April 21, 2008
Vol. 14, No. 25

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Art Fry, the inventor of the Post-It Note, was on campus this week, and it was great to hear him talk about his creation. He described himself as a “two-pocket-protector nerd” (one for his shirt, and one for his smock) and told a room full of students, faculty, and staff many insightful themes for success. At 3M, he enjoyed management buy-in, 15 percent free time to experiment, a culture of hard work, an understanding of markets, and more creative inducements.

It reminded me of the student projects on display this week. The Undergraduate Expo was held in the Memorial Union Building, and the students presented projects in three categories: undergraduate research, senior design, and Enterprise teams.

My first stop was at the Nostalgic Steel Can display, where students were working on an improved beer can. Talk about a great project for Tech students!

The steel can would have a poly liner and would be shaped like old beer cans, including some local Bosch or Haas models, with a cone on top (which now fetch $50 on Ebay). And the group is targeting microbreweries, such as the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton.

“KBC gave us some beer to work with,” says MSE graduating senior Brandon Richards. “No, we didn’t drink it, and you can see why.” He pointed at an early prototype that didn’t look too healthy.
The team conducted focus groups to decide which design was most popular, and the winner actually looked like a standard can with a cone on top. They even featured plastic twist-off caps.

“We decided on clear shrink-wrap labels, too,” says ME senior Heather Riker, who is also graduating in May. “That way, the microbrewers can change the label with their seasonal brews, and the clear label shows the color underneath, which can be anything.”

All the research, in addition to their class work, has paid off: Richards is heading to GE Aviation in Cincinnati, and Riker has job interviews set up in her native Minnesota.

Nearby, Nicole Lepinski was staffing her display. It was called “Identification of Bacterial Species in Metalworking Fluid Biofilms from the Genera Pseudomonas Using Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization (FISH).”

“So what exactly is it?” I asked, suddenly feeling not so smart. Nicole explained very thoroughly that bacteria can be found in metalworking fluid, and she and graduate student Ratul Saha had figured how to locate the really bad bugs so they can be removed. They have designed a system that makes them fluorescent so that they can be identified and destroyed.

It’s a big deal: some of these bacteria can cause breathing problems for workers. She, too, was inspired by her work, in her case with Saha and Biological Sciences Professor Sue Bagley and “loves research.” She will continue her studies doing even more great things: in medical school.

Finally, Shandre Huff was manning his booth as the rest of the Pavement Enterprise Team was presenting elsewhere in the Union. He touted the many first-place finishes that his team had gained in regional and national competitions.

“We have internal competitions first,” he said. “Then our board selects the all-stars to go to the regionals and nationals.” The Bid Competition, for instance, had students attempting to estimate an actual pavement job and comparing their bids to the actual winner. Huff was on the winning team for that one and was rewarded with a steak dinner at the Pilgrim River Steakhouse.

Huff has interned at Skansa, the construction company, and has another year to go at Tech. He wants to use his civil engineering degree in bridge design. A native of Detroit, he admitted he “had to adjust” to Tech and Houghton.

“But I love the attitude up here,” he said.

Surrounded by a ballroom full of intelligence, inquiry, and innovation, it is hard not to.

Dennis '92

Snowfall Totals (from KRC near the airport)
Last report for the season? The 8" in two days was a heavy, wet treat! I snowblowed twice on Friday, April 11!

Total to date: 185.25"
Depth on ground: 15.5 "

Total last week: 174.75"
Depth on ground last week: 29"

Total last year: 162.75"
Depth on ground last year: 15 "

At Tech

Lloyal Bacon Passes Away

Geophysicist Lloyal O. Bacon, of Houghton, who was on the Michigan Tech faculty from 1949 to 1978, passed away Tuesday, April 15. He was 92. A funeral service was scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 19, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Originally with the physics department, Bacon moved to what is now the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences as the University's geophysics program expanded. Allan Johnson, a professor emeritus in the GMES department, is one of his former students. More

Calumet High Builds Yurt

By John Gagnon

It's a long way from Tibet to northern Michigan, but students at Calumet High School (CHS) comprise a link between the two regions that transcends both time and space. With help from Michigan Technological University, the Calumet students are building a yurt, fashioned after portable housing used by nomadic Mongolians on the Tibetan steppes for 10,000 years. It's the first project of a new High School Enterprise initiative sponsored by Michigan Tech. More

Tech Doctoral Students Funded for Iceland Volcanology Conference

By Alexandra Matiella Novak, GMES PhD student

PhD students Emily McCarthy and Rodiger Escobar (GMES) were awarded travel grants to attend the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI) General Assembly Meeting in Iceland this August.

The proposal, "Travel Support for US Volcanology Graduate Students to IAVCEI General Assembly, Iceland August 2008" co-authored by Professor Bill Rose (GMES), Escobar and Novak (GMES), was awarded $36,000 from the NSF Earth Science Division and $3,600 in supplementary funds from IAVCEI. More

Knowing When to Fold: For Proteins, Timing Is Everything

It's no good when proteins go bad.

In the brains of Alzheimer's patients, for instance, they form inert masses of fibrous tissue that eventually choke off memory, mobility and finally life itself.

The difference between a good protein and a bad one does not necessarily lie in its chemistry, however. Just as carbon can be a lump of coal or the Hope diamond, a protein can be a building block of life or a leading cause of disability and death. More

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Award Winners Announced

Recipients of Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURFs) have been announced. The fellowships, funded by the vice president for research, provide up to $3,000 to support the recipient's summer research work with a faculty mentor. This year, 19 of the 35 applicants were funded. More

Alumni Around the Country

Downstate Alumni Gather for Multiple Events

saeChrysler Luncheon
Michigan Tech staff, including Provost Lesley Lovett-Doust, and students from the Huskies SAE chapter enjoyed lunch at Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills on last Monday. Chrysler Alumni were thanked for their continuous support of the many department and programs such as mechanical engineering and Enterprise teams.

GM Breakfast
Hundreds of General Motors alumni were thanked for their efforts and support of Michigan Tech at the Warren Tech Center on Wednesday, April 16. Among the many great projects sponsored by GM is the Ride and Drive Program during the fall Career Fair. Top students from their field get a chance to test drive GM cars and get to interview and know their potential employer while cruising the Keweenaw.

cobo hall  SAE ME-EM Reception
Alumni came to Cobo Hall on Wednesday evening, April 16, to honor Michigan Tech’s Corporate and Career Center Partners, celebrate the SAE team’s accomplishments, and hear an update on the University and the mechanical engineering department from chair Bill Predebon. The evening ended with over twenty alumni receiving raffle prizes in exchange for sharing their favorite moment at Michigan Tech. SAE week is a great chance to give thanks to Michigan Tech’s corporate support and inform alumni of the great opportunities such as the Youth Engineering and Science (YES!) Expo at Ford Field each November, which enables 20,000 students to become excited about science and engineering.

construction days

Construction Career Days
Michigan's first Construction Career Days event was held at the Ingham Country Fairgrounds in the Lansing Area on Tuesday, April 15. Michigan Tech's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, School of Technology, Rail Transportation Program, Local technical Assistance Program and the University Transportation Center for Materials in Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure put on construction helmets and teamed up with Tech admissions staff to spread the word on careers in construction.

Over 2,000 eighth to eleventh graders were welcomed as they experienced the many different career opportunities in the construction field. Companies from the area set-up hands-on booths, letting students do everything from pour cement and hammer nails to drive bull-dozers and excavators. Michigan Tech alumni from around the industry attended in support of the continuous education and development of our future construction and transportation leaders.

Fill in the Blanks

shelden avenue

A new feature in TechAlum will be Fill in the Blanks, where you can help the Archives with details from photos, like this one of Shelden Avenue. Any memories of any of these businesses? You can email me.



We're certain you can find yourself or someone you know among these eager MTSF phone workers. Let me know.

View more sports >

Tech Sports

Men's Tennis Seeded Seventh for GLIAC Tournament

Men's Tennis

The Michigan Tech men’s tennis team went 0-2 in opening day action at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament. The Huskies, who are seeded seventh in the tournament, lost 5-0 to second seed Ferris State and 5-1 to six seed Lake Superior State.


Haynes Wins Two Events at UMD Open

Robert Haynes was the top finisher for the Michigan Tech track and field team winning both the 100 (10.72) and 200 (21.82) at the UMD Bulldog Open Thursday (April 17). Kevin Kayser also won the high jump with a leap of 6-4. “The conditions and facilities were excellent. Rob’s performances were good but not quite what we were looking for,” said head coach Margot Hutchins. More

Metz Leads Women at UMD Open

Andrea Metz won the 1,500 (4:52.88) and 3,000 (10:41.87) for the Michigan Tech track and field team at the UMD Bulldog Open Thursday (April 18). Lauren Wiza also finished third in the 3,000 (11:18.17). “It was nice to see some runners, specifically Andrea and Lauren, set personal bests today,” said head coach Margot Hutchins. More

Sports Events View Composite Schedule
Gina Relays Men's and Women's Track and Field at Hillsdale, MI
Gina Relays Men's and Women's Track and Field at Hillsdale, MI
Annual Spring Intrasquad Game Football at Sherman Field
Gina Relays Men's and Women's Track and Field at Hillsdale, MI
GLIAC Championships Men's and Women's Track and Field at University Center, MI
GLIAC Championships Men's and Women's Track and Field at University Center, MI

Around the Keweenaw adapted from the Daily Mining Gazette

Becoming Un-bear-able

Hungry bears are on the loose The weather is finally getting warm, and wildlife is starting to get active again, including black bears, which means people need to take precautions not attract or annoy them. Rob Aho, Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist at the Baraga District Headquarters, said although black bears generally stay away from people, when they first come out of hibernation, they can be dangerous because food is still scarce. “It’s a tough time for bears,” Aho said. More

Stabbing Suspect Arraigned

The suspect in a Friday morning stabbing at Finlandia University’s dormitory hadn’t come there with the intent to , said the case’s lead investigator. “It wasn’t a situation where he was coming in looking for that particular person or anyone else,” said Hancock Police Lt. Randy Mayra. “He got into a confrontation with the student in a room where he didn’t belong, and was told to leave. He got angry when he was told to leave, and it escalated into this.” More

Airline Merger Won't Impact Travel Here

Air travelers are unlikely to see immediate, if any, changes from a proposed merger between Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines. Delta announced an agreement between the two carriers Monday that is expected to generate more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Houghton County Memorial Airport Manager Dennis Hext said Tuesday, however, that any predictions as to how that merger might affect local services were premature. More

Gipp Lawsuit Appeal Filed

The attorney who filed an appeal in the case of George Gipp’s exhumation said it could take up to two years to settle the case. Gipp cousin Karl Gipp filed suit in the Michigan Court of Appeals against Rick Freuh, a great-nephew of Gipp’s who he said falsely represented himself as the closest Gipp relative when seeking to have him disinterred in October. More

From the Email Bag

Urban Legends

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

I also spotted the "Ice Waves" pictures in the email bag last week, but figured enough people would fill you in, that I decided not to join the email clog. I do, however, find it necessary to thank you for addressing it in the newsletter.

I actually almost got caught by that one myself, but checked it out on Snopes.com and found the same information you did. It's amazing to me how many of the urban legends are still floating around. I remember getting the Penny Brown emails when I was at Tech! Wow!

Thanks for stepping up, letting people know where they can look for information and giving them a nudge in that direction.

Best Regards,
'98 ChemE

From the Editor: Anyone care to share a Penny Brown email story? I missed that one.

National Anthem and a nice video

From the show at Rickenbacker Field, Columbus, Ohio, in September. This was the opening ceremony each day. The camera guy stayed tight on the flag so the 4 Steerman laying smoke rings around the flag don't appear much.


Frank Shoffner

Keweenaw Images


I'd gotten a recent query about this excellent, historical photo site, and I wanted to share it again with you.

Copper Country Explorer


Tape Can Award

I remember seeing several of those awards in the lobby of the old Sherman Gym during the early 70's. I remember seeing one more that wasn't mentioned in the article, and it got me wondering - do they still award the Tape Can Oscar? I suppose I can understand if they don't choose to publicize it, but it'd be interesting to know if it was still around.

As always, thanks for you hard work.

Tom Boyd '74


The Tape Can Award was given to the [hockey] player that spent the most time in Randy Owsley's training room battling injuries (or perceived ones) and still making a significant contribution to the team. I seem to remember Jimmy Mayer (boomer) receiving it one year. It was a little tongue in cheek but still presented in a formal setting (awards banquet).

Jim Warden

Michigan Tech Lode

My history and profile were featured in the February 6, 2008 issue of the Lode. Not bad for an old geezer as 1950 classmate John Horner made a few months ago. Your new Brenda arranged all that publicity.

Regards, Dick Berry

Dick: The Lode and Brenda Rudiger are doing a nice job with alumni, and we appreciate their efforts.

New Dean, Summer Youth Programs

Hi Dennis,
How cool is it that the new Dean of Sciences and Arts is Seely, taking over for Seel! Won’t take much to change the stationery!

I agree that Summer Youth Program is wonderful. Great for a program to be going strong for more than 30 years, as I was, er, there way back then!

Keep the good work!

Ellen J. Kehoe


Alumni Summer Cottage Rental

Wanted to send this out during the spring since last year I was late in sending.
Hope the snow is melting by now.
Thanks, Bill

Twin Lakes Cottage
Please place a brief message about our Twin Lakes cottage for MTU Alum
The link is updated to include the remodel details we did last year.
See www.HD4L.com/cottage

Year 2008 Weeks available at the cottage as of mid April are:

June 28 – July 5 (4th of July holiday week)
July 5 – 12
July 12 – 19
July 19 – 26
July 26 – Aug 2
Aug 16 – 23

Bill Savela

Bill: The snow is melting fast. Someday—golf!

Featured Alumni Benefits

Liberty Mutual and the Alumni Association

liberty mutualAs a Michigan Tech Alum, you qualify for a special group rate on your auto, home, and renters insurance through Liberty Mutual. For a free, no-obligation quote, call *800-524-9400* or visit the Liberty Mutual website.

Exclusive discount rates for our Alumni living in Canada.



More Alumni Benefits & Services information <http://www.admin.mtu.edu/alumni/products/>

Class Rings
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License Plates
University Images Michigan Tech Clothing & Giftware

Job Opportunities

On Campus

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

Campus Visit Coordinator, Admissions

Supervisor, Dining Services, Dining Services

Production and Building Manager, Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts

User Support Specialist I, Biological Sciences Computing Network

For off-campus jobs, go to the alumni section of the Career Center website for alumni jobs.

Also, there is a new local job board.