Michigan Tech Drone Catcher Acts Like Robotic Falcon

Last January, a Washington, D.C., hobbyist accidentally flew his DJI Phantom quadcopter drone over the White House fence and crashed it onto the lawn. Two years earlier, a prankster sent his drone toward German Prime Minister Angela Merkel during a campaign rally.

Small drones have also proven to be effective tools of mischief that doesn’t make the national news, from spying to smuggling to hacking.

So when Mo Rastgaar (MEEM) was watching World Cup soccer and heard about snipers protecting the crowd, he doubted that they’d fully understood a drone’s potential.

“I thought, ‘If the threat is a drone, you really don’t want to shoot it down—it might contain explosives and blow up. What you want to do is catch it and get it out of there.’” 

Rastgaar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech, began work on a drone catcher, which could pursue and capture rogue drones that might threaten military installations, air traffic, sporting events—even the White House.

It’s a deceptively simple system: a launcher that shoots a big net attached to a large drone by a string. The system can be autonomous, controlled by a ground-based human pilot or a combination of the two.

After an intruding drone is spotted, the drone catcher takes up the chase and fires the net at it from a distance of up to 40 feet. Because the net is so big and can be deployed so quickly, it can overwhelm even the fastest, most maneuverable small drone. Read the full story.

Making A Difference Awards Announced

Eight Michigan Tech staff members were honored with Michigan Tech Staff Council Making a Difference Awards at a program Wednesday.
All nominees were recognized and received a nomination certificate. Award recipients received $500. Here are the categories, winners and their positions.
  • Above and Beyond Award — Jodi Lehman - Assistant Director of Research Development
  • Bringing out the Best — Patty Kyllonen – Director of HR Information Systems
  • Creative Solutions Award — Steve Lehmann - Research Associate in Mechanical Engineering - Engineering Mechanics
  • Outstanding Supervisor Award — Joe Cooper – Director of Financial Aid (Director of Student Activities when nominated)
  • Rookie Award — Joseph Thompson – Sponsored Projects Manager in the Pavlis Honors College
  • Serving Others Award (Tie) — Susan Niemi - Office Assistant in Chemical Engineering; Kathy Goulette - Executive Assistant in Mechanical Engineering - Engineering Mechanics
  • Unsung Hero Award  Margaret Perander - Administrative Aide Mathematical Sciences

For details on each recipient, a group photo and a list of all those nominated, visit the Staff Council blog.

HuskiesFit Dollar Days This Week

Want to change up your workout, try out a new class or get a jump start on new fitness goals?

Several HuskiesFit Programs will offer classes for only $2 during Dollar Days, today through Saturday. Cycle, kick, lift and stretch your way to a healthier you.

Visit HuskiesFit Dollar Days for more information. Commit to be HuskiesFit.

Improved Databases A-Z List Interface

The library migrated our Databases A-Z List web application to an innovative, improved platform. This streamlined approach to database title and subject searching will make it easier to find and access these library licensed resources. You can visit the new online search tool here. Contact reflib@mtu.edu with any questions or should you experience any problems/issues.

MLK Banquet Is Jan. 18

Join your fellow Michigan Tech community members at the 27th Annual MLK Banquet. The banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 18 in the MUB Ballroom.

Come celebrate the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. with music, performances and keynote speaker William Jones from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Tickets are free, but you must reserve a space. Tickets can be reserved here

Huskies Win Desert Hockey Classic

Dylan Steman scored an early third-period goal and Jamie Phillips made 24 saves to help Michigan Tech earn a 2-1 shootout victory over No. 12 Yale in the Desert Hockey Classic championship game Sunday in Glendale, Arizona.

The game officially goes down as tie, but the Huskies clinched the tournament title after winning the shootout 1-0.

"I'm very happy and extremely proud of our players," said head coach Mel Pearson, who has led Tech to a 3-0-3 record in overtime games this season. "We had our moments and we stuck with it. Yale is a really good team and winning the shootout and the championship is a great accomplishment for us."

The Huskies started strong and carried play for the majority of the opening frame but couldn't find the back of the net and settled for a 0-0 tie after one. Read the full story.

Elset Reaches Podium at U.S. Nationals

Didrik Fjeld Elset placed third in Saturday's classic sprint to reach the podium as Michigan Tech finished up the U.S. National Cross Country Championships at the Nordic Training Center.

Elset was first after qualifying with the fastest time (3:37.03) in the morning, then advanced through the quarterfinal and semifinal before taking third in the final in a photo finish. Using freestyle skis all day and propelling himself around the course by double-poling, Elset skied a 3:42.19 in the quarterfinal, 3:35.63 in the semifinal and 3:39.22 in the final. He beat the fourth-place finisher in the final by less than a hundredth of a second. Read the full story.

Graduate Seminar

The Department of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering presents Kevin Baker, PhD, director, Orthopaedic Research Department of Orthopaedic Surgery William Beaumont Hospital and Associate Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery, Oakland University-William Beaumont School of Medicine.

The seminar,"Towards the In Situ Regeneration of Musculoskeletal Tissues" is at 3 p.m. Friday in U113 M&M.

Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar

The next Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday in Room 642 Dow.

Ingrid Sandberg will speak on the topic "Engineering Design and Construction in Alaska."

Sandberg will discuss her several years of experience from the North Slope to Southern Alaska as a novice engineer to a project manager. The public is welcome.

In Print

Graduate students Aishwarya Mundada (ECE Conway Fellow) and Kunal Shah (ECE) co-authored a paper with Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) titled "Levelized Cost of Electricity for Solar Photovoltaic, Battery and Cogen Hybrid Systems," in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.
A feature article by Cyndi Perkins (UMC) appears in the January/February 2016 issue of Good Old Boat magazine. "Barracuda's Last Breakout" details the demise of a Lake Superior sailboat and a friendship salvaged in the aftermath.

On the Road

Bruce Seely, dean of Michigan Tech's College of Sciences and Arts, was the keynote speaker at an international conference on "Advances in Applied Mathematics, Materials Science and Nanotechnology for Engineering and Industrial Applications" in Kochi, India.

In the News

Nancy Langston (SS), has been interviewed and quoted by numerous news outlets throughout the West and nationwide, about the militia takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. They include a syndicated radio interview with Northwest News Network, The Oregonian, National Public Radio's "The Brian Lehrer Show" and the Washington Post.


Inside Philanthropy, a website devoted to philanthropy news, published an article about alumnus Dave House's philanthropic support for Michigan Tech. Read the story.


The Michigan Tech Community is invited to attend the North Woods Kids celebration from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Community Arts Center in Hancock. Read the previous Tech Today story.


Bob Gilreath Retirement Celebration Tomorrow

A retirement celebration to honor Bob Gilreath will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. tomorrow in Ballroom A1 of the Memorial Union Building.

Gilreath has provided more than 31 years of service to the University and has been instrumental in the success of Information Technology's telecommunications unit. Read the previous Tech Today Story.

IT Connect

The Benefits of GoToMeeting

Need to set up a virtual meeting? Michigan Tech uses GoToMeeting, an intuitive, easy-to-use collaboration tool that combines audio, video, screen sharing, and chat features for Michigan Tech’s faculty and staff; graduate students may also use this for their thesis defense. GoToMeeting lets you create a private conference room with up to 25 participants. Meetings can be set up from anywhere and scheduled in advance; you can join in from your Mac, PC, Chromebook, or mobile device. There is also an option to record meetings and have them available for viewing at a later time.

 If you’d like to use GoToMeeting for your next video conference, we’d love to get you set up and walk you through all the steps. Email us at it-help@mtu.edu or call 7-1111.