TechAlum News

November 14, 2005 (Vol. 12, No. 24)

A weekly electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of Michigan Technological University

Edited by Dennis Walikainen (MS ’92), Director, Web Development, University Marketing and Communications

For past issues, see our archives.

In this issue:

The Lake

Lake Superior received much attention recently, with the thirtieth anniversary of the sinking of Edmund Fitzgerald. Many of us remember where we were that day. I was in Marquette, on the waterfront, and the waves were breaking over Lakeshore Drive. It was more than a little spooky, and I did hear that "wind in the wires" that Gordon Lightfoot sang about in "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Later, I worked in the Sault and visited Whitefish Point and looked out on where the Fitzgerald almost made safe haven. There is a museum there now with the ship's bell from the Fitzgerald.

The lake's many moods are incredible. I've seen her chrome-like, steel gray, and ominous; blue, calm, and tranquil, even a hint of green at times (though not as green as Lake Michigan). I've bounced along in five- to seven-foot waves around Isle Royale and was thankful to find Rock Harbor, and I've cruised in at night when it was absolutely calm. And the lake is a giver of life; commerce, tourism, and recreation industries all benefit from her, boosting local economies around her shores. And, of course the freshwater she holds is the most precious resource of all. I hope they don't ever mess with the lake level or siphon off her water for profit. She also gives character (and lake-effect snowstorms) to the Keweenaw and other areas. She shapes us.

So, it was time to give her the credit she deserves, instead of just taking her for granted or only thinking about her on anniversaries of tragic events. Besides, it was a Sunday, and the wind in the Keweenaw was howling (and the yard was raked and bagged), so I went, wandered, and wondered at her one more time.

She didn't disappoint. Huge waves were breaking into the Calumet Waterworks Park, churning brown near shore and heaving whitecaps as far out as was visible. A sideways spray blasted me when I opened the car window. I didn't venture out. I was content (warm) and awestruck, again, by the big lake.

ALUMNI BULLETIN BOARD: Remember the alumni bulletin board for you to use for discussions related to this newsletter, Tech sports, or anything else:

At Tech

SEARCH BEGINS FOR NEW CIO: Michigan Tech is beginning a search to fill the new position of chief information officer, Provost David Reed has announced.  The position will report to the provost. The new CIO's primary responsibility will be to develop and coordinate information technology decision-making and policy, Reed said. "We listened to the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Information Technology Needs Committee, and we share their concerns," Reed said. In its report, BRITNC recommended that the university establish a CIO to integrate IT into the overall mission of the university. "Only a top-level CIO can have the perspective to determine which IT initiatives are both important and cost-effective," said Professor Warren Perger (Electrical and Computer Engineering/Physics), who chaired BRITNC. "Michigan Tech is composed of students, faculty and staff, all with different needs and wants in terms of technology. Any given IT initiative can have unanticipated consequences for any of these groups, so an effective CIO must be able to take into account the concerns of all members of the university community. And ultimately, this person must ensure that those initiatives contribute to the university's strategic plan." The university will first conduct an internal search for the CIO. "We know that there are people here who are well qualified," Reed said. "We'd like to give them the opportunity to apply before we invest in a national search." A position description is being developed. Anyone with comments or ideas is invited to send them to Jane Waters, jewaters(at)

STUDENTS COMPETE IN "BATTLE OF THE BRAINS":  Three teams from Michigan Tech finished in the top 25 out of 173 Saturday in IBM's collegiate programming competition in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Teams solved complex, real-world problems under a grueling deadline at the Association for Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Contest regional competition. This "Battle of the Brains" is designed to challenge their programming skills and mental endurance, presenting students with the equivalent of a semester's worth of work to finish in one afternoon. Michigan Tech's teams prevailed over several Big Ten and Big Eight schools.

STUDENTS TO STUDY WAITING AT LOCAL BUSINESSES: It happens to everybody, everyday: waiting. Waiting to check out, waiting to check in, waiting for food; opportunities to wait abound. Waiting in line is not foreign to anybody, but the problems of waiting and how to solve them are not generally understood. After Thanksgiving, groups of Michigan Tech business students will be studying waiting at various businesses in the community to help businesses determine the proper balance between customer satisfaction and cost. The concept of "queuing theory" is integral to almost every business, not just retail establishments, says Instructor Roger Woods (SBE), whose Quantitative Problem Solving class will be conducting the studies. "The classic example is waiting in a teller line at a bank," he says. "The more tellers you have, the shorter the wait, but the higher the cost to the bank. Queuing theory helps businesses determine the proper balance between customer satisfaction and cost." Starting November 17, students will select various establishments to study. After Thanksgiving, each group will visit these businesses and calculate their arrival rate (how many customer arrive per hour), service rate (how long it takes to get served) and the number of servers available (for example, how many teller windows were open.) The groups then analyze this data and propose possible changes to shorten the average time that customers must wait. Typically, students study fast food restaurants and banks, but the class is always looking for additional businesses. Businesses interested in being a part of this project may contact Woods at 370-2927 or at rhwoods(at)

Tech Sports

OFFICIAL HOOPS TIP OFF SET FOR FRIDAY: Both Michigan Tech basketball teams (women and men) will officially open their 2005-06 campaigns Friday (Nov. 18) at the GLVC/GLIAC Challenge in Romeoville, Ill. The Huskies women face Wisconsin-Parkside at 2 p.m. (ET), with the men taking on UWP at 4 p.m. On Saturday (Nov. 19), the teams will battle against host Lewis in a doubleheader beginning at 6:30 p.m. (ET).

HUSKIES RUN WITH NCAA DIVISION I MARQUETTE: The Michigan Tech men's basketball team trailed by just three points in the final minute before falling, 71-66, last Thursday at NCAA Division I Marquette. The Huskies overcame a 14-point deficit with less than eight minutes left to get within 63-60 with 2:44 remaining. The Golden Eagles were ahead by seven points with 1:32 to go before a three-pointer by Radayl Richardson with 10 seconds left again made it a three-point game, 69-66. Marquette hit two free throws for the final margin. Richardson, a junior guard, led the Huskies with 16 points. Freshman point guard Robby Springborn added 14 points for Tech.

CONNER LIFTS HUSKIES IN OVERTIME!: Senior Chris Conner notched two goals vs. St. Cloud State last Friday including the game winner in overtime to give Michigan Tech the 3-2 victory at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Conner now has 61 career goals and ranks tied for 29th place all-time on Michigan Tech's goal scoring list with John Young (1989-93). Michigan Tech's senior class has tallied 19 goals and 17 assists this season. That's good for 70 percent of the Huskies' goal scoring and 53 percent of their overall scoring.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

HO: St. Cloud State 7, at Michigan Tech 0

Friday, November 11, 2005

HO: at Michigan Tech 3, St. Cloud State 2 OT

Thursday, November 10, 2005

MBB: at Marquette 71, Michigan Tech 66 (exhibition)


Friday, November 18, 2005

Basketball at GLVC/GLIAC Challenge (Romeoville, Ill.)--Women vs. Wisconsin-Parkside, 2 p.m. (Live Radio, 93.5 FM)--Men vs. Wisconsin-Parkside, 4 p.m. (Live Radio, 93.5 FM)

Hockey at Colorado College, 9:07 p.m. (Live Radio, 93.5 FM)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Basketball at GLVC/GLIAC Challenge (Romeoville, Ill.)--Women at Lewis, 6:30 p.m. (Live Radio, 93.5 FM)
--Men at Lewis, 8:30 p.m. (Live Radio, 920 AM)

Hockey at Colorado College, 9:07 p.m. (Live Radio, 93.5 FM)

All Times are Eastern

Around Town

JET SERVICE RETURING TO AIRPORT: Bigger will be better for those flying from Houghton County Memorial Airport next year, and it may be cheaper, too. Up to ten extra passengers will be accommodated on the morning and evening flights to Minneapolis, beginning January when operators Northwest Airlines are to introduce a jet engine service to the route. The CRJ model will replace the currently used SAAB 340 turbo-prop model, in response to "high load factors," airport manager Dennis Hext said. The jet service will seat forty-four passengers, compared to the thirty-four-seat capacity of the existing model, which will still be used for the less busy midday flight. "This is good news for Houghton," Hext said, adding increasing demand on the SAAB 340s early morning and evening departures prompted NWA's decision to add the jet service. "It's overbooked, realistically with all the bags and luggage we can only seat about twenty-eight," he said. Hext learned of the decision Friday, part of the airline company's routine checks on services to smaller airports, made every three months. Corporate jets already use the airport, but the last time an airline flew a regular jet service to the facility was during the late 1980s, under a federally subsidized DC9 service by Republic Airlines, according to airport engineer Dennis Jouppe.

SPORTSWEAR CHAIN TO OPEN: Steve & Barry's University Sportswear is opening soon in the Copper Country Mall. Started in an Ann Arbor mall in 1988, the chain operates ninety-seven stores in twenty-seven states. "Michigan's been a great place for Steve & Barry's," Gomes said. "We have more stores in Michigan than in any other state." As is typical for the chain, the 82,000-square-foot store will provide an anchor for the mall, and falls within the square footage range the company was looking for, between 30,000 and 150,000 square feet. "The Houghton store for a lot of reasons really fit what we were looking for in a demographic," said Gomes. Gomes said that shoppers would be pleased with the selection of products, which range from footwear to outerwear, jeans to khakis, all priced $9.98 or less. The chain carries 350 different licenses, said Gomes, allowing stores to carry merchandise bearing the university logos of Michigan Tech University, Northern Michigan University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University and other collegiate and professional team sportswear.

LAKESHORE DRIVE DUPLEX TO PROCEED: Land owner Robert Sundstrom is one step closer to becoming a Lakeshore Drive landlord following receipt of a rental-housing license Wednesday. The City of Houghton's Rental Housing Board granted Sundstrom a license for his property at 711 Lakeshore Drive on the city's waterfront, but not until considerable public comment was taken, largely concerning Sundstrom's proposed site plan. "He himself drew this site plan," said neighboring property owner Mike Cischke, who has repeatedly expressed his opposition to Sundstrom's proposed rental duplex, most recently spearheading a failed effort to rezone the B-3 Drive as R-1. "Why is there no independent evaluation by the city?" Cischke said the topography of the three lots upon which Sundstrom plans to build is not conducive to the proposed six-car parking lot depicted on the plan. Houghton City Manager Scott MacInnes said the city has confirmed the size of the lots, but that further evaluation is not required before issuing a rental license. Following an inquiry by Mayor Tom Merz as to whether the board could require Sundstrom to have an independent site plan prepared at his own expense, City Attorney David Mechlin answered that it would be up to the board's discretion.

From the E-mailbag

Dennis; at a recent conference I had the privilege of hearing a talk from a young man heading up an Engineers Without Borders chapter who has done work in Zaire (restoring water systems for orphanages filled with children whose parents either died in one of the several massacres or from AIDS). The work done by Engineers Without Borders is Work Without Parallel; the entire room agreed, and the presenter was given a standing ovation by the crowd of 50-something senior professionals (most of them hard-boiled owners of consulting firms, many of whom found something in their eyes that needed wiping at the end of his talk).

If Danielle Ladwig was cut from the same cloth (and it sounds like she was), then her untimely death is a loss, not just for Tech, her family and Peru, but also for the entire engineering profession and the world.

Pete Dohms, '67


Response to Marty O, '64

Red Berenson played for University of Michigan, not Denver.  One of my top Tech hockey experiences was attending the game at Ann Arbor when Tech beat U of M and Berenson, 6-4, to win the MacNaughton Cup, in March of '62.  That Tech team went on to win the NCAA championship.

Berenson presently is the head coach for the U of M hockey team, where he went shortly after retiring from the NHL.


Frank Shoffner  '62


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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.

November 18-19 Hockey - Colorado College, Colorado Springs

November 29 Presidential Reception - Berkeley, CA

November 30 Presidential Reception - Santa Clara, CA

December 9-10 Hockey - Madison, WI

December 10 Mid-Year Commencement

December 10 Basketball - Saginaw Valley

Job Opportunities This Week

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

Research Associate--ME-EM (One-year, fixed-term appointment with the possibility of becoming regular. Duration of this position is dependent upon external funding)

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