April 21, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 17

Expo, then Go

We’re winding down the spring semester, and that means it’s time to see what our students have been up to during the school year. Last Thursday was Design Expo, a presentation of Senior Design and Enterprise projects and their progress throughout the year. Enterprise presentations were in the MUB’s Alumni Lounge, while Senior Design took up just about all of the Ballroom.

For a non-engineer like me, there was a lot of detail I surely missed. I did note that lots of things lit up and moved around and did stuff. The first I stepped up to had one of those tower lights—the type you might see on a factory floor and I remember from previous employment—but they had it cycling through all three colors.

“That’s just because it looks cool,” explained a student. “We’re not operating the machine in here, so we don’t need them to tell us the status.”

He then went on to describe a device that accelerates an object from zero to some-thousands of miles an hour in a span of microseconds. He pointed out a valve.

“None of the valves no the market work fast enough for what we need,” he said. “So we designed and built our own.”

Just like that?


Another table was showing virtual-reality functionality, and nearby to that was a redesign for the tailgate of a car. The back quarter of a car was right there in their display.

This is what I love about Design Expo: that our students get to show all of this off, their work of nine months, but that they’re ultimately so relaxed about it. They aren’t in awe of their efforts. It’s almost a shrug. Yeah, we did this.

I also got to overhear some conversation among the students when us nosy folks weren’t asking them questions. The chatter was generally about the summer, what comes next. I’m working here and I’m co-oping there. Where? I heard Chicago, Wisconsin, the Twin Cities, and a whole bunch down-state.

And that’s where the excitement crept into their voices. Not where they were going, but what they were going to be doing: designing, testing, building prototypes, working on systems. Some are graduating, some are coming back next year. But they’re all set to get down to work.

It’s days like this that make me proud to be here. They’re pumped for what’s next. And they’ve got the skills and support they need to get there.

For some detailed coverage of Design Expo, check out Allison’s news article below. Also down there is some information on the wolves at Isle Royale, some time in the foundry, and more.

In other news:

Commencement is coming up, and we’d love to have some of your memories from that big day. Check out Fill in the Blanks below when you get a chance.

A bit of a snow report for you: the glaciers on either side of my driveway have just about disappeared. It’s the point where there’s a great deal of sand on the roads and some of the grass. I went to play some disc golf yesterday, and in addition to it being wet, there were still some snow mountains up by the Mineral Museum. Mont Ripley has some healthy white patches on it yet. And I know better than to say the s-word in April: we’re expecting a least a little snow this week.

It’s not just me pecking away at my keyboard that puts TechAlum together. Last issue, several of you noticed the links were sending you to a prior issue. That’s above my technology level—something with a cache not clearing right—but I did want to mention that our web team over here in University Marketing and Communications did a bang-up job getting it sorted out. The same goes for the staff of Alumni Relations who do so much to pull this together. They get me the information I need to  bring this publication out every two weeks. You probably already guessed it, but I wanted you to know that it’s a really great crew who makes this all happen.

At Tech


Down to Three Wolves on Isle Royale

Only three wolves seem to remain in Isle Royale National Park. Researchers from Michigan Technological University observed the wolves during their annual Winter Study, and the lone group, at an unprecedented low, is a sharp decline from nine wolves observed last winter.

The study’s report, released today, marks the project’s 57th year of observing wolves . . . [ Full Story ]


Finlandia Art Students Find New Tools in Michigan Tech Foundry

Science and art can beautifully coexist. Each complements the other – you just have to explore the connections. And, that exploration is just what happened during a collaboration between a sculpture class from Finlandia University International School of Art & Design and Michigan Tech’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering this semester.

The sculpture class . . . [ Full Story ]


Square Aware Quilts Draw Attention to Sexual Violence Issues

There is immense comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Messages from others can provide support and hope in places you’d never imagine. Some of these messages can be found right on campus due to the Square Aware Project.

The Square Aware Project is a collective art piece, sponsored by the Women’s Programming Committee (WPC) and . . . [ Full Story ]


Biomedical Engineering Students Honored by Goldwater Scholarship Program

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has honored two Michigan Technological University biomedical engineering students. Mitchell Kirby, a third-year student, won a Goldwater Scholarship, and Dillon Gronseth, a second-year student, received honorable mention in the scholarship program.

Goldwater scholarships — established by Congress to honor the late Senator Barry M. Goldwater . . . [ Full Story ]


Detecting lysosomal pH with fluorescent probes

Lysosomes are the garbage disposals of animal cells. As the resources are limited in cells, organic materials are broken down and recycled a lot — and that’s what lysosomes do. Detecting problems with lysosomes is the focus of a new set of fluorescent probes developed by researchers at Michigan Technological University. The Royal Society . . . [ Full Story ]

Tech in the News

It’s been quite a spring for Michigan Tech media coverage. From the Detroit News to National Public Radio, from TV coverage on three different networks to Associated Press wire stories, Michigan Tech has been making headlines.

Here are just a few of the news stories about Michigan Tech that have been published or aired recently.

. . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Around the World

AAW Superior Ideas Image - stent_0

Biodegradable Stents

Stents are small, expandable tubes used to treat narrowed or weakened arteries in the body. These stents are traditionally made of stainless steel or other metals which can be harmful to the body. Researcher Jeremy Goldman is developing zinc-based stents which will work much better and have fewer side effects. Check out the project on . . . [ Full Story ]

Student Initiative Support Program

A common struggle preventing student organizations from successfully implementing a project or idea is not a lack of ideas, but a lack of resources to make great ideas happen. The Michigan Tech Alumni Association saw this need and launched the Student Initiative Support Program (SISP) in 2011.

The SISP is designed to promote student involvement . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Profile

Bold Sandagdorj ’05


Mongolia’s nomadism is a sign of the past, but the transition to parliamentary democracy and a market economy shows a nation recovering its future. Bold Sandagdorj, chief economist at the Bank of Mongolia and holder of an MS from Michigan Tech in Applied Natural Resource Economics, is helping to build that vision of the future.“Most . . . [ Full Story ]

Tech Sports

Fill in the Blanks


Commencement Speakers

I suppose this would be the other class of ’02—it’s a program from the 1902 Commencement. We’re putting the finishing touches on this year’s program here in the office, and as always, there’s a small bio on the speaker. Who was the speaker on the day you graduated? Do you remember any words of wisdom?


On That Day

I don’t really remember my commencement ceremony very well—I remember it was hot in the gym, and that I had attached a fake collar and top of a tie to my gown so I could wear a t-shirt instead of the required formal wear.

What I remember a bit more clearly is before and after, . . . [ Full Story ]

From the Email Bag

State of the Art

In 1973 it was handheld scientific calculators. The Hewitt Packard HP 35 was out already in the fall of 1972 but they were over 0. Our Freshman Chem recital instructor told us to buy the cheapest plastic slide rule we could find, not the Pickett ones in the bookstore when I was a freshman . . . [ Full Story ]

Youth Day Explosion 2015

Have You Heard? Esteem We and Detroit Possible is gearing up for Youth Day Explosion 2015. Here’s a quick video to tell you more. Youth Day Explosion provides a free memorable bonding and esteem building experience for youth ages 13–19. We bring some of the best and dynamic local business professionals, entrepreneurs, youth advocates and more . . . [ Full Story ]

The Timeless Vette

I recently purchased a pristine 1989 Corvette convertible. I was wondering which Michigan Tech alumni, and my engineering contemporaries, were involved in the development and design of the C4 Corvette (1984–1996). What would be the best way to find out who these individuals were? I am going to a Corvette gathering in Billings, Montana, on Memorial Day weekend. . . . [ Full Story ]

One Last Toot(s)

Not to beat a dead horse but what does “toot her out “ mean.  It makes no sense.  I’ll stick with tech out of Towner..as used by my wife’s aunt from Dollar Bay. Jim Roley Class of 62 Beats me, Jim. A synonym for take, maybe? My best guess! –Kevin

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