July 24 , 2006 (Vol. 13, No. 11)

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:

Memories for Sale

The final phase of the great basement cleanup commenced Saturday. (Cleaning the basement was even featured on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday.) We had a rummage sale for the first time in a decade and saw some of the regulars we saw ten years ago. As good as the money from the event was, the continued clearing of the house was even better. The treasures were filling our porch and front room, and we were glad to have them gone.

And, it was good to see some things go to folks who will appreciate them. Numerous cars and trucks, building blocks, and a mini workbench went to my great-nephew, and maybe they'll inspire an engineering student. Two "pre-computers" (batteries included) went to an old friend for his grandchildren, and they might create a future Tech computer science student like they did at our house. And the old golf clubs can launch another poor soul chasing the ball and creating new memories at Portage Lake.

Come to think of it, this whole business of memory might have spurred our daughter to study early American culture and museum studies. Our basement was a "museum" of sorts.

As sad as it was to see some of it go, I didn't shed any tears when we collapsed Saturday afternoon after two more trips to Goodwill. I know that change is good and that there are many new memories to make. Besides, when nobody was looking, I snuck my old Wiffle ball and bat back into the basement.

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

CONCRETE CANOE FINISHES FIFTH AT NATIONALS: The Michigan Tech Concrete Canoe Team took fifth place at the 19th Annual ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition, held June 15-17 at Oklahoma State University, in Stillwater. Twenty-three teams competed in the contest, which is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Michigan Tech team placed in the top 10 in nearly every event and rowed their canoe, the Keweenaw Miner, to a first in the men's sprint. This was the first time the team has won a race. The team showed all-around strength as well, taking eighth in the women's sprint, fifth in the women's endurance and ninth in the men's endurance. "The team was often complimented on their professional approach to the competition and how friendly and supportive they were to the other teams," said Neil Hutzler, chair of civil and environmental engineering, who attended the competition. The team also did well at the presentation portion of the competition. They took 11th on their technical paper, fourth on their technical presentation and third on their final product. "I could not have asked more of team members. They are a stellar group of individuals that do this because they love it. I could not be happier or more proud of the team," said co-captain T.J. Bates.


WARRINGTON TO LEAD NEW INTERDISCIPLINARY INSTITUTE: Dean of Engineering Robert Warrington has agreed to serve as director of the new Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, Provost David Reed has announced. The institute's mission will be "to create, grow and nurture interdisciplinary educational programs, research and scholarship that transcend school and college administrative lines. IIS will support interdisciplinary activities that promote the active, discovery-based learning that is a hallmark of Michigan Tech." According to its vision, "Michigan Tech will be recognized as a leader in creating new knowledge and in developing outstanding programs at the intersection of existing and emerging disciplines." Warrington said he looking forward to his new post. "I'm really pleased," he said. "Interdisciplinary programs are an interest of mine, and we've been talking with the provost and deans about how to better support them. The Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies will do that." Warrington is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Within ASME, he has served on numerous committees and held several offices. He is currently ASME's vice president for education.


TECH HOSTS TEACHERS ON LAKE GUARDIAN: The EPA's "Lake Guardian" research vessel returned to the Michigan Tech dock Saturday, July 15, to unload 16 undergraduate and graduate students, and middle and high school teachers who had the good fortune to participate in a course aboard the ship from July 9-15. The course was co-sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Michigan Tech. Seven faculty and scientists from Michigan Tech and the Upstate Freshwater Institute (Syracuse) taught the course, which is designed to help educators teach about the Great Lakes and to prepare the next generation of Great Lakes scientists. Topics addressed included the Lake Superior food web, lake bottom sediments, toxic substances, fisheries and air quality. In addition, participants saw a demonstration of how Remotely-Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are used to learn about the Great Lakes. The Lake Guardian is used by the EPA to gather data on the chemical and biological conditions of the five Great Lakes and to monitor pollutant concentrations. It is fitted with state-of-the-art navigational, laboratory and mechanical equipment. As part of its long-term trends program, the EPA conducts monitoring surveys of the Great Lakes every two years. To learn more, visit <http://www.doe.mtu.edu/news/2006_Lake_Guardian/>. For more information, contact Joan Chadde at 487-3341 or jchadde(at)mtu.edu .

Tech Sports

TECH MEN'S TRACK AND FIELD TEAM EARNS USTFCCCA ACCOLADES: The Michigan Tech men's track and field team has been named to the 2006 Division II U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Men's All-Academic Track & Field Team, announced this week. Tech was one of 23 Division II teams and four Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference squads to sustain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.



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

Thursday, August 24: Volleyball Season Opener: vs. Abilene Christian, 1 p.m. (at Marquette)

Friday, September 1: Women's Cross Country Season Opener: UP Collegiate Opener, 3 p.m. (Tech Trails)

Friday, September 1: Men's Cross Country Season Opener: UP Collegiate Opener, 3 p.m. (Tech Trails)

Saturday, September 2: Football Season Opener: Huskies host Wayne State, 1 p.m.

Friday, September 8: Women's Tennis Season Opener: Huskies host Findlay, 3 p.m.

Around the Keweenaw

Adapted from the Daily Mining Gazette and Marquette Mining Journal

PLANT SPILL IN L'ANSE RAISES POLLUTION CONCERNS: A spillage of run-off wastewater from a ceiling tile manufacturer into the Lake Superior shoreline in L'Anse earlier this week has prompted alarm among swimmers and an investigation by the state departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources. On Monday, BPB America Inc. (formerly BPB Celotex), a ceiling tile manufacturing facility in L'Anse, reported a leak of wastewater into Lake Superior during the weekend. It was caused when a main line carrying wastewater away from the plant and into nearby treatment basins cracked, said Steve Casey, water bureau district supervisor at the DEQ headquarters in Gwinn. The substance leaked into the lakeshore, prompting concerns by nearby residents who noticed a glowing shoreline next to the red rocks area. "It was very visible from U.S. (Highway) 41," Casey said. Samples taken Tuesday by DEQ investigator Randy Conroy showed no cause for alarm and the chemicals have long dissipated, said Casey, though several bathers were put off the waters. Company representatives said the spillage was an estimated 24,000 gallons of non-toxic waste from their production process, including starch, clay, perlite, and mineral wool. Perlite and mineral wool are inorganic fibers derived from rock, said Karen Cawkwell, vice-president of BPB's holding company, Saint-Gobain. "Our view is that it would not be harmful," said Cawkwell. Follow-up testing by the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department also took place, though it could be some weeks before all of the results are in.


AIR FORCE PHYSICIAN RETURNS FROM IRAQ: While Mike Luoma's second trip to Iraq was "no cakewalk," it beat the first time. Luoma returned in June from six months as an Air Force physician in Iraq and was stationed with the Minot, North Dakota-based 557 REDHORSE Squadron, spending most of his time in Mosul. The heavy engineering construction unit built barracks to consolidate military bases, part of the effort to turn handling of the country over to the Iraqi military. Thankfully, he said, his work was confined to things like the broken bones of any normal construction base--"none of the horrible stuff you hear and see on TV." The Air Force major's tensest moment came when riding with his supplies in a convoy. With the possible exception of foot patrols in cities, he said, nothing's accounted for more injuries. "I probably didn't sleep for two nights in a row ... I was a little bit terrified of riding in a convoy where all kinds of bad things could happen," he said. From a medical standpoint, he was left more to his own devices. He had no labs or X-ray at his disposal, while he handled the ordering of supplies himself. Soon, Luoma will return to Minot to serve his 11 remaining months in the Air Force. Once he gets out, he'll come to Keweenaw Memorial Medical Center as a family practitioner. He'll be working alongside his father, Jerry Luoma, a longtime KMMC doctor.


MAN ON TRECK ACROSS UP: A downstate Owosso man is experiencing the UP one step at a time. Tom Cook is on a trip from St. Ignace to Copper Harbor, and he's doing it all on foot. His trek is raising money for the Nature Conservancy of Michigan--and fueling Cook's own simple desire to get to know the UP better. "I've had this on-and-off relationship with the UP, but never as much time as I would like. So I really had an opportunity this summer to spend six weeks walking it and so far it's just been a wonderful experience," Cook said. People have made pledges of from 10 cents to $1 per mile for Cook's journey. With the completion of his trip, he will have raised around $7,000. All the money will go to the Nature Conservancy, which, among other conservation projects in Michigan, is protecting 248,000 acres of U.P. ecosystems. Cook started his trip three weeks ago and has covered roughly 272 miles so far. He has gone through several UP landmarks, traveling north on the North Country Trail from St. Ignace up to Whitefish Bay, past Tahquamenon Falls, over to the mouth of the Two-Hearted River and across Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. He carries a 40-pound backpack filled with supplies like freeze-dried food, a one-person tent, maps, and a GPS device. Cook gets re-supplied with food about once a week and different people from Owosso bring him his laptop when he stops in easily accessible locations. Cook's Web site, <http://web.mac.com/tomcook.cff/>, charts his progress, contains photos of his trip, and has links to the Nature Conservancy's Web site. He will travel next to the Michigamme highlands, past the Huron River, up to L'Anse and finally into the Keweenaw Peninsula. He expected to arrive in Copper Harbor around Aug. 5.


MEAP SCORES DECLINE SLIGHTY: Copper Country high school seniors' scores on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test, like those of 12th graders across the state, declined slightly from 2005. Students tested in math, reading, science, social studies and writing. Math was the only subject where a majority of area districts improved their 2006 scores. Statewide, the number of students who met or exceeded expectations in social studies rose by three percentage points, the only category to do so. Despite the increase, it was still the lowest-performing test in the state, with only 33.8 percent of students in the top two levels. Reading scores dropped 7.8 percent, while math scores fell nearly 4.5 percent. "It's not rocket science," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Flanagan said in a news release. "When our kids don't take the subjects we test them on, they score poorly on the tests." Students can take the tests multiple times in high school to qualify for Advanced Placement classes and Dual Enrollment programs and the Michigan Merit Scholarship. Students' best scores are compiled in the "Class of" results. Six of 11 local districts improved in math, while only three improved in reading. Three local districts--Baraga, L'Anse, and Chassell--saw declines in all five areas.

From the E-mailbag

Hi, Dennis.
I once heard someone refer to the Michigan Left as a "fishhook", and thought it was rather appropriate for Michigan.

Regarding indoor soccer, in the mid- to late-90s, there was an indoor soccer league that played in the SDC multipurpose room. Also, there was an indoor soccer tournament that was held in the hockey arena on the bare floor.

Jill '99


As late as 1992 we were still playing an indoor soccer tournament on the bare floor of the hockey rink. When I was playing they actually pulled a couple of board sections to put in nets for the goals. I am sure they weren't regulation indoor, but they were close enough. My team actually competed for the championship in 1989-1990 (I think) and we ended up playing at least two overtime periods before the rink manager started turning of the lights because he wanted to go home. I think we lost that game eventually (probably on a dang shootout) because I remember the Intramural cups I had for awhile. I think it was the hockey team we competed against for that final, and the game did start getting really rough, especially as time wore on in the OT.

It was interesting playing on the bare floor because you could always tell when they were testing or repairing the freezing ducts for the rink--the condensation sparkled on the floor and made it look like a field of diamonds. It wasn't enough to make it dangerously slippery, but you had to be careful--soft elbow pads were recommended, especially for the keepers.

Richard Passavant


Jeff Roof wrote about the soccer club sponsoring an indoor tournament on the floor of the ice arena in the mid to late 80s. They had this tournament back when I was at Tech from 76-80 and I played in it a few times. He is also quite right about when the soccer club team, which had many foreign students on it, played the hockey team. Those games would get quite rough leading to many yellow and red cards.     

Ted Oberhellman
Michigan Tech Class of 1980, BSChE


Hi Dennis,
Since the Michigan Left thread seems to be lingering I thought I would keep it alive a litter longer.

Someone pointed out a study a few weeks ago that showed how much safer and more efficient the Michigan Left was. I wonder if that is the case simply because they only studied it in comparison with the other messed up left-turn system that Michigan seems to use as the alternative.

Driving across 28th Street in Grand Rapids, for example, you still have a single left-turn lane at every intersection except for one or two, and the way the lights cycle is that after the cross street has gone, both through directions on 28th St. will get a green while the left turn lanes just get a flashing red. This means that even late at night when there is no on-coming traffic you are still supposed to come to a complete stop. Then when the through direction turns yellow you are left to guess when exactly the on-coming traffic is going to stop, and finally only after it turns red for the on-coming traffic do you get a green arrow. And since the lights only seem to be on a timing system and nothing else, the turn lane will get a green arrow even if there are no cars in it (or it may go to red quickly even if there are a lot of cars still waiting to turn).

After living and driving in California for 10 years now, to me there is no comparison. Out here there are a lot more double turn lanes (and triple turn lanes in places) and the turn lanes will almost always get a green arrow first, before on-coming traffic gets a green. And there are sensors in the pavement so turn lanes only get green arrows if there are cars present and it will go to red as soon as the turn lane empties. Plus in the places where there is only a single turn lane, that lane will then get the solid green that the through traffic gets, so they can continue turning and only have to yield to on-coming traffic, and not come to a complete stop if nothing is coming.

And I think the Michigan Left system causes another glaring problem-sign pollution. M-45 between GR and Allendale was made into a boulevard within the last few years and there must be at least a half-dozen or more signs at every single crossover, and many of them are high up so they block the view of a lot of the other stuff around. In California the signs in the medians tend to be set down low (as are the business signs) and there are a lot fewer of them and that makes for a much more pleasant view in my opinion.I have also come to appreciate how the stoplights out here are always mounted on the far side of the intersection. Most places in Michigan they are hanging out over the intersection, and if you are stopped up close or have your visor down because of the sun then you have to lean over to see them.

Add it all up and I definitely prefer the local driving out here to when I am back in Michigan. While I have not conducted any scientific study on it, I would be curious to see if anyone prefers the opposite.

Dennis Martin, BSME '92


The Michigan Left is a useful technique often seen in Florida, and I've seen then in a number of other states. Sort of a necessary evil.

Rick Hole '72 EE


I attended Michigan Tech from September 1959 through June 1964 and graduated. In my typically obsessive-compulsive fashion, I seem to remember my student I.D. number being 16829. For a long time, I also had my student ID badge but somewhere along the way and not that long ago either, I finally lost it.

Don Robinson



The switch to ID's is becoming universal. I have been taking courses at some other schools and they are all switching to ID numbers.

But does this mean that our records at Tech (for us old alums) will be accessed by ID instead of SSN?I still remember mine.

M. C. (Mike) Albrecht, P.E. (Dec '71)
ID 28139


I too remember having my five-digit Tech ID number. I suspect that it may have been that way because the University's IBM 360/44 computer had problems with nine-digit social security numbers.

I just realized I'm getting old because I:

1.  Had a five-digit student ID number.

2.  Called myself a Toot. Still do, in fact.

3.  Was skilled at using the IBM keypunch machines outside the computer lab in Fisher Hall (what, no CRT's?  Heck no.)

4.  Remember Doc Berry drawing his barometer on the board in Fisher 135 (you had to have seen it to understand the humor).

4.  Took most of my Mechanical Engineering classes in Hotchkiss Hall--and a few in Sperr Hall and (old) McNair Hall.

5.  Began at Michigan Tech before the current Director of Web Development (named Dennis Walikainen) was born.

So how do you become an old Toot? It's easy: just keep breathing in and out. It will happen to you too.

George E. Wright, '71

Editor's note: That's a great list, George, but I was about 10 years old when you first ventured to Houghton! I had a bit of a gap between academic degrees!


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


3-5 - Alumni Reunion: <http://www.admin.mtu.edu/alumni/reunion/>

Schedule of Events: <http://www.admin.mtu.edu/alumni/reunion/Reunion_ScheduleofEvents.pdf>

3 - Keweenaw Chapter 2nd Annual Reunion Social

5 - Grand Rapids Whitecaps Alumni Event

12 - East Coast Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show, West Springfield, Mass.


10 - Tech Legacy Reception, Winter Carnival

Job Opportunities This Week

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

Assistant Hockey Coach--Athletic Department

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