- PhD Environmental Engineering 1996
Gretchen Hein is an associate teaching professor in the Michigan Tech Department of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology and a faculty advisor for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). After getting her bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Kettering University and master’s of engineering from Purdue University, Hein came to Michigan Tech for her PhD in Environmental Engineering, which she received in 1996.
Hein’s choice to attend Tech for her PhD was influenced by Neil Hutzler and an interest to work with him on air sparging (a groundwater remediation method). Hutzler encouraged Hein and provided her with teaching opportunities which led her to later join Michigan Tech as a faculty member.
“Graduate school provided me with a love of learning and working with students,” Hein said. “Tech is the only University I have attended where the students and faculty get together outside of class. This not only enhances student motivation to learn, but creates an environment that is inclusive and welcoming.”
Hein has been a member of the Tech faculty and a SWE advisor since 1998. During her tenure, Hein has taught a variety of engineering courses to more than 13,000 students. Her teaching and mentoring excellence has been recognized numerous times by student organizations, the University, and nationally due to her innovative, unique, and engaging methods.
Hein’s teaching claim to fame is Duck Day—where she brings a duck to class to demonstrate heat-transfer through the exchange of heat in the arteries and veins of the duck’s legs. In the spring of 2022, more than 300 students attended Duck Day and only half of those were members of her class! Additionally, Hein has 105 publications in journals and conference proceedings, one report, and 26 presentations and has received over $840,000 in grant funding, despite the fact that her position is focused on student learning, not research.
As one of the longest serving SWE advisors in the nation, Hein has advised 60+ students annually—many of whom went on to participate in the SWE Collegiate Leadership Institute and have been recognized nationally for their SWE contributions. Additionally, Hein was awarded the SWE Engaged Advocate and Outstanding Faculty Advisor in 2020.
Hein enjoys staying engaged as an alumna and participating in events hosted by the College of Engineering in conjunction with SWE Societal Conference and reconnecting with alumni and former students.
“Tech is a community,” she said. “The interactions between the students, faculty, staff, and alumni are what makes this University unique.”
Hein will be inducted into the Michigan Tech Presidential Council of Alumnae in September.
Updated August 2023