Seeking Superior Successes

Just one year in and Michigan Tech’s crowdfunding website, Superior Ideas, has already raised $70,000 to support University research. As of press time, several Michigan Tech projects have been successfully funded.

Developing an open-source concrete analysis program

RESEARCHER: Gerald Anzalone


Concrete pavement must contain the right amount of air to hold up in freezing climates. To verify this, technicians either manually count air bubbles using microscopes or use automatic methods, which rely on costly software. Lab supervisor Jerry Anzalone of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering wanted to hire someone to develop open-source software, and Holcim, a Swiss cement company, funded the endeavor. The software should be available later this year.

Bringing mobile medical stations to remote Ghana

RESEARCHER: Erik Wachlin


Mobile Wellness Systems, part of Michigan Tech’s International Business Ventures Enterprise, needed to refurbish a Michigan Tech van to create a mobile health clinic. They wanted to take it to remote villages in Ghana, where healthcare is hard to come by. But they lacked the funds to build and equip their clinic and send it across the Atlantic. Through Superior Ideas, they were able to install refrigeration, auxiliary-power, and clean-water systems in the van and ship it overseas. Four Tech students traveled abroad in summer 2013 to oversee the clinic’s handoff to Ghanaian doctors, who used it to examine and treat more than four hundred patients. Five Tech students plan to travel to Ghana next summer, supplies in tow, to keep the clinic well stocked.

Linking sleep apnea and heart disease

RESEARCHER: Jason Carter


Doctors have long suspected untreated sleep apnea of causing dangerously high spikes in blood pressure. Now, Jason Carter, chair of kinesiology and integrative physiology, aims to prove it. With the money raised through Superior Ideas, Carter will conduct a study on ten individuals with sleep apnea. All ten regularly use a CPAP machine to keep their symptoms at bay but will abstain from using it on some nights. “We want to demonstrate the importance of CPAP use—each and every night,” said Carter.

Restoring coaster brook trout spawning sites

RESEARCHER: Casey Huckins


The coaster brook trout in the Salmon Trout River near Marquette have been losing their spawning sites as road construction, logging, and other development erode the watershed. Sand now covers the small cracks and cobbles in the riverbed, leaving the fish nowhere to lay their eggs. With funding from Superior Ideas, the biological sciences professor removed sand along a forty-meter stretch of the stream with special equipment and installed a sediment collector upstream to stop further accumulation. Huckins hopes to scale the project up fivefold and ultimately increase spawning rates of other native fish, like shiners and dace.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.