Leading the Pack: Caden Sumner

Problem: Scheduling learning center appointments. Solution: Apply education; develop online scheduling program.

Maybe you've heard the claim that Michigan Tech students are crazy smart. In case you needed proof, meet Caden Sumner, a third-year who is double majoring in computer science and psychology. He’s also a coach at the Michigan Tech Multiliteracies Center (MTMC) and leader of the Human Interface Design Enterprise (HIDE) programming team that developed Timeslot.

Timeslot enables students to schedule appointments in campus learning centers from their mobile devices and computers, instead of having to sign up in person. A combination of factors inspired Sumner to develop the program: his interest in psychology, his first (intimidating) impression in a learning center, his experiences as a coach in the MTMC, and encouragement from his boss and MTMC Assistant Director Bill De Herder.

Read the full story on mtu.edu/news.

When Will Fish Consumption Advisories No Longer Be Needed in the Great Lakes?

Mercury, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) make their way into Great Lakes fish. Chronic exposure is a problem for Indigenous communities. 

Not many people think about fish consumption advisories. If they do, it's a quick glance at a map, a sobering reminder that invisible pollutants are still among us, a sideways look at a can of tuna, and then move on.

But not all people have the luxury of occasionally eating smoked fish at a tourist stop and not considering contaminants in their food. Especially for fish-reliant tribal communities around the Great Lakes, fish consumption advisories are tied to present and future balancing acts around food choice. Eliminating the need for fish consumption advisories requires coordinated action at regional, national and international scales.

Read the full story on mtu.edu/news.

Blue Cross Online Visits

Benefit Services reminds you about the Blue Cross Online Visits Program. The Blue Cross Online Visits Program provides you and your family access to online medical and behavioral health services anywhere in the US. 
Using Blue Cross Online Visits, you and your covered family members will have access to a doctor for minor illnesses, such as a cold, flu, sore throat and sinus or respiratory infections, when your primary care doctor isn't available. You also have access to behavioral health clinicians or psychiatrists to help work through challenges such as anxiety, depression and grief.
When your doctor isn't available, you can use your smartphone, tablet or computer to access a US board-certified, state-licensed doctor.
Visit the Benefit Services website for more information on Blue Cross Online Visits. Email Benefit Services or call 7-2517 if you have any questions.

Google Drive App Retiring - New Ways to Access Drive Available

On Monday (March 12), Google will retire the original Google Drive application used on MacOS/Windows. Google Drive will still be accessible at https://drive.google.com. Google now has two new products for accessing Google Drive from your Windows or Mac computers—Google Backup and Sync, and Google Drive File Stream.  
Google Drive File Stream: This acts like Multidrive and mounts your Google Drive on your workstation as a network drive. Filestream can be found in the Software Center on Windows machines or in Casper Self-Service on MacOS.
Google Backup and Sync: Recommended for off-domain or personal machines. It lets you sync your Google drive to your local computer and backs up your files to Google's unlimited storage space. MacOS machines with Casper Self-Service can find it there, otherwise it's downloadable directly from Google.
On Monday, Information Technology hopes to automatically upgrade on-domain customers who are using the original Google Drive application to Google Drive Filestream.
Michigan Tech IT is happy to assist you with installing the software on your Michigan Tech devices. Contact us at it-help@mtu.edu or call 7-1111.

Card System Maintenance on Monday, March 12

From 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday (March 12), maintenance is scheduled for the CS Gold System. This lengthy maintenance window is scheduled during Spring Break in order to minimize impact on the campus community.  

During this time, CS Gold access readers, programmable locks, meal readers and gate readers will work in their offline mode. Offline mode means the reader remembers users that should have access and will remember the schedule. After the outage, transactions will be uploaded back into CS Gold.
The following services will be unavailable during this maintenance window:
  • cardservices.mtu.edu web site
  • Mobile Readers 
  • Vending Readers 
  • Micros Transactions against CS Gold - (Micros will continue to work)
  • Husky Print (color)
You can always check our status page to get an update on this effort.
If you are having difficulty gaining access to a locked door, contact the Facilities Management Emergency Line at 7-0001.
If you have any other questions regarding this, contact IT at it-help@mtu.edu or call 7-1111.

Houghton Middle School Eco-Challenge Looking for Help

Houghton middle-school science teacher Sarah Geborkoff, a Michigan Tech alumna and recent inductee into the Michigan Tech Academy of Educators, is turning to the community to help her middle school Eco-Challenge team. The Houghton Middle School team, coached by Geborkoff, is currently collaborating with a student team from Veracruz, Mexico. 

Alex Mayer (CEE) was instrumental in facilitating this collaboration. His research and connections with educators in Veracruz made it possible to exchange experiences and information regarding land and water quality with students from this community. The student groups will continue their correspondence in the coming months. 

Topics discussed between the student groups include land and soil quality issues, what is being learned in the respective schools about these topics and what members of each community are doing to spread awareness and address these issues. The team will write an article that will be included in the Spring 2018 edition of the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA) Journal. 

The team has also continued with grass and soil experimentation, with a focus on comparing the performance of various nonnative perennial grasses used by the Michigan Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) in its roadside rehabilitation projects to that of (native) big bluestem. 

The team will go to the Ishpeming MDOT office to present its results, and has also been asked to share the project in Lansing with the Natural Resources Commission.

If you want to help, take a moment to visit the team's website. As part of their Final Challenge, the team needs to share their project and get as many hits on their website as possible.

Auxiliary Services Customer Appreciation Day

Auxiliary Services invites you to our annual Customer Appreciation Day event which will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday (March 14) in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

And the Oscar goes to ... our award winning customers. Join us on the red carpet for an afternoon of playing games, winning prizes and enjoying some yummy treats. There will be drawings for great prizes, including a big-screen TV, a tablet, a cookbook, a fun movie night basket and more.

The Campus Bookstore, University Images, Dining Services, The Memorial Union, Michigan Tech Ticketing, Mont Ripley, the Office of Continuous Improvement, Portage Lake Golf Course, Public Safety and Police Services, and Rozsa Center Rentals thank you for your patronage this past year.

Michigan Tech Archives Open Tomorrow for Second Saturday

From noon to 5 p.m tomorrow (March 10), the reading room in the Michigan Tech Archives will be open to the public for Second Saturday.

The Archives will offer the full range of its research support services and genealogy assistance during Second Saturday hours. The next Second Saturday the reading room will be open is April 14.

For more information about Second Saturday, email Michigan Tech Archives or call 7-2505. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @mtuarchives.

Celebrate Diversity and the UP Environment

The speakers and events have been announced for "Celebrate Diversity and the UP Environment" March 22-24 on the Michigan Tech campus. The event kicks off Thursday, March 22, with the presentation, "The Path of Convergence-Navigating the Adventure Gap Through Mission Synergy," by author James Mills. It will take place at 4 p.m. March 22 in Dow 642. A reception will follow the talk.

The remainder of the schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 23

  • Roundtable discussion with James Mills and students. Noon to 1 p.m. Forestry 144
  • "The Adventure Gap" by James Mills. Discussion of his book and work. 6 to 7 p.m. GLRC 202
  • Film screening, "An American Ascent," 7 p.m. GLRC 202. Discussion and book signing with producer James Mills, follows the screening.

Saturday, March 24

  • "Black and Brown Faces in America's Wild Places" presentation by author Dudley Edmonson. Noon to 1:30 p.m. GLRC 202.

For more information: email Joan Chadde, director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach.

Cosponsors: Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC), Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK), Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan Tech Visiting Women & Minorities Lecture Series, Michigan Tech Departments of Social Sciences and Civil & Environmental Engineering, School of Forest Resources & Environmental Sciences, Great Lakes Research Center and Outdoor Adventure Program.

Women's Basketball Opens NCAA Tournament Run Tonight

The Michigan Tech Women's Basketball will make its 19th NCAA National Tournament appearance tonight when they talk on Grand Valley State in the nightcap of Midwest Regional quarter finals from Ashland, Ohio. 

Tech, the No. 4 seed in the Regional, takes on the No. 5 seeded Lakers, coached by former Michigan Tech assistant Mike Williams. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. This is the third meeting between the teams this season. On Dec. 7, the Huskies won 85-81 in overtime at Grand Valley and recorded a 68-61 victory at home on Feb. 1.

The winner will take on the winner of Hillsdale and host and No. 1 seed Ashland at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles are 31-0 and the defending national champions. 

The game can be heard on local radio on 93.5 FM. and live streamed on pasty.net. The game will be video streamed and live stats are available here


ICC Distinguished Lecturer Series Today

The Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) will host James Keller from 3 to 4 p.m. today (March 9) in Rekhi 214.

Keller will present a lecture titled "Recognition Technology: Lotfi’s Look to the Future From the Late 1990s." Keller holds the University of Missouri Curators’ Distinguished Professorship in the electrical and computer engineering and computer science departments on the Columbia campus. His research interests center on computational intelligence: fuzzy set theory and fuzzy logic, neural networks, evolutionary computatation and more.

A full bio and abstract can be found online. Refreshments will be served.


Chemistry Seminar Today

Leila Hawkins, from the department of chemistry at Harvey Mudd College, will present "Maillard-like Chemistry in Atmospheric Water as a Source of Absorbing Organic Aerosol," at 3 p.m. today (March 9) in Chem Sci 101.

The presentation will discuss how the interaction of sunlight with atmospheric organic aerosol presents a challenge for the climate modeling community.

Hawkins' research is focused on the direct and indirect effects of aerosols on global climate, aerosol-cloud interactions and more.


Nominations Close Today for Percy Julian Award

As you consider nominations for the Student Leadership Awards, consider the Percy Julian Award. Nominations close at 5 p.m. today (March 9).

Among other qualifications, this award looks for an undergraduate student who displays outstanding leadership accomplishments which promote diversity, social equality or racial/ethnic and cultural understanding at Michigan Tech.

Check out all the student leadership awards here.


C-Cubed Luncheon Today

C-Cubed luncheon takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today (March 9) in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge. All faculty and staff, along with their guests, are invited. The buffet lunch is $10 per person. Cash, credit cards and C-Cubed gift certificates (available in the Memorial Union office) are accepted. Find more information and share C-Cubed feedback online. To join the C-Cubed Google Group and receive weekly menus, email lharry@mtu.edu.

Today's menu: 

  • Lemon Parmesan Cod 
  • Roasted Vegetables (GF, VE)
  • Greek Salad Bar (V) 

V-Vegetarian, VE-Vegan, Vegetarian, GF-Gluten Free


North Coast Grill and Deli to Feature Pho

Today (March 9) at the North Coast Grill and Deli, Dining Services is featuring pho from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Try a bowl of authentic Vietnamese pho and build your own with fresh ingredients, choice of protein and choice of rice, soba or ramen noodles over a warm chicken or vegetable broth.


Indigenous Historian and Activist Nick Estes Coming to Michigan Tech

Nick Estes, historian and indigenous rights activist from the Oceti Sakowin (The Great Sioux Nation), will speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge. Estes is co-founder of The Red Nation, a coalition of Native and non-Native activists, educators, students and community organizers advocating Native liberation and is currently an American Democracy Fellow at Harvard University.

The title of his talk is "Resistance Beyond Party Politics: From Standing Rock, to Black Lives Matter, to Palestine."


Book Donations Wanted for Quiz Bowl Club

The Quiz Bowl club is in need of gently-used books to give as prizes at two upcoming events. Michigan Tech Quiz Bowl partners with the Center for Pre-College Outreach to put on two high school tournaments per year for local students. The club also hosts and competes in a collegiate tournament, which will take place March 24.

If you have books in good condition that you would like to donate, contact Quiz Bowl Club Advisor Liz Fujita (7-1161). Preferred subjects include recent popular fiction, classics, science, history and biography.

Dean's Teaching Showcase: Ruihong Zhang

This week, College of Sciences and Arts Dean Bruce Seely recognizes Ruihong Zhang, lecturer in Computer Science for more than 13 years, as the newest member of the Deans’ Teaching Showcase. Seely selected Zhang for her role in delivering foundational CS courses while enrollment has increased dramatically.

Asked to discuss her approach to teaching, Zhang says she finds herself balancing four pairs of ideas: her teaching goals vs. student learning goals; what she wants to teach vs. what students want to learn; her teaching style vs. student learning styles; and self-evaluation of teaching vs. student evaluations.

Zhang recently offered three foundational courses for CS majors: Data Structures, Databases and Introduction to Programming. None are easy. With its focus on different algorithms for structuring data, for example, Data Structures challenges students.

“During class, I constantly ask motivational questions, encouraging students to have short discussions with each other before presenting answers,” Zhang says.

The goal is to promote student engagement. Databases are equally essential, but this class is more practical and requires attention to detail. She relies upon lab sessions, not lectures, to “help students troubleshoot problems. They like these sessions and feel they learn a lot in one class period.”

Growing enrollment and larger class sections over the past three years have created serious teaching challenges, but Zhang has adapted in several ways. First, she begins the semester by asking students to introduce themselves and find a team partner. This enhances small-group work and short discussions. In each session, “I ask three to five interesting, but not too difficult, questions for students to approach as a team.”

After a few minutes, depending upon the problem, “I go over the answers or ask for responses from the teams. Many students actively participate and feel no pressure about giving wrong answers in front of the class.”

Zhang also has cut back on detailed PowerPoints, asking students to take their own notes. “Research shows that writing notes with paper and pencils helps people to retain knowledge.” Coincidentally, students must set aside electronic distractions to follow the discussion.

Because students will not always ask questions in large classes, Zhang holds extra office hours and evening study sessions led by herself, student mentors or teaching assistants. “This semester we offered four weekly study sessions for Data Structures, led by mentors from the Computer Science Department’s new Student Academic Mentor (SAMs) program.”

Finally, Zhang is aware that different students have different skills and learning approaches and considers these when designing homework problems. “The problems have different levels of difficulty. I strive to use real life problems whenever it is appropriate. I often include challenging problems with extra points for students willing to study and work more after class."

In summary, Seely indicates “This is the picture of a committed teacher constantly adjusting to changing conditions in her classes. The idea of balancing the potentially competing factors she identifies seems to be serving Ruihong’s students well.”

Zhang will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer, recognizing introductory or large-class teaching, innovative or outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

New Funding

Kristen Schmitt (SFRES / ESC) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $261,682 contract from the US Department of Agriculture - US Forest Service, Northern Research Station. The project is titled "Adapting Forest Watersheds to Ecosystem and Climate Stressors." This is a 1.5 year project.


Kellie Raffaelli (Center for Diversity and Inclusion/Center for Leadership and Innovation for Transformation) is the principal investigator on a project that has received an $88,105 grant from the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development. Lorelle Meadows (Pavlis Honors College / LIFT) is Co-PI for "Michigan Tech MiCUP Scholars Program." This is the first year of a six-year project.