Fall 2011 Michigan Tech Magazine

Fall 2011 Michigan Tech Magazine

Michigan Tech Magazine Fall 2011 Cover

John Vucetich on Isle Royale's Washington Harbor

Science on the Opinion Page

by Jennifer Donovan

Scientists collect and analyze facts. Data. Information. Policy advocates use—or sometimes misuse—data to support or condemn one public policy or another. The facts about global climate change prove that we should (or shouldn't) ban coal-fired power plants, they might say. Are there irreconcilable differences between science and advocacy? Can good scientists also be advocates? Should they be?

The answers—like so many in this complex, interwoven world—are yes, no, and sometimes.

John Vucetich, a wildlife ecologist and associate professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, believes that scientists are "citizens first and scientists second." So, he says, "they have a responsibility to advocate to the best of their abilities and in a justified and transparent manner."

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Alumni House


by Marcia Goodrich

Fifty years ago, plenty of students were able to work their way through school, thanks to generous state support that kept tuition low. Since then, however, states have shouldered an array of expensive new responsibilities, and funding for higher ed has withered, particularly in the face of the current economic downturn. Plus, a technological education is inherently more expensive than the average college degree program.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could make college as affordable as it was in 1961? The fact is, we can. Scholarships and fellowships have the power to turn back the clock, which is one reason why they are a top priority of the Generations of Discovery Capital Campaign. The Michigan Tech Alumni Association has responded by establishing its new Traditions of Giving Fellowships and Scholarships.

Scholarships do more than make college affordable. They can also attract superior students and encourage them to expand their horizons. And, they can influence the future. In a world gravely in need of solutions, women are sorely underrepresented among certain problem-solving . . . 

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Norman Augustine at Commencement

Norman Augustine

by Marcia Goodrich

The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry, and, with apologies to Robert Burns, that’s not always such a bad thing, says Norman Augustine.

Left to his own adolescent devices, the speaker at Michigan Tech’s 2011 Spring Commencement would probably have built a stellar career for himself in forestry. That’s a noble calling but a far cry from the one that guided his steps, one unexpected milestone after another: as an engineer working on NASA’s Apollo program, CEO of Lockheed Martin, undersecretary of the US Army, five-time recipient of the Department of Defense Civilian Distinguished Service Medal, on the faculty at Princeton, chair of the National Academy of Engineering . . . well, you get the idea.

That’s one reason he advised the Class of 2011 not to put too much stock in long-range planning. “There are too many uncontrollable variables in life,” he told them.

His own story began with an uncontrollable variable in the form of a busybody high school teacher.

"Nobody in my family had had the opportunity to go to college, though my parents were well aware of the importance of an education," he said. "One day a teacher—not one of mine . . . 

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Mel Pearson

The Mel Pearson File

by Wes Frahm

Mel Pearson became the twenty-first coach in Michigan Tech hockey history when he was hired last May. The former Tech player (1977–81) spent the last twenty-three years as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan, helping the Wolverines to a 667–243–71 record, eleven Frozen Fours, and two national championships.

Pearson sat down with Michigan Tech Magazine for a Q&A session during one of the few days over the summer he wasn’t off recruiting.

How did you get into playing hockey?

I was born into it. My dad was a professional hockey player, so I was . . . 

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Houghton County Memorial Airport

Look! Up in the Sky!

by Erik Nordberg

Such was the case when two messages arrived in my email inbox a few months ago. The first was from an alumnus who had seen photos of John MacInnes at the door of a Convair 440 aircraft and wanted to know if Michigan Tech owned the plane. The second was from a Nevada author writing about a DC-3 aircraft that he believed the University owned in the late 1960s.

Lacking any memory shards of Tech running some Air Yooper service, my interest was piqued. Digging through campus records—and throwing my query out to readers of the electronic Tech Alum Newsletter—I was overwhelmed with information.

First, I took a crash course in airplane design. For those who may not know, a DC-3 is referred to as a “tail-dragger,” as it has two wheels in the front and one underneath the tail . . . 

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Mike Agostini

How (and why?) do you run a marathon?

by Dennis Walikainen '92 '09

Mike Agostini '97 started running in Japan in 1993–94 during a study abroad trip," he says. "I did it to curb my hunger, since running is an appetite suppressant, and I was broke."

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Blizzard T. Husky

Alumni Reunion 2011

Reunions prove that you really can go home again, and again, and again. Golf at the University’s Portage Lake course, a pilgrimage to the Otter River Cabin, a sociable picnic with Blizzard T. Husky over pasties and watermelon . . . it all happened here. If you missed it, don’t feel bad. There’s another one coming up August 2–4, 2012.

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Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz, left, hosts Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on campus following a town meeting in Houghton.

A Visit From the Governor

Higher education is key to Michigan’s economic well being on more than one level, Governor Rick Snyder said August 16 during a town hall meeting in the Copper Country.

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Magnetic Poetic

An Ode to the Poem

by Kara Sokol

Magnetic Poetic, a display featuring metal boards and thousands of magnetic words, was unveiled in the lobby of the J. R. Van Pelt and John and Ruann Opie Library. Students were encouraged to ponder, play, observe the impromptu poetry of others, and create their own.

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