April 17, 2006 (Vol. 12, No. 43)

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:

Undergraduate Expo

The event was winding down when I walked through the Memorial Union Ballroom last Thursday afternoon. Students, dressed to the nines, were still staffing their displays and willing to talk about their research. It was Undergraduate Expo 2006, where students present their Senior Design, Undergraduate Research, and Enterprise Team projects.

One student analyzed knee joints for her project. She was looking at the lateral and medial meniscus--the "cartilage" in the joint--and what the deterioration over time means. She was testing materials that could possibly replace the meniscus. As a runner (jogger, really), I was interested in the subject. She was a runner, too, and that was one reason she got involved in the research.

Another student looked at the liquid used in metal-forming machinery. Bacteria in the liquid are a leading cause of workplace illnesses, she said. She was trying to kill it with irradiation and, although not having much luck, she was already working toward a better test for the next round.

Another team of students was looking at sound-deadening materials for underlayment that goes under flooring. They came up with a great material that reduced noise levels by more than 50 decibels ("the Holy Grail"), but it was expensive. Their least costly product (they had seven displayed) was still an improvement, and the company sponsoring their work had high hopes for a solution somewhere between the two.

Finally, two groups worked within the environmental realm: one came up with a system for automatically watering plants, so those folks with brown thumbs don't kill them all; and another team did work with water systems and other construction projects in Nicaragua, and landscaping with Cass Tech High School in Detroit.

Just your typical Tech students: working on projects to make the world a better place in which to live and having the ability to explain how it works.

As an administrator said when exiting, "My brain hurts from all this knowledge!"

ALUMNI BULLETIN BOARD: Remember the alumni bulletin board for you to use for discussions related to this newsletter, Tech sports, or anything else: <http://www.admin.mtu.edu/pps-cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl>

At Tech

HOT CAR--STUDENT DESIGNS HIGH-VOLTAGE STUNT FOR MERCEDES: When Mercedes Benz wanted to roll out their sporty new sedan in a blaze of glory, they called kVA Effects in Los Angeles for some high-voltage excitement. And when kVA director Jeff Parisse started thinking about fooling around with five million volts, he called Michigan Tech undergraduate Sam Barros. In his four years at Tech, he has built powerful accelerators known as rail guns and his own personal laser, been featured in Fortune magazine, on MTV and on Discovery Canada's "The Daily Planet" and was tapped by "Fear Factor" to design and build an extra-scary electrical obstacle course. This time, the event would involve dazzling the media during the preview of the Mercedes E63AMG. The unveiling was set for two days before the official kick-off of the New York International Auto Show. In this case, the special effect involved a super-size Tesla Coil, a metallic donut about the size of a truck tire, it can throw down a spark about the size of a bolt of lightning. During the Mercedes stunt, the spark was first transmitted from the Tesla Coil to a stunt man hanging in mid-air above the vehicle, courtesy of a power cable. "The charge goes from him to three dancers via a metal wand, and when they reach the car, they send a spark to the car," Barros explains. Then, from out of the car, emerges the driver, a Mercedes executive.


RAO ELECTED FELLOW OF SAE AND ASME: Mohan D. Rao, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, was recently elected a Fellow, both of the Society of Automotive Engineers International and of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The ASME Fellow grade of membership recognizes exceptional achievements and contributions to the engineering profession. SAE Fellowship status is the highest grade of membership bestowed by the Society of Automotive Engineers. It recognizes outstanding engineering and scientific accomplishments by an individual that have resulted in meaningful advances in automotive, aerospace and commercial vehicle technology.


TECH STUDENTS HELP PREVENT UNDERAGE DRINKING: Three Tech students are using their technical writing skills to help the Copper Country Mental Health Services Institute prevent the sale of alcohol to minors. Pavi Elle Poole (Biological Sciences), Karina Jousma and Elizabeth Breining (Humanities) are working with Regan Antila, a prevention specialist with the Mental Health Services Institute, to produce posters aimed at anyone who might provide alcohol to minors. Assistant Professor Ann Brady (Humanities) recommended the students to Antila. Brady had the three of them in her Introduction to Scientific Communications class and was impressed with their dedication and writing abilities. The students are excited to be using skills that they've learned in the classroom to benefit the community. "We designed the posters to enable people to think about certain actions they take, the consequence involved and how it affects the community," said Poole.



Tech Sports

TWO MORE SCHOOL RECORDS FALL AT SAGINAW VALLEY STATE INVITATIONAL--Miron Achieves Personal Best in Long Jump; Zimny Garners Top Pole Vault Performance: One week removed from Robert Haynes' record-breaking performances in the 100 and 200 meter dash at the Bulldog Invitational, Jessica Miron and Bridget Zimny provided their own heroics for the Michigan Tech track and field team Saturday (April 15) at the Saginaw Valley State Invitational. Miron took second in the long jump and set a new school record with a leap of 17' 11.25''. The senior now owns seven of Tech's top 10 performances all-time in the long jump after breaking Jennifer Seefelt's old high mark of 17' 10.25'' set in 1986.


ANNUAL HOCKEY AWARDS: Senior forward Chris Conner, who led the team in scoring for the second time in his four-year career, was honored with the prestigious Merv Youngs Award as the most valuable player of the Michigan Tech hockey team at the annual Blueline Club Awards Banquet. Conner finished his career as Tech's all-time leader in shorthanded goals (15). The winger ranks 19th among all Michigan Tech players in career goals (69) and is 35th all-time in overall point scoring (69-60--129). In addition to MVP honors, Conner earned the Gary Crosby Memorial Award as the team's leading scorer with 29 points off 17 goals and 12 assists. Junior Tyler Skworchinski earned the John MacInnes Slide Rule Award for scholastic achievement for the second straight year. Skworchinski, who tallied two goals on the season, owns a 3.73 cumulative grade point average in business administration. The forward was also tabbed with the Elov Seger Memorial Award as the team's most improved player. Skworchinski appeared in 30 games this season after playing in 20 contests as a sophomore.

For the second year in a row, junior Lars Helminen gained the team's Gitzen-Loutit Memorial Award as its outstanding defenseman. He led all Michigan Tech blueliners in scoring with 19 points and provided a team-best 13 points on the power play. Senior Nick Anderson earned the Harold Meese Sportsmanship Award. Anderson was second on the team in power-play goals (6) and ranked sixth on the team in point scoring (16) in 2005-06.

The Norbert Matovich Award as the team's outstanding freshman was presented to Michael-Lee Teslak, who garnered Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Rookie of the Week accolades twice and WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors once in his rookie campaign. The netminder led all WCHA newcomers in saves (812), saves per game (31.2) and save percentage (.902). Combining scholastic and athletic achievement, senior forward Brandon Schwartz was the recipient of the George McCarthy Performance Award. The owner of three shorthanded goals and 26 points this season, Schwartz closed his career with 34 goals and 48 assists in 143 games. The Wildcat Slayer Award was presented to sophomore Jake Wilkens as a result of his standout defensive performance in two games against rival Northern Michigan.



Sat, Apr 15: Men's Tennis, Findlay 5, Michigan Tech 3 (at GLIAC Championships, Midland, Mich.)

Fri, Apr 14: Men's Tennis, Wayne State 5, Michigan Tech 0 (at GLIAC Tournament, Midland, Mich.)


Sat, Apr 22: Football hosts Annual Spring Intrasquad Game, 1 p.m.

Tue, Apr 25: Women's and Men's Track & Field at Minnesota Duluth Bulldog Open, 5 p.m.

All Times are Eastern

Around the Keweenaw
(Adapted from the Daily Mining Gazette)

CHANGES FOR BRIDGE HILL? Driving straight across the intersection of Bridge Street and Montezuma Avenue in Houghton could become a thing of the past. Houghton Police Chief Ralph Raffaelli presented a request to the city council to close the intersections to all but right turns, citing a high number of accidents. He outlined a typical risk situation: Two parallel cars head east on Montezuma as a car is waiting to go north on Bridge. The car in the right lane makes a right turn onto Bridge, freeing the stopped driver to cross - or so they think until they run into the other car, still heading east on Montezuma. In both 2004 and 2005, there have been six accidents and one OUIL at the intersection, a well as two personal injury accidents, he said. More perplexing, the accidents aren't bunched around high-traffic times, instead spread randomly throughout the day.


GRANT PRESERVES WETLANDS: The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has undertaken a new initiative to preserve wetlands along the coast of Lake Superior in the Keweenaw Peninsula's north shore. According to an written statement from U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee on Wednesday, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has allocated $928,000 to protect 1,475 acres in cooperation of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Eagle Harbor Township and the Nature Conservancy. Areas of declining coastal wetlands and Lake Superior shore have already been set aside for protection including the North Woods Conservancy's Seven Mile Point and Merganser Pond, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Copper Country State Forest, Eagle Harbor Township's Long Lake Refuge, and the Nature Conservancy's Mt. Lookout Preserve. Jane Griffith, member of Calumet's North Woods Conservancy, said in a written statement that this initiative would benefit the water quality within the protected area.


HANCOCK CITY HALL NEEDS WORK: At 107 years old, the Hancock city hall building not surprisingly is in need of repairs, but it also is being used for functions it wasn't designed for and that has some city officials concerned. City Manager Glenn Anderson said problems with the exterior of the building, which was dedicated in 1899, include crumbling of the red sandstone blocks that form the facade and a deteriorating roof. "It's in desperate need of a new roof," he said. City government offices have always been on the second floor, Anderson said, and needed upgrades there include installation of an air conditioning system, a new boiler for heating water, a restroom that conforms to the Americans With Disability Act and painting throughout. "The last work we did on this building was in 1985 when the elevator was installed," he said. Anderson said the ground floor of the city hall building used to be the fire hall, but the space was shared with the police department until a new fire hall was built on Ethel Avenue in 1997. However, since the fire hall space was never meant as a police station, it isn't meeting the department's needs for privacy and security.

From the E-mailbag

Hi Dennis,

I just read your article about fishing in the Keweenaw and that raised a question.  I don't hear anything about those heralded smelt runs in the spring anymore.  Is it still a tradition, or has it become a thing of the past?

Thanks so much, and keep up the great work.

Dan Recla, '78

Editor's Note: Good point, Dan. Cruising the Keweenaw and seeing the running streams yesterday, the same question occurred to me. Then there's biting the head off the first one . . .


Interesting to sit here at our home on the ocean in Puerto Vallarta and read my Alumni news from Michigan Tech--where you are talking about the Masters tournament here in PV. We volunteered at the tournament and had a lot of fun. The weather here is a balmy 85 degrees with light ocean breezes all winter long.

But about May we start getting homesick for our log cabin home in the U.P. And this year we have the pleasure of starting the next generation of family into Michigan Tech. We will be taking two of g'kids to the Michigan Tech Summer Youth Program, which gives us a chance to spend a week on the Michigan Tech campus.

Anyway keep the newsletter coming - your doing a great job!

Mike Alder '73


My last visit to the Keweenaw area was last September and a round of golf on the course where I spent a lot of time learning to play this great game was a must. You are not kidding when you say the "greens are in good shape". Compared to 1980-1983, and even 1990, the last time I had been there, the condition of them was incredible. Easily as nice as the greens you might find at any upscale golf course. Although you won't find it on any 'best of' lists, it remains one of my all-time favorite golf courses. You are fortunate to be able to play there whenever you want.  :)

-Dave Howell
BSCS '83

Editor's note: And, it's opening tomorrow!


Dear Dennis:

As I was busily achieving a semi-comatose state in yet another unnecessary meeting the other day, I was rudely brought back to consciousness by the jangling of a cell phone playing not just the usual tones, but the opening bars of the evil fight song from that school in Ann Arbor, whose name I have conveniently forgotten.  Shortly thereafter, I was treated to the opening bars of the fight song from that den of iniquity in East Lansing.

To add insult to injury, someone even had the fight song from the eleventh member of the Big Ten, located somewhere in Pennsylvania I am told.   (We shall now pause for a moment to contemplate what is being said about that athletic conference's mathematical abilities.)

After having bragged up my school over the years to any number of ill-educated, ill-trained, and ill-mannered co-workers from such nameless institutions, one may be inclined to ask the question, "So where do I download my school's fight song?" as performed by that most innovative and august of musical groups, the Michigan Tech Pep Band.

Tom Phillips - '77

Editor's note: Here's the fight song--


a site that's supposed to be easy: "will take any mp3 from your computer and turn it into a ring tone."





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.

* See the dates listed below.

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, www.mtu.edu.

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

RSVP:  <www.admin.mtu.edu/alumni/volunteer/spotlight.htm>


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


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

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 mtu.edu

Visiting Assistant Professor (History)--Social Sciences

Research Associate--School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (Position duration dependent upon external funding)


OFF CAMPUS: For off-campus positions, visit the alumni section of the career center's web site ( http://www.career.mtu.edu/alumni.php)