Fall 2014 Michigan Tech Magazine

1400 Townsend Drive

Miers, Ahlborn honored for teaching

Effervescent enthusiasm for students and the classroom marks both winners of Michigan Tech's 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award. Tess Ahlborn '86 '87, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, received the award in the associate professor/professor category. Scott Miers '95 '01 '04, newly promoted to associate professor of mechanical engineering–engineering mechanics, was honored in the assistant professor/professor of practice/lecturer category.

"Dr. Ahlborn is enthusiastic, almost to the point of being weird—and I mean that in the best possible way," wrote one of her students. "It's contagious! Absolute genuine enthusiasm. This woman loves concrete."

Ahlborn teaches structural engineering courses focusing on concrete and the design of concrete buildings and bridges. She strives to relate her teaching to the real world and to the rest of the curriculum and perks up her classes with jokes you could tell to a six-year-old without blushing.

She credits most of her success to her students. "I used to think I was there to inspire them, but a couple years ago, I realized, these guys are so engaged, they are inspiring me," she said. "And all of a sudden, my teaching changed. It's their reactions that keep me going."

Miers has won his department's teaching award twice, and it's easy to see why.

"Scott's a ball of fire," said Bill Predebon, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics. The students agree. "Scott makes every topic interesting and exciting... It's very clear that my class is a priority," wrote one of his students. "He has enthusiasm, passion, and effort that he brings to the class."

Miers, who teaches internal combustion engines and thermodynamics, also brings his industry experience to the classroom. It pays off. "I'll get emails from former students who say that when they were first hired, they were better prepared than many senior engineers."

He finds the process very satisfying. "I like being a part of the aha moment, when that light bulb goes on," Miers said. "There are many days I walk down the hall and think, 'I get paid to do this?'"


Go outside and play! Win prizes!

Michigan Tech is among ten colleges and universities chosen to compete in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge.

Contestants will record their outdoor activities, and the school that logs the most will win a valuable prize package, a scholarship for an outdoor program assistant, and an outdoor festival for students. The Outdoor Adventure Program is spearheading the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge at Michigan Tech. Learn more at http://outdoornation.org.


Michigan Tech students among the smartest (but you knew that)

Business Insider has rated Michigan Tech number 11 among the top-20 public universities with the smartest students. In assembling its list, Business Insider used data from the website Niche and its College Prowler, a service that provides college reviews by students.

"We see all that our students accomplish and all the companies seeking them out for employment," said John Lehman, associate vice president for enrollment, marketing, and communications. "It doesn't take long to see that there is something pretty special about the students here. They are smart—amazingly smart."

Quoted in Business Insider, a student said, "I love my professors—all of them seem dedicated to their job, as well as understanding. The workload is more than most schools, but the best isn't the easiest!"

Business Insider also ranked Tech as Michigan's "most underrated university." Only one university was selected from each state. The ranking reflects the university's high academic standards and acceptance rate.


Linda Ott receives inaugural Diversity Award

Linda Ott has received Michigan Tech's first Diversity Award for tireless efforts to interest girls and women in computing. "It really troubles me that so many young women don't understand what exciting, rewarding careers they can have in computer science."

Among her many endeavors, Ott has been working with Admissions to increase the number of women enrolled in computing programs. Her efforts are paying off. Applications have risen 14 percent in the year that she has been involved in recruitment.

"Boys get the message that computing is a great career, but girls don't, and that drives me crazy," she said. "Computer programming is so exciting, so rewarding, and it impacts everything. And girls don't know this."


Wallace wins Faculty Service Award

Charles "Chuck" Wallace, associate professor of computer science, has received the 2014 Faculty Distinguished Service Award for his outreach activities in the community.

Wallace was recognized for his involvement with two programs: Breaking Digital Barriers and Copper Country Programmers.

Breaking Digital Barriers brings Tech students to the Portage Lake District Library once a week to help senior citizens with technology issues. The program will soon expand its work to introduce computer skills to unemployed citizens.

Copper Country Programmers teaches basic programming skills to local middle- and high-school students. It helps students develop logic and strong problem-solving skills.


Tuition up 2–3 percent, financial aid up 9 percent

Students' tuition rates vary based on their majors starting this fall. The new formula brings Michigan Tech's existing differential tuition structure in line with other research universities in the state.

First- and second-year students pay $7,020 a semester plus $150 in fees for 12 to 18 credits. Third- and fourth-year students pay the same tuition and student activity and Experience Tech fees totaling $150. They will also pay fees of $150, $300, or $900 a semester, depending on their major.

"Most students will see a 2 to 3 percent increase," said Les Cook, vice president of student affairs and advancement. "Varying degrees cost varying amounts to deliver. This plan is more equitable because the fees are based on the cost of the programs the students are taking."

Although tuition is increasing by about 2 percent, scholarship funds available to students will increase 9 percent.


No more road trips to take the GRE

Michigan Tech is now an official test site for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), an entrance exam required by most US graduate programs. The testing center is located in the new William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.

Previously, students had to travel hours to take the GRE. The closest test sites were Sault Ste. Marie and Duluth, Minnesota.

The center, funded by a $1 million gift from Jackson '58, is also home to a suite of technological tools to enhance teaching, learning, learning assessment, and student evaluations.