Belly Laughs All Around: The '59ers Remember

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

It started with certificates and pins awarded to the Class of 1959, as they joined the Golden M's: 50 years or more since graduating.

As digital cameras flashed, Harold Seppala hollered, "Got any Brownie Hawkeyes?"

"You're dating yourself, Harold!" was the reply, among laughs.

Later, as the microphone was passed around, the stories began.

Bill Robertson used his chemical engineering knowledge to run a special experiment in the unit operations lab at the end of spring term. "I kept it quiet for ten years," he said.

Securing a 10-pound box of powder detergent, he and an accomplice dumped it into the proper spot in the lab workings. When the lab was fired up that summer, two to three feet of foam covered the floor.

When he finally confessed to Dr. Bredekamp a decade later, his old professor got a good laugh after blaming others all those years.

Many veterans of Douglass Houghton Hall were in attendance, including Dan Rivard, who recalled the huge icicles that would hang from the DHH roof. With Ken "Tiger" Sloan, he chopped off a 250-pound specimen and deposited it in someone's bed before they arrived back at the residence hall after a night on the town.

A young, not-wealthy couple was living in married student housing with no silverware, so Rivard and his fellow DHHers "reallocated a 12-place University setting over to married housing, bit by bit, including a creamer and sugar bowl."

"No wonder you're so generous!" exclaimed Mroz, referring to Rivard's years of service to Tech. "You're paying Tech back," someone exclaimed.

Many stories featured Aubrey Gibson, overseer of DHH and gun-toting faculty member. When he was teaching the mechanical engineering principle of impulse momentum dynamics, "he would bring a huge birch log to the front of the room," remembered Jim Gerdeen.

"He'd pull out his .45 and blast it," Gerdeen said. "The log bounced across the room. Years later, I was teaching in the new ME-EM building, and, sure enough, a shot rang out down the hall. The students were shocked, but I just kept writing on the blackboard. I knew it was Gib."

Jim Mack recalled those long drives back to campus, especially in winter. On one particularly treacherous trip, near Munising, headlights came up behind them.

"Don't let him pass you," he told his driver, Oscar. So, dutifully, Oscar weaved over in front of the car each time it tried to pass him. After the third time, red, flashing lights appeared atop the following car.

"Oscar couldn't convince the officer that he was trying to save him from the bad roads ahead," Mack said.

Members of Tau Beta Pi recalled a party at the Ripley Fire Hall. After gathering enough courage to "take the fire truck for a spin," they discovered the Ripley FD had assigned a member to sleep in the front seat, just in case the "Toots" got any ideas.

Finally Jim Kraus said he was one of five Kraus boys to get degrees from Tech: two in forestry, one in ME, a chem engg, and Jim in metallurgy. And he softened the tone a bit, albeit temporarily.

"I just appreciate my dad and mom offering me a chance to come to an institution like Michigan Tech that is second to none."

The 59ers and others agreed. And they still squeezed in some fun.

Marratech Web Conferencing to Be Shut Down Aug. 14

Michigan Tech's currently supported web conferencing software, Marratech, will be shut down on Friday, Aug. 14. The company has dissolved; support and upgrades are no longer available.

If you are a user of Marratech and have not transitioned to the newly supported Adobe Connect Pro web conferencing software, contact Chad Arney at 487-4321 or .

More information about Adobe Connect at Michigan Tech is available
here: .

Chili Chefs Square Off Over Beans and Meat

by Jennifer Donovan, public relations director

It's hot enough that your tastebuds will yell "timber," claimed Amy Sikkila, of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science (SFRES), of her Chainsaw Chicken Chili.

Apparently the chili-eating public and the experts agreed with her. The School's Chainsaw Chicken Chili took first place in both the People's Choice Awards and the Experts Honors at the 2009 Chili Cook-Off during Alumni Reunion Friday.

Relampago Blanco--which its creator, Carole Noonan of Accounting Services, translated as "white lightening"--came in second in both the People's Choice and Experts votes. It was a turkey chili with slightly crunchy white beans and a blend of spices that Noonan and her co-cooker, Kristin Beck of Sponsored Programs, absolutely refused to reveal.

Another SFRES entry, Lumberjack Chili, took third place in both popular and expert votes. A creation of Kerry Price and Susie Rajala, it was the only traditional, red-bean and ground-beef chili in the cook-off this year.

The cook-off attracted its share of dissenters, however. "They're all tasty, all different," said Kip Decker, a 1979 alumnus in chemical engineering. "But I have to say I liked the traditional one the best."

Each vote cost $1, which visitors traded for a small cup of chili and a plastic spoon. The proceeds go to each winner's department to be used for scholarships or other good causes.

Tech Talks: Of Wolves and Moose

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

Thursday, a crowd came together for a special Alumni Reunion Tech Talks session. Research Professor Rolf Peterson (SFRES) shared his wolf-moose research, and Kim Nowack '85 gave a presentation on the Mackinac Bridge. For more on Nowack, click here.

To a packed Fisher 139, Peterson talked about the 50 years of research and how "there are no patterns in the wolf and moose population fluctuations." He says, "The work is really about the understanding of nature."

And, at Isle Royale, that takes on special meaning because of its isolation. "The animals are protected, they are locked in," he says. "They are not killed by people." So, the natural chain of events can unfold unaffected, for the most part.

The moose arrived some 100 years ago, probably swimming over from Canada, and lived predator free for about 30 years, until there were 2,000 to 3,000 of them.

Then they underwent the boom-and-bust cycles that overpopulation causes, until the wolves were introduced in the 1940s. They walked over the ice from Canada.

Peterson's video clips illustrated the most famous part of the relationship: a moose is chased by a pack, until it turns and confronts them. "Nineteen of 20 times it ends like this: the wolves leave the moose alone. This was a ridiculous effort," he says of the nine wolves with no chance in the example. The moose can outrun wolves, if the snow is low, or they can ward off wolves most of the time. But, the smaller calves and those older than nine years are susceptible, he says.

There appears to be less of a correlation between the species' populations the longer one studies them, Peterson says, surprising the audience.

Moose suffer from arthritis and periodontal disease, just like people. Other negative factors include hot summers (i.e., 300-pound stomachs that produce heat; they don't perspire, needing Lake Superior to cool off their dark brown selves); El Niņo in 1998 caused much hardship.

In the winter, it is ticks, and another squirm-inducing slide proved that point, as did his description.

"Twenty-thousand ticks can be found on a moose, and the females take a lot of blood."

Another moose video caused more "oohs" and "aaahs": the "boreal hippo" was caught underwater, thanks to a remote camera. And there he was, eyes wide open, nostrils closed, eating anything but the camera. His huge nose rubs the lens before it ends.

Wolves have different problems: mostly caused by inbreeding brought about by the isolation, save for one new male introduced in 1997, which did correlate with a population increase.

Also, the famous July 4, 1981, introduction of a dog with canine parvovirus caused almost all the wolves to be killed.

"They really didn't do well until that new male in 1997," he said.

Wolf video included an apple-loving male who looked like he'd had one too many, located close to Daisy Farm Campground.

Two final videos captured the slow, natural death of a 14-year-old moose "who beat the odds and the wolves" and a moose calf being coaxed into crossing a stream by mom.

Questions from the crowd were good and plenty.

Collaring wolves? "We try not to do that too much--it is a bit stressful."

Wolves being imported from the Detroit Zoo? "True, in 1952. They didn't make it."

Wolves and moose in the UP? "Those wolves go after deer and beaver, not moose."

A 1934 die-off of Isle Royale moose? "Starvation from overpopulation. No natural predators at the time."

MSE Seminar Monday

Professor Chang-jun Liu, of Tianjin University in China, will give a presentation, "Formation of Nano Metal Particles Under the Influence of Argon Discharge Plasmas," today, Monday, Aug. 10, 2:30-3:30 p.m. in M & M 607.

For more information, contact Margaret Rothenberger at .

In the News: Tech One of the Best in Midwest

The Oakland Press ran a front-page story on the colleges named the "Best in the Midwest" for 2010 by The Princeton Review--Michigan Tech is among only five in the state to make the cut. The other Michigan colleges are Lawrence Tech, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Kalamazoo College.

The Detroit News and the Great Lakes IT Report/WWJ Radio both covered the news that Michigan Tech received nearly $3 million in federal stimulus funds to develop a new curriculum in electric hybrid technology.

* Great Lakes IT Report/WWJ: click here
* Detroit News: click here

The American Society of Foresters' magazine, The Forestry Source, published an article in its June issue about a paper by John Vucetich, assistant professor in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, and his colleague at Michigan State, Michael Nelson. The paper, published in the journal Conservation Biology in May, explores whether environmental scientists should act as policy advocates.

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