TechAlum News

May 16, 2005 (Vol. 12, No. 1)

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

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Good morning from Houghton. As you may might have noticed above, we've turned over the odometer on the newsletter again, entering volume 12, which means starting the 12th year of this e-mail missive. It was May 1994 when the first newsletter went to about 30 people and we talked about Gopher servers in those days before GUIs and the Web revolutionized the world. Glad you are with us and keep those cards and letters coming.

I'm amazed at the changes over the last 12 years. My daughter is a junior in high school and has begun the college search in earnest. She pays some attention to the brochures and booklets that arrive in the mail almost daily, but the web and e-mail seem to have replaced printed search pieces and the telephone as the primary means to gather information and communicate.

When I need bike parts or ski accessories or associated clothing, I go to the web to see what is available and get a feel for prices. I try to shop locally as much as possible, figuring I get far more information in person from a bike geek than from the web, plus there are no shipping costs. But some things just aren't available locally.

I have three sets of golf clubs for sale on eBay right now. Ten years ago, the best I could do was a written notice posted on the bulletin board at Portage Lake Golf Course. But as I look at prices of everything from golf clubs to bikes, eBay looks like it will get me a better deal (as a seller) and I can pass along the shipping charges.

I know none of this is news, but I can't help but be amazed at the changes we've seen in the last decade. These are changes that today's entering college student, and everyone under 20, just take for granted.

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

TRAVERSE CITY RECEPTION TOMORROW: All Michigan Tech alumni and friends are invited to a reception in Traverse City tomorrow, Tuesday, from 6-10 pm. The reception is in conjunction with the SAE Noise and Vibration Conference. Michigan Tech officials attending will include Bill Predebon, chair of the ME-EM department, and Jay Meldrum, director of the Keweenaw Research Center. Also hosting the reception is Bill Myers, president of TriLink Technical Services. A map and driving directions are available here.

BASH HALF-TIME SHOW DVD AVAILABLE: The Michigan Tech Pep Band is selling a DVD of its 10-minute halftime show at last November's Bash at the Big House in Michigan Stadium. DVDs are $15. Go here for a PDF order form.

TECH, TALL SHIP COMBINE FOR ADVENTURE: The Denis Sullivan, a 137-foot, three-masted schooner based in Milwaukee, Wis., will come to Houghton in July, when 16 adventurous souls will set sail for a week's journey on Lake Superior. Participants will act as the crew and Michigan Tech faculty will give lectures and demonstrations on the Great Lakes' maritime heritage, water ecology, resource conservation and Lake Superior history. Three units of graduate credit from Michigan Tech, which provide continuing education credit for science and math teachers, are available for those completing the trip. More:

YES EXPO RETURNS IN OCTOBER: Michigan Tech will host the 2005 Michigan Youth Engineering & Science (YES!) Expo on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at Ford Field in Detroit. The Expo educates and excites students about careers and education in science, engineering and related areas. More:

SYLVESTER 1, TWEETY 0: Want birdsong in your backyard this summer? The biggest favor you can do for sparrows, warblers, finches and robins is to keep the family cat indoors, especially during the nesting season. "House cats are probably the number one cause of human-related BIRD mortality," says David Flaspohler, associate professor of forest resources and environmental science. More:

STATE LOOKING AT UNIVERSITY FUNDING CHANGE: State Republicans have proposed a new funding system for state universities, based on enrollment, research activities and the number of degrees granted. Michigan Tech officials say the formula must take into account the high cost of science and engineering degrees. Dale Tahtinen, vice president for government relations said oftentimes the most expensive degree programs are also the ones that the state needs for economic growth.

SENIOR DESIGN TEAMS GARNER RECOGNITION: Two senior design teams in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have gained national and international attention for their work in developing countries. One team is a finalist for the international Mondialogo Engineering Award and an EPA People, Prosperity and Planet Award. More:

PROVOST SEARCH UNDERWAY: Michigan Tech is searching for a new provost and vice president for academic affairs. The incumbent is the chief academic officer, with responsibility for all academic programs. A job description is available at Nominations and applications from qualified alumni are encouraged.

KEWEENAW ALUMNI HOST TOURS OF NEW BUILDINGS: The Keweenaw Alumni Chapter will hold a wine and cheese reception and building tours this Wednesday, from 5-7:30 pm. Participants will start in the new reading room of the Opie Library and have tours of that building, plus the renovated JR Van Pelt Library and Rekhi Hall, home of computer science. Contact Kim Klender for more information (ksklende(at) or 906-487-3674).

TECH CONNECTION IN "TOP COMPANIES TO WATCH: The "50 Michigan Companies to Watch" awards program included a number of companies with Michigan Tech connections. The program, sponsored by the Edward Lowe Foundation, recognizes "second stage companies." All three UP companies are run by (and employ) Tech grads (GS Engineering in Houghton, Thermoanalytics at the Houghton County Airport, and Hiawatha Log Homes in Munising). Other connections include Testing Services Group LLC (CEO/owner Mark Lockwood '82), Twisthink (Robert Niemiec '85, partner) and VanAire Inc ( Richard Vandevusse '77). More:

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

Around Town

MOUNTAIN BIKE EVENT DURING BRIDGEFEST: Mountain bikers will race and/or tour the Maasto Hiihto and Churning Rapids trails during the Portage Health System Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival. The event will take place June 18-19 (during Bridgefest) and includes point-to-point races and tours, a technical time trial, and the Junior Chain Drive kids race. Registration deadline (with a free jersey) is May 31. For more information, see

HOUGHTON LIBRARY PLANS PROCEED: The Houghton City Council has authorized planning for a new library on the Houghton waterfront. The Portage Lake District Library would occupy the former site of the Gundlach warehouse, just below the other library (bar and restaurant).

BOARD VICE-CHAIR LEADS SPACE TOURNEY: More than 100 students competed in the first Upper Peninsula Space TiViTz tournament last week. Space TiViTz, an entertaining, educational board game, was designed to build basic math and critical thinking skills. Katherine Clark, vice chair of Tech's Board of Control and chief scientist of Human Space Flight for NASA, led the tourney.

From the E-mailbag

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


Regarding the many cougar sightings in the UP and the
diligent efforts by Federal and State agencies to
attribute the mounting evidence to swamp gas,
hysteria, and wishful thinking, my late mother, an
outdoor writer of some note who spent her last years
in Iron County, came up with a theory. Her theory was
that if those agencies were ever forced to acknowledge
the existence of cougars above the Bridge, then they
would be forced by Federal law to write a "management
plan" for the species. Such management plans are
expensive in both the short run (i.e., damage to this
year's agency budget) and the long run (e.g.,
potential damage to competing economic interests -
read development, industry, and logging). She
predicted that even if somebody were to shoot a cougar
and carry its carcass to the nearest DNR office, there
would still be a concerted effort to, (a) deny that it
was a cougar, and (b) claim that there is not a shred
of evidence that it was shot in the UP.

The cynic in me sympathizes with her theory.

E-mail from John Saporta '88 (jsaporta(at)


Great to hear some news about Michigan Tech that did
not start and stop in Upper Michigan. Yes, I know
that we have the perennial US News best college buys
top 10 winner, however I get bored with the latest
happenings "Inside the Keweenaw".

Then again, this is why I choose to live in the best
major metropolitan area in the Midwest. Alas, it does
take all kinds to make a world...

I do enjoy the weekly newsletter, would welcome more
national news concerning Michigan Tech.

John Saporta '88, Chicago boy, always.

Dean sez: The plan is to do a monthly highlight
regional/national news coverage of/from Michigan Tech in
the TechAlum.

E-mail from John Baker '71 (jbaker(at)


The NASA "World Wind" program is awesome (I have both
the CPU power and the graphics card to make it run
very fast and smooth), however I think someone needs
to contact NASA and suggest that they update their
database. I decided to "zoom" in on the "Da Tech" and
I discovered that NASA still thinks the school's name
is "Michigan College of Mining and Technology". That
was just too funny for what I would assume is being
billed as a very modern use of technology.

E-mail from Dave Trestain (datrestain(at)

A rousing polka edition of "In heaven there is no
beer" was the closer on a story about beer on the NPR
program All Things Considered today, May 13th, 2005.

For amusement purposed only, of course.

E-mail from Eric Showalter (wes(at)


I teach construction scheduling. When it comes to
scheduling DIY home improvement I have a simple two
step method that always yields good results:

(1) Take your first estimate of the time, and multiply
by 2

(2) Change to the next larger unit of time

Thus if my first estimate is 3 hours, I multiply by 2
and change hours to days, making the adjusted estimate
6 days. Similarly a 5 day project takes 10 weeks and a
2 week project lasts 4 months. I never tackle a home
improvement project lasting a year, as that would take
decades to complete. In your case having the WalMart
open and finding your part there was just a lucky
break; otherwise a 1 hour faucet replacement would
have taken 2 days.

Try this simple method and I think you will see that
your time estimates are much more realistic.

Thanks for the great newsletters.

E-mail from Tom Knudstrup '85 (tom.knudstrup(at)

How timely you are. I replaced a kitchen faucet a few
weeks back. I was much more daring. My wife requested
that I get ours installed on the afternoon of Easter
Sunday. Talk about nothing open.

I had the same problems with the semi-shutoff valves
except that the "semi-closing" hot water valve also
became the "semi-opening" valve. This only added 4
hours to an otherwise 1 hour job.

I also found that if you are already planning to throw
away the old faucet, a large flat bladed screw driver,
hammer, and considerable leverage applied to the
faucet body above the sink can substitute for a lot of
wasted time under the sink with a basin wrench that
you don't have anyway and can't get because it is
Easter Sunday.

When my wife asked me last week to replace the old
Menards special of the week toilet with the new one
she picked out from the Kohler showroom, I thought of
the much greater risks with toilets and that I had
probably used up all of my plumbing luck with the
faucet. I left this one to the plumber. He brought
the new one, did the install, and took the old one
away in under an hour while I was at work. The only
thing that I missed out on is the great tragic story I
was have been able to tell if I had done the job.

Sometimes it is wise to remember that you are an

E-mail from Stan Smart '69 (stsmart(at)


Re: your kitchen faucet replacement. I've learned the
HARD WAY: Always start a home maintenance project
DURING "regular business hours".

E-mail from Marty Oldford (MSOldford(at)


Just finished replacing my sink faucet with the able
assistance of our 12 week old puppy. His advice was
invaluable but the face licking was a deterrent at
times. Only one trip to the hardware to get an adapter
fitting but I had previously checked the shutoff
valves. After struggling to remove the old and install
the new faucet I finally read the directions (my
approach to life) which advised me to install the
faucet before the sink. Right!

My only advice to you and your assistant is to monitor
those compression fittings for small drips which can
cause large puddles. Based on past experience I have
placed some small bowls under mine which my wife
cannot see. So far so good.

E-mail from Donald Arndt (darndt(at)


Growing up and traveling in rural Michigan, I saw a
few of the remaining original Burma Shave row of signs
when I was very young. After graduating from Tech in
the early 70's, I got my first job in Flint slaving
over hot Digital PDP8s. A multiple outlet power strip
above one of the system setup areas had a small label
next to one of the outlets: This socket is hot - when
the switch is not - Burma Shave. I hadn't seen a Burma
Shave sign in a long time - got me to chuckle.

E-mail from Nancy Bach (n.oconbach(at)

Why not update the Michigan Tech marketing campaign with Burma-
Shave style ads along the highways? For example:

I'm wealthy and wise
You can be, too.
If you get your degree
At Michigan Tech.


Are you jobless and lonely?
Is your life a wreck?
Turn it around.
Come to Michigan Tech.

Do you think these ideas will get me a shot at the
open marketing director position at Tech?

E-mail from Shirley (Anderson) Brantingham (N738LU(at)

One of my favorite Burma Shave commercials was always:

Drinking drivers
Nothing worse
Put the bottle
Before the hearse.

Burma Shave

Here's another good one:

Others think
Their product good.
Ours does what
YOU think it should

Burma Shave

E-mail from John Arneth '63 (yooperj(at)

Not a Burma shave ad but similar from Az highways, it
makes you pay attention !!!

I saw an Elk
Oh what a thrill
until I smashed it
on my grill

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

We're at 7,145 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.

1956 Clifford Frenn cafrenn(at)
1969 David Hansen bzz(at)
1981 Joseph Feira jpfeira(at)
1981 Susan Parker firstsailor2(at)
1982 Ronald Rivers rrivers(at)
1985 Kerry Beaghan (Lanning) beaghan(at)
1986 Joseph Willcoxson willcoxson(at)
1988 David Lardizabal lardizabal-foglia(at)
1989 Catherine Crowley (Young) catherine.crowley(at)
1991 Linda Kennedy ldk(at)
1993 Aaron Dick admd(at)
1994 Matthew Huhn mbhuhn(at)
1997 Brad Rickert brickert(at)
2002 Drew Niemi dniemi(at)
2003 Stephanie Mroz (Savage) slsavage22(at)
2003 Mary Johnson mjohnson3(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.

18 Keweenaw Chapter Back to School Tour Opie Library
and Rekhi Hall. Wine and cheese reception
25 Green Bay Chapter 26th Annual Golf Outing

4 West Michigan Chapter Annual Golf Outing
7 LA Alumni Event
11 Detroit Chapter 2005 Golf Outing

15 Mid-Michigan (Saginaw, Midland, Bay City) Annual
Golf Outing

GREEK REUNION INFORMATION has been moved to the web. For the link, go here:

Job Opportunities This Week

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

  • No new postings this week

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