Michigan Tech Magazine Winter 2008-09

Alumni Association Notes

The Pride of Pastyland

I suppose that when one goes to dinner with the trustees and administrators of a university, the student music provided usually consists of a string quartet softly scratching out Haydn or Mozart. But I wasn't really surprised when, while attending such a dinner at the Rozsa Center during Homecoming, a scruffy group of hobos burst in accompanied by a loud drum cadence. This was none other than the 252-member Michigan Tech Huskies Pep Band, known and loved by Tech students and alumni the world over. We were treated to their renditions of "Also sprach Zarathustra" and the "Huskies Fight Song."

Whether you believe President Glenn Mroz, who claims he invited the band to the soiree, or Pep Band Director Nick Enz, who alleged that the Cream of the Keweenaw "crashed the party," the delight on the faces of those attending was undeniable. No one should have been surprised to see the Pep Band there. Everyone present knew that this is Michigan Tech, and we're going to do things a little differently.

The dinner at the Rozsa was attended by David House '65 and Pep Band alumnus, who presented Michigan Tech with a $10-million donation, the largest gift in Tech's history. House, who led the team that developed the Pentium processor and came up with the "Intel Inside" marketing campaign, is chairman of Michigan Tech's national fund-raising campaign. This campaign will help assure Michigan Tech's future as a top-tier national technological university.

Great things are already happening on this campus. The state of Michigan has authorized $25 million for a Great Lakes Research Lab to be built on campus. University enrollment is over seven thousand this year. Research funding coming in to Michigan Tech in 2008 is in excess of $43 million. The list goes on: the Michigan Tech Research Institute in Ann Arbor, the Pavlis Institute, Peace Corps Master's International programs, Enterprise programs, and more.

Great things are happening with the Michigan Tech Alumni Association as well. Our national Gamewatch events for Michigan Tech-Northern Michigan football hosted over 700 attendees. HuskyLink now has over 10,500 registrants. An Alumni Update event is in the works for faculty to provide reunion attendees with info on what is happening in their departments. The Board is having discussions concerned with developing alumni service travel and learning vacations. (See information at right.) We're also working on a Young Alumni event to be held on campus during Homecoming.

So, stay in touch, there's a lot more coming your way. Connect with us via HuskyLink and stay informed. We hope to energize you through relevant programming that will connect you with your University and your Alumni Association.

Oh, and support the Pep Band whenever your path crosses theirs. The Pride of Pastyland deserves no less.

Mark Mitchell '77
Michigan Tech Alumni Association

The Magic Man

Fresh out of Tech, Joel Tacey '01 was not enthused by his first marketing or sales rep option. So, he gave himself an ultimatum.

"I told myself, if I could make the same kind of living by doing magic as my friends did in traditional jobs, I would stick it out," he says. "It's been the best decision of my life."

Now, through Tiptop Entertainment, his family-brand of magic

("card games and visual stuff") has vaulted him to performing at Red Wings games, the Super Bowl, and the All-Star Fan Fest during baseball's All Star Game.

He's found his niche in four areas while growing his revenue each year, he says.

"I offer a Just for Fun Show Series and a Laugh and Learn Show series, delivering positive messages for younger children; Game Fest, running video game contests for teens; and the High Five Guys, performing with Michigan's only stilt-walking troupe!"

The stilt walking was learned at Tech during Parade of Nations, Carnival, and other events. In fact, honing his magic skills during his Tech days allowed him to graduate debt free.

Today, Tacey works school assemblies, library programs, festivals, and fairs, while also marketing his magic skills at events, trade shows,

and conventions.

As for tomorrow: "I want stability and income whether the economy is good or bad," he says, something many people are saying these days.

Odds are, Tacey will pull that rabbit out of his hat.

The Latest Survey Says . . .

This past May, more than 1,400 alumni responded to a web-based survey designed to determine the institutional and individual core values of the target audiences who know the University best.

Overall Perceptions

  • Respondents consider their alumni experiences to be positive thus far, as the majority indicated they were "good" to "very good."
  • Alumni perceive Michigan Tech as a good or top school, rating it as a "very good" institution with very few (4 percent) even considering it average.
  • More than two-thirds of alumni would recommend Michigan Tech without any reservations.
  • When asked how well informed they feel about what is happening at Michigan Tech, 54 percent say they are "somewhat informed" and 43 percent "very informed."
  • Encouragingly, two-thirds of alumni are aware of the University's online alumni community—HuskyLink. Of those aware, the majority are members (71 percent).

Finally, respondents indicated they felt it was important for them, as alumni, to stay informed about Tech, identify job opportunities for graduates, serve as ambassadors for the University, make a financial contribution to the University, assist in the recruitment of students, network with other alumni, and mentor students.

The data collected in this survey, which also included prospective students and their parents, and current students, staff, and faculty, provides important information about perceptions of Michigan Tech.

Keep Learning via Tech on iTunes U

It’s free. It’s easy. It’s even fun.

It’s iTunes U, and Michigan Tech is part of it in a big way. Students—and anyone else for that matter—can download an introductory astronomy course or lectures on polymer rheology, among others.

Michigan Tech is one of sixteen universities nationwide that have posted courses on iTunes U. (See itunes.mtu.edu.)

Michigan Tech does iTunes U so well that its classes are regularly featured on Apple’s site; go to www.apple.com/education/itunesu and click on the link at the bottom of the page.

Physics professor Robert Nemiroff’s astronomy lectures have been on iTunes U since last year and are the second-most-downloaded, just after MIT’s intro to psychology and ahead of Steve Jobs’ commencement address at Stanford.

It’s pretty stellar company, and Nemiroff thinks his popularity may be due to the title of his first lecture, “A Grand Tour of the Universe,” or perhaps some level of name recognition associated with his books and his popular website, “Astronomy Picture of the Day.” But also, the course, with its images of spiraling galaxies and other cosmic phenomena, lends itself to online viewing.

Alum Is A Helping Hand

"Although not exactly dirt-poor, I needed part-time work to pay expenses while at Tech," Chuck Hand '62 remembers. "Earning a degree in electrical engineering with a power emphasis has provided me a stimulating and satisfying career. Much of my life's work has involved gigantic gas-insulated substations (GIS). Currently, I am working on a nine-figure GIS project, part of an electrical network that delivers power to Southern California from as far away as the Columbia River."

Why this career choice? "Because of Sputnik in '57, most students gravitated to electronics and control systems—the space-age stuff," he says. "Electrical power professors Walt Anderson and Joe Roman helped me to take these first steps toward a path less traveled. Only four in my class selected electric power. It's made all the difference, and now I want to give back." Hand pays it forward by supporting scholarships and recruiting undergraduate and graduate students. "The jobs are waiting," he says. "More student engineers need to be introduced to the exciting, challenging electrical power business."

And you can see the world.

As a consultant to Southern California Edison, Hand's work has taken him to Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, and throughout the US. He is presently on a team developing the national standard on GIS.

With his wife, Doris, Hand lives in Orange County, California, overlooking Disneyland and Catalina Island. He volunteers with the Boy Scouts, and for twenty-three years he has been involved locally and internationally, camping in Korea, Chile, Holland, and North America. The Boy Scouts honored Hand with the Silver Beaver "for distinguished service to young people."

During a recent visit to Tech, he was impressed by the enrollment—nearly tripled since he matriculated—and the facilities. "They've modernized considerably from a single 10,000 vacuum-tube digital computer that occupied a large office," he says.

Hand enjoys his work and knows he made the right career choice. He now seeks to power up the careers of newly minted Tech graduates.