TechAlum News

June 28, 2004 (Vol. 11, No. 8)

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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

It has been awhile since I've had a Woodbecking story. Since we run a quality operation around here, I'm always thinking of my commitment to my customers. Somehow my desire to collect new material also involves finding ways to remind myself that I'm not as young as I used to be.

So there I was on the mountain bike single track at the Michigan Tech trails. After a warm-up on a relatively flat and fast loop, my son said, "Have you done the technical time trial course?" I had not, but soon would.

A technical time trial involves riding a narrow single track through the woods at high speeds. At times, the space between trees is just a little wider than the width of the handlebars. The loop has some banked curves and minor jumps, as well as a series of man-made obstacles and "stunts," which I avoid.

Some minor jumps and obstacles seemed pretty tame, like a log, anchored at both ends, with the top shaved off to make it flat. "Ah heck," I thought. "What could happen if I try that?"

The bike will follow your eyes, I'm told; the key is to keep your eyes focused forward. I made the mistake of looking down and, at the same time, pulling slightly to the left. This caused my front wheel to fall off the log, which had the unfortunate side effect of a sudden stop, sending me over the handlebars and nose-first into a pile of brush.

Hearing my scream, my son ran back and extricated me from my bike (my bike and I had somehow changed positions, with the bike on top and intertwined with my legs). We managed to stop the facial bleeding, confirmed that all bones seemed intact, and discussed what a really good idea it is that we wear helmets.

Anything for a teachable moment.

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

BOARD APPROVES BUDGET, NEW PROGRAMS: The Michigan Tech Board of Control approved a balanced budget for the 2004-05 fiscal year. The board also approved seven new degree programs and heard that, after a several-year hiatus, the Master of Science in Business Administration will begin enrolling students this fall.
Michigan resident undergraduate tuition will increase just 2.3 percent to $232.60. Tuition for non-Michigan undergraduates will increase 2.5 percent to $605 per credit hour. More:

CAREER CENTER LOOKS FOR CONTACTS: Michigan Tech's University Career Center is looking to expand its list of on-campus recruiters. If you know of a company (and contact person) that would be a good fit with Tech, please go to There is information about Career Day at

OPPLIGER NAMED TO SERVICE AWARD: For lecturer Doug Oppliger '83 (Engineering Fundamentals), coming to work every day is about much more than what goes on in a classroom or in the lab. The recipient of this year’s faculty distinguished service award is deeply involved in several university programs, including FIRST Robotics, the FIRST Lego League and the resurrection of the Tech Nordic ski team and trails. More:

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

Around Town

FIRE DAMAGES ANTHONY STREET COMPLEX; A Friday morning fire destroyed one apartment and damaged others in one building of the Anthony Street Apartments (formerly known as the DeMott Apartments) in Hancock. The fire began shortly after 10 a.m. Friday in a basement apartment. No one was hurt.

BLAZE DESTROYS WHITE HOUSE: A fire destroyed the White House Inn in Mohawk this week, despite the efforts of six local fire departments. Only the south wall was left standing after a blaze that started in a trailer behind the building at about 2:30 am. No-one was injured.

Both the Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw and Houghton-Portage Township school districts named new superintendents this week. CLK named Darryl "Tiger" Pierce '86, the district's business manager for a number of years. Houghton selected Bill Polkinghorn, the district's former elementary, then middle school principal.

BEARS COME TO TOWN: A number of bear sightings have spiced up the lives of Houghton residents in the last couple of weeks. Bears have made appearances in both east Houghton and west Houghton in the past several weeks. Michigan DNR officials say the four-county area has a relatively high population density--about one bear per square mile--increasing the likelihood for bear-human encounters. The visitors have particularly liked bird feeders and outdoor grills.

The Michigan Tech SmartZone's first business incubator generated a small profit during its first year of operation. Chief Executive Officer Alan West said the powerhouse, located at the south end of the lift bridge, generated a $234 profit on revenue of $16,739. The SmartZone--a joint operation of Houghton, Hancock and Michigan Tech--is also developing an incubator in the old Portage Hospital building in Hancock and will have space in Michigan Tech's new Advanced Technology and Design Center, due to open later this year.

From the E-mailbag

E-mail from Jennifer (Arnold) Plumley '94 (jennifer.plumley(at)

Hi Dean,

My husband and I were on campus this past week as part
of our Lake Superior boating tour. We trailered our
boat from Midland to Munising, toured the Pictured
Rocks, then headed over to Marquette, Big Bay, and on
around the Keweenaw for a spectacular week of boating
on Lake Superior.

We stopped in Houghton/Hancock on Tuesday and
Wednesday. I gave my husband a tour of the local area
and campus, including all the places I used to live,
watering holes I frequented (they even let us bring
the dog into the B&B while we sampled pickled eggs and
a few brews), the ChemMet where it felt like I lived
for four years, etc.

On the topic of marina facilities in Eagle Harbor, I
see what the DNR means by 'trimmed services'. We
stopped in Eagle Harbor early Tuesday morning on our
way from Copper Harbor to Houghton and the 'marina'
was pretty remote. We would have liked to get a warm
cup of coffee for the rest our trip down to the
Portage canal on the very cold western side of the
Keweenaw, but it would have been about a two-mile hike
to the town for coffee. If they do decide to upgrade
the facility, I would suggest a better location so
boaters can dock near town. But, it was beautiful and
we snapped a few pictures of the lighthouse and were
on our way. We eventually got that cup of coffee in
Hancock where they have excellent boating facilities
and friendly staff.

E-mail from Kurt Westphal '85 (Kurt.G.Westphal(at)

Great newsletter this week. Hit two big items from my
time at Tech.

1) I was one of the student tour guides during my
Junior and Senior years. I actually spent my senior
summer of '85 as the lone tour guide on campus
covering the twice daily walks through campus and
stuffing envelopes with information about Michigan
Tech's various programs for students around the state
and country. Giving tours to the high school students
and their families was a lot of fun and gave me an
appreciation for Michigan Tech. The long running
history and local cultural influences blend to make
Tech a real gem.

2) I was also the president of the Copper Country
Cycling Club during 1983-85. I can vouch for Rob
Laybourn about the bicycle tour up the Keweenaw
Peninsula. The event timing is set-up to hit the
color near peak, but still early enough to hope for
reasonable weather. I had a great time organizing the
ride in '83 and '84. During my summer of '85, I rode
the route painting the route markers on the roads out
to Copper Harbor. Fortunately, I was only stopped once
by the Michigan State Police. They did not buy my
story about a bicycle tour starting at Tech and making
it out to Gay then up through Mandan to Copper Harbor.
A warning not to paint on the highway and I was
released. A few miles down the road I continued my
task. I could not afford the effort or time to ride
all the way back to Copper Harbor to paint the markers
another time. Convince Jay to ride the 100K route
and tell him it is great training for the ski legs.

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.

1970 Steven Gallaway upisteveg(at)
1974 Michael Crampton cramps1(at)
1977 Robert Smith rsmith4(at)
1979 Dale Luck d.luck(at)
1983 Thomas Baribeau tbaribeau(at)
1984 Heidi Pfosch heidipfosch(at)
1985 Linda Sawyer (Gast) 2vegas(at)
1987 Thomas Lindley tlindley(at)
1989 James Adamski jadamsk2(at)
1991 John Bessonen johnbessonen(at)
1996 Rebecca Mehregan (Steele) rmehregan(at)
1998 Vaughn Gerber vgerber1022(at)
2001 Mark Nyholm markcnyholm(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.


16 -- Mid-Michigan Golf Outing -- Sawmill Golf Club
Contact the alumni office (906-487-2400 or

31 -- West Michigan Chapter -- Whitecaps Baseball Outing
and BBQ Picnic, Fifth Third Park. Contact John
Gutierrez (techies(at)

5 -7 -- Alumni Reunion--Houghton

Job Opportunities This Week

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

  • Civil Engineering academic advisor

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

  • Civil engineer/EIT
  • Mechanical drafter/designer
  • Controls engineer (VB/PLC)

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