Michigan Tech Magazine Spring 2010 Cover

Poverty-stricken countries such as Haiti may not be able to implement building codes, nevertheless, small changes can still make a difference in how well nations in the developing world face natural disasters.

Preparing developing countries for natural disasters is a step towards preventing another catastrophe.

Peace Corps Program, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Preventing the Worst

by Dennis Walikainen '92/09

Poverty-stricken countries such as Haiti may not be able to implement building codes like those that enabled quake-hardened Chile endure far fewer casualties while weathering a much more powerful trembler. Nevertheless, small changes can still make a difference in how well nations in the developing world face natural disasters.

Bill Rose, a professor of petrology, has spent decades studying volcanoes in the developing world and seen many villages built on their slopes, in the shadow of annihilation. He soon realized that it's unrealistic for entire communities to pack up and move on the chance of an eruption a hundred years down the road. But, he reasoned, they needed to be prepared to save themselves if the worst were to become real.

Their plight prompted Rose to initiate what would become Michigan Tech's Peace Corps Master's International Program in Natural Hazards Mitigation. The three-year master's degree program includes a two-year field experience abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer. In addition to . . . 

Larry Lankton

Professor Larry Lankton has written four books about copper mining in the Keweenaw Peninsula, including his latest, Hollowed Ground.

Department of Social Sciences

The Chronicler

by John Gagnon

That legacy is a mother lode for Larry Lankton, a Michigan Tech professor of history. It has inspired his four books about the copper range, most recently Hollowed Ground: Copper Mining and Community Building on Lake Superior, 1840s to 1990s. Published by Wayne State University Press, it provides an historical overview of the entire Lake Superior copper district, with an emphasis on the three biggest mining companies: Quincy, Calumet & Hecla, and Copper Range, including the White Pine Mine.

The search for copper peopled the Keweenaw—a mineral rush that was among the nation's first, if not the first, preceding the California gold rush by several years. Beginning in the early 1840s, the opening up of the copper range was part of America's westward movement. Lankton calls the Keweenaw "a little node of settlement, isolated, and well beyond any frontier line."

"It was way up here," he says. "On the edge. This environment was particularly hard . . . 

Where We Are, Where We're Headed

by Marcia Goodrich

One hundred and twenty-five years after the state chartered the Michigan College of Mines, nearly everything is different. In 1885, four students studied mining engineering in the old Houghton Fire Hall. Now, over seven thousand students are enrolled in over a hundred degree programs on a nine-hundred-plus-acre main campus, and Michigan Tech is a $300 million enterprise.

The University faces a different set of challenges during its second 125 years, says Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz. Research is flourishing. The state of Michigan is shouldering less and less of the cost of public higher education. Student demographics have shifted. And technology has made it possible to earn a degree without ever sitting in a classroom. For a residential campus like Tech, that might bode ill, but Mroz thinks it's premature to draft an obituary for the traditional university.

Veteran ski patrol members, left to right, Scott Veenstra ’76, Dan Dalquist ’76, Kristin-Ann Beck ’02, Aaron Havel ’10, and Don Close ’74.

Mont Ripley's ski patrol has been operating since 1938.

Mont Ripley Ski Hill

Mont Ripley Ski Patrol

by Dennis Walikainen '92/09

Innumerable skiers have wiped out on Mont Ripley's vertical slopes, and since 1938 the ski patrol has been there to help them safely out of harm’s way.

"Thirty-one years in this business, and this patrol is the best I've ever seen," says ski hill manager Nick Sirdenis.

The tradition of excellence stems in part from the late Fred Lonsdorf, the longtime ski hill manager, ski coach, and member of the legendary 10th Mountain Division in World War II, when he befriended Charles "Minnie" Dole, founder of the National Ski Patrol. That connection with the National Ski Patrol helped Mont Ripley develop one of the finest patrols in the US.

Historical Fire Hall

The Fire Hall was constructed in 1883.

Keweenaw Digital Archives

From the Archives: Fire Hall Rises From the Ashes

by Erik Nordberg, University Archivist

It seems fitting that renovation has begun on the old fire hall in Houghton. After all, 2010 is Michigan Tech's quasquicentennial, and this is the building where it all started 125 years ago.

The building was constructed in 1883 as the headquarters for the Village of Houghton. The second floor housed the village offices, while the rest of the building was used for the town's fire department. Officially known as the Continental Fire Company, it was said to be one of the oldest volunteer fire companies in the Upper Peninsula. Its first firehouse, constructed in 1861, was near the site of the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.

At the time the "new" firehouse was built, the fire department consisted of a . . .