November 17, 2015, Vol. 22, No. 6

Looking to the Horizon

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It was very clear on Sunday night.

I had just gotten back into town right as the sun was setting, and it was one of those nights where you could faintly see the Milky Way through the Deneb part of the Summer Triangle, even with the city lights in Hancock doing their orange-hued thing. I got an email—a few, actually—mentioning that there would be a peace march from Walker Hall to the Houghton County Courthouse that evening. I’ll come back to this.

You may or may not have heard, but just as the situation at the University of Missouri, we had an incident of a threat related to race via social media. The suspect was arraigned yesterday morning. The situation is ongoing, and the peace march was in response to the pending arraignment. It was well-attended, and I was proud to see such a mix of faculty, students, staff, and community members.

At literally the same time this situation was unfolding last week, our science writer Allison Mills was hosting a live Twitter session with two researchers looking at the changing demographics in hunting and fishing. You see, in Michigan, the number of people doing either of those activities has been falling. The concern comes from the fact that the DNR gets a good chunk of their funding that way. I don’t hunt or fish, but I do value our state parks, so this is a very important development. I know the opinions on these activities out there are varied and strong—I have my own opinions, too—and having a venue for this dialogue was tremendous.

For better and worse, this past week reminds me of the power of social media. It is a place where we can come together and interact independently of geography in ways not possible at any other time in our history. And while we’ve witnessed some of the ugliness that online anonymity can bring, it’s also a reminder that we can overcome big issues by putting our minds together: socially, politically, and scientifically.

Walking back home to Hancock from the march, I ducked out of the lights on Quincy Street and onto the green of the old school in Hancock. The Pleiades were up in the east, the Hyades right behind them. Below that would be Orion and the faithful Sirius. The crescent moon was setting over the hills to the southwest. Sights that every human in history has shared: everyone who has ever lived looks up at those same stars and planets and galaxies.

Just as we all do now. It is our common birthright, just as it is to live in freedom and security, to be ourselves, and to work for a better world and community. Every person in that march on Sunday—and every person who didn’t—can look up the same way, sharing this wonder all around us that we have in common. We can all also look ahead,  forward to those things we share, too. Above is a sky that belongs to us all, and I’m heartened that we’re working on communities, institutions, and lives out to the horizon that we share as equals as well.


I was at the other end of the UP this past weekend, spending some time in St Ignace and the Soo. I got to go to a hockey game at LSSU, a preview of the Arizona State team Tech could face in a post-GLI tournament in January. They were fast and they were persistent, and it was very much a back-and-forth game. I got a puck, too. I should have caught it, but at least I knocked it down in front of myself. And didn’t break my hand. I happened to also be there at the same time our volleyball team was clinching their playoff spot—check out that story and more down in sports.

It’s a Tech tradition this week: students seeing how early they can go home for Thanksgiving. I have one student who gets out in the middle of Wednesday. I don’t remember being able to set up my schedule that well when I was an undergrad…

Check out the news section for a couple of cool research stories out this week. The one on Tarun Dam’s work published in Thyroid is pretty cool. Those of you with more of a science background will find it even cooler, I’m sure—I didn’t quite get all of the big words.

And finally:

Sad news reached us last week of the passing of Beth Blumhardt, a Houghton native who earned her BS in MSE from Tech. She went on and earned a Master’s degree from the Colorado School of Mines, and worked in Dearborn as a metallurgist at AK Steel.

She was 33.

Reading the obituary, she was an active, adventurous person—a reminder for all of us to go explore what’s possible. I wrote when Justin Fitch passed away that the reincarnation I believe in is the kind where our best traits are carried on in others. For Justin, I’ll remember his dedication, his honesty, and his willingness to give as much as he could in every moment. For Beth, I see her photo—and this text mentions her beautiful smile—and I’ll remember that it’s our friendships, our connections, and our positivity that help to light up the world.

Thanks for reading.

At Tech


Thyroid Cancer Biomarker Assays May Show Inaccurate Readings

Protein biomarkers are used to test for cancer before and after surgeries to remove tumors. To test thyroid malignancy, many biomarkers are tested separately to confirm cancer. However, new research from Michigan Technological University shows that the detection tests that measure two major biomarkers to diagnose thyroid cancer may be inaccurate. The study recently came . . . [ Full Story ]


VP Les Cook Honored as a Pillar of his Profession

Les Cook, vice president for student affairs and advancement at Michigan Technological University, has been named one of the NASPA Foundation’s 2016 Pillars of the Profession.  

NASPA is the leading professional organization for student affairs administrators in higher education.  Each year, the NASPA Foundation recognizes individuals who have earned professional distinction in higher education, . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Around the World


Out and About in the Twin Cities

Alumni & friends from the Twin Cities Alumni Chapters spent an evening out on the town.  The group stopped at the Great Waters Brewing company for a social then headed to the Fitzgerald Theater where Minnesota Public Radio Talking Volumes host Kerri Miller and author Stacy Schiff talk about her book The Witches. Proceeds from . . . [ Full Story ]

Huntsville Hockey

Alumni and friends of all ages gathered in Huntsville Alabama on Saturday, November 7th. For alumnus Gary Lundin ’56 this was his first Husky Hockey game since he left campus! The group enjoyed a pasty dinner imported from the Keweenaw and then cheered on our Huskies to a victory. Many thanks to Ed . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Profile

Jerry P. Jason ’92


EchoStar Corporation (NASDAQ: SATS), a leading global satellite services provider and developer of hybrid video delivery technologies, today announced that former NASA Flight Director Jerry Jason has joined EchoStar Satellite Services, L.L.C. (ESS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corp., as vice president, spacecraft operations and engineering. Jason will be responsible for all flight operations, engineering . . . [ Full Story ]

Tech Sports

Fill in the Blanks


Earliest Snow

This time last year we were digging through quite a bit of snow. Today it’s cloudy and in the 50s. If you’ve been here in the fall, you know Thanksgiving travel is always a roll of the dice. What’s the earliest snow you remember? How about that first time of the year it was hard . . . [ Full Story ]


Hunting Season

One of the biggest culture shocks for me moving up here was hunting season. The clerk at the gas station asked me if I was feeling under the weather on 15.November, 2007. I wasn’t buying meds or anything. No, it’s that it was opening day and I was in town.

Now, for me, opening day . . . [ Full Story ]

From the Email Bag

A Calculating Costume

1976… I dressed up as a Texas Instrument 51 (TI 51) calculator. Don’t have picture, but I painted a rectangular box black, added function keys, and fabricated an adaptor with foil-wrapped prongs and a cord attached to the calculator. I labeled myself as ‘Tech’s Instrument’. Ironically, I went to MTU on probation for my math . . . [ Full Story ]

Featured Alumni Benefits


Support Your Future Alumni

You can help the next generation of Huskies receive a Michigan Tech education.

Simply get a free quote on Liberty Mutual Auto, Home, or Renters Insurance between September 1, 2015 and November 30, 2015, and we will donate five dollars to the Traditions of Giving Scholarship Fund.1

You, too, can benefit! Liberty Mutual has partnered with your alumni association to provide you exclusive savings up to 7.96 on quality insurance coverage2. We offer benefits such as:

  • Accident and Loss Forgiveness, if you qualify
  • Better Car Replacement
  • Multi-Policy Discount2

Visit Liberty Mutual or call 855-323-2150 for a free, no-obligation quote and we’ll contribute to your school’s scholarship fund.

After reviewing several alternatives, I contacted Liberty Mutual through MTU’s Alumni Benefit program. The local sales agent, Tim, was awesome to work with and I ended up switching all of my automobile and homeowners insurance over from State Farm. My homeowners insurance was roughly 0 less expensive per year and the auto insurance was almost cut in half, saving me almost 00 annually! I recently added my 16 year old daughter to the policy, and the increase was minimal compared to others with similar circumstances. I’ve passed along this information to a few others and they too have experienced significant savings! I highly recommend checking out this great benefit! –Bob ’91

1 No purchase of a policy is required. Limit one quote per policy type per person. Not available to residents in in CT, FL, IA, MA, ME, MO, ND, NM, or PA; or to existing Liberty Mutual Insurance customers.
2 Discounts and savings are available where state laws and regulations allow, and may vary by state. To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten; not all applicants may qualify. Figure reflects average national savings for customers who switched to Liberty Mutual’s group auto and home program. Based on data collected between 9/1/2012 and 8/31/2013. Individual premiums and savings will vary.Coverage provided and underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and its affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA. © 2015 Liberty Mutual Insurance

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