May 21, 2013
Vol. 19, No. 19
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Catching up with Bob Keen

Bob Keen
Bob Keen with a wild boar's skull, shot in Argentina.

In the second of our new series: we chatted with Faculty Emeritus Bob Keen, pulling him away from his home in Chassell on one more chilly May day.

The former biological sciences professor's career at Tech extended from 1977 to 2010, and he saw many changes over those years. He also experienced some things that stayed the same.

"The students here are self-selected and they have been for awhile," he says. "I think Tech's reputation is such that students coming here are really hard working and are better than the average university student."

That can also mean many will struggle initially, he says, because they are used to succeeding in high school, and it is much harder here.

"Their first chemistry, biology or calculus class can be a rude shock to them," he says.

They are more collegial, too, he says, having experience at other institutions where students attempted to get ahead at the expense of their classmates.

Bob Keen"That doesn't happen here," he says. "They don't climb over their fellow students."

On the Agassiz.

His favorite students were the ones who challenged him, he says, who pushed back.

He also got to know students over the years as advisor to the Aquanauts and Pistol Club.

Outside the classroom, he was heavily involved, through the Faculty Senate, with the move to semesters from terms. As he recalls, the faculty were behind it; the students not so much.

"They really are conservative, when it comes down to major changes like that," he says.

That 1999-2000 transition year also begot the new general education courses, including Perspectives, Institutions, World Cultures, and Revisions. And his time with the Senate also included the new A, AB, B, BC grading system.

"Our graduates were at a disadvantage with the old system," he says. "This new way meant they weren't as inflated and would translate better with grad school and med school."

His fondest memory, however, was seeing his wife, Karen, get her degree in 1991," after being so understanding and patient, that essential role a spouse plays over the years."

"I had a dozen roses hid up my sleeve, and I came across the stage to greet her," he says. "She was surprised."

Today, he comes to campus a couple of times a week as an adjunct to spend some leftover funds and clean his office. Off-campus, he spends his time traveling with Karen, to Scotland recently, and Australia is on the horizon. He also involved in local sportsmen's clubs and is attempting to get his cherry trees to survive bird and bee attacks. He also has collection of vintage 1960s and 1970s rock and roll vinyl that has yours truly salivating.

Dennis '92 '09

At Tech

What's A Michigan Tech Education Worth?

What’s a university education worth? That’s a question often asked by students, parents and legislators. According to 2013 rankings recently released by PayScale, Michigan Tech’s graduates rank 18th in the nation among 437 public universities in the return on investment (ROI) from their degrees. PayScale compares the cost of a college education to the salaries earned by graduates. More

Michigan Tech Research Institute Receives Radar Defense Contract

The Michigan Tech Research Institute in Ann Arbor has signed a six-month, $1 million contract with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to conduct research in adaptive radar countermeasures. The contract could be extended to five years and be worth $9 million if all options are exercised. More

Most Scientists Agree: Humans are Causing Global Climate Change

Climate Change
Do most scientists agree that human activity is causing global climate change? Yes, they do, according to an extensive analysis of the abstracts or summaries of scientific papers published over the past 20 years, even though public perception tends to be that climate scientists disagree over the fundamental cause of climate change. More

Demonstrating Physics and a Passion for Teaching

Bryan Suits
Sports can be tough to understand. There are rules that govern what’s going on, but explaining them to someone unfamiliar with the game can be daunting. Physics poses a similar problem. We experience the effects of physics every moment of every day, but like the obscure rules of any sport, few of us understand the mechanics of the physics all around us. Bryan H. Suits, professor of physics at Tech, has found a more familiar way to explain physics concepts to undergraduates who may have little background in the subject and even less interest. He’s teaching “The Physics Behind Music. More

Alumni Around the World

Saratoga, New York, Chapter Gathers

On Thursday, May 9 alumni and friends from the Upstate New York Chapter gathered for Dinner and Darts at The Parting Glass in Saratoga Springs, NY. Many thanks to Chapter Leader Rebecca Nold ’85 for organizing the event!

Down the table and back again: Nancy Whaley '02, George Hughbanks '02, Alan Fritz '70, Becky Nold '85, Kyle Cookingham '08, Greg Agosti '90, Bill Katz '66, Jim Clevenstine '77

Below: George Hughbanks '02.Saratoga

Save the Date for Alumni Reunion 2013, August 1–3!

2012 Pasty Picnic
Make plans to catch up with fellow alumni and rediscover campus during Alumni Reunion 2013. The featured groups for Reunion 2013 include the Class of 1963, 1973, 1983, 1988, 1993, 2003, the Golden M's (those who graduated fifty-plus years ago), and the Women of Michigan Tech.

A variety of activities for all ages will be offered including family activities, campus tours, seminars, pasty picnics, and much more!

For a preliminary schedule, lodging information, and to RSVP, please visit

What's up with You?

We'd love to hear what you are up to, so we can include you in our Class Notes section of the Michigan Tech Magazine. You can update your information and send us photos through HuskyLink or email the magazine editor, Marcia Goodrich, with your good news. And, yes, keep those baby photos coming!

Fill in the Blanks

Slate River

Late May 2006, and Ted Bornhorst was leading his class to the Slate River.

Recognize anyone?

It is clickable.

Email me.


1970 Love Quest

We are still wondering if he ever found Laurie.

Please let us know. This is Wads, of course.

Email me.

View more sports >

Tech Sports

Michigan Tech Recreation Launches New Website

rec site
Michigan Tech Recreation today launched a new website. The site contains the full resources and information for community programs, summer camps, recreation facilities and much more. Users can purchase passes, register for events and view building and trail schedules. The website is live at

Track and Field Competes in Last Chance Meets

track and field
The Michigan Tech track and field team competed in four different last chance meets this week. Sophomore Jevon Maddox broke his own school record in the triple jump with a leap of 48-0.5 at the Georgia Tech Invitational. The mark ranks him 35th in the nation. Quinn Parnell also participated in Atlanta. He ran a time of 10.76 in the 100 and 21.89 in the 200. Senior Nate Saliga ran the 10th fastest time in school history in the 400 at 49.22 at the Aquinas Twilight. More

Around the Keweenaw

Daily Mining Gazette | WLUC TV-6 | Marquette Mining Journal

From the Email Bag

Alumni Lost in Wars: Call out for More Names, Recognition Planned

Bill Tromp
Editor's note:
In a previous Email Bag entry, Bill Deephouse discovered Bill Tromp was MIA.

Our family met Bill Tromp in the early 1960's when he was attending Michigan Tech and moved into the apartment above our Grandparents, Fred and Marie Tieva. The apartment was owned by Charlie Dover, it was at 530 Quincy Street in Hancock.

Bill and the other Tech students he lived with soon became like sons to our Grandparents, they use to call them "Ma" and "Pa". They would come down to the apartment some evenings or on the weekends to just hang out and watch TV, ask my Grandparents for advice, my Gram would mend things for them, sew on buttons, hem things. They would come down to Grandma and Grandpas apartment for suppers or stop in and have coffee before classes. Sometimes on weekends when all of us were at my Grandparents for the night, they all would come down and help baby sit us. They would take us out for ice cream to the Tee Pee restaurant(where Hitch Engineering is now) or just a car ride.

Simonson's store was next door to the apartment and they would take us over there to get a treat from time to time.

I remember when we heard the news that Bill was shot down, it was so sad and upsetting to all of us. From what I remember he had not been married very long.

When we had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C., we went to the Vietnam Wall Memorial and found Bill's name and videotaped it. Also, when the traveling wall came to South Range, we went to see it and found Bill's name on it too.

The picture is from Bill Tromp's graduation from Michigan Tech.

Mary (Mickey) and Sheila Laitinen

Mickey and Sheila: You'll be glad to know there is a movement to recognize all our fallen or missing alumni from Vietnam, including Bill Tromp, through the current wars. Eventually, their names will be added to the memorial wall in the Memorial Union Building. Thank you for the photo.

Calling out for names: Chuck Matrosic '63 '73 is coordinating the effort. His email is Chuck is a retired Lt. Col., US Army, former ROTC, and is living in Bootjack.


Good Evening Dennis:
I just got home from the Base and working on many projects. Checking the e-mail and I appreciate your assistance in the Vietnam Wall Project. I thought the picture used was fantastic. My local florist donated the yellow roses. They were in a vial of water and the stem of the Rose placed thru the verse. They were placed in front of each panel but they were placed apart enough to look balanced. The name placards were removed when we took down the Wall and they were placed in the Memory Vault that was buried at out local Veteran's Memorial Park and will be reopened in April 2063.

I placed these flowers at a time when there was very little traffic. After word got out I had several conversations with visitors as to why we recognize individuals from such a long distance. It gave me another chance to speak highly of a school I came to love and to this day I am glad I made the decision to come from the plains of western Nebraska to go to college. I would not have had Roy Heath for Chemistry or B Franz Schubert for Glee Club or serve as an RA in Wadsworth or help run the radio station in Wadsworth the summer of 57 when I was taking route surveying. I would not have had the chance to serve as President of the Student Union Board when we voted to put the Frat Paddles on the wall in the snack bar and the sign above the door to the snack bar, " Thru These Portals Go The Best Dam Engineers".

I would not have had the opportunity to work with John MacInnes and and his family as well as Bill Lucier. Bill taught me to make the fiberglass goalie mask when I moved to Marquette after graduation and John helped me write up the specification for hockey uniforms that I used to obtain a donation from the Marquette Lions Club for a team I coached for kids that lived around the old Charcoal plant or on the wrong side of the tracks. After the uniforms came in everyone wanted to play for the "Swampers."

Probably the best memory was the trip to Boston for the 1960 NCAA Hockey Tournament. We lost to Denver in the finals but all the memories of the train leaving Houghton with all the beer on the landing at the rear of the train to the potato/onion Pasties in Green Bay to the New York Central bar car running dry before we got to Cleveland and the best was learning about Boston's Blue Laws about having to order what you wanted to drink at the party at a time we were still at the game. Tom Hruby got all his gray hair with that one.

Of course one could not forget being called for a visit with Dean Harold Meese and then later on in the day have to set in class with him as he was taking classes at that time.

I could go on for hours but this is to much remembering by an old timer. I realize things are different and in many ways better but I wish I could do it all again. Tech prepared me to face the many opportunities that I have faced fifty three years since graduation. One of my deepest regrets is that I live so far away that we do not get back there to visit. Not only the Campus but the entire Keweenaw and especially stopping by the Jam Pot when we go to the tip. Thank you for your time and assistance.

Allan D. Pedersen
Class 1960

Allan: You've done so much, and as you can see above, we've got the ball rolling now. Thank you.

Funky's Karma Cafe Remembered

Funky's Karma Cafe

Are you the one to contact about this Picture of Funky's Karma Cafe?

I do not remember this picture, but I did work There for a few years while going to Tech.
I think the guy on the right is Bill O'Donnell, and I believe the other man with long hair is Harry (not sure about the last name).

Kevin Davidson 79

Kevin: Maybe our alumni can fill in more blanks.

Alum Reports in from Colorado

father and son
Thomas Mitchell '69 (mechanical engineering) has embarked on his 5th career as a ski instructor for Vail Resorts at Breckenridge—teaching adults on Peak 8! He is also an independent contractor working part time--worked for US2 out of Dallas last Sep and Nov overseeing installation of steam traps at Atsugi Naval Air Station in Japan. He also had the pleasure of winning the NORAD Cup in Colorado Springs in April while playing hockey on same line with his 24 year old son Josh. Mitchell was a member of Lake Superior State's first team prior to moving on to MTU to finish his ME degree—and still has all his teeth

Waterfall Tour

More video from our video reporter, Justin Plichta, which will take you back, I hope, and show you our snow for the very last time this year, I also hope.

2006 Commencement ID

2006 Spring Commencement
I recognize John Mancini just to the left of center, along with a couple others whose names I don't know.

Always enjoy the newsletter!

Kelly (Abbott) Kesti, O.D. '04, '05


I didn’t start until 2007 but my friend John Mancini is in the center of the picture, circled in the attachment. John is currently living in Hubbell and is a volunteer ski patroller on Mont Ripley.

Peter Bozin

Kudos and Kiitos

Dear Dennis,

Thanks for the newsletter! Another great job.

Don Kolehmainen

Thanks, Don. It's a labor of love, and the alumni make it special with all their input, yours included.

Ypsi Alum on Video

Thought your readers might be interested in some news about a Tech alumni. I gave a TEDxEMU talk about solar power last month at Eastern Michigan University and the video just got released.

Dave Strenski: Understanding Solar Power in Ypsilanti

Mighty Mac Alumni

1958 Bic Mac bridge
Hi Dennis,
I just read in the alumni newsletter about the alumnus who donated photos of the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. I have slides that my father took while the first electric cable was being lain across the straits at the same time the bridge was being built.

My dad, Robert Schwaderer '50 EE & '51 CE, was working for Consumer's at the time. My dad died 20 years ago, and I just bought my mom's place when she moved into senior housing. Of course she left everything she didn't want to take with her, and these slides are part of it. Would you be interested in having them? I've known they should go to some institution, but didn't know where. If you don't think MTU would be interested in having them, do you have another suggestion of who might be?

All the best,
Barbara Schwaderer '80

Barbara: We gladly accept photos and share them with Archives, too. Above is a shot taken when the bridge was being built. Frank Agosti '58 dropped off this one recently. I'd love to hear from other alumni who worked on the bridge.

Woodmar, Hockey Players, and Canadians, eh?

Commenting on the Art Wildblood note, from which I excerpted:

"The point of my previous note was to say I never, ever heard it referred to as "Vetsville!" As I mentioned, I believe it was called "Woodmar," or something similar. Also, I do recall at least one non-veteran who lived there with his wife, so that housing certainly was not exclusively for veterans!"

I agree with Art - I never, during my time, heard of this "temporary" housing being referred to as "Vetsville." The official name, "Woodmar," I considered - then and now - woefully unimaginative. Much more frequently, and certainly wistfully, we in DHH tended to think of it as "Fertile Valley" - much better!

Also, we should remember that not all of these "temporary" residences were occupied by married students. On the west end, several of these edifices - called "shacks" - directly behind DHH, were occupied by Canadians attending da' Tech on hockey scholarships.

(I occasionally pondered the purpose of MCM&T in segregating the hockey players in that manner - whether it was to build team spirit, or whether it might have been a measure to protect the rest of the student body... Oh well! No one can argue with the results on the ice.)

While I'm thinking of it, more and more as the years go on, I am thankful for the presence during my time at da' Tech of both the veterans and the Canadians in such significant numbers.

The many veterans added a wonderful measure of maturity to the student body. Certainly, they provided a constant awareness that we were there to study and prepare for a career. And, I recall one time in DHH when they provided leadership in defeating some dress code nonsense which the administration attempted to impose on the dorm.

At that time, around 1960, Canadians on campus constituted maybe ten per cent of the student body. Their influence on us was somewhat different than the vets. True, given their somewhat differing life experience, they did add some maturity. But, I probably shouldn't get too deeply into some of the other aspects of their impact. For certain I learned much from them, some of perhaps dubious value, but which I cherish.


FH "Frank" Shoffner '62

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Liberty Mutual 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.

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