From the Alumni Association

Q&A with Fred Williams, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry

Williams began teaching chemistry at Michigan Tech in 1965, retiring in 2003, and was so creative the University instituted the Frederick D. Williams Instructional Innovation Award in his honor. Perhaps most remarkably, he gave his first-year students extra credit for writing limericks—so long as they related to chemistry.

Fred Williams

What was your favorite class?

Freshman chemistry. They were babies . . . more fun.

You were known as a good teacher in many ways, but you were the only one who had your students do limericks. How on earth did you think of that?

I don't know. I think jokes worked occasionally, and then the limericks grew out of the jokes.

At one point, you told students they could no longer use "Fred" in their limericks. Why?

Fred was too easy to rhyme.

Did you also do explosions and things like that in class?

Oh yes.

It must be like putting on a magic show.

It is.

When you weren't teaching chemistry, what did you do?

I taught polymers.

I bet you didn't have to use limericks with those students.


Which student surprised you the most?

I had a blind student. He surprised me all the time, how well he covered the subject matter. He was a very good student.

You were at Tech a long time. How did the students change?

They became more serious, much more serious.

If you were to give a young teacher just starting out any advice, what would that be?

Enjoy yourself.

Sign Up for Keweenaw Geoheritage Tours This Summer

Join geologist and professor emeritus Bill Rose for any of five short field trips on the Keweenaw's geological heritage. Participants will be covering lots of ground by boat, van, and short walks. Cost is $325 for each trip and includes materials, transportation, and lunch.

Lavas, July 21–22

Visit ancient, massive lava flows and learn how they shape the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The Keweenaw Fault, July 23–24

Learn about the massive thrust fault which split the peninsula lengthwise and uplifted rocks, including copper.

Jacobsville Sandstone, July 25–26

These red rocks originate from the ancient Huron Mountains that eroded and filled the great valley of the Keweenaw rift. We will visit important fossils in the area.

Keweenaw Glacial Geology, July 28–29

The Keweenaw was recently covered with more than two miles of ice. Explore this glacial history and how the lake and landscape have evolved since the glacial retreat.

Lake Superior Today, July 30–31

This huge lake has a major affect on weather and daily life. Learn about active processes of the lake today, including changes wrought by humans.

For more information and to register, visit

If you have any questions, email keweenawgeology@

A Blast From Carnivals Past

Remember Winter Carnival 1964, Land of the Sandman? How about Sub-Zero Heroes in 1974 and American Dreams in a Frozen Scene in 1989?

Visit and see how much (and how little) Winter Carnival has changed over the past fifty years.

The Winter Carnival Pictorials from 50, 40, and 25 years ago have been digitized and are online through the Van Pelt and Opie Library's Digital Commons, a growing part of the University's digital library. This project is a collaboration among the library, Michigan Tech's Alumni Office, and The Michigan Tech Lode.

You can share your Carnival memories at

Alumni Triumph in Winter Carnival Broomball

For the first time since its start during Homecoming 2009, the Alumni-Student Broomball Invitational took place during Winter Carnival. In spite of the cold, more than seventy-five alumni and friends on eight teams enjoyed the two-day tournament on the outdoor broomball courts. In the end, the alumni team, Kilty as Charged, was victorious over the Fellowship of the Rink student team in a 12–0 blowout. The Alumni Cup comes back to alumni until the tournament at Winter Carnival 2015.

Connect with Your Regional Chapter

Did you know that the Michigan Tech Network has over 70,000 alumni and friends covering 6 continents, more than 100 countries, and all 50 states? There are 70 regional chapters (plus 8 international) that are accessible, fun, friendly, and a great way to stay in touch with alumni and friends.

Chapter volunteers strive to provide a range of activities and are a good source of information about the University and the Michigan Tech Alumni Association.

Invitations lists for Alumni Association events are determined by the ZIP code we have on file for you. Be sure we have your current address and email so we can keep you posted about what's happening in your area. Many chapters also have active Facebook pages which can keep you informed.

You can update your information by visiting Huskylink, or simply contact the Alumni Relations office at 877-866-2586 or

You can find a list of our alumni events on our webpage,, and on our Facebook Page,

Two chapters meet regularly at local watering holes. The Green Bay chapter convenes on the third Thursday of every month at the Keweenaw Pub, 368 Main Avenue, DePere, Wisconsin.

West Michigan Chapter gathers on the last Thursday of every month at Schmohz Brewery, 2600 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids.

Save the Date: Alumni Reunion is on the Horizon

Alumni Reunion 2014 is just around the corner, August 7–9. With fun events for all ages, including outdoor adventures, children's science activities, boat rides, presentations from popular professors, picnics with pasties, pickled eggs and beer, and much more. Reunion is a perfect time to come back to campus.

This year's featured classes will be the Golden Ms (those who graduated fifty-plus years ago) and the classes of '64, '74, '84, '89, '94, and '04. Other special alumni group reunions are being planned for women's basketball, tennis, and the Ford Forestry Center.

For schedule and registration information, visit

From the Michigan Tech Alumni Association Facebook Page

Tales from the Thanksgiving Drive of 1985, which surfaced when you were asked to share your most memorable experiences involving snow.

Worst drive ever. That drive from L’Anse to Houghton was scary. I told everyone that if the car in front of us went in the ditch, so would we, because that was all I could see. Crazy to get hit by a wave off Superior, which immediately froze on the windshield! I remember buying a t-shirt someone made saying “I Survived Thanksgiving Drive 85.”

Driving up from the Chicago area in a sporty Camero (or some such ridiculous winter vehicle), we went off the road in the UP somewhere. Completely buried. Picked up by an Eagle Plow driver and spent the night in his trailer. Dicey. Bonus=Eagle Plow ride!

We were driving on the curve at L’Anse right along the bay. I was in the passenger seat watching waves wash over the car. My roommate was driving and suddenly sounded a bit panicked when he notified me that the brakes weren’t working as we headed towards a huge V-plow coming towards us trying to clear the road. Fortunately friction did its job. The next morning on campus my car stalled out and I opened the hood to find the entire engine compartment of my Olds Cutlass Supreme packed full of snow.

We couldn’t stop because my driver had a tank of piranhas on the back seat and we didn’t want them to freeze to death. So we kept going. It took us 18 hours to get from Detroit to Houghton. We (and the fish) made it.

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.