June 2, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 20

The Shortest Long Days


Neither the calendar nor the thermometer may say so, but we’re coming up quite literally on the middle of the year. By that I mean it’s light out until all hours here in the month of June. Sure, July through October is lovely, but we only have about three more weeks of the days getting longer.

I’ve worked a few summers in Copper Harbor, so I know that real summer doesn’t even begin until July 4, but there is a bit about this time of year that seems so unfair: finally, the weather is nice enough to get the telescope out without fear of frostbite. But I can’t stay awake long enough to see much. Unless, because I’m writing about it here, they count that as work time for me and I don’t actually have to get up at 7.

It’s the time of year I like to go to McLain or Great Sand Bay—quite possibly my two favorite places on the planet—and catch a sunset, only to realize on the ride back that the ice cream shop is already closed, being nearly 11pm and all.

More than anything, though, it reminds me that we haven’t tamed all of the nature out of us, something we’re keenly aware of here in the Keweenaw. These are the nights of short sleep and waking up, fully alert, when you hear a mosquito in the bedroom. Of sitting on the deck at the DT and watching the bridge glow in the colors of the falling sun. Or music on some nights over in Hancock’s Porvoo Park.

We talk up here about how we celebrate our winters, between Carnival and hockey, curling and skiing, saunas and the smell of wood stoves. This is the other end, the other season we should revel in, and we’re just on the cusp of it being in full bloom. It’s full of possibilities, this summer, like every other one before it. What to do tonight? Or tomorrow? Or this weekend? Or… wait, how is it Labor Day already?

The Sun is up long. These days are long. But they go by so, so fast. Maybe it feels like you were just here. Maybe you were just here. Wherever you are today, though, take some time to go out and enjoy it. Make time stop for you. Remember why you’re here. Breathe in the aromas of summer—thinking more of the way the water smells when it comes out of the hose and sprinkler, or the lilacs or fireworks smoke.

They don’t seem to last long, these days. These long, long days.


It goes with that up there a bit, but what do you remember doing when you were here? Did you get to stay for the summers?

The reason I ask is that I want to introduce a new feature for TechAlum, tentatively and uninspiringly called Places. You see, back during Winter Carnival, I did some live blogging, letting people tell me where to go and what to photograph.

Let’s do that all year ‘round!

Tell me where your favorite spots were—anywhere on the peninsula is fine—and I’ll go take some shots and write about what it looks like these days. For those of you who haven’t been to campus in a long time, there’s a lot that has changed. Heck, I moved here in 2007 and a lot has changed in just that time!

I’m also extra-willing to go anywhere you send me that happens to have pizza. Just sayin’.


Another amazing haul of news down below from our twin towers of technology, uh, news. Couldn’t make the alliteration work, sorry. Allison and Mark have been very busy again this past fortnight, and I’ve got them linked below.

You aren’t going to believe the story in the mailbag about SYP. And if you have any relationship stories like this to share, please send them along!

Sports news is a bit quiet right now, but we’ll do our best to keep you up to date with anything fun and exciting there. I want to wish a hearty congratulations to Austin Roy, former Huskies football player—and once a student of mine—as he has signed for the Toronto Argonauts. Guess I can’t only root for the BC Lions anymore, Austin!

And if there’s anything you, as alumni, need, there’s a whole crew of amazing Alumni Relations staff who make all of this possible. They’ve been great at helping me get me feet under me here at the writing desk, and I know they’re full of answers and assistance—so feel free to ask!

Finally, if you haven’t made your plans for Alumni Reunion yet, well, what are you waiting for?!? How else are we going to meet? Seriously, I know from speaking with faculty, staff, and students that we love having our alumni around. You have knowledge of this place, as a group, that far outstrips those of us who are here. We’re always up for a hello and a chat.

Or, like I said above, going out for pizza.

Thanks for reading.

At Tech


Turn That Defect Upside Down: Twin Boundaries in Lithium-Ion Batteries

Most people see defects as flaws. A few Michigan Technological University researchers, however, see them as opportunities. Twin boundaries — which are small, symmetrical defects in materials — may present an opportunity to improve lithium-ion batteries. The twin boundary defects act as energy highways and could help get better performance out of the batteries.

This . . . [ Full Story ]


Employers Say Michigan Tech Grads are Well-Prepared, Contrary to Gallup Poll

A recent Gallup poll shows that while the vast majority of Americans feel a college education is important, only a small percentage believe that college graduates are well prepared for success in the workplace. Feedback from employers who hire graduates of Michigan Technological University tells a different story.

 The Gallup Poll results were included in . . . [ Full Story ]


Nina Mahmoudian Receives a CAREER Award from NSF

Autonomous vehicles can go where humans cannot. Some dive deep under the ocean, others fly high in the sky. Some drones are being used to respond to disaster sites, like the Nepal earthquake, as well as to power microgrids, to fly over battlefields, to monitor climate change and to observe underwater biodiversity. Eventually, autonomous vehicles . . . [ Full Story ]


Working Together to Build Drought Resiliency

Drought in the southwest has left only a trickle running through irrigation ditches on farms outside El Paso, Texas. The Rio Grande — called Rio Bravo in Mexico — is what supplies that trickle, struggling to meet water demands in three US states and five in Mexico.

As drought continues, and demand grows, researchers like . . . [ Full Story ]


Tarun Dam Wins Distinguished Teaching Award

Tarun Dam joined the chemistry faculty at Michigan Technological University as part of the third wave of the University’s Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative. The Initiative, which began in 2008, looked to create several new faculty positions each year dedicated to a specific theme. Dam was one of 11 faculty hired in the area of health . . . [ Full Story ]

William Kennedy Wins Distinguished Teaching Award

Michigan Technological University’s William Kennedy has spent nearly four decades in a college classroom. Now, in the twilight of his career, he has received the University’s highest teaching honor.

Kennedy, associate professor in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences, is the recipient of this year’s Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award in the Associate Professor . . . [ Full Story ]


Michigan Tech Board of Trustees Extends President Glenn Mroz’s Contract

The Michigan Technological University Board of Trustees has extended President Glenn Mroz’s contract through June 30, 2018.  His current contract ends on June 30, 2016.  The new contract can be renewed on a year-to-year basis. 

The extension follows two years of benchmarking salaries against other universities designated “high research” by . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Around the World

Engineering Fundamentals02242015002

Still Time to Give to the Annual Fund

As we near end of the 2014-15 fiscal year, we want to take a moment to remind our alumni and friends that there is still time to make an annual contribution in support of Michigan Tech – and place your name on the annual Honor Roll of Donors. You can phone the Michigan Tech Fund . . . [ Full Story ]

Pavlis Logo

Into India 2015

The Pavlis Institute will be traveling to Chennai, India this summer to help improve the community through several projects. These projects will include creating a play area, looking into a solar powered system for a local school, checking the efficiency of an existing biochar filtration system, and many others.

Alumni Profile

Efstathios I. “Stathi” Pappas


What would possess someone to purchase a 45-ton steam locomotive? For Stathi Pappas, it was the chance to own something he played on as a child.So, in March 2009, the Michigan Technological University industrial archaeology alumnus purchased the Santa Cruz Portland Cement Company No. 2 Engine and began restoring it in his Mineral, Wash.,, shop.In . . . [ Full Story ]

Tech Sports


Pietila Signs Two-Year Deal with Devils Organization

NEWARK, N.J. — Former Michigan Tech hockey player Blake Pietila signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League it was announced today by the Devils organization. He becomes the second player from the Huskies’ 2014-15 senior class to ink an NHL deal; Tanner Kero signed with the Chicago . . . [ Full Story ]


Roy Signs with CFL’s Argonauts

TORONTO, Ont. — Former Michigan Tech football player Austin Roy (Lively, Ont.) has signed a professional contract with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts.

Roy started all 11 games for Tech at right tackle last fall, helping the Huskies to a 9-2 record and the program’s second NCAA Playoffs berth. The Huskies averaged 404 . . . [ Full Story ]


DeMario Joins 2015 Soccer Class

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Tech added another soccer student-athlete to its 2015 class with Marisa DeMario (Grand Rapids, Mich.) recently signing a National Letter of Intent.

DeMario plays at Northview High School, where she has scored 19 or more goals each of her last three seasons. She tallied 19 goals and one assist in . . . [ Full Story ]


Postseason Awards for Lane and Hood

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Tech track and field athletes Jani Lane and Nate Hood have both collected postseason awards recently. The two were both named all-region by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). In addition, Lane was named to the Capital One Academic All-District First Team.

The . . . [ Full Story ]

Fill in the Blanks


Driving the Summer Solstice

When looking for this issue’s Fill in the Blank feature, I was thinking about long summer days. The word solstice comes up a bunch. And lo and behold, the Pontiac Solstice kept popping up. So here it is, in a cheery yellow.

That means that what I’d like to know this issue is what you . . . [ Full Story ]

From the Email Bag


SYP Memories—You Never Know…

All the talk of SYP in the latest issue of the newsletter made me incredibly nostalgic! I attended as a participant for five summers, and after my first year of college was hired as a counselor for the Programs – a job I did for four summers. I attached a couple photos . . . [ Full Story ]


Our Prayer (Question) is Answered

Hello Kevin:

Greetings from Lee’s Summit, MO

The Tech Man’s Prayer is what we called it back then.  Thanks for featuring this!

Fred Roman (BSME ’66)

Thanks, Fred! I rather enjoy learning these bits of our history! –Kevin

Featured Alumni Benefits


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Don’t live in Michigan? Then you need a collector Michigan Tech license plate!

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.