Salt Power: Watt's Next in Rechargeable Batteries?

by Marcia Goodrich, magazine editor

Associate Professor Reza Shahbazian-Yassar (ME-EM) thinks sodium might be the next big thing in rechargeable batteries. It's cheap and abundant; the oceans are full of it. But sodium has some drawbacks that need to be addressed before the next generation of electric vehicles start running on salt power.

With a $417,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Shahbazian-Yassar is studying how sodium behaves and developing solutions.

For the full story, see Watt's Next in Rechargeable Batteries?

Christopher Newfield to Speak on the State of the Public University

Christopher Newfield, professor in the English department at the University of California-Santa Barbara and author of Unmaking the Public University: the Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class, will present "Rebuilding the Public University: From the Innovation Economy to Craft Society" at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11, in Forestry G002. A reception will follow in the Forestry Atrium. Admission is free to the public.

Newfield's lecture will outline some of the current struggles of public universities, including one directly related to the question Newfield asks in his 2008 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education: "Why is public education the poor pupil of public investment?"

The lecture will discuss how privatization, market measures, and the import of social value over and above cultural knowledge have continued to discredit the cultural conditions of mass-middle-class development, resulting in the downsizing of the university. Tackling solutions for rebuilding the public university, Newfield argues for strategies whereby faculty might change or lead academic markets rather than merely adapt to them, advocating "a cross-disciplinary craft education that re-links liberal [arts] to practical arts."

In addition to Unmaking the Public University, he is the author of Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980. He has published innumerable scholarly articles, including recent ones on solar energy policy and collaboration in nanoscience. He blogs on higher education funding and policy at Remaking the University, the Huffington Post, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Newfield appears as part of the Humanities Distinguished Speaker Series now in it's third year.

Tech Students Find Opportunity in New SmartZone Business

by Jennifer Donovan, director, public relations

CONTROLTEC, a firm established and run by two Michigan Tech alumni, has opened a satellite office in the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation SmartZone. It will be managed by a Tech student, and three other students will work there.

Ryan Leisenring, a freshman in mechanical engineering, will manage the CONTROLTEC office in the Lakeshore Center in Houghton. The firm has hired Michigan Tech software engineering students James Vana, Kaleb Elwert, and Michael Tuer to work on software development for the transportation industry.

Alumni Bill Leisenring and Dave Ploucha founded the company in 2009. Its headquarters is in Allen Park. CONTROLTEC joins Ford Motor Company, GE Aviation and Dematic, large firms that opened satellite offices in the MTEC SmartZone, utilizing the skills of Michigan Tech students.

"It's a win-win-win situation," said SmartZone CEO Marilyn Clark. Students gain experience, and the companies benefit from the cost-effectiveness of insourcing projects. "The community also wins with the addition of four more jobs in our market," she said.

Univision Invites Hispanic Students to Virtually Visit Tech

This Thursday (Oct. 11), members of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) student chapter at Michigan Tech will participate in a virtual college fair sponsored by Univision and powered by CollegeWeekLive. Univision is a Spanish-language television network with the largest number of Spanish-speaking viewers in the United States.

The virtual fair invites Hispanic students to explore different colleges and universities by talking with current students online. This gives Michigan Tech students an opportunity to connect with fair participants and to share their experiences as Hispanic students at Tech.

SHPE members Uziel Mendez, Rosa Flores, Gilbert Ramírez and Estefania Borns will do a live chat session at 5 p.m. and will be available to chat with college fair participants from 5 to 10 p.m. via an instant messaging system.

Michigan Tech’s Admissions Office participates regularly in CollegeWeekLive virtual events, but this is the first time that the SHPE chapter at Michigan Tech has participated in a fair targeting Hispanic students.

Indian Consul General Promotes Bilateral Education Initiatives

by Jenn Donovan, director, public relations

Mukta D. Tomar, consul general at India's consulate in Chicago, addressed a public forum at Michigan Tech on Tuesday, Oct. 9. She talked about the need for more collaboration between US and Indian research centers and institutions of higher education.

"We share many values," she said, "particularly the spirit of inquiry."

Some steps have already been taken. Tomar spoke of the first bilateral higher education conference, held in Washington, DC, last year. An Indian Support for Teacher Education initiative and an exchange program for junior faculty from India and the US are also under way. India study centers have been established at several leading US universities, and India is in the process of designating 14 of its universities as "innovation and research universities," each focusing on research and advanced education in a different field.

"Our focus is on making the entire higher education/innovation/research enterprise grow," Tomar stated.

There is also a need for more cooperation between industry and research institutions in India, she said. "India is positioned to be the country with the third largest GDP (gross domestic product) in the world," she noted. "But we face many techno-economic challenges." However, she said, "there is an interesting new phenomenon, and that is the rise of investment by Indian companies in the US. Indian companies created 280,000 jobs in the US last year."

"Entrepreneurship and vision have made this possible," said Tomar. Investment occurs when there is mutual benefit."

Tomar praised Michigan Tech for its own focus on research and on "keeping education relevant," pointing to Tech's revival of mining engineering and its multidisciplinary biofuels research as examples.

Tomar is scheduled to meet with President Glenn Mroz and other campus representatives today and tonight, she will help judge the Homecoming Court.

Reminder: C2E2 Equipment Fund Proposals Accepted

The Office of the Vice President for Research is requesting Century II Campaign Endowed Equipment (C2E2) Fund proposals.

The program provides funds to purchase equipment that will have a broad, campus-wide impact and will also improve the lives of faculty, staff and students.

For further information, visit C2E2.

Submissions will be accepted until 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18.

Please send one scanned electronic copy of the required paperwork to Cathy Banfield at .

For more information, contact Banfield at 487-3043 or her email.

HRA Incentive

Eligible employees who complete a Health Risk Assessment will earn a $75 incentive. Benefit eligible employees can earn $75 to be deposited into the 2013 TechFit account, flexible spending health care account, or into a health savings account. To learn more about this incentive, see Wellness.

Keweenaw Pride Hosts National Coming Out Day Events

This Thursday, Oct. 11, is National Coming Out Day, and members of Keweenaw Pride will be in the Memorial Union Courtyard from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., passing out GLBTQ Ally stickers, information about how to be an Ally to the GLBTQ community, and information for students who are in the process of coming out. They will also have their rainbow door set up so students, staff and faculty can "come out" as Allies. Faculty and staff are invited to wear their "Gay? Fine by Me" shirts on Thursday to show their support.

Keweenaw Pride will also host a Candlelight Vigil Thursday evening from 7 to 8 p.m., on the Hamar House lawn to mark the 14th anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death and to remember all the GLBTQ teens who have lost their lives to suicide or violence.

For information about upcoming diversity-related events, email Renee Wells at to subscribe to the weekly Diversity Programs listserv.

NSF GRFP Workshop Series

Assistant Professor Caryn Heldt (ChE), NSF GRFP reviewer, will present "Broader Impacts…huh?" from noon to 12:50 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11, in the Pat Nelson Graduate Conference Center on the fourth floor of the Administration Building.

Topics will include:

* How to address broader impacts
* What activities and projects reflect clear interdisciplinary initiatives or implications, benefits to society, engagement with diverse groups, strong collaborations and partnerships, current and consistent outreach, ability to publish and present and future plans to do so.

Bruce Seely, dean of the College of Science and Arts and NSF panel reviewer, will present "How to Write Exceptional NSF GRFP Letters of Recommendation" from noon to 12:50 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Pat Nelson Graduate Conference Center on the fourth floor of the Administration Building.

He will discuss tips for writing exceptional letters that result in funding for graduate students.

MSE Seminar

Suman Sinha Ray, dean's fellow and postdoctoral research associate at the Multiscale Mechanics and Nanotechnology Laboratory at the University of Illinois-Chicago, will present "Mechanics of Micro- and Nano-Textured Systems: Nanofibers, Nanochannels, Nanoparticles and Slurries" at 2 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11, in M&M 610.

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar Series

PhD candidate Mary Christiansen (CEE) will be presenting "Geopoly-what? An Introduction to Geopolymer Cements."

The presentation will include an introduction to geopolymer cement technology as well as an overview of the concept of creating geopolymers based on the alkali activation of waste glass. This system has the potential to further reduce the carbon footprint of geopolymer cement as well as to develop a dependable market for unsorted waste glass, which is currently an issue in many countries, including the United States. The presentation will be held at 4:05 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11, in Dow 641.

In Print

Associate Professor Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) coauthored an article, "Prediction of Energy Effects on Photovoltaic Systems Due to Snowfall Events," in the 2012 38th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC). See Energy.

New Funding

Shari Stockero (CLS) has received a $109,083 grant from the National Science Foundation for a research project, "Collaborative Research: Leveraging MIPOs: Developing a Theory of Productive Use of Student Mathematical Thinking."

On the Road

Rail Transportation Program (RTP) Director Pasi Lautala (CEE), Assistant Professor Jeffrey Lidicker (CEE) and 20 Rail Engineering and Activities Club (REAC) students attended the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance Right-of-Way (AREMA) annual conference in Chicago recently. Michigan Tech RTP students were recognized for their AREMA scholarship success. Two of the students, Matt Purves (CEE) and Colin Lay (CEE) were selected to serve as student interns for the Conference Operating Committee.

Lautala also presented a collaborative paper "Win-Win: Shortline Railroad and University Team Up for Education and Development" with Darryl Babbitt '08 (CEE) from Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad. Lautala and REAC students represented Michigan Tech as a partner in the first USDOT granted University Transportation Center focused on rail at the National University Rail Center (NURail) exposition booth.

On Wednesday, a (High Speed) Rail Workforce Symposium was conducted by the RTP as a deliverable of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) project granted to Michigan Tech, with Lautala as the PI. The symposium was offered live at the Chicago Hilton and via webinar to approximately 50 total participants. Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) Director John Velat presented an overview of the technical components of the proof-of-concept web portal being developed. Lautala also gave an overview of the project and served as moderator. Scott Bershing (TTAP) provided the technical capabilities for the webinar and recording of the event.

Earlier in the week, the inaugural Rail Transportation Program Alumni Event, in conjunction with AREMA, was held at the Chicago Hilton where nearly 40 Michigan Tech rail alumni and students gathered for an RTP overview from Lautala. The RTP is a part of the Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI).

Job Posting

Staff job descriptions are available in Human Resources or at . For more information regarding staff positions, call 487-2280 or email .

Faculty job descriptions can be found at . For more information regarding faculty positions, contact the academic department in which the position is posted.

Tenure Track Position
Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, Assistant/Associate Professor
in Energy Storage Systems

Apply online at .

Note: Human Resources is transitioning to an online application process for the job posting above. To read the notice to applicants, please go to Posting.

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

Proposals in Progress

Assistant Professor Scott A. Miers (ME-EM/APSRC), "NSF/DOE Partnership on Advanced Combustion Engines: Advanced Compression Ignition Engine Technology for Improved Vehicle Fuel Economy," NSF.

Associate Professor Karla M. Kitalong (HU), "Celebrating the 1964/65 New York World's Fair Fiftieth Anniversary," University of Central Florida.

Assistant Professor Colleen Mouw (GMES/CWS), "Optical of Inland Waters to Improve Monitoring of Water Quality Variables by Remote Sensing," University of Minnesota.

Assistant Professor Seong-Young Lee (ME-EM/APSRC) and researcher Jaclyn Johnson (ME-EM/APSRC), "NSF/DOE Partnership on Advanced Combustion Engines: Ignition and Combustion Characteristics of Transportation Fuels under Lean-Burn Conditions for Advanced Engine Concepts," NSF.

Researcher Colin Brooks (MTRI), Institute Co-Director Robert Shuchman (MTRI) and researcher Mike Sayers (MTRI), "Improve Access and Applications of Optical Properties Data for Inland and Coastal Waters through the Great Lakes Optical Properties Geospatial Database," NASA.

Associate Professor Audrey Mayer (SFRES/SFI), Senior Research Engineer Richard Donovan (ChE/SFI) and Professor David Shonnard (ChE/SFI), "IRES: Pan-American Sustainable Bioenergy Research Program for Undergraduates," NSF.

Assistant Professor Catherine Tarasoff (SFRES/ESC), Assistant Professor Tom Pypker (SFRES/ESC), Professor Blair Orr (SFRES/ESC), Associate Professor Kurt Paterson (CEE/ESC) and Associate Professor David Watkins (CEE/ESC), "IRES: US-Argentina Cross-Cultural Exchange on the Social, Economic and Ecological Implications of Eucalyptus Plantations in Northeastern Argentina," NSF.