June 12 , 2006 (Vol. 13, No. 5)

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:

portage library outsideLibraries

Getting a library card was one of the first responsibilities of youth, and in my case it meant weekly trips to the Bookmobile that visited our Detroit neighborhood each summer. Over the years, libraries were a sanctuary and special place through high school, and I really got to know them in college.

I always opted for the learning carrels, silencing the third floor of Van Pelt Library even more and allowing me to focus. Being surrounded by all the books gave me a feeling of knowledge, as if some of it would seep into me just by being there. And the new Opie Library at Tech is stunning. It possesses the Great Room for studying that is dominated by the wall of windows on the US 41 side. The quiet third floor remains, greatly expanded now, and there are enough study areas throughout the building to bring up anyone's GPA.

portage library insideAnd now there is one more great library in the Keweenaw: the Portage Lake District Library had it's grand opening this weekend and combined it with the Houghton Spring Art and Music Festival and a footrace to benefit the local Suzuki violin society. Tech was well represented in making it happen: Glenn and Gail Mroz helped out, as did former VP for Advancement Ron Helman and his wife, Lou Ellyn, and Dean of Students Gloria Melton sits on the Library Board.

The new library is another great place to hang out and read a book. Directly down the hill from the old library building, the new one sits on Portage Lake and offers inspiring views of the waterway and bridge throughout its many rooms: history room; living room that will have a fireplace, computers, and periodicals; areas for children, young adults, and adults; multimedia section; and community room.

wooden bookThe design is enhanced with wooden shelving, woodcuts over doorways, and even a wooden open book archway that separates a couple of areas. The greatest part of it all, in addition to the views of the water, ski hill, and bridge, is the openness of it. It is bright, friendly, and inviting, and it's a great addition to the waterfront, which is even more visible now with the removal of the Huron Street overhangs. (In fact, the new library is right down Huron Street from the old one.)

And, it's close to that other Library that many alums and locals are familiar with: the one with books and beverages. So, now you've got another good reason to come back and visit, and Alumni Reunion is August 3-5.

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

TECH BENEFACTOR TED DOAN DIES AT AGE 83: Herbert D. (Ted) Doan, former CEO of Dow Chemical and a benefactor of Michigan Tech, died May 16 at his home in Ann Arbor. "Ted Doan was one of those few truly memorable people who have a positive influence on everyone they interact with," said Gary Anderson, retired chair of Dow Corning Corporation and the former president of the Michigan Tech Fund Board of Trustees. "Although he was an heir to the founder of the Dow Chemical Company and its CEO at one time, he was the most down-to-earth and unassuming man you would ever want to meet. He had a heart of gold and spent his life dedicated to improving society with a focus on his community, developing our youth to compete in this high-tech world and supporting entrepreneurship in new fields of technology." In particular, Doan's interest in preparing youth to create the future prompted his support of Michigan Tech through the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, which he chaired. The foundation was established in memory of Doan's grandfather, the founder of Dow Chemical, by his widow. "As head of the Dow Foundation, Ted encouraged the foundation to underwrite Tech projects over the years, including the $5-million gift for the new Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building. He was a great friend to Tech who will be sorely missed," Anderson said.


ALUMS TOUR WADS: John Diemart was one of the first Tech students to live in Wadsworth Hall. That was in 1955, before a series of additions beginning later that decade. And it was long before a $34 million renovation during the 2004-05 school year. "They did a beautiful job ... it's now up there with the big schools," he said. Diemart was one of many alumni to return for a tour of the hall recently. The Michigan Tech Alumni Association led walkthroughs as part of its annual back-to-school weekend for former students. The association leads tours of a building annually. With the spate of construction, they've been able to deliver new sights each year--Rekhi Hall and the John Opie Library last year, and the Dow Building before that. But this year's crowd of 118 topped them all, said Kim Klender, alumni relations outreach coordinator and a 1988 Tech graduate. "A lot of the gentlemen lived in this dorm in the fifties and sixties, so they were fired up to see what it looks like," she said. Some surprises awaited those who hadn't seen Wadsworth since their college years, including a batch of newly created hotel rooms. The TVs and furnishing impressed. So did the air conditioning. There was more: dorm rooms with wood furniture, lounges with ovens, a conference room that still smelled like a new baseball glove. And a brightened-up cafeteria that caters exclusively to students. Alumni enjoyed the look back, Klender said. "It was great," she said. "I think this is one of our best events."


UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES HR REORGANIZATION: Tech has announced a reorganization affecting Human Resources. Director of Affirmative Programs Sherry Kauppi has been appointed director and will lead the department through the next phase of improvements in operations and services. The HR director reports to Vice President of Administration Ellen Horsch. Kauppi will retain the core duties from her current position, which she has held for almost thirteen years. In this capacity, she will report to President Glenn Mroz. "This is an exciting time for this move. Building on the many things that are already running well, the HR department is now poised to move ahead in several new areas," Kauppi said. "I have confidence in the experienced people in the department. We will be focusing on continual improvement toward more efficiencies, exploring more uses of computer-based services, and expanding even more user-friendly applications for the members of the campus." In addition, Bill McKilligan, associate director of campus planning, will move into the position of director of staff labor and report directly to Horsch. McKilligan has 29 years of experience at Michigan Tech, including about 15 years on bargaining teams, and has been involved in contract administration, grievance procedures, etc. He will administer the current contracts with AFSCME, UAW and POA employees. McKilligan says, "I am excited about continuing to strengthen our solid relationships with the represented staff at Michigan Tech."


BOB WENC IS RETIRING: Many alumni who lived in Daniell Heights came to know Bob Wenc over the years. A retirement open house is being held Friday, June 16, 2:00-4:00 p.m., at the Daniell Heights Community Room to honor Bob, manager of Michigan Tech Apartments, who is retiring after twenty-six years of dedicated service.


WEIDMAN RECIEVES WILLIAMS AWARD: Two years ago in a department meeting, Robert Weidman sealed his own fate. "I told my colleagues we could teach physics in a far more effective way, and in the same meeting they let me do it," he recalls. "It turned out to be totally stressful, but it was the most creative experience of my life." The result has been the complete revamping of PH2100 and PH2200, the University Physics course sequence taught to hundreds of students a year in Fisher Hall. For his considerable efforts, Weidman, an associate professor of physics, has received Michigan Tech's Fredrick D. Williams Instructional Innovation Award. Weidman logged many seventy-hour weeks crafting the sequence from scratch. "Those in the department with Dr. Weidman consider his efforts to be nothing less than heroic," said Department Chair Ravi Pandey and Associate Professor of Physics John Jaszczak, in nominating Weidman for the Williams Award. "It appears that the department, thanks to Dr. Weidman's lead, is meeting the challenge of successfully teaching introductory calculus-based physics to over 1,500 students per year with fewer in-class contact hours and with increased satisfaction among both faculty and students." Weidman's latest effort builds on his already strong reputation among students as an outstanding teacher, said Max Seel, dean of sciences and arts. "But what is more important than student satisfaction is student learning," he wrote in support of Weidman's nomination. "He has improved his students' mastery of foundational physics concepts and problem-solving skills." The Fredrick D. Williams Instructional Innovation Award, named in honor of the legendary professor famous for his ability to inject excitement into introductory chemistry lectures, carries a prize of $2,500. Weidman will be honored at an awards banquet in the fall.

Tech Sports

TECH PLACES EIGHTEEN ON SPRING GLIAC ALL-ACADEMIC TEAMS--Women's Track and Field Leads Way With Nine Recipients: A total of eighteen student-athletes represented Michigan Tech on Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Academic teams for the spring season. Tech sports included in the spring season were men's tennis and men's and women's track and field.

The women's track and field team posted a program-best nine Academic All-GLIAC selections including Megan Drelles (Ludington, Michigan), Kate Hagenbuch (Hancock, Michigan), Tara Hansen (Swartz Creek, Michigan), Andrea Metz (Marathon, Wisconsin), Jessica Miron (Huntley, Illinois), Kristina Owen (East Wenatchee, Washington/Eastmont), Jessica Pontius (Saline, Michigan), Cindy Schafer (New Brighton, Michigan/Irondale) and Bridget Zimney (Esko, Minnesota).

The men's track and field squad secured six honorees on the All-Academic team -- Tim Ciarkowski (Rogers City, Michigan), Travis Hansen (Swartz Creek), Sam Kilpela (Atlantic Mine, Michigan/Jeffers), Stuart Kramer (Marquette, Michigan), Ryan Kruger (Negaunee, Michigan) and Scott Latusek (Grayling, Michigan). Yassine Borkadi-Khaldi (Casablanca, Morocco/Lycee Elbilia), Chris Calder (Okemos, Michigan) and Justin Foley (Chaska, Minnesota) each garnered Academic All-GLIAC accolades for the men's tennis team.

To qualify for GLIAC All-Academic status a student athlete must have: a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.0 or greater (on a 4.0 scale); must be a starter or key reserve; and must not be a freshman or first-year transfer.



Saturday, June 24: Men's Basketball Golf Outing, Portage Lake Golf Course, 11:45 a.m.

August 3-5: Volleyball Alumni Reunion http://www.volleyballreunion.mtu.edu

Around the Keweenaw

NEW AD CAMPAIGN FOR MICHIGAN EDC LAUNCHED: The State of Michigan's Economic Development Corporation is launching a new advertising campaign--"the largest business marketing initiative in Michigan's history," according to their website. Since it is heavily embedded with science and technology images and success stories, we thought alums would enjoy reviewing it. You will need a Real Player media player to view.



HANCOCK SUBDIVISION PLAN DISCUSSED: Two property owners hoping to develop a subdivision made a presentation to convince the Hancock City Council to eventually approve the plan. Former Hancock resident John Tonne, who now lives in northern Wisconsin, said the nearly thirty-acre property is west of the Sylvan Estates subdivision. He hopes to establish up to thirty-three lots on the land. Tonne told the council that in exchange for an easement the city wants on his property to construct an extension of Campus Drive to connect with Birch Street, he and his nephew, Tom Tonne, would like to get approval to go ahead with the project. Tonne said there has been a great deal of interest from a local real estate company to sell lots for single-family housing. "We do have strong interest to get things going," he said. "If we don't move, there's a lost opportunity." Tonne said based on his experience in Wisconsin, it's a good time to build single family housing, rather than condominium developments. "Housing developments are doing excellent in smaller towns in Wisconsin," he said. The Tonne presentation was for information only. The council took no action on the issue, but Mayor Barry Givens suggested that the Tonnes continue talking with City Manger Glenn Anderson about their plan.


HOUGHTON COUNTY ESTABLISHES BROWNFIELD AUTHORITY: The Houghton County Board of Commissioners established a brownfield authority recently. Board Chairman Mike Lahti said although commissioners ran an ad for about one month asking for county residents to be on the authority, there were no responses. Because of that, Lahti said all five county commissioners were appointed to the authority until county residents come forward to fill the positions. Although commissioners have no sites in mind for possible brownfield funding, Lahti said having that mechanism in place could mean getting a contaminated site productive again. "It can pay taxes again," he said. Also at the special meeting, Lahti said commissioners heard, also, from representatives of Upper Peninsula Power Company and development company Naterra Land about the plans to develop the shoreline around the Bond Falls Flowage in Ontonagon County.


VICTORIAN HOME TURNS 100: When Julie and Dave Sprenger graduated from Tech twenty-five years ago, like many others before them, they headed off to the California coast to find a dream home, a fortune in engineering, and a little more sunshine. It took them eight years to realize that something wasn't quite right with their new life. Something was missing. It was big and white. But it wasn't a snowdrift. "We kept thinking about the big white mansion," says Julie. The grand Victorian home on Tamarack Street in Laurium had caught their attention as students in the Copper Country and would eventually bring them home, making the switch from engineers to innkeepers at the Laurium Manor Inn. "It was just logical," Sprenger adds. Today the couple also owns and runs neighboring Victorian Hall B&B, another grand Victorian mansion, which celebrated its turn-of-the-century birthday recently. "We had to do a lot. I like to call it re-grooving." Today, the building represents the original Victorian home. In many rooms remain original stained glass windows, original wallpaper was uncovered under five layers of paint in a bedroom upstairs, beautifully carved wooden fireplaces in almost every room, and traces of owners left behind. Modern comforts have been added, for example an electric stereo hidden inside an old fashioned wooden wireless in an upstairs suite, whirlpools in bathrooms, air conditioning, wireless Internet, and television. "The amenities of a hotel, in a historic atmosphere," Sprenger explains. "We're really not a traditional B&B."

From the E-mailbag

Dennis -
If Jennifer feels old graduating in '94, I suggest she think about those of us who graduated in '59. Things haven't just changed at MCM&T since then, we have a whole new University!!! My EE degree was clearly for Electrical Engineering--there was no confusion with other fields like Environmental Engineering. The only item that has not changed is a superb education at a reasonable price. I suspect, however, that the students are paying a bit more than $160 tuition (fees in those days) and $450 room and board plus maybe $50 for books and supplies. On the other hand, graduate engineering salaries were around $6500.

The info flow from Tech has never been better.

Pete Rankin '59


Jennifer's response ("Back then we were thrilled to be able to email our other college friends and talk in chat rooms through the "gopher" hole created by the Univ. of Minnesota. The World Wide Web, widely used email, and the Internet as we know it, was just around the corner.")

Made me feel even older, my first experience with computer was at Tech. I started my freshman year in college. My first introduction was as a computer operator dealing with punch cards and paper output. It started during a discussion in the college dorm (Wadsworth -top floor Le Maison de Gaite (sp?)) at Michigan Tech.  A group of us were discussing getting student jobs for spending money. Several of the typical topics were brought up (washing dishes in the cafeteria, clerking in the Student Union, and such). One of the older students (a senior still living in the dorm) asked if any of us had experience with computers as the computer lab was looking for student help. As this was in the fall of 1967 the general answer (including mine) was "huh, what's a computer?"

As it sounded more interesting then dish washing, which I had done working at a fast food place during high school, I decided to follow up and checked with the computer lab the next day. I started working in the lab in January of 1968 feeding cards into an IBM 1620 computer that supported the engineering and science programs. The next fall we updated to an IBM 360-44, still with punch cards and paper output. And I remember helping to move it in. The school installed the first CRT terminals in the fall of 1971 in the quarter that I graduated.

I worked as an operator all except my last quarter at college. In addition I took some programming classes my sophomore year and for the last two years worked part time for my department (metallurgy (mineral processing)) doing programming for mineral dressing problems.

M. C. (Mike) Albrecht, P.E. (Dec. '71)



My mother was also born in Painesdale. My dad graduated Tech in 1940 & mom was working in the Tech library. She had many stories of boarding copper miners so they could make ends meet. Her mom was diabetic & had lost both legs.

My mom's maiden name was Combelack. She had 4 brothers & 1 sister. Her brother Stan ran the Ford garage in Houghton and his wife, my aunt Sylvia, cooked for Tech Toots for many years. Her brother Jim also worked at Ford garage and her brother Nick owned the Ford Garage in Ishpeming.

John Polakowski
Met Eng 1967

Editor's Note: In the "It's a small world" category, the Palmers and Combelacks lived next to each other in Painesdale and, of course, my mother recalls all of them fondly.



I can also share with respect to visiting old family haunts. Among the family members that came up to Tech for my graduation (spring '97) was my then 94-yr-old grandmother Esther (Michel) Britton.  We enjoyed riding through her girlhood haunts in Lake Linden.  She pointed out a couple of the houses they lived in back then, one of which I believe is now a Convalescence home in Hubbell.

On a side note, this summer my wife and I plan a visit to Tech, during which we might try to research where some of my relatives are buried. History of the Copper Country all over again. :)

Take care,


I enjoy reading your weekly newsletters updating the events at Tech.  Having worked near Detroit since graduation in 1992 I was amused to hear in this week's Foundations Article that South Range has grown big enough now to have a suburb (Baltic).

Bruce Bolt
BSME '92

Editor's Note: The word "suburb" should have been in quotes. Baltic is its own entity, like Seeberville, Coburntown, Mandan, and many other locations in the Keweenaw.


Regarding you touring places in Dodgeville and around: I grew up at--Emerald Street and one summer within the past several years journeyed up to the old homestead wile spending time at my summer home at Bete Gris. I drove up the hill and parked at the top on Fifth Street, walked down the hill and rang the bell. To my surprise the door was answered and I very politely explained that I had grown up in that house and could I please look at it for nostalgic purposes. Of Course I could. My mother's lovely papered hall, spacious living and dining room were filled with all the contents of the current occupants and didn't look at all like "Home". Next I went outside in the back yard and looked at my father's walls that he lovingly constructed with sandstone he hauled from out past Lake Linden. Instead of his corn, raspberries, radishes and lettuce were patches of weeds. I thanked my host and guide and left. When I got to my car I burst into tears. I found out that you can't go back again. Then two years ago--we journeyed North again to the land that I love--the Keweenaw and Bete Gris to look at my cottage which I had to sell two years previously. All the outbuildings that my father and his "gang" carefully and lovingly constructed were torn down for new modern structures. Again I sat on the new improved dock and was speechless for some minutes. Again it was reinforced--You can't go back again.

Joie Townsend Hendrix--daughter of Ernest J Townsend.



While no one can argue that Toyota is a highly successful automaker, calling them a "Detroit automaker" is misguided. Toyota's impact on the US economy is a mere fraction compared to that of GM, Ford, and Chrysler. As much as 82% of a GM vehicle comes from domestic parts (as of 2003), compared with 41% for Toyota.    Ford and Chrysler also dwarf Toyota in this area. In fact, more than a million Americans make their living as a result of GM alone. That's 1 million Americans, whose taxes pay for things like higher education, national defense, roads, social security, etc.

In terms of US investment, GM alone has invested $18.1 billion dollars in capital between 1999 and 2002, which is more than the combined total of many of the "transplants" (including Toyota) in the last 20 years. That means architects and designers, technical writers and business planners, engineers and construction specialists. In other words, all the areas where Michigan Tech makes an impact.

With all the downsizing and volume reductions lately from GM and Ford, it's easy to get down on Detroit. Perhaps the "Big 3" moniker doesn't reflect the current realities of the automotive industry. But be careful of over-inflating the importance, and for that matter quality and performance, of the transplant manufacturers. The fact is,GM and its domestic counterparts compare favorably to the transplants (including Toyota) in productivity, quality, warranty cost, performance, and price in the marketplace. Closing the financial gap vs. the transplants will require the domestics to overcome such challenges as an outdated cost structure, legacy costs, and overcapacity. But the biggest obstacle is one of public perception.

Think about it the next time you're shopping for a new car....or even more importantly, the next time you're discussing or commenting on the auto industry.   Who are you supporting? Are they supporting you?

Thanks for listening.

Kevin Britton
BSME ('97)

Editor's Note: My point in the "Big Four" was not about manufacturing vehicles within Michigan, it was referring to global sales as Kevin and I discussed via subsequent emails.


I'm sure John Gonser's comments regarding "Michigan Lefts" will draw much feedback. If someone (possibly a Civil?) would with an explanation of their current purpose that would be wonderful. I would agree that in years past they may have served a purpose by reducing the interruptions to traffic flow. However, with the high volume of traffic our roads today, these awkward turns now seem to impede traffic flow more than aid it.

Wayne Prochaska-1983


Editor's note: We received numerous emails about the University's name change in 1964. The following note addresses the question of whether or not you could choose which name to have on your diploma:

The name change occurred in late 1963 as you noted because I graduated in June of 1964, and I can remember being given a choice on the college name to be put on my class ring. It was either M.C.M.&T (Michigan College of Mining and Technology) or M.T.U.(Michigan Technological University).

Don Robinson-1964


Alumni Association Programs

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: http://www.admin.mtu.edu/alumni/chapters/usamap.html

14 - Saginaw Annual Golf Outing
23 - Detroit Tigers Group Outing

3-5 - Alumni Reunion
5 - Grand Rapids Whitecaps Alumni Event
12 - East Coast Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show

Job Opportunities This Week

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

No on-campus jobs this week.

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