May 3, 2010
Vol. 16, No. 18
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We Are Family

Ray Smith and Glenn Mroz
Commencement speaker and Melvin Calvin Award Recipient Ray Smith with President Glenn Mroz. "I have to thank my family for being there for me all these years."

I've run into alumni from many decades lately, and it made me think about commencement and getting that Tech degree, especially with President Emeritus Ray Smith, speaking at commencement Saturday.

Here are a few I've talked to recently: Frank Shoffner '62 stopped by, and, although he didn't have much fishing luck, he did have some Doc Berry stories.

Joe Dancy '76 stopped in with his daughter, who is attending Tech now, and Tad Turner '77 was in town on some of his land management business.

Dave Williams '83 was visiting with his son's hockey team from Escanaba awhile back. Dave is a Lambda Chi Alpha, president of a local bank in Esky, and his dad, George, is also an alum, from 1952.

Jamie Wilke '00 emailed me to say her web design company in Colorado is doing well. "I guess I am pretty spoiled to have the best of both worlds—mom and business owner," she says.

And, one of our latest students/alumni took the walk Saturday. Jeremiah Baumann '10 (first time I typed that) graduated and is getting married this summer. Jeremiah was a designer with us, and we'll miss his talents. Student editor Victoria Peters, too, got her degree. All told, we had four students fly out of our nest.

I've had many titles: son, hubby, dad, even teammate at times. But I share the intense pride of that one tag that stays forever: alumnus of Michigan Technological University (or, for some others, Michigan College of Mining and Technology . . . )

Dennis '92, '09


Tell us your commencement stories. You can do so via the 125th anniversary website or the Alumni Association Facebook page. You get to write the history of Tech. You can send me your memories, too.

At Tech

Former Tech President Ray Smith Addresses Graduates

Michigan Tech honored the achievements of nearly 1,000 graduates at Spring Commencement Saturday. The ceremony coincided with Michigan Tech's Founder's Day, the date 125 years ago when legislation was signed to establish what was then the Michigan Mining School. More

Board Approves Budget and Tuition for 2010–11

The Michigan Tech Board of Control today approved an operating budget of nearly $159 million for fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1, 2010, a 2.8 percent increase over this year’s operating budget. The budget includes the following increases in tuition and mandatory fees: 5.9 percent ($22.50 per credit hour) for resident undergraduates, a total increase of $338 per semester for a typical full-time course load. More

Astrophysicists Share 2010 Research Award

David Nitz and Brian Fick have been named corecipients of the 2010 Michigan Tech Research Award. Both are professors of physics at Michigan Technological University and internationally recognized experts in the field of experimental particle astrophysics. Their scientific research focuses on discovering and understanding the source of cosmic rays, the highest-energy particles in the universe. More

Wolves Declining, Drama Level Rising on Isle Royale

The number of wolves and wolf packs on Isle Royale is dwindling. When scientists from Michigan Technological University went to the island-based national park for their annual Winter Study this year, they found only two wolf packs, half the number they saw there in 2009. East Pack and Paduka Pack had disappeared, leaving only Chippewa Harbor and Middle Packs and three unaffiliated wolves known as loners. More

Michigan Tech Graduate Plays Foster Mother to Whooping Cranes

When she graduated from Michigan Technological University with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, Eva Szyszkoski had never seen a whooping crane. Now, as tracking field manager for the International Crane Foundation (ICF), she migrates with the big white birds each year from southern Wisconsin to Florida and back to Wisconsin, monitoring and tracking the Eastern Migratory Population on its semi-annual trek. While the birds winter in Florida, Szyszkoski helps with winter management of the year’s new crop of juvenile cranes. More

Lessons from the Brain: Toward an Intelligent Molecular Computer

A team of researchers from Japan and Michigan Technological University has built a molecular computer using lessons learned from the human brain. Physicist Ranjit Pati of Michigan Tech provided the theoretical underpinnings for this tiny computer composed not of silicon but of organic molecules on a gold substrate. “This molecular computer is the brainchild of my colleague Anirban Bandyopadhyay from the National Institute for Materials Science,” says Pati. Their work is detailed in “Massively Parallel Computing on an Organic Molecule Layer,” published April 25 online in Nature Physics. More

Alumni Around the World

Sunshine State Hosts Alumni

Ft. Lauderdale

Las Olas Canal, Fort Lauderdale.

Florida alumni and friends came out to share stories about their Michigan Tech experience at pub nights in Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers, April 19 and 20. For some, it was a chance to catch up with what is happening at Tech and for others, a career networking opportunity. Many thanks to Tyler Kearly ’84 (Fort Lauderdale) and Tracy (Winkle) Prokopetz ’99 (Fort Myers) for their assistance. Wade Rietz ’03, Sarah (Shirkey) Stanley ’01 and Joel Kauppila ’03 have volunteered to be Michigan Tech’s Fort Lauderdale area contacts for alumni and prospective students.

Fill in the Blanks

commencementWe don't know what year this was. Any idea? Email me.

April 2005

Spring Commencement 2004. Were you there? Email me.
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Tech Sports

Men's Tennis Earns Spot in 2010 NCAA Midwest Regional

The Michigan Tech men’s tennis team has earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Midwest Regional for the second straight year it was announced today by the NCAA. The Huskies will travel to Springfield, Mo., to play host Drury on Friday (May 7). The Tech-Drury match is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (CT) at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield. The winner will face either Wayne State (Mich.) or Rockhurst Saturday (May 8) at 10 a.m. (CT) in a second-round match. More

Soccer Announces First Recruiting Class

Michigan Tech head women’s soccer coach Michelle Jacob recently announced the first group of players to sign National Letters of Intent. “I am very excited about the first group of players to sign with Michigan Tech soccer,” said Jacob. “These players not only have the skill set and knowledge to succeed at the college level, but they believe in creating a strong soccer tradition at Michigan Tech.” More

Around the Keweenaw

Bird Watchers Flock to Copper Harbor

For those interested in celebrating spring birding or looking to learn about birds, Copper Harbor is the place to be. The fifth annual Migratory Bird Festival will be held throughout the month of May in Copper Harbor, boasting events nearly every weekend for the public to enjoy while raptor migration is at its peak. Karen Karl, of the Brockway Inn Motel & Coffeehouse, said events kick off at 6 p.m. May 7 with "Raptors of the Keweenaw with Vic Berardi."More

Getting ready for work on the smelter

George Kiiskila stood on a wobbly lift platform Wednesday about 50 feet above the floor of one of the buildings at the former Quincy Smelting Works taking some measurements of the roof struts and beams preparatory to doing stabilization work on the building. More

Cleaning up Huron Creek

"Does anyone want a CD burner?" Auriel VanDerLaar yelled Saturday morning. "I found one. I think it might still be operational." Good news - if it had been a flea market or a yard sale. Unfortunately, VanDerLaar, her cohorts and the muck-covered burner were on the banks of Huron Creek. More

From the Email Bag

More Campus Photos and Memories

This will be a bit eclectic since there were so many topics in this past mail bag.

To start with, I've attached photo of the Library (left) under construction taken in October, 1965 (my first year at 'da Tech').

And on that subject, someone asked if anyone remembered the old Library in back of what was then the Administration building. Yes I remember having to walk across an elevated walkway between the Admin building and the building which housed the old Library (the shooting range was in basement of that building). I also remember that sections of the old Library had glass floors. You couldn't see through them as they were only translucent but light did manage to filter through.

sdcAlso there was mention of programming the old computer in Fischer Hall with punched cards. I guess the cards with the MTU logo must have come later (I graduated in 1971) since I've since got a couple of 'decks' from some Senior engineering projects and they are plain (except for the words 'IBM 5083' and 'Printed in the U.S.A.'), but then I also don't recall ever having to pay for them. There always seemed to be an adequate supply in the feed-tray of the old keypunch machines they had in the hall outside of where you handed in your deck of cards to be run. They later put a card reader there since some people didn't like the idea of handing their work to some stranger and then not getting it back for several hours. There was a stack of so-called 'job-index' cards which you would take one, insert as the second card in your deck after the title card (at least that what I recall after 40 years), and which you would use to identify your printouts when you came back to pick them up later.

And as for Dee Stadium, I believe our class (1971) was the last to have our Graduation held there as the new Student Athletic Center was under construction at the time (photo above, taken in April, 1971).

Anyway, I always enjoy getting the newsletter.

John R. Baker, P.E. (BSME 1971)
Irvine, CA

John: Thanks, again, for the great images and information!


Frank Zakshesky, BSEE '66 asks about the old library in the Admin bldg. I worked part time there for 90 cents an hour. Madeleine Gibson was librarian and I worked for Prof. Jerzey Roman's wife. I
remember working back in the stacks and reading articles about Castro taking over Cuba at the time -- very interesting. I took Madeleine Gibson's tech writing course and aced it.

Regarding the first computer, Cleves Byers bought the first one, a Bendix G-15. He was my math prof and later was my mother's second husband. Fischer Hall was named after Jim Fisher who was a member of First Congregational Church in Hancock (long gone) where my father was pastor. Cleves Byers saved the pipe organ.

Our 1957 graduation was also in Dee stadium. I was in the band and played in that unheated place for the hockey games. The ice was natural. The band director was B. Franz Schubert. One spring the
team and band took the vista cruise train out to Colorado Springs for the national playoffs. We stayed at the BroAdmoor Hotel, and swam in their outdoor heated pool, visited the zoo, etc. It was a fun outing.

Jim Bentley, PE, '57


Hi Dennis,
I am amazed at the "stuff" that appears in the Newsletter. Especially vignettes of the now-distant past when I was at Tech.

The item about Van Orden's Hill caught my eye. That area of west Houghton was special to me, because in the upper left corner of the photo is the red-roofed home of Felix and Mary Benozzi, formerly known locally as the Hunt Estate. Mary and Felix rented me a lake-view second floor room in their home in the spring of 1948, and I took my meals up the hill at the Beck home with about 10 other students in the immediate neighborhood.

Mary Benozzi's local moniker in West Houghton was "Apple Mary". She owned and operated the small store on the main street just a few doors west of Mort Plowe's funeral home. Mary typically invited me in for a free ice cream cone on my daily walk from the campus.

When I married in August 1950 I brought my new bride back to Houghton and Mary and Felix rented us the front 2nd and 3rd floor rooms comprising the "tower" you see in the photo. Dott and I had the world's best view of the sights and sounds of nighttime ice skating from the rinks in Hancock, and watching loads of coal being unloaded from the docks below us.

Unfortunately, time and progress obliterated the Hunt Estate in the relocation of Van Orden's Hill to eliminate the vicious curve at the foot of the long climb to Atlantic Mine.

Oh, secondly, there was much conversation in the current issue about students flying from the stamp sand airstrip east of the campus. Here's a bit more:

In 1949, I was on the Forestry Dept committee to plan the annual Lumberjack Ball, traditionally held in the ballroom above the ice at Dee Stadium. To help publicize the event, I rented the J-3 Piper Cub and pilot to fly me the length of Sheldon Avenue to distribute a soup box of informative flyers. The pilot dropped the side door-window to assist me in throwing out the sheets, but I had taken the safety-belt off to get out far enough to finish the job, just as he banked steeply to help me out.....He nearly did, as I lost the entire remainder of the box and pamphlets trying to keep from going out myself. Ah, those good old days...!!!!

Cheers, and keep up the good work

Les Reid '51

Les: Great stuff! I remember Camps Grocery near Plowe's, but I think it was east.

Fireworks to Honor Jon Davis

You may or may not know that Jon Davis former owner of the Library Bar in Houghton passed away December 27, 2009. A small group of Jon Davis’s friends and associates are working on raising funds for a tribute to Jon Davis in conjunction with this years Bridgefest celebration in Houghton.  As you know Jon was a tremendous individual and a suitable tribute is in order to honor him for all he has done for the Copper Country and beyond. We feel that since Jon was the “main man” who started the 4th of July fireworks in Houghton and Hancock many years ago (along with too many other things to mention), it would be most appropriate to salute him with a special fireworks display this year and perhaps into the future. More

Lift Bridge Malfunction


Not completely positive about the other two, but that sure looks like Wayne Poisson in the middle. I dated his daughter a couple times. The other two might be Marty McGrath and Leo Beauchamp. I spent a lot of visiting time up in that control room in the late 70's and knew all the operators then. The pic is taken looking to the east, and the lift section would be to the left. They had a really strange toilet up there. Instead of flushing with water it would incinerate the waste.

Rand Hruska

Studying on the Mall in 2005


The pic for April 2005 from left to right is Cassandra Pankoff, Sheryl
Clifton, Jessica Aho, and me Holly Burger... studying for BL1020.


Holly Burger


the picture of the 4 girls from left to right: Cass Pankoff, Sheryl Clifton, Jess Aho, and Holly Burger.

Sheryl Clifton


The people (L-R) are Cassandra Pankoff, Sheryl Clifton, Jessica Aho, and Tanya Lynn. All members of Delta Zeta Sorority.

Mariya McCormick

Commencement in the Dee

commencement at Dee StadiumIn 1958 when I graduated the ceremonies were held in Dee, as Bob Gregg and Don Fitzpatrick both noted. I remember playing in Dee for hockey games as well, the pep band being seated over the goal. And I do also remember Gregg in that grand group of musical engineers. I did quite a bit of photographing for the Lode in some of those games, switching back and forth from band to a seat on the boards just past the Plexiglas that was reserved for the newspaper. I kept my piccolo in my pocket to keep it from being completely frozen during those sessions. Good thing I didn't play a Sousaphone.

In the three years prior to my graduation I don't recall any high schoolers being conscripted to play for graduation. I don't know who played in '58; I was busy getting my first degree and frankly could hardly wait for the ceremony to end so I could go on a trout fishing trip with my dad and a couple uncles.

John Gonser
Engineering Physics 1958

Cats and Doc

Engineers Guide to Cats video was awesome, thanks

Also thanks for posting the Doc Berry question

Joe Dancy


Joe: See the comment below, and, the quote was also used by a previous chemistry professor, we believe.


I recall Doc Berry saying, "Look at the person on your right and look at the person on your left. At the end of the quarter, they'll be gone. That's my job." Or something very close to that.
-Ken Thorp, '81

Spring Fling

It was fun to see that "Spring Fling" is still happening. We started this in 1972 or so as a counter point to K-Day. I was on Union Board at the time, and racing Bicycles with Steve Rosso, Kerry Irons, Mark Shimmelman, Gloria Beattie, and many others, many of whom were on Ski Patrol. I admit it was an excuse to run some races on campus. I recall we did a Criterium on campus, a road race, and some fun races down the road behind campus. Maybe Frisbee competition too? My memory has probably fogged a bit over 38 years and the fact that I was tied up chasing Steve Rosso for second place in the Road race.

We did have enough common sense to hold it on a very beautiful spring day!
George Ellison (1974)

The Old Univac

The “massive, secret” Univac 1110 used by tech students during the 1970’s and early 1980’s was more secret than I thought. It was actually housed on the second floor of the administration building and not in the basement of the EERC. The EERC just had terminals, card readers and printers. Before the Univac, Tech had an IBM 360 model 44 with 256K bytes of memory. That is kilobytes, not megabytes or gigabytes. The IBM 360 was housed on the second floor of Fisher Hall. That room held the Univac card readers and printers before they built the EERC.

Thank you,
Ken Williams
class of ’75 and third to earn a BS in Computer Science from MTU

Invitation to Take Survey

Editor's Note: Alums, we'd like you to participate in this survey. We've had a great response in the past. Thanks in advance.

Michigan Technological University has agreed to participate in the 2010 Vault Undergraduate Student Survey. The information from this survey may be included in the upcoming /Vault College Buzz Book/ and will appear on the website. Your participation will help countless prospective students make key choices during the college application process.

In completing this survey, we encourage you to be candid as _*your identity will remain anonymous*_. During the course of the survey, you will be asked for certain information that you may feel makes you identifiable to your school. However, any responses we quote will not be paired with any information that will allow your school to identify the quoted student.

Below are instructions for taking the survey. Please read all of these instructions carefully before beginning the survey:

1) Click on this link.

2) Please complete the survey by Friday, June 4.

Many thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to complete Vault’s survey. If you encounter any problems with the survey, feel free to contact Vault at

Featured Alumni Benefits

Short-Term Major Medical Insurance


Need health insurance coverage while job-hunting or waiting for new employee benefits to begin?
Whether you're newly graduated or are established with a family, GradMed® can help protect you during those critical weeks or months until you have arranged for coverage through a new employer or other sources — from 30 to 180 days. This program can provide affordable short-term major medical insurance with coverage for you and your family members under age 65. (GradMed is available in most states.)

Call 1-800-922-1245  or apply online

The Alumni Insurance Program provides funds to the Michigan Tech Alumni Association as part of this collaboration. Agreements like this help support a wide range of programs and services for alumni and students.


More Alumni Benefits and Services information

Class Rings
Diploma Frames
License Plates
University Images Michigan Tech Clothing and Giftware

Job Opportunities

On Campus

Figure Skating Program Coordinator, Sports and Recreation

Assistant Hockey Coach, Athletics Department

Laboratory Supervisor/Research Scientist I, Michigan Tech Transportation Institute

Reference and Instruction Librarian, Library

Complete Job Descriptions are available on the Human Resources website.

Off Campus