August 11, 2008
Vol. 14, No.33
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Jackie and Marvin '58 Hyma at the all-campus picnic
Reunion '08 began Thursday with registration at Wads. The helpful folks from Alumni Relations got me my packet, and I had a chance to chat with some faculty emeriti: Ed Fisher (Chemical Engineering), Pete Tampas (Technology), and George Love (Humanities).

Later that day, former president Ray Smith stopped by to say hi, and, at age 92, he hasn't slowed down. He's on his way to Washington state after the reunion, then to Alaska to find some old "prospecting buddies" before heading back to Arizona with Rachel "to recuperate."

I also saw Rom Lapointe '92 that afternoon before the Alumni Association was going to meet in Wads. (The MUB Ballroom is under construction, and the early reviews are off the charts positive.)

That evening, my wife and I began the Houghton Historic Walk, which begins at Dee Stadium, "the birthplace of professional hockey in the US." Well, we got sidetracked at the hockey exhibit and then at the old Keweenaw photos filling the ice rink, and we weren't the only ones. Many alums had signed the guestbook before us. By the time I tracked down a photo of an ancient relative from Toivola, it was too late to enjoy the rest of the history signs. We opted for the Keweenaw Alumni Chapter gathering at the Keweenaw Brewing Company instead.

Although younger alumni were in full force at the KBC, there was good representation from the classes of 1958 and 1968 out on the patio enjoying the great summer evening. We ran into Terry '58 and Janet Farrell. They had made several past reunions, including one that landed on Janet's birthday, as did this one. We'd look for her Friday night at the alumni dinner, to wish her a happy birthday.

On Friday, the weather remained perfect: mid-70s and sunny. At the all-campus picnic, I had a nice chat with Marvin '58 and Jackie Hyma (pictured above). Over a bratwurst and a burger, we talked about the seventeen-ton copper boulder found in Lake Superior in 2001. The boulder is currently located at the Quincy Mine facility, part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park. Jackie was born and raised on Quincy Hill and Dollar Bay. The Hymas hadn't been back since their fortieth anniversary year. Jackie's birthday was Saturday.

In an incredible coincidence, I ended up golfing with Marvin on Saturday morning. Rounding out our foursome at the alumni and friends golf outing was Norm Parks '78 and Merle Potter '58, who worked on textbooks with Norm's dad, Phil, a physics prof at Tech for years. And, Marvin was a family friend of the Parks. They did a lot of catching up on family in between some good and some not so good shots. We scrambled for an overall score of par on another perfect summer morning.

The highlight of the weekend for me, though, was the alumni awards dinner Friday night. Honorary Alumni Award winner Terry Smythe, who is responsible for Tech's rowing teams and on-campus fitness program, gave a nice speech about living up here in a beautiful community that has a great university, too. Distinguished Alumni Award winner Sarah Rajala '74 had many stories about old Hotchkiss Hall and being the only woman in electrical engineering at the time. She talked about the importance of leadership opportunities given her through Mu Beta Psi, Eta Kappa Nu, and other organizations.

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award was given posthumously to Ben Hall '05, who lost his life in Afghanistan last year. Ben's family was here, including father John '75 (also Army ROTC). We talked with them for awhile, since our daughter knows them and has visited them in Virginia a couple of times.

For the award presentation, seven vignettes about Ben from faculty, friends, and fellow soldiers were read, and they all spoke to the leadership abilities, drive, sense of humor, and incredible character of the man.

It was a very powerful moment, and after the dinner and awards, we chatted with the Halls once more. There, I asked younger brother Joe, age 10, if he planned on attending Tech.

"We already figured it out," he said. "I'll be in the class of 2019."

Dennis '92

At Tech

Tech Featured in Princeton Review's Best Colleges

Michigan Tech is one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review's 2009 edition of its annual book, "The Best 368 Colleges." The University is cited for its great library, as well as its outstanding computer facilities, career services and athletic facilities. Michigan Tech's quality academics and career preparation are reflected in anonymous, candid comments from its students: the University "offers a real hands-on learning experience, not only in the classroom but in life" and "Everyone in the industry I have talked to recruits Tech graduates because of their work ethic and personalities." More

Board of Control Authorizes Design of New Student Apartments

At its regular meeting today, Michigan Tech’s Board of Control authorized planning and design work for new apartment-style housing for students on the Michigan Tech campus. The $16.5 million construction will add 192 beds. The new apartments will be built behind West McNair Hall. The University’s goal is to complete construction by fall 2010. More

Experience Tech Initiative Opens Opportunities to Students

The Experience Tech initiative, passed June 19 by Michigan Technological University’s Board of Control, will give students free access to Mont Ripley Ski Hill, the Portage Lake Golf Course, the Gates Tennis Center, Department of Visual and Performing Arts events, hockey games, and intramural sports. The plan will be subsidized through a student-wide $64-per-semester tuition-added fee. More

Emerald Ash Borer Found in the Keweenaw


Emerald ash borers have made their first confirmed appearance in the Keweenaw. Michigan Tech entomologist Andrew Storer and colleagues from the University’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science found them in an abandoned cemetery in Laurium. In a one-acre area, Storer and his colleagues found at least 50 infested or previously infested ash trees. Additional infested trees have been found two to three blocks from the cemetery site. More

Alumni Around the World

Alumni Enjoy Aggasiz at Reunion '08

A dozen alumni and their partners boarded the R/V Agassiz, Tech's research vessel that plies the waters of Portage and Superior. They embarked on a bumpy blue lake under a sunny sky, with a warm breeze and tranquil mood.

After safety instructions, the boat treaded water while Professor Charles Kerfoot, biological sciences, discussed his research with the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the migration of stamp sands; the warm weather of recent years and the dwindling of ice cover on Superior; and invasive species. He deployed a mesh trap and caught some critters, including spiny water fleas, which he described as "micro-crustaceans, like little lobsters." He showed them around and said Superior's cold waters are protection against some exotic species.

Then he switched from instructor to dreamer and outlined a student-generated idea: establishing at Tech a Great Lakes research lab where Facilities is currently located. The prospect is in the talking stages, including with the both state and federal government. Kerfoot handed out sketches and said the space would include, in part, research labs, a student activity center, and an auditorium partially devoted to public education. Then the Agassiz headed back to the dock. The interlude was over.

"What do you think?" we asked one passenger, Delmar Rediger '58, who lives in Indiana and Arizona. "It's great," the retired civil engineer said. "There's a lot to learn. Just when you figure you know all there is to know, you find something you don't know much about."

Also overheard at reunion—

Karin Van Dyke '78, forestry, connected with classmates from 1977 to 1980. She put up nine of them at her house in Houghton. They relived bonfires and breakers and beer on the big lake.


Patrick Bergmann '54, who spent his career with the MDOT, is a pilot and flew in from Brighton just for the pasty picnic. "You've heard of the hundred-dollar hamburger—this is the two-hundred-dollar pasty."  

Fill in the Blanks

Remember Skillet? Other bands you helped bring on campus? Email me.

Fill in the Blanks: II

Wesley House

Remember the original Wesley House? How about the Newman House? An alum asked me about Newman over Reunion Weekend, and I couldn't place it or this original location for Wesley. Email me.

View more sports >

Tech Sports

Football Alumni Reunite


More than 75 Michigan Tech football alumni stepped back on the gridiron last Saturday (Aug. 9) during a tailgate party—an event that was part the University’s annual alumni reunion.

Although it was the same field on which many of the former Huskies played (games were played at Hubbell Field prior to 1980), it was a new experience for all of them. Sherman Field received a new ProGrass synthetic turf in the off season.

The tailgate party was part of a weekend of events that were aimed specifically at football alumni. President Glenn Mroz, Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret and head coach Tom Kearly all spoke about the direction of the football program during the tailgate.

Other festivities for the football group included a golf outing Friday afternoon and a boat cruise aboard the Keweenaw Star Saturday evening.

“This is a wonderful time,” said John Donald, a Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame member and player on Tech’s 1948 undefeated football squad. “This place means a lot to me and my memories of football are very special.”

Donald, a Lake Bluff, Illinois, resident, represented one end of the spectrum, while recent alums were on hand as well. Close to a dozen players who graduated in the last three years took in the weekend’s events.

“It’s definitely different being part of an alumni group,” said Bryan Klett, an all-conference linebacker in 2006 who currently lives in Midland, Michigan. “It has been great seeing some guys that I played with and meeting a lot of the other alums. We’re having fun.”

The new field received rave reviews, and many of the alumni were seen tossing around the pigskin and reliving the glory days.

Football Team Picked Fifth

Steve Short

The Michigan Tech football team finished tied for fifth in the 2008 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. The poll was revealed today as part of the league’s annual football media day luncheon held at Zehnder’s Restaurant. Grand Valley State topped the poll for the seventh consecutive year and garnered 121 points. Ashland (105 points), Saginaw Valley State (83) and Northwood (78) also finished ahead of Michigan Tech, which tied with Hillsdale at 73 points. Ferris State (66), Indianapolis (64), Wayne State (48), Northern Michigan (40), Findlay (25) and league newcomer Tiffin (16) rounded out the poll.

Track and Field Teams Honored for Academics

The Michigan Tech track and field teams received several academic awards from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Senior Andrea Metz and junior Erin Ballun were each named to the Women’s USTFCCCA Division II All-Academic Track and Field Team. More

Sports Events View Composite Schedule
Northwood Women's & Men's Basketball, 6:00 & 8:00 p.m.
North Dakota Hockey, 8:37 p.m.
Saginaw Valley State Women's & Men's Basketball, 1:00 & 3:00 p.m.
North Dakota Hockey, 8:07 p.m.
Wayne State Women's & Men's Basketball, 1:00 & 3:00 p.m.
Hillsdale Women's & Men's Basketball, 1:00 & 3:00 p.m.
Coleraine, Minnesota Women's & Men's Nordic Skiing, Central Super Tour

Around the Keweenaw

Border Patrol Presence in Region ‘Routine’

Sightings of border patrol units in the area are nothing to be concerned about, according to a federal official. Kurstan Rosberg, supervisory border patrol agent for the Detroit Border Patrol Sector, said the increased presence of border patrol units is part of a routine annual outreach to the sector's outlying areas. "We're responsible for a large area, and we don't get to some of the more remote areas as often as we'd like," Rosberg said. "Once a year, we send our agents out to areas they don't have contact with on a daily basis." More

Local Schools Outperform State on MME

Most local districts outpaced state averages on the spring's Michigan Merit Exam test, the results of which were released by the state Thursday. This is the second year for the exam, part of an effort to toughen graduation requirements and improve academic performance. The exam is taken by juniors and seniors, who can qualify for up to $4,000 in state college scholarships with good test results. More

Bikers Supporting Veterans

The motorcyclists of Chapter 2 of the Forgotten Eagles roared into Lake Linden early Wednesday evening. They had cruised from Houghton to Lake Linden with a police escort, wrapping up a long day on the road that started in Sault Ste. Marie. By the end of the day Friday, Michigan's five Forgotten Eagles chapters will have collectively cruised through every county in Michigan. More

Ranger III Celebrates 50 years

"I've served on ships that were 100 years old, so I think she's got another 20 or 30 years in her, at least," Ranger III Capt. Bill Hanrahan told a crowd Thursday from the passenger lounge of the historic vessel docked on the Houghton waterfront. Hanrahan's talk detailed the history of the ship, celebrating its 50th year of service. Since its maiden voyage to Isle Royale on Oct. 10, 1958, he said, the vessel has made more than 4,400 safe crossings, although the first one was a little rough. More

From the Email Bag

Bosch Brewery


Having lived in the Milwaukee area for the last 39 years, I think I know a little about brewery tours. Although the Bosch tour was not what you would call very polished or professional, it was the best ever.

As well as I can remember, a group of 3 or 4 of us took the tour on a spring afternoon in 1960, the year we were graduating. We were led through the tour by an ordinary brewery worker dressed in his work clothes, no uniformed guide, no men in suits. After listening to the explanation of the process, viewing the copper kettles and sniffing the hops, we were taken to the sampling room. It looked like a place where the employees might have their lunch breaks, a few simple tables and chairs, a long counter along one wall with an industrial sink, over which, projecting from the wall, was a single beer spigot (only one variety). There were some glasses on the counter. As soon as our guide pointed out the facilities, he excused himself with a cheery "Have fun boys!" and we were left alone.

I can't remember which friends were on this tour with me, but if they read this, maybe they can or maybe not.

Anton Usowski 1960


I downed a few brews once at the Bosch "tap room" during the early 50's and recall that it did not have much ambience. It was more like having a beer in an unfinished basement with a home made bar. But the beer was free! The Haas brewery in Hancock was still in business early in my Tech days but I never visited its tap room if they had one. Haas beer was a level down from Bosch and referred to in a vernacular term for "horse urine."

And I'm surprised no one mentioned that the Milwaukee Road train from Chicago to Houghton was called the Copper Country Limited. I put my wife and three kids on that train in Chicago more than a few times. My wife was from Dollar Bay and wanted to spend more than my vacation time visiting her folks so they took the train and I drove up later. It was a neat way for them to travel as they would get a sleeping compartment and, since the train left Chicago in the early evening, when they woke up the next morning, they were in Houghton and the grandparents were there to meet them.

Al Robertson, '54

Summer Youth Program/Women In Engineering

women in engineeringHi Dennis,
I’m responding to your open invitation to share a SYP experience. For me it was 1975 and “Women in Engineering”. I believe we were the third summer of this awesome camp that exposed high school women to engineering. I LOVED it! It clearly solidified engineering as a career for me and MTU as my school of choice. I have certainly had no regrets. As a high school sophomore, I still remember the Chemical Engineering keynote speaker, Jill Bentgen, an MTU grad who worked for Procter & Gamble. She really made a positive impression on me. Four years later as a summer intern in Chemical Engineering at P&G, I had the opportunity to meet her again and thank her for her impact. I then went on to a 24 year career with P&G, retiring (early!) in 2005. I’ve had the pleasure of being a speaker at a few recent “Women in Engineering” sessions. I’ve attached a picture from our class year…lots of these young women went on to attend MTU. What a great program for young women and MTU!

That’s me standing on the far right. And Sandy (Sparapani) Kmiec (BSChe ’81) second from right in the middle row.

Sally Heidtke


Hi, Dennis,
I read your piece about SYP being on campus, and it brought back lots of memories. When I was a student, I spent several summers working for SYP (probably ’96-2000, might have missed one of those working at home in Wisconsin), as a counselor, then head counselor, and after I graduated I even served as the transportation coordinator. It was a great experience, lots of hard work and long hours, but definitely a wonderful thing to do. Plus, it was always really fun when in a year or two I’d see former SYPers on campus as new freshmen! I made some good friends through that job, people I still keep in touch with today. On the weekends between groups of kids coming in, we’d usually go out to the Breakers for a bonfire and camping, then head back to town to get ready for the next group of kids. I’m not sure there are many things better than summers in the Keweenaw, especially when you’ve got a good job and good friends to spend it with!

Thanks for bringing that all back.

Laura Haas, ‘00


SYP memories, clear as day 28 years later………

Attending SYP was a huge reason I chose Tech for college. It was 1980, and two of us 16 year old girls made the 8 hour trek to Houghton alone. That in itself was a big adventure. I chose Backpacking Ecology and my friend chose something much tamer and indoors. The backpackers took a bus from campus up to somewhere beyond Copper Harbor and for the next 4 or 5 days hiked around Keweenaw Point carrying our heavy backpacks and learning how to cook over a fire, avoid poison ivy and bears, set up a tent and treat blisters. I am guessing we hiked about 8 miles each day with a little geology, biology, forestry and astronomy thrown in along the way. By some magic, each day the counselors “found” a surprise, like a big juicy watermelon or some ice cold soda that was a treat after a long day. I fell in love with the comparative wildness of the Keweenaw and felt comfortable on campus and in town. Six years later I graduated with a degree in Geological Engineering, and many more outdoor adventures in my memory bank. My husband, also a Tech grad, and I try to visit the area a few times per year to boat, ski or just visit the Doghouse. Maybe our 12 year old son will try SYP in a year or two??

Becky (Rowe) Smits


I have very fond memories of an early SYP, my memory tells me it was the first, but I'm not sure. It was the summer of 1969 and the class was FORTRAN. It was after my freshman year of high school at L'Anse and there were four of us who carpooled to Houghton everyday for two weeks. In addition to myself were two guys who were a couple of years older than me and a girl, who was my age but I didn't know very well. I believe both guys later got their BS degrees from Tech. I went south and got my BS from the UM, but returned to MTU for an MS in MetEng in 1978. I honestly can't say I remember much about the class, but I do recall being thrilled to ride to Houghton each day with the girl, she became my wife in August 1974, we'll celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks.

Paul (PJ) Sikorsky - MS, 1978


I too remember the Copper Country Express on my first visit to Tech in mid January 1962 in the middle of a snow storm. We boarded in Chilton Wisconsin at 11:00 PM from a station smaller than the Houghton station. Chester Foster was gate agent at the Houghton Station at the time. Needless to say we arrived late for our appointment with the admissions office to check out the Campus. My cousin and I walked from the station to the old Ad building. After all that I still decided to attend Da Tech.

Jim Woelfel

Summers at Tech

Somehow I missed the invitation to remember summers at Tech. Well, here are my highlights. I was lucky enough to spend three summers at Tech. As a Forester, I spent one in Summer Camp (in '74 that was held on main campus, with side trips to the Ford Forestry Center). Half of the summer was spent learning how to survey around campus and in Da Woods. The other half was spent tromping through Da Woods learning how to curse timber, er I mean Cruise Timber. During my time-off I spent a lot of time Copper Country Cruising. Found a lot of history and copper. No, I didn't enter any of the mines!

The last two summers spent in the Copper Country were during my graduate studies. Most of that time was either spent on my plots in the Kenton Ranger District on Ontonagon National Forest or in the lab running soil tests. My last two years and summers I lived in an old Victorian split up into apartments. I had the good fortune of living next door to Dr. Joe Kirkish. I also lived across the driveway from TKE house. As I recall, I spent a fair amount of time rounding up and returning one of the TKE's pet dogs my last summer there.

Like others before and after my time, those summers are dear to my heart.

George Teachman

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