Archives—July 2014

Fall Parking and International Computer Programming Success

Hello Parents,

The 2014 Michigan Tech team for the International Collegiate Programming Competition held in Ekaterinburg, Russia.  Pictured from left to right is Eric Rinkus, Ryan McNamara, and Ted Holmes.

I hope you’re all having a great week. The week here has been wonderful, as the weather has ranged from 90s and humid to 60s and cool, and from pouring rain to bright and sunny. As you might guess, there’s never a dull moment here! As Track B gets closer to conclusion, it’s hard to believe there’s only a month until Orientation for incoming first-year students. I don’t know about you, but it seems like summer has just begun. It seems to go by faster and faster every year.

With that in mind, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming school year. If your students are planning on bringing a vehicle to campus, they must register their vehicle with Transportation Services. There is a wait list for on-campus parking permits. To register, your student must visit the registration site, select Purchase Permit from the Resources table, and sign in with their user ID and ISO password. They must first register their vehicle with the University and then sign up for the wait list. When they pick up their permit in the fall, they must be sure to bring their vehicle registration and photo identification. The wait list is only open until August 4, so be sure they get on this right away!

In other exciting news, last month a team of three Michigan Tech students competed in the International Collegiate Programming Competition at Ural Federal University in Ekaterinburg, Russia. This competition is designed to give college-level students the chance to show off their problem-solving and programming skills in a competitive, high-stakes setting. Regional competitions took place all over the world, from September through December of 2013, and the 122 winning teams advanced to the world championships, which took place June 22–June 26 in Russia. During the competition, teams were faced with 8–10 problems and had to propose viable and efficient solutions to the judges in the shortest amount of time to receive the highest scores. The Michigan Tech team consisted of Tom Holmes, a computer science major; Ryan McNamara, a recent graduate who majored in math; Eric Rinkus, a recent graduate who majored in computer science; and coach Jason Hiebel, a PhD student in the computer science department. The team finished 64th overall, which is quite an impressive feat! Along with this triumph, Tech has competed at the world finals three other times: in 2004, 2005, and  2008. This team deserves to be recognized and celebrated for all of their hard work, both at the regional and world finals competition. For more about the 2014 team or competition, please read the Michigan Tech news article.

As you can see, Michigan Tech students really are “crazy smart.” as the saying goes. All of us should be proud of the hard work our current and former students put in to make Michigan Tech the renowned and distinguished university that it is.

That’s all I have for you all this week! If you have any questions about parking permits and regulations, or Michigan Tech’s programming team, please feel free to email me at I hope you all have a great remainder of the week! Until next week,



2014 Pine Mountain Music Festival

Hello Parents,

A photo of the 2011 season of the Pine Mountain Music Festival
A photo of the 2011 season of the Pine Mountain Music Festival

I hope you’re all having a great week! The weather’s been chilly here this week, with temperatures steady in the 50s and 60s. Some have even had to turn the heat on . . . in the middle of July!  Although this is not surprising for UP weather, I hope it’s been warmer in your own hometowns.

Campus is abuzz with hard work and studying this week, as Track B summer classes reach their halfway point and midterms are in full swing. It’s also been abuzz with Summer Youth Programs, athletic camps, and campus tours for prospective students. So despite that only a fraction of the students stay on campus over the summer than during the academic year, it’s still been a lively and spirited summer season.

This week I’d like to talk about the annual Pine Mountain Music Festival (PMMF), starting this week on Thursday, July 17. The PMMF started in 1991 in Iron Mountain, Michigan, by Laura Jean Demming and was designed to celebrate traditional, classic music throughout the Upper Midwest. Although the first season was comprised mostly of chamber music, it has expanded to include opera, cabaret, and many more musical genres! Shows will tour throughout the Upper Peninsula and northeast Wisconsin until August 3. The 2014 season will kick off on July 17 with a concert of a wide variety of artists, performances, and genres. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served to celebrate the opening of PMMF’s 24th season at the Chippewa Club in Iron Mountain, MI at 6:00 p.m.

Shows for 2014 Pine Mountain Music Festival include—

Bergonzi String Quartet
Comprised of violinists Glenn Basham and Scott Flavin, cellist Ross Harbaugh, and violist Pamela McConnell, the Bergonzi String Quartet has been performing at PMMF for twenty seasons. They will be playing three shows throughout the Festival:

July 30 at 7:00 p.m. at the Immaculate Conception Church in Iron Mountain
August 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Reynolds Recital Hall in Marquette
August 3 at 3:00 p.m. at the Calumet Theatre in Calumet

Miles Mykkanen
Miles Mykkanen, a tenor soloist, is currently studying at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and is originally from Bessemer, a small town in the UP.  He will be accompanied by pianist Joseph Mechavich. Miles will be performing twice throughout the Festival:

July 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ironwood Theater in Ironwood
July 27 at 3:00 p.m. at the Portage Lake United Church in Houghton

Organ Concert
David C. Jonies, one of the nation’s top organists, will return to the PMMF and perform with a wide variety of vintage instruments as a soloist.  Jonies will be performing three times during PMMF:

July 21 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lake Linden
July 23 at 7:30 p.m. at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Iron Mountain
July 25 at 7:30 p.m. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Marquette

Cabaret with Lucy Thrasher and Friends
Lucy Thrasher, along with mezzo-soprano Holly Janz and soprano Anne Jennifer Nash, will also be celebrating Thrasher’s 20th season performing at the PMMF. This exciting event will include artists such as Kurt Weill, Marianne Saarivirta-Kolpack, and Laura Jean Demming and will be performed four times throughout the Festival:

July 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Crystal Theatre in Crystal Falls
July 23 7:30 p.m. at the Ore Dock Brewing Company in Marquette
July 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Orpheum Theater in Hancock

UPstarts! Concert Series
UPstarts! is a concert series comprised of young and upcoming musicians from across the Upper Peninsula. Previous seasons have included musicians from Juilliard, the University of Michigan, Ithaca, and Michigan State. These artists perform in a wide variety of venues and communities throughout the PMMF. Here is a list of their performance times for the 2014 PMMF season:

July 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ontonagon Theatre in Ontonagon
July 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Kingsford
July 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Escanaba
July 28 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Marquette
July 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore in Munising
July 31 at 7:30 p.m. at the Portage Lake United Church in Houghton

Handel and Hoiby Opera Concert
The Italian Lesson, a one-act opera and one-woman show by Lee Hoiby, will be performed by Susan Nicely and include artists such as Lucy Thrasher, Anne Jennifer Nash, Holly Janz, Miles Mykkanen, and accompanist Joseph Mechavich in a special presentation of Handel arias directed by Joshua Major. This show will be performed three times throughout the PMMF:

July 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Crystal Theatre in Crystal Falls
July 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Reynolds Recital Hall in Marquette
August 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Calumet Theatre in Calumet

The Pine Mountain Music Festival is a fantastic way to enjoy a wide variety of live traditional music in the local area. Many of the performers are quite well known and distinguished musicians, so it’s an honor to have them perform in our local area. For more information about the artists, shows, and ticket purchases for the 2014 PMMF, please visit the Pine Mountain Music Festival website.

That’s it for this week!  If you have any questions about the Pine Mountain Music Festival or would like to see more information written on a specific topic, please feel free to email me at I hope you all have a fantastic remainder to the week and that your students can take the time to check out some of these fantastic performances. Until next week!



Activities in the Keweenaw Part 2: Kayaking and Canoeing

Hello Parents,

Me and a friend during a canoeing/camping trip at Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation Area in Watersmeet, Michigan.
Me and a friend during a canoeing/camping trip at Sylvania Wilderness and Recreation Area in Watersmeet, Michigan.

I hope you’re all having a great week!  The Fourth of July Weekend here was absolutely beautiful!  Friday the Fourth was gorgeous and sunny, and it made up for the rain we got on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend was a glorious celebration filled with fireworks, parades, food, music, and family fun. I hope you all had a wonderful celebration of your own within your own communities.  I spent the holiday weekend with my family and celebrated with relatives whom I don’t often see, so I had a wonderful weekend!  I hope you all did, too.

This week, I’d like to continue with the second part of our Activities in the Keweenaw series.  The first article in May outlined the various hiking spots in the Keweenaw for students to visit; this week’s post will outline the beautiful spots in the Keweenaw to kayak and canoe.

Because Houghton is an area surrounded by a variety of lakes, rivers, canals, and streams, kayaking and canoeing are a huge part of culture here. There are countless places for students to stick a kayak in the water and start paddling. Here are some of the more popular places where paddlers like to visit:

Copper Harbor
Copper Harbor offers a wide variety of waterways for kayakers and canoers alike to explore. Most of these are inland lakes that are all within a ten-mile radius of the Harbor’s village limits. These lakes include Lake Fanny Hooe, Lake Manganese, Lake Medora, Lac La Belle, Schlatter’s Lake, and Lake Bailey. These lakes provide beautiful scenery and a plethora of wildlife and waterfowl to observe along the way, all within a short drive from the Houghton/Hancock area.

Chassell: Sturgeon River and Sloughs
The Sturgeon River also offers an exciting adventure for local kayakers and canoers to paddle. The site offers a ramp for launching and landing small boats, which is especially convenient for those canoeing. Explorers can make their way around the bay, down the Pike River or Sturgeon River, and can enter the Sturgeon Sloughs. The Sturgeon River offers beautiful scenic views, complete with wild animals such as deer, beavers, and waterfowl.

Keweenaw Water Trail
The Keweenaw Water Trail runs along a beautiful rugged coastline of the Keweenaw Peninsula and explores wilderness areas with parks, nature preserves, and sheltered harbors for camping spread intermittently throughout the trail. This waterway is unique because it allows the paddler to make a loop around the pathway without having to backtrack along the trail. The entire route can be paddled between six and eight days, so it’s a great trip for the adventurous paddler!

In addition to these exciting waterways, there are also plenty of kayaking and canoeing options right here in Houghton. One obvious choice for many kayakers and canoers alike is the Keweenaw Waterway, which includes Portage Lake, roughly on the Chassell side of the bridge, and the Portage Canal on the other. Paddlers can launch from anywhere along the canal and enjoy a beautiful trip that’s a little closer to home.

If your student is interested in kayaking and/or canoeing but does not have one of his or her own, there are plenty of options for students to rent within the local area. The first and most convenient place to rent kayaks and canoes is Michigan Tech’s own Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP).  Kayak and canoe rentals from the OAP are exclusive to Michigan Tech students, and we can rent a canoe or kayak from the OAP for as little as $20!  Other places in the Houghton and Hancock area  to rent are Houghton PowerSports in Houghton and M&M PowerSports in Hancock.  Lastly, the Keweenaw Adventure Company in Copper Harbor also rents kayaks and canoes.  In addition to equipment rentals, the Keweenaw Adventure Company offers guided trips and lessons as well, which can be really helpful for students eager to explore new areas or need a little extra help learning the ropes.

As you can see, there is a huge variety of places for your students to visit and paddle in the Keweenaw this summer. The Keweenaw is a very beautiful, scenic area with a lot of waterways that can be used to explore its natural, rustic exterior.  For more information on areas to paddle in the Keweenaw, please visit the Keweenaw Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website.

That’s all I have for you this week!  If you have any questions about places to kayak and/or canoe in the Keweenaw, or would like to see more information written on a specific topic, please feel free to email me at Until next week!



Concrete Canoe and the Fourth of July

Hello Parents,

A photo of the concrete canoe created by Michigan Tech's 2014 Concrete Canoe team. Photo courtesy of Brad Roberts.
A photo of the concrete canoe, Katsuo Maru, created by Michigan Tech’s 2014 Concrete Canoe team. Photo courtesy of Brad Roberts.

I hope you’re all having a great week! It’s been hot and humid here—which is unusual for Houghton summers—with temperatures rising as high as 102° over the past weekend! It’s been nice to enjoy this warm, sunny weather, and it’s supposed to stay nice here for the Fourth of July weekend.

It was pointed out to me in a recent email from a parent that the Michigan Tech Concrete Canoe team went to nationals last week at the University of Pittsburgh in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. In response, I’d like to write a short piece to congratulate the team and spread the word of the Concrete Canoe team.

The Michigan Tech Concrete Canoe Team is comprised of current undergraduate students that build a canoe out of concrete and participate in a regional competition consisting of:

1) Technical Paper
This professional paper outlines the engineering and design of the canoe, including the concrete mix proportions, design of the boat, construction methods, and everything else that went into creating the canoe.

2) Technical Presentation
The team must summarize the technical paper in a five-minute presentation in front of a board of judges.

A photo of Michigan Tech's the Four-Person Sprint race during the National Concrete Canoe Competition. Photo courtesy of Brad Roberts.
A photo of Michigan Tech’s canoe during the Four-Person Sprint race at the National Concrete Canoe Competition. Photo courtesy of Brad Roberts.

3) Race
The team must compete in the following five races: Two-person Women’s Sprint, Two-person Men’s Sprint, Two-person Women’s Endurance, Two-person Men’s Endurance, and Four-person Co-ed Sprint.

4) Final Product
The canoe is then judged based on appearance and adherence to the official rules of dimensions and components of the concrete mix.

The regional competition includes teams from universities such as Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, and over 200 other teams from across the nation. The top 10 teams from the regional competition then go on to compete at the national level.

Every year, the Michigan Tech team chooses a theme for the canoe that represents the team in an inspirational and creative way, and this theme is incorporated into the design of the canoe. The Concrete Canoe team works year-round during the academic year to design and build a well-engineered canoe; each member contributes over 3,000 hours of work to complete the final product!

This year, the Michigan Tech Concrete Canoe team finished 8th overall in the national competition with their canoe, Katsuo Maru! They deserve to be recognized and congratulated for all of their hard work! For more pictures of the 2014 National Concrete Canoe Competition (NCCC), feel free to visit this informative blog, written by Mr. Roberts, a parent himself. For more information about the National Concrete Canoe competition, please visit the official NCCC website.

Fourth of July
In addition to all the excitement from the Concrete Canoe results, coming up is the Fourth of July Weekend! As with most other towns, Independence Day is a big deal around here. We have parades, fireworks, and many other celebrations to commemorate the birth of our country. The most exciting and notable celebration is the fireworks show in Copper Harbor on the night of the Fourth at the waterfront of the Copper Harbor arena. The show starts at dusk, and usually lasts close to an hour. Residents from all over the northern Upper Peninsula gather and enjoy the extravagant display, while local food vendors offer elephant ears and hot dogs for patrons to enjoy.

In addition to the Copper Harbor fireworks, there will also be a fireworks show at the Village Park in Lake Linden on the night of July 3. These fireworks also begin at dusk. There will be live music, food, and refreshments in the park from 6:30–10:30 p.m. These fireworks are also an awesome display of lights and sounds for the residents of the Copper Country, and it’s convenient to have this show on July 3 so locals can enjoy two nights of fireworks. Both of these firework shows are free of charge.

In addition to the fireworks, there are also plenty of parades and festivities taking place to celebrate the Fourth of July:

There will be a parade at 9:30 a.m. with live music, activities, games, races, food, and refreshments at the Village Park in Lake Linden throughout the day. The children’s parade begins at 6:30 p.m., and there will be a street dance at the Lakes Lounge from 6–10 p.m. with live music.

There will be free horse-and-wagon rides at 6 p.m. and a street dance at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 3 in Dollar Bay. Snacks and refreshments will be available at the Fire Hall starting at 6:30 p.m. On Friday, July 4, the VFW Memorial Service will take place at 11 a.m. followed by a parade at noon. Children’s games will begin at 1:30 p.m. and Franz Family Ministries will perform at 2 p.m. at Pioneer Park. A snack and refreshment stand, pasty sale, and barbecue chicken cookout will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Fourth.

There will also be a parade in Copper Harbor at 10 a.m. on the Fourth, followed by games, activities, and a cookout held by the Copper Harbor Volunteer Fire Department in the Township Park.

There will be a children’s parade at 10:30 a.m. on the Fourth in Mohawk at Allouez Township Park. There will be children’s games and snacks in the park from noon–2 p.m.

There will be a bicycle parade at 11 a.m. in Ahmeek, followed by activities and concessions at the Gabe Chopp Park throughout the day. There will be children’s games, a penny toss, watermelon eating contest, raffle drawing, bingo, food and refreshments, and live music.

There will be another parade in Gay at 2 p.m. with a bazaar/rummage sale/raffle/social hour at the Gay Community Hall from noon–4 p.m. The Gay Fire Department will also have hot dogs, refreshments, and a raffle on the Gay School grounds from noon–3 p.m.

As you can see, there are a lot of celebrations to commemorate Independence Day in the Copper Country. For more listings of Fourth of July celebrations, please visit the official website of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

That’s all for this week! I hope you all get a chance to enjoy some of the Fourth of July celebrations this weekend within your own communities. If you have any questions about the Concrete Canoe Competition or the local Fourth of July festivities, or if you would like to see more information on a specific topic, please feel free to email me at Have a happy Fourth of July Weekend!