Illustration of the Saliga brothers
Illustration by Brandy Tichonoff
Nathan Saliga
Nathan Saliga
Jason Saliga
Jason Saliga
Steven Saliga
Steven Saliga
“We always taught the boys to do the best they could do in whatever they were doing. They've all been driven to succeed.”

My Three Sons

by Wes Frahm

Nathan, Steven, and Jason Saliga continue the Michigan Tech legacy of athletic and academic success begun by their father, Tony Saliga '82.


Work hard. Have fun. Be nice. That's the family motto for the Saligas, who make their home in Leonard, roughly forty miles north of Detroit.

Whether its building a chicken coop, designing a remote control helicopter, or excelling in athletics, the adage seems appropriate.

It's also been applied to higher education.

"It fits Michigan Tech rather well," says Tony, a 1982 graduate in electrical engineering technology and a senior project engineer at General Motors. "You need to work hard at school, but there are plenty of opportunities for fun. And everyone in Houghton is nice."

The family motto and University matched so well that the Saligas' three sons all chose to come to the Copper Country for college—and to run, jump, and throw.

"I knew the education and opportunities I received from Michigan Tech and wanted the same for my sons," said Tony, who played basketball for the Huskies while earning his degree. "I made a lot of friends while I was at Tech, and all of them are successful."

Nathan, the oldest son, knew he wanted to be a Michigan Tech engineer after visiting campus as an eighth grader. "My parents took me to campus when I was in junior high, and we met with [men's basketball] Coach [Kevin] Luke. I knew right then I was going to school at Tech," he remembers.

At six feet, seven inches, Nathan joined the men's basketball team but after one season found track and field a better fit. He ended up winning a conference title in the decathlon and setting school records in that event and the 400-meter hurdles. Nathan graduated magna cum laude in mechanical engineering last May and is now employed at Chrysler.

Middle brother Steven is now a fourth-year mechanical engineering student with a 3.86 grade point average and a member of the track and field team.

"I was simply looking for a good engineering school," he said. "Tech gave me a good scholarship, and it's worked out really well."

Jason, the youngest, insists he isn't trying to follow in his brothers' footsteps, despite joining the track and field and cross country teams this fall. "I just loved campus, the snow, and the feeling in the Houghton community," says the first-year chemical engineering student. "It helped that it was in Michigan and closer to home."

All the Saligas mentioned versions of their motto when talking about how they've experienced success.

"We always taught the boys to do the best they could do in whatever they were doing," said their mother, Sue. "They've all been driven to succeed."

Seems like the only conflict for the family of five, who once bicycled from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC, together, comes at the dinner table when the four engineers start talking technology.

Or maybe it's when Tony, true blue to GM, where he works as a project engineer, forbids Nathan to park his Chrysler in the driveway.

"I just go get started on the dishes," says Mom.

But usually, togetherness is the byword. The family has worked on a different project each of the past few summers: rebuilding a Chevy Blazer, putting an addition on the house, and constructing a remote-control helicopter.

This past summer's was a chicken coop.

"Dad's always had this fascination with chickens," said Steven. "Of course, as engineers we had to make it fully automated with temperature and humidity controls. You know, so you can sit in the living room and monitor it."

Work hard. Have fun. Be nice. Even to chickens. Seems like a good formula for success.


O Brother, Where Art Thou?

by Marcia Goodrich

For many Tech students, the correct answer is, right here."


The brothers Saliga are not the only siblings to attend Michigan Tech. At any one time, there are dozens of sisters and brothers at the University. Those family ties generate a special energy, says Les Cook, Michigan Tech's vice president for student affairs and advancement.

"I've always been told you should replace yourself with someone better than you, but when I look at our students, I think, ‘That's impossible, there's no way anyone could be any better.' And then little brother or little sister joins us, and you are awestruck, because they are as incredible or more so than their sibling. It tears at your heartstrings and makes you proud to be here."

Some talents, like math or cross country, run in families. Other siblings are night-and-day different. "You might get a student who is very driven, very academic, who can't wait to do all this research and go off to medical school," says Cook. "Then you'll meet their brother or sister, and their big focus is on doing things for others and becoming part of the community."

Alike or not, older siblings can be the University's best advertisement.

"The younger ones see what an incredible experience their brother or sister is having here, and they want to be a part of it," Cook says. "The spirit of the University is contagious, which is a good thing, because we want them to catch that spirit."

Parents also play a powerful role. "A fair number of these students are children of alumni, so they've had that Michigan Tech tattoo on them since they were born," Cook says. "But there are many other students whose parents didn't come here, who still have these profound experiences—the activities, the research, the co-ops, the great jobs they get when they leave—and even though the parents aren't our graduates, they want Michigan Tech for their other children."