University to Conduct Survey on Life at Michigan Tech

How’s life at Michigan Tech? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you experience? What do you value most?

At Michigan Tech, we’re committed to an equitable, diverse and inclusive community. We need to better understand the experiences and perceptions of all community members.

That’s why the University is conducting a campus-wide survey — the Michigan Tech "Assessment of Working, Living, and Learning at Michigan Tech."

The assessment looks at a variety of topics that affect our community using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The approach is comprehensive — it includes every member of the campus community: students, faculty, staff and all of our undergraduate and graduate programs. The confidential assessment will address multiple aspects of your personal experiences working, living and learning here.

The goals of the project are to:

  1. Identify successful initiatives
  2. Uncover any challenges facing members of our community
  3. Develop strategic initiatives to build on the successes and address the challenges

This research has been reviewed and approved by the Michigan Tech Institutional Review Board. Additional information about the project is available here. To participate, go to

The survey is live from Tuesday (Oct. 17) to Nov. 10. Completing the survey takes an average of 20 to 30 minutes, but it could take longer depending on your responses.

Release time will be granted to hourly employees, both union and non-union, in order to allow for maximum participation in the survey. Thank you in advance for your contribution.

A Letter from the President: 2018 Benefits Update

I want to extend my thanks to Michigan Tech’s Benefits Liaison Group (BLG), who were charged with reviewing Michigan Tech’s complete benefit package and making recommendations for benefits offered to faculty and staff. 

Michigan Tech’s 2018 benefit package will remain unchanged. While Michigan Tech’s healthcare costs are projected to increase by approximately $800,000 in 2018, this increase will be absorbed by Michigan Tech.

Here is a synopsis of benefit status and choices for you to consider for 2018 as open enrollment begins on Nov. 5:

  • The HuskyCare High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) health insurance plan will continue with current premiums, deductible and out of pocket limits. 
  • With the HuskyCare HDHP health insurance plan you can decide what amount, if any, you put in your tax sheltered Health Savings Account (HSA) to cover health care deductibles and co-pays. Keep in mind that any amount you save in your HSA that is not used is carried over to future years, even into retirement. There are IRS maximums that might impact the amount you are allowed to contribute.
  • The HuskyCare Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) health insurance plan will continue unchanged at the current premium of $114 (pre-tax) per person per month. 
  • Prescription drug coverage will continue to be administered by Express Scripts and the coverage will remain unchanged.
  • Eligible employees who have opted out of Michigan Tech’s health plan will continue to receive $95 (taxable) per month.
  • There is no change in the dental or vision benefits for 2018.
  • There is no change in retirement benefits for 2018; Michigan Tech will continue to match up to 7.5% of your salary that you decide to save for retirement. Tax deferred, as well as Roth options for 403b and 457b plans, are also available without a match should you wish to save even more for retirement. Keep in mind there are IRS maximums that might impact the amount you are allowed to contribute.
  • The Employee Education Program and the Tuition Reduction Incentive Program (TRIP) will continue in 2018.
  • The Retirement Supplemental Voluntary Program (RSVP) will continue in 2018.
  • All wellness programs currently offered by Michigan Tech will continue in 2018. To find out more, click here.

In order to accommodate the diverse needs of our faculty and staff, the Benefits Liaison Group will also begin exploring and developing a flexible benefit plan for calendar year 2019. A flexible benefit plan still provides a benefit package while also providing more flexibility and choice to address your individual needs. Information will be provided during the upcoming open enrollment period in order for you to learn more about the benefits of a flexible benefit plan.

Open enrollment will begin on November 5, 2017, to choose your benefit options beginning January 1, 2018. Please plan to explore and evaluate your benefit options and costs during Tech Select educational sessions that will be offered in November. Open enrollment is your opportunity to assess your individual and family needs. This could include changing health plans, adding or removing a dependent, electing to contribute to a health savings account or flexible spending account, or changing any other benefits such as life or disability benefits. If you have any questions about benefits, eligibility and/or annual open enrollment, contact the Benefits Office at 7-2517 or

Best Regards,

Glenn D. Mroz, President

Kitty Donohoe Concert Made Possible with Mini-Grant

Through generous support from a Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA) mini-grant, the English Education Program, partnering with the Copper Country Reading Council (CCRC), invites the Michigan Tech community to a family-oriented concert in Houghton at at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 at Saints Peter and Paul Church (Madeline Street).

We are able to offer the community accomplished musician and children's author, Kitty Donohoe. Donohoe will be in the Copper Country this fall as the CCRC's visiting artist in the schools for the CCRC's North Woods Kids Project. The concert is free, and family-oriented; however, donations to the CCRC at the door would be appreciated and are used to support classroom and community literacy projects in the Copper Country.

Ann Arbor based songwriter and Michigan Emmy recipient Donohoe is not an Irish or Celtic singer, but she clearly draws from that part of her heritage, as well as her American roots, as an artist.

Iconic WFMT-Chicago folk DJ Rich Warren calls Kitty "far above and beyond most singer songwriters."

She writes music that has been called "earthy, luminous and compelling" (The Weekender), and she's been praised in the press equally for her voice, her musicality and her songwriting.

Donohoe will visit schools during the week prior to her concert, performing and working closely on creative writing with students for the North Woods Kids project, now in its third year. Any young person between the ages of 5 and 19 (and not in college) is eligible to submit writing or art to Evelyn Johnson, Dept. of Humanities, MTU by Dec. 1.

The 2017-2018 prompt is, "In creative writing or visual art, show your appreciation of Lake Superior."

For more information on how to submit work to NWK, or on the Donohoe concert, email

Tomorrow is Second Saturday

The Michigan Tech Archives will be open tomorrow (Oct. 14) for Second Saturday. The reading room will be open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. 
The Michigan Tech Archives will offer the full range of its research support services and genealogy assistance during Second Saturday hours. 
The next Second Saturday the archives will be open is Saturday, Nov. 11. 

For more information about Second Saturday  email the Michigan Tech Archives or call 7-2505. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter:

Last Flu Clinic on Campus

Employees, retirees and family members insured by Michigan Tech’s Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) plan can also have their flu vaccine billed to insurance with their BCBSM member ID card.

This does not include retirees that have Blue Cross insurance through MPSERS.

Anyone under the age of 18 cannot be vaccinated without parental permission. A spouse and/or child may attend without the employee.

Give Dobby A Sock - Shirt Swap

For Homecoming this year, the Huskies are giving back. Come help out the local community by donating a gently used piece of clothing or winter gear.

The collection will take place at 2 p.m. Monday (Oct. 16) outside the Memorial Union Building. In return for your kindness, you can get a 2017 Homecoming shirt, while supplies and sizes last. (Only one shirt per person).

Clothing donations will be given to the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter and New Beginnings Angel Mission. For more information, email Rochelle.

Huskies Open WCHA Schedule Tonight

The Michigan Tech Hockey Huskies begin Western Collegiate Hockey Association play with a two-game series against Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie. The puck will drop at 7:37 p.m. tonight and 7:07 p.m. tomorrow.

The game can be heard on local radio on 93.5 FM. The game can also be seen on WCHA.TV.

Tech jumped into the national rankings this week to No. 13 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and No. 15 in the Poll.

Night Owls Community English Class Starting Thursday

If you wish to improve your English conversational skills, join us for the Night Owls program. You will learn survival English, feel part of a welcoming community, and get to experience a Thanksgiving meal at the end.

The cost is $25 for six weeks. Meetings are from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays from Oct. 19 to Nov. 23 in Library 243. Registration is required.

For more information, email ELI Director Heather Deering, or call 7-2009.

EPSSI Seminar Monday

The next Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences Institute (EPSSI) Seminar is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday (Oct. 16), in M&M U113.

Mike Pavolonis, NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service will present "Next Generation Meteorological Satellites: Capabilities and Quantitative Applications."

Terrific Teaching at Tech

I’ve had a number of instructors express concerns recently that the level or distribution of students in their class varies more widely with each year. Similarly, depending on the data chosen, some cite that the average student performance is (grade inflation, time on task) or is not (rising test scores and GPA) in decline. I’m not sure that it matters.  

Todd Rose’s classic 2013 TED talk, "The Myth of Average" challenges the notion that we should be teaching to an “average” student at all. His advice is, instead, to “teach to the edges.”  If you have not seen this talk, it’s worth the 18 minutes.  (Be sure that you persist through the first five minutes which seem to be more about fighter planes than education. He’s making a very powerful analogy).

Like the K-12 system on which he is commenting, much of the US university system was built in a time when the factory model was state of the art. The goal was to rank, sort and shape students, turning out a fairly “standard” product. 

But, just as technology has changed manufacturing and the expected level of service in everything from banking to shopping to fast food, it has also begun to change education. Students arrive with more diverse backgrounds, expect more flexibility and (when the system allows) graduate into a wider variety of rapidly evolving roles. 

This wider distribution and these changed expectations have caused some to label the current crop of students “snowflakes,” because each one is unique and expects different treatment. 

Like many similar expressions, some students have embraced this label in a challenge to a system they see as needing serious adaptation. I recently spied a T-shirt on campus that said “Yes, I am a snowflake. The blizzard is coming.”

As all of us begin our fall preparation for the real blizzards we know are ahead, this begs the challenging question:  Are we, our classrooms, our evaluation systems and our curricula ready for the "blizzard" of personalized learning?

If you’d like to talk more about ways to teach to the expanding range of students in your classroom, stop into the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.


Aleksey Smirnov (GMES), has been elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA), as elected by the GSA Council.

Established in 1888, the GSA is a global professional society with more than 26,000 members in 110 countries, all working to advance geoscience research and discovery. The society unites thousands of earth scientists, like Smirnov, to study the perplexity of our planet and share scientific findings.

Society Fellowship, the highest level of membership, is an honor bestowed on the best in the profession by election by the GSA council. GSA members are nominated by existing GSA Fellows in recognition of their distinguished contributions to the geosciences through such avenues as publications, applied research, teaching, administration of geological programs, contributing to the public awareness of geology, leadership of professional organizations, and taking on editorial, bibliographic, and library responsibilities.

In his nomination letter, John A. Tarduno, University of Rochester, wrote “Aleksey is recognized for his advances in fundamental rock magnetism and related innovative applications of paleomagnetism to solve geologic problems, especially concerning the nature of the early geodynamo and core.”

On being elected a Fellow, Smirnov says “I am truly honored to be joining others as a newly elected GSA Fellow”.

Smirnov has authored or coauthored 49 peer-reviewed journals and about 80 conference publications. He has been an associate editor for Journal of Geophysical Research since 2005.

In the News

The Daily Press (Escanaba) published an article about the upcoming Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome, mentioning that it will feature Michigan Tech's Mind Music Machine, which has light displays for the hearing-impaired and sound demonstrations for the visually-impaired. 

On the Road

Mind Music Machine Lab presents at HFES 2017

Myounghoon (Philart) Jeon (CLS/CS) and his three graduate students are attending the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2017 International Annual Meeting, which began Monday through today, in Austin, Texas.

Eric Vasey (CS) presented a research paper, "Development and usability testing of a remote control app for an interactive robot" in the Computer Systems Technical Group and Maryam FakhrHosseini (CLS) presented "Robot theater with children for STEAM education" in the Children's Issues Technical Group.


You, Students Travel to Minnesota

Zhanping You (CEE), students Siyu Chen, Fangyuan Gong, Ran Zhang, and visiting scholars Songtao Lyu and Chundi Si attended the National Road Research Alliance (NRRA) Grand Opening at MnROAD Tuesday.

You received a plaque from Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle for Associate Member Michigan Tech Transportation Institute. US Rep. Tom Emmer and Zelle joined the event.

Zelle, Deputy Commissioner Susan Mulvihil and associate members of NRRA cut the ribbon with Rep. Emmer.

MnROAD, located near Albertville, Minnesota, is a pavement test track consisting of various combinations of road-building materials and designs. MnROAD collects pavement field data with thousands of sensors located in each test section. A tour of MnROAD Low Volume Road was shown by the MnROAD staffs. 

In Print

Ted Bornhorst, executive director of the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum, and professor (GMES) recently published an article in Minerals- an Open access Mining and Mineral Processing Journal. Bornhorst's article was titled "Copper isotope constraints on the genesis of the Keweenaw Peninsula native copper district, Michigan, USA" and was co-authored by Ryan Mathur, professor and chair of geology at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.


D80 Conference Today and Tomorrow

Michigan Tech hosts the D80 Conference each fall to give a platform to the voices of University students serving communities in need, both domestically and abroad. The public is always welcome.

This year's conference kicks off today (Oct. 13) with a special screening of the documentary "Poverty Inc." at 5:30 p.m. in Fisher Hall.

Following the movie, a facilitated discussion regarding the international aid industry will be held. There is no cost to attend the movie, and concessions will be available for purchase.

A schedule of the conference is available here. For more on the D80 Conference, read David Watkins (CEE) guest blog on Unscripted.


SFRES Forum Today

Apler Kiziltas will present a forum today on "Driving the Automotive Industry Using Sustainable Materials". Kiziltas' research is focused on sustainability and emerging materials such as nanomaterials, polymeric and soft materials, biomaterials, glassy and amorphous materials, self-healing materials and bio-inspired and patterned functional materials.

The seminar will take place at 3 p.m. with a social to follow from 4 to 5 p.m. today (Oct. 13) in Forestry G-002. For more information, read the original Tech Today article. 


Friday Seminar Talk Today

Ali Jalooli will be presenting, "Message Coverage Maximization in Infrastructure-Based Urban Vehicular Networks".

Please join us  from 3 to 4 p.m. in Rekhi 214. Refreshments will be served.


Khana Khazana Today

Khana Khazana in the Memorial Union North Coast Grill and Deli features Moroccan food. The menu features:

  • Zaâlouk—A salad with cooked eggplant and tomato
  • Fish Tagine—A fish dish seasoned with lemon, red pepper, cilantro and cumin
  • Ghriba—Moroccan cookies

Serving is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. Cost is $7.95 and includes a fountain beverage. Visit Khana Khazana on Facebook.


C-Cubed Lunch Today

This week's C-Cubed luncheon takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge. All faculty and staff, along with their guests, are invited.

The buffet lunch is $10 per person. Cash, credit cards and C-Cubed gift certificates (available in the Memorial Union office) are accepted. 

Menu for today:

  • Spicy Korean Chicken (GF)
  • Spicy Korean Tofu (GF, Vegan)
  • Sauteed Cabbage (GF, Vegan)
  • Korean Cucumber Salad (GF, Vegan)

V- Vegetarian, VE-Vegan, Vegetarian, GF- Gluten Free

For more information, read the original Tech Today article here


"Picasso at the Lapin Agile" Continues Tonight, Saturday

The Michigan Tech Theatre Company presents "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," by Steve Martin. The comedy opened last night with additional performances tonight and Saturday. There will performances Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week (Oct. 18-20).  Performance time is 7:30 p.m. each evening at the McArdle Theatre in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center.

Tickets are on sale now, $13 for adults, $5 for youth and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at 7-2073, online, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex or on the night of each performance at the McArdle Theatre, beginning one hour prior to show time. 

New Funding

Shiyue Fang (ChE) is an investigator on a project that has received a sub-award from CGeneTech, an Indiana-based small business.

CGene Tech was awarded a research and development grant from the National Science Foundation's STTR Phase-I Program.

The project is entitled "A Non-Chromatographic Technique for Synthetic Oligodeoxynucleotide Purification."

The sub-award is $135,000 for one year.


Tim Colling (CEE/MTTI) is the principal investigator on a project that has entered into a $450,734 contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation. 

Christine Codere (CEE) and Peter Torola (CEE), are Co-PIs on the project "2018 Michigan Local Technical Assistance Program." This is a one-year project.