TechAlum News

October 18, 2004 (Vol. 11, No. 23)

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

     As I look out at the back yard this morning, I see a yard covered in leaves that are, in turn, covered with a thin layer of snow. Despite my wishes, the snow will melt and I will still have to rake the leaves this fall.

     We had strong winds all weekend, which usually takes care of the whole leaf raking thing for me. Rain and wet snow came with the wind, however, soaking the leaves and preventing them from taking flight.

     While we had some flurries in the air a week or so ago, this was the first real snow. It stayed on the ground all weekend and our yard is still covered, although the 40s predicted for today, rain tomorrow, and 50s by Wednesday will take care of that.

     The first snow still causes a rush of excitement. I remember running outside, in my younger years, trying to catch the snowflakes on my tongue. Even now, I have the urge to go outside and spin around in a circle, letting the wet flakes cling to my hat and arms.

     Jay takes it one step farther. He put on shorts, no shirt, and his winter cap and took the first sled ride of the season in the back yard, shouting, "hurry up, Dad, I'm only going to do this a couple of times." Sadly, I did not join him.

     We had a bonus with this year's first real snow: high winds. That allowed a pleasure combo pack: a trip to McLain to watch the 15-foot waves crash into the breakwall, with little tiny darts of snow and sleet stinging your face. It was an exhilarating experience, both physically and mentally.

     Now comes the second wave of feelings after the first snow: the realization that many spring chores became summer chores, then became fall chores and still need to be completed. The garage needs cleaning. The summer implements of destruction need to find their way into storage, replaced by snow shovels, scoops and skis.

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 UNDERGRAD FEATURED IN FORTUNE: Mechanical engineering senior Sam Barros, who earned local notoriety for appearances on Junkyard Megawars and Discovery Canada (which nicknamed him Plasmaboy), is among a handful of electricity enthusiasts profiled in the Oct. 14 edition of Fortune magazine. "Lightening Bugs," by Ivan Amato, chronicles the exploits of "high-voltage hobbyists" and describes Barros's first experience with household current, in which he bent a wire and stuck both ends in an electric socket. The story notes that Michigan Tech has given Barros access to lab space, where he works on his projects. You can read more about it here.

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

Around Town

CALUMET PLANT TO CLOSE: A 45-employee factory in Calumet will close in two years to be replaced by a new plant built in Mexico by its parent company. Cuda Cleaning Systems will close its doors in December 2006. Cuda's parent, C-Tech Industries, is North America's largest manufacturer of industrial pressure washers. The Calumet plant makes parts for the washers.

PROJECT TO FUND SCHOOL WEB: The Copper Country Intermediate School District has received a grant to move forward with Project TEaCH (The Educator Communications Hub). TEaCH consists of programs allowing teachers to easily create classroom web pages. With the program, teachers can put such things as classroom rules, a syllabus, contact information for parents, the school calendar, and exam schedules.

From the E-mailbag

E-mail from Jim Rathbun '81 (jim.rathbun(at)

Hi Dean,

It's funny the get-in-the-long-line-before-the-merge
topic comes up when I am in Guangzhou, China on
business. I've been told that there are no rules for
driving in China, just suggestions. It is pretty much
a free-for-all with trucks, cars, motor-scooters,
bikes and pedestrians. Amazingly, in the week I have
been here I have not seen any accidents, and there are
very few cars with body damage (way less then in a
major US city).

I think they have the answer for merging "go left, go
right, go where ever, just get to the front, squeeze
in, even make your own lane if there's enough room."
It really works to zoom through a squeeze point.
Nobody cares if a car sneaks ahead of them and
everyone is happy!

I'll be wearing my Michigan Tech Shirt on the way home
- just like others have suggested on the emails...

E-mail from Lloyd Kaufman (lmkaufman(at)

I enjoyed reading the sorry attempt at justification
for "lane skipping" at the merge point from some of
the fellow alumni in this week’s newsletter. However,
I will continue to issue finger gestures and run the
lane "stopper" for those who continue to do so.
Sorry, but it still is rude to those of us who saw the
merge sign a mile back, and get backed up a half mile
back in the "correct lane" while the BMWs and Jettas
go screaming by (most likely with a cell phone painted
to the ear). Maybe in a perfect world we both arrive
at the merge point at the same time--but not in
Detroit. Take care.

E-mail from Gail Richter '61 (richter2(at)


We just got back from a trip to the Maritime Provinces
of Canada. In some places there were huge "YIELD"
signs painted on some of the lanes, so there was no
question of who should yield to whom. I thought it
was a very good idea. If you have a CB on in the car
you can sometimes hear the truckers conspire to block
out those cars that try to squeeze ahead of everyone.

E-mail from daven(at)

Hey Dean -

A little boat ramp trick, if the ramp is deep enough
typically you can drive the boat up onto the trailer
using the boat's power. Saves a lot of cranking.
Then if you're careful, you could hook the winch rope
to the front eye of the winch, set the winch to
freewheel, and gently put it into reverse and use the
boat to free the rope. But you have to be
careful....that's asking for a good woodbecking if you
screw up!

E-mail from Ray Tabar '70 (RTabar(at)

You will likely hear this from a few hundred other
people, but I would have pulled the trailer out of the
water before working on the winch. Then I would
invest $10 in a winch strap and throw away the rope to
prevent this from happening again.

E-mail from Don Hetrick (dhetrick1844(at)

When I went to tech the letter head on all the
stationary changed 3-4 times. 1963-67. Can you refresh
my memory as to those names?

Dean sez: Yes I can. Between 1962 and 1965, Tech went from the
Michigan College of Mining and Technology to the short-lived Michigan
College of Science and Technology to Michigan Technological University.

E-mail from Dave Strong (drstrong(at)


A true story surfaced this week that will bring a
smile to your face.

An Michigan Tech employee, who shall remain nameless, was
Performing the task of toilet replacement in his home,
unaided, of course, by a professional. A trip to the
local hardware store secured the needed supplies, as
well as a glimpse of a sign warning that plumbing jobs
usually require more than one trip to the hardware

The old toilet was carefully removed, and the drain
was temporarily sealed with a rag, preventing tools
from being dropped in and keeping potentially
dangerous sewer gases from seeping into the house. The
wax seal was carefully applied to the new bowl and the
new unit was installed and connected. Now for the test
flush. Hey, why is the water flowing over the bowl and
onto the floor?

Since it's Sunday, and there is only one hardware
store open in the Copper Country, he's sheepishly back
there buying another wax seal because the other one
didn't survive the removal of the toilet to retrieve
the offending "temporary" drain sealer. The sign did
prove to be prophetic. So you've got company in the
"woodbecking" department.

E-mail from Marty Vonk '74 (martinvonk(at)


As an engineer it's embarrassing but I frequently
relate to your stories. And added one of my own last

Our ice-making refrigerator had developed a minor leak
on the copper connection. I carefully engineered the
project and turned a drop or two an hour into a flood
impacting two floors. The hole running the copper
water line to the refrigerator was immediately above a
shelf full of my wife's valued stuff in the lower
level. There are other nouns than stuff but to
protect myself I'll leave it at that.

The shutoff valve was immediately under the hole and
allowed my daily shower as well. And I didn't even get
to use any power tools.

E-mail from Kurt Paterson (paterson(at)


Regarding the alumni survey mailed last week: 725 were
returned within 6 hours, 1250 by Sunday. 18 percent
response rate on a very personal subject is fantastic.
Goes to show the great alumni we have. I will send a
follow-up email with this info and eventually a
summary report when it is available (to download from
my website). Many of the alum were curious about the
findings, so I will make it available to them as a way
of saying thanks. Will probably be sometime in
November, and I will let you know. Thanks again, Dean.

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

We're at 7,053 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.

1958 Ronald James Basso k3ro(at)

1964 David Gaylord DAVIDEG(at)LOCALNET.COM
1969 Daniel Rellis danpen(at)

1974 Paul Just pljust(at)
1979 Chester Kalinowski chetsle(at)

1985 James Fuhrman jfuhrman1(at)
1986 James Adams james.m2.adams(at)
1988 Jeffrey Cummings jeffcummings2004(at)
1989 Mary Cattani (Kostka) mcattani(at)

1993 Gerald Nowak scooternowak(at)
1994 Timothy Thede timthede(at)
1995 Brook Babcock brookbabcock(at)
1995 Sandra Michels (Assenmacher) michels(at)
1996 Cristin Hall (Reichhardt) Cristin_K_Hall(at)
1996 David Wilson DSWCanuck(at)
1997 John Richmond richmondjl(at)
1997 Robert Wehner robertwehner(at)
1997 Jessica Poirier (Gagnon) jjpoir(at)

2001 Wade Wollermann wwollermann(at)
2001 Cliff Williams cliffrock(at)
2001 Jeffrey Leismer jeffleismer(at)
2002 Jessica Heiser jaheisermtu(at)
2002 Erica Noelke erica_noelke(at)
2002 Gail Hansen gail.a.hansen1(at)
2003 Casey Ries cwries19(at)
2003 Nathan Kapa njkapa(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

  • Assistant Professor/Philosophy--Humanities
  • Assistant Professor/Technical Communication--Humanities
  • Assistant Professor/Computer Network and Systems Administration--School of Technology
  • Assistant Professor/Electrical Engineering Technology--School of Technology
OFF CAMPUS: For off-campus positions, visit the alumni section of the career center's web site (
  • Field Service--Engine Technician
  • Materials Engr.
  • Design Supervisor
  • Factory Service-Technical Support Specialist
  • Water Resources Engr.
  • Project Manager
  • Technical Writer
  • Software Engr.

See you next week