May 7 , 2007 (Vol. 13, No. 48)

A weekly electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of Michigan Technological University

Edited by Dennis Walikainen (MS ’92), Senior Editor, University Marketing and Communications

For past issues, see our archives.

In this issue:

Commencement 2007: "Their Way"

The organ in the rafters of the MacInnes Student Ice Arena was bellowing out pre-ceremony tunes, including "My Way." That was fitting. The assembled grads-to-be had all survived and grown at Tech and did it their way.

The first person I ran into was a grad student who helped me prepare for my comps. She was alone at the back of the ice arena while searching for her family and friends. I was able to thank her and get her photo shot. She was on her way to teach in Colorado.

Another student, "nontraditional" like me, was getting his second degree, in computer network and system administration. He, too, was looking for his family, and finally located his gang, via cell phone, a few feet away. A lifelong Yooper, he was relocating to Wisconsin.

I sat by a family from Okemos, near Lansing. Their mom explained that Chris was her third to graduate from Tech, in spite of being so close to Michigan State. "That was not an option," she said. State was "too big," they all wanted to get away from home, and their Uncle Johnny came here, got an ME degree, and had a great career.

Commencement Speaker Judy Olson, deputy director of the Peace Corps, told the graduates that they should all make a difference in people's lives, whether in the UP, US, or Botswana. She did her stint in Tunisia, it changed her life, and she said the graduates should "make stories happen, change a life, so you can tell your children what you did."

The president of the University of Sonora, Pedro Ortega Romero, talked about the long relationship between Tech and his university. He received an honorary PhD. David Edwards '83, a biomedical engineer at Harvard, received the Melvin Calvin Award and remembered learning at Tech that "innovation is about dreaming." Amy Trahey, who is running her own engineering firm, won the Outstanding Young Alumni Award and talked about the "instant respect" that a Tech degree gives you.

But then, we knew that. And we did it our way.

Commencement photo review:


At Tech

BOARD COMMENDS MROZ FOR STRONG PERFORMANCE: A strong performance by Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz has helped to position the University for new levels of achievement, according to the Board of Control. At its May 4 meeting, the Board of Control concluded its annual assessment of the president's performance. This extensive, 17-point review gathered input from the campus community, including the University Senate, and covered areas ranging from financial management to external relations. President Mroz was judged to have performed well, even as Tech's circumstances and priorities have evolved. "We see Glenn as a fine leader with potential for growth," said Marty Richardson, chair of the board's Presidential Evaluation Committee.
More: <>


DONORS GIVE $7 MILLION: Two families have donated major gifts to Michigan Technological University that will fund three endowed faculty chairs and an endowed professorship, as well as several other projects. Richard and Bonnie Robbins, of Seattle, have created the Robbins Chairs of Sustainability, including a Chair in Sustainable Manufacturing and Design, a Chair in Sustainable Use of Materials, and a Chair in Sustainable Management of the Environment. A total of $6 million, the primary endowment for the chairs, has been committed through a charitable trust that will ultimately come to Michigan Tech. In the interim, the Robbinses have directed that the three chairs each be supported through a $20,000 annual payment. The $60,000 total will be provided yearly through the $700,000 Robbins Fund, which is part of the Michigan Tech Fund. An endowment is a permanently held and invested fund that produces earnings each year to be spent, in this case to support faculty positions.

William and Gloria Jackson, of Paradise Valley, Ariz., have donated $1 million to establish the William and Gloria Jackson Professorship Endowed Fund. They have also given an additional $100,000 gift to jump-start the recruitment and hiring of an exceptional faculty member to fill the post, which will focus on bridging information technology and entrepreneurship.
More: <>


GIERKE NAMED MICHIGAN PROFESSOR OF THE YEAR: John Gierke is one of three faculty members statewide to receive the first Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year Award from the Presidents Council of the State Universities of Michigan. Gierke, an associate professor in Michigan Tech's Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, was cited for excellence in both undergraduate education and research. The winners were selected from a slate of 15 candidates, each nominated by one of the state's public universities. This is the first time the Presidents Council has presented the awards, which recognize superior achievement in undergraduate education.
More: <>


HARVARD'S DAVID EDWARDS HONORED: Michigan Tech has named Harvard biomedical engineer David A. Edwards the winner of its highest honor, the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction. This is only the fifth time the university has awarded the prestigious medal since it was created in 1985. The Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction recognizes individuals who have had an affiliation with the university and who have exhibited distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. It was presented during Spring Commencement at Michigan Tech on May 5.
More: <>


HANDS ACROSS THE BORDERS: As part of its global outreach, Michigan Technological University sends students and faculty around the world to undertake initiatives that draw diverse cultures together through academic inquiry. One such program links Michigan Tech with the University of Sonora, one of the leading public universities in Mexico. Since 1992, the two universities have exchanged nearly 60 students and 20 faculty members and developed a variety of research and educational programs. Leading the Michigan-Mexico connection are Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz and University of Sonora President Pedro Ortega Romero. At its Spring Commencement on May 5, Michigan Tech awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering to Pedro Ortega Romero, who is a prominent figure in higher education in Mexico. He was being honored for helping establish the partnership with Tech.
More: <>


Tech Sports

HAYNES WINS 100 METERS WITH SCHOOL RECORD TIME AT GLIAC CHAMPIONSHIPS--Sophomore Adds Third-Place Finish in 200 Meter Race: Sophomore Robert Haynes amassed a pair top five performances, including yet another school record time in the 100 meters, to pace the Michigan Tech track and field team in the final day of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Northwood. Haynes' record-breaking time of 10.48 in the 100, allowed him to take home top honors in the event, while besting his previous personal best reading of 10.55. The sprinter clocked in at 21.53 in the 200, which was good for third place. As a result of his two standout efforts, Haynes garnered All-GLIAC accolades for the second consecutive year.
More: <>


DRELLES BREAKS OWN SCHOOL RECORD AT GLIAC CHAMPIONSHIPS--Haynes and Hagenbuch Advance to Finals in Multiple Events: Less than a week after slashing a school record in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the Gina Relays, Megan Drelles recorded another program-best time in the opening day of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Northwood. The fourth-place finisher in the event, Drelles posted a time of 11:43.10, which bested her previous personal best mark of 11:51.18. "Megan [Drelles] came up big again today," said fourth-year head coach Joe Haggenmiller. "She is really coming into her own in the steeplechase so it will be exciting to see what she can do in the future."
More: <>


OLIVEROS AND TISEO SELECTED FOR NCAA LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE--Huskies Student-Athletes To Be Among 350 Attendees Nationwide: Michigan Tech will send two student-athletes to the NCAA Leadership Conference later this month at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex and Coronado Spring Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Silvia Oliveros, a member of the women's tennis team, was chosen as one of 330 student-athletes nationwide and will represent Michigan Tech. Alex Tiseo, a member the football team, will go as a representative of the national Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC). "It's quite a honor to be a part of this conference," said Suzanne Sanregret, Michigan Tech's director of athletics. "We know Silvia and Alex will represent Michigan Tech well, and bring back many new concepts that they'll be able to share with the rest of our student-athletes."
More: <>


Around the Keweenaw

Adapted from the Daily Mining Gazette and WLUC TV6

TECH FISCALLY SOUND, ENROLLMENT CLIMBING: Michigan Tech is experiencing a period of economic stability and growing student numbers. Tech's board of control heard those two messages at its meeting Friday. Tech Chief Financial Officer Daniel Greenlee delivered the first, presenting the board with revised projections for the 2007 fiscal year, which ends June 30. The new numbers anticipate Tech's Current Fund will be about $1.2 million in the black at the end of the fiscal year, up from the earlier projection of a $75,000 net income. The Current Fund is Tech's overall fund, made up of its general fund, designated fund, auxiliary funds, retirement and insurance fund and expendable restricted funds. The increases come despite higher expense projections across the board and slight decline in tuition and fees.
More: <>


800 GRADUATE AT TECH COMMENCEMENT: Saturday, Michigan Tech honored more than 800 graduates during its spring commencement ceremony in Houghton. Family and friends came from all over the world to celebrate their academic success. A total of 674 bachelor degrees, 14 associate, 94 masters and 42 doctorate degrees were awarded. Sam Barros of Brazil received a mechanical engineering technology degree, which he says will take him wherever he wants to go in the technical field. "I think that a science or engineering degree is really the most varied degree you can have," said Barros. "I think that with a degree like that you go anywhere in the field."

Fifty-year-old Keith Niemela received his first bachelor's degree from Tech in 1978, and now he's graduating again with a degree in computer networking. "Making computers work; hooking them up, using protocols," Niemela explained. "We're not going to be able to get away from computers, so if you're experienced, you're always going to be in demand." Most of the new graduates say they're looking forward to kicking off their careers, while others are planning to head back to school for further education.


MATH IS COOL, AND SPACE RULES--TIVITIZ TOURNEY DRAWS OVER 260 STUDENTS: Periods of hushed concentration followed by frantic flurries of activity describe the scene in the Wood Gym of the Michigan Tech Student Development Complex Thursday, when more than 260 area students competed in the Upper Peninsula TiViTz tournament. Students in grades four through eight from six local schools played the math and strategy game against others from different schools in the same grade. Participating schools were E. B. Holman in Stanton Township, C. J. Sullivan Elementary in L'Anse, Calumet-Laurium-Keweenaw Elementary, Houghton Elementary and Adams Townships' Jeffers High School and South Range Elementary.
More: <>

From the Emailbag

The Admissions Office is looking for dynamic alumni volunteers to assist in presenting scholarship certificates to accepted students at upcoming high school awards ceremonies. See the listing below for schools that have requested an alumni/ae volunteer at their program. To participate in this excellent outreach opportunity, please contact Kathy at kross(at) or call 888-688-1885.

Calumet, Calumet, 5/22, 7:00 PM
Crossroads Charter Academy, Big Rapids, 5/24, 7:00 PM
Delton Kellogg, Delton, 5/18, 9:00 AM
Edwardsburg, Edwardsburg, 5/24, 7:30 PM
Elisabeth Ann Johnson, Mount Morris, 5/30, 7:00 PM
Garber, Essexville, 5/17, 7:00 PM
Holton, Holton, 5/21, 6:30 PM
Houghton Lake, Houghton Lake, 5/21, 7:00 PM
Johannesburg-Lewiston, Johannesburg, 6/6, 8:00 PM
Lakeview, St. Clair Shores, 6/7, 6:30 PM
Manistee Catholic Central, Manistee, 5/31, 7:00 PM
Manistique, Manistique, 5/9, 7:00 PM
Mason, Mason, 5/16, 7:00 PM
Onsted Community, Onsted, 5/15, 7:00 PM
Saint Francis, Traverse City, 5/30, 9:30 AM
Saint Mary Cathedral, Gaylord, 5/31, 6:30 PM
Stephenson, Stephenson, 5/16, 7:00 PM
Valley Lutheran, Saginaw, 5/24, 7:00 PM
Waldron, Waldron, 5/10, 6:30 PM

Caledonia, Caledonia, 5/22, 7:30 PM
Northland, Remer, 5/21, 6:00 PM
Rochester Lourdes, Rochester, 5/22, 8:00 AM

New York
Cascadilla, Ithaca, 6/15, 7:00 PM

Ontario, Ontario, 5/24, 6:30 PM

Liberty, Bealeton, 5/31, 6:15 PM

Antigo, Antigo, 6/1, 8:00 AM
Bonduel, Bonduel, 5/16, 7:00 PM
Manitowoc Lutheran, Manitowoc, 5/23, 7:00 PM
Northeastern Wisconsin Lutheran, Green Bay, 6/2, 10:30 AM
Oconomowoc, Oconomowoc, 5/21, 7:00 PM
Osceola, Osceola, 5/14, 7:30 PM
Park Falls, Park Falls, 6/1, 9:00 AM
Potosi, Potosi, 5/23, 7:30 PM
Saint Catherines, Racine, 5/23, 6:00 PM
Southwest, Green Bay, 5/23, 6:30 PM
Three Lakes, Three Lakes, 5/16, 7:00 PM
Waukesha West, Waukesha, 5/23, 6:00 PM


Michigan Tech 2007/2008 Alumni Scholarship, Awards Presentation and Annual Meeting

The Northwestern Michigan--Michigan Tech Annual Alumni Scholarship Committee (NW-MTAAS) will be hosting a combined Scholarship Award Presentation and Annual Business Meeting event. The event will be held at Ruby Tuesdays on Front Street on the East side of Traverse City from 5:30--7:00 PM on Monday, May 14. 

The session will begin with the announcement and introduction of our five scholarship recipients who represent High Schools from both Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties. Linda Seder, Michigan Tech's Western Michigan recruiter will also be present and give a brief update on her role and some key future events at Tech.

The business portion of the meeting will include an update on our fundraising and other future activities and nomination and election of officers for the coming year. A social will follow.

Please be sure to mark your calendars and come meet this year's scholarship recipients!

Please RSVP to Timage03(at)


PJ Olsson, son of Milt Olsson, professor and director of orchestra and chorus, has had several of his tunes on prime time TV recently, "CSI" and others. Details on his website: <>


Hello, Dennis:
The Michigan Tech Newsletter brings back some memories last week in the letter about the Weed room in the Memorial Union. During my freshman year (1966) it was still a lounge. Back in those days, of course, smoking did not incite a riot like it would today. I recall a plaque at the entrance giving the lounge the official name of the "Weed Smoking Room". One question however. You refer to the building as the "old student union". Have I missed still another construction event? Is there now a "new" union?

Forgive my confusion. When I began at Tech in the fall of 1966 the newest building was the library and the old shops building (located between Sperr Hall and Koenig hall) was being torn down.  The next year Hubble Hall bit the dust.

Nostalgia - it just isn't what it used to be.

George Wright, BSME 1971

George: It is actually the new and improved Union: same building, remodeled interior and exterior. And, we have more on the Weed family: Stanley Weed, who wasn't an alumnus, provided funding to start our Distinguished Teaching Award. He received an Honorary Master of Engineering Degree in 1955. Clyde Weed 'll, received an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Tech in 1946, as did H. Carroll Weed, in 1961.


Recently, business strategies have begun to focus more on 'Innovation' to foster organic growth, but innovation on demand has historically been a tough challenge for corporations. Instead, businesses traditionally rely on market capture, incremental product change, cost reduction, and the occasional 'Eureka!' to continue to grow. But what if you could make innovation more reliable and repeatable? Wouldn't that give you a competitive edge? TRIZ (pronounced 'TREES'), the Russian Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, offers that framework, and does it based on science and technology instead of psychology.

My company has been exploring TRIZ as a boost to our Six Sigma program and have discovered that there are several other companies getting interested in it as well, including big names such as Intel, Michelin, Samsung, Proctor & Gamble. Additionally, Academia is starting to take notice, with education programs started at Wayne State, Colorado University and NC State.

I wanted to pass this information along to Michigan Tech Alumni since TRIZ fits nicely into an engineer's toolbox.

Recommended reading: 
and <>

I would be happy to chat with anyone interested in learning more.

Diane (Churches) Beagle

Master Black Belt - Growth & Innovation
T 864 254 5296
E diane.beagle(at)

Alumni Association Programs


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

22, Grand Rapids, Spring Dinner for the West Michigan Chapter

23, Green Bay, Annual Golf Outing
Contact Suzanne Berkovitz sberkovitz(at)

2, Grand Rapids, West Michigan Annual Golf Outing

7, Keweenaw, Progressive Social, A Midsummer's Night Journey into Laurium

9, Detroit, Annual Golf Outing

13, Saginaw, Annual Golf Outing at the Sawmill

2-4, Houghton, Alumni Reunion

Job Opportunities This Week

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

Dean, College of Sciences and Arts

Integrated Marketing Communications Specialist/Editor, University Marketing and Communications

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

Michigan Tech is on the web at <>. For the alumni pages, click on "Alumni/Friends" at the top of the home page.

To subscribe to this newsletter, send the following message to majordomo(at) subscribe techalum-L.
To unsubscribe, send this message to
majordomo(at) unsubscribe techalum-L

University Marketing and Communications
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931-1295
(906) 487-3510