March 20, 2006 (Vol. 12, No. 40)

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.

NOTE: No Techalum next week--I am taking a "spring" break. See you in two weeks.

In this issue:

St. Patrick's Day Storm (?)

Last week I asked if the "St. Patrick's Day Storm" was "just malarkey?" Good timing. By the time you folks read TechAlum, we received as much as thirty-two inches of snow. The weatherman predicted "four to seven inches," and we joked that it was closer to forty-seven inches. One colleague leaving work early for the Pelkie area said that they were the worst roads she'd ever seen. Keweenaw County pulled their plows off for a while Monday night.

Wet and heavy stuff, too, with a nasty wind. And, since the front yard was clear on Sunday, it meant my snowblower (commandeered by my son and me) was shooting rocks at the neighbors' houses, in addition to all that snow. No damage reported.

The snow wasn't all bad, however. It came just in time for the Clean Snowmobile Challenge, hosted by the Keweenaw Research Center and the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. All the sled heads were loving it, and Tech did well, winning Best Design. It's the fourth year Tech has hosted the event, and the word is out that we do a great job. <  >

KRC is also famous for their snow and vehicle testing and the Winter Driving School. They also keep our snowfall totals, and they had this note with their totals this week: "Due to very high winds the actual snowfall was not measurable. We estimate at least 16" fell from noon the 13th to noon the 14th. Drifts on our test course were over 4 feet deep in many places." In addition, a snowdrift nearly went over the top of the South Range Elementary School.

And, as for the naming of that storm, is it really a St. Patty's day storm if it's five days before the 17th? It's like those "Thanksgiving Day Storms" that can be named seven days either side of the holiday. I know, many of you have driven through one, but how many were actually near Thanksgiving? I digress. I can't talk about Thanksgiving now that spring is just around the corner. Don't laugh.

Snowfall Update
As of March 13, 2006

Snowfall to Date, On the Ground

This Week: 213"     36"
Last Week: 195"     32"
Last Year: 140 "     37"

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

TECH TAKES BEST DESIGN IN CLEAN SNOWMOBILE CHALLENGE: Tech's Clean Snowmobile Team nabbed the Society of Automotive Engineers Best Design Award in the 2006 Clean Snowmobile Challenge. The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is the Society of Automotive Engineers' newest collegiate design competition. Teams of engineering students from participating schools take a stock snowmobile and reengineer it to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or improving performance. The weeklong competition concluded Saturday with an awards banquet at Michigan Tech. The best-design award is based on the team's performance in the oral presentation, static display and written paper categories. Team captain Matt Prusak was pleased with the honor, but expects that Michigan Tech's sled will undergo some major changes next year. "We had a sled that from a design standpoint was very good," he said, but was handicapped by a Honda engine that was too big for the purposes of the Challenge. "Next year, we're looking at a turbo-charged four-stroke."


ME-EM PROFESSOR NAMED OUTSTANDING EDUCATOR: Tammy Haut Donahue, assistant professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics (ME-EM), has been awarded the Ferdinand P. Beer and E. Russell Johnson Jr. Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award for 2006. Presented by the American Society of Engineering Education, this award recognizes exceptional contributions to mechanics education. Madhukar Vable, associate professor of ME-EM, nominated her for the award. "I nominated Dr. Donahue because she is a productive researcher, an effective teacher who cares about her students and invests time in teaching well, and a wonderful colleague to have in our department," said Vable.


BRULE DONATES $250,000 TO SBE MASTER'S PROGRAM: Dave Brule '72 has donated $250,000 to support the new master's program in business administration. Additional donors have given or pledged $453,000. "This is an extremely generous gift, which reflects Mr. Brule's awareness of the critical need for business education in a technological university and his strong commitment to the graduate program," said Christa Walck, dean of the School of Business and Economics. Over the coming months, the School will be developing a plan to invest the gift in students, faculty and programs.


ALUMNI AWARDS ANNOUNCED: The Michigan Tech Alumni Association Board of Directors is proud to announce the following selections for the 2006 Alumni Association Awards:

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Amy Trahey '94, Grand Ledge, MI
Kevin North '94 & '97, Brighton, MI

Outstanding Service Award

Mike Henricksen '64, AuTrain, MI
Dean Woodbeck '78, Potsdam, NY

Honorary Alumni Award

Dr. Ray Smith (Former President of Michigan Tech), Green Valley, AZ

Distinguished Alumni Award

William Jackson '58, Paradise Valley, AZ
John Benaglio '70, Surprise, AZ

The Alumni Association appreciates the many outstanding nominations that were received from the campus community, alums and friends. Awards will be presented at Alumni Reunion, in August, and at University Commencements in the fall and spring of 2006-07.


SCIENCE FAIR A SUCCESS: It was an amazing day for science at Michigan Tech last Thursday, as more than 250 students in grades four to eight from schools in Houghton, Baraga, Keweenaw, and Gogebic Counties descended upon the Memorial Union Building to display their scientific prowess. The students had been required to follow the scientific method as they designed an experiment on any topic of interest in science. They gained valuable problem-solving skills and learned to communicate their findings effectively through a written report, a visual display, and an interview with judges. Ribbons were awarded for both pairs and individuals for first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth places in each grade level. Nearly 600 students and parents packed into 135 Fisher to hear the results at the Awards Ceremony. The science fair, now in its eighth year, is hosted by the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, Michigan Tech Omega Chi Epsilon Chemical Engineering Honor Society, and the Michigan Tech Ecosystem Science Center.


Tech Sports

HUSKIES SWEEP LEWIS IN MEN'S TENNIS: The Michigan Tech men's tennis team gained a sweep of host Lewis, 9-0,in an indoor match at the Five Season Racket Club. The Huskies won the match in convincing fashion as the Flyers won just one set on the evening. Tech opened the match with wins at all three doubles positions. The number one doubles duo of Brett Girard and Rick Halverson claimed an 8-2 pro-set victory. Justin Foley and Rajiv Nanjandareddy matched that score with a number three doubles triumph. Yassine Borkadi and Chris Calder were 8-3 winners at number two doubles.


MICHIGAN TECH PLACES EIGHT ON WCHA ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM: Schwartz and Skworchinski Named WCHA Scholar-Athletes--Eight Michigan Tech hockey players were honored as members of the 2005-06 All-Academic Team at the Western Collegiate Hockey Association annual awards banquet, held in conjunction with the Final Five, announced at RiverCentre. Nick Anderson (Winthrop Harbor, Ill.), Mike Batovanja (Hinton, Alta.), Kevin Hachey (Ontario, Calif.), Lars Helminen (Brighton, Mich.), Mark Malekoff (Grande Prairie, Alta.), Pekka Saittakari (Heinola, Finland), Brandon Schwartz (St. Cloud, Minn.) and Tyler Skworchinski (Marathon, Ont.) represented Tech as Academic All-WCHA honorees.



Sat., March 18
Men's Tennis: Michigan Tech 9 at Lewis 0


Sat., March 25
Men's Tennis at Ferris State, 2:00 p.m.

Sun., March 26
Men's Tennis at Grand Valley State, 10:00 a.m.

Wed., March 29
Men's Tennis at Lake Superior State, 2:00 p.m.

Sat., April 1
Men's Tennis hosts Findlay, 10:00 a.m.
Men's and Women's Track and Field at Red Hawk Invitational (Ripon, WI)

All Times are Eastern

Around Town
(Adapted from the Daily Mining Gazette)

STORM EXTENDS TOURISM SEASON: The 32 inches of snow that fell Monday could be good news for the Keweenaw's tourism industry. After last week's warm temperatures left area snowmobile and ski trails slushy and put spring on the minds of residents, a blizzard took the U.P. by surprise and put the area right back in winter mode. Richard Baker, executive director of the Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce said the recent snowfall means the Keweenaw region's trails will be in good shape for incoming tourists. "This will extend the season by at least two more weeks and all we need is three weeks and the trails close anyway," he said. "The trails will be better now that snow has fallen." Mike Lahti, president of Keweenaw Trails Services Inc., agreed. He said while many locals enjoy snowmobiling into March, tourists start to lose interest as soon as the sun starts to shine. "We were winding down because the trails were in bad shape, but now with the recent snowfall we should be good until the end of the month," he said.


BISHOP SAMPLE RETURNS TO HOUGHTON: As Bishop Alex Sample stood at the back of St. Ignatius Catholic Church recently, the last decade and a half rewound in his mind. "I had flashbacks," he said. Sixteen years ago, "I was, a very nervous young priest, waiting to celebrate his very first mass." Now Sample is celebrating becoming bishop of the Diocese of Marquette, via a tour of his homeland. During a special prayer ceremony at the church, he spoke of many a day he spent participating in the life of the parish. Sample earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1982 and a Master of Science degree in 1984 at Tech. "It is with almost equal joy in my heart I return to the Copper Country, to my home flock," he said. Addressing a full congregation at the afternoon's Special Prayer Service, Sample exchanged jokes with current St. Ignatius parish pastor Father John Martineau, who said he was happy when Sample was appointed bishop in December 2005. "Because I would finally take my eyes off his parish," Sample joked in return.


CANTERBURY HOUSE A SAFE HAVEN: Gay or straight. Catholic, Muslim, Episcopalian, or Lutheran. A 1.3 GPA or a 4.0 GPA, a gym junkie or a couch potato, a budding engineer or intense artisan; all are welcome at the Canterbury House. As long as they are ready to accept an open mind and some hardcore hospitality, that is. "When someone comes in, we tell them 'hi' and offer them a drink," says Carrie Graul, one of nine student workers at the building across from campus, the base for the brand new student support service funded by the Trinity Episcopalian Church. "If they say 'Okay, but I don't believe in God,' then we'd say 'Oh, okay. Do you want a cookie with that?'" Cookies are just one of the attractions waiting for students at the friendly yellow house across from the Administration Building on Tech's campus. Free snacks, cable, wireless access, a warm fireplace and a Nintendo 64 are among the other things to keep students busy between classes. Dark, petite and cute, "Becky" is another major attraction drawing young students, male and female, to the Canterbury House. "The puppy is a major pull," Graul admits. The resident 3-month-old Labrador crossed with setter belongs to their house manager, employed through the Episcopal Association for College Work.

From the E-mailbag


This past weekend, I attended the WCHA Final Five hockey tournament in St Paul. I was pleased to find that the Michigan Tech band was the "Official Band" of this year's Final Five. Also, a woman representing Tech sang the National Anthem at one of the games. Both did wonderfully. Congratulations to Tech's music programs.

John Hedin ('70)



I missed the earlier discussion on roundabouts, but saw a couple of comments on Feb. 20. I live in Germany, and am out of touch with any debate going on in the States on this issue. But roundabouts are used extensively over here, in big cities as well as small towns, and I find they work extremely well--even in heavy traffic. There are rules about who has the right of way, and when everybody follows the rules (which they do in Germany), the system works great. I especially like them because when you are not sure which way to go, you can circle a couple of times thinking about the options, rather than sitting at a corner tying up traffic.

Bill Sundstrom  -- 1976


Yeah, the big ones work great! I had no problem with them in Copenhagen years ago. But here in St. Louis they try to jam them into a normal intersection. We've got a couple of them that can't be more than 50-100 feet in diameter. We in Missouri don't have a real highway department however.

Herb Stein



Here's another good article on roundabouts.  It was featured in the Denver Post not too long ago. <>

Jamie Archambeau '02




Hope you are doing well.  Your continued chats about roundabouts struck unusually close to home this morning.

Apparently, CalTrans has discovered this traffic device themselves, and are hard at work installing them around the San Diego area. One was installed in my town a couple of weeks ago, and on Friday, as I left an appointment, I found myself in the middle of one.  As I traversed the circle, a Cadillac Escalade came from nowhere, blowing right through the very large "Yield" sign and forcing me up onto the center of the roundabout, a near miss.

You can argue that Californians don't understand the concept of "Yield," or that Escalade drivers can't be bothered to read signs, but my vote is against the entire roundabout concept.

I'm seeing body shops and rising insurance rates in my future.

Jamie Holden


Hi Dennis,

I am a Tech alum having graduated with a BS in Geology in 1979. Your last newsletter had a reference to the Portage Lake Golf Course. I have very fond memories of playing that course in the late 70's...great times indeed. I'll never forget the uniqueness of the course in that occasionally you would get a crazy bounce only to find out your shot hit a rock that doesn't happen down here in Florida. Has the courase changed much since those days? I also spent way too much time on Mont Ripley honing my skiing skills. Come to think of it, between the golf, skiing, and partying I am lucky to have found time to study and graduate! Anyway, thanks for triggering some ond memories and keep those newsletters coming!

Dennis Thompson
BS Geology 1979



Your item about Seneca Lake in this week's Alumni News made me think that you and possibly some of your readers might enjoy seeing the attached photograph of Seneca Lake which I took in November, 1997 just as the lake was beginning to freeze up for the winter.

Donald Johnson


Alumni Association Programs

Michigan Tech Alumni Relations and Admissions are proud to present the following Michigan Tech Spotlight Nights, as part of the STARnet volunteer program.

Houghton: Thursday, March 30
Iron Mountain: Tuesday, April 4
Green Bay: Wednesday, April 5
Chicago: Thursday, April 6
Duluth: Wednesday, May 10
Twin Cities: Thursday, May 11
Tri-Cities: Tuesday, May 16
Southeast Michigan (Southfield): Wednesday, May 17
Southeast Michigan (Ann Arbor): Thursday, May 18
Marquette: Monday, May 22
Traverse City:  Tuesday, May 23
Southwest Michigan (Grand Rapids): Wednesday, May 24
Kalamazoo: Thursday, May 25

Know bright, motivated, and adventurous students in these areas? Encourage them to come out! Pass it on. Michigan Tech Spotlight Night is a great place to check out Tech.

The purpose of the Spotlight Night programs is to introduce prospective students to Michigan Tech. The event will showcase the seven interest areas of study:  Arts and Human Sciences, Business, Computing, Engineering, Environmental Studies, Sciences, and Technology, along with showcasing various Enterprise and Senior Design projects. Prospective students and guests including parents, teachers and counselors are welcome and encouraged to attend.

For the Spotlight Night schedule, posters and more information,

Information is also available on the Alumni & Friends and Admissions homepage, or contact: Kim Klender at ksklende(at)  (906.487.3674)

RSVP:  <>


ALL CHAPTER EVENTS: For more information on alumni chapter events, e-mail mtu_alumni(at) or see the alumni chapter site on the web:

March 2006                                                    

21-22 - Buffalo National College Fair
24-25 - Green Bay- Hockey Regionals @ the Resch
25 - Grand Rapids Griffins Hockey/Alumni Event
30 - Houghton/Hancock Spotlight Night @ Wadsworth Hall

April 2006                                                      

2 - Houston National College Fair
4 - Iron Mountain Spotlight Night
4 - Seattle Presidential Reception
5 - Portland Presidential Reception
5 - Green Bay Spotlight Night
6 - Chicago Spotlight Night
11 - Denver Presidential Reception
12 - Student Expo - Alumni Night
18 - Ontario/Inland Empire National College Fair
19 - Honolulu National College Fair
20 - San Diego National College Fair
22 - Orange County National College Fair
23-24 - Greater LA National College Fair
25 - Ventura National College Fair
27 - San Francisco National College Fair
29 - Spring Commencement

May 2006                                                       

3 - Grand Rapids Spring Dinner/Presidential Reception
8 - Boston Presidential Reception
9 - Philadelphia Presidential Reception
10 - Duluth Spotlight Night
11 - Minneapolis Spotlight Night
16 - Saginaw/Bay City/Midland Spotlight Night
17-18 - Detroit Spotlight Night
22 - Marquette Spotlight Night
23 - Traverse City Spotlight Night
24 - Grand Rapids Spotlight Night
24 - Green Bay Golf Outing
24-26 - Washington DC (MTF Board Meeting), Presidential Reception
25 - Kalamazoo Spotlight Night

Job Opportunities This Week

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

No on-campus job postings this week.

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