May 5, 2008
Vol. 14, No. 25

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Climbing the hill, going home

McNair Hall

Just one last look, before you leave. The crosswalk at McNair Hall.

Climbing the hill to the SDC recently, it occurred to me that it was a perfect metaphor for a Tech education. It’s a long, uphill journey, but it is ultimately rewarding.

And when the education culminates in commencement in the MacInnes Student Ice Arena, that's the payoff. (We once got an email from a mom who wondered if her son could get rides from Wads to the SDC for his phy ed classes. We really do have to bite our tongues around here sometimes.)

I was lucky enough to talk to a family celebrating this Saturday. Elise Vertin received a BS in Business Administration and was on her way to getting married and attending culinary school, then she'll “use my business and chef degrees to run my own restaurant and catering service. I will also be helping my fiancé open and manage his chiropractic practice in the next few years.” She said her favorite Tech teacher was a new one, Assistant Professor of Marketing Yuliya Strizhakova, who taught advertising/sales promotion, buyer behavior, and e-commerce.

She learned other lessons that'll stay with her. Saying she was “not much of an athlete,” she still enjoyed aerobics. “I think I’ll keep up the skills I’ve learned there the rest of my life.”

Elise also competed for Carnival queen and won’t soon forget the talent competition: “The feeling of those lights on my face as the curtain opened made my heart rush and my stomach drop, forcing me to find courage to sing.”

The Vertin family has many ties to Tech. Elise’s father, Ed, is an alum. Her brother, Joel, will graduate this December. And her brother, Eric, is transferring to Tech from that school in Ann Arbor. Brother Matthew has yet to see light, and he remains at U-M.

Mom Sarah Vertin is justifiably proud: “The education they receive here is exemplary, and they will be well-prepared for their careers. A degree from Michigan Tech is recognized nationally as a high-caliber calling card.”

Dennis '92

Snowfall Totals

I shouldn't have to discuss this since we are in May, and I have yet to swing a golf club. Suffice to say that the huge snowflakes coming down after Commencement were almost funny, and gave the graduates and their families one more thing to remember about Tech.

At Tech

Senator Carl Levin Addresses 2008 Graduates

Sen. Carl LevinSenator Carl Levin

US Senator Carl Levin delivered the commencement address Saturday, May 3, during graduation ceremonies at Michigan Tech. Named one of "America's 10 Best Senators" by Time magazine, Levin, a Detroit-born Democrat, has represented Michigan in the Senate for thirty years and now chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The senator had some good lines, saying the graduates should go forth and "set big goals. . . be open to change . . . give back to the community . . . and pickle your own eggs." He also received an honorary PhD and "apologized" to the students, since he "didn't do all the hard work you had to do, and I didn't have to pay all that tuition either." More

Tech Graduates Bolster Michigan Workforce

At its regular meeting Friday, Michigan Tech's Board of Control recognized the accomplishments of more than 1,000 graduates who will participate in Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 3, 2008. The Board was impressed to learn that most of them already have jobs in their fields. More

IBM Names Michigan Tech as an Executive Partner

The global marketplace is changing dramatically, employing new technologies and demanding new skills. To meet those challenges, IBM has named Michigan Tech to its IBM Partnership Executive Program for Universities, formalizing and expanding a partnership that has been growing between the University and the IT and services company for nearly a decade. More

Civil Engineering Professor Sproule Honored

Prof. Bill SprouleProfessor Bill Sproule

Professor William Sproule of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University is the 2008 recipient of the Robert Horonjeff Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers. This is the society's most prestigious award in airport engineering, and it will be presented at a conference in the fall. More

Ford Center to Teach Loggers to Protect the Watershed

UP trout streams can look forward to a healthier future, thanks to a $165,590 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to Michigan Technological University’s Ford Center, in Alberta. The grant will fund the construction of a forest water quality and management demonstration area. Loggers, landowners and forest managers will be able to tour the demo area to learn about management practices that protect the local watershed. More

Alumni Around the Country


New graduates, family and friends celebrated their achievement, shared memories and bade farewell to their classmates during the post-commencement reception hosted by the Michigan Tech Alumni Association last Saturday.

Five new Master of Engineering degree recipients from India stopped by to talk about their next adventures working with employers across the US such as Caterpillar, Cummins Diesel, and Corning. From left, Vivek Mathur, Harshal Vartak, Abhiieet Jagtap, Rohit Gujarathi and Ritesh Gujarathi are congratulated by Jacque Smith (on far left) director of Graduate School marketing and advancement, and member of the Michigan Tech Alumni Association’s Board of Directors.


Proud Alumni Volunteers Needed

To recognize academic achievement and success, Michigan Technological University is looking for proud alumni volunteers to assist in presenting scholarship certificates to accepted students at upcoming high school awards programs across the country.

Learn more about this excellent outreach opportunity at

Editor's Note: I've already gotten a couple of inquiries, which is great. And I can tell you that doing this is very rewarding, indeed.


Fill in the Blanks


The first Fill in the Blanks drew great responses, and we've included some in the Email Bag below. The above image is from Leadershape 1998, we believe. Any clues on names?

Fill in the Blanks: II


Back in the day, we used to send snowballs to Texas. Any info on this photo?

View more sports >

Tech Sports

Metz Wins 1,500, Sets School Record

Basketball    Andrea Metz

Michigan Tech senior Andrea Metz won the 1,500 meter run in an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 4:38.33 at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference outdoor track and field championships Friday (May 2). She broke the previous school record of 4:41.63 set by Kristen Crouch in 1992. Metz, who finished ninth in the prelims yesterday (May 1), defeated Susie Rivard of Grand Valley State by 0.27 seconds.

“She ran a smart race today. She started conservatively and then made a move with the leaders,” said head coach Margot Hutchins. “This was a great ending to Andrea’s career.” More

Kayser Finishes Third, Haynes Just Misses Provisional Mark

Robert Haynes   Robert Haynes

Michigan Tech's Robert Haynes finished second in the prelims of the 100 meter dash with a season best time of 10.66 at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference outdoor championships Thursday (May 1). Haynes, the defending GLIAC champion in the event, missed the NCAA provisional qualifying mark by 0.01. He also finished seventh in the prelims of the 200 meter dash (22.18).

Womens Tennis Earns NCAA Tournament Berth

BasketballSilvia Oliveros-Torres

The NCAA has announced the field for the 2008 women’s tennis championships, and Michigan Tech has earned an at-large berth.

The Huskies, who compiled a 16-6 record in 2007-08, will travel to Allendale, Mich., for its first round match against Drury. Grand Valley State, which is the host, will take on Ashland in the other first round game at the site. The first round winners will then meet for a chance to go to the NCAA Championship Finals in Houston, Texas.

The first round matches are scheduled Friday (May 9). GVSU and Ashland square off at 10 a.m., with the Tech-Drury match to follow at 2 p.m. The second round match is slated for Saturday (May 10) at 1 p.m.

Michigan Tech is making its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament after trips in 2002 and 2004. The Huskies are 1-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches.

Major Awards Luncheon Honors Student Athletes

Michigan Tech honored its student-athletes and handed out awards at its third annual major awards luncheon today in the Student Development Complex Gymnasium.

The Raymond L. Smith Award for the outstanding female and male senior student-athletes went to Catherine Rottier (Seymour, Wis.) of the women’s basketball team and Tim Strom (Marquette, Mich.) of the men’s basketball team. The Terry Wilson Awards for the top freshman female and male student-athletes went to volleyball’s Kaitlin Wiza (Cedarburg, Wis.) and football’s Phil Milbrath (Norway, Mich.). In addition, football senior Kirk Williams (DeWitt, Mich.) was given the Rick Webster “SISU” Award. More

Sports Events View Composite Schedule
NCAA Regionals Women's Tennis, at Allendale, MI
NCAA Regionals Women's Tennis, at Allendale, MI
NCAA Regionals Women's Tennis, at Allendale, MI
NCAA II Championships Women's & Men's Track and Field, Walnut, CA
NCAA II Championships Women's & Men's Track and Field, Walnut, CA
NCAA II Championships Women's & Men's Track and Field, Walnut, CA

Around the Keweenaw adapted from the Daily Mining Gazette

Houghton, Keweenaw See Equalization Increases; Ag Down but Residences Up

Taxable value rates for properties in Houghton and Keweenaw counties have increased over last year, according to the counties’ equalization director, John Partanen. Both county boards recently received and approved reports by Partanen which detail the changes in state equalized value and taxable value for the two counties. Total taxable value for properties in Houghton county increased to $680,477,764, compared with the 2007 taxable value rate of $650,787,603. More

Lake Superior Levels Higher than Last Year

Lake Superior’s water levels are rebounding compared to last year, but they remain below average. “As of the 21st, Lake Superior was at 600.5 feet,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, a meteorologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit. “That is below average by about 10, 11 inches but it’s six or seven inches higher than it was last year.” More

Local Bats Free from White-Nose Syndrome

A mysterious ailment resulting in mass die-offs of bats in the northeastern U.S. has yet to turn up in Michigan, researchers say. White nose syndrome, first reported in the winter of 2006-07, has led to mortality rates of up to 95 percent in some bat populations. The affected bats are unusually gaunt, lacking the stores of fat that sustain them through hibernation. More

Huron Creek Clean-Up

It usually doesn’t snow on April 26, even in the Copper Country, so the organizers of a clean up of Huron Creek in Houghton expected to have a good crowd show up to lend a hand. Early on, only six hardy people braved the cold wind to pick up the trash in and on the banks of the creek, however. More

From the Email Bag

Fill in the Blanks I: Shelden Ave.

shelden aveDennis: Lots of memories in that photo...I lived there! I lived in one of Paul Herveat's apartments over Surplus Outlet and the Sherwin Williams paint store, which would be the building at the very left-hand edge of the photo. In fact, I still have daily memories of that time. Herveat was known for being cheap and not keeping much pressure in the boiler, so very little heat made it up to the apartments on the second floor. My apartment was at the back of the building and overlooked the Portage. When the winter winds whipped down the canal, it got blue-fingernail cold.

The apartment had an extra-long (5.5 ft), cast iron, lion's paw bathtub. If that tub could talk, I'd be in big trouble! The bathroom was a sizeable 8' x 12', and because it had a radiator but no exterior windows, it was the warmest room in the place. I think my friends and I did everything but eat there. I remember a couple good parties! Lined with floor pillows, the tub would comfortably seat three.

I left Tech for a year to recover from brain overload, and after my return, I moved back into the same apartment building. Herveat sold the building, and and the new owners decided to do a bit of remodeling, starting with the bathroom of my old apartment. The cast iron tub sat in the hallway for a week, so I asked the landlord what he was going to do with it. He told me if I wanted it, to haul it away and it was mine. I immediately called a couple friends, and we put the tub into the back of my F150, where it provided traction weight for the winter. Everybody joked about "Lisa and her bathtub-drive truck!"

That spring, I took the tub home, and it got stored upside down, on a pallet behind a shed, in my mom's yard in Wisconsin, for the next 20 years. Fast forward to 2003, when I had a bunch of my grandparents' furniture shipped up to me here in Alaska. My mom wanted the space back, so she drove that tub down to Illinois, where it got added to the shipment going north. When I got running water in 2004 (which was a big deal after 15 years in a dry cabin about five miles outside Fairbanks), that bathtub was one of the first things that got hooked up. I may be thousands of miles away, but I think of Houghton and Tech every day when I look at my antique bathtub.

Other memories I have from that photo:

*Lakeview Lounge is where I learned to play Pong, the only video game I've ever been good at!. The Lakeview is also where the rock band Head East went for a drink after they did a concert in the ice arena. When the bar closed, a friend brought most of the band and their road crew over to my place because it was only half a block away and he knew I wouldn't mind. The party continued until morning.

*I bought a large basket-style clothes hamper real cheap at Newberry's going-out-of-business sale. I cut out the bottom, attached suspenders to the top so I could wear it, turned the lid into a hat, and dressed up as a Basket Case for Halloween that year. Lots of fun, but not so good when it came time to get rid of used beer.

*I see the parking deck is there, but I don't see the Golden Arches. When the McDonalds first opened, folks were very confused about needing to go onto the parking deck in order to get to the drive-thru. McDonalds later put up a small Golden Arches sign at the entrance of the deck indicating the way to the drive-up window.

Lisa Sporleder
When I was two quarters away from the Mining Engineering degree I started in '78, I changed majors. I got my B.S. in Scientific and Technical Communications in '87


Lakeview Lounge was ahead of its time ---It was "Green" in the 70's-early 80's recycling glass juice jugs to use instead of pitchers serve of beer …was more of a local hangout but would serve anybody…at least I don't recall anyone ever being carded there…

Laura M. Nagel
Director, Operations
Ford Component Sales, LLC


If memory serves me right, and looking at the cars, that picture was taken not too long after the parking deck was still considered “new”! Newberry’s was a step up in quality from Woolworth’s, and these were both long before we ever heard of Pamida or Wal-Mart. The Lakeview Lounge was a bar and pool table in the front, and two pool tables and tables in the back. Long before they ever thought of dancing on a regular basis, since it was mostly a locals bar, and not really a student hang out, from what I remember. Juke box and Pabst on tap. The food selection consisted of chips, plain or BBQ. They had pickled eggs for awhile, but no where near the quality of the B and B. Kukkonen’s on the corner was where you went to buy your Hallmark cards and gifts. Very nice family from Hancock. Of course, in Houghton/Hancock, they are all good people! Swift’s hardware; Paul and Betty Swift were 2 great people as well. We sat next to them at the hockey games at Dee Stadium. Great MTU supporters and a wonderful family as well.

Thanks for the jogging of the mind to get me to go down memory lane a bit.

Take care,
Paul Meese


Not only did I graduate from MTU (1973), but I grew up in Houghton. I have fond memories of having a Coke at the little lunch counter in Newberry's. It was a pretty big deal back then. I'm guessing that was back in the very early '60's.

Jill (Stevens/Jury) Somrock, 1973


Having lived in Houghton from 1971 until 1987, I was there when this photo of Shelden Avenue was taken. Any blanks you need filled in? I remember Kukkonen’s drive through card shop in particular. I was the first to use the drive in feature on a late, icy Thanksgiving night in 1976. I turned down Pewabic Street from Montezuma intending to head back on Shelden. As soon as I started going down hill I knew I was in trouble. The road was very slippery with the brakes having no effect at all. This was before the parking deck was built behind the downtown stores (parking deck sign shown in the picture) and Lakeshore drive existed. If I didn’t make the turn onto Shelden, I figured I would accelerate down Pewabic and into the Portage. It was too slippery to make the turn and I ended up in the window of the card shop. This killed my old Rambler and the card shop window. I was a small participant in the history of Shelden Avenue.

Ken Williams
Class of ‘75

Editor's Note: Ken, thanks for the great story. I know the Kukkonen's from Hancock: Phil is retiring as our district judge. Carl and Shirley, who owned the store, are still around in the summers. Their grandson, Zach, is a sportswriter at the Gazette.


Looking at the North side of Houghton Ave in a westerly direction.

I never saw SNOWSHOES in a hardware store before I went in there.
Actually never saw snowshoes before.

Never went in the Lakeview, but I think it was a decent place for drinks and dinner.
Legal drinking age was 18 then.

Michael Binder 1975


Hi Dennis,
Your article about businesses on Shelden Avenue reminded me of one experience I had there in 1963. I had received $20.00 in the mail from my parents as a birthday gift while attending Michigan Tech and decided to "splurge".

I went to the Army Surplus store near the end of Shelden Avenue and bought a pair of Michigan snow shoes .... for $19.95. I imagine the price has gone up quite a lot since then! I still have them, but have not found much use of them now that I live in Kentucky.

Your "fill in the blank" idea brought back some fond memories.

Thanks & Regards, Wayne Trombley BSME '67


Hi Dennis,

You asked for any memories of the buildings shown in the latest on-line newsletter. Yup, I can vividly remember going into Swift's True Value Hardware and purchasing my first snow scoop. That was during the winter of 1968. I still have it and use it every winter here! I guess the manufacturer hadn't heard of the "planned obsolescence" concept in those days <g>.

Doug Davies '69


[Swift Hardware] It was the place to get an industrial broom with a 1 ¼” handle. Add some tape to the handle, trim it up, and lots of duct tape……

You then had an indestructible broomball broom that would snap other like match sticks. It was also longer than most brooms so playing defense with it gave you tremendous reach and the weight gave you a heavy shot that had the power of an illegal slap shot.

Mine lasted all the years I was at Tech and finally went to the trash when moving out of my first house.

Ricky A. DeVisch, P.E.

Editor's Note: Swift's is still downtown, but it moved a block east. And it still sells lots of brooms, when broomball season starts, and Yooper scoops.


Fill in the Blanks II: MTSF

mtsfThe Consensus: Upper row (L to R): Brian Hoag, woman?, Tom ?, Werner ?
Lower row (L to R): Mark Kellogg (?), Steve Bailo, Brian Wines(?), Stefano Savastano


Of the two people holding telephones, the one on the right looks like my 1981-1982 resident assistant (RA), Brian Wines. I lived in East Coed Hall, near the west end of 2nd floor. I think he started at MTU in 1980, but it may have been 1979. He roomed with Jeff Sympson the year he was my RA.

Chuck Lemont


I recognize two guys from the MTSF picture.

The guy holding the phone in his right hand is Steve Bailo and the guy sitting in the lower right corner of the picture is Steve Savistanio. Both are fraternity brothers of mine from Phi Kappa Tau. Both were very active on campus as well as at the fraternity. I've not heard much from either of them recently, I hope they are doing well.

Tom Fedorka
BSME, 1984


I just got an email back from Steve Bailo - it is he in the picture!
Great feature...this "fill in the blanks" thing. Keep it up.

Cynthia Protas Hodges

Editor's Note: We were able to connect a couple of the alumni in the photo. And, we will keep it up!

On Rockhounding in the Keweenaw

I enjoy reading your newsletter and keeping up with how Tech is changing yet staying the same. I visited the campus last year in the summer and will be in Michigan in the UP again this year. Since retiring from Xerox, I have been adding to my hobby list. Lately I have gotten my wife interested in Rock Hounding to find gemstones or at least interesting minerals to try our hand at making cabochons. Last summer, we walked the Lake Superior shores looking for agates and found a few that we have made into jewelry for the family although some pieces are still in process. After doing some reading, it has come to my attention that there are many mine tailings in the Keweenaw with various minerals that can be used for cabochons but I have yet to find a good map or reference
which details which sites can be worked without find ourselves in trouble for trespassing or the like. One document I was reading suggested that there maybe field trips spelled out by some of the professors for particular courses. As I recall when I was at Tech, we went to some mine sites with
the Geological Engineering students and found some nice copper samples. I am pretty sure the places we went were not especially approved.

I am in hopes that you may be able to put me in contact with a professor or two who encourages his students to collect mineral samples and has some documented field trips.
Thanks for the help.


Paul Blake
Class of 1969



The A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum hosts a collecting event during the summer and more information is available on the web at

I have written a Self guided geological field trip for the Keweenaw Peninsula and in it there is reference to several collecting sites.

The museum staff can direct you to two public available collecting sites, Laurium and Cliff.

I hope this helps.


Dr. Theodore J. Bornhorst
Director of the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum and Professor

On the TechAlum Archives and Trips Up North

I recently opened the last four issues of my newsletters—or I should say I tried to open them. The first one I looked at was the most recent one, but the March and early April issues I tried to open went right back to the most recent. I know all about Post-it notes now. Are back issues archived?

I'll be heading for Houghton this Friday foe my son's commencement. After 31 years I still look forward to the trip, although the drive from SE Michigan is getting pretty expensive. In 1963 my parents took my brother and sisters and I on a camping trip in the U.P. State Park camping was $1.50 plus .25 for electricity per night. A fill up was about $7.00. I am guessing I will spend more on a tank of gas Friday than that entire week's trip cost, including gas, lodging, food, and souvenirs.

Ken Hafeli

Editor's Note: I told Ken that the emails will always refer to the latest TechAlum, in his case, two weeks ago. The archives are here:

Robotics Team Makes NPR

I was listening to Science Friday on NPR today about robots. One of the guests, I believe it was Grant Cox, mentioned that he was going to enroll in Mich. Tech. Their team ( from Sterling Heights won the robotics competition for the second time.
(We are enjoying our robot, the Roomba. It gets under the bed much better than I do!)

Gail Richter '61

Cats for Engineers

For your enjoyment from Kim Komando's website. :-)
Gail Richter

Video of the Day

Are you a cat lover? To better understand them, turn to these professional engineers. They cover the necessities, like cat yodeling and corporal cuddling. Are you scratching your head? You’ll have to watch this funny video to learn more.

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