March 25, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 15

Spring Break in Silicon Valley and Detroit

Anza Mitchell gets interviewed by Channel 7 News in Detroit.

Another new tradition at Tech is our students using spring break for something other than beaches and sunburns. For a few years now, they’ve ventured to Silicon Valley to explore the leading-edge companies that create so much of the cool stuff we use (or want to use) in our lives.

They also go to Detroit to inspire middle and high school students to pursue careers in the STEM fields and consider Michigan Tech when they start looking at universities. Both excursions are great, whether networking with corporations and alumni or sparking an interest that could lead to great things.

The Silicon Valley trip was led by Adam Johnson, director of industry program development, and Andre Laplume, assistant professor of management in the School of Business and Economics. The trip was the brainchild of the late business prof Bob Mark, and Brocade Communications with Dave House ’65 sponsored the trip.

The students checked out some of the local attractions like Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Ghirdelli Square on their first day, without a snowflake in sight.

Kirsten Dulbandzhyan, third-year marketing and management major, enjoyed the tour of  the Porter Family Vineyard. “The most fascinating part of the vineyard was the cave that the Porter Family owns,” she said. “They had build it to produce their wine in, the humidity in the cave was better for the fermentation and there wasn’t enough space in the original office.”

Cisco was a big hit with Nick Schweikart, first year mechanical engineer. “[The guide] showed us around the office space and it was aboslutely mind-blowing,” he said. “This place had the most fun-looking layout imaginable. Were talking toys on desks, free catered lunch/snacks, and Nerf gun office wars! Everyone we talked to was smiling and so genuinely happy with their job that the feeling was contagious. These people loved were they worked, and actual thought of it as a second home.”

“The whole trip was amazing, but if I had to pick my favorite part, it would be Alcatraz or the alumni event,” said Kevin Coleman, fifth year computer engineering major. “The tour of Alcatraz was just incredible and provided us with some breathtaking views of the city. On the other hand, the alumni event gave us a unique chance to meet with a lot of great Tech alumni doing some really interesting work in Silicon Valley.”

“These students get a most unique crash course in the Bay Area—from startups like Cisco’s recently acquired Meraki, to glamorous Tesla Motors,” said Johnson. “The eight immersive tours were made possible not only by Tech’s corporate partners, but a passionate group of alumni like Rob Fjerstad ’86 (Autodesk), Debbie Campbell ’76 (National Park Service), Danielle VanDyke ’06 (Google), Dianne Marsh ’86 (Netflix), and Glenn Wheelock ’85 (Tesla), who take time out of their day to roll out the red carpet. Trip sponsor Brocade also hosted a four-hour executive panel discussion, lab tour, and recruiting meet and greet session to wrap up the week.”

Laplume likes the edginess.

“I like going to the valley with the students because we get to see disruptive innovation theory in action. Some of the companies we visit are new entrants breaking into the industry, while others are large incumbents defending their established positions. Getting a window into the evolution of technological innovation and associated companies is likely a great asset for students as they navigate the job market and the entrepreneurial landscapes of the future.”

The blog is here:

Tech students

Tech students spreading the word in Detroit.

In Detroit, members of our National Society of Black Engineers student chapter had a busy couple of days. NSBE’s mission is “to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.”

Joan Chadde, education program coordinator for the Western UP Center for Science, Math, Environmental Education, set up the trip. John Deere supports it, too.

Twelve classes and night activities in four different schools meant some 900 schoolchildren and others learned about science and engineering from the Tech students. The busy students did both the in-class sessions and Family Engineering nights.

Taylor Driscoll, mechanical engineering major, summed it up:

“We use our spring break as an opportunity to give back to the city of Detroit by helping students understand the importance of engineering. We know that by being there, younger students can relate to us. We want to instill confidence in them that they can do whatever they put their minds to.”

And a mom seemed to think it was very well done.

“We had a fantastic time being civil engineers, designing and building a bridge with marshmallows and toothpicks! Thanks for thinking of us and bringing Michigan Tech to Bates Academy! They were wonderful! Hopefully, Bates can make it an annual event! Please make sure you pass on the praises to the Michigan Tech folks!” Andrea Henson, Bates Academy parent.

After attending the event, Henson’s first-grade daughter exclaimed, “This was fun!”

Wait till you build a snow statue.

Dennis ’92 ’09

Snowfall Totals
It’s the snow AND the cold . . .

Keweenaw County numbers.
Keweenaw Research Center  totals.

At Tech


Budding Scientists Learn to Communicate

Scientists are all wrapped up in their work. They wouldn’t be any good at it if they weren’t. But when it comes to communicating to the public what they’re doing, most of them fall short. It’s too complicated. Their words are too long, their hypotheses inaccessible to most people. But it’s important to communicate scientific research—and . . . [ Full Story ]


Quantifying the Qualitative: Artistic Works Push the Envelope of Art and Science

Tony Orrico doesn’t make art in the typical sense of the word. His large geometric pieces—plays on the idea of the body as an instrument in artistic expression—gave Michigan Technological University and Finlandia International School of Art & Design students, researchers and the community a chance to connect art and performance with technology, math and . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Around the World

pickled eggs

Green Bay Alumni Chapter

The Green Bay Alumni Chapter has some pretty awesome things going on. In addition to their monthly third Thursday social, they have adopted a plush Blizzard who spends each month with a different person. Blizzard spent the month of March with Riley Strehlow. Check out their adventures on the Green Bay Alumni Chapter Facebook Page: . . . [ Full Story ]


Houston Recap

On February 25, over a dozen alumni from four decades met at The King’s Head Pub in west Houston to network and share stories of the frozen north. Despite some long commutes and heavy rain, Alumni Chapter Leaders Cory ’98 and Angela Hammond ’00 welcomed guests with appetizers and beverages as they discussed more potential . . . [ Full Story ]


Pavers! Get your pavers here!

In the previous edition of TechAlum (3/11/14) we shared news of the Alumni Way paver project.  If you missed it, here’s a quick recap:

The pavers will surround the new Husky statue which will be located near the center of campus.   The Alumni Association is making the pavers available to alumni and friends who want . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Profile

Amy Trahey ’94


Michigan Tech is known as a very successful engineering university. It is also known for its male-dominated population. Despite the fact that women are a minority on Tech’s campus, it is clear that they, like men, can find success, even in the field of engineering. Amy Trahey, a 1994 civil engineering graduate of Michigan Tech . . . [ Full Story ]

Tech Sports


Michigan Tech Staffer Travels to Paralympics in Sochi with USA Sled Hockey Team

Two weeks after closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Russia, a Michigan Tech Athletic Department staff member is in Sochi going for gold. Joel Isaacson is with Team USA’s Sled Hockey squad competing at the Paralympics, an international competition for the physically disabled held immediately following the Winter Olympics every four years. Isaacson, who has . . . [ Full Story ]


Copley Signs Contract with NHL’s Capitals

Pheonix Copley, goaltender for the Michigan Tech hockey team, will forego his final two seasons of eligibility it was announced today by Huskies’ coach Mel Pearson. The North Pole, Alaska, native has signed a contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Copley finished his sophomore season with a 10-13-6 record, a 2.51 goals against average and . . . [ Full Story ]


Armga Named to All-Midwest First Team

Michigan Tech senior guard Austin Armga was named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches NCAA Division II All-Midwest District First Team. Armga was one of 88 student-athletes honored. The native of Waupun, Wis., scored 736 points this season, seven shy of the school record held by Ali Haidar (743) from last season. He also . . . [ Full Story ]

Fill in the Blanks

From the Email Bag

sled dog.

Getting Engaged at Carnival?

Hi Dennis,
My fiance and I got engaged while up in Houghton for Winter Carnival this year and I know it is a popular time for Huskies to get engaged. It might be cool to see how many alumni get engaged during carnival and I figure you are in the best place to figure . . . [ Full Story ]

downtown houghton

Tony’s Sports Bar

Reading Jerry Wojack’s question (from the ‘Aerial Photos’ item in ‘From the Email Bag’) about Tony’s Sports Bar I thought that the attached photo, despite it NOT being an ‘Aerial Photo’, would be of interest to him as well as many others. Note that it was taken in May, 1969, from what was . . . [ Full Story ]

Missing Tech and the Snow

I appreciate all the hard work that you put into keeping us Alumni informed about MTU. I have lived in the Deep South for most of the time since graduation and I frequently go through periods of nostalgia where I miss Tech (and even the snow). Thanks for bringing us a taste of the UP . . . [ Full Story ]


The Houghton Railroad Depot

I made 3 trips with 2 return trips to and from the depot. All started in Ontonagon with a ride in a “limo” with 4- 6 other young fellows. This was the selective service system in action. These train rides usually took 12-14hours to reach Milwaukee. Large amounts of a certain chemical was consumed on . . . [ Full Story ]

Ironwood Daily Globe, 1996.

Wesley House

Hi Dennis,
I found an article from the Ironwood Daily Globe in 1996 that refreshed my memory. The article on the page about commencement mentions the Wesley House being acquired by MTU and being renovated and renamed into the Harold Meese Center. Attaching the article. I think mapquest today says the street was East . . . [ Full Story ]


1975 NCAA Champs

Considering the 1975 NCAA championship, I didn’t get to go. But, Karl Stuebenvoll (1976) and I climbed Mt. Ripley with jugs of purple dyed water and a garden sprayer and sprayed a huge “Tech is No. 1” on the slope facing campus the night of the championship. We spent hours up there in the night. . . . [ Full Story ]

More on Misery Bay

Back in the early 60′s, a number of us, including Bill Redig, Tony Heibel and I – Mining and Geology majors – in late April and early May would go out the Agate Beach Road, not to hunt agates, but to steelhead on the Elm River. We usually did pretty well there – . . . [ Full Story ]

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge team getting ready.

Snowmobile Team Recalled (One Member)

Hi Dennis!
The young man third from the left in the back row of this photo is my husband Travis Turner (’07 ME). We dated at tech including during his time on the Clean Snowmobile Team and he spent many hours welding on chassis and preparing for competitions! I’ve copied him on this email in . . . [ Full Story ]


About the ’81 NCAAs

I just got around to opening the newsletter and was pleasantly surprised to see the link to the video from the Consolation Game in 1981. As a pep band member from 1977-1982 I remember that game like it was only 32 years ago . Reading the comments about the “UP Fan Spirit” during . . . [ Full Story ]

Featured Alumni Benefits

license plate

Show Your Pride!

Order your Michigan Tech license plate today.

When you purchase a Michigan Tech license plate, not only do you show your Husky Pride, but you also support programs for alumni and students.  For an additional fee, your Michigan Tech plate can be personalized.

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

Whether you purchase a regular plate or collector plate, a portion of the purchase fee is given to the university.

To order visit:

Around the Keweenaw

Job Opportunities