January 19, 2016, Vol. 22, No. 10

Diversity at Tech

Well, now that Kevin is gone…

Wait, I’m still here. I’m now mostly moved into my new home, figured out which box my computer was in, and am hard at work at getting my spring classes planned. There was also talk of having the feature in this edition of TechAlum talk about issues surrounding diversity, and I was happy to share a few thoughts. There’s much to talk about, and as I’m writing this on the holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, it all seems quite fitting.

Look, we all know that Michigan Tech’s history hasn’t been one of tremendous diversity. And that’s not an indictment of the institution: there have been social and cultural issues throughout the past 130 years that have brought us to today.

When I worked in Student Affairs and Advancement, I did get the opportunity to see how hard so many people have worked to bring broader perspectives to campus. This is important, since we don’t get all of the ideas and perspectives available to us unless we welcome diverse individuals on to the same project. A team made up exclusively of like-minded people from the same background and with the same identity is very likely to miss a possibility, an opportunity.

There’s one other element of diversity I wanted to discuss. It’s something that comes up all of the time, and it’s one thing I think we could all change to universal benefit: understanding that not all diversity is immediately identifiable. Race and sex tend to be identifiable, but elements like religion, gender identity, and a whole host of beliefs and perspectives cannot be simply assumed.

Christa Spielman, assistant director of Tech’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion came to my classes this past fall—I wanted a demonstration for my students about the challenges and pitfalls that can come from making assumptions about the audience of your work. It’s tricky, as communicators we need to make a certain number of assumptions, but she also covered those elements that aren’t really outwardly visible.

Like many people, I have elements about myself that are very much in the minority, but I usually don’t express them. It is a luxury not everyone has, being able to blend into the majority in such a way. It’s the very definition of privilege.

What does all of this mean? It means looking at our statistics and knowing what they mean, the acknowledgement that our faculty and staff have been working very hard to bring in diverse perspectives by ensuring a diverse student body. It means that, while our female/male ratio isn’t exactly balanced, there are initiatives—both from us and a variety of organizations around the country—working to dispel myths of ability and aptitude.

Michigan Tech is becoming a more diverse place every day. Maybe we aren’t quite where we want to be just yet, but the ship of society and culture does not steer easily. It’s hard to deny, however, that we want more perspectives in our labor and our leisure: it’s hard to imagine, in fact, that we wouldn’t want the greatest opportunity to find the best ideas.

Thanks for reading.

Kevin Hodur

Editor’s note: Thanks to Kevin for writing one last article for us. Over the next couple of months, a variety of writers will be featured in this space. We also want to hear from you on what type of content you’d like to see in Tech Alum.

Scott Balyo

At Tech


Feng Zhao Wins Rising Star Award

Feng Zhao is the real deal. In her regenerative heart tissue research, Zhao doesn’t mess with anything fake; she makes nanoscaffolds from actual tissue. The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) has recognized Zhao, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, with a Rising Star Award. She is one of six researchers in the nation to receive the . . . [ Full Story ]


Michigan Tech Lands Are Model Forest

A forest is more than its trees, which the Forest Stewards Guild recognized in naming several Michigan Technological University lands a Model Forest. Healthy forests support robust ecosystems across a region, and they are also important spaces for play, research and collaboration. The designated forestlands include 620 acres of the Michigan Tech Trails and Recreation . . . [ Full Story ]


US News Ranks Tech’s Online Graduate Engineering Programs

Michigan Technological University’s online graduate engineering program ranks in the top half of online graduate engineering programs nationwide, according to rankings just released by US News & World Report.  Tech’s online graduate engineering program ranked 41 of 83 programs listed, tied with Florida International University and Wright State University.

Michigan Tech offers Master of Science . . . [ Full Story ]


Drone Catcher: “Robotic Falcon” can Capture, Retrieve Renegade Drones

In January 2015, a Washington, DC, hobbiest accidentally flew his DJI Phantom quadcopter drone over the White House fence and crashed it on the lawn.

Two years earlier, a prankster sent his drone toward German prime minister Angela Merkel during a campaign rally.

Small drones have also proven to be effective tools of mischief that . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Around the World

HEET House (TA)

HEET + Rekhi Innovation Challenge Results

The Houghton Energy Efficiency Team is focused on weatherizing Houghton County homes. This is especially important during the harsh winters experienced by the Houghton County community.

Rekhi Innovation Challenge Results:
This year’s Rekhi Innovation Challenge has come to a close. Collectively, the teams raised ,658. Here are the final results!
1st . . . [ Full Story ]

Desert Classic 1 (TA)

Desert Hockey Classic

Husky fans of all ages gathered in Glendale, AZ to cheer on our Huskies to a victory in the Desert Hockey Classic last weekend.

Many thanks to our Arizona Chapter Leaders Joy Dorvinen & Jessica Dorvinen for their help with the pre-game social!

For more event photos and information about future events check out the . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Profile

Cheryl A. McCutcheon ’95


Why did you choose Michigan Tech? I liked the number of undergraduates and the focus on engineering. My sister went to Tech so I knew how beautiful the area was. What was your most memorable experience at Tech? Joining Theta Chi Epsilon sorority led to lasting friendships and memories too numerous to count!! How well . . . [ Full Story ]

Tech Sports


Berger Named NFL’s Top Run Blocker

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Former Michigan Tech football player Joe Berger (2001-04) was recently named the NFL’s best run blocker by Pro Football Focus.

Berger, who was a two-time All-American and the two-time GLIAC Offensive Lineman of the Year for the Huskies, started all 16 regular season games and last Sunday’s playoff game at center . . . [ Full Story ]

Fill in the Blanks


Celebrity at 1965 Winter Carnival

It’s beginning to look a lot like Winter Carnival on campus. Does anyone remember this famous singer who performed in 1965? Was anyone there? Do you have a favorite performance from a Carnival to share? Write us at: techalum@mtu.edu.

From the Email Bag

Sammy Sez


Going to miss you.

In regards to Sammy Sez, I wrote the column for a year – I think it was 1970-71, but it might have been the year before. It was basically a satirical gossip column when I wrote it. Mark Krczmarkic was editor of the Load at that time.

Terry Kinzel . . . [ Full Story ]

Remembering Ray Smith

Farewell and best wishes for a new career – Joe K

My suggestion for a character study would be to check out one of the most amazing prexy’s we’ve ever had – Ray Smith – now living out his relaxed life in Arizona. 

Start digging and you’ll find a Renaissance Man – administrator, writer, . . . [ Full Story ]

Featured Alumni Benefits


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