TechAlum News

December 13, 2004 (Vol. 11, No. 30)

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

     Be careful what you wish for, someone once said. I've been wishing for snow, but didn't really want a month's worth to come all in one weekend.

     I was working at a cross-country ski meet this weekend, hosted by Tech's Nordic ski team. It was a two-day event, with the freestyle on Saturday and the classic style on Sunday.

     On Thursday, I asked coach Joe Haggenmiller if the race was on. It looked to me like there was less than an inch of base on the trail. He was adamant that there would be a race. We had a light dusting of snow Friday night, so Saturday's skiers had about an inch of ice with a little powder on top.

     It started to snow Saturday night and, by Sunday, there was enough snow on the trail to dig the tracks (which requires at least six inches of snow). It continued to snow Sunday and we added some strong winds overnight just for fun.

     The result? About 14 inches of snow in about 24 hours, a snow day today while the county plows dig out the back roads, and plenty of raw material for both the cross-country trails and Mont Ripley.

     We also had Commencement on Saturday. You could tell the Weather Channel watchers--they were the ones headed south immediately after the event. The rest got to experience a real Copper Country transformation from green grass poking through on Saturday to waist-high drifts on Sunday.

Snow Watch '04-'05


As of December 12, 2004

                      This week  Last week   Last year 

    Snowfall to date    26.28"     19.68"       44.5"      

    On the ground         6"        1.5"         16"


See our snowfall chart, dating back to 1890, at

Day--by-day snowfall:

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 EXTENDS PRESIDENT'S CONTRACT: Michigan Tech's Board of Control voted unanimously Friday (Dec. 10) to approve a contract with Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz through June 30, 2007. The agreement includes a $195,000 salary and an option for Mroz to return to his former dean's post should he leave the presidency. More:

REMOTES SPICE UP PHYSICS: Robert Weidman may never be a stand-in for Alex Trebek, but his new brand of lecture gives introductory physics almost as much pizzazz as a prime-time game show. At his direction, all the students pull out what look like small TV remotes, known officially as fixed ID transmitters. When he puts a multiple choice question up on the lecture hall's big screen, each student responds by pressing a button on their transmitters. This is the personal response system, or PRS. More:

STUDENTS CREATE GIRL SCOUT WEB SITE: Students in Associate Professor Chelley Vician's (SBE) System Analysis and Design course have redesigned the Girl Scouts of Peninsula Waters website and developed a virtual training solution. Their bill was paid in Girl Scout cookies. More:

THRIVENT SUPPORTS ENTERPRISE: Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is providing a $50,000 grant to to establish a pilot Service and Leadership Enterprise at Michigan Tech. In the pilot program, Lutheran Campus Ministry and Thrivent will sponsor student teams, supervised by Michigan Tech faculty and the LCM project manger, to solve a technical problem of human or societal need. The initial project will be to design ecologically low-impact dwellings to be built on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. More:

RECYCLING SAVES CASH: Thanks to a campus paper recycling program, Michigan Tech has saved more than $12,000 in landfill disposal fees since 2002, benefiting the university's general fund. The university has also earned about $10,000 by selling the materials.

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:

Around Town

BETE GRISE BEACH PURCHASED: More than 1,100 acres at Bete Grise will be protected through a partnership arranged by the Michigan chapter of the Nature Conservancy. The Bete Grise purchase area, which stretches from Lac La Belle to Point Isabelle near Copper Harbor, is listed in the Michigan Natural Features inventory as the most important coastal marsh community in the upper Great Lakes region. The money for the $1.9 million project comes from several sources.

From the E-mailbag

E-mail from John Avouris (

Good Morning, Dean (well, afternoon to you),

Do you happen to have the snow total info for this
week? I didn't see it in the AlumNews, so I thought
I'd ask. Sorry to hear about the bad timing, double
entendre fully intended. I've resembled that story a
couple of times.

E-mail from Steve Klobucarich

Hey Dean,

Congrats on #500 and keep them coming, I enjoy them
immensely! Maybe I missed something along the way,
but I have to ask, what happened to the snowfall
totals in the newsletter?!

Dean sez: Alert readers will find I took these nudges and
introduced the 2004-05 snowfall chart above.

E-mail from Jerry Ziarno '59 (

Dean, I would be very pleased if you could run
something in your TechAlum news on the book which I
have co-authored and which is now just newly

The book, " A Birders Guide to Michigan" is published
by the American Birding Association and is the first,
complete, comprehensive guide on where and when to
find which birds in the entire state. It provides
detailed information on 260 individual sites including
a number of sites in the Copper Country. Michigan
Tech and the Tech Ski Trails are even mentioned. It
also contains information on those birds special to
Michigan and Bar-graphs showing the status and
occurrence of most of the birds that are found in the
state. It has a whopping 660 pages and is available
on the Internet at I
also hope that the Memorial Union Bookstore will carry
the book.

E-mail from Eric Evenson '99 (

Here is a Woodbecking story that just happened to a
co-worker of mine and will be tough to top. He
recently bought a used, 2001 1-Ton pickup truck
with about 70,000 miles on it. He was driving home
from work a couple of weeks ago and his engine came to
a screeching stop - somehow all of the oil had leaked
out of the engine. Luckily, there was an extended
warranty on the vehicle. Unluckily, the manufacturer
would not honor the warranty because even though my
coworker had scrupulous maintenance records, the
previous owner did not. Not wanting to completely
dump the truck, he decided to put the truck on a
trailer and take it to a shop that would install a new
engine for him. Unfortunately, he had put the truck
on the trailer with the back facing forward and as he
was towing the truck from point A to point B, the
cover he had on the bed of the truck flew up and
smashed in his windshield and put a huge dent in the

Flash forward to last weekend, the truck is fixed and
in good condition both mechanically and cosmetically,
but my coworker is in a much poorer condition
financially. He's on his father's farm trying to help
him get a tractor started. The battery on the tractor
was dead, so they pulled the truck up next to it and
hooked up jumper cables. When they started the
tractor, the engine backfired and ignited a pool of
gas and ether that had accumulated below. My coworker
and his father quickly decided to get the truck away
from the flaming tractor, only to find the keys locked
inside the truck.

E-mail from Rahmon Gharajanloo '96 (

Dean -

Your story of timing belt issues in the U.P. takes me
back to an experience I had on the way home after
exams. Even more of a coincidence is that I was
trying to get home to Traverse City. My last exam
ended in the evening, and my family and I were to
leave for Florida (driving) the next morning very
early. So, I was supposed to drive into the night
with another TC student on his way home as well.

Arriving in Marquette at about 11:00pm, we started up
the hill on US 41 heading out of Marquette and into
Harvey, as we got near the top, my 1984 Honda Civic
(aka "the chameleon" as labeled by my Michigan Tech buddies from
a Saturday Night Live skit featuring a real clunker of
a car, but disguised to look real nice on the outside)
decided to lose all power. Luckily the nice officer
helped get us out of US41 on to a side street, called
a wrecker, and drove us back into Marquette to the
Dunkin Donuts.

After calling rental car companies (only to be denied
because of our age) and the bus station, a local
gentleman who was at DD for a late night snack offered
to drive us to the bridge that night where my father
could meet us. After much reluctance and taking down
the guys drivers license number, address, and phone
number, we agreed to go through with it. The fog was
very thick that night (especially on M117), and some
of the stories the guy told us creeped us out, but we
eventually made it to the bridge (and eventually TC
and Florida).

Upon my return to Marquette for the beginning of the
next term, the repair shop confirmed that the timing
belt had went in "the chameleon" and really messed up
the engine. Let's just say my car was never the same

E-mail from Trevor Martin '67 (


Thanks for a great newsletter. I look forward to it
every Monday. I did read with some interest your note
about Prof. Zekavat's NSF grant for $462,000 to
develop a new course for us non EE's. I learned about
EE as a small child by sticking a fork in an outlet.
By the way, isn't course development part of the job
description or am I just old fashioned? This kind of
relates to the recent federal budget packed with
"pork". Keep up the good work.

Dean sez: The NSF frequently funds major course overhauls,
which are typically outside of the normal expectations for
course development.

E-mail from Tracie Kalliainen '02 (

Hi Dean!

You are very lucky your non-start happened in an area
with some people around. You're also lucky it
happened while the car was not moving!

Last Christmas I set out for home, home being
Chassell, from the Detroit area. Things were going
well until I was exactly halfway across the Seney
Stretch. I checked on a map, I was halfway across.
As I was passing a slower moving vehicle my Blazer
died. I managed to get the vehicle onto the shoulder
of the road safely. After the Blazer refused to start
and having a cell phone that refused to work I began
walking towards the rest area on the east end of the
Stretch. Thank you MDOT!!! A wonderful gentleman on
his way home (to Tapiola) from LSSU picked me up and
drove me to the rest area. Once there I discovered a
non-working pay phone. Go figure.

To make a long story short...After a tow, rented car
hauler and distributor cap I was finally on my way.

Some advice to others traveling this Christmas
season. Make sure your cell phone is in a setting
where it can pick up an analog signal on the Seney
Stretch. Just in case.

E-mail from Cathi Meinecke (

Hey Dean,

Just a note on the Thanksgiving drive that made the
record books. It was 1985, I believe one of the
campus groups sold t-shirts. I was one of the lucky
ones who made it passed L'Anse Bay before they closed
the road (16 hours of driving). My unfortunate
roommate slept in the basement of a church in
Naubinway. We miss those Tech snow storms, not much
in the way of snow in southern Wisconsin. Thanks for
keeping us in touch with God's Country.

E-mail from Jerry Davison '66 (

Hi Dean:

Sorry to hear of your car and snow storm problems
during your Thanksgiving Holiday. Not surprised about
the snow but the car problems got me thinking. My
Consumers Reports is up for renewal and your latest
trial started me considering other alternatives.

I really value all of the past history and reliability
data that Consumers provides, but it does cost you
every year. Now they want me to subscribe to
their web site. Maybe you could start publishing your
product experiences on a regular basis to help all of
us alumni save some subscription money. After all
you have a solid background of product experience. I
recall that you also had all of those snow blower
problems. There must be more products that you have
bought and used that could form a solid base for this
valuable service. At least think about it, Dean.

E-mail from Pat Larsen (

Hi Dean

I've been getting your Newsletter for a couple of
years now and read it every week. Thanks.

Traveling on Thanksgiving weekend in Michigan is
always an adventure. I've got 23 years of stories to
tell. I also know how you can eliminate the "no
auto parts" problem! How about purchasing a new
vehicle produced by an American manufacturer. (General
Motors in particular). I seem to recall you own
something that was manufactured by an offshore

E-mail from Charles Lemont (


It's time you stop driving cars like we did in college
(i.e. Old and worn out) and buy or lease something
new. With new car ownership costs at a 20 year low, I
think you can afford it. Then you wouldn't have to
worry about Woodbecking anything for at least three
years or 36,000 miles.

E-mail from Griff Coxey '77 (


Great newsletter as always. Regarding the heroic
efforts of Cam Ellsworth. If he was just west of St.
Ignace on Highway 2 my guess is the person whose
life he saved drove his car into Lake MICHIGAN unless
he REALLY went off the road.

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

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1951 Raymond Schmelter
1952 Donald Sprigings
1968 Raymond Lahti
1971 David Tackett
1974 Linda Roleson
1980 Craig Marriner
1982 Frederick Sirota
1983 Anne Baic (Skippers)
1983 Rodney Tanner
1984 Glenn Kime
1985 David Zillich
1986 Jeffrey Canfield jcanfield@brinkshofer
1988 David Lardizabal
1990 Steven Burdgick
1990 Andrew Osip
1995 Kirk Olep
1997 Michael Dorsey
1998 Abdul Razak Hashim
2000 King-Mui Thien
2000 Sarah Dutton (Fausell)
2001 Britt Forslund
2001 Adam Koronka
2003 Trent Weatherwax

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

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

See you next week