Author: Joanne Polzien

Research Workshop Addresses National Security and Export Control

Compliance, Integrity, and Safety will host an educational session, “Export Control and National Security,” from noon to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 6. The session will be held in the Memorial Union Building, Ballroom A2.

This session will help faculty and staff understand and address national security considerations when conducting research. Topics covered will include: managing technical data, intellectual property, and proprietary materials; defining and working with foreign nationals, publishing, and teaching; and exporting and licensing considerations.

To register for this session, see National Security. Registration deadline is 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 2. If you have questions, please contact Jay Meldrum at 487-3178 or jmeldrum@mtu.edu.

This workshop is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research. Feel free to bring your lunch.

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Photo/Video Safety Policy

Is a photographer or videographer scheduled to visit your laboratory?  Special precautions need to be taken when organizing a shoot in a lab setting. The Photo/Video Safety Policy will help you to protect the health and safety of the participants, as well as ensure the usability of the images, so we ask that you please review it in advance of the shoot.

This policy was developed in cooperation with the Presidential Committee on University Safety and University Marketing and Communications.

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MTRI Staff to Visit Campus on Oct. 12

The staff of the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) in Ann Arbor will visit campus on Friday, Oct. 12, to conduct a poster session in the Dow Atrium (sixth-floor campus entrance).

MTRI scientists and engineers will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to discuss projects, collaborations with Michigan Tech departments and staff, and areas of research interest. The session is intended to outline the Institute’s current activities and to explore opportunities to develop new working relationships.

MTRI focuses on education, research, and development of technology to sense and understand natural and man-made environments.

For additional information, contact Lisa Phillips at lisa.phillips@mtu.edu, or visit the MTRI website (http://www.mtri.org).

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Workshop Addresses Finding Funding

Sponsored Programs Enhancement will host an educational session, “Finding Funding,” from noon to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 25. The session will be in the Memorial Union Building Peninsula Room.

This session will help faculty and staff develop strategies to identify and secure sources of financial support for research and related activities. Topics covered will include: planning, research, funding sources, and the online Pivot program for research funding and collaboration.

To register for this session, see Finding Funding. The registration deadline is 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 24. If you have questions, please contact Peter Larsen at 487-2906 or palarsen@mtu.edu.

This workshop is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research. Feel free to bring your lunch.

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New Conflict of Interest Regulations

If you are thinking  of submitting a proposal to any of the Public Health Service agencies (e.g. NIH, FDA, CDC), you should consider attending the workshop being offered on Thursday, September 20, 2012.

Workshop Addresses ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Conflicts of Interest and Public Health Service Projects

The Office of Compliance, Integrity, and Safety will host an educational session, “Conflicts of Interest and Public Health Service Projects” from noon to 1 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 20. The session will be in the Memorial Union, Ballroom A-2.

This session will help faculty and staff who conduct research funded by the federal Public Health Service agencies. Topics covered will include new and old regulations concerning these projects, the new process for determining and disclosing conflicts of interests, and why these changes have been implemented.

To register for this session, see Integrity, Compliance, and Safety. Registration deadline is 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20. If you have questions, please contact Joanne Polzien at 487-2902 or jpolzien@mtu.edu

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Sponsored Programs Announces New Cost Share Authorization Form

Starting August 20, 2012, the Cost Share/Matching Support Authorization form used when cost sharing is required for sponsored projects will be available on Employee Self Service. This form is to be completed during the proposal preparation stage when requesting cost share.

To access the form, log in to Employee Self Service at www.banweb.mtu.edu. Click on the “Research” tab and then “Cost Share.”

For more information and instructions, visit http://www.mtu.edu/research/references/forms/.

The implementation of the new web Cost Share Authorization Form via Employee Self Service (ESS) is the first phase of a long-term project to reduce the administrative burden for the departments that submit proposals for external funding, and for the central administrative departments that administer the proposals and award for external funding. Additional phases to improve the process include electronic approvals via a workflow and standardized department specific reports of outstanding cost share commitments.

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If You Have a Michigan Tech Degree Bhakta Rath Knows You Can Do the Job

Bhakta Rath, ’58, is the associate director of research and head, Material Science and Component Technology Directorate of the US Naval Research Laboratory.  He and his wife, Sushama, a computer analyst for the Virginia Community College System, have endowed an annual research award to an outstanding graduate student and faculty adviser for work that will help meet the nation’s needs and the challenges of emerging technologies. Attending the University’s 2011 Spring Commencement, Rath reminisced about his days at Michigan Tech more than 50 years ago and his vision for the future.

Lucky for Michigan Tech—and generations of graduate students and researchers here—Bhakta Rath, ’58, never did get the hang of speaking German.

“After finishing my bachelor’s degree in India, I got a full scholarship to study in Germany,” Rath recalls. “But after six months trying to learn German, when all I could say was hello, good-by and where is the bathroom, I realized that this was not the way to get a graduate education.”

So he came to Michigan Tech instead, with a BS in physics and mathematics and not a shred of engineering.  When he sat down with the chair of the Metallurgical Engineering Department, Corbin Eddy peered at Rath’s transcript and inquired: “Have you ever had a course in blast furnace?”

“No,” Rath replied.

“Open hearth?”

“No.”

“Welding?”

“No.”

He asked about several other undergraduate courses.  The response was the same:  “No”.

Eddy shook his head.

“You are going to have to take all the undergraduate courses you would need in preparation for this degree and earn at least a 3.0 in them, plus your graduate courses and thesis,” he said. “It’s going to take you nearly six years to get a master’s.

Rath politely but firmly disagreed. “I can’t do that,” he said. “My parents are paying for me to study here.  I promised to come home in two years with a master’s degree, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

It took a staggering load of over 30 courses a year, but Rath did what he said he’d do.  Then his advisor, Roy Drier, dropped another bombshell.  “You need to stay one more quarter and take the mandatory course in Michigan history, so we can give you a BS as well as an MS,” Drier told Rath.

But Rath, who had already been accepted to a PhD program at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, said no thanks. “I came here for a master’s; I’ll settle for the master’s,” he decided.

Despite his course load, Rath has happy memories of his time at Michigan Tech. He recalls staying in the old Scott Hotel in Hancock over Christmas break, when the university residence halls were closed. “It cost a lot–$1 a day—but with two of us sharing a room, it was only 50 cents each,” he says.

He’ll never forget his first ski adventure either. Some classmates took him up Mt. Ripley. Since Rath had never skied, they wanted to leave him on the easy slope. Rath was having none of that.

“If you are riding the lift to the top, I am too,” he said.  It took his friends about 2 minutes to ski to the bottom. “It took me 2 hours,” he says. “on my belly.”

Rath’s determination to complete his graduate degrees took another hit when he actually arrived at IIT.  “You can start by forgetting everything you’ve learned at Michigan Tech,” he was told.  “You’ll have to start all over and pass a 10-hour oral exam before you can even start on your PhD work.”

At the time, Michigan Tech was known as a practical engineering school, training students to work in heavy industry settings.  “The basic engineering Michigan Tech taught was the best in the country, but the University wasn’t preparing students to think about the basic science behind the engineering,” Rath explains. “Now a Tech education is much more science-based, and that’s a good thing, because we are not training students to work in blast furnaces and open hearths any more. We are preparing them to solve engineering problems, to create entirely new materials, processes and products.”

The engineering challenges are different now, Rath points out. “We used to focus on extracting raw materials and converting them to useable products. In what was then called the Metallurgy Department, it was all about metals, from mining to mineral dressing to processing. Now the spectrum is much broader, including polymers, ceramics, composites, semi-conductors and all kinds of novel materials.

One of the most serious challenges facing Michigan Tech and the nation today is the need to motivate more young people to go into science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM fields.  Rath has made a commitment to help through his work with the American Society for Materials (ASM) International Education Foundation. He is past president of the foundation and now serves on its Board of Trustees.
ASM develops nearly 50 summer camps for high school students and teachers, sponsored by the foundation, local industries and universities.  Michigan Tech sponsored one in 2008.

“We need to excite American students about the STEM fields, and if you excite the teachers, they excite the students,” Rath explains. He has successfully talked the Office of Naval Research into funding summer teachers’ camps.

He’s a big fan of the hands-on approach to motivating the next generation. “Kids need to do things, to analyze real-world problems,” he says. “They need to look at a failed auto part and ask: Why did this shaft fail, and how could we make it better?”

The challenge of attracting young people to STEM studies is compounded by the trend in American business and industry to outsource not only manufacturing, but research and development. “There aren’t enough American graduates to fill the STEM jobs,” says Rath. “Universities are training more and more foreign students in STEM fields, but they are returning to their homelands, not contributing to the intellectual capital of the US.  This is a very serious challenge for the future of our country.”

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Laboratory Biosafety Manual

As a follow-up to the November 30 biosafety presentation, a rudimentary, work-in-progress version of the Laboratory Biosafety Manual has been posted on the Research Integrity and Compliance website. You can access the Biosafety Manual, as well as the Laboratory Risk Assessment form in the RESOURCES box on the right side of the webpage at http://www.mtu.edu/research/administration/integrity-compliance/review-boards/recombinant-DNA/ or you can access the manual directly here.

Although not fully developed, the manual provides useful information for faculty, staff and students working in biological laboratories.  For example:

The INTRODUCTION briefly explains the purpose of the manual and provides links to federal and state regulations and guidelines that govern work in biological laboratories.

The BIOSAFETY LEVELS section provides information on the recommended laboratory practices, equipment and facilities used to mitigate the risks of working with biological organisms in BSL-1, BSL-2 and BSL-3 laboratories.

The section on BIOLOGICAL SAFETY CABINETS (BSC) gives a brief overview of BSC design and provides the essentials for working safely and effectively in a BSC.  It also provides a link to an excellent training video.

Future sections on appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Toxins, Disposal of Biological Waste and Sharps Use and Disposal are in process.  Because it is a work in progress your feedback, requests for clarification, or suggestions for additional content are appreciated and will ultimately make the manual a more useful resource for the Michigan Tech community.

If you would like to receive updates as the work on the Biosafety Manual progresses; have questions concerning biosafety, suggestions for future presentations or if you would like assistance in completing a risk assessment of your laboratory please contact:

David Dixon dcdixon@mtu.edu.

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