TechAlum News

December 6, 2004 (Vol. 11, No. 29)

An award-winning weekly electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of Michigan Technological University. Written and distributed by Dean Woodbeck '78, Senior Director of University Communications. For past issues, see our archives.

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

     Have you had those days when you wished you had just stayed in bed? I had a trip like that.

     We headed to the Land of Trolls for Turkey Day, driving out of a beautiful Copper Country day into a snowstorm, creeping at 25 mph from Mt. Pleasant to East Lansing. We must have seen a dozen cars in the ditch. Jay and I took our bikes with us (and we did use them). It must have looked pretty funny--this snow-covered car with snow-covered bikes on the back end.

     The car chose the day after Thanksgiving to not start. People keep telling me the good news--that the non-start happened in my mother-in-law's driveway and not at a rest area somewhere north of Gaylord or somewhere along the Seney Stretch. The best news would have been for it not to start in *my* driveway (well, I guess the best news would be for the distributor to work forever, or at least until after I sell the car).

     We had it towed to a service station in Okemos and they were--good news--working on Friday. However--bad news--their parts suppliers weren't. And they wouldn't get the distributor assembly until Monday, which was the day *after* we planned to leave for home.

     The kids figured they could just skip school for the week and wait for the repairs. But, through some coincidences, we found we could drive my mother-in-law's car back here, then trade back on Thursday in Traverse City.

     The trade worked out fine--particularly for me, since my wife was the one who actually drove to Traverse City and back. Well, most of the way back. She called from Republic--the oil light is flickering. She called from the L'Anse Holiday station--the car won't start. Same symptoms. As I drove to L'Anse to pick her up, I'm figuring bad distributor.

     After racking up a bill to have the car towed to Hancock, I received the diagnosis: bad timing belt, proving once again that timing is everything. Mine was horrible. I was about two weeks late in deciding to sell this beast.

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

RUPPE TO SPEAK AT MIDYEAR COMMENCEMENT: Former congressman Philip Ruppe will address graduates at Midyear Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 11. The university will honor the achievements of more than 400 graduating students, including 295 bachelor's degree candidates and seven graduates receiving associate degrees. Eighteen doctoral degrees will be awarded, as well as 81 master of science degrees and two master of engineering degrees. More:

GREAT LAKES SEPTIC PROBLEMS REPORTED: Kathleen Halvorsen, associate professor in social sciences and forest resources, has released a report showing that septic regulations around the Great Lakes are unevenly enforced. "Septic is the most serious form of decentralized pollution that we have," said Halvorsen. For that to change, according to the report, homeowners and local governments must realize that septic tanks need to be taken just as seriously as sewage treatment plants. More:

PROF RECEIVES $800,000 FROM NSF: Assistant Professor Seyed "Reza" Zekavat (Electrical and Computer Engineering) has received two National Science Foundation grants totaling more than $800,000. With a $350,000 grant, he aims to conduct fundamental research on wireless local positioning systems. With a $462,000 award, he will develop a new multidisciplinary version of the traditional course, "Introduction to Electrical Engineering for Non-Electrical Engineers." More:

BOARD OF CONTROL MEETS FRIDAY: Michigan Tech's Board of Control will meet at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, in the Memorial Union Ballroom. Agenda items include a proposed university legal counsel, new furniture for Douglass Houghton Hall and a closed session for a periodic evaluation of the university president.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRANSFERS UP 9 PERCENT: The number of students transferring to Michigan Tech last year was up about 9 percent, and the majority are from community colleges. Mark Provoast, assistant director for recruitment in Admissions, spearheads the ongoing effort to attract qualified transfer students to the university. He and the admissions staff visit community colleges in Michigan at least once a year, and also cross the border to meet with students in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. More:

1901 PHYSICS FACULTY GET A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD: Michigan Tech's entire physics faculty will be recognized by Guinness World Records in the next edition of its famous book, a mere 103 years after their record-shattering feat. While researching the department's history, physics professor Bryan Suits discovered that four former faculty members, including James Fisher, Nathan Osborne, Elmer Grant and Fred McNair, had built several 4,000-plus feet (1.3 km) pendulums in the old Tamarack Mine shafts near Calumet back in 1901. Suits contacted Guinness and found that their current record pendulum was only 22.5 meters, about 75 feet. More:

MUSHROOMS IN THE MOUNTAINS: Mycologist Dana L. Richter chronicles multitudes of remarkable mushrooms from the Huron Mountains in Michigan Botanist, Vol. 43, No. 2. The research scientist in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, has been surveying mushrooms on the 20,000-acre Huron Mountain Club property for years, concentrating on the 7,000 acres of old growth forest near the south shore of Lake Superior. More:


ORR HONORED BY PEACE CORPS: Blair Orr, an associate professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, has received a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Recognition Award. Orr received Peace Corps's individual award for returned volunteer service for his contributions in creating educational opportunities for returned volunteers. In 1995, Orr developed the first Master's International program at Michigan Tech and is currently the program's coordinator. More:

NEW TENANT IN THE SMARTZONE: SHAFI, Inc., a company developing and implementing 3D vision and robot guidance software, has become the seventh tenant of the Powerhouse incubator in the Michigan Tech SmartZone. The company's headquarters are located in Brighton, but company president and Tech alum Adil Shafi was interested in establishing an office in Houghton to develop stronger ties with Michigan Tech and its students.

TECH FUND END-OF-YEAR REMINDER: The Michigan Tech Fund reminds you that the end of the tax year is fast approaching. If you plan to make a donation to Michigan Tech, this is a good time to do so and take a deduction for 2004. For details, or to make a gift online, go to

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

From the E-mailbag

E-mail from Bob Cunningham '78 (cunningham.42 (at)

Hi Dean

Happy 500th issue! You have done an outstanding job
of bringing a piece of Tech out to the alumni over the
last 10 years.

E-mail from Ken Kamlay '71 (kamlay (at)

Congratulations on # 500. Sara (Spencer) and I really
enjoy this connection to "Da Tech". Living in Kentucky
doesn't lend itself to visiting Houghton very often.

In your last newsletter you talked about the weather
differences before and after Thanksgiving (bare and
sunny before, and snowy after). Wow, how things have
changed. When we were students during the late 60's
the snow began in October and by Thanksgiving we had
more snow than many places got all winter. Sometimes
we wondered if made any sense to go home for
Thanksgiving because of the snowy travel in both
directions. You might think that we're nuts, but we
really miss those days.

E-mail from Dave Howell '83 (david.howell (at)

Although I have not seen all 500, I have been reading
this newsletter within a couple of years since that
time. Thank you for your efforts during that time, I
have enjoyed reading it. It is a good Monday
highlight. :)

E-mail from Rene Bunster '58 (reneob (at)

Thanks very much for this, the 500th, TechAlum, Dean.
I think I have received all 500 and they are always
informative and entertaining. Keep these coming for
another few hundred issues.

E-mail from Jim Spain (jspain.chemskil (at)

Hi Dean,

Just a little feedback. I usually look at the
NEWSLETTER when I want to know the latest information
about sports or some other activity that has just
happened. What I usually find is the minimal
information tucked way down in your newsletter. Why
don't you adopt a newspaper format and put what people
are likely to be interested in right up at the front
with headlines. Like TECH LOSES PLAYOFF GAME TO
DAKOTA! Then explain what the circumstances were.
That what we would like to know. There is no news
that it snowed last week in Houghton!

E-mail from Kevin Britton (kevin.britton (at)

MEN'S BASKETBALL (1-1 overall)
Nov. 20 -- Michigan Tech 55, Christian Brothers 52

Yay! We won! Does this mean we get all their brandy?

E-mail from Tim Jackson (Tim.Jackson (at) TRW.COM)

I can remember coming back from Thanksgiving Break
('86 or '87) and getting 36in snow in 24 hrs. Average
speed from Gaylord to Houghton was 25MPH. State police
blocked the road from Ishpeming on. Ended up staying
the night a local hotel. And of course the hotel had
to reopen the bar for their stranded and parched

Every time we get a dusting of snow here in Detroit, I
remind myself of one of many skills Tech taught me -
How to drive at the threshold traction and slip. I
always grumble to myself as I see some poor MSU grad
white knuckled driving after an inch of snow fall -
"Should have went to Tech buddy (G-rated version)"!

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

Hi Dean,

It used to be that the first quarter ended just before
Christmas when I attended in the late 50's. We would
only get Thursday thru Sunday off for the Thanksgiving
holiday then have to come back for about 3 weeks to
finish up & take exams. It never failed that the first
big storm of the season would hit at the same time as
all the students were heading downstate, or else on
the way back. The first 2 years I found a ride and did
the trek. By the time the 3rd year came around I
decided that it wasn't worth it for the short time.
Besides, I needed the extra time in Black Bart's
Quant lab to keep up, as did a few others. The campus
sure was dead over the holiday weekend. I also
discovered that our dept. head, Dr. Maki, (med
techs were lumped with chemistry then) must have
finally come to terms with the fact that some of us
girls might really graduate, since he actually
spoke to us then!! We also didn't start classes until
about the second week in September.

E-mail from Ken Secord, Class of Sefenty (KenS (at)

The leaves have been off the trees for while..... ???
Must be a tech grad thing. I fortunately, after 4
years back in the late sixties, miscalculated by three
credits and had to finish down state at a college
that fixed that little spelling problem.

Congratulations on #500, it's one of your best.

E-mail from Tom Maki '71 (makict (at)

Hey Dean:

Thanks for the weekly newsletter. You are chatting
about Copper Country snowfall amounts as the winter
begins. I went back into the referenced snowfall
records to see how much snow I endured when I was up
at Houghton. Upon reviewing the amount for 1971-1972 I
discovered a typo, the amount should say 257.9 rather
than 287.9 inches. Only an engineer would catch
something like that! I graduated on approximately
December 15, 1971, it snowed the entire day, I left
for the Soo later in the afternoon and by the time we
got to Marquette the State Police had closed the all
the highways. You wait your whole college career to
graduate and head off into the world and we only made
it as far as Marquette.

E-mail from Don Ilkka '78 (WndyMdwFrm (at)


Am I mistaken, or was there not a twenty-five cent
fare to ride the shuttle back and forth from Mt Ripley
back in the dark ages 74-78? The cheap pass I do
remember, and the lockers in the K2 hut sure made
skiing easier.

E-mail from Ron Walkinshaw (rjwalkinshaw (at)

Dean, congrats on reaching the 500 club milestone.
Like many other alumni I look forward to the weekly
updates, local humor, and great Tech memories you
provide. Keep up the excellent work -- another 10
years perhaps? On football, the same could be said of
the MN Vikings as they struggle through the year!

E-mail from Doug Davies (Doug.Davies (at)

Hi Dean,

Great news to hear that there may be a video of the
half-time show at the Big Bash. Both my wife and I
were in the Pep Band. What a hoot! We didn't see much
of the performance, first because we was in it and
second, because we both had glasses problems. I wear
those senior glasses (bifocals). I had to take them
off to see my music (trombone player, lyre was too
short, etc). I couldn't see more than about four feet
in front of me without them so I followed one of the
"regular" band members that had a Big Boy doll taped
to his hard hat. I could just make out the doll on
his hat so I stuck with him throughout the entire
performance. It was a challenge running to the next
formation while trying to keep the Big Boy guy in
focus and changing to the next piece of music at the
same time. If it wasn't for that fellow and his
hat, I'd have been totally hooped.

And my wife didn't fair much better. She needed
close-up glasses to read her music. During the first
half, she stuck them in the brim of her touque
(Canadian for stocking cap). Once when Tech did
something right on the field, she grabbed her hat to
wave it and forgot about the glasses. They went off
into the ozone and we couldn't find them anywhere.
She had to go through the whole half-time show ad-
libbing and/or faking it where she could. Nick Enz,
the band director, somehow found them and she got them
back, albeit at the end of the game.

The whole experience was fabulous. I think we came
the farthest distance, northern British Columbia, were
from the oldest graduating classes, '69 and '70, and
almost the oldest in age in the whole Pep Band. Only
Charlie, the almost blind flute player, beat us in
that category. We'd do it all again in a heartbeat.
Our congratulations to the organizers of the event. I
Know it was mainly for the football program but it had
very welcome "side effects". We are looking forward
to the video.

E-mail from Dave Cvengros (Cven1008 (at)

Dean, it was great to see the football team do so good
after almost being scrapped for the season. Let's hope
everyone continues to support them in the upcoming
years. What's the basketball team expected to do this
year? I have followed them ever since I graduated in
'62. Good luck to them this year.

Note: I sure don't miss the snow.

E-mail from Mike Burden '89 (mwb (at)

I just wanted to drop a quick note to all the Tech
alumni that enjoyed Marie's Deli in Houghton. Marie
has a new place in the Easttown district of Grand
Rapids. "Marie Catrib's of Grand Rapids" is at 1001
Lake Drive (about a block North of Diamond and
Wealthy.) G.R. Press Story Address & Contact Info Map

E-mail from Curt Fitzgerald '97 (cmfitz (at)


I want to thank everyone who responded to my request
for a copy of the Snow Diary. Here is a link to a
website with a generic version for anyone else
that is interested.

E-mail form Kal Stumpf (kastumpf (at)

Prime frontage and camp (furnished an option) with
sauna for sale on Keweenaw Bay on the Point Abbaye
Peninsula. Contact Kal or Tim at 262-628-3438 for

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

We're at 7,070 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.

1949 Aldo Paradiso aldo (at)

1961 Norman Remington remn (at)
1963 Robert McGowan bobmcg1940 (at)
1965 Ellen Klee (Aldrich) henson_klee (at)

1971 Patrick Hartman phat711 (at)
1971 William Lowe bill.lowe (at)
1972 James Allan jdallan (at)
1973 Thomas Kay tom.kay33 (at)
1973 Larry Ras larry_ras (at)
1975 Vinod Gupta VGUPTA (at) HOTMAIL.COM
1977 Marc Hartranft mhartranft (at)

1984 Mary Crawford (Hunter) mandmcraw (at)
1984 Carolyn Richards (Hughes) carrie (at)
1985 Michael Doubleday smakdd (at)
1986 Mark Foley mtu (at)
1989 Timothy Jenkins tjenkins255 (at)

1990 Scott Darin JSDarin (at)
1991 Suzanne Stelmaszek-Jokela stella (at)
1993 Bradley Young Bradley_Young (at)
1993 Ken Plaquin kplaquin (at)
1994 James Koski jimkoski (at)
1996 Scott Cambensy scambensy (at)
1998 Michael Tercha mtercha (at)
1998 Kara Jackson (Corcoran) corjack (at)

2000 Brian Rentner brentner (at)
2001 Brent Tamulion brent.tamulion (at)
2002 Greta Kangas glk14 (at)
2003 Melissa Weglarz melissaweglarz (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.


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

  • Laboratory/Demonstration Coordinator--Physics Department

  • Professor/Associate Professor/Assistant Professor-- Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

  • Lecturer--Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

OFF CAMPUS: For off-campus positions, visit the alumni section of the career center's web site (

See you next week