May 5, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 18

The Hours of Summer


It was a really easy drive this morning.

Driving in the Keweenaw is never really hard, unless you’re dodging potholes on Cliff Drive in May. That looks like a slalom ski event. But today is the first day when it’s really easy.

I live on the west side of Hancock, turning onto lower Lincoln as I make my groggy way to the office—I’m not a morning person. I’ve sat at the intersection of Lincoln and Michigan for 20 minutes in the last year, traffic being much heavier now that White Street in Hancock is one-way up.

This morning, I just pulled right out. Most of the students are gone. Traffic is almost negligible.

It’s also really odd here right now. It’s 4pm on Monday, and the hallways are all dark. Many staff members go on summer hours starting today, working earlier and leaving earlier.

It seems to be a time of transition for everyone. U-Hauls are loading up, Goodwill is getting a ton of donations, and now we turn over from college town to tourist town.

Now we take in the long days, these hours of summer.

I enjoy working commencement, and it was a great ceremony this past weekend. I wrote a little piece that’s down in the news section, so I won’t repeat all of that here. It’s turning the page for so many people, going out and starting careers.

Next week is the other end of that for me. My father is giving the commencement address at the Illinois College of Optometry, concluding a few decades of teaching and mentoring and guiding. The spring semester was the first time in 15 years I’ve had a term off, and it’s because of my father’s example and my mother’s encouragement—she was an English teacher—that I worked my way into higher education. I’ll head down that way, a nice moment to say thank you to both of them, with Mothers Day a few days before.

There’s a lot I admire about my parents, but there’s also a lot I admire in the other educators who have helped to shape my life. Names like Jumbeck and Scheman and Koenig in middle school and high school. Kocher and Holdstein and Brady and Johnson are just a few from my (admittedly long) college career. A word of advice or encouragement—or sometimes a kick in the pants—was very welcome.

I hope to maybe be remembered when I walk off stage for the last time, but it’s not something for educators alone. I helped a small bit with commencement rehearsal Friday afternoon, and I got to walk down the center aisle as the students filed in. There were so many of them, quite a few who I’ve known from my time here. They spoke of their mentors and guides, in the classroom or the office, on co-op or internship. What was universal was the appreciation.

Appreciation to people like all of you, who are out there, setting the example, guiding and mentoring and educating all the way.

Yes, us educators are lucky—we get to very directly see the influence we have. I see the tributes to my father coming through this week, and yeah, I’m damn proud of him. And I can only hope to do a fraction as well.

But everyone deserves this, for the way we influence others. Our students—now alumni—received the first recognition, the one at the beginning of their careers. Each and every one of you reading this should take pride, wherever you are in life, for the contributions and influence and help you’ve provided every day since.

Yes, we honored our graduates on Saturday. But we also honored our faculty and staff and supervisors and colleagues and especially families who helped make it all happen. For everyone, wherever or whenever, way to go on the difference you’ve made. Thank you so much for who you are. The roads are a bit quiet here today. Quiet enough to let us think of how we got where we are, the names and faces and helping hands along the way.

And great job, Dad. I’m so proud. You’re why I try to teach each lecture better than the last.

At Tech


Commencement 2015: What Has Been and What’s to Come

I had two main projects on my desk last week. The first consists of materials for Commencement—the program and script, media information, etc. The second was a proofreading pile for next fall’s Orientation. When they’ll get here and check in. Who will help them move in. An illusionist and orientation for siblings, a picnic to say farewell . . . [ Full Story ]


Listening Under the Ice

The watery world under winter’s ice is a mystery. It’s also a world full of sound. Now, as the days lengthen and the ice is retreating, researchers at Michigan Technological University are wrapping up their first winter season of underwater acoustic studies.

Learning more about acoustic properties underwater — and specifically under the ice — . . . [ Full Story ]


Engineering Students Win Air Force Research Lab University Design Challenge

It’s hot in the desert, where many American military men and women serve.  By designing a cooling apparatus to wear in such climates, one of Michigan Technological University’s Mechanical Engineering Senior Design teams may help countless suffering soldiers.

Their design won them first place in the Air Force Research Lab University Design Challenge.

The Michigan . . . [ Full Story ]


Graduating Veterans and their Guardian Angel

Ryan Dixon has a great deal to look forward to: after commencement, he’s off to medical school on a full-merit scholarship. But today he’s thinking back, along with graduating master’s students Brett Barker and Ben Bryant, to what makes Michigan Technological University such a welcoming place for military veterans.

He, Barker, and Bryant have all . . . [ Full Story ]


Michigan Tech Board of Control Adopts New Strategic Plan

At its regular meeting on Friday, May 1, Michigan Technological University’s Board of Control approved a new strategic plan and adopted several measures to support that plan.  The new plan is based on broad review and input from the campus community, including the University Senate, deans and University leadership.

It continues to focus on exceptional . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Around the World


West Michigan Pasty Prize Winner

 The West Michigan Chapter has a fun way to encourage folks to RSVP for alumni events. Everyone who pre-registers online for one of their events is entered in a drawing for a shipment of pasties from Pasty Central in Calumet. This year the winner is Dan Mahler ’97 who attended the West Michigan Pickled Egg . . . [ Full Story ]

Stop Bird–Window Collisions

Michigan Tech’s campus is positioned within a major migratory route for many bird species. This puts these birds at a high risk of window collisions. This project aims to not only gather more information about bird-window collisions but also prevent further collisions through artistic and aesthetic design solutions. See how you can help!

The Husky Bucket List

This is an excellent collection recently put together, a challenge for students to complete during their time here in Houghton. It seems fitting that we should see how many each of us alumni have completed. I’ll admit, since I was here for graduate school and a bit removed from some campus traditions, my count is . . . [ Full Story ]


Congrats, Tricia!

At the request of some of my fellow alumni and my dad (Charles Curmi) I wanted to send off the press release webpage for an award I was nominated and won recently in Canada: I am the inaugural recipient of the Women’s Infrastructure Network (WIN) Emerging Leader Award for my work in the Canadian construction market. . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Profile

Jeffrey J. Zeman ’97


Why did you choose Michigan Tech? From an early age I enjoyed time spent outdoors above all else. I very much wanted a career that allowed me to preserve and enhance our natural environment, together with maintaining (and spreading to others) the quality of life we’ve come to expect. At the same time, Michigan Tech . . . [ Full Story ]

Tech Sports


Ritchie and Stelzer Gain Spots on BCAM Honor Team

HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Tech basketball players Jillian Ritchie (De Pere, Wis.) and Ben Stelzer (Manintowoc, Wis.) both earned Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM) College Academic-Athletic Honor Team honors it was announced Thursday. Tech’s two athletes were among only 10 (five women and five men) selected from the entire state.

Each BCAM . . . [ Full Story ]

Fill in the Blanks


Summer Fun

The toys may change over the years, but the long summer days in the Keweenaw are probably a lot like you remember. This one here is from 1958. Did you stay here in the summer? What did you do?


It’s that Season! (Construction Season)

In addition to rolled-down windows, short-sleeves, and an end to Closed for the Season signs, summer in the UP means road construction. This year it’s the bridge, but next year will be very interesting: downtown Hancock will get a complete rebuild, from the bridge all the way through downtown.

This image shows something unique: Hancock’s . . . [ Full Story ]

From the Email Bag

Okay, One More Toots

It was interesting to note the variety of responses regarding “Toots.”

I first entered Tech in the mid 1960s. At that time the prevalent story was that when the school began training engineers, the locals figured they were train drivers and referred to the students as “Dem dere toots.” There was no mention of any . . . [ Full Story ]


Corvette, Corvette, Corvette, and, uh, Plymouth


Dave McLellan was chief engineer for Corvette from 1975 to 1992. He was succeeded in that capacity by Dave Hill (1992-2006). McLellan was a Yooper (Munising)but moved to Detroit at a young age. Hill got his BSME from MTU (1965). As I recall, the C4 Corvette was developed during McLellan’s reign, Hill directed the . . . [ Full Story ]

Take That, Slide Rules!

What was the cutting edge technology when you were in the classroom?

When I arrived at Tech from Canton, Ohio in the Fall 1970, the Marchant Electromechanical Calculators in the Forestry Dept. were the standard; and the “highest tech” that I had ever encountered.  As I recall, among the professors only Bob Sajdak had the . . . [ Full Story ]


A Photo from ’06. 1906.


This photo was in a set of photos that was mailed to me and I thought more people would like to see this bit of Copper Country history. Photo was taken in Houghton in 1906 showing copper being loaded onto the steamer Juniata.


Fred Uhlig 57

Remembering Mary C. Tidwell

Kevin, I spotted this obit in the Grand Rapids Press. Mrs. Tidwell was my instructor in freshman English, I believe. Her husband, Sam, also taught Accounting at MTU. Larry Doyle Class of 1964 Thanks for sending this, Larry. I’ve heard a great deal about the Tidwell’s from my time working on the SBE’s . . . [ Full Story ]

Featured Alumni Benefits

Michigan Tech Alumni Group Insurance Programs

As a Michigan Tech graduate, you qualify for a special group rate on many of your personal insurance needs. Visit for details

·         Auto, home, and renters insurance through Liberty Mutual.
·         Pet Health Insurance through ASPCA
·         Long Term Care Insurance – AlumniLTC®
·         Short-term health insurance - GradMed®
·         Travel Insurance through USI

These partner companies provide funds to the Michigan Tech Alumni Association as part of this collaboration. Agreements like this help support a wide range of programs and services for alumni and students.

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.