UMC Marches Out New Website

University Marketing and Communications is pleased to announce the launch of the new University News website.

This site has increased capabilities, including a place for user comments, videos and slide shows. The site also features a "Photo of the Week" and "Poll of the Week."

Please visit the News website at . Use the Beta Bug icon at the top right corner of the web page to pinpoint any errors or problems.

SafeLane Returns to its Roots: Three Campus Walkways Get a Makeover

by Karina Jousma, Tech Today assistant editor

In early May you may have noticed staff working on the walkways outside the Administration Building and Rekhi Hall and in between Wadsworth and McNair. The gritty, salt-and-pepper-colored overlays that were applied to these sections of sidewalk are none other than SafeLane, a material created by Russ Alger in the Keweenaw Research Center (KRC).

SafeLane, which is being marketed by Cargill, is a mix of epoxy and aggregate rock applied to pavement. When liquid anti-icing chemicals are applied to the overlay before ice or snowstorms hit, the material acts like a rigid sponge, storing the chemicals inside and automatically releasing them as wintery conditions develop. The result is safer surfaces with better traction and less maintenance.

SafeLane was first developed for bridge decks and roadways. When the product exceeded expectations on these surfaces, Alger, a project manager/research leader at the KRC, fine-tuned the formula for use on surfaces such as walkways and parking lots.

Andy Niemi, grounds manager, contacted Alger about the problematic walkways on campus. "We've always had icing problems in these areas," said Niemi. Grounds split the bill for SafeLane with Residential Facilities, with the former covering the work on the lower campus and the latter the walkway located on the hillside between the two residential halls. Grounds and the KRC installed the overlays.

The benefit of installing SafeLane on campus is twofold: it will not only give pedestrians a leg up during the winter, but also will allow for closer monitoring of its effectiveness.

"It's an experiment," says Niemi. "We're trying to see how SafeLane will work on the steeper slope of a sidewalk as opposed to the flatter surfaces that it was originally designed for."

"The trouble we've had in previous SafeLane tests is there's no one checking up on the overlays," says Alger. "This way we'll have someone who can report back on how it works out."

Within the past year, SafeLane has been applied more frequently to sidewalks and community areas, including on university campuses, where people are likely to slip and fall. Alger says the overlay should help to prevent ice and frost from forming. Niemi agrees: "We have a good idea of what's going to happen, but we can't be positive until we test it."

But don't expect to wear your Crocs to campus when the snow flies. Niemi cautions that although SafeLane should "reduce the frequency of glare ice, the sidewalks will not be totally bare. That doesn't happen up here." He also says it's unlikely that all campus sidewalks will be treated with SafeLane, as the cost would be prohibitive.

Teachers Teach Teachers

by John Gagnon, promotional writer

Late last week, Erik Lilleskov, an adjunct professor and a research ecologist, worked a length of pipe the size of a coffee can a couple of inches into the ground and filled it up with a cocktail of water laced with dry mustard. The concoction seeped into the ground, stung the worms, and they scurried to the surface, like bubbles in a glass of pop.

The mustard was just an irritant, the worms would get over it, and Lilleskov used the demonstration to show fifteen public school teachers how they can work with their students to sample the number and kind of worms underfoot.

Lilleskov works at the US Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and was teaching a summer course on his area of expertise: invasive species. It was part of a weeklong session on global change that drew to campus elementary, middle and high school teachers from Michigan, Indiana and Texas.

In part, Lilleskov addressed the lowly earth worm. It didn’t survive the last Ice Age, he said, and is not native to this neck of the woods--rather an interloper, largely from Europe and points south.

Worms are of mixed repute, Lilleskov said. They’re good critters as they aerate and mix the soil in the garden; but, for instance, the Canada night crawler can degrade the forest floor by feasting on leaf litter, which, were it left to decompose, would constitute the makings of good soil.

Lilleskov’s lesson: "Introducing species can have a huge impact on the ecosystems, and we need to understand the impacts to figure out how to live with the changes."

Invasive species, he said, are "human-accelerated environmental change."

"It all happened because of us," he said, and such change happens "faster than it would naturally."

Not all nonnatives are invasive. Lupines are nonnative, Lilleskov said, and people love them. Nonnatives become invasive, he explained, when they harm the economy, the environment or human health.

“There’s a lot we don’t know,” he told his audience of teachers. “There’s a lot of research to be done. Your school kids might be able to answer some of the questions."

Joan Chadde, coordinator of K-12 education programs for the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach at Michigan Tech, organizes a variety of these summer professional development courses. She’s been doing it since 2002. This summer, she put together three other classes prior to the one on global change: one on the Great Lakes watershed, another on forest resources and a third on future fuels from forests. An average of 20 teachers enroll in each weeklong session.

"Teachers walk away with great ideas to reinvigorate their teaching," Chadde says.

The value of this schooling goes beyond professional development for the teachers, she adds. These teacher-students, she says, "are impressed with how wonderful, knowledgeable and personable our faculty are. So they share their excitement about Michigan Tech with their students, and they become ambassadors for us. That’s important because these teachers can influence their students’ choices about where to go to college."

Associate Professor Andy Burton (SFRES), who taught three sessions last week and is a veteran in this summer teaching corps, says that working with teachers "is the best way to introduce science to a wide audience." He describes the program as "science-based state of the art."

Three teachers at last week's global change class were from the Upper Peninsula. Lauri Davis was one. She has taught science at Houghton High School for three years. She has a bachelor's degree in biology and environmental science and a master's in wildlife biology. To renew her professional teacher certification, she has to take six credits every five years; she earned three credits for the global change class.

"This is enormously important for teachers," she says. "Science changes. You need to know what’s going on to keep it current."

She says she takes away "tons of information and ideas" for hands-on and laboratory exercises for her students. She also enjoys working with other teachers "with the same interests and concerns."

These teacher institutes are funded in part by state and federal agencies that want to support this outreach to the next generation of scientists by reducing the costs to teachers. "Given the price and what you get out of it, it’s an incredible deal," Davis says.

* * * * *

Michigan Tech is connecting with more teachers this summer. Eight other classes have been scheduled. Some are on campus; some are set in national parks from Isle Royale to Utah. As well, the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences offers a master’s program in Applied Science Education.

Refrigerator is for the Taking

Public Safety is giving away a white Westinghouse refrigerator, 17.5 cubic feet. It's an older model with a small freezer.

If you are interested, please contact Mary at . Or, if you have any questions, please call Public Safety at 7-2216.

University property may only be transferred between departments; it may not be given or sold to individuals.

Accounting Has Free Items

Accounting Services has the following available for free:

* Three four-drawer (tan) file cabinets
* Two chairs with cushioned seat and back, metal frame without arms (pinkish color)

If you are interested, please contact Mary at .

University property may only be transferred between departments; it may not be given or sold to individuals.

In the News

Lake Superior Magazine quotes faculty members Jeff Naber (MEEM) and David Shonnoard (Chemical Engineering) in "Wood to Wheels: MTU's Drive toward a Greener Future," which appears in its September edition. The story, written by freelancer Tom Wilsowske, provides an overview of current research, including Naber's efforts to develop greener flex-fuel hybrid engines and Shonnard's work developing new biofuel technologies.

The University's railroad engineering program is highlighted in the September edition of Trains, a magaine for the railroading industry. Editor Jim Wrinn, who attended the University's Railroad Night program in February, says in his editorial, "If you're wondering where railroads will get some of their best people, pay attention to the students coming out of Michigan Technological University."

In Print

Archivist Erik Nordberg (Van Pelt and Opie Library) published an article, "Calumet and Copper: An Enduring Link," in Michigan History, Vol. 93, No. 4, July/August 2009.

Staff Job Postings


Office Assistant 5
Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts
(UAW internal and external posting)

Rozsa Center
(AFSCME internal and external posting)
Regular, part-time position; no base--1st and 2nd shift; will often include evenings and weekends

Michigan Technological University is an equal opportunity educational institution/equal opportunity employer.

New Funding

Professor Ulrich Hansmann (Physics) has received $213,001 from the National Institutes of Health for "Folding, Mis-folding and Aggregation of Small Proteins," the first year of a four-year program that will total $776,383.