TechAlum News

June 7, 2004 (Vol. 11, No. 5)

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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

Spring has slowly made its way to the Keweenaw and we expect a day or two of summer this year, too. The trees have just recently come into full bloom and residents can even have windows and doors open for parts of the day (without getting too chilly).

Sunday was just about perfect, with temperatures in the mid-60s, blue skies and gentle breezes. Unless you were out at the south entry (on Keweenaw Bay), where it was cold and foggy. That's one of the joys of our little mini-climate.

I took full advantage of the great day by doing projects in the basement and going to the mall. Unfortunately, the number of stores at the Copper Country Mall continues to decline, so the pickings are slim. The closing of the K-Mart a couple of years ago dramatically decreased the mall's traffic and now, it seems, most folks go there just to see a movie.

Anyway, about once or twice a year, my son and I overcome our mall-o-phobia and make a trip for things like soccer shoes and dress shirts and other items. Conversations tend to go like this:

"Geez, Jay, I really hate going to the mall."

"Me, too, Dad."

"Jay, don't you hate going to the mall."

"Yes I do, Dad."

"Jay, how do you like this belt?"

"If you wanted a fashion consultant, Dad, you should have brought Laura."

And on and on.

ALUMNI BULLETIN BOARD: Remember the alumni bulletin board for you to use for discussions related to this newsletter, Tech sports, or anything else:

At Da Tech

TECH FUND YEAR-END REMINDER: The end of the Michigan Tech Fund's fiscal year (June) is rapidly approaching. If you plan to make a gift to the Michigan Tech Fund, please consider doing so before that time. Credit card gifts can be phoned in or made through the web site (

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

Around Town

EPA CLEANING UP SMELTER -- An US Environmental Protection Agency crew has started removing drums of waste materials, lab chemicals and asbestos from the Quincy Smelter site in Ripley. The site, now owned by Franklin Township, is being considered for a joint visitor center for Isle Royale National Park and the Keweenaw Historical National Park.

FLIGHT SERVICE GROUNDED: Less than three months after launching, Northstar has discontinued it scheduled flights from the Houghton County airport to the Oakland-Pontiac airport in Oakland County. Owner and Tech alumnus Roger Bentlage said his partner opted not to absorb additional financial risk. He believes the service would have worked out if it was given more time. Bentlage started the service after Northwest Airlines dropped direct service from Hancock to Detroit, with all travelers now going through Minneapolis-St. Paul.

HUNTER'S POINT NEARING GOAL: The fund-raising effort to preserve public access to Hunter’s Point at Keweenaw County is proceeding at a steady pace. Grant Township Supervisor Richard Powers said donors have contributed about $134,000 of the necessary $195,000 since the drive began last July.
Hunter’s Point, a narrow strip of 9.2 acres at the west end of Copper Harbor, includes 4,800 feet of shoreline.

Michigan Department of Transportation officials say they are on schedule to reopen the Portage Lake Lift Bridge interchange before Bridgefest (June 16). Reconstruction of the M-26 and US-41 interchange at the south end of the bridge will reopen, then the M-26 northbound approach ramp will close for reconstruction.

From the E-mailbag

Email from Don Beyer (DBEYER(at)


It is a wonder we made it to the moon with the
technology of the time. I remember the computer in
Fisher Hall in the early to mid 70's, I think it was
an IBM 360 or something, about the size of my garage
and about as much memory as my PDA. All of the Tech
students carrying their boxes of punch cards, waiting
for a key punch machine in Fisher to edit their
program, give it a run and come back tomorrow to see
what your errors looked like. It was Fortran and
Basic, Windows wasn't even a pipe dream. Slide rules
and Nova Log tables. Then the advent of the portable
calculator, HP 45s?

The local DOT has a display case with antique
engineering items including a slide rule, ink pens and
an HP 45.

Makes you wonder what the next 30 years will bring.

Email from Cass Andary (candary(at)


Very recently I had to research some of the
capabilities of the Apollo program on-board computers
for a comparison to today's automobiles. In order to
do that, I tapped Rick Nornholm, another Tech grad for
some help. He came up with the following website:

Its most incredible that they actually landed on the
moon and came back. The lunar module had the same
processor as the command module, and I don’t think
that they were networked. Shown below are some of the
hardware specifics [translated into today's terms –
speed= 36 KILO Hz, Memory= 36 Kilo bytes]. All in a 70
pound package that frequently crashed [some things
don’t seem to change].

Word Length: 15 bits plus parity.
Fixed Memory Registers: 36,864 Words.
Erasable Memory Registers: 2.048 Words.
Number of Normal Instructions: 34.
Number of Involuntary instructions
(Increment, interrupt, etc.): 10.
Number of Interface Circuits: 227.
Memory Cycle time: 11.7 microseconds.
Addition Time: 23.4 microseconds.
Multiplication Time: 46.8 microseconds.
Number of Logic Gates: 5,600 (2,800 packages)
Volume: 0.97 cubic feet.
Weight: 70 pounds.
Power Consumption: 55 watts.

One of the websites I visited [will have to look for
it again] indicated that the computer actually crashed
during the Armstrong-Aldrin descent to the surface. In
the recording, of the descent, you could hear the
alarm and Buzz Aldrin remark that he was going to
reboot. I could be mistaken, but it was something that
stuck in my mind. They had a set number of programs
that they would run and the output was a light that
would go on for a particular result, like "descent too
fast" or "low fuel warning". There was no switching
like microprocessor do now [in your car, for instance,
they control fuel flow, ignition timing, transmission
shifting and instrument panel actions.

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

We're at 6,961 subscribers.

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.

1979 Dorothy Ballard (La Motte) knitwitdjb(at)
1982 Jeffrey Stahl jeffrey_stahl(at)
1984 Albert Cipparone acipparone(at)
1986 Martin Rabideau martin.rabideau(at)
1987 Michael Vrhel michael(at)
1990 Shawn Harrison cswb(at)
1997 Maria Livermore (Campau)
1998 Nicole Minor (Jeanplong) njminor(at)
2004 Siamak Firoozi samfiroozi(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.


12 -- Detroit Chapter Golf Outing, Fox Creek, Livonia
Contact Jerry Philo (jkphilo(at) by May 21.

19 - African-American Alumni Association seventh annual
picnic--Belle Isle, Detroit. (Pavilion #1; noon-6)
Contact Betty Chavis (ythbetty(at)

31 -- West Michigan Chapter -- Whitecaps Baseball Outing
and BBQ Picnic, Fifth Third Park

5 -7 -- Alumni Reunion--Houghton

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.

  • Quality metallurgist
  • Program Manager

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