June 14, 2010
Vol. 16, No. 21
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Copper Country Cruisin'

Central Transport
The view from the top: Brockway Mountain Drive.

My favorite Copper Country Cruise is going north to "the Harbor," by way of 5 Mile Point Road out of Ahmeek. It winds its way toward Lake Superior, before hitting Eagle River, which is one of the great towns of the Keweenaw: it's got the river, hills, a "downtown," and of course the lake is right there.

From Eagle River, I like to take M-26, now called Sand Dunes Drive since it can be covered in sand at times, and savor the view of the big lake. Cat Harbor is next, then Eagle Harbor. (We were just in Eagle Harbor recently to say goodbye to Jon Davis of Library Bar, Pro Rally, and Frisbee fame, at his memorial service.)

Then, it's up M-26 to the Brockway Mountain Drive (pictured here). The view from the lookout never ceases to amaze me, including the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge golf course, where I've lost a few balls and swatted a few black flies.

We like to play tourist in Copper Harbor. Hit the shops, have lunch, and buy some fudge for the trip home.

We take US-41 back, so we can experience the covered drive, sometimes touring through Mandan, the ghost town. Then, we can take the Lac Labelle Road, if we have time, and cruise back through Gay and Lake Linden or cut back up to Mohawk and then continue home.

It's great to stop along the way, too. I remember picnics with my folks at one of the many roadside turnouts. Walking through the old cemeteries is a good way to get a feel for the history of the area (as chronicled in the latest Michigan Tech Magazine's cover story on Social Sciences Professor Larry Lankton).

A trip to the Harbor is always worth it. As a matter of fact, we are heading up there this week (a little vacation with the family).

Dennis '92, '09


Tell us your cruisin' stories. You can do so via the Tech Life section of the 125th anniversary website or the Alumni Association Facebook page. Be a historian! You can send me your memories, too.

At Tech

New Aerospace Center on Campus

Michigan Tech, which has been establishing a highly regarded academic program in space technology, now boasts a new center focused on satellites. The Michigan/Air Force Center of Excellence in Electric Propulsion will focus on satellite thrusters. It has received $1 million in funding for five years. More

Jeff Allen, Ezequiel Medici Win First Bhakta Rath Research Award

For their pioneering work to improve water management in low-temperature fuel cells, Jeffrey Allen and his PhD student, Ezequiel Medici, have been named the first winners of the Bhakta Rath Research Award at Michigan Technological University. Allen is an associate professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics. More

Gorman, Perlinger Receive Fulbrights

Michigan Tech faculty members Hugh Gorman and Judith Perlinger have been awarded Fulbright Scholar grants to teach and conduct research abroad during 2010–11. Perlinger, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, will be hosted by researchers at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, in Oslo.

Perlinger and her research group have developed technologies that detect hazardous and climate-relevant organic chemicals in the atmosphere. During her nine-month visit, she will be collaborating with European and Chinese scientists to test for these atmospheric chemicals at various locations.

Gorman, a professor of social sciences, will conduct research and lead a series of seminars at the Ciudad del Saber, or City of Knowledge, in Panama. The City of Knowledge is an international center for Latin American sustainable development based at what was once Fort Clayton, a US army base in Panama Canal Zone. More

Gulf Oil Spill Experts from Michigan Tech

The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana is a burgeoning ecological and engineering disaster, There are so many aspects to the crisis that it can be hard to know where to turn for an informed comment. Engineers, scientists and other experts from Michigan Tech have research and practical expertise that they have offered to share with the news media. More

Alumni Around the World

Pub Nights—Rochester, Buffalo, and Toronto

Green Bay alums
Buffalo Alumni Chapter showing off the Husky flag
(photo is clickable).

Alumni had the chance to meet and share stories with fellow Tech grads during last week’s Pub Nights in Rochester and Buffalo, New York, and Toronto, Ontario.

The Rochester Chapter leader Jim MacBride '64, hosted alumni at his favorite Irish Pub. Buffalo chapter leaders, Tom George '85, Bob Hollman '85, and Bill '74 and Mary Owens, invited guests to the historic Pearl Street Brewery and Grill downtown.

The Toronto Pub Night welcomed many guests from the 1960s hockey dynasty. Our newest chapter leader David Creery '88 and his family also drove an hour to hear an update on Tech and meet other local alumni.

Toronto chapter leader David Creery '88 and son, Ashton.



Bay Area National Park and Vineyard Tour Planned

bay areaJoin Glenn and Gail Mroz on this exciting trip to visit several of our National Parks and two Vineyards in the Bay Area, July 21-25, 2010. You've never experienced our nation's National Parks like this before. During the first two days of the trip, Tech Alumna, Debbie Campbell '76, National Park Service Pacific West Region Facility Manager, will guide our exploration behind the scenes to learn about the unique features of four of the nation's treasured national parks: San Francisco Maritime Museum / Golden Gate National Park, Alcatraz Island, The Presidio of San Francisco, and Muir Woods National Monument. More

Fill in the Blanks

aggasizMaybe you were out on the Aggasiz with Marty Auer in 2006. Email me.

Forestry from when?

Forestry class
I'm guessing the 1950s for this one. Any idea? Email me.
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Tech Sports

Whitten Named Assistant Hockey Coach

Michigan Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret announced today (June 6) that Damon Whitten has been hired as an assistant hockey coach. Whitten replaces Chris Tok, who left to take a head coaching position with the Austin (Minn.) Bruins of the North American Hockey League. “I am excited to join Jamie and Pat at Michigan Tech,” said Whitten. “I am familiar with Michigan Tech from both my playing and coaching days Michigan State. I look forward to using my hard work and determination to help the Huskies return to its strong hockey tradition.” More

Barnes Resigns for Assistant Position at Wisconsin


Michigan Tech head women’s basketball coach John Barnes has resigned to accept an assistant women’s basketball coaching position at Wisconsin. The three-time Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year wraps up his seven-year career with the Huskies with a 155-56 record (.735 percentage) and the second-most wins in school history.

“I can’t thank the Michigan Tech administration, staff and community enough for all they have done for me,” said Barnes. “Their support over my career has been outstanding. I wouldn’t change one second of my time here and will be cheering on the Huskies from Madison. More

Vlaisavljevich Earns Two Academic Awards

Michigan Tech senior Eli Vlaisavljevich was recently awarded two academic awards. The Shoreview, Minn., native was named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American Second Team and was awarded a WCHA Post-Graduate Scholarship. Vlaisavljevich was a four-year competitor and defenseman for the Huskies who compiled a perfect 4.0 grade-point average while playing in 111 collegiate games (2006-10). More

Around the Keweenaw

Carnegie Museum Turns 100

The Carnegie Museum's newest exhibit opened Tuesday with a reception that celebrates the museum's oldest asset, the building itself, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. "It started because people often ask about the building," Museum Director Elise Nelson said of the exhibit. "People want to know the history of the building, and when I started looking into it, I realized it was very close to the 100-year anniversary, so who could resist this celebration?" More

Pearl Harbor Hero Comes Home at Last

Sixty-nine years after U.S. Navy Fireman 3rd Class Gerald George Lehman was killed in action aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, he's finally coming home. On June 12, Lehman will be laid to rest at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Houghton, where he will reunite with his family once again. More

Calumet Seeks Slogan, Logo

Tom Tikkanen and Ray Gerhart think it's time the village of Calumet developed some sort of brand identity, and the two are hoping a slogan and logo contest will help that process along. Tikkanen, executive director of Main Street Calumet, said the contest is part of the process to tie culture and economy in Calumet. More

From the Email Bag

First Jobs

Central Transport
I, too, am a Central Transport alum! Not as glamorous as a dispatcher, though. Worked at the Top of Troy building next to I-75 in data entry ca 1984. Went to Wayne State for my B.S. in English during the day and worked 10-2 nights eating out of the vending machines, eventually pulling the 10-6am shift. Longed for afternoon naps without barking dogs or lawnmowers, and somewhere to get a beer after work at 6am (never found it- we all just went to IHOP and ate pancakes for "dinner") I think about that job every time I hear BTO's Blue Collar, even though it was a white collar job with no real work involved. Just miles and miles of codes and computer screens, tabbing and typing, tabbing and typing.

I'll never forget the mantra of the dispatchers, who were one row of cubes over and who we all aspired to be. Every call, "Who's your shipper?" "what's your tare weight?" We thought it would be so nice to talk to another human being while we were working.

Jane Nordberg


This was not quite my first job, but I hope you will pardon my cheating a little.

In 1964 I went to work for the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad (C.S.S.&S.B.RR, or South Shore for brevity) as an assistant office engineer. Their main (and only) office was and still is in Michigan City Indiana. The Railroad was the last surviving remnant of Samuel Insull's empire from the era when electric interurban trains were at the height of their popularity. The Railroad survived because they introduced electric freight service as a short line connection between the big eastern roads and those going west out of Chicago, as well as a few that ran to other parts of the country such as the Monon, Nickle Plate and Ej&E. The latter are all defunct or have been absorbed by other emtities as far as I know It's sad to me that so many colorfully named roads have disappeared from the map

I was with the South Shore for six years and sometimes regret leaving, although at the time money seemed more important than job satisfaction and railroad pay was not that great. It was always interesting every day to be a part of that operation, whether it involved checking oversized loads for clearance through some of the tight spots on the system, or staking out an industrial track or working with track gangs or negotiating crossing agreements or preparing and updating R/W maps. Working on and along the tracks, of course, was not without its hazards and it was necessary to remain alert at all times. Trains can be surprisingly quiet at times and can sneak up on you if you're not paying attention. Even though the passenger trains ran on a fairly predictable schedule, we still managed to get caught in the middle of a bridge carrying a transit or level and other equipment on a couple of occasions. Luckily, the trainmen were instructed to blow their horns when approaching a bridge structure, which reminded us that we needed to take evasive action, quickly.

At the time I was with the railroad, the passenger cars were all original equipment, first acquired in 1927. Many had been extended and upgraded over the years and were well maintained, if a little old fashioned in appearance. The shops in Michigan City had some very talented people who rebuilt cars and engines from the ground up and kept things running. Three of the freight engines, numbers 801-803, were acquired from the U.S. Government after the Cold War put a halt to a deal that had been worked out with Russia. There were nine engines altogether, but the Milwaukee Road bought six for their electrified section in the northwest U.S. The "Little Joes", as they were called, weighed in at about 294 tons (588,000lb) and are impressive pieces of machinery. The railroad operated through a 1500 volt DC catenary system with pantagraphs that conducted the power down to the engines and passenger units. When the South Shore got involved in hauling unit coal trains, the "Little Joes" were a natural choice because they were so powerful, but they could and did occasionally draw the current down in the section they were in to the point that they would stall when hauling the unit trains over some grades. The problem was later solved by acquiring diesel units from the C&O Ry.

Witnessing the track gangs at work was often fascinating. The Railroad didn't have track liners or other fancy equipment at that time so a lot of the work was by hand labor. When they were aligning the track they would have maybe a dozen men with heavy iron bars who would chant as they worked to help maintain a rhythm while shoving the track into line. It wasn't quite as romantic as singing, but still a picturesque custom that has disappeared along with so much other railroadiana. The little school buses that the gangs traveled in had an oil stove in the back and many of the men who were from Mexico or points south would place their burros or the like on the stove to keep warm in the winter. The buses had a marvelous smell inside.

The gentleman I worked under in my last year with the Railroad had been with them as Maintenance of Way Engineer for many years. At one point in his career, he fell off a bridge while it was being worked on one night and lost the use of one eye. He could see more with the other eye than most people can with two. His idol was a supervisor on either the Central Pacific or Union Pacific when they were building the track across country that eventually met at Promontory, Utah. This individual sported a whip which he used to encourage the workers in their endeavors. This proved to be an unhappy relationship which is another reason for leaving.

I believe the railroad industry is making a comeback, after being treated as an ugly step child by the federal government for so many years and would be a good career path for graduating engineers in either Civil or Mechanical fields. I don't know how pay scales have evolved, but the work is certainly enjoyable. One of my favorite things to do is stand near the tracks at the depot in Flagstaff and anticipate the arrival of the next train as it rolls through town at 60-70 mph. The distant rumble and the sound of horns blowing for each crossing, followed by gates descending and bells ringing and the ground shaking as the train roars by provides a sensation that is hard to describe. There is a feeling of anticipation initially followed by witnessing of great power in action, not unlike the countdown and lift off of a rocket from Cape Canaveral. As is probably obvious by now, I haven't gotten over my infatuation with the rails and most likely never will.

Dave Elack '60

From our railroad professor:

Mr. Elack,
Interesting to read about your experiences in rail industry. If you ever wanted to hear more about our small program, I'd be happy to discuss it with you. I would also recommend that you visit our web site and take a look at some activities that we have on-going here. Address is below.


Pasi Lautala, Ph.D., P.E.
Research Assistant Professor
Director, Rail Transportation Program
Michigan Tech Transportation Institute
Michigan Technological University
p. 906-487-3547

When Engineers Own Dogs

What happens when engineers own dogs.


Frank Shoffner

Still Time to Give

If you haven't made your 2009-10 Annual Fund gift yet, there is still time. Michigan Tech's fiscal year comes to a close on June 30, 2010, so you have until the end of this month to reserve your spot on the annual Honor Roll of Donors. Your options for making your-end gift include:

Phone the Michigan Tech Fund office at 1-877-386-3688 (toll free) or 1-906-487-2310. You can make a credit card gift over the phone.

Mail your gift to:
Michigan Tech Fund
Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931

Make your gift online with a credit card by going to www.mtu.edu/giving

Your phone or mail gift must be received by June 30 at 3:00 pm (EST) to be included for the 2009-10 year. Online credit card gifts can be made up until midnight (EST) on the 30th.

Worst Winter Ever

snow therm
Re: 'That First Job' article by Dennis '92/'09. It was an interesting story, but he's definitely not old enough to remember the worst Tech winter ever. The 'worse winter in the last 100 years' as I remember old timers reporting as well as the media. It was 1978-79. Most snowfall for the Copper Country that year was approximately 480". Houghton received slightly less in the 400-420" range, if I remember correctly. It's been 30 years so my memory could be a little cloudy, but it was a heck of winter. The school was closed for 1/2 day. That was a serious winter.

Joel Franck '77

Editor's Note: I assured Joel that I was old enough to remember 78-79. I was safely tucked away in Detroit while my fiance (we married in May 1979) was wondering if the snow was ever going to stop. Timing is everything! I think Keweenaw County got more than what is recorded on the thermometer above.

The Mystery Commencement

Hi, Dennis Walikainen!

If that was the Graduation of 1968, then I was in the picture, but doubtless too far back to be able to find out where I was.

I thought that Bill Johnson was right, as I didn't recall a sorority being on campus in 1968. Fortunately, at my age and oncoming senile dementia, it is always better to check the facts before making a fool out of myself. I went to my rarely viewed but highly trustworthy 1968 Keweenawan to find out that there were, in fact, two sororities on campus at the time. Phi Lambda Beta, founded in May of 1958, and Theta Chi Epsilon, founded all the way back in 1940. That sorority surely predates many fraternities on campus including my own, Phi Kappa Tau, which was founded as Mu Kappa Mu in 1957.

By the way, when I started in 1963, the boy-girl ratio was 25-1, and when I left it was down to a more modest, almost reasonable, 12-1. Hard to believe, but I will never forget those numbers. Thus a 4,000 student campus in 1963 would have had about 160 female students.

However, the math doesn't compute in 1968. 4,000 students then would suggest about 330 female students (at a 12-1 ratio), and something less than one-fourth of that as graduating seniors. This would imply a number around 70 or 80 graduating female seniors, far more than what is implied by that picture.

Keep up the good work! Best wishes,

Carl M. Zapffe
1963 - 1968,
BS in Geology

Julius T. Nachazel

Julius and Catherine Nachazel

Hi, Dennis. Many years after graduating from Tech, I have been thinking of people who were important to me obtaining my degree. One of those people was Julius T. Nachazel. Many may not have heard of him and if they did probably never appreciated how important he was to growing the enrollment at Tech and bringing ROTC to the campus.

Late in my freshman year in 1963, I needed a job to pay my way at Tech. My Dad worked in the paint shop and my sister in the printing shop at the time. Dad told me to go talk to Julius because his boss's son was graduating and there would be a student job in the inventory department. I went and had a nice chat with a very nice old man, but at the end I wasn't sure whether I was in or out. I had to ask him. To him it was a given.

Julius retired after a short time but I got to ride around with him and listen to his many stories about Tech. I was never sure about these stories but I was taught to always be nice to old folks. He
reciprocated with many hours of tales of the past.

After Julius retired, Gene Robbilard took over and I went on for 3 more years of a great job that paid all of my college expenses and provided my spending money while at Tech. This job was more than enough since I lived at home in Calumet while attending Tech and rode down every day with family and friends.

I was wondering if others had the pleasure of knowing Julius and whether you have some pictures that would bring back his image to this "old man".

Jerry Davison '66 Math

Editor's Note: In an amazing coincidence, I received the above photo of Julius and his wife from a Frisbee friend the day before Jerry wrote me. I told Jerry that the International Frisbee Tournament still awards the Julius T. Nachazel Cup to the winner and it is still held up here every 4th of July weekend.

Mystery Photo

downtown Houghton
Do you have a date on the above picture? (Taken from Newsletter June 1, 2010 Vol. 16, No. 20)

My father was a CPO who ran the Naval Recruiting Station in town from about 1974 to 1979, if I remember correctly. My memory says it was about where that Beauty Salon sign is (2 doors East of Weber’s). Immediately West of his office (next door) was the Army Recruiting Station. On the North side of the street was the 5 & Dime, Woolworth’s, I think. It later became a Ben Franklin, and then Monkey Business, if I recall correctly. In the early 1980’s, the recruiting offices consolidated into one in a newer building at the West end of downtown.

Best regards,
Jason C. Brewer, P.E.
MTU ‘92


Jason: My best guess was late 1970s.

Huskies Football Legend Checks in

Thanks for the kind words. I was fortunate to play with many great teammates. Yes, it was the old Hubbell Field. We had some pretty decent success up there...... But we certainly didn't have the faculties the current Huskies have....

Paul Sharkey

Paul: Today's football team is pretty good, too! Coach Tom Kearly has them playing well.

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Complete Job Descriptions are available on the Human Resources website.

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