TechAlum News

October 11, 2004 (Vol. 11, No. 22)

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

     I'm going to tell a little story about a boat here. This story could be construed to include an element of Woodbecking (although, IMHO, it does not). However, this is a friend's boat and he reads this newsletter. So I want to be clear right up front. THE BOAT IS FINE.

The boat belongs to some folks who have a summer place on the lake here in Hancock. They spend three or four weeks here each summer and we keep an eye on their place and Jay mows the lawn. They are gracious enough to allow us to use their boat. And they still might be after hearing this story.

This is the time of year for all good boats to find their way to a marina for winterizing and then tuck themselves into their cozy winter homes. Saturday was gorgeous, although cool (high of 56) and, just as the TechAlum Colorologist predicted, the colors were at their peak. It was a perfect day to enable the boat in its search for winter peace.

The plan was set: drop Jay off to mow the lawn, Jan drives the car and trailer, and Dean takes the short boat ride to the Lily Pond public access. It worked like clockwork and I backed the car and trailer down the boat ramp and darn near drove the boat right into place--piece of cake.

That is, of course, when Murphy's Law took over. The trailer has this crank with a rope wound up. On the end of the rope is a hook that attaches to the boat. Using the crank, you can let out the rope, attach the hook to the boat, then draw the boat right tight to the trailer (an essential element if you plan to drive 50 mph to the marina).

Planning ahead, I had worn both shorts and sandals, so I stepped into the water and my feet and ankles were immediately anesthetized. As I went to feed the rope out of the crank, it would move about two inches, then stop. Somehow the rope had become twisted, or perhaps wet and swollen at some point, and it wasn't moving.

With no screwdriver on hand, I used a key (*not* my car key) to try and free the rope. Then, I took the tire iron out of the trunk and tried using that for some leverage. I got plenty of leverage, but made no progress on freeing the rope.

This sounds simple as I tell the story here, but you need to realize this took 45 minutes of me grunting and groaning and pulling and torquing while standing in the water (funny--I did a spell check on "torquing" and up popped "torturing"). Ten minutes into the procedure, my wife suggested an alternate course of action: drive the boat back to the dock and take the trailer to the marina, getting them to free the rope.

That, of course, did not meet the Guy Standard of solving the problem yourself no matter the time or energy required and ignoring the potential futility of the situation.

Her solution is, of course, exactly what we *eventually* did. We arrived at the marina one minute before closing time. Their fix was relatively simple, but I had already blown any chance of completing the project that day.

The good news? I actually have the feeling in my feet and ankles back this morning.

COLOROLOGIST REPORT: Just as predicted last week, color peaked on Saturday. The weekend was gorgeous. Today is beautiful. Tomorrow will be lovely. The Colorologist has thus pulled up stakes and headed south. Every year at this time, he heads to one of his secret winter hideouts. This year, I believe, he may head back to Atlanta, as the Atlantic remains active and he can make a few more greenbacks as the Weather Channel's color consultant.

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

NANO RESEARCH EARNS NASA GRANT: Greg Odegard, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has received a $255,000 grant from NASA. His work in developing computer models for tiny materials could result in stronger, lighter aircraft. Odegard creates these models to predict the strength of nanomaterials. One nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter. More:

CAREER DAY BIG SUCCESS: Tech's annual career day attracted almost 150 companies last week, a 15 percent increase over the year before. Company representatives filled Gates Tennis Center and the varsity basketball arena. More than 3,000 Michigan Tech students and alumni attended.

BOARD TO OFFER MROZ TWO-YEAR CONTRACT: The Board of Control voted unanimously Oct. 7 to negotiate a two-year contract with Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz. The board also announced it has narrowed the group of search firms to assist in its national search for a new president.

The board also voted to waive the $40 application fee for prospective students who apply to Michigan Tech online or use "smart applications," which are filled out by computer and mailed to prospective students.

MICHIGAN TECH RECEIVES TWO EDUCATION GRANTS: Michigan Tech educators have received two $183,000 grants to fund two innovative teacher education institutes. The grants were awarded by the Michigan Department of Education and will support the Educators' Science and Mathematics Institutes Series, which will be directed by Educational Opportunity and the Department of Education.

BASH AT THE BIG HOUSE UPDATE: The stage is being set for the Bash at the Big House, where Michigan Tech and Grand Valley State will clash at Michigan Stadium on November 6 in an attempt to break the NCAA Division II attendance record of 61,143. The game is less than four weeks away.

The #17 Huskies and #1 Lakers both remained undefeated with home victories last Saturday (Oct. 9). Three games stand between each team and the Bash, and that stretch will include tough tests for both squads. Michigan Tech (6-0) hosts #12 and unbeaten Northwood in the biggest game ever at Sherman Field on the Michigan Tech campus Saturday (Oct. 16). At the same time, GVSU (6-0) hits the road for a showdown at #13 Saginaw Valley State.

Fans are encouraged to get their tickets for the Bash at the Big House in advance through the web site:

Michigan Tech is also hosting the Michigan YES (Youth Engineering Science) Expo for high school students in Crisler Arena that Saturday. For information on the Expo, and how you can help, see

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

Around Town

FORMER RED CROSS EXEC FACES FED TRIAL: Just four days before her trial was to begin for forging a check, the former executive director of the Western U.P. Red Cross chapter pleaded no contest to the charge in Houghton County Circuit Court. Kimberly Sue Smith, 45, still faces federal charges, with a trial to take place in Marquette later this fall.

NEW QUEEN ON THE WATERS: Isle Royale visitors traveling from Copper Harbor will find a longer, wider ship, capable of making the trip in just three hours. The Isle Royale Queen IV will replace the Queen III on daily trips to the island next summer.

From the E-mailbag

E-mail from Wendy Kopera '90 (wkopera(at)


I hate to disagree with you (and believe me, it
happens infrequently enough) but I must take issue
with your statement, "Most take the sensible and
polite approach of forming one lane of traffic well
ahead of the barriers."

While this might be a polite way of doing things, it
isn't the most sensible or safe. If everyone would
merge *at the point of the lane closure*, politely
alternating a car from each lane, then everyone would
get into the single lane in the proper order - no
temptation for speedy drivers, no opportunity for
rudeness, less likelihood for accidents or road rage.

I am often more upset by the folks that move over
early, thereby allowing a big open lane for the "rude"
people to take advantage of, than I am with the rude
people who take advantage of it. Half of those that
move over attempt to close the lane off by straddling
only to have the rude ones skirt around them anyway.
It's all very frustrating and unsafe, no matter which
option I choose.

E-mail from Mark Turpin '76 (mturpin(at)


My wife and I enjoy your weekly letter, and she didn't
even attend Michigan Tech - she learned about the Copper Country
while working summer jobs near her favorite TOOT (me).
Now she often beats me to your newsletter on Monday.
Her favorite food in the world is strawberries and she
declares that the strawberries up there are the best!

FYI - we ran into a fellow Alum wearing a Michigan
Tech sweatshirt on a back street of Paris this summer.
We enjoyed a quick exchange about majors, attendance
dates and experiences.

Now, about merging from two lanes to one. Here in
the land of "Minnesota Nice" we used to debate that
issue from time to time. MNDOT did a study and found
that - surprise - both sides are right! Read about
the study here:

I traveled highway 10 during the test a few times, and
the signs are important - one saying to "use both
lanes" all the way to the choke point, and then a
"merge here" sign at the point of lane closure.
Everyone gets through the congestion in the same
amount of time with no swerving and hand gestures.
This still assumes that people are willing to take
turns, but given the instruction signs, everyone knows
what is expected.

Now don't be so hard on those Tech students, some may
just be from Minnesota!

E-mail from Mark Austin (msaustin(at)

Apparently you haven't spent much time in the Chicago
area (if not, consider yourself extremely lucky). It
is an every day occurrence around here that annoys the
living krap out of me. Do any of the offending
vehicles have Illinois plates???

E-mail from Skip Thomasser '78 (Googy2(at)

I'm sorry to disagree with you regarding proper
traffic merge procedure. With the constant roadway
construction down here in Florida, in the attempt to
keep up with the increasing traffic, we have our share
of merge lanes. It is my belief that two shorter
lines are better than the one long line, which opens
up the possibility for someone to drive to the front,
ticking everyone off who merged way to soon. Why do
you think they make that merge lane as long as they
do? You can just as easily alternate car merge-ins at
the end of the lane as easily as you can 30 - 40 cars

E-mail from Pete Dohms '67 (pdohms(at)

Dean: In response to your link and story, I looked at
the image of the lead and silicone prizewinning image
(Oct. 4 TechAlum newsletter). The colors and patterns
of the image reminded me of a story I heard over 35
years ago when I was taking Optical Mineralogy from
Professor Dobell. Somebody held a contest for the most
artistic and beautiful scientific photograph. An
entry was made showing a rock thin section in the
petrographic microscope under crossed nichols, with
the quartz wedge inserted into the microscope. The
resulting intense pastel colors were richly startling.
The entry, unfortunately, was rejected by the contest
sponsors because "no such colors could possibly exist
in nature."

E-mail from Elaine (piziks) Pruis '94 (elainepruis(at)

Hi Dean,

Thanks for the great newsletter, your stories bring me
right back to Tech. As did the Michigan Tech tee-shirt I
spotted on a nice looking young man at the Norreport
train station in Central Copenhagen (Denmark) last
week. It was wonderful to see someone that I had
something in common with. Unfortunately I was rushing
to the Metro and couldn't stop to ask his
major, favorite prof story, beer preference, etc.
Cheers from DK

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

We're at 7,054 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.

1963 Peter Korelich pakorelich(at)

1972 Robert Buchheister buchheister(at)
1973 Michael Alder mail4malder(at)
1975 Norman Dollhopf dollhopf(at)

1982 Jeffrey Larson larsonja(at)
1984 Scott Andrzejewski wstrees2(at)
1985 Gary Nitz gdnitz(at)
1985 Cary Keller kellerc(at)

1992 Kirt Kelley wolfpack2(at)
1993 Karla Korpela kokorpela(at)
1995 Deborah Zwitter kayakdeb(at)
1997 Scott Gischia scott(at)
1998 Carrie Modreski (Chisholm) cmmod(at)
1999 Marc Greca mgreca(at)

2001 Bradd Ripley beripley(at)
2001 Quinton Krueger qjkruege(at)
2001 Aaron Laakonen aaron_laakonen(at)
2001 Viki DeMars (Sauvola) demars(at)
2001 Adream Thompson mzhuggable(at)
2001 Michelle Lynn Vandervort (Ensign) mlensign(at)
2003 Bradley Larsh larshb(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.


23 -- Maryland/DC Alumni Chapter 2004 Pasty Picnic. More: or contact Pat Kilroy at pat(at) RSVP by Oct. 9

23 -- West Michigan Chapter Michigan Tech vs. Ferris State football in Big Rapids. For more information, see Contact Mike Dejonge at Michael.dejonge(at) RSVP by Oct. 15

23 -- Chicago Chapter Michigan Tech vs. Wisconsin in hockey at the
Kohl Center in Madison. See
Contact Jill Meister (jill.meister(at) Deadline October 15.


6 -- Bash at the Big House, football vs. Grand Valley
at Michigan stadium (

20 -- Michigan Tech at Colorado College hockey and alumni event.


29-30 Great Lakes Invitational hockey and alumni event
(Michigan Tech vs. Michigan on the 29th at 4:30).


8 Michigan Tech at Denver hockey and alumni event.
18 Michigan Tech vs. Notre Dame hockey and alumni event at Green Bay Resch Center.
22 Michigan Tech at Minnesota hockey and alumni event.

5 Michigan Tech at Grand Valley basketball and alumni event.
9-13 Winter Carnival
26 Michigan Tech at Alaska-Anchorage hockey and alumni event.

Job Opportunities This Week

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

  • Technology Specialist--Educational Technology Services (Temporary, full-time, one-year position, with possibility of extension)
  • Systems Administrator--Systems Administration Services Group (SAS)
OFF CAMPUS: For off-campus positions, visit the alumni section of the career center's web site (
  • Business Analyst
  • Supplier Particle Scientist
  • Supplier Quality Engineer
  • Electrical Project Engr.
  • Entry Level Environmental Engr.
  • Production Supervisor
  • Maintenance Supervisor
  • Manager Internal Audit
  • Applications Engr.

See you next week