist in the MMET Machine Shop. “It is very fortunate to have Scott take over this role because of his familiarity and expertise with all the equipment and operations in the facility,” says MMET Department chair John Irwin. In his new role, Meneguzzo supervises the student temporary employees that perform machining and fabrication as well as serving as the Safety Liaison for the MMET Department. 

Jay Kristola Returns to MMET as Adjunct Instructor“We are pleased to have the return of Adjunct Instructor Jay Kristola,” adds Irwin. “He brings over 40 years of experience to reinforce his teaching of subjects such as: Statics, Fluid Mechanics, and Strength of Materials.”

Michigan Tech’s MMET Department Expands Partnered Research

Metal casting in the Michigan Tech foundry

MMET is known not only for great teaching and scholarship, but for developing industry collaborations.

Currently, funded projects are ongoing with the National Science Foundation, Michigan UP Works, Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD), Whirlpool Corporation, and LIFT (operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute).

Additional projects are supported through Michigan Tech’s Industry Sponsored Programs office, including the Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST) and the Parker Foundation. 

MMET Professor and Chair John Irwin is the principal investigator (PI) of three ongoing projects: NSF S-STEM Award ETS-IMPRESS; Michigan Works Mi-LEAP; and CCISD CTE Mechatronics

“Research in the MMET department has grown exponentially in the past few years.”

John Irwin, MMET Department Chair

MMET Assistant Professor David Labyak serves as PI for a Whirlpool project, Refrigerator Door Gasket Verification Fixture, and an AIST project, Teaching Industry 4.0 to Mechanical Engineering Technology Students in the Pilot-Scale Metal/Steel Processing Facilities at Michigan Tech.

The AIST research involves using the MSE pilot-scale metal/steel processing facility to update its sensors and data collection capabilities to better align with Industry 4.0. “Analysis of the processing (big) data—using techniques such as machine learning—will help produce highly capable Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology engineers for the steel industry,” says Labyak.

Professor of Practice Nicholas Hendrickson is the PI on a project for LIFT. His research team will perform precision machining on cast and 3D printed samples that require specialized fixturing. 

“Faculty expertise in the MMET Department—in the operation of CNC equipment, and in the subtractive and additive manufacturing and fabrication techniques—allows companies to partner with us on specialized projects, especially those requiring advanced engineering, or CAD design and manufacturing,” says Irwin.

New Developments in MMET Faculty Research

MMET Assistant Professor David Labyak

Research and publication are part of the culture in the MMET Department, especially for tenure track and tenured faculty. Teaching, as well as assessment and curriculum development, are strengths in the department that have led to scholarly articles on pedagogy and innovations in teaching. 

Two of the organizations that support STEM education research in engineering and engineering technology are the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) and the International Association of Journals and Conferences (IAJC). Each holds annual conferences and workshops, and publishes several academic journals.

Assistant Professor David Labyak in particular has published and presented in this area of engineering education. Department Chair John Irwin conducts research on methods used to improve student learning and engagement in STEM subjects. Together they co-authored and presented the paper, Industry 4.0 Integration in a Manufacturing Engineering Graduate Certificate and MS Degree, at the 2022 IAJC Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. The paper was accepted in the Technology Interface International Journal (TIIJ), a highly-selective, peer-reviewed journal covering broad topics in various branches of engineering technology. 

Their paper outlines the topics and assessment results of learning outcomes from an online graduate course at Michigan Tech, taken mainly by working professionals. The course had two homework assignments on machine learning using MATLAB, which has built-in functions specifically tailored for machine learning applications. 

Some face-to-face interaction was indicated as being important, even though it was offered as an online course. These and other suggestions will help steer future course structure, to improve learning outcomes. 

Irwin also co-authored a paper published in the 2022 ASEE Annual Conference, Four Pillars of Manufacturing Knowledge Revision and Validation Process.

Additional conference proceedings papers have been accepted for presentation in 2023 by MMET faculty members include:

  • Dr. Irwin has a paper accepted for presentation at the ASEE Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration (CIEC) titled, Michigan Learning and Education Advancement Program (MiLEAP), which describes the MMET department workforce development training initiatives in Fluid Power Training. 
  • Dr. Irwin and Research Assistant Professor Sarah Tan (Engineering Fundamentals) Sarah Tan wrote a paper titled Examining the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on S-STEM Financially Supported Students’ Change-Readiness and Self-Efficacy. 
  • Dr. Labyak and Associate Professor Scott Wagner wrote a paper titled Industry 4.0 and Holistic Safety Programs Industry Collaboration in Manufacturing Engineering. 
  • Dr. Labyak will present a conference proceedings paper at the ASEE Engineering Design Graphics Division (EDGD) Midyear Conference titled Teaching Vibration and Modal Analysis Concepts in Traditional Subtractive Machining to Mechanical Engineering Technology Students.
  • Associate Professor Sunil Mehendale has a co-authored paper, Visualization Research of Droplet Freezing on Inclined Titanium Surface, accepted in the Journal of Heat Transfer Research. More information on Dr. Mehendale’s paper can be found in Tech Today.

Industry Sponsors Support Michigan Tech MET Senior Design Teams

MET student Derek Flory at the 2022 Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge, sponsored by NFPA.

At Michigan Tech, we proudly refer to Senior Design as a “first job” rather than a “last class,” as it tasks senior-level project teams to address practical, open-ended design challenges. This past year, the MMET Department at Michigan Tech has been fortunate to have four Senior Design team projects generously sponsored by industry partners: Donald Engineering, Equinox Bicycleworks and Engineering, National Fluid Power Association (NFPA), and Kohler. These project supporters make a strategic investment in our educational mission.

New hydraulic power equipment at Michigan Tech, donated by Donald Engineering

MMET typically has 6-10 senior design projects each year, says John Irwin, MMET Department Chair. “We’re always interested in forming new partnerships with alumni and friends of the department who are interested in contributing to the education of MET students,”

Senior design projects can be sponsored at various funding levels. The projects involve providing engineering guidance to the team over the span of two semesters, fall-spring or spring-fall. 

The most recent sponsorship came from Donald Engineering, long-time supporter of the “Mechatronics Playground”—a set of labs that support both MMET and the Applied Computing departments at Michigan Tech.

Donald Engineering President Mark Gauthier and his employees supported a Fall 2022 interdisciplinary team made up of two MET students and one EET student. The team designed, built and tested a hydraulically-powered tensile and compression testing apparatus.

Pedaling test fixture, designed for Equinox Bicycleworks by a Michigan Tech MET senior design team.

“The equipment donated by Donald Engineering will be put to good use in other ways,” notes Irwin. “Additional student teams will use it to test their project materials. It will serve as lab equipment in the MET Strength of Materials course—and last but not least, it will enable fluid power mechatronics students to see a real-life application of electro-hydraulics in action.”

Last spring, Equinox Bicycleworks, a local UP company that manufactures mountain bikes, needed a fixture to test the tubular frames to meet industry standards. The Michigan Tech MET senior design team, led by Joseph Williams (now a Michigan Tech alumnus) produced various designs for performing tests, such as fatigue testing per ISO 4210-6 standards on bicycle frames. The team manufactured a testing fixture, and tested the solution. It all came about through a partnership formed with help from Michelle Jarvie-Eggart, an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at Michigan Tech. Dr. Jarvie-Eggart connected us with her husband, Brian Eggart, who owns and operates Equinox. He is also a research engineer at the Advanced Power Systems Research Center at Michigan Tech.

The National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) runs a yearly contest each April called the Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge, which has many industry sponsors, including Danfoss Power Solutions, Norgren, Parker Hannifin, Lubritech, Hydroforce, and IFP (Iowa Fluid Power). University teams from all over the country develop a timeline to design, simulate, build, test, qualify, and compete with their concepts. MMET Associate Teaching Professor David Wanless has been the advisor for many iterations of Senior Design project groups tackling this challenge. Each fall semester, a new set of students refine the design of the previous groups and then develop a new, improved solution. The outcome of the 2022 contest was that the team won the Sprint Race and were awarded $1,000.

Students at the 2022 Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge, including Michigan Tech’s MET team
MET students Cody Eby and Stewart Daniels present their senior design concept, part of the NFPA Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge
MET student Brendan Bloom worked on the Engine Flow Bench senior design project, sponsored by Kohler. The team presented their project at Michigan Tech’s Design Expo.

Kohler entered into an agreement with the MMET Department for a sponsored project that started in the fall of 2020. The project has since continued, with the goal of assisting Kohler’s Engine Department in designing a new, highly accurate flow bench for small engines.

The first MET senior design team developed an initial flow bench design, but the COVID pandemic slowed their progress and prevented them from completing the manufacturing and testing. The next Michigan Tech MET team took over the project and presented their results in spring 2022.

A flow bench is generally designed to move air through cylinder heads or other components to measure the overall airflow throughout the entire system. The project was mostly complete, except for the controls and data acquisition portion, which is now the task of a third Senior Design team. Their goal is to complete the Engine Flow Bench by spring 2023.

Longtime MMET Advisory Board member Brian Hartwig, director of Kohler Engines’ Application Engineering and Development Lab, provided engineering guidance for this project, along with his team at Kohler.

Pictured here: the MET senior design team’s fan motor and controls, for sponsor Kohler

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!

Sincerely,

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!

Irwin and Labyak Present on Integration of Industry 4.0 with the Graduate Curriculum

IAJC 2022 Interntional Conference

John Irwin and David Labyak (MMET) co-authored and presented a paper at the eighth IAJC International Conference on Engineering and Technology, held October 13–16, 2022, in Orlando, Florida (IAJC 2022).

The paper is titled “Industry 4.0 Integration in a Manufacturing Engineering Graduate Certificate and MS Degree.”

The paper has not yet been published. Contact Irwin at jlirwin@mtu.edu or Labyak at dmlabyak@mtu.edu for more information.

IAJC is the International Association of Journals and Conferences.

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