TechAlum News

February 9, 2004 (Vol. 10, No. 36)

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An award-winning weekly electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of Michigan Technological University. Written and distributed by Dean Woodbeck '78, Director of News and Information Services.

In this issue:

  • Husky Tales
  • At da Tech
  • Around Town
  • From the E-mailbag
  • E-mail Updates/Welcome to new subscribers
  • Alumni Chapter Events
  • Job Opportunities
  • Electronic Services for Alumni

Husqi Tales

Despite all of the consecutive days of snow and cold temperatures that have defined this winter, we've had a couple of very nice weekends. Fortunately, both coincided with times when Tech and the Keweenaw needed to put their best feet forward.

Two weeks ago, Tech's admissions office hosted more than 250 high school students for a ski weekend. The students could ski Mt. Ripley and/or the Tech cross-country trails and take in a hockey game (which the Huskies won). That Saturday was gorgeous, with blue skies and more moderate (well...less cold) temperatures.

Then came Winter Carnival weekend, again with blue skies and mild temperatures. Statue builders might argue the temperature thing, since it was below zero during the all-nighter. But at least there was no wind! I was out on campus about 10:30 that night and there was a huge crowd taking in the statue building and buying hot chocolate and shish kabobs (now THERE'S an appetizing combination).

Meanwhile, the snow continues to pile up (although I have to keep telling myself that, during the record 350+" in 1978-79, we were past 250" by this point). For the most part, it comes in three or four inch increments, which I guess is characteristic of lake effect snow (as opposed to "system snow"--isn't it great what you learn from the Weather Channel?).

My son introduced me to a new driveway clearing system that is efficient and good for the environment. It involves leaving the snowblower in the garage when the snow is less than three or four inches (which is most of the time--see above). That's the environmental part.

You take two shovels with handles and hard plastic blades (so they are lightweight). The handles allow you to have a shovel in each hand. You then angle one shovel (only slightly) and you can move two "rows" of snow at a time, with minimal spillage left behind.

With the light fluffy lake effect snow, you can clear the driveway in less time than it would take with a snow blower. Power-wise, this is much less satisfying, but you still need to crank up the 7-horse, 23" cut Husqvarna (a.k.a. The Big Boy) to clear away the pile left behind by the city plow. We could call this Green Power--environmentally friendly, yet fulfilling the male ego need.

Snow Watch '03-'04

As of February 8, 2004 

This week Last week Last year
Snowfall to date 186.0" 167.5" 161.0"
On the ground 31" 32" 31"

See our snowfall chart, dating back to 1890, and day--by-day snowfall for this season.

At Da Tech

PHI TAU LEADS FRATERNITY DIVISION: Phi Kappa Tau won the Winter Carnival fraternity division, with first place finishes in both snow statues and special events. Delta Zeta took the sorority division, while the Air Force ROTC and First Year Experience won the student organization and residence hall divisions, respectively. Concordia Lutheran took first in the community division. More photos will continue to go up this week at

THIMBLEBERRY JAM UNIQUE TO KEWEENAW: Graduate student Jason Anderson studied thimbleberry jam production for his master's thesis. He looked at the thimbleberry in general and the jam industry in the Keweenaw in particular.
"As far as I know, the Keweenaw is the only place that makes thimbleberries into jam commercially," he said. "In British Columbia, the species is actually considered a weed." More:

PHI KAPPA THETA MOVES IN: Phi Kappa Theta opened its new house to the public Saturday. An August 2002 fire destroyed the old house, killing one student. The new house was built at the same location, across the street from Jim's Foodmart.

FACULTY AWARD COMMITTEE SEEKS NOMINATIONS: The Faculty Distinguished Service Award Committee is seeking nominations for the 2004 award. The deadline is Friday, Feb. 20. The award is open to all full-time faculty, including lecturers and research faculty. The award recognizes service to the university community that has significantly improved the quality of some aspect of campus life. To make a nomination see the form at

WINTER JOB FAIR SCHEDULED: The Winter Job Fair will be held Tuesday, Feb. 17, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in the SDC basketball gym. More than 50 employers are expected to attend, including Alcoa, the Department of Homeland Security, Ford, Guidant, IBM, Polaris and Toyota. These companies and agencies are looking for full-time employees as well as co-ops and interns.

TELECONFERENCE FOR NATURAL RESOURCES JOBS: A live teleconference for students seeking natural resource-related employment will be held Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2-4 p.m. in EERC B11. The two-hour session will have eight panelists telling students about their organizations and their jobs, as well as providing career and job-seeking advice for college students. For more information, go to

FOR MORE INFORMATION from Tech, see the weekly newsletter
Tech Topics:

Around Town

DEER FEEDING LEGAL AGAIN: Supplemental feeding of deer is once again legal in Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, Alger, Luce, and parts of Marquette and Chippewa counties.
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission reversed a statewide feeding ban enacted in May 2003. The ban resulted from concerns that supplemental feeding encourages deer to congregate, increasing the risk of spreading chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis. Area outdoor enthusiasts applaud the ban’s revisions, claiming that local deer populations depend on supplemental feeding to survive unusually harsh winter conditions.

SMARTZONE REVISES PLANS FOR HANCOCK INCUBATOR: Faced with bids 40 percent higher than expected, the Michigan Tech SmartZone's financial board has revised plans for the incubator in Hancock—the fourth floor of the old Portage hospital building. The Local Development Finance Authority approved changes that eliminate removing walls and removing smaller spaces, such as old restrooms. SmartZone CEO Alan West said the incubator, which is intended lure high-tech business to the area, remains in good shape.

SNOWFALL STREAK ENDS: After more than a month of seemingly endless snowfall, a 33-day streak of consecutive snow days ended, just one day shy of tying a 50-year record. That's according to a snowfall station in Painesdale recognized by the National Weather Service as the official snow counting facility. The record of 34 consecutive days of measurable snowfall was from Dec. 17, 1998 to Jan. 19, 1999. While there was no snow last Thursday, it started up again on Friday.
To add confusion, meteorologist John Dee, of Lake Linden, shows at least a trace of snow from Dec. 28 through Feb. 4, or 39 days.

NEW SCHEDULED CHARTER PLANS HOUGHTON-PONTIAC RUN: Roger Bentlage, of Lake Orion, Michigan, says he plans to establish a scheduled charter air service between Houghton County and Pontiac-Oakland International Airport. The service could be launched as soon as the end of the month.
Bentlage said planes and trained crews are ready to fly. As proposed, the service will include scheduled flights Monday through Thursday. Flights would leave from Houghton County at 7:30 a.m., arriving in Pontiac at 9:15 a.m. Return flights would leave Pontiac at 5:30 p.m. and arrive in Houghton at 7:15 p.m.

PLOWING CONTROVERSY CONTINUES: First, the Houghton County Road Commission and the Michigan Department of Transportation couldn't agree on a reimbursement schedule for county maintenance of state roads. So MDOT decided to do their own plowing of US-41, M-26 and M-203 in Houghton County. Now the county's emergency measures director is calling for a public meeting with to hear MDOT's strategies. Some residents say plowing and salting/sanding is worse this year. MDOT says it just employs a different philosophy.

Sports Results

Hockey (5-19-4 Overall, 3-15-2 WCHA)
2/6 -- #8 St. Cloud State 4, at Michigan Tech 1
2/7 -- #8 St. Cloud State 3, at Michigan Tech 1

Women's Basketball (12-8 Overall, 7-5 GLIAC)
2/5 -- Ferris State 75, at Michigan Tech 65
2/7 -- at Michigan Tech 77, Grand Valley State 65

Men's Basketball (16-3 Overall, 10-2 GLIAC)
2/5 -- at #14 Michigan Tech 71, Ferris State 55
2/7 -- at #14 Michigan Tech 84, Grand Valley State 67

Men's and Women's Nordic Skiing
2/7 -- Men & Women Both Second at Michigan Tech Winter
Carnival Dash

Men's Tennis (1-2 Overall, 0-0 GLIAC)
2/7 -- Minnesota State-Mankato 5, at Michigan Tech 4
2/7 -- at Michigan Tech 8, Ripon 1
2/8 -- Lake Superior State 8, at Michigan Tech 1

From the E-mailbag

E-mail From: Phil Vacca (phil.vacca at

Ya know, Dean, I was going to comment on your
diligence in having the TechAlum news at my "doorstep"
bright and early this morning.

Ya know, Dean, I was going to comment on your
diligence in having the TechAlum news at my "doorstep"
bright and early this morning.

Whoa... Must be ground hog day or something, eh? ;-)

Thanks for the repeat - it was better the second time

E-mail from Russell Betts '60 (far at

I don't need 2 copies of newsletter each week (this is
the second week in a row). But please send one as I do
enjoy it, especially the snow totals (Austin,
Texas Snow -Year to Date - 0"

E-mail from Mark Schreiner '90 (vze3v8dt at

Hey Dean,

Thanks for the warning about the extra long email.
Since I got two copies, I guess it was at least twice
as long as normal? Well, maybe not since duplicates
from you do happen occasionally. ;^)

Enjoying the webcams and snow reports. My wife, a
native of Pennsylvania and resident here most of her
life wants to go to Michigan Tech for Winter Carnival sometime.
But I told her we had to visit Michigan Tech in the summer or
fall first otherwise she may never want to return (she
doesn't like the cold). Here in Eastern PA it has
been very cold this winter so I told her that if she
can get acclimated to the "warm" single digit and
lower teen temperatures we have been having here
lately then I would know she is ready for a visit to
Michigan Tech for WC (maybe next year).

I work at a small startup company that is almost as
diverse as the United Nations. I forwarded the WC
queen results to my Indian colleagues here. I think
they too were impressed by her ability to withstand
the extreme change of climate from India to Michigan Tech!

Keep up the fine work on the newsletter.

E-mail from Laura Haas '00 (lmhaas2 at

Hi, Dean!

It's been almost four years since I left Houghton, and
your newsletters always make me feel like it was just
yesterday. Especially at this time of year, any news
of Tech makes the little pang of homesickness just a
little larger.

I live in Southwestern Ohio now, and am finishing
graduate school. A lot of my classmates are from the
East coast or the South. They have a hard time
understanding why I'm looking for jobs back in
Michigan, especially after I tell them stories about
The winters like this--such as snow every day since
December 28!

Keep up the great work--the Monday newsletters always
give me a smile!

E-mail from Katie Foco '98 (katie.foco at

Has anyone seen the TV commercial on ESPN that was
filmed in Watersmeet? I saw it for the first time
last Friday and I laughed so hard I could hardly
contain myself. Keep your eyes peeled when you watch
TV for that commercial.

E-mail from Bob Makolin (rink-rat at

All this pasty talk has made me hungry! For anybody
around Wisconsin's Fox River Valley, there is a native
son of the Keweenaw who runs a pasty shop on East
Wisconsin Ave. in Appleton. It's called The Pasty
Koop. (The owner is a Koopika, from Ahmeek way.) He
has a selection of the obligatory yuppie fare
(broccoli and cheddar, ham and swiss with fennel,
breakfast pasties, etc.). But his beef pasties are the
best I ever bought. Almost as good as home made. Also,
you can buy them half cooked, for freezing. He also
sells Baroni's spaghetti sauce and Trenary Toast.

E-mail from George Teachman '76
(george.teachman at


Snowed every day since 28 Dec? When I was a freshman,
low these many 32 years ago (wow), my first winter
(72-73) we had 100 straight days of snow. In fact, as
I recall, there is a 'Da Tech' cartoon of a Toot
looking up at the sun (sometime in Feb) and asking
what we had done wrong! I think that winter there was
a tunnel was carved on the north side of US41 near the
Delt Sig house that was used to cross 41.

E-mail from Bob Tolfree '76 (btolfree at


I had tire chains at Tech from ’72 – ’76 but don’t
remember ever using them (probably had a problem
getting them on), but just walked everywhere. Now
here in Colorado, that is a different story.

E-mail from Dean Young '92 (Dean.H.Young at

During my time at Tech (87-92) I can only remember
seeing tire chains once. I had to look twice when I
saw them because the person had fashioned a set for
his bicycle! I was shocked but when you think about
it, college town, engineering students, lots of snow.
Why not?

As for getting stuck in the snow while driving, that
only happened once to me. My sister was visiting and
we were going to a party with some of her friends. I
was driving and was trying to bust through a plowed in
parking lot. My sister's front wheel drive 88 Chevy
Nova just could not make it. Someone walking near by
saw me get stuck and quickly asked if I needed help.
I told him no and he quickly understood why, the 8
other people who where in the car with me got out and
pushed. CHAINS?!? We don't need no stinking chains!

E-mail from Stacey (Roehm) Morrison '88
(stacey.e.morrison at

In my 7 years of living in Michigan after I moved
there from Mississippi, where I got my driver's
license at 15, I went into a number of snow banks.
What has worked well for me to get out is the gratings
that you put under each tire. Also clay kitty litter
has worked well also. The trucks at K.I. Sawyer AFB
had chains on them, but regular cars weren't allowed
to. Studded snow tires were also illegal. We just got
snow tires for all our cars. I used to drive a 1975
Pinto Wagon in high school (1982-84) and in the
winter, the high beams that you pushed the button on
the floor would freeze on. I would have to take the
back streets in Gwinn because I couldn't turn them

Also I couldn't go in reverse right away until
the car was warmed up. So if I wanted to leave right
away, I either had to park on a hill to go backward or
back in to a parking spot. Also the brakes would
freeze up when I was coming into the Gwinn High School
parking lot and I would stop the car by going into a
snowdrift. Luckily I didn't hit anybody else's car.
One time I did a 180 in the middle of a one way
street. Luckily no one else was coming my way. My
father finally sold that Pinto to a junk yard. I
wouldn't have wanted anyone else to drive it because
it was a health hazard. I will have to tell you
stories about the Volvo wagon that didn't have a
speedometer some other time.

E-mail from Robert Carnahan '53 (partec at


There were no chains in use that I can recall in the
early 50's. We got so much snow during my senior year
that my car sat buried in snow the entire winter
quarter. I dug it out for spring break to drive home
for the week. Chains and/or traction tires are
required in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington during
major storms as reported in another response from an
alum. This morning it is snowing in Hood River and
heavily on Mt. Hood. The OHP is enforcing chains
today, not just traction tires, on Highways 35 and 26
in the vicinity of Meadows Ski Area and Timberline.
The elevation is 5000 ft on the highways and snow base
levels are at 120". Snowboarding in the trees at
Meadows was almost as good as Utah on Friday, but the
Crowds on Saturday and Sunday were incredible. Check
out the conditions on, there's a live
weather cam looking up the mountain at the Hood River
Express lift.

E-mail from Jon Wennerberg '70 (jonw at

I must take exception to the email from Sandy Easley
on the better-worse traction theme:

If front-wheel drive is so good, why don't you see
front-wheel-drive high performance (read racing) cars,
such as Nascar? I'll admit that for the average
driver fwd might be acceptable as a salve to his/her
poorly honed driving skills, but rear-wheel drive
allows the driver far more options when in poor
traction conditions -- that is, if you're cornering
with a front wheel drive and you spin your drive
(front) tires, you lose not only forward traction BUT
ALSO STEERING! With rear drive you have at least got
directional control available (throw in the clutch, as
mentioned in another note, and you'll get the rear
wheels back -- or power-slide through the corner if
you had room to do it).

As proof I'll mention the time I spent driving rear-
drive taxis in Hoton (for Jerry's Hotel/Bar/Taxi) in
winter '69-70, and I didn't have much trouble
negotiating the ups and downs of the community, even
when I was making 5AM pickups. Ballast in the back,
wood-chip snow tires, and I'd go where I needed to go.
I betcha you couldn't keep up in a front-drive car.

I spent many years honing rear-wheel-drive skills with
Mustangs and other light-weight rear drive cars, and
still prefer them when the going gets tough.

Four-wheel or all-wheel drive, that's another story.
All of my personal vehicles these days are one or the

E-mail from Paul Brandstrom (brandsp at


Check out for the 21st century
Version of tire chains.

E-mail from David Geyer '92 (David.Geyer at


Regarding Sandy Easley's informative summary on winter
driving, where manual-trans was part of the ideal
combo for traction...dropping an automatic into
neutral during a skid will have the same effect if you
keep off the brakes, it's helped me out a couple

That tip was a takeaway from the winter-driving-skills
movie Tech showed before break one year (every year?)
in Fisher 135...any idea if they still show that?

Another steering tip for quick turns in the snow
(works best for front-wheel drive without antilock
brakes) straighten the wheels, lock up the brakes
momentarily, turn while brakes are locked, and as soon
as you let off the brake pedal the front wheels bite
and pull through the curve. Works good on snowy roads,
not as well on ice.

One thing NOT to do- here's a driving gaffe from my
third year, when I had a '79 Caprice Classic wagon
(land yacht). My roommate and I lived up in Daniel
Heights and we always took the far exit road down to
US41. One morning the road was unsanded and slick and
we could not stop in time. In a moment of
"inspiration" I dropped into reverse and revved it,
thinking the reverse-spinning wheels would slow our
descent faster than just braking. Not a good idea, it
broke the rear wheels loose and we spun our way across
US41...good thing there were no logging trucks passing

Always glad to see the Monday newsletter, keep it
coming! Hope the snow keeps up too, t'would be a
banner year if it does...and lots more "character
building" for that 12-year-old snow remover of

E-mail from Jay Heffelbower (Jay.Heffelbower at

Hello Dean,

The last winter I was in Alaska (military) I put
studded tires on the rear of my 84 Olds Cutlass. With
some additional weight from pea stone in the trunk I
could easily take a car off the line without studs
(front wheel drive included). It made a huge
difference. I should have had them on front and back
then steering would have improved as well as

The military used chains and limited convoy speed to
25 mph when chains were on the vehicles. This made for
a very slow, noisy, and rough ride home from up state
(6-8 hours without chains at 45 mph). I can't imagine
it was good on the vehicle with all the vibration from
the chains on the tires.

When I was at Tech (92-94) the post office had rubber
straps (similar to chains) on the tires of the mail
delivery trucks. I looked into a pair but the were
very costly for a student ($200-300). I avoided the
big hills in Houghton and Hancock and drove fast to
get my rear wheel drive up the hills to the upper
Daniell Heights Apartments. Speed made up for the lack
of traction, but too much could cause one to lose
control. It seems to require a lot of praying and some
luck at times to get around in the nasty weather in
the winter.

E-mail from Cliff Frenn '56 (CAFrenn at

I used tire chains on my old Ford during the winters
of 54-55 and 55-56. It made getting to the top of the
Seventh Street hill a lot easier.

E-mail from Kevin Jarchow (kj2602 at


I never used tire chains while at Tech from 78-82.
This in spite of the fact that Tech was shut down for
snow one of those years (I'm thinking it was 78) and
the 396 some odd incredibly deep inches of snow we
had in 78-79.

I did find a plug-in radiator heater to be very
valuable in my 72 Olds 88 though. Somehow made the
trip to Al's Halfway a bit more enjoyable since the
car got reasonably warm before getting there.

E-mail from Tom Cieslinski '63 (tomciesl at

Can't help but getting in my story on chains, even
though I never had a car on the Tech campus. My
senior year roommates had cars but during the darkest
of winter days we usually walked to campus (about 1/2
mile) rather than ride. I rode with a roommate to
classes one day who did a complete 360 on the main
drag near the Union. He dropped me off, turned
around and headed back to our house, vowing to never
take his car out on these roads again. He did not
have chains.

I purchased chains for my first car at my first job in
the Soo but can't remember using them much. My second
car was a 1965 Mustang that was absolutely useless in
snow. Chains were used on that vehicle frequently. I
vividly recall an after Christmas break trip from
Michigan to Utah State University where we encountered
a state highway in Wyoming that was pure packed snow
and ice. The Highway Department had posted a sign
warning about not proceeding without chains. We got
out and put those chains on (rather than spending our
meager funds for a motel room), and drove over 100
miles well into Utah before taking them off. Needless
to say they did a number on the wheel wells, but none
of the links came off, perhaps due to my maximum speed
of 30 mph for that 100 miles. I also used those
chains frequently on the mountain roads of Utah.

I never used those chains on my cars in New Jersey,
but did use them often to help neighbors out of ice
slicks and snow drifts. Upon moving to Maine I
graduated to rear studded snow tires. Carried them
around all winter in the wagon, stopping to change
rear tires when encountering a snow storm. That's when
I had a good jack and knew how to use it.

Today, nothing can beat the all wheel drive vehicle
with all weather tires. Haven't purchased snow tires
in years, but still have those chains in the garage.
Never know when they might come in handy.

E-mail from Tony Farrell (tonyfarrell at


I came across the Michigan law forbidding the use of
tire chains as I needed to conduct engineering tests
while developing new automotive products.

As many may know, new NHTSA regulations require tire
pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) on vehicles
beginning with the 2004 MY. Officially by November
2006 100% of vehicles (except those exempted by NHTSA)
sold in the US must have an automatic means of
notifying the driver if one of their tires is
"significantly under-inflated". This was part of the
T.R.E.A.D. Act passed by Congress in 2000 in response
to the Ford-Firestone situation. (Imagine the
challenge to get a room full of engineers to define
what is meant by "significantly under-inflated" !)

Many TPMS solutions on the market will utilize Radio
Frequency (RF) transmitters (mini-radio stations)
installed inside your tires. Many solutions have
these transmitters part of the valve stem assembly.
(Think of that the next time you have new tires put on
and they charge you for new valve stems because they
destroy the old ones to get the tire off quicker.)
Well as all Tech EE grads know, metal enclosures make
great shields for RF transmissions. Shields can keep
the desired transmitted signal from inside your tires
from getting to the receiver which resides elsewhere
in/on your vehicle. Well, steel belted radials (let
alone those run flat tires) can form some degree of
shielding as can tire chains. Which meant when I was
working on the development of TPMS products for an
automotive supplier in Michigan it made it difficult
to test with tire chains since Michigan law forbids
the use of tire chains on highways.

Anyhow, looking forward to stories about your
"woodbecking" of new valve stems!

E-mail from Robert Frank (robert.frank at

I graduated in 1965 and every winter I would go
over to a tire store in Hancock, (I don't remember the
name but it was in the second block of Quincy Street
on the right, I went around to the back of the store
for tire service). They made a "sawdust recap snow
tire" that did a great job for traction in the snow.
As the tire wore down the sawdust would be exposed and
fall out leaving a pocket to grip the snow. It worked
good getting up the hills during the winter but when I
would drive them on the dry pavement going downstate
the tread wore down in a hurry. I do not remember
seeing any tire chains in use during my time there.

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

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Here are the new e-mail addresses from the past week. Please note, we are
using the word "at" instead of the at sign to guard against spambots.

1959 Theodore Schuurmans tschuurm at
1974 Steven Fitzgerald scfitzge at
1980 Scott Zang zang at
1984 Thomas Kotlarek tkandck at
1985 Peggy Barchi (Perkins) peg_barchi at
1989 Michael Benson mike_benson at
1991 Robert Douglass
roblisadouglass at
1993 Eric Fredrickson emfredri at
1997 Shannon Whiton
shannonwhiton at
1997 Jennifer Bigelow (Felmlee)
jenniferbigelow at
2000 Todd Werner tswerner at
2001 James Stanchina beaks at
2003 Ryan Smyth hikingsmyth at

You can update your information at:

Alumni Association Programs

CHAPTER EVENTS: For more information on alumni chapter events,
e-mail mtu_alumni at or see the alumni chapter site on the web.

Job Opportunities This Week

ON CAMPUS: Complete job descriptions for these positions are available by e-mailing jobs at

  • no new postings

OFF CAMPUS: For complete descriptions, jump to our jobs web site.

  • Asst. professor, forestry\
  • Asst. professor, fisheries, wildlife, bio
  • Asst. professor, forestry
  • Civil eng, surveying, CAD

See you next week

TechAlum is a weekly electronic newsletter published by the Michigan Tech Alumni Association. For more information, contact Dean Woodbeck at techalum at