Michigan Tech Praises Legislators for Capping Universities' Retirement Liability

A decades-long process came to a close last Thursday when Governor Snyder signed Senate Bill 343, a bill to cap the exposure of seven universities to liabilities of a state retirement plan

The retirement plan, known as the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS), was instituted in the 1940s. Michigan Tech and six other universities exited MPSERS for the majority of employees in 1996 but continued to pay for both employees and retirees already in the plan.

Since then, university payments to MPSERS were increasing, at the same time state appropriations to universities were being cut.

For a few years, the state offered temporary relief for MPSERS payments. This legislation now provides relief similar to that of the 900 K-12 and community colleges in the program and provides consistency in budgeting to the year 2036, when the MPSERS payments are scheduled to end.

“Special thanks goes to the legislature and in particular Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton),” said Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz.

“This is a particularly complicated issue, and Senator Schuitmaker did not shy away, nor was she afraid to dig into the issue first-hand to ensure that the taxpayers of Michigan and students at these seven universities were all treated fairly.”

Ellen Horsch, vice president for administration at Tech, added: “I want to thank the Michigan Office of Retirement Services for working so diligently with Michigan Tech and the other six universities. It’s good to know we have reasonable and fair-minded people working with us on such issues.”

Vice President for Government Relations Dale Tahtinen praised the cooperative efforts of the seven universities. “This is another shining example of how our state’s universities work together to find a solution acceptable not only to the state, but to the universities that are working to control cost and provide access to as many students as possible."

 

Leaving the Electrical Grid in the Upper Peninsula

While the Upper Peninsula is not the sunniest place in the world, solar energy is viable in the region. With new technologies, some people might be inclined to leave the electrical grid. A team from Michigan Tech looked into the economic viability of grid defection in the UP.   

Their analysis found that by 2020, leaving the electrical grid is a viable economic option for the majority of seasonal households (92 percent) as well as single-family owner-occupied households (65 percent). The data comes from a new study published in Energy Policy.

The team looked at how advances in solar, batteries and combined heat and power (CHP) make grid defection more economically feasible. Since the UP has such high utility rates, off-grid investments can actually pay off. Plus, two Michigan Senate bills (SB437 and SB438) just came out of committee that will keep a one percent cap on residential grid-tied systems. The UP is on track to meet that cap this summer.
 
As one of the researchers, Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE), puts it, the UP is an extreme case but it shows the rest of the U.S. what can happen if net metering policies don't provide options for homeowners. 
 
Read more about the study in the news release.

Lot Closed Due to Painting

Lot 15W will be closed tomorrow (June 3) for painting. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Please make other parking arrangements if needed.

Two Short Courses Offered in Engines

Two short courses (2.5 days in duration) are being offered this month.

Both courses include laboratory components with a format that mixes traditional lecture and group discussion with hands-on experiments conducted in powertrain test-cells and through driving vehicles on the road. The courses will be available to all faculty, staff, non degree seeking students, Michigan Tech graduate students and undergraduate seniors. Both courses are one credit.

Information about the courses can be found when searching courses on Banweb. MEEM 5990 Section 49 and MEEM 5990 Section 50.

Course descriptions are as follows:

Diesel Engines-Their Combustion and Operation (June 15-17)

Topics will be covered through a mix of lecture, hands-on experimentation, group discussions and group data analysis. Both courses will be delivered from the Michigan Tech Advanced Power Systems Research Center located near the Houghton County Airport. Transportation to and from campus will be provided each day. Lunch will be provided on Thursday and Friday.

SI Engines-Their Operation & Control (June 22-24)

Topics will be covered through a mix of lecture, hands-on experimentation, group discussions and group data analysis.

Registration is now open, search for MEEM 5990 Section 49 and MEEM 5990 Section 50. Students are welcome to register for both, or just one. There are no pre-requisites, but familiarity with thermodynamics and IC engine cycles will be helpful.

Contact cjmorgan@mtu.edu, jjworm@mtu.edu, jnaber@mtu.edu or cmsarazi@mtu.edu if you have any questions.

Indian Cuisine at Khana Khazana

Indian food will be served at tomorrow's (June 3) Khana Khazana in the Food Trailer in the MUB Circle. 

Serving will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow. The menu features Mixed Vegetable Pakora—crispy Indian fritters served as appetizers, Chicken Butter Masala— chicken breasts marinated and cooked in butter with tomato curry, Matar Paneer Masala—Indian cottage cheese and green peas in tomato curry and Badam Shake—a milk dessert with almond and saffron.

The cost is $6.95 for the full meal. Like the Khana Khazana at Michigan Tech page on Facebook.

In Print

Chelsea Schelly (SS) is co-author of the article "To Frack or Not to Frack: Perceptions of the Risks and Opportunities of High-volume Hydraulic Fracturing in the United States," published in Energy Research and Social Sciences. 

Amanda Kreuze, who completed her MS in Environmental and Energy Policy in 2015 was a co-author.

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John Jaszczak (Physics) and Paul Bergstrom (ECE), published a paper "Physical Mechanisms Leading to the Coulomb Blockade and Coulomb Staircase Structures in Strongly Coupled Multi-Island Single-Electron Devices" with their former PhD student Madhusudan Savaikar in the May 24 issue of ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology. 

In the News

Audrey Mayer (SS/SFRES), was interviewed on Public Radio station KJZZ from Rio Salado College and Maricopa Community Colleges in Tempe, Arizona.

The story "Does the Endangered Species Act Benefit More Than Just Endangered Species?" by Mark Brodie aired Tuesday.

You can listen to the story here. Mayer's segment begins at the 4:49 mark. 

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The Alaska Dispatch News published an article about the increasing danger from tundra fires, citing new research from the Michigan Tech Research Institute. Read the article.

The story was also covered by Radio Canada International