TechAlum News

August 22, 2005 (Vol. 12, No. 12)

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
  • Tech Sports
  • Around Town
  • From the E-mailbag
  • E-mail Updates/Welcome to new subscribers
  • Alumni Chapter Events
  • Job Opportunities
  • Electronic Services for Alumni

Husqi Tales

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile that it happened." -- Dr. Seuss

Today marks my last issue of TechAlum. As of September 1, I will be leaving a 20-year career at Michigan Tech for other opportunities.

After 531 issues and more than 11 years, it has been a great run. This newsletter started back in 1994--with email just beginning to emerge. Thirty people--my entire email address book--received that first issue. Today, the number of subscribers totals 7,171.

I've found that a weekly email newsletter takes a lot of time and effort, but it was worth it. I have had the privilege to share with you the news and reflections from Michigan Tech. Even better, I have had the chance to tell some stories and to listen to you tell stories.

The emailbag has become my favorite part of the newsletter. We have discussed drives to Tech, including the Thanksgiving trip of 1985, when the Mackinac Bridge closed, US-41 closed, and many still made it to Houghton. We've debated how often Tech has closed because of snow and cold. We've talked about the origins of the term "toot" and when its use started and ended. We've heard stories about, er, eccentricities, like the person from the mid-1970s who went barefoot all winter--then received email confirmation from his wife that he does, indeed, exist (and owns shoes).

The stories have come from the class of '53 and the class of '04 and an amazing shared heritage has emerged.

We've chronicled the successes of students and faculty, the ups and downs of state funding, and the changes in the Keweenaw over the last decade.

Personally, I have had the opportunity to find my voice as a writer. Your instant feedback has helped shape this newsletter and its content every week.

I have had the chance to chronicle trips to the ER, home improvement gone awry, naive children believing that dad does know plumbing, a long-suffering and incredibly patient wife, and snowblowers dying--a story that led to the verbification of my name.

I do plan to keep writing and keep telling stories. I can't promise a weekly newsletter, and I don't know the format these will take, but you are welcome to come along for the ride. If you are interested, send your email address to deanwoodbeck(at)

Now I'm moving on and moving east. I'll be in the far northeast corner of New York State, directing the publications/web efforts of Clarkson University. While there is less snow, there is still skiing and mountain biking. I won't be right in the Adirondacks, but you can see them from there.

It has been a great run and I thank you all for your letters, personal messages, encouragement, and feedback over the years.

And, just so you know, the Woodbecking gene is hereditary and apparently attaches to the Y chromosome. Jay became the first person to get stuck in one of the glass elevators at the Westin Hotel at Detroit Metro Airport last week. The tradition continues...

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

WALCK NAMED BUSINESS DEAN: Christa Walck has accepted a two-year appointment as dean of Michigan Tech's School of Business and Economics effective Friday, Aug. 19, Provost David Reed has announced. Walck replaces SBE dean Keith Lantz, who will be on leave from the university for one semester. More:

PROVOST CANDIDATE VISITS SET: The Provost Search Committee has scheduled campus visits for three candidates for provost and vice president for academic affairs. Candidates include Marek Dollar, dean and professor of engineering and applied science at Miami University of Ohio (Sept. 2), Linda Rae Markert, dean of the school of education at State University of New York at Oswego (Sept. 12), and John Hughes, dean of the graduate school and associate provost for research and scholarship at Miami University of Ohio (Sept. 19).

PHYSICIST USES SUPERCOMPUTER TO FIGHT DISEASE: Thanks to a new agreement between Michigan Tech and the Neumann Institute for Computing, in Juelich, Germany, Michigan Tech physics professor Ulrich H. E. Hansmann hopes to advance his understanding of some of the world's deadliest diseases with the help of one of the most powerful computers in the world. Hansmann uses computer models to predict the shape of proteins. More:

MARQUETTE FOOTBALL EVENT PLANNED: The Michigan Tech Alumni Association is sponsoring a pre-game social in conjunction with the Michigan Tech-Northern Michigan football game, August 27, at the Superior Dome parking lot in Marquette. Gary Tunstall will perform, and food will be provided by the Library Restaurant and Brew Pub, starting at 4 pm. Game time is 7 pm. For more information and to RSVP, contact Tanya Maki at

Tech Sports

VOLLEYBALL, FOOTBALL OPEN: Michigan Tech opens its 2005-06 athletic season this weekend with the Huskies' volleyball and football teams competing. Michigan Tech's football team looks to retain the Miner's Cup when it travels to Northern Michigan in Saturday's (Aug. 27) season opener. The Huskies claimed the trophy last year with a 45-6 victory over the Wildcats in Houghton. The Michigan Tech volleyball team will travel to Mankato, Minn., for the AmericInn Back to School Bash Friday and Saturday (Aug. 26-27).


Friday, August 26, 2005

Volleyball at AmericInn Back to School Bash (Mankato, Minn.)
--at Minnesota State Mankato, 3:30 p.m.
--vs. Saginaw Valley State, 6 p.m.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Volleyball at AmericInn Back to School Bash (Mankato, Minn.)
--vs. Bemidji State, 1 p.m.
--at Minnesota State Mankato, 8:30 p.m.

Football at Northern Michigan, 7 p.m. Webcast:

All Times are Eastern

Around Town

HEAD START CLOSING CENTERS: BHK Child Development will close Head Start centers in Covington, Pelkie, and Stanton Township. BHK operates the federally-funded Head Start program in Baraga, Houghton, and Keweenaw Counties. Low enrollments and reduced funding are blamed for the closings.

ADVISORY BOARD MAKES TRAIL RECOMMENDATION: An advisory committee has said "yes" to snowmobiles, but "no" to ATVs on the old railroad grade between Houghton and Chassell. The trail passes many residences, including bisecting a number of back yards and crossing a number of driveways. The Chassell to Houghton Recreation Corridor Advisory Committee will recommend to the DNR that no motorized vehicles be allowed in the summer, but that snowmobiles be allowed in the winter.

BARAGA ESCAPE ACCOMPLICE CHARGED: Two prison workers are under investigation for their alleged roles in the escape of an inmate from the maximum security prison in Baraga on August 6. Garfield Lawson III, serving a life sentence since 1999, is accused of fleeing to Wisconsin with prison food worker Kathy Sleep, who allegedly pushed a food cart containing Lawson into a food service truck, then drove from the prison. Jody Lynn Axley, who worked with Sleep and Lawson in the kitchen, is alleged to have provided Lawson access to a loading dock. Sleep and Lawson were arrested August 7 in Rothschild, Wisconsin. For a detailed and entertaining account of the incident, see the Detroit Free Press:

JIM'S TO ADD MINI-MALL: Bill Winter, owner of Jim's Foodmart, intends to build a six-unit L-shaped strip mall adjacent to the supermarket. Two of the 1,250-square-foot units would be located on the store's parking lot property, but Winter has purchased two homes on adjacent property that he intends to demolish. He said he has made a list of services that would complement his business, including a Laundromat and coffee shop.

STREET ROOF TO COME DOWN: The City of Houghton will remove the roof from the covered street, aka Huron Street, late this fall. While the structure keeps snow off the street, it require significant maintenance and snow removal.

HANCOCK SCHOOLS NET $1 MILLION: John P. Nelson, Hancock class of 1937, has provided his high school alma mater with a $1 million endowment, primarily for college scholarships.

SPORTSWEAR STORE COMING TO MALL: Portage Township officials have issued building permits to Steve & Barry's University Sportswear to renovate the former K-Mart store at the Copper Country Mall. The addition of the 70,000 square-foot store will be a huge shot in the arm for the mall, which has had several stores close in the last few years.

From the E-mailbag

E-mail from John Titlow (heterodyne(at)

Good morning Dean:

On a personal note, none of my three Chicagoland area,
born and raised young drivers had ever seen a
"Blinkie" light nor driven on gravel roads until they
spent two weeks as drivers in Alger County.

Trying to explain to a young Chicago area driver how
to drive on a loose gravel road is as difficult as
explaining how to merge in high volume, "Rush(?) Hour"
traffic or traffic signals with more than three signal
lights in a row.

When you were in Minnesota did you at first have
trouble stopping before the pedestrian line at a
traffic signal? Michigan has traffic signals hung
diagonally overhead usually with the closest of the
two signal lights directly over the legally stopped
vehicle. While the majority of Michigan boundary
states have the signals on the opposite side of the
crossing streets.

You may have to someday explain to your children the
Detroit areas infamous center lane, right turn to make
a left system. In reviewing (5) State's "Rules of the
Road" Michigan is the only one with such a left turn

Have fun. You'll soon be close friends with your car
insurance agent.

PS: A "Blinkie" light is a U.P. term (Dollar Bay) for
a single four way all red or yellow one way and red
the other overhead traffic signal.

E-mail from Rebecca Shetron Nold (rebecca.nold(at)

Hi Dean -

I had to smile at your daughter's Driver's Ed Class
trying to practice merging. When I was in Driver's Ed
in L'Anse in the mid-seventies, there was a student
there who had never seen a traffic light with three
colors on it (as opposed to a blinking light). I
guess at that time it meant that he had not traveled
as far as Ishpeming, or maybe Negaunee. The
discussion about interstates and cloverleafs was
complete hand waving. But we could sure handle a
fishtailing rear wheel drive LeBaron in the snow!

E-mail from Theresa Barr-Drew '85 (scrapbookcrazy(at)


Had to laugh on the driving with your daughter. When
I was 16 my dad made me drive in Marquette before I
could get my license (I lived in L'Anse.) The one
thing your daughter will have is experience is snowy
weather. I live in Green Bay now and when we get
"lots" of snow (4 to 6 inches ha ha ha), they stay
home because the weather is too bad. I just laugh. I
was at Michigan Tech in 1981 when they actually closed for 1/2 a
day. I don't remember how much snow but it was a lot.

A comment on bringing industry to the UP.... when I
went to Tech most of the students were "Trolls" and
fully intended on returning there when they
graduated. The weather in the UP is brutal in the
winter and most couldn't wait to get away from it.
Not that Green Bay is much better but my husband won't
move farther south. Plus we have season Packer

E-mail from Marty Oldford (MSOldford(at)


I remember learning how to pass the snowplow truck
(with my instructor gripping his steering wheel) on a
sloppy two-lane road back in my teenage days. Now
that's a very valuable driving experience in the U.P.

E-mail from Amy Rapaich Moser '76 (moser(at)


Your story about exposing your daughter the driving
experiences not available near Houghton reminded me of
driving with my daughter up to Tech From Madison for
the start of her freshman year. As she was going to
have a car, I rode with her while she drove so that
she would "know the way home". She had been driving
around Madison for two years at that point and had
much experience with freeways and city streets.
However, when we go on the two lane highways, we
realized she had NEVER had to drive on a two lane 55
MPH situation and did not know how to pass! We spent
the time from Eagle River to Houghton looking for
passing situations to give her experience. Having
grown up in the UP, it never occurred to me that she
had never needed that skill in driving about the
Madison area.

Thanks for the newsletter, I enjoy the memories.
Unfortunately my daughter transferred after her
freshman year, so we don't have the excuse to visit
Houghton and re-visit our youth.

E-mail from Stacey Morrison (stacey.e.morrison(at)

Talking about learning to drive: When I was 15 I
lived in Mississippi and in that state a person can
get their drivers license at 15 if they take drivers
ed. So I had my parents sign me up for drivers ed
during the summer after my ninth grade year and I did
very well in the class. So I went to the drivers
license place and took the written test and passed it.
Then I took the drivers test. I backed out of the
parking lot and drove around the block. Did not have
to parallel park at all. I got back so fast my mother
thought that I failed the test. I told her that I
needed $16.00 to get the license. She was so
surprised. Since we ended up moving that summer and
we had two cars to drive up to Michigan in, I got to
drive on the freeways between Mississippi and the UP.
When it started raining hard in Illinois, my dad made
me pull over and he took over. I really didn't like
driving in the pouring down rain then (I still don't).

My brother was so mad that he had to wait until he was
16 before he could learn how to drive. Now I was 18
when he was 16 and my parents had the bright idea that
since I was 18 and had a license, I could be the
passenger while my brother had his learner's permit.
Now I know why my parents always held the door handle
while I was driving. My brother really scared me
going around some of the curves they have near Gwinn.
I also had to be his chauffer until he got his\
license. My parents really took advantage of the fact
that I learned how to drive early.

Now I have a daughter who is almost 12. In four years
I will be facing the same thing you are, Dean,
although my husband says that he is going to be
the one to teach her how to drive. That may be a good
thing although I have issues when my husband drives.
At least my husband knows how to parallel park and
drive a stick. Those are things I did not get to
learn when I was learning how to drive. Living near
Houston, I will also have to take out a second
mortgage to pay for her insurance. Luckily she is a
girl who is usually cheaper than a boy. Plus Texas is
starting a rule where underage drivers can only drive
during the day during certain hours. Plus the schools
do not have drivers ed, so the parents have to do it
themselves or pay someone to teach them. That will
also be exciting. I guess I have a lot to look
forward to.

E-mail from Jon Kreski '80 (jkreski(at)

Re: E-mail from Justin Schaub '01: There actually was
automotive related employment in the U.P.. My father
was the president of a community bank (Miners State
Bank) and was instrumental in helping to bring an AMC
plant to Iron River, MI area. This was after the last
of the iron mines had closed down. As I recall,
freight rates were one large issue. The plant was
eventually closed for economic reasons. But it does
show what can be done with dedicated individuals! I
think that the city and local banks all combined were
able to offer a nice package of cheap land, tax
breaks, financing, etc..

E-mail from Glenn Buskirk '84 (gbuskirk(at)


I second the sentiments of Justin Schaub, although my
perspective is somewhat different. He and I work a
few miles apart outside the Twin Cities, but my
commute is 45 minutes + halfway around the metro. If
I could work anywhere, in my field as a digital ASIC
designer, it would be in a small rural town. Here in
the metro we have gridlock and road construction and
expensive public transportation to bring people to
jobs in the city. I want some of that money spent to
develop fat pipes for data out to rural areas. We are
almost there, with videoconferencing, instant
messaging, and high-speed links, where I could be
hundreds of miles away doing my job just as well.

E-mail from Louise Bos '80 (louise.bos(at)


I recently received the alumni magazine and was
shocked and saddened to see that my former roommate,
Molly Ahlgren had passed away (M.S. in 1984, Ph.D.
in 1988, Biology). She had a wonderful life and was
loved by many, especially her students at Sheldon
Jackson College in Sitka, AK. There is a scholarship
fund in her memory and I was wondering if you could
possibly put a notice in the newsletter about the
scholarship fund and to request donations. If so, the
address for the scholarship fund is:

Molly Ahlgren Scholarship Fund
American Fisheries Society Alaska Chapter
c/o Ray Hander, Treasurer
101 12th Ave., Room 110
Fairbanks, AK 99701

In addition, some of Molly's friends might be
interested in information on the her memorial at the
American Fisheries Society annual meeting in Anchorage
this September on the AFS website,

E-mail from Hank Levine '55 (mahale(at)

Hi Dean, I was surprised that I did not find any
mention of the Alumni Reunion Aug 4,5 &6 in your
weekly letter. It was a wonderful occasion and many
thanks go to all those who had a part in preparing and
hosting this event. Those alumni who were not there
missed a great time.

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

We're at 7,171 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.

1954 Charles Robertson k8bll(at)

1966 James Slattery jimslattery2(at)

1971 Joseph Eutizi jeutizi(at)
1971 James Dahl jimdahl(at)
1972 George Siler silerga(at)
1972 Terry Petterson topetterson(at)
1972 John Dodge jdodge(at)
1973 David Saari david.saari(at)
1974 Bruce Dennison brdennison(at)
1975 Paul Nicastri prnicastri(at)
1976 David Brooks dave.brooks2(at)
1976 Robert Siekas bsiekas(at)
1977 Douglas Simonsen dcsimonsen(at)
1977 David Walters waltersd(at)

1980 John Haro
1981 Allyn Abel allynlabel(at)
1982 Edward Laroche laroced(at)
1984 Ray Darby darbykrehn(at)
1985 Gary Nitz 4nun2sun(at)
1985 Dean Force themagnumforce(at)
1986 Kirtus Hartway khartway(at)
1986 Michael Esch mesch(at)
1988 Maureen Schick schickma(at)
1989 Karen Ulicny (Potter) dkulicny(at)

1990 Craig Witte cwitte(at)
1991 Paul Ulanch pulanch(at)
1991 Robert Douglass roblisadouglass(at)
1992 David Geyer david.geyer(at)
1992 Kurt Komraus cr33py(at)
1992 Nityen Lal nityen(at)
1993 Muralitharan Samy samymurali(at)
1993 James Mundell mundell_james(at)
1993 Christy Henderson cmhende(at)
1994 Steven Rehse rehse(at)
1995 Zahnga Peabody zepeabod(at)
1995 Jennifer Michaelson (Lawson) michaelson(at)
1997 Theresa Cullen theresa.cullen(at)
1997 Matthew Bettendorf bettendorf(at)
1997 Curtis Fitzgerald cmfitz(at)
1997 Christy Burns (Walerczyk) weatherchick313(at)
1998 Jeromie Foote jeromie_amyfoote(at)
1998 Paul Hilbert walleye_guide(at)
1998 Jamie Hrye (Zelenak) jlzhyre(at)
1998 Bethany Dunning yoopernut9(at)
1998 Margaret Balachowski mbalachowski(at)
1999 Brian LaFreniere blafreniere(at)

2000 Jennifer Gustafson jeni13(at)
2000 Sheila Madahbee smadahbee(at)
2000 William Curtis wcurtis(at)
2000 Brian Holmes bjhomz(at)
2000 Angus Morison ammoriso(at)
2001 Shaun Wolski sawolski(at)
2001 Matthew Wood matthew_s_wood(at)
2001 Sia Prosper sprosper(at)
2001 Tatum Jelenc tjelenc(at)
2003 Edward Verhamme emverham(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.


24 Norway Chapter annual meeting at Kjeller, just east of
Oslo. Contact Sverre Sandberg: sverre.sandberg(at)

Job Opportunities This Week

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

  • Assistant Professor Industrial Archaeology--Social Sciences

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