Where Virtual Reality Meets Your Desktop Keyboard

A team of computer scientists from Michigan Tech are presenting their research this week on how to improve text input while using VR tech. Their solution: use what's at hand; literally, the physical keyboards at people's fingertips. They tested how a VR head-mounted display (aka an Oculus Rift) interfaces with a physical keyboard, a virtual keyboard seen through the display, and how an autocorrect algorithm can help. 
They're presenting at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems today. Check out the full story

Inaugural UP Teaching and Learning Conference Held

The inaugural UP Teaching and Learning Conference  (UP-TLC) was held at Michigan Tech on Thursday and Friday (May 4-5). More than 130 instructors from four institutions attended 20-plus breakout sessions and the keynote luncheon.

Christine Harrington, a licensed psychologist and professor of history and social sciences at Middlesex County College in New Jersey delivered the keynote on "Dynamic Lecturing" as well as a pre-conference workshop on "Motivating Students."  

More than 30 Instructors from Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan University presented within four topical tracks: Active Learning, Online Learning, Assessment and Other Issues in Higher Education.

Session materials and contact information from all sessions have been posted for all interested.

The UP-TLC was co-hosted by Michigan Tech's William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning and Northern Michigan University's Center for Teaching and Learning.
Building on the success of the event, the planning committee is currently gathering feedback through a survey to all participants, and has set next year's event for May 10 and 11, 2018 at a venue to be determined.
Plans for the 2018 event include a traditional call for proposals and session selection process for four-to-five topical tracks of sessions. Suggestions for topics or other feedback can be directed to ctl@mtu.edu.

Telephone Upgrade Status and Voicemail

This past weekend IT upgraded the telephone systems and servers. Work was substantially complete on Sunday (May 7).

If you had voicemail saved prior to the upgrade, it's available until Friday, May 19. You can retrieve it by calling 7-3399 from your phone and entering your passcode. After May 19 that voicemail will be removed.

If you have any questions or issues, please let IT know via it-help@mtu.edu or 487-1111.

Installing Solar to Combat National Security Risks in the Power Grid

Vulnerabilities in the power grid are one of the most prevalent national security threats. And there's a surprisingly sunny solution. 

An interdisciplinary team from Michigan Tech looked at what it would take to outfit domestic military bases with solar-powered micro grids to create a more resilient electrical grid that could weather hurricanes, cyberattacks and bombs. Check out the full story

Career Services Workshops for High School Students in Traverse City

Career Services representatives Sharon Attaway and Shelley Farrey traveled to Traverse City last week to work with 150 high school students at the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBAISD) in partnership with the district's Career-Tech Center (CTC).

According to their website, the Traverse Bay Area Career-Tech Center is a secondary career and technical education school serving nineteen high schools and 1,100 students in the five-county Grand Traverse area. Students are educated in twenty-three programs utilizing the latest technology and state-of-the-art equipment. Training is provided for immediate job placement, preparation for college or military service.

On May 3, Attaway and Farrey presented workshops on career readiness to students studying auto body repair, automotive technology, information technology, and web and game programming.

"This is the second year we've partnered with TBAISD to offer this program to their students," said Farrey. This event grew from 70 students the first year to 150 students this year.

With the help of local Michigan Tech Alumni, Regional Admissions Director Jennifer Todd and Traverse City business professionals, Attaway and Farrey were able to arrange mock interviews for all workshop participants the following day, May 4.

Non-discrimination and Equal Opportunity in NASA Assisted Programs

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has asked us to ensure wide dissemination of the brochure ''Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity in NASA Assisted Programs: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Related Laws." This brochure lays out NASA's and grant-recipient institutions' obligations under the civil rights laws pertaining to federally-assisted programs and activities. It provides program beneficiaries, e.g., students and staff, with information on how to file a discrimination or harassment complaint directly with NASA, should they wish to do so, among other important civil rights related information.

NASA also encourages you to visit the MissionSTEM website. The site is designed to assist NASA grant recipients in meeting their compliance obligations under NASA 's equal opportunity laws and regulations. To this end, the site provides a host of information and resources on compliance requirements as well as promising practices of our grant-recipients. As always, the NASA Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity stands ready to provide technical assistance regarding NASA civil rights regulations and policies regarding recipients of NASA financial assistance.

If you have questions about Michigan Tech's nondiscrimination and equal opportunity policies or procedures visit the Institutional Equity and Inclusion website, call 7-3310, or stop by our office at 308 Administration Building.

Continuous Improvement Connection

"Instead of steady, sustainable results, there is a gap, a gap between our expectations and the actual results, a gap that is dramatic and disturbing" (Mike Martyn and Bryan Crowell, Own the Gap).

Summer is here at last. Plans are forming in your head for the perfect vacation. Your expectations are that this is going to be the best year—your year. The sun is out and it's your time to shine. But wait, before you go running out the door take a second to lean on us at the Office of Continuous Improvement. You want the perfect summer vacation and we want to help. Stop by our office at 136W Wads and see how tools like the affinity diagram can help you make sure you have everything you need this year. No time? Check out our blog, or check out a book from our lean library.

Tech Ranked Third in Michigan

Business First has released rankings on 499 public colleges and universities, naming Michigan Tech third in Michigan and 110th nationally.

According to Business First, the ranking was designed to identify the public universities and colleges that offer the best educational experiences to their students.

The highest marks went to schools with highly selective admissions processes, strong retention and graduation rates, impressive earnings by alumni, generous resources, affordable tuition and housing costs, diverse faculties and student bodies and economically robust communities.

The University of Michigan placed first both in the state and the nation.

See here for more information about the rankings.

Deep Brain Stimulation in Parkinsonian Rat Model

Biological Sciences presents a talk by Chunziu Yu at 10 a.m. tomorrow (May 11) in Dow 743. Yu's talk is entitled "Deep Brain Stimulation in Parkinsonian Rat Model."

The cortical-basal ganglia-thalamical circuits in the brain are crucial for action selection and initiation, and for habit and motor skill learning. Abnormal function of these circuits has been implicated in a number of neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease (PD). Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been shown as an effective therapy for treatment of motor symptoms. However, the exact action mechanism of DBS in Parkinson's patient is still unknown.

Using a rat model of PD combining with optogegetic technique, behavior and electrophysiology, Yu's team dissected brain circuits and specific neural elements modulated by therapeutic DBS at the subthalamic nucleus (STN). He found that high frequency optogenetic stimulation on STN neurons reduced pathological rotational behavior, which mimics STN-DBS therapy. Optical stimulation at STN potentially modulates pathological neural activities within the basal ganglia circuits.

Yu's study will provide critical insights into the functional mechanisms of PD symptoms and its alleviation via DBS. It will potentially help to establish a paradigm to investigate DBS at other targets and improve DBS treatment for existing patients.

Summer Advising Information Available

The undergraduate academic advising information for the summer is available on the Registrar's Office website.
Contact information for academic advising and prospective student meetings is listed by department and can be viewed on the Student Advising page.

Reminders

Parking Lot Painting Starts Today
Transportation Services will begin their summer parking lot maintenance today. As lots are scheduled to be painted we will post weekly schedules in order to provide advance notice to employees and students when they will need to find alternate parking for the day.
Lots 1 and 2 are scheduled to be painted starting today (May 10). There will also be signage posted at lots throughout the summer noting when lots will be closed the next day.
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Family Fun Day
Family Fun Day is this Saturday (May 13). You can view the schedule of events here.
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Cliff Drive Construction Projects

A number of construction/repair projects will impact traffic on Cliff Drive this summer. Facilities Management would like to make everyone aware of these projects. 

These projects will involve lane closures, constricted traffic, closure of a portion of Cliffs Drive and closure of some parking lots. See previous Tech Today article for more information.

On the Road

L. Syd Johnson (HU) gave two talks on disorders of consciousness at the Galveston Brain Injury Conference in Galveston, Texas May 4-5.

New Funding

Sigrid Resh (SFRES/ESC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $165,388 research and development grant from the Keweenaw Land Trust. The project is "Reinvigorating KISMA: Improved Collaborative Planning and Control of Invasive Species." 

This is a three-year project.

In the News

MiTech News, a news site about Michigan technology and business, published an article about Michigan Tech's collaboration with the US Forest Service to develop climate change education modules. See here.

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MiBiz.com, an online newsletter about business in Michigan, published a Q&A with Denise Graves, director of university relations at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. She mentioned Michigan Tech's advanced materials research funded through MTRAC, the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program. See here.

Job Postings

Staff and faculty job descriptions are available at the Human Resources Department. For more information regarding staff positions call 7-2280 or email jobs@mtu.edu. For more information regarding faculty positions contact the academic department in which the position is posted.

Engagement Officer, Office of Advancement. Apply online.

Advancement Officer, Office of Advancement. Apply online.

Office Assistant 5, Financial Services and Operations. Internal/External UAW Posting 5/10/2017 – 5/16/2017. External applications will be reviewed after internal applications. Apply online.

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer, which includes providing equal opportunity for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.