Michigan Tech Magazine Winter 2009-10 Front Cover

Bruce Seely

Historian Bruce Seely has long been fascinated by America’s highways and their tangled politics.

Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI)

Transporting America Into the Future

by Jennifer Donovan

A Bandaid can help heal a cut, but it won't hold America's infrastructure together. What we need, says Bruce Seely, is a new way of thinking about—and paying for—the transportation systems that enable today's—and tomorrow's—society and economy to function.

Seely, dean of Michigan Tech's College of Sciences and Arts and a historian of technology, is an expert on infrastructure. In fact, he wrote the book, Building the American Highway System: Engineers as Policymakers, which examines the topic, and he has testified before Congress about infrastructure issues.

What is infrastructure? It's mass transportation, the electric power grid, telephone lines and cell phone towers, and water and sewer systems. And roads. The interstate highway system, conceived in the 1930s, begun in the 1950s, essentially completed in the 1990s, is a poster child for infrastructure: a big, complex, expensive network that determines the scope and direction of . . . 

Visitors in the Adventure Mine check out a large cavern carved out decades ago by miners in search of red metal.

Visitors in the Adventure Mine check out a large cavern carved out decades ago by miners in search of red metal.

Adventure Mine, Keweenaw National Historical Park

An Excellent Adventure

by Marcia Goodrich

With its shadowy entrance leading into a hillside deep in the woods, the Adventure Mine brings back memories of Snow White. But a tour of this old underground mine is much more than a fairy-tale escapade. It also offers lessons in history, mining, geology, and even biology.

Starting in 1850 and for seventy years thereafter, miners hauled millions of pounds of copper out of the Adventure Bluff. The region's copper business has since gone bust, but the Adventure Mining Company is enjoying a second life as a Keweenaw Heritage Site. Part of the Keweenaw National Historical Park, it now attracts history and mining buffs, casual visitors, and tourists in search of something different.

It lured its current owners, Victoria and Matthew Portfleet, to tiny Greenland, Michigan, about five years ago. Victoria had earned her bachelor's in surveying from Michigan Tech in 1999, and Matthew completed his Tech degree in mining engineering in 1998.

Finding Founding Fathers for a Quasquicentennial

by Erik Nordberg

The year 2010 marks Michigan Technological University's 125th anniversary. The dictionary app for my handy iPhone indicates that the correct word for such an auspicious event is "quasquicentennial," where quasqui means "one and a quarter."

I'm not sure that Michigan Tech will undertake elaborate quasquicentennial events—or even use the word quasquicentennial. In fact, I think I've just decided never to use it again myself. Yet it is a good time to consider the history of this august institution. I will start with someone who is probably unknown to you, John Parke Channing. But before I begin, I'd like to note that there are many stories that shed light on Michigan Tech's history, including your own, and you are invited to share your memories at www.mtu.edu/125.

Ojibway tribal member Lori Muhlig models the jingle dress she wears at powwows. MICUP helped her make the transition to college, and now she codirects the program at Michigan Tech.

Ojibway tribal member Lori Muhlig models the jingle dress she wears at powwows.

Outreach and Multi-Ethnic Programs, MICUP

Bridging the Gap

by Jennifer Donovan

Lori Muhlig was babysitting her foster mother's children while their mom attended class at Northern Michigan University when a radical idea struck the teenager. "I wonder if someday I could go to college," she thought.

As appealing as Muhlig found that idea, the Native American from Zeba—part of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community—also found it terrifying. She had grown up with a deep belief that higher education was an overwhelming, intimidating experience. "My family passed that fear down from generation to generation," she recalls.

After high school, Muhlig went to work at a local gas station, and before long she was its manager. She was also getting bored, and she wasn't looking forward to a future filled with more of the same, complete with low pay and no benefits.

Rhetoric & Technical Communications by the numbers.

Rhetoric & Technical Communication

The RTC PhD Turns 20

by Dennis Walikainen

From its beginnings, the rhetoric and technical communication (RTC) PhD program has prided itself on breaking the mold.

Indeed, it seemed an odd fit twenty years ago, a high-end degree in a rarified field at a university best known for engineering. But since the Department of Humanities established the program in 1989, the RTC PhD has propelled dozens of graduates to rewarding careers. It was "the consistent caliber of people" in the department that drove the program's success, says Johndan Johnson-Eilola '93, a professor at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and the program's first PhD graduate.

Former humanities department chair Cindy Selfe, now a professor at Ohio State University, was there at the beginning. "Colleagues from other institutions always . . .