Tech Hosts Annual Bioathlon

The 28th annual Department of Biological Sciences Bioathlon for high school biology students was held on Wednesday at Michigan Tech. Simultaneously, a workshop was held for the accompanying biology teachers.

The Bioathlon serves as a means to stimulate interest and problem-solving in biology among our area youth. Teams from 12 Upper Peninsula high schools participated. 

The team winning was A.D. Johnston High School in Bessemer. Team members were Devon Byers, Andy Aspinwall, Abbey Johnson and Sydney Wittla-Sprague. The Instructor is David Rowe.

Second place went to Marquette, third place was Calumet

Each team was composed of four students who have no formal class work in biology beyond the traditional sophomore general biology course. All teams tackled these same four problems:

  • Dissection: Designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Ian Greenlund and assisted by undergraduate Beth Chaney. The activity was the dissection of a preserved vertebrate animal with the identification of organs or structures required.
  • Microbiology: Designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Lukai Zhai, assisted by graduate student Rupsa Basu. This activity required students to identify the genus and species of each unknown microorganism by performing three basic microbiology techniques for each unknown. 
  • Field Identification: Designed by Biological Sciences graduate student Taylor Zallek assisted by graduate students Sunflower Wilson and Bradley Wells. This activity involved a search for some common organisms or their parts during a brief field trip. 
  • Medical Laboratory Science: designed by undergraduate Taylor Tienhaara and assisted by medical laboratory science undergraduate students, Samantha Doyle, Kat Wheeler and Audri Mills. This activity had students competing in hematology, blood banking and donation, urinalysis and laboratory safety. 

Through these exercises, students needed to demonstrate organizational skills, follow instructions, show a knowledge of facts and concepts, and exhibit laboratory skills and creativity.

Each member of the first-place team received $200 and a partial scholarship for either forensic science or genetic modification and biotechnology explorations through Michigan Tech's Summer Youth Programs

Members of the second-place team received $100 and members of the third-place team received $50.

Members of the top three teams also received plaques. All students participating in the competition received a certificate of participation and a Bioathlon T-shirt.

 Marc Madigan, academic advisor in biological sciences, organized an activity for the teachers. He shared forensic science activities that teachers can incorporate into their classrooms.

To learn more about Bioathlon click here.

Campus Telephone Service Outage Today and Tomorrow

Telecommunications reminds everyone that all Michigan Tech telephones will be taken down at 6 p.m. today (May 5) for routine maintenance and upgrades. All campus telephones will be out of service for three to four hours. The outage may be longer on a few phones. Campus phones may also be out from 8 a.m. to noon tomorrow (May 6).  

"The outage is necessary to replace aged and unsupported hardware, upgrade system software and allow for the system to reboot," said Johnny Diaz, director of telecommunications. "In addition, the system servers will need to sync and the phones will need to rehome to the appropriate servers."

During the outage, calls to Public Safety and Police Services should be directed to 906-231-5343. In an emergency, dial 911.


Tech Team Makes Good Showing in Global Space Competition

A team of Michigan Tech and University of Michigan students placed 16th in the European Space Agency's 9th Global Trajectory Optimization Competition. The online competition attracted 69 teams.

The competition challenge was: "It is the year 2060 and the commercial exploitation of Low Earth Orbits (LEOs) went well beyond the trillion of Euros market size. Following the unprecedented explosion of a Sun-synchronous satellite, the Kessler effect triggered further impacts, and the Sun-synchronous LEO environment was severely compromised.

Scientists from all main space agencies and private space companies isolated a set of 123 orbiting debris pieces that, if removed, would restore the possibility to operate in that precious orbital environment and prevent the Kessler effect from permanently compromising it. You are thus called to design a series of missions able to remove all critical debris pieces while minimizing the overall cumulative cost of such an endeavor. Each single mission cost (in EUR) will depend on how early the mission is submitted via this web-site (regardless of their actual launch epoch) and on the spacecraft initial mass."

Michigan Tech's team included Ossama Abdelkhalik (MEEM), four graduate students and one remote graduate student.

Tech Releases 2017-18 Hockey Schedule

The 97th season of Michigan Tech hockey begins at the 2017 Ice Breaker College Hockey Tournament hosted by the University of Minnesota Duluth at Amsoil Arena on Oct. 6-7.

The Huskies open up against Union on Oct. 6 with Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota facing off in the second semifinal.

WCHA play opens at Lake Superior State on Oct. 13-14 at Taffy Abel Arena. Tech begins the home schedule the following weekend (Oct. 20-21), hosting Alabama Huntsville. The month wraps up at the Verizon Wireless Center against Minnesota State on Oct. 27-28.

November is a full slate of WCHA games. Bowling Green comes back to Houghton on Nov. 3-4 in a rematch of the 2017 WCHA Championship Game. The first two of a four-game season set against rival Northern Michigan is Nov. 10-11.

The Black and Gold will then head up to the Great White North for Thanksgiving break, playing Alaska Anchorage first (Nov. 17-18) and Alaska the following weekend (Nov. 24-25).

Tech plays four games in December, beginning with a road trip to Big Rapids taking on the Ferris State Bulldogs on Dec. 8-9. LSSU returns to Houghton to wrap up the four-game season series on the following weekend (Dec. 15-16).

The dates for the 53rd annual Great Lakes Invitational at the newly-opened Little Caesars Arena will be announced in June. This year's invitational team is Bowling Green, joining hosts Michigan, Michigan State and Tech.

The New Year begins with the inaugural Ice Vegas Invitational on January 5-6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Arizona State, Boston College, and Northern Michigan will also participate in the first-ever college hockey games at T-Mobile Arena.

For the full story and more on Michigan Tech sports visit,




May First Friday Social at the Keweenaw Research Center

Faculty, staff and graduate students are invited to join the Keweenaw Research Center from 4 to 6 p.m. today (May 5) at their Engineering Design Center located at 23337 Airpark Blvd. Round-trip transportation will be provided with the first ride leaving at 4 p.m from the MUB shuttle stop. Complimentary soda, beer, wine and appetizers will be served.

For more information, read previous Tech Today article.


 Windows XP VPN and Website Support

Effective Monday (May 8) the campus VPN and many campus websites (such as, banweb, MyMichiganTech, Canvas, etc) will no longer work from Windows XP machines.

If you are still using Windows XP, contact IT to discuss your needs. In many cases, these machines are isolated to single-function lab machines. These will continue to function but will not be able to access the campus VPN, campus storage and many websites both on and off campus.

Where possible, upgrades to Windows 10 can be done to update systems to a supported version of Windows.

For any questions, contact or 7-1111.

New Funding

 Jonathan Leinonen (SBE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $2,500 public service contract from Michigan State University. 
The project is "Student-Led, Faculty-Guided Research on Upper Peninsula Ecotourism." This is a nine-month project.

On the Road

Michigan Tech was well represented in the 2017 Joint Rail Conference, in Philadelphia from April 4-7.

The Rail Transportation Program Director, Pasi Lautala, undergraduate research assistant Aaron Dean (MEEM) and graduate research assistant Soumith Oduru (CEE) presented four papers in the conference. Oduru also received the ASME Rail Transportation Division (RTD) Graduate Student Conference Scholarship of $1100 and Dean received the ASME Rail Transportation Division (RTD) Undergraduate Student Conference Scholarship of $800.

The paper titles were "Incorporating Life Cycle Assessment in Freight Transportation Infrastructure Project Evaluation" (Oduru, Lautala), "Effectiveness of Using SHRP2 Naturalistic Driving Study Data to Analyze Driver Behavior at Highway-rail Grade Crossings" (Dean, Lautala, David Nelson (CEE)), "Selection of Representative Crossings Database for the Evaluation of Driver Behavior Over Highway-rail Grade Crossings" (Modeste Muhire, Lautala, Nelson, Dean) and "Sensor Fusion of Wayside Visible and Thermal Imagery for Rail Car Wheel and Bearing Damage Detection" (Hanieh Deilamsalehy, Timothy Havens (CEE), Lautala).

In the News

Scienceline, a science news site published by New York Univeresity, quoted John Vucetich (SFRES) in an article on the impact on wolves of Congressional efforts to revise the Endangered Species Act. See here.


Research by students John Laureto (MSE) and Julie Tomasi (ChE), in collaboration with Julia King (ChE) and Joshua Pearce (MSE/ECE) was covered in detail by 3D Printing Industry in Michigan Tech studies 3D printing metal composites with Lulzbot, ColorFabb and Proto Pasta.

Pearce is quoted in Pathways to a Just Energy Transition - Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania and Coal Miners’ Futures in Renewable Energy - Consortium news as well as in Materials Today in "Open source hardware: first issue of HardwareX now available."