NSF Awards $4 Million to Michigan Tech to Build Earth Science Teaching Model in Grand Rapids

by Jennifer Donovan, public relations director

Some of the most pressing problems facing the world today--climate change, earthquakes and volcanoes, energy and water resources--are in a field of science most Americans haven't studied since their middle-school earth science class. So Michigan Tech is partnering with the Grand Rapids Public Schools and other groups in Michigan, Washington, DC and Colorado to help students learn more about the earth.

The new program, called MiTEP (Michigan Teaching Excellence Program), is funded by a $4 million, five-year National Science Foundation Math Science Partnership grant. It brings university geoscience researchers and middle-school teachers together to identify ways to make earth science more exciting and meaningful to middle-school students.

In the process, the project hopes to motivate more young people to consider further education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math, fields known collectively as STEM. Educators nationwide have expressed concern about a declining interest in STEM among today's students. STEM professionals are in high demand and are viewed as critical in our nation's effort to maintain its leadership role in the world's economy.

"Middle school earth science is a particularly important area because it is often the first secondary science course taken by students," said Jacqueline Huntoon, dean of the Graduate School. The MiTEP partners believe that if students have a good experience in their middle-school course, they will be enthusiastic about taking more science in high school. Students who like science are more likely to do well in their science classes, so improving attitudes early on may have long-term benefits.

MiTEP will use an innovative approach to improving student learning by bringing together practicing scientists and Grand Rapids teachers to collaborate on improving instruction. Active partners in addition to Michigan Tech and the Grand Rapids Public Schools include the Grand Rapids Area Pre-College Engineering Program (GRAPCEP), the American Geological Institute, the National Park Service, Grand Valley State University and the Colorado School of Mines.

Sleeping Dunes National Park and Keweenaw National Historical Park will also be key players. "We recognize and want to fully utilize the power of place in teaching," Huntoon explained.

Ann Benbow, director of education and outreach at the American Geological Institute, is excited about participating in the new program. "This new research-based program will help those in the geoscience education community to make better-informed decisions when designing earth science curricula, implementing instruction and providing professional development opportunities for teachers," she said.

Unlike many educational fix-it projects, MiTEP researchers will work closely with the classroom teachers and school district representatives to collect information to help them identify effective ways to improve student learning and attitudes. Teachers have a real leadership role in the project. Teachers' input is being used by the researchers to develop professional development activities that are tailored to meet the needs of the Grand Rapids schools. Curricula and teaching methods developed for the MiTEP project will be carefully evaluated to determine which are most effective in improving student learning.

"We're talking about a fundamental and much-needed study of how to best reform science education, one that could make an enormous difference to the future of our nation," said Huntoon.

"This project has tremendous potential because Michigan's educational issues are typical. This project could serve as a template for improving STEM education throughout the country," added Bill Rose, a professor of geology and lead researcher on the project.

Grand Rapids Public School science teachers are being recruited now for two weeks of intensive training in June, one week on the Michigan Tech campus and the other in Grand Rapids. The grant will cover substantial teacher stipends, travel funds, equipment and supplies and release time for professional development. Participating teachers can also earn up to 20 graduate credit hours at no cost.

"We are pleased to be part of an opportunity that allows our great teachers to strengthen their content knowledge and bolster our curriculum with real-life experiences," said Bill Smith, science curriculum supervisor for the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

Three Michigan Tech Graduate Engineering Programs Ranked in Top 50

by Jennifer Donovan, public relations director

Graduate school rankings released today by US News & World Report rank three of Michigan Tech's graduate engineering programs in the top 50 nationwide. The annual rankings evaluated 198 graduate schools of engineering.

Michigan Tech's programs ranked as follows:
* environmental engineering: 33
* mechanical engineering: 48
* materials science and engineering: 49

Two other graduate programs at Michigan Tech ranked in the top 100 nationwide, as did the College of Engineering overall. Those rankings include:
* civil engineering: 58
* geological and mining engineering and sciences: 77
* College of Engineering: 82

"Our long-term goal is to advance the reputation of our graduate programs," said President Glenn D. Mroz. "That is not a timid goal, but we know what we need to do; it is spelled out in our strategic plan. We are laying the groundwork now, and we know it won't happen overnight. We are competing with the best universities in the US and the world for resources and talented graduate students. But Michigan Tech is becoming more and more competitive."

Each year, US News & World Report ranks graduate schools of business, education, engineering, law and medicine. According to the magazine, the rankings are based on two kinds of data--the opinions of graduate school deans, program directors, senior faculty and employers of new graduates, and statistical measures such as student-to-faculty ratio, faculty research activity and doctoral degrees awarded.

Engineering specialties are ranked solely on the basis of assessments by department chairs in each specialty. The American Society for Engineering Education recommends the names of department chairs to be surveyed.

The rankings will be featured in the May 2009 issue of US News & World Report. Information is also available at http://www.usnews.com/grad and http://www.usnews.com/aboutgrad .

ROTC Cadets Are Tops in the State

Two Tech ROTC students were named the outstanding cadets in Michigan at the 53rd annual ROTC Awards Banquet earlier this month in Dearborn.

Senior Melissa Meyer won the Air Force Sword Award for the most outstanding military leadership, scholastic achievement and involvement in extracurricular activities.

Senior Casey Colbeth won the Army Sabre Award for the same criteria.

The banquet and ceremony were sponsored by the Michigan Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association, which promotes military preparedness. The event, which involved cadets from eight Michigan colleges and universities, was part of the 60th Greater Michigan Armed Forces Week.

Meyer and Colbeth, who will both graduate next week, have sustained intensive campus involvement and achievement.

Meyer, who majored in biomedical engineering, participated in Senior Design, the rowing team, and the concrete canoe club. She also was editor of the cadet yearbook and oversaw the making of a recruitment video for the Air Force ROTC program that will circulate to 400 high schools in the Midwest. She served as wing commander this past semester and was responsible for the training program for 62 cadets. Her grade point average was 3.2. She will graduate in the top 10 percent of Air Force ROTC graduates in the nation. She was Winter Carnival Queen in 2009.

"Sheís amazing," says Lt. Col. Kerry Beaghan, commander of Tech's Air Force ROTC. "I donít know how she does it all. She makes me feel like I didnít go anything in college."

For her part, Meyer, who is from Monroe, says, "The award is not a tribute to my success. It's a tribute to the ROTC program at Michigan Tech."

She adds that coming to Tech "was the best decision I ever made in the 21 years I've been on this earth."

Meyer, who also earned the Greater Michigan Armed Forces Week Award, will now go to Pease Air National Guard Base in Portsmouth, N.H.

Colbeth, 22, who majored in business, maintained a 3.83 GPA and says the award represents "not anything big," rather "a bunch of little things."

He means being involved in the Accounting Club; the Professional Business Leaders of America; Beta Gamma Sigma, the honor society for business; Phi Kappa Phi, the honor society for scholarship.

He says about ROTC: "It's been so welcoming. You build so many friendships." He says about winning the award: "Wow."

His commanding officer, Lt. Col. Dallas Eubanks, says of Colbeth: "It's been a distinct pleasure to get to know him. I have no doubt in my mind that he'll make a great leader of American soldiers."

Colbeth, who is from Somerset, Wis., will graduate among the top 20 percent of cadets nationwide. He also received a communication award. He will move on to Fort Sill, Okla., for officer leadership training.

Other Tech cadets to receive honors at the Dearborn ceremony were:

Dustin Hein, army, and Kyle Deane, air force (outstanding academic achievement by a freshman); Andrew Haney, army, and Keegan Shannon-Lohenry, air force (outstanding academic achievement by a sophomore); Stephen Stafford, army, and Jonathan Poole, air force (outstanding academic achievement by a junior); Seth Woolcott, air force (outstanding academic achievement by a senior); Kathryn Hill, army, and Lukas Morse, air force (outstanding military leadership, achievement, proficiency, scholastic excellence and participation in extracurricular activities); Anthony Thompson, army, and Colleen Best, air force (outstanding military achievement); Joseph Ruohonen, army (retiring commanders, 2007); Tom Sanger, army, and Christopher Cooper, air force, (retiring commanders, 2008); Tom Sanger (excellence in science, academic achievement, and integrity and leadership).

Student Talent Showcased in Walker Show

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

Students' paintings, sculptures, mixed media and new media creations took center stage this week at McArdle Theatre, which played host to the Walker Art and Design Show. The variety was incredible, as was the level of talent on display.

There is still time to celebrate the students' talent, as the show ends today, Friday, April 24.

Lisa Tincknell described her beautiful ink and paint creations as extensions of "doodling" she had done since she was a child.

Jessica Sherman had elaborate ceramics, including an "Octolamp" and a colorful flowerpot, complete with flowers.

Rachel Griffin called her painting of flowers "girly and bright" and hopes to use her Visual and Performing Arts minor to aid in a future marketing career.

Students also took creative turns on the color spectrum, and Kris Bartell turned his Frisbee into a color wheel, while Heather Peterson used chocolate chip cookies to explore the spectrum.

The costumes and props of the theater productions were also on display. The design and engineering behind the incredible lizard from the play "Seascape" was described by costume designer Corinne Gilbert and "tail engineer" Michael McKellar.

Gilbert's unique hand-operated raven from "The Robber Bridegroom" was also on display: creepy in a good way.

Vivian Huotari explored some beautiful nature scenes in watercolor, including a cabin on a lake that could be found on any UP lake.

Finally, Brooke Sirard and Tamaki Komatsuzaki "altered" books: Sirard chose to bejewel a book in red, white and gold, while Komatsuzaki turned a magazine into a 3-D flower.

As evidenced by the work presented, the students have worked hard this semester to bring art to life on campus and to brighten up a somewhat grey and dull spring.

Technology Has New Honor Society

There's a new honor society on campus and it's in the School of Technology.

Epsilon Pi Tau is the international honor society for professions in technology and recognizes students for academic excellence.

Tech's Delta Zeta Chapter will host an induction ceremony and banquet Saturday, April 25, for 16 charter members.

The initiative will "encourage students to come to Tech and to stay," says Jim Frendewey, interim chair of the School of Technology.

Coadvisors are Associate Professor John Irwin and Assistant Professor Aurenice Oliveira.

The society, founded in 1929, has 122 chapters nationwide.

Charter members are

Todd Arney, computer network and system administration; Evan Cole, computer network and system administration; Neil Dabrowski, mechanical engineering technology; Blair Froseth, industrial technology; Brian Gulewich, construction management; Ben Haynes, computer network and system administration; Adam Heisler, computer network and system administration; Nicholas Mutschler, computer network and system administration; Jacob Nowak, mechanical engineering technology; Derek Nyenhuis, construction management; Nicholas Recla, computer network and system administration; Nicholas Thompson, mechanical engineering technology; Adam Vest, computer network and system adminisration; Joseph Webb, electrical engineering technology.

Three professionals will also be inducted: Aurenice Oliveira, of the School of Technology; Steven Bethel, of Chassell; and Steven Onsager, of New Berlin, Wis.

Library Hours Irregular before Summer Hours Begin May 11

The Van Pelt and Opie Library will have irregular hours on Friday and Saturday, April 24-25, due to exam week, and from Friday, May 1, through Sunday, May 10.

Friday, April 24
7:45 a.m.-midnight

Saturday, April 25

Friday, May 1
closes at 5 p.m.

Saturday, May 2, and Sunday, May 3

Monday, May 4, through Friday, May 8
open 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Saturday, May 9, and Sunday, May 10

Beginning on Monday, May 11, the library will be open Monday-Thursday, 7:45 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 7:45 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, noon-4 p.m.

Make Your Summer Photo Requests in Advance

Photo Services will have limited hours this summer. Please make your photo requests in advance, including head shots and photos for use in publications and on the web, by calling 487-2354 or sending an email to umc@mtu.edu .

Dress for Success Shop Offering Specials through May 2

submitted by the Campus Bookstore

The Dress for Success Shop will offer 25 percent off all suits, sport coats, tuxedos, slacks, shirts, ties, belts, shoes and socks through Saturday, May 2.

Why rent a tuxedo when you can own one for the same price? Tuxedos, including shirt and bow tie, originally $165 are now $119.99.

Three Projects Take Home Undergrad Expo First Prize

Three undergraduate research projects garnered first-place awards at the 2009 Undergraduate Expo, held Thursday, April 16, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

The "Machinability of Ductile Iron Crankshafts" project received first place in the AEP Powering Innovation Senior Design category. Members of the team are James Martin, Robb Mrozinski, Emanuel Marinaro Castilla, Chris Olson and Drew Windgassen (Materials Science and Engineering)--advised by Professor Jim Hwang. The project, sponsored by the Kohler Company, aimed to "create a method of evaluating the machinability of ductile iron crankshaft casting and to create an engineering standard based on that method," according to the project's abstract. The goal is to overcome the problem of variation in the machinability of the castings, which creates unwanted expense and manufacturing difficulty.

"Natural Food Preservation Using Oak Leaves," by undergraduate Nari Kang (Biological Sciences), received first place in the Undergraduate Research category. Kang's advisor is Assistant Professor Ramakrishna Wusirika. The project sponsor is Phi Sigma Biological Sciences Honor Society. Kang extracted compounds from oak leaves that act as preservatives and compared them to chemical preservatives. The project goal, according to Kang's abstract, is "to highlight the value of natural food preservation, its contribution to improved health and its use as a substitute for artificial chemical preservation." According to Korean folk culture, food is preserved by being wrapped in oak leaves, says Kang.

The Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise received first place in the Enterprise category. Team leaders are Ben Kusterer and Zach Lemieux (Chemical Engineering). The Enterprise team is advised by Associate Professor Tony Rogers and Senior Lecturer Sean Clancey. A typical project of the Enterprise "explores the design, manufacturing and marketing of products new to the consumer market." The Enterprise is currently working on designing and manufacturing an automated device that will lift a pallet of empty cans and direct them into the can-filling conveyor--sponsored by the Keweenaw Brewing Company. Also, the Enterprise is partnering with the Blue Marble Security Enterprise and senior chemical engineering students on a venture sponsored by 3M.

Other award winners follow:

Senior Design
Second place: Human-Powered Grain Processor
Third place: Off-Road Trail Assist Vehicle
Honorable mention: Dryer Support Roller Design Harmonization; Axial Flux Vertical Axis Wind Turbine; and Cold Rolling of High-Strength, Low-Alloy (HSLA) Steels

Undergraduate Research
Second place: Characterizing Lapine Meniscal Tissue
Third place: Collagen-Silica Vapor Coated Composite Scaffolds for Interfacial Tissue Engineering

Second Place: Wireless Communication
Third Place: Blue Marble Security
Honorable mention: ITOxygen, International Business Ventures, and EMCO (the Energy Management Company, of the University of Turabo, Puerto Rico)

SFHI Candidate Seminar Today

Andrzej Kloczkowski, adjunct professor of the Department of
Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology and senior researcher of L. H. Baker Center for Bioinformatics and Biological Statistics at Iowa State University, will present a seminar, "Modeling Structure and Dynamics of Biomolecules," today, Friday, April 24, at 1 p.m. in Rekhi G06.

Kloczkowski is a candidate for a faculty position under the Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative in Computational Discovery and Innovation.

Teaching at Tech--Whatís Going On Here?

"We have to recognize that our kids are different than us... We watched TV, they make TV. It is technology that has made them different. And as we see what this technology can do, we need to recognize that you canít kill the instinct the technology produces; we can only criminalize it. We can't stop our kids from using it; we can only drive it underground. We can't make our kids passive again; we can only make them 'pirates,' and, is that good? We live in this weird time, this kind of age of prohibitions, where in many areas of our life we live life constantly against the law. Ordinary people live life against the law. And that's what we are doing to our kids. They live life knowing they live it against the law. That realization is extraordinarily corrosive, extraordinarily corrupting, and in a democracy, we ought to be able to do better...."

With those words, Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig issues a call to arms in response to what he sees as a sea of social change.*

Former Tech Visiting Assistant Professor, now the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Science, Technology and Society at Vassar College, Michael Bennett visited campus recently to discuss issues surrounding the routine use of plagiarism detection software.

He bemoaned the tone of distrust that the use of such software can interject into a class and asked what I see as the broader question: "how did we get here?" How did we get to this place where students think education is about discovering the means to pass the tests and write the papers without achieving the goal of mastering these new ideas in deep and transformative ways?

Maybe it's like asking why the animals in the zoo are so nervous and neurotic. Maybe it's because students have control in their own worlds and have precious little in ours.

How did we get to the point where 85 percent of high school students admit to cheating, with many saying they don't see anything wrong with it?

It's clear that digital communication technologies create many new opportunities for cheating and the inappropriate copying of others' work. Turn-It-In.com compares strings of text against its enormous databases and produces a report of what likely came from where.

But if a student wants to cheat on a written assignment, there are numerous paper mills that will produce custom-crafted papers on any topic for $10 to $25 per page. For the $25 price, for example, bestessays.com will provide you with a free plagiarism detection report, a free outline, unlimited amendments, bibliography material and formatting changes to suit the needs of the specific assignment a student is given. A testimonial on their web page says, "Thank you so much for delivering my essay on time. The essay was unique, it described my personal characteristics and I loved the writer's style. Beautifully written! I am VERY PLEASED with the results. Sincerely, Jackie." (My daughter's name is Jackie, but I don't think that testimonial is written in her style. Hmmh! Maybe she bought that, too!)

Seriously, though, students unthinkingly share bootleg music, movies, and videos and who-knows-what-else on their computers. As Lessig points out, creative kids grab bits of copyrighted material and produce very clever new things out of them. They routinely use pieces of copyrighted work as the raw materials for creating parodies and political commentaries, like an artist uses a palette of paints.

Most know it's illegal, but that doesn't have any effect on their behavior. I told my kids that copyright laws protect the singers (I hesitate to call them artists, as I have friends who are artists) whom they love to listen to and that by illegally duplicating their songs, they are robbing these purveyors of aural distress of their means of making a living. Response?
Glassy-eyed stares and the obvious inner thought, "Give me a break, fossil, you think Skype is when you cut the grass too close."

We put a ton of effort into figuring out how to catch violators and correct their errant behaviors through various acts of penance and financial restitution. Meanwhile, I notice more and more young drivers routinely passing on curves, crossing the double yellow line and putting their lives and other drivers' lives at risk. Campus streets are lined with student cars with pink parking tickets: same cars, day after day.

There's a bigger message here. Scientific inquiry is founded upon honesty, openness and a search for new understandings that put truth before privilege, reward, novelty or convenience. Without a sense of basic integrity, the pursuit of new ideas yields only fraudulent fits and starts. Without maturity and honesty, a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing.

* Ted.com

New Funding

Mark Plichta (MSE) has received $437,820 from UP Steel for a multiple-year project, "Process Optimization of Energy Efficient Steel Production."

Michigan Tech Notables

Donald S. Williams, director of Counseling and Wellness Services, has been named the 2009 Outstanding Field Educator by Michigan State University's School of Social Work.

For several years, Williams has invited students from Michigan State University to work as interns in Counseling and Wellness Services and has supervised them. This recognition highlights his adherence to the principles and values of social work, his flexibility and responsiveness in working with the School's students and faculty, and his contribution to resolving challenging and difficult situations. Williams will accept the award during Michigan State University's School of Social Work graduation ceremony on May 8.