January 27, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 11

Let’s Start with Hello

There are a hundred things I want to say, I want to share, that I’m excited about as I have a seat in the editor’s chair for TechAlum. But this publication isn’t about a person; it’s about our community of alumni, about the things we’re all doing. So I’ll just start with something short and simple.

Hi. My name is Kevin.

I’m a 2012 PhD recipient in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from the other end of campus in the humanities department, and I’ve worked here in Admin for University Marketing and Communications for a bit over two years now. I’m at Tech because, hand on heart, I believe in what we do here. That’s not my marketing voice; it’s honestly how I feel. What our students do while they’re here, and what you’ve all gone on to do as alumni, leaves me in awe.

I owe a massive debt to Dennis Walikainen and the way he has kept our alumni community connected for so long. Dennis was in the office next to mine, where we often had a morning chat on baseball or football, depending on the time of year. I can’t replace him; I can only succeed him.

I have a different view of Tech than most. Not just out my office window, though that’s a bit different as well. Some sky, some tree, some concrete wall. It’s nice to get a peek at the very occasional flash of sunshine in the middle of winter. My plants are even happier about that.

No, I’m very lucky for my view of Tech as a writer. My job is to capture what’s going on here for a variety of publications—I’m chief writer for the School Business and Economics magazine Impact, I write some news and some narrative for our news site, and I do some odds and ends articles for some of our other publications. This lets me be all over campus, exploring every building, meeting interesting new people, and hearing about research and innovation that just blows me away.

In addition to news and notes from around campus and from our alumni community, I’ll share with you life on Tech’s campus as I experience, a bit of a taste of home. You’ll never believe it, but it’s cloudy and lightly snowing at the moment. There are thousands of stories here in Houghton every day. I’ll capture some bit of that flavor and share it as best I can.

Is there something or someplace you’d like me to report back on? Feel free to let me know at the usual address. Any comments or questions are most welcome, too, and if you happen to be on campus, please stop by G14 of the Admin building and say hello.

Thanks for coming with me on this ride. The view will be a bit different. But we’re still going the same place.

Updates from here:

The broomball rinks are in full operation, starting early in the morning and the lights still blazing away well into the night. We got an update from Red Current in the Twin Cities about corporate broomball, and alumna Sara Nurmela is representing us well. Also note that she did, in fact, get to drive the Zamboni.

You can find Sara Nurmela at the Wells Fargo WinterSkate rink nearly every weekday in the wintertime. Instead of staying indoors for lunch, Nurmela bundles up and heads out to the Landmark Plaza in downtown St. Paul to ice skate.

“The two months the rink is up makes for my favorite lunch breaks of the year,” remarked Nurmela, a Woodbury resident who works for the city of St. Paul. “Unless my schedule is too busy or the weather is too cold, I’m out there! I appreciate that I’ve met people from different companies downtown and become friends with them over the years. The Winter Skate staff is also fantastic, I feel like I’ve gotten to know them, too.”

On weeknights, skaters are asked to clear the rink at 4:50 p.m. for youth hockey and corporate broomball teams.

Nurmela plays on one of those corporate broomball teams, the Green Tree team. Seven years ago, one of the Green Tree Servicing team regulars asked her to play, and she’s been on the team ever since.

“Broomball is closely related to hockey—but is generally less expensive,” said Nurmela. “It’s a fun team sport that people of all different abilities and sporting backgrounds can be involved in. Having coed teams helps to make it fun, as well. Running on ice levels the playing field, which makes the game about passing and teamwork.”

She started playing broomball in college at Michigan Technological University in northern Michigan. A rink set up by the dorms meant that broomball was a popular activity nearly everyone was involved in — “almost a rite of passage for living in the dorms,” recalled Nurmela.

“Although broomball makes me miss hockey, I really appreciate being able to be involved in a team sport,” she said.

Check out below for some updates on the alumni presence at Winter Carnival’s broomball tournament!

Sad news reached us last week that Rudy Greuer, professor emeritus in mining engineering, passed away. He came to Tech in 1967 and retired in the late 90s. More here from his son Wilhelm ’97 ‘06:

Having worked as an engineer in the mining industry around the United States for the past several years, I have encountered quite a few Michigan Tech mining alums from as way back as the early 1970′s who all unanimously agree that Rudy was their best prof at Michigan Tech.  I often run into Michigan Tech alumni who inquire about Rudy, I am sure there would be a few mining engineering alumni out there who would want to know of Rudy’s passing.

Any memories of Rudy jumping out to you? We’d love to hear them.

Finally, as I’m writing this, the northeast is on the receiving end of an epic blizzard. I had images in my head of something like Buffalo not too long ago, but they’re talking about two feet of snow. I seem to remember just calling that “Thursday” not too long ago. So how about it, alumni on the East Coast? Let us know how this storm shakes out and if your time in Houghton helps you get ready.

Plenty more to scroll through from here. The soundscape story in the forestry building is an interesting news item, put together by our student writer Monica Lester. There’s also a new way to look at university rankings—and Tech’s looking pretty darn good—based on social mobility, hockey’s coming off of a sweep of Alaska and is back in the top 10, our ski team is picking up podiums left and right, and Winter Carnival is coming up over the horizon. Please enjoy, and as always, let us know what you’re thinking at the usual address.

Be well. I’ll be in touch.


At Tech


Student Entrepreneurs Launch Sustainable Sunglasses Company

Innovation is a familiar word at Michigan Technological University, and it has been part of Adam Weber’s life since high school.

Weber, an undergraduate studying computer network and system administration at Michigan Tech, co-founded 1st Element Sunglasses with fellow Iron Mountain High School graduate Matthew Anderson, a University of Michigan student.  Last summer, Weber and . . . [ Full Story ]


Social Mobility Index Ranks Michigan Tech Tops in State

President Barack Obama’s call for free community college tuition aims to help level the playing field for low income, first-generation and minority students. Michigan Technological University is already doing that, according to a new kind of ranking released late last year: the Social Mobility Index.

Ranked first among Michigan colleges and universities in the . . . [ Full Story ]


Soundscape Brings an Auditory Aesthetic to Forestry Atrium

Sitting down to study, noises can become distracting. Pop, hiss! There goes the heater, or someone shuffling down the adjacent hall. Daydreams of the beach or walking through the woods interrupt thoughts about upcoming exams; how can focus be maintained when the natural world is calling?

But what if natural sounds could form a soothing . . . [ Full Story ]


Seven Tech Women Chosen for National Construction Leadership Seminar

A Michigan Tech education generates numerous opportunities to hone a student’s professional skills. Last fall, seven Michigan Tech students were invited to attend the Kiewit Women’s Construction Leadership Seminar, a competitive national workshop held at the company’s corporate headquarters in Omaha, Neb. Kiewit, a Fortune 500 construction company, selected 50 collegiate, female leaders to participate . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Around the World

MTUAA Board of Directors Winter Carnival meeting

All are welcome to attend the meeting of the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors on February 5 and 6 in the Memorial Union Building on campus. Agenda items include selection of the 2015 Alumni Association award recipients, launch of the new Michigan Tech Visa® card program, committee reports and university updates. A copy of the . . . [ Full Story ]

Reminder—February Snowfall Contest Closes Tuesday, Feb. 10

A reminder to alumni and friends to get their February snowfall prediction as the monthly contest closes February 10.

If your guess is closest to the total amount of snow that falls in the Keweenaw for the month, you’ll win a totally-Tech gift—like a winter survival kit, pasty vouchers, pint glass, or Tech gear. . . . [ Full Story ]

Superior Ideas

Superior Ideas is Michigan Tech’s crowdsourced fundraising site, filled with exciting, cutting-edge research projects. This time we highlight an aquaponics project. From the project description:

Aquaponics is the integration of fish farming (aquaculture) and growing plants without soil (hydroponics). This creates a mutually supportive circulatory system between the fish and the plants. The . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Broomball Tournament at Winter Carnival

If Sara’s broomball exploits up above got you inspired, make sure to check out this years Alumni-Student Broomball Invitational! Started in 2009 to provide a fun way for alumni to play broomball, the Invitational has become a tradition that both alumni and students look forward to.

The tournament started during Homecoming and is now hosted . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Profile

Dr. Susan E. Skochelak ’75, ’77


Susan graduated from Michigan Tech in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology. In 1977 she received a master’s degree in Biological Sciences (also from Tech) and then attended and completed medical school at the University of Michigan in 1981. Upon receiving her medical degree she trained in family and preventive medicine at the . . . [ Full Story ]

Tech Sports


Women Win Sixth Straight with 69-61 Final at SVSU

UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. — No. 19 Michigan Tech held off a scrappy Saginaw Valley State team 69-61 today in GLIAC women’s basketball at O’Neill Arena. The Huskies withstood the Cardinals’ hot shooting at 56 percent and a second half run to improve to 15-1 overall and 11-1 in league play.

SVSU (6-12, 1-11 GLIAC) . . . [ Full Story ]

Fill in the Blanks


Archive Photo + Sweaters = Tech Fashion

This here is a photo of the 1968 Winter Carnival Queen finalists. In addition to filling in any of the blanks here—can anyone tell me where this photo was taken?—I’d like to see your photos and thoughts on Tech fashion while you were in Houghton. Because these sweaters are amazing, and I’m not being sarcastic.


The Sound of Carnival

Something that has stuck with me during my time at Tech has not been the sights of Carnival, but the sounds. Yes, the speaker wall pretty well guarantees that. My first all-nighter working for UMC meant I got to spread my wings a bit and get into narrative writing. I’m more comfortable with that. And . . . [ Full Story ]

From the Email Bag


Favorite Places Downtown

In my senior year (1973) I lived in one of the two upstairs apartments in a house at 813 Shelden, where the Jimmy John’s parking lot is now and laundry was in the basement of the house next door where Jimmy John’s is now.  Bookworm was a paint store. The guys downstairs were friends from . . . [ Full Story ]

The Bridge(s)

The lift bridge?  That’s the “new” bridge isn’t it. I remember the “turnstyle” bridge, lined up with Bridge street coming down the hill. Bridge street was steep and icy in winter. Coming home, I would time the stoplight, launch off from a few blocks uphill, hit the green light and cross the bridge. There was . . . [ Full Story ]

EEs in the Family

My father graduated from the Michigan College of Mining and Technology in the spring of 1942 with a BSEE degree and immediately entered WWII with the Corp of Engineers, serving in both north Africa and Italy, and of all things, building wharfs and bridges. After the war, I was born in February of 1946, becoming . . . [ Full Story ]

More Mail!

Hello– I wanted to share news that David C. St. John-Larkin, who received a B.S. in Computer Science, magna cum laude, from Michigan Technological University in 2002, has been promoted to partner at law firm Perkins Coie.

Regards, Sarah Rocca

Please pass along our congratulations, Sarah! –Kevin

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Around the Keweenaw

Job Opportunities

On Campus

Miss the great Keweenaw lifestyle? If you’re looking for a way to get back to this awesome corner of the world, check out these positions available right here at Michigan Tech.

View a listing of our on-campus career opportunities.