August 21 , 2006 (Vol. 13, No. 15)

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 First Year

Next weekend we'll welcome the first-year students to campus for orientation. I was reminded of my own orientation and moving onto campus long ago. I got off early from my summer job, at the A&W, and headed off to school. All my earthly belongings packed into a 1967 Buick, most importantly, record albums, which were always packed first.

Of course, I got to campus and discovered that my new roommate also had a stereo (remember those?), too, and I was worried that he'd have different musical tastes. Luckily mine had a similar love of certain groups. We got along great for our freshman year in our residence hall and even signed up for another year in the same room. During that first year, I brought my roomy home for a home-cooked meal, and he went crazy over Baroni's spaghetti sauce. He returned the favor that next summer, when I went to his home in Columbus, Ohio.

Other buddies from the residence halls remain friends to this day, and I'm sure this year's freshmen will make a few friends for life, although they might not believe that just yet. They will also learn to get used to the all the new noises (including music), foods, and different points of view. That's a lot like the real world, which is at least one important part of the first year for the class of 2010 or 2011 or . . .


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

US NEWS RANKINGS--GREAT ENGINEERING PROGRAMS, LOW DEBT: The average student attending Tech graduates with one of the lowest amounts of debt in the nation, according to US News & World Report's Best Colleges 2007. Michigan Tech undergraduates can also enroll in one of the state's three nationally ranked engineering colleges. US News lists Michigan Tech among the top engineering programs at schools granting PhD degrees, along with Michigan and Michigan State. Of the 248 schools considered national universities by US News, Michigan Tech was the only university in Michigan to make the "Least Debt" category, ranking 17th. A total of 47 percent of Michigan Tech graduates have no debt upon graduation, and the average debt is $13,587, about the cost of a late-model used car. "Michigan Tech continues to provide an excellent, accessible education at a time when students and their families are more and more worried about the cost of attending college," Provost David Reed said. "By offering outstanding engineering and science programs that are also affordable, the university is addressing a critical need for graduates who can contribute to the global economy and to Michigan's future as a leader in technology and innovation."


NEW UNDERGROUND RESEARCH LAB TO BE DEDICATED WEDNESDAY: Dedication ceremonies for a new subterranean research facility are set for Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 2 p.m. at the USDA Forest Service Laboratory on MacInnes Drive. Guests include President Glenn Mroz and Michael Rains, station director of the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. The facility, known as a rhizotron, allows scientists unprecedented access to the unseen half of the forest that lies beneath our feet. It stretches into the hillside behind the lab, a 75-foot tunnel paneled with glass windows. Through the panes, Forest Service and Michigan Tech researchers can examine the roots, fungi, insects and multitudinous crawly creatures without disturbing the soil. Guided tours of the $500,000 facility will be held after the dedication, and the public is welcome. "The rhizotron will help us understand how carbon is transformed during this process," said Professor Kurt Pregitzer, director of the Ecosystem Science Center in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. "In addition, the soil itself is full of biological activity, yet we understand very little about the organisms that live there and sustain our quality of life." The Northern Research Station is part of the research and development arm of the USDA Forest Service, which works at the forefront of science to improve the health and use of our nation's forests and grasslands.


TECH STUDENT FEATURED ON AUSTRALIAN TV: Mechanical engineering undergrad Sam Barros has been featured in the TV show "What Is Good for You," roughly the Australian equivalent of the American show "Mythbusters." The crew filmed in Barro's Ripley garage last spring, also known as his lab, and without going into too much detail we can say that he has lots of fun, and you should definitely not try this at home. But don't get the wrong idea, Barros says. The performances are carefully orchestrated. He's been experimenting with everything from high-voltage electricity to turbochargers almost since childhood, and when he doesn't already know the safe way to pull off a trick, he checks with experts in industry. Last summer, his work with a Tesla Coil anchored Mercedes' New York rollout of a new vehicle. Read more about that at <> . You can see the "What Is Good for You," episode at <> ; you'll need Internet Explorer 6.



Tech Sports


(Reprinted from the Miami Herald. Written by Sarah Rothschild.)

Joe Berger fully expected to be using his mechanical engineering degree by now. Instead, he toils at Dolphins training camp, vying for a steady job on the offensive line. The Michigan Tech graduate spent most of last season on Miami's inactive roster until cracking the lineup in December. Now entering his second NFL season, the guard has impressed Nick Saban enough to draw praise--a rarity from the coach--and continues to make his case to possibly play on the second unit. Because of a rash of injuries depleting the offensive line, he could have an increased role--at least temporarily. MORE: <>


MICHIGAN TECH PICKED FIFTH IN GLIAC PRESEASON VOLLEYBALL COACHES POLL: The Michigan Tech volleyball team has been tabbed to finish fifth in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division as voted on by the league's 13 coaches. The Huskies return eight letter-winners, including three seniors from last year's squad that claimed the fifth spot in the GLIAC North Division with a 10-18 overall record and a 6-12 league mark. The 2005 NCAA Division II and GLIAC North Division champion, Grand Valley State, garnered 36 points and six of the seven first-place votes it was eligible for in the poll. Northwood received 28 points and one first-place vote to secure second, while Ferris State was credited with 26 votes to hold down the third position. Northern Michigan (21), Michigan Tech (18), Lake Superior State (9) and Saginaw Valley State (9) rounded out the final four slots.

The Huskies kick off their 32nd season of volleyball with four matches at the Northern Michigan Invitational on Friday, Aug. 25 and Saturday, Aug. 26 in Marquette, Mich. The Huskies open the tournament against Abilene Christian on Friday at 1:00 p.m. before taking on St. Cloud State later that evening at 7:00 p.m. Saturday's schedule includes a contest with Emporia State at 12:00 p.m. and a meeting with Wisconsin-Parkside at 6:00 p.m.



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 WLUC TV6

NO PLOT TO BLOW UP BRIDGE: After saying they were investigating a possible plot by three men to blow up the Mackinac Bridge, federal officials now say the men have no link to terrorism and there is no plot. The report last week made national news and captured the attention of many in the Upper Peninsula. As to the suspicious purchase of 36 cell phones from the Marquette Wal-Mart last week, the FBI said it is not investigating the case for a possible link to terrorism. The cell phones aroused suspicion in Marquette and downstate because they can be used to detonate bombs, but officials also concede they can be bought in bulk and then re-sold, for a considerable profit.


OTTAWA FOREST PROPERTY UP FOR SALE: Several thousand acres of shoreline lands in the UP's Ottawa National Forest could soon be developed, or purchased by resource agencies. This week, WE Energies, the utility subsidiary of the Wisconsin Utility Corporation announced the sale of 11,000 acres that are no longer needed for hydroelectric operations. The company owns 40,000 acres throughout the UP and Wisconsin. Considered for sale in this area are 2,000 acres at the Sturgeon River Gorge on the Baraga and Houghton county line which were acquired by the company many years ago as a potential dam site, that was never developed, We Energies principal representative Rod Miller, said. Upstream, a similar 25,000-acre parcel in Baraga County within Covington Township is also offered. As per the Wilderness Shores Settlement they'll be offered to state and federal resource agencies first, Miller said. "We have had conversations with the Forest Service for them to determine their interest," he said. "All of the land that we are making available we've had conversations with the State Department of Natural Resources to determine whether or not they have an interest in purchasing all or some of the 11,000 acres. Then whatever is left we would offer for sale to private buyers." WE Energies provides energy and gas via 12 hydroelectric plants in the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. For more information visit <>


AFTER LENGTHY DEBATE, HANCOCK SUPPORTS HOUGHTON WATER AND SEWER GRANT: A recent two-hour Hancock City Council meeting featured debates by current and past council members on whether the current council should support a grant application by the City of Houghton to help defray the costs of an aging water system currently owned by the Portage Lake Water and Sewer Authority. The project involves constructing a new lake crossing and a force main along the north side of Portage Lake, and pump upgrades to serve the PLWSA lift station in Hancock. The authority intends to borrow $1.36 million from the Department of Environmental Quality for 20 years to undertake the system upgrade. To lower the cost of the project, Houghton has offered to apply for a $400,000 Michigan Economic Development Corporation grant. However, it is expected that Houghton would then have to own the crossing and about 1,800 lineal feet out of about 3,900 lineal feet of new force main. Because of its student population, the City of Houghton is seen as a low-to-moderate income community and has a greater chance of obtaining the grant than Hancock, while the PLWSA itself is not eligible to apply.


RESTORING A PIECE OF HISTORY: For the past two years, Jack Morris has been restoring his building at 113 Shelden Avenue in downtown Houghton. Recently, an antiques business opened on the second floor of the three-story building, formerly owned by Kirkish Furniture. Morris purchased the building in the mid-1990s, putting on a new roof, but work didn't begin in earnest until two years ago, when he decided to move back to the area. "If you want it done how you want it, you have to be around," he said. In the back of the building, Morris is creating a space for a large patio, where a display of antiques will be surrounded with iron fencing and gates. But the biggest attraction is the new rear doors, which are fabricated out of redwood that had been in storage since the 1950s. "I don't know if anyone could afford to get redwood like this today," he said. The antiques business, owned by Sherry Lamoreaux, opened last week. Lamoreaux primarily sells high-end furniture from the 1880s to the 1920s, such as roll-top desks or fireplaces mantels. The first floor, in keeping with the original use as a shop, is being reconstructed in a more fanciful fashion. No tenant has been specified as of yet, though Morris said he's had a number of interested parties. Morris hopes to have the complete building ready by this fall.


From the E-mailbag

Regarding "Pre-engineering":

I've often wondered if parents had bought their daughters Lincoln Logs, Legos, Connects, and Erector Sets if we'd have more women in engineering...

Dave Bittner '69


An Erector Set got me started. Then Heathkit.

Chris Otis

BS EE '70


I winced when I read  "Saturday, while I mounted the outside part of the vent (the easy part), he took apart the old one, assembled the new HOSE...."

I hope that you meant steel or aluminum "vent pipe" rather than "plastic hose" as they are much safer, whether rigid or flexible.

The plastic "hose" with wound steel wire that was used for many years is dangerous. It has even been outlawed by code in some areas due to its propensity to collect lint, begin to sag, and then overheat and catch fire. Cotton and polyester lint are both great tinder for your campfire kit.

I expect that you will hear from others on this safety topic as well.

I am a "friend of Tech," rather than a former student (with engineering degrees from two of your competitors, and an education degree from another). However, my wife is a Tech grad, and my older son is starting there this fall. We will be up to drop him off next week, and to spend a few days in the area. I have had an Michigan Tech license plate on the back of my car for several years, along with my UP decal on the window. We love the area, and have spent many vacations up there, and even owned retirement property in Keweenaw for many years.

Thanks much--I enjoy your weekly updates at least as much as most of the alums do.



I hope that you did not use a plastic hose for your dryer vent.  These are a fire hazard and should not be used.  The only acceptable vent is solid aluminum pipe.

Pete Sandretto, '64 ME

Editor's Note: I received a couple of emails concerning what we used for our driver vent, and I assured all the authors that it was indeed an aluminum vent.



In response to the editors' question on Denny Lesage...  I'm not sure where he is now, but I worked with him at a GE facility in Florida back in the early to mid 80s. Heard from him again after we had moved back to Michigan when he was by then consulting for a few different businesses, but that was back in the mid-90s and nothing since then. Thinking back to Denny's connections to Tech, I'd be surprised if he was not on-line somehow and you don't hear from him directly.

Jim Brooks, '81

Editor's Note: We've contacted Denny.



I hope that you can help me spread the word about a little project that I am working on. I had the opportunity to work at Michigan Tech from 1997-2001 as the Residence Hall Coordinator for East Wads. I had a wonderful time working with the residents and Resident Assistants who worked in Wads during that time. My years at Tech working in Wads, laid a foundation for me in my career in Student Affairs. Former staff and residents of Wads from that time would recognize my maiden name of Anderschat. Annie Emmerling, who has been the Hall Secretary of Wadsworth Hall for the past 10 years (she started in the fall of 1996), will be retiring from Michigan Tech in December. She is a great lady and once was called the Mom of Wads in an article in the Lode. In honor of her retirement, I am working to create a small scrapbook of thoughts and memories of students and staff who worked and lived in Wads from 1996-to the present. I have sent out an email to the staff that I have email addresses for, but I wanted to open this up to other former residents and Resident Assistant staff. I am working on this project in conjunction with Beth Wagner in Residential Services. In addition, Debbie Blom, the secretary for Residence Life is also retiring and we are trying to do something similar for her.

If you could include this in an upcoming Tech Alum News, I would greatly appreciate it. I have set a deadline for October 1st for responses and well wishes for Annie and Debbie. People can send things my way at my email address: lisa_anderschat(at)

I appreciate your help with this, if at all possible.


Lisa Lockman


May I share with you a song which ALWAYS reminds me of the great UP and the nice little town of Houghton in the 70s.  It's called the Nullarbor Song.

It is by the Australian singer/songwriter Kasey Chambers who wrote it about the Australian outback, but I cannot help but think about missing the UP when I hear it - give it a listen.  You can hear it and get the lyrics (legally) at this site.


"If I'm not here in the morning,
 I'll cry a river of tears.
I'll learn to live in a new town,
But my heart is staying here."

(If you play guitar, the chords are simple: capo 2, G, D, Em C, and D,C,G,D.)


Jim Nash 1975


It is so exciting to read about all that Tech and Professors are doing and accomplishing! Congratulations to each and everyone!

On another note I wondered if anyone remembers the Sam Spade (like) stories the were written in the 50s. They were written by Dennis Teagarden and were very funny and well written.

Joie Townsend Hendrix 



I recently grew disenchanted with using my TI-whatever calculator and its algebraic logic, yearning for the RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) afforded by my old HP 11C, which was used and abused while I attended Tech from 1981 to 1988. I lost it a few years after graduation while doing geotechnical foundation inspections downstate (down a hole somewhere, maybe next to Jimmy Hoffa). HP now only makes one scientific version with RPN (it also has algebraic and they still make an RPN financial calculator). I believe that a generation of students is missing out on its convenience (remember stacked calculations?), not to mention the prestige associated with being able to use one and listen to the whining from non-users when they need to borrow your calculator and can't figure it out. I went online only to discover that the 11C and 15C were auctioning from $100 to $200 with ones in mint condition (original box, manuals, case, etc.) going for even more. Since these were out of my price range, I searched for a 41C or 41CV and settled on a 41C for much less and the copyright on the manuals was 1982! It has expandable memory, a magnetic card reader, numeric and alpha  characters, and to top it off, it came with the nerdly brown carrying case (to thread through your belt, eh?). Does anyone else long for the good ol' days?

Cary T. Keller, P.E., M.ASCE
Alpena, Michigan

P.S.  Of course, my current obsession with RPN could be that I have Polish blood in me!



I am now a chemistry / physics teacher at Greenwood Community High School, on the south side of Indianapolis.  I have been told of a great website that brings would-be donors and schools together, called Donors Choose <>.  Could you please let the rest of the alumni know about it?  I know the generous hearts of Michigan Tech grads would love to put much-needed materials in the hands of good teachers.  Thanks!

Caryn (Turrel) Sugden, '90

P.S.  I have a couple of proposals on the site (of course).  If anyone is interested in knowing what they are, have that person e-mail me. Thanks again!

Alumni Association Programs

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


15 - Theta Tau 100-Year Anniversary Open House, Email: Mguenther2000(at)


10 - Tech Legacy Reception, Winter Carnival

Job Opportunities This Week

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

Director, Public Relations--University Marketing and Communications

Occupational Safety and Health Specialist--Occupational Safety and Health Services

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