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Can Snowmobiles Adapt in the Age of Ethanol?
by Marcia Goodrich,
senior writer

Houghton January 5, 2010

By 2022, federal regulations will require a 400-percent increase in the amount of renewable fuel in America's gasoline, from 9 billion to 36 billion gallons.

Cars and trucks are being designed to run on these ethanol-rich fuels. But can a snowmobile?

"Now, the maximum amount of ethanol in most fuel is 10 percent, or E10," says Scott Miers, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics. "What if it goes to E15? How will that affect snowmobiling?"

For the owners of the 1.7 million snow machines registered in the US, it's a serious question. Miers will begin to answer it this winter. He will test snowmobile emissions and fuel economy on E15 fuel, both in the lab and on the trail. He will also study how well snowmobiles start at low temperatures on the higher-ethanol blend. "If you can't start in the cold, you can't snowmobile," Miers noted.

The research will be conducted in cooperation with the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, hosted annually by Michigan Tech and set for March 15-20.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a collegiate design competition of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Engineering students from participating schools take a stock snowmobile and reengineer it to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or boosting performance. In 2009, teams adapted their engines to run on flex-fuel, with varying ratios of ethanol and gasoline.

"This study is a great fit for the Challenge," said Jay Meldrum, who co-organizes the event as executive director of the Keweenaw Research Center. "The snowmobiling community is wondering what will happen if ethanol increases to E15 or E20."

The $69,000 project is funded in part by a $25,000 grant provided by the Bureau of Energy Systems, part of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. Gage Products of Ferndale is providing fuel, and Yamaha is donating a snowmobile. Emissions testing equipment will be provided by the Clean Snowmobile Challenge.

Coprincipal investigators on the project are Meldrum and Jason Blough, associate professor of mechanical engineering–engineering mechanics.


Tech Receives Kennedy Center Honors

VPA Plays Receive Kennedy Center/ACTF honor

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

The two one-act plays recently produced by the visual and performing arts department--"The Bald Soprano" and "The Lesson"--have been selected to be performed at the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. The Region III festival will be held at Saginaw Valley State University from Jan. 5 to 9.

The two Eugene Ionesco plays were evaluated along with all other plays entered since January of this year in the four-state region of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. They selected the most outstanding eight performances of the year to be presented at the January festival.

"It's immensely unusual for a school with the resources of Michigan Tech to be able to compete in the marketplace with the finest schools in the Midwest," said Roger Held, chair of VPA. "Region III is the largest of the eight KC/ACTF regions. To have a production selected for performance at the annual festival is very difficult, because the competition is intense."

Since the announcement early this month, the actors, designers, and crew members had to immediately go back into rehearsals, redesigning them to be moved to a 550-seat proscenium theatre at Saginaw Valley State.

In announcing the awards, the KC/ACTF selection committee cited director Patricia Helsel's creative interpretation of the Ionesco plays and her unique stylistic choices, as well as "outstanding production values and use of technology," particularly the play's use of projections, and its scenic, sound and lighting designs.

Forty students from Michigan Tech were already scheduled to attend the Region III festival in January to compete for awards in several categories, from acting to sound and costume design. They'll now be joined by the casts and crews of the plays, which will be fully staged in the new venue, with strict limits on the amount of time allowed for setting the stage and all the technical aspects of the play.

Helsel, assistant professor of theatre, joined Michigan Tech's faculty in 2006 and has directed several plays, including the spring 2009 musical, "The Robber Bridegroom." Set designer Brock Nummerdor, lighting designer Frank Sopjes, costume designers Simone Boicourt and Esther Chuah, sound designer David Nichols and stage manager Mike McKeller, plus the crew and eight of the nine actors, are Michigan Tech undergraduates.


MSU trustees give authorization to proceed with art museum construction
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Authorization to proceed with the construction of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum has been approved by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees at its Dec. 11 meeting.

The university will break ground on the museum on March 16, 2010. Eli Broad, who donated the naming gift for the project, and Zaha Hadid, the internationally known architect who designed the building, are expected to attend.

The groundbreaking will be followed by 23 months of construction and a 2012 museum opening.

In June 2007, philanthropist and MSU alumnus Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, donated $18.5 million toward the construction of the museum. They gave an additional $7.5 million to commission a signature sculpture and to provide funding for acquisitions, operations and endowment for a total gift of $26 million, the largest gift ever made to the university.

Hadid, a prize-winning architect from London, was selected as the winner of an international design competition for the Broad Art Museum in January 2008. Teams from Hadid’s firm worked with university representatives as well as local architectural and construction firms to complete the design and building plans.

For more information about the Broad Museum, visit
MTU Receives Funding For Forest Health

Houghton - December 12, 2009

New Funding - Andrew Storer (SFRES) has received $651,539 from the USDA Forest Service for a multiple-year project, "Forest Health Cooperative."

Yu Wang (MSE/IEM) has received $69,008 from the National Science Foundation for the first increment of a potential two-year, $207,008 project, "Computational Study for Optimizating Microstructures and Properties of Polymer-Matrix Magnetostrictive Composite Materials."



Former Husky Berger
Starts at Center for
NFL's Miami Dolphins

By Jennifer Donovaner Donovan

December 9, 2009

Former Michigan Tech football player Joe Berger started his first career game in the National Football League on Nov. 29. The Newaygo, Mich., native, who played for the Huskies from 2001-04, started at center for the Miami Dolphins in their game at the Buffalo Bills.

Berger was an All-American and Academic All-American in his time at Tech. The former Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2005. He was signed by the Dolphins from the Carolina practice squad prior to the 2005 season and spent a season and a half with in Miami before being claimed off waivers by the Dallas Cowboys in 2006. Following the 2008 season, Berger was re-signed by Miami to a multi-year contract as an unrestricted free agent.

Until the Nov. 29 game, Berger had spent his career as a backup on the offensive line. Because of an ankle injury to starting center Jake Grove, Berger got his chance to start.

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was quoted in a Miami Herald feature story on Berger that ran before the game as saying, “If Joe ends up starting in the game, and Jake doesn’t play, then I’m absolutely fine with that.”

“Joe’s ready to go, got a lot of work,” he said. “He’s a solid player, smart guy, going to get us lined up the right way, and I know exactly what Joe will do in the game. I think that that’s a good thing.”

The feature story on Berger from the Miami Herald can be found at the following link.


Michigan Technological University ( is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

Original URL:



Tech's Wallace Wins Fulbright Scholarship to Chile

December 10, 2009 

Charles Wallace, associate professor of computer science, has been named a Fulbright Scholar. He will spend six months teaching and conducting research at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica in Santiago, Chile.

The highly competitive Fulbright Program is the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the US government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the US and other countries.

Wallace's research interest is in software engineering, particularly the challenges of communicating about software.

The full story about the Fulbright winner is online.

Student-Athletes Collect Winter Hats and Gloves for Charity
 Michigan Tech Athletics is partnering with Houghton Rotary to collect winter hats, gloves and mittens to donate to local charities. At the next three home athletic events, members of Tech's Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) will have bins for people to make donations.

Those contributing items at an event will be entered into that day's drawing for a $50 gift certificate to University Images.

The items should be new or nearly and of all sizes, for children and adults.

SAAC president Beth Geerer, a member of the women's track and field team, is helping to coordinate the program. "We wanted to come up with a way for athletics to give back to the community," she said. "Having people donate winter hats, gloves and mittens seemed appropriate for our climate."

The dates and times for donations are below.

* Saturday, Dec. 5--basketball vs. Northwood (women's at 1 p.m., men's at 3 p.m.)

* Friday, Dec. 11--hockey vs. Minnesota, 7:07 p.m.

* Saturday, Dec. 12--Hockey vs. Minnesota, 7:07 p.m.



"Messiah" Will Put the Campus, Community in the Holiday Mood

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

On the night of the first full rehearsal of "Messiah," two student Concert Choir members and I fought the cold wind as we found the stage entrance of the Rozsa Center.

They were going to warm up their voices; I was going to warm up.

Seeing members of the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra (KSO) in their street clothes was a bit shocking, but when they ran through sections of Handel's "Messiah," they transported the few of us watching to another place. A good place.

The trumpets sang out high and true and were complemented by violins and then cellos to round out the bass.

"Since 1741, this music's never been out of vogue," new director Joel Neves told the performers. "Think about that when you hit that first note." The orchestra responded.

As they pursued perfection on another section, Neves talked about the "stop and pop," and if you listened closely, you could hear Handel's influence on modern music.

They sounded more polished as they proceeded, and, in one spot, to get them to better understand the music, he had them sing their parts. The orchestra became a sonic engine. "Now that's rhythm," Neves said, as the music enveloped the Rozsa.

One observer noted how young the musicians were, and when the Concert Choir joined them, it became a nice mix of hair, some grey, some long.

When both groups were assembled, Neves discussed his goal of the performance: "We want to breathe fresh air into it," he said, making sure it is not too heavy. When the soloists, and then the full choir, joined in, his lightness was achieved, but still possessed the power of the music. The harpsichord and organ helped.

"I know it's the holidays and finals are coming up, but I want us all to put everything we’ve got into this," he said.

Judging by this rehearsal, the KSO and Concert Choir are doing just that--taking on the masterpiece.

We asked Neves about the task of tackling this monumental piece.

"Whenever an orchestra and choir perform a masterwork on the scale of Handel's 'Messiah,' it is a massive undertaking," he said. "There's the choir, there's the orchestra, there's the collaboration with four vocal soloists, there's the addition of a harpsichordist and organist, there's the almost forty separate musical movements that need to be coordinated: it's a real party when this musical behemoth joins together on stage!"

He said that one of the challenges involves the choir and soloists rehearsing for several months, but with only three joint rehearsals before the concert. When they finally do get together, it can be "a real challenge to make a cohesive product."

"There needs to be really good communication and, most importantly, a sense of humor about it all," he said. "It's really a miracle that everything comes together so nicely at the concert. (Knock on wood!)"

And why did we choose to perform "Messiah" for this season?

"The KSO and Concert Choir have traditionally performed "Messiah" once every four or five years, and this production meets that expectation," Neves said. This way, it prevents overexposure, he added. "It needs to seem like a brand-new composition, something that is fresh and appealing, not a musical albatross forced upon everyone each Christmas season."

He noted that the main reason why the KSO ("and every other community and professional orchestra in the western hemisphere") performs "Messiah" so frequently is, the quality of the music "that seems to awaken the most elevated feelings in the human soul.

"How many compositions written 265 years ago can be hummed by virtually every person on the planet today? Will we still be talking about "Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band" or "Stairway to Heaven" or "I've Got Friends in Low Places" in the year 2274? I can't say. But I do know that Handel's canny compositional craft and spiritual sense makes his 'Messiah' one of those rare experiences where an audience member walks away both emotionally charged and spiritually enlightened."

"Messiah" will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, in the Rozsa Center.


MTU Blanket

Buy Your Michigan Tech Blanket Now!

Order the Michigan Tech blanket as a unique gift for friends, students, and alumni. Images of our rich architectural heritage, past and present, are woven in beautiful shades of blue. Wrap up in this warm and decorative memento of Michigan Tech!

The blanket

  • is a generous 4 feet by 5 feet.
  • is woven in the USA of 100% cotton (machine washable).
  • is adorned with images of buildings on campus, past and present.
Yours for only $65!

The blanket is a fund-raising project of the Friends of the Van Pelt Library, and all proceeds go to projects for Michigan Tech's J. Robert Van Pelt and Opie Library.

Order your blanket

Return to Friends of the Library Home Page

Return to J. Robert Van Pelt and Opie Library Home Page

Beckwith Honored with Gallery
at Central Michigan
by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor

Houghton - November 28, 2009

Mary Ann Beckwith, professor of art in the visual and performing arts department, has had an art gallery named in her honor, thanks to a donation of artwork from Arlee Tampas, a Central Michigan University alumna, and Pete Tampas, former faculty member in the School of Technology.

The Mary Ann Beckwith Gallery, in the new Education and Health Services building on the Central Michigan campus, is so named "because of all she has taught me and others about papers, artists, techniques," said Arlee. "And she shares her knowledge so freely with everyone in the community."

The gallery is actually located in a hallway, and that was on purpose, according to Arlee. "The windows along the 110-foot hallway give natural light and actually open up on a computer lab across the way, so even more people can enjoy the art," Arlee said. The gallery will focus on local and regional artists, including an exhibit of Beckwith's work, for all of spring semester 2010.

"It really struck me out of the blue, and I am extremely honored," Beckwith said. "I’ve never dreamed of this happening to me. It really goes along with my belief that art should be part of everyday life."

Kathy Koch, interim dean of the College of Education and Health Services, also appreciates the utilitarian display of artwork.

"Having the gallery in our new building is a perfect way to communicate with our students and the community at large that learning is more than what happens in the classroom," she said. "The gallery exhibitions expose students to new ways of thinking about the world around them, and we hope it will stimulate their own creativity as they prepare for future careers and becoming informed citizens."

The first exhibit, "Dream of a Landscape," features Jens Carstensen, whose work is heavily influenced by the Michigamme area of the UP, according to a news release from Central Michigan.

The staff in the education and health services is also pleased with the "casual and serendipitous gallery" and the artwork.

"The gallery helps soften the very industrial steel, glass, bamboo, and slate of the new building," said Anne Miller, coordinator of outreach and marketing for the college. "The south-facing windows lend themselves to a gallery, and we can fit some 25 or so paintings. We look at it as a platform for outreach, too. We would like to do an on-campus art walk, for example."

Miller was impressed with the talent of, and her talks with, Beckwith.

"She seems remarkable," Miller said. "She’s a true superstar."

Although the gallery opened this fall, the grand opening will be on Saturday, Mar. 20, so Beckwith can visit.

The Beckwith Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The venue is handicapped- accessible. For additional information, call 989-774-7528 visit .

MTU Physicist
Produces Digital Art
by John Gagnon, promotional writer

Houghton - November 28, 2009

We visited the Vertin Gallery in Calumet this week and discovered that Max Seel, a disciplined scientist and a structured administrator, has a fanciful side.

Seel takes pictures and manipulates them with design software. The results are engaging and comprise an exhibit, which runs through Dec. 2, at the gallery.

Picture this:

A pig with a soup can for a snout.

A Duesenberg with fenders like wings.

Martini glasses like so many bubbles in the air.

From flowers to casinos, these are what Seel calls "digital realities." "Take a piece of reality and make something different," he says. "Make a new world."

Seel committed to the show a year ago, when he stepped down as a dean and returned to the faculty and had more time to devote to the avocation. He enjoys this work but is uncomfortable with the attention. We prevailed on him to talk about it; he did so grudgingly.

Seel has been doing this work for about seven years. He starts with a simple camera and a snapshot. "You get nicer pictures if you buy a postcard," he says. Then he gives the pictures a heavy dose of whimsy. "See what happens," Seel says. "Sometimes it never works out and I just give up. Other times you see something working. Each result is almost unique."

He has no set schedule with this work. It's a rainy afternoon deal.

Where does this endeavor come from in a physicist?

"Oh, to be a good scientist, you need to be creative," he says. "You need to have ideas. You need to be playful, I think."

There’s no message with this business. "Absolutely not," he says.

He describes the process as a translation. "Take reality, translate it, make art of it. It becomes a different reality."

When it comes to translations, he's an old hand, for he likes to read them. He is schooled in his native German, as well as Latin, Greek, French and English. He can still recite Virgil's Aeneid in Latin, which he learned in his boarding school days.

An artistic bent is not new territory for Seel. He played cello in the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra for 20 years. Science and music go hand in hand, he says. They share "structure and creativity."

Seel also paints with oil. He describes that work as "mainly copying" and allows, "I'm not good enough and I don't have time enough." But he enjoys it. "You smell the mess. You smell the paints and the turpentine. It's very different from digital."

Making his digital compositions is diverting. "It takes your mind off everything else."

Artist, scientist, scholar, and musician: Are they the makings of a Renaissance man?

"I don’t think so," Seel says. "No. It’s just fun."



Artist Eydi Lampasona

to Visit MTU Campus

submitted by Visual and Performing Arts

Eydi Lampasona, an award-winning artist specializing in watermedia, papermaking and collage using natural and found objects, will present a Guest Artist Residency at Tech from Wednesday, Dec. 2, through Saturday, Dec. 5. She will present four two-hour lecture demonstrations titled, "Urban Archeology: Collage and Mixed Media," in the McArdle Theatre at 2 and 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 2, and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 3.

Her current work involves collage techniques such as altering, rusting, making opulent papers and investigating unusual assemblage materials, including found and salvaged objects and natural objects. Lampasona combines media as she applies layering, glazing, painting, texturing and other three-dimensional methods. "My goal is to unleash each student's creativity," Lampasona says. "Students from beginners to professionals enjoy learning news ways to experiment, creating works based on their life experiences, personal themes and goals."

Mary Ann Beckwith, professor of art and coordinator of the annual Guest Artist Residency, says "Eydi is an astonishingly gifted artist and teacher."

Lampasona is a signature member of the National Watercolor Society, National Collage Society, International Society of Experimental Artists and Society of Layerists in Multi-Media. Her work can be viewed at .

In addition to the free public lectures, Lampasona will present a two-day workshop for artists--limited to 20 persons--on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 4 and 5. Preregistration and a fee are required for the two-day session. Enroll by calling the Visual and Performing Arts Office at 487-2067 or by submitting the registration form at: . For more information, contact Beckwith at 487-3285.
State Moves Ahead with
Great Lakes Research Center
by Jennifer Donovan, director of public relations

Houghton - November 16, 2009

The Michigan Legislature's Joint Capital Outlay Committee meeting in Lansing Thursday authorized Michigan Tech to seek construction bids for its planned Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC).

The $25.3-million facility will be built on the waterfront adjacent to the campus. The state will pay 74 percent of the cost. The University's share is 26 percent or $6.58 million.

"As Michigan moves toward a blue-water economy, this Great Lakes Research Center will play a vital role in helping the state understand and use its freshwater resources," said President Glenn Mroz. "It is a strategic investment in the future, for the state and for the University."

The GLRC will include aquatic laboratories, a hydraulics lab, coastal research instrumentation, boathouse facilities, offices and conference rooms--all of it providing a home for interdisciplinary research and education related to the Great Lakes. It will also house a research and educational partnership between Michigan Tech and the US Army Corps of Engineers' Research and Development Center Environmental Laboratory in Vicksburg, Miss. The Vicksburg lab is the Corps of Engineers' water resources research facility.

At the GLRC, Michigan Tech and the Corps of Engineers will conduct cross-disciplinary research and education focusing on protection and restoration of the Great Lakes. Vicksburg scientists will work collaboratively with Michigan Tech researchers and students in both locations.

"We are appreciative of the strong, continuing support of Sen. Michael Prusi and Rep. Michael Lahti," said Dale Tahtinen, vice president for governmental affairs. "They played a significant role in making this happen."

The Board of Control will now be asked to authorize the seeking of construction bids for the 49,466-square-foot center, based on a schematic design already approved by the state. Groundbreaking could occur in spring 2010.

Rozsa Center Welcomes
Virtuoso Simon Shaheen
submitted by the Rozsa Center

The Rozsa Center presents the internationally-acclaimed and Grammy-nominated instrumentalist Simon Shaheen, at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18. Shaheen is one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers and composers of his generation. His work incorporates and reflects a legacy of Arabic music while it forges ahead to new frontiers, embracing many different styles in the process. Shaheen dazzles his listeners as he deftly leaps from traditional Arabic sounds to jazz and Western classical styles. His soaring technique, melodic ingenuity and unparalleled grace have earned him international acclaim as a virtuoso on the 'oud and violin.

A Palestinian born in the Israeli village of Tarshiha in the Galilee, Shaheen's childhood was steeped in music. His father, Hikmat Shaheen, was a professor of music and a master 'oud player. "Learning to play on the 'oud from my father was the most powerful influence in my musical life," Shaheen recalls. He began playing on the 'oud at the age of five and a year later was studying violin at the Conservatory for Western Classical Music in Jerusalem. "When I held and played these instruments, they felt like an extension of my arms."

Most recently, Shaheen has focused much of his energies on Qantara. The band, whose name means "arch" in Arabic, brings to life Shaheen's vision for the unbridled fusion of Arab, jazz, western classical and Latin American music--a perfect alchemy for music to transcend the boundaries of genre and geography. The group's release, "Blue Flame," earned eleven Grammy nominations and high accaim by the Los Angeles Times as "stunning" and "meticulously conceived."
While Qantara has been the focus of Shaheen's recent attention, he continues to lead the Near Eastern Music Ensemble which remains active performing more traditional concerts in museums and art centers and participates in Shaheen's Arab Music Retreat. This year, Shaheen directed the multi-faceted orchestral program Aswat (Voices)--Celebrating the Golden Age of Arab Music and Cinema, in association with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan.

A retrospective program of Shaheen's contemporary and traditional Arab music styles is offered in his most available North American touring format--a five-piece ensemble of master musicians. Shaheen also tours as a solo artist internationally and as a lecturer throughout the academic world promoting awareness of Arab music through numerous workshops and presentations.

This event is sponsored by the James and Margaret Black Endowment.

Ticket prices for the general public are $20 and $15; for Tech students $15 and $10 (student ID required).

To purchase tickets, contact the Rozsa Box Office at 487-3200, the Central Ticket Office at 487-2073, Tech Express at 487-3308 or visit .

No refunds, exchanges or late seating.  is a Michigan, Non-Profit Media Corporation


snail mail: P.O. Box 305 Ironwood, MI 49938