Research Magazine Cover 2003

Michigan Tech Transportation Institute

Roads, bridges, deicing—when state and federal transportation engineers need answers, they call Michigan Tech.

Making History: Industrial Archaeology

Michigan Tech industrial archaeologist uncover the West Point Foundry in New York.

Institute Provides Intensive Computing

Combining computational science and engineering with a research institute and a PhD program.

Light: Driving the Next Computer Revolution

A pair of physicists look for ways to bend light.

Commercialization Starts with a Spark

Tech leads the state in license agreements and invention disclosures. Getting technology to the marketplace.

The Engineering Enterprise

Michigan Tech's innovative approach to engineering education begins to take hold.

Research Centers/Institutes at Michigan Tech

Larry Sutter (center) and Tom VanDam (back) have become nationally known for their expertise in studying the microstructure of concrete.

Larry Sutter (center) and Tom VanDam (back) have become nationally known for their expertise in studying the microstructure of concrete.

Tech Tops in Transportation Materials Research

Larry Sutter knows about icy roads, having lived in Michigan’s snowy Upper Peninsula for most of his adult life. As a driver, he applauds state departments of transportation as they improve their deicing practices.

As an expert in concrete, though, he wonders whether these new deicing chemicals are eating away the highways.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT), along with eight other state DOTs, have hired the Michigan Tech faculty member and researcher to address that concern.

“Magnesium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate, among other chemicals, have proven very effective at deicing,” Sutter says. “But there is a lot in the literature about the negative effect of magnesium chloride on portland cement (the most common ingredient in concrete roads).

“The question is about the concentration of magnesium being used. Is it enough to worry about?”

Asphalt Paving

Construction crew paving a road.

Asphalt Paving Receives Major Support

Concrete isn’t the only paving material making a dent in Michigan Tech’s research program.

Students can dig their heels into asphalt, too, thanks to the Thompson Scholars Program. The program supports education and research related to asphalt paving and established a Student Enterprise—a business-like team focusing on real-world paving projects.

The Thompson Scholars Program also supports 100 undergraduate students with full-tuition in-state scholarships, six graduate students, equipment, and the Student Enterprise.

Bob and Ellen Thompson made all of this possible with a $3.5 million gift to the university in 1999. Thompson sold his paving company, Thompson-McCully Asphalt Company . . . 

The one remaining building at the foundry site.

The one remaining building at the foundry site.

Making History: Tech Archaeologists Uncover West Point Foundry

by Paula McCambridge

Michigan Tech industrial archaeologists are rebuilding history by plotting, mapping, and preserving it at the nearly two-century-old West Point Foundry, located near the small New York tourist village of Cold Spring.

The foundry, constructed in the 1820s, is an example of America’s industrial stronghold in ironworks during that period of time, as well as early 19th century entrepreneurial spirit.

Gouverneur Kembel, a wealthy American businessman in the early 1800s, grouped investors, established the foundry and found immediate success producing canons. Perhaps the . . . 

Steve Seidel and Phil Merkey lead the institute. The Cray supercomputer is behind them.

Steve Seidel and Phil Merkey lead the institute. The Cray supercomputer is behind them.

Institute Provides Intensive Computing

by Dean Woodbeck

Computational scientists focus on solving real science and engineering problems. These problems have become very complex, creating the need for the Computational Science and Engineering Research Institute.

Imagine 64 computers, all tied together, diligently working on the same massive computational problem. Each has its own part of the job to do, working simultaneously with the rest.

Such an arrangement allows for more complex problems completed much more quickly.

Michigan Tech’s array of computers is called a Beowulf cluster and is one of the campus-wide resources made available by the Computational Science and Engineering Research Institute.

Miguel Levy lives in the nano-world.

Miguel Levy lives in the nano-world.

Light: Driving the Next Computer Revolution

by John Gagnon

Dr. Peter Moran has the best of two worlds.

An assistant professor jointly appointed in materials science and engineering and the physics department, he uses both disciplines in his work-which he loves. "I get paid to think," he says.

He and a colleague, associate professor Dr. Miguel Levy (also jointly appointed in physics and materials science/engineering), have been doing some interesting thinking lately as they investigate a man-made material with some unusual mechanical and optical properties. Moran describes their inquiry as "uncharted territory."

The two researchers work in three worlds: that of microns, nanoscale, and atomic scale.