Archives—June 2012

Summer is Halfway Over!

Bridgefest 2012

Portage Lake Lift Bridge

In review from two weekends ago, the  Portage Lift Bridge celebrated its birthday. The annual birthday celebration, otherwise known as Bridgefest, started on Friday, June 15, and lasted through Sunday, June 17. The weekend’s events included a parade, local chainsaw carving art, the Keweenaw Chain Drive bike race, live music, a fireworks display, and several other fun events. Also, as part of Bridgefest, the Houghton Rotary Seafood Festwas held on the Portage Waterfront. Michigan Tech students and local community members flocked to the downtown area to enjoy a weekend filled with delicious food, great music, and good times.

End of Track A Summer Courses

Believe it or not, seven weeks have already flown by since the end of the spring semester. For those Michigan Tech students taking summer courses, that means last week was time to prep for final exams. Final exams for Track A courses were officially scheduled for Friday, June 22. After final exams, students taking Track B courses had a short weekend break before starting on Monday, June 25. From my personal experience, taking summer classes can be a lot of hard work and can take a lot of discipline. At times, summer courses may seem easier because student organizations are not meeting and there are not as many campus activities, but summer classes are also at a much faster pace than courses during the normal academic year.

During the academic year courses are fourteen weeks long and usually take place every other day. This not only provides students with more time to take in and study the material, but also more time to complete homework assignments. During the summer, courses are seven weeks long and typically take place Monday throughThursday. In the summer, students typically get three-day weekends with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off, but overall students are still learning the material much faster and therefore have exams and homework assignments due more frequently.

My advice for students thinking of taking summer courses: do it, but don’t overwhelm yourself. It is really a great experience to be in Houghton in the summer and enjoy all the fun activities, but I would recommend taking no more than 6-9 credits each track in the summer. Leave time to enjoy what the Keweenaw has to offer and also make sure you leave yourself time to do your course work!

Please feel free to email me with any questions, comments, or suggestions you may have.
Samantha Allen,

Travel Diaries Part Two

In continuation of last week’s article, here are some more stories about students working co-op or internship positions.

Glen Shaw

Hello! I am Glen Shaw, a mechanical engineering major from Marquette, Michigan. I am currently working at an internship fora special products company called SpeeCo. SpeeCo is located in Golden, Colorado.

I first learned about this opportunity from my friend. He had obtained the internship in the summer of 2011, then started working for them full time after graduating as an ME from Tech.
After hearing about this opportunity I decided to submit  my resume and he put in a good word for me. I was given a phone interview, and they offered me the position for this summer.

At SpeeCo I’ve developed skills in computer aided drafting (using SolidWorks) to redo certain drawings as well as organize the system changeover. I have also been setting up testing apparatuses to test log splitters and trailer jacks, which has helped me become more familiar with hands-on engineering.

I have learned how to use SolidWorks, how to test certain aspects of the log splitters, as well as other basic workspace knowledge of engineering necessities. This has been a great opportunity for me so far!

Melissa Wilber

Hello, my name is Melissa Wilber. I am an STC student from Almont, Michigan. I have an internship with Horner Flooring in Dollar Bay, which is about 10 minutes from campus. This past spring I was constantly on the lookout for an internship opportunity, so I checked Michigan Tech’s NACElink several times a day to apply for any position I thought I could fill. I ended up interviewing with Horner a couple of weeks before the end of the semester for a marketing intern position.

As a scientific and technical communications major, you have to choose an emphasis; mine is in business, which really made this internship an ideal fit for me. The position included writing, design, and a lot of marketing strategy, three things that suit me perfectly! It’s been about a month since I started working at Horner and I have learned so many new things! I have been able to apply so much of what I learned in my classes, especially with the Adobe Suite and HTML.

Knowing HTML has helped me tremendously in my work, as well as using Photoshop and Illustrator. One of my priorities is establishing Horner’s Facebook, which has been much more of a challenge than I expected. Using something that seems so second nature becomes really complicated when you’re looking at it from a business perspective. I have really enjoyed learning all about flooring, the construction industry, the local history and how Horner has come to be in this community. This internship is a great experience for me to learn and grow, and I’m so thankful for the amazing people I work with who are helping me to do so.

Andrew Hoekstra

I am Andrew Hoekstra from Kentwood, Michigan, southeast of Grand Rapids. I have completed the third year of my electrical and computer engineering curriculum with two more years to go. I decided to stretch my four-year curriculum over five years to allow time for summer internships with Twisthink and Ford, and a co-op with GEAviation. Making time for internships and co-ops has been one of the better decisions I have made at Michigan Tech and one I recommend my peers consider. Here’s why:

Although I have to spend an extra year in college, two summer internships and a co-op will provide more than a year of invaluable work experience by graduation. It will give me and my employer confidence in my abilities, accelerating my career path. Applying course work in industry has improved my performance in class because I have a better understanding of the practical implications that professors do not teach in class. Also, internships and co-ops provided me with opportunities to experiment with my interests, shaping my curriculum and helping me decide where I want to be in five to ten years.

Currently, I am in Dearborn, Michigan, on a three-month summer internship with Ford Motor Company working in the Powertrain Controls Research and Advanced Engineering Division. My work directly applies my upper-level course work to predict characteristics of the road ahead of a vehicle and to dynamically optimize the vehicle’s powertrain, steering, and suspension. I thoroughly enjoy my assignments and occasionally have a hard time leaving work. I’ve decided to pursue a PhD after I receive my BS in engineering.

Some of the best experiences on the job have been networking with experienced professionals, managers, executives, and interns from other schools. Their insight and advice has been crucial in my professional and personal development.

Jen Van Domelen

After my first year at Michigan Tech I was hired as an engineering intern at a naval shipyard that builds large combat ships for the US Navy, ice breakers for the U S Coast Guard, and even Staten Island Ferries. I spent three months working at the shipyard, where my main duties were identifying excess materials in the shipyard and contacting vendors and scrap yards to return the overstock parts. In only a few weeks, my supervisor and I had returned much of the excess materials, saving the company a significant sum of money.
This internship gave me the opportunity to experience tasks, meetings, and issues that are a part of an engineer’s daily routine. I also learned a lot about the dynamics between the salaried professional staff and the unionized workers in the shipyard, and learned to work and communicate in an environment with sensitive and classified information.
A word of advice to younger students: don’t shy away from co-op or internship opportunities because of a lack of experience! No one expects you to know everything; be friendly, ask questions when you are unsure, and don’t pass up an opportunity to learn from those older and more experienced than you.
Thank you to all of the students who shared their experience with us! Parents, I hope you encourage your students to embrace the opportunities that Michigan Tech has to offer.
Please email me if you have any questions or concerns.
Samantha Allen,

Travel Diaries

Michigan Tech students are provided with tons of opportunities— like the experience of doing an internship or co-op! This week and next, I will share some of their stories with you; below are three students’ experiences. Thank you to the students willing to share their experience with the parents Michigan Tech!

Nicole Wright

Hi, my name is Nicole Wright and I will be a second-year mechanical engineering student this fall at Tech. I am from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and am working this summer as a manufacturing engineering intern for General Motors.

I work specifially at the Fuel Cell Activities Research and Development Center in Honeoyer Falls, New York. I started here on May 7, and will wrap up my summer internship on August 3. Believe it or not, I obtained this opportunity only one month into my first year at Tech. I polished off my resume and researched companies and marched myself up to the Fall Career Fair where I spoke briefly with a GM recruiter and had an official interview the next day.

Up until now, I wasn’t really sure what mechanical engineering entailed or even if it was for me. Interacting with and working alongside these brilliant and talented engineers, as well as getting hands-on experience in the field, has convinced me that I’m where I want to be. I seriously underestimated just how much this experience would impact me as a person, student, and future engineer. I look forward to returning to Tech in August with a whole new outlook on school and a suitcase full of new knowledge and skills. It is one thing to be book smart as an engineer, but it is another to be able to think and act as an engineer. I believe that my internship experience has taught me this and so much more.

Dan Stevenson

My name is Dan Stevenson, I’m an electrical engineering technology major from Grand Haven, Michigan. Last summer I interned at EMC Corporation in Lisle (about 30 minutes outside of Chicago), working as an account servicerepresentative to help customers better understand their products. I received the position from a scholarship resume database that I found through the financial aid office here at Tech. As an ASR intern, I really grasped the lifestyle of a fortune 500 company and obtained an unprecedented amount of understanding of working with customers. I try to see everything as a customer would, and always try to bridge the knowledge gaps.
I’m currently interning at Somero Enterprises Inc. in Houghton. I actually began during the school year part time. I adapted quickly to the way things work here, and I now work full time as an electrical engineer intern. I design electrical systems, pick components to replace old or inefficient ones, and I’ve really learned how to get things done as an engineer. Between reading data sheets to determine the correct part to order and actually ordering the part, there are numerous tests that need to be run and countless scenarios to play out.
I’ve learned that the world is a network of possibilities and if you place yourself in the center of that web, you can go anywhere you want. My internship is not even half done and I’ve learned so much and applied so much of my schooling… it’s somewhat surreal to think about!

Gabrielle Elser

Hi! My name is Gabrielle Elser and I am a scientific and technical communications major at Tech. I am a fourth-year from Milford, Michigan. I am currently working for Benteler Tube Management GmbH in Paderborn, GERMANY! I am currently living and working in Germany and have the opportunity to be here for eight months.

I am doing market research for Benteler and I really want to work in marketing in the future. I would like to work in the automotive industry as well, and this company supplies to many automotive companies. I have developed skills in the German language as well as living in a new culture. This is a huge contribution to my German minor at Tech. I have only been in Germany for a month and already my view of the world has changed.

While working abroad, I am keeping a blog about the experiences I have and places I visit. Feel free to follow me, or just check it out at

Samantha Allen,

Bridgefest 2012!

Bridgefest 2012

Photo courtesy of Keweenaw Photography.

Our community will celebrate the Portage Lift Bridge’s 52nd birthday—a celebration known as Bridgefest—Friday, June 15, through Sunday, June 17.  The Portage Bridge is an important structure in the community as it serves as a link between the cities of Houghton and Hancock and allows for convenient access to the rest of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The weekend’s events will include a parade, local chainsaw carving art, waterski show, firework display, antique car show, and much more. Bridgefest events of special interest to students are the Keweenaw Chain Drive and the Houghton Rotary Seafood Fest.

Keweenaw Chain Drive

Photo courtesy of

The Keweenaw Chain Drive is a mountain bike race that starts at Magnuson Hotel—Franklin Square Inn in downtown Houghton and ends in the parking lot of Portage Health Hospital in Hancock. Students who wish to participate in the bike race can choose from the 16- or 32-mile courses that are a part of the Hancock trail system. The registration fee is $50 to participate in either race. Each racer in the Keweenaw Chain Drive gets a t-shirt, food at the finish, and free photo downloads. The Keweenaw Chain Drive will take place on Saturday, June 16, at 10 a.m.

Seafood Fest

The Houghton Rotary Seafood Fest is also taking place in conjunction with Bridgefest. Seafood Fest will be held in Kestner Waterfront Park on Friday, June 15, and Saturday, June 16. Food will be served on Friday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. The menu includes a wide variety of seafood and sides. A full lobster dinner with two sides is $25; you must purchase ahead of time—ask your local Rotarian. Other menu items sell for between $3 and $15 by ticket, purchased at the event. All proceeds going to charity.

If your student is in the Houghton area, I hope they have the opportunity to head downtown to enjoy the delicious food, great music, and good times.

Please feel free to email me with any questions, comments, or suggestions you may have.

-Samantha Allen,