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techcentury V.20 I N.1  SPRING 2015


They’ve Seen The Future— And It’s One Big Wow


Unprecedented Back-to-Back National Future City Victories 14

ESD Names Robert Magee New Executive Director


Possible is everything. Today, more than ever, global competition and corporate streamlining require innovative thinking and leadership abilities. Continuing your education can be key to your success. From embedded software and energy engineering to sustainable architecture and biomedical engineering, Lawrence Technological University can prepare you for the careers of the future. Waive your application fee at

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Lawrence Technological University | Office of Admissions 21000 West Ten Mile Road, Southfield, MI 48075-1058 800.225.5588 | |

Our Future City team representing Michigan accomplished something never before done: won two national victories in a row! Read more on page 14





13 14

16 Technology and Lessons Learned by a 100-YearOld Michigan Company

22 MSU Engineering Dean, PhD Student Find Hits, Misses in Back to the Future II

17 Education for Future Engineers

24 They’ve Seen The Future— And It’s One Big Wow



19 It’s No Mr. Fusion, but Sefton Motor Uses Almost Anything for Fuel 20 Back to the Future—Education BY KEVIN HODUR


Cover illustration includes “Back to the Future” image, courtesy of Universal Studios.

26 The Science of Sitting: Engineering Next Generation Products for Human Design 28 ...And What about 2045? A Look Ahead

CROWDFUNDING for GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH Once common in Lake Superior, the coaster brook trout population is down, wiped out by excess fishing and habitat degradation. A notable, threatened population is in Marquette’s Salmon Trout River. Michigan Tech’s Casey Huckins is restoring this spawning site and saving this unique migratory fish—and training the next generation of scientists and educators. To gain support, Huckins turned to the power of the community and posted his project on Superior Ideas, Michigan Tech’s crowdfunding platform. Casey and his team have met their goal: raising $10,000, cleaning sand from coaster spawning areas, and providing students with internships to study the river and its ecosystem. The work continues.

• Total Funders: 17 • Funds Raised: $10,000 • Difference Made: Awareness, Experience, Restoration “Crowdfunding through Superior Ideas allowed us to add a critical enhancement to the restoration of the spawning site and provided proof of concept support for the approach to be used in future restoration projects.” —Casey Huckins, PhD superiorideas superiorideas company/superior-ideas

Michigan Technological University is an equal opportunity educational institution/equal opportunity employer, which includes providing equal opportunity for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. 34094/215

techcentury V.20 I N.1  SPRING 2015

20700 Civic Center Drive, Suite 450  •  Southfield, MI 48076 248–353–0735 • 248–353–0736 fax • •

Technology Century Editorial Board

CHAIR: Thomas M. Doran, PE, FESD, Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. (Retired) Nuha Alfahham Sandra Diorka, Delhi Charter Township Utpal Dutta, PhD, University of Detroit Mercy William A. Moylan, PhD, PMP, FESD, Eastern Michigan University Mark A. Nasr, Esq., Plunkett Cooney John G. Petty, FESD, General Dynamics (Retired) Filza H. Walters, Lawrence Technological University Lynley M. Weston, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Turner Construction Co. Yang Zhao, PhD, Wayne State University STAFF LIAISON: Matt Roush, The Engineering Society of Detroit

ESD Board of Directors

PRESIDENT: Kouhaila G. Hammer, CPA, Ghafari Associates, LLC

VICE PRESIDENT: Douglas E. Patton, FESD, DENSO International America, Inc.

TREASURER: Steven E. Kurmas, PE, FESD, DTE Energy

SECRETARY: Robert Magee, The Engineering Society of Detroit

IMM. PAST PRESIDENT: Terry J. Woychowski, American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings, Inc.

MEMBERS AT LARGE: Larry Alexander, Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau Katherine M. Banicki, FESD, Testing Engineers and Consultants Michael D. Bolon, FESD, General Dynamics Land Systems (Retired) Patrick J. Devlin, Michigan Building Trades Council Robert A. Ficano, JD Farshad Fotouhi, PhD, Wayne State University Malik Goodwin, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation Susan S. Hawkins, FESD, Detroit Medical Center Alex F. Ivanikiw, AIA, LEED AP, Barton Malow Company David C. Munson, Jr., PhD, FESD, University of Michigan Daniel E. Nicholson, General Motors Company Scott Penrod, Walbridge Yogendra N. Rahangdale, Whitehall Industries Charles T. Robinson, PE, LEED AP, Albert Kahn Associates, Inc. Kirk T. Steudle, PE, FESD, Michigan Department of Transportation Satish S. Udpa, PhD, FESD, Michigan State University William J. Vander Roest, PE, TRW Automotive Lewis N. Walker, PhD, PE, FESD, Lawrence Technological University Rich Wells, The Dow Chemical Company

Technology Century Staff

PUBLISHER: Robert Magee, Executive Director

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Nick Mason, Director of Operations

MANAGING EDITOR: Matt Roush, Director of Communications and Public Relations

GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Keith Cabrera-Nguyen

Technology Century (ISSN 1091-4153 USPS 155-460) is published four times per year by The Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD), 20700 Civic Center Drive, Suite 450, Southfield, MI 48076. Periodical postage paid at Southfield, MI, and at additional mailing offices. The authors, editors, and publisher will not accept any legal responsibility for any errors or omissions that may be made in this publication. The publisher makes no warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein. Advertisements in Technology Century for products, services, courses, and symposia are published with a caveat emptor (buyer beware) understanding. The authors, editors, and publisher do not imply endorsement of products, nor quality, validity or approval of the educational material offered by such advertisements. Subscriptions to Technology Century are available to nonmembers for $25 per year. ©2015 The Engineering Society of Detroit


NOTES Thomas M. Doran, PE, FESD Editorial Board Chair Retired, Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc.

“Back to the Future II” depicted flying cars, hoverboards, and rejuvenation clinics in the year 2015. How the film’s predictions panned out is the theme of this issue of Technology Century. Science fiction authors, filmmakers, and futurists have been predicting the future for a long time. Some have been pretty accurate, some have missed the mark by a mile, and some—like the blind squirrel—have found a nut or two. Some of the marvels in “Back to the Future II” are possible today, though not economically feasible for mass production, or practical from a risk standpoint. One thing for sure: since the film was released, scientific knowledge and technology have advanced dramatically, though technology is neutral unless it is applied intelligently and virtuously. In “Technology and a 100-Year-Old Michigan Company,” I’ve written about a Michigan company that combines the old (the wisdom that can proceed from experience, when history is valued) and the new (evolving technology and business practices). Happy centennial, HRC! We hope you enjoy this excursion “back to the future”. Feel free to share your thoughts, including interest in serving on ESD Editorial Board, with Matt Roush at , or with me at

WE’VE CHANGED OUR LOOK! Based on member feedback, we’ve refreshed our design and shortened our name to reflect the way many members refer to us: TechCentury. Let us know what you think! | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 3

ESD President Message

Welcome to the

Future! I

n case you hadn’t noticed, 2015 was that far-off year in the future to which Marty McFly (portrayed by Michael J. Fox) and Emmett “Doc” Brown (portrayed by Christopher Lloyd) traveled in the movies “Back To The Future” and “Back To The Future II.” So how does our 2015 compare with the future envisioned in those two movies, released in 1985 and 1989 respectively? That’s the focus of many of the articles in this issue of Technology Century. Somehow we missed out on flying cars traveling on freeways in the sky, and hoverboards that seem to work on magnetic repulsion to any surface, even water. (Anti-gravity, perhaps?) Not to mention the two-second pizza oven and the apparently hydroponic home fruit farm that pops down out of the kitchen ceiling. But in other ways this is an even better future than Hollywood envisioned. Our cars may not fly, but they’re more efficient, safe and fun to drive than ever before—and increasingly, they keep us safe with active technologies that may only be a short step to autonomy. The internet brings countless terabytes of useful information to our

4 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

fingertips—and, through smart phones, that information can come with us virtually everywhere we go. And when it comes to nutrition and health, we’ve learned a lot to extend human lifespan and vitality—we’ve added years to our lives and life to our years in countless ways, and the local food movement is bringing us fresh food more often without every home having to have a garden in the ceiling. And on the bright side, aside from very few documents, most of us no longer have to use a fax machine, and our big-screen TVs are bigger and brighter than anything in the movie. All in all, as one of our story subjects says in the pages ahead, our 2015 is a different, and maybe even better, “wow” than the 2015 in the movies. Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll see that Michigan kids are the nation’s best at inventing the future. Yes, the ESD Michigan Regional Future City Champions from St. John School in Rochester have done it again, winning the Future City National Championship for the second year in a row—a first-of-its-kind achievement! Congratulations to these students, their dedicated teacher and mentor, and their

parents and school for this unprecedented honor. We are very, very proud, to say the least, of their accomplishments. ESD also enjoyed a brisk Michigan winter by kicking off 2015 with “Welcome to the Future,” a member networking event at ESD’s historic home, the Rackham Building in midtown Detroit. We’re planning more events like this in the future to help you get the most out of your ESD membership by meeting both old friends and new colleagues, helping build your career. Finally, congratulations to Robert Magee, who removed the “interim” from his title as our new Executive Director. Robert is a veteran executive with a long track record of sales success in the telecommunications industry. His inspirational leadership will help ESD build on our 120 years of success, taking us into the next “tech century.” Sincerely,

Kouhaila G. Hammer, CPA ESD President President & CEO Ghafari Associates, LLC

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Members in the News degree in civil engineering, with a specialization in transportation, from Wayne State University, where she has taught advanced traffic signal systems courses. Todd Sneathen

Karyn Stickel

Colleen Hill-Stramsak

Todd Sneathen, PE has rejoined Hubbell, Roth & Clark Inc. (HRC) as a senior project engineer. He was most recently Director of Public Works for the city of East Lansing. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University. HRC also promoted Thomas LaCross, PE, and Robert DeFrain, PE, to Senior Associates; and Bradley Shepler, PE, CCCA, LEED AP BD+C, Karyn Stickel, PE, CFM, and Colleen Hill-Stramsak, PE, PTOE, to Associates. LaCrosse manages HRC’s special projects and industrial facilities design departments. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University.

DeFrain will continue to serve as HRC’s Construction Department Head. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Michigan State University. Shepler will continue to provide a wide array of civil engineering services to municipal clients and governmental agencies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Detroit Mercy and a master’s degree in civil engineering from Wayne State University. Stickel will head HRC’s new asset management department. She holds a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Michigan. Hill-Stramsak will continue to manage HRC’s Traffic Engineering Department. She holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s

A Tradition of Personal Service & Successful Projects

(248) 454-6300 6 | TechCentury | Spring 2015


TrusTed engineers, environmenTal scienTisTs, archiTecTs

Carla Sayan, a senior information systems engineer for Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz., received the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) 2014 Most Promising Engineer of the Year Award. Sayan received the award during the SHPE national conference, held in November in Detroit. The National Association of Women In Construction has elected its leadership for 2015: Re-elected was president Rita Brown, president of BCC+ and acting vice president of Marble Mechanical; re-elected vice president was Angelina Sacco, project manager at Jones Lang LaSalle at Beaumont Health System; treasurer Mashell Carissimi, CEO and owner of JMC Electrical Contractor LLC; and secretary Ronetta Audia, president of Audia Construction Inc. Elected directors were Paige E. Aubin, CEO of Paige Construction Solutions Inc. and Innovative Environmental Solutions & Services Inc.; Cheryl Bowlson, president and CEO of Cheryl Bowlson Consulting LLC; Catherine DeDecker, PS, vice president and marketing manager at Spalding DeDecker; Jackie Jackson, a supplier diversity manager for Walbridge; Cheryl Jordan, associate general counsel at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department; and Ednette Terry, executive assistant at IBI Group. Daifuku North America Holding Co., the Farmington Hills material handling technology provider, has promoted Aki Nishimura to president. Brian Stewart will continue to serve as chairman and CEO of the company. Nishimura is a graduate of Hiroshima Institute of Technology. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He has more than 25 years of experience in the material handling industry and has worked with Daifuku since 1987. In addition, Tim Hund was promoted to president of Daifuku America Corp. from vice president of its automotive factory automation division.

Lawrence Tech establishing ESD Student Chapter Lawrence Technological University has been turning out well-trained engineers and architects for the Michigan work force for more than 80 years. Now Lawrence Tech’s students are marching step for step with ESD into 2015 and beyond. More than 60 Lawrence Tech students signed up for a revitalized ESD student chapter at LTU’s Southfield campus at a meeting in late January. It’s part of ESD’s newly launched student chapter drive. “Part of the core mission of ESD is to foster the next generation of engineers,” ESD executive director Robert Magee said. “Toward that goal, we’re embarking on a campaign to establish student chapters at Michigan’s top 25 colleges and universities with engineering programs. ESD is proud to welcome Lawrence Technological University’s student chapter.” LTU’s ESD student chapter will foster networking and collaboration between engineers and students in related scientific and technical fields, from architecture to IT to the building trades. The chapter will provide opportunities for Lawrence Tech students to network with leaders in the STEM industries, and with other ESD student chapters now being established across Michigan. “Never underestimate the power of networking,” Magee said. Dr. James A. Mynderse, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Lawrence Tech, said the student chapter will be an important addition to the university. “As the faculty advisor, I see the chapter as an opportunity for students from a variety of engineering backgrounds to actively engage with industry leaders and increase their own value as a practicing engineer upon graduation.”


ESD Names Robert Magee Executive Director The Engineering Society of Detroit has named Robert Magee executive director. Magee was selected as interim executive vice president of ESD last August. He was named to the permanent post by a vote of the ESD Board of Directors in February. “This is a great time to help ESD maintain its leadership position in engineering and technology, and to help Michigan retain its position as the #1 state for engineering,” Magee said. “We will be sharply focused on providing valuable services to our members, and to promoting science and engineering careers to Michigan’s youth. We plan to build on successes like our middle school STEM program, Future City—where our Michigan champion, St. John Lutheran School of Rochester, is back-to-back national champion—with new initiatives like active student chapters at Michigan’s top engineering universities. ESD: all things engineering.” Magee is a veteran executive with 30 years of progressively greater responsibilities at AT&T Advertising Solutions. He worked for the telecommunications company as a general manager, regional vice president, Midwest sales vice president, and vice president of telephone sales, during a career that took him from his native Mississippi to positions in Dallas, Los Angeles, and finally, Detroit. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. “Robert Magee has proven capabilities in exceeding financial goals, motivating staff, and strong communications and negotiating skills,” said Kouhaila Hammer, president of the ESD Board of Directors. “His organizational skills will give ESD a strong foundation on which to build its next 120 years of member service and fostering the next generation of engineers and technical professionals. And his leadership skills will inspire both ESD’s dedicated volunteer base and skilled professional staff to even greater achievements.” | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 7

ESD Membership ESD’S LONGEST-SERVING MEMBERS Patrick R. Dwyer (73 years) William S. Logan III (73 years) Eugenia K. Bober (71 years) A. J. Hofweber (71 years) Kurt O. Tech (71 years) Henry B. Horldt, PE (68 years) Charles A. Reichling (68 years) Harvey Hohlfeldt (67 years) Victor J. Hurych (67 years) Bernard S. Quell (67 years) Richard R. Melcher, PE (66 years) Gordon H. Millar, PhD, PE, FESD (66 years) Eaton V. Kelly (65 years) John Harold Redfield (65 years) Roy P. Trowbridge, FESD (65 years) Raymond Okonski (64 years) Robert M. Okster, PE (64 years) Victor L. Kochajda (63 years) John Banicki, PE, FESD (62 years) Dugald Cameron, FESD (59 years) Daniel G. Crawford (59 years) Wendell J. George, PE (59 years)

Frank K. Yesh (58 years) Harold A. Ladouceur (57 years) Russell E. McLogan, PE (57 years) Irvin E. Poston, PE, FESD, FSPE (56 years) Richard A. Jerue (55 years) James G. Meenahan, PE, FESD (55 years) John H. Mieras (55 years) Cleon V. Newton, PE (55 years) Paul G. Hendrickson, PE (54 years) George Julian McKeel (53 years) William J. Hamel (52 years) Edward C. Levy, Jr. (52 years) Stanley K. Stynes, PhD, PE, FESD (52 years) Lawrence A. Swan, Jr. (52 years) Stanley A. Beattie, PE (51 years) William R. Boike (51 years) William H. Clement (51 years) Warren D. Gilbert, PE (51 years) Richard E. Rutz (51 years) Irving M. Schuraytz, PE (51 years) Charles K. Sestok, III (51 years) William M. Spreitzer, FESD (51 years)

Richard C. Viinikainen, PE (51 years) Louis Weberman (51 years) William J. Wittenberg (51 years) Ming-Chih Yew, PhD, PE (51 years) Egidio Basso (50 years) Marion B. Beard (50 years) Louis M. Berra, PE (50 years) Murray W. Davis, PE, FESD (50 years) David Lee Fordon (50 years) William J. Kelly (50 years) James M. Knoll (50 years) Eugene R. Kutcher (50 years) Richard W. Lambrecht, Jr. (50 years) Harry A. Lomason II (50 years) Walter F. McCoskey (50 years) Ihor Melnykowycz (50 years) K. Charles Pugsley (50 years) James Henry Schindler (50 years) Lewis H. Tann (50 years) James L. Uicker (50 years) G. Sheldon Veil (50 years)

ESD’s Newest Corporate Members From marketing exposure to recruitment opportunities, the benefits of ESD corporate membership are many. Plus, by supporting ESD you are helping to keep Michigan in its #1 in engineering in the U.S. To find out more about signing your company up for corporate membership, please contact Heather Lilley, Director of Membership, at (248) 353-0735, ext. 120, or

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8 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

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Ford Motor Company


AKT Peerless Environmental Services Altair Engineering American Axle Manufacturing American Society of Employers Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum Aristeo Construction Arrow Uniform The Bartech Group Barton Malow Company Beaumont Hospitals Brightwing Building Envelope Solutions, LLC Building Industry Assoc. of S.E. Michigan CB Richard Ellis | Brokerage Services Central Michigan University Chrysan Industries Citizens Bank Citizens Insurance Clark Hill, PLC CMS Enterprises Comfort Engineering Solutions, LLC Conestoga-Rovers & Associates Construction Association of Michigan Cornerstone Environmental Group, LLC CPCII Credit Union ONE Crime Stoppers of Southeast Michigan DENSO International America, Inc. Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau Dow Chemical Company DTE Energy DTE Energy Gas Operations Dürr Systems, Inc. Eastern Michigan University Education Planning Resources, Inc. Electrical Resources Company Electro-Matic Products, Inc. Elevator, Inc.

EMC2 Energy Sciences Experis Farbman Group Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Financial One, Inc. Ford Motor Company Fusion Welding Solutions Gala & Associates, Inc. Gates Corporation General Dynamics General Motors Company Gensler George W. Auch Company Ghafari Associates, LLC Giffels, LLC/IBI Group Giffels-Webster Engineers, Inc. Glenn E. Wash & Associates, Inc. Golder Associates Inc. Gonzalez Contingent Workforce Services GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. Harley Ellis Devereaux Hartland Insurance Group, Inc. Henry Ford Community College Henry Ford Health System Hindsight Consulting, Inc. Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. The Hunter Group LLC Hyundai Kia America Technical Center, Inc. Ian Martin Group Integrity Staffing Group, Inc. ITT Technical Institute Canton ITT Technical Institute Dearborn IBEW Local 58 & NECA LMCC Jervis B. Webb Company JNA Partners, Inc. Jozwiak Consulting, Inc. Kettering University

Kitch Drutchas Wagner Valitutti & Sherbrook, PC Knovalent, Inc. Kolene Corporation Kostal North America Law & ADR Offices of Christopher J. Webb, JD, PLC, FESD Lawrence Technological University LHP Software Limbach Company, Inc. Link Engineering Co. Local Business Network LTI Information Technology Macomb Community College Maner Costerisan Makino MCA Inc. MCM Staffing McNaughton-McKay Electric Company MICCO Construction Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters Michigan State University Michigan Technological University Midwest Steel Inc. Monroe Environmental Corporation Myron Zucker, Inc. National Center for Manufacturing Sciences Neumann/Smith Architecture Newman Consulting Group, LLC NextEnergy NORR Architects Engineers Planners Northern Industrial Manufacturing Corp. NTH Consultants, Ltd. Oakland University O’Brien & Gere Engineers, Inc. Optech LLC Original Equipment Suppliers Association Parsons Brinckerhoff

Phillips Service Industries, Inc. Process Development Corporation Professional Concepts Insurance Agency Pure Eco Environmental Solutions PureServe System R.L. Coolsaet Construction Co. Rader, Fishman & Grauer, PLC ROWE Professional Services Company Rumford Industrial Group Ruby+Associates, Inc. Skanska USA Building Inc. Special Multi Services Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems, Inc. Talascend, LLC Testing Engineers & Consultants Thermal-Netics Transformational Leaders International, LLC TRANE Commercial Systems TranSystems Corporation Trialon Corporation Troy Chamber of Commerce TRW Automotive Turner Construction Co. UBS Financial Services - Lott Sheth Farber Group Universal Weatherstrip & Bldg. Supply University of Detroit Mercy University of Michigan University of Michigan-Dearborn Venture Management Services, LLC W.K. Krill & Associates, Inc. Wade-Trim Walbridge Walker-Miller Energy Services, LLC Wayne State University Western Michigan University Whitehall Industries Wipro Technologies | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 9

ESD Upcoming Events


2015 DTE/ESD Energy Conference and Exhibition Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hosted by DTE Energy and The Engineering Society of Detroit Conference Theme: Energy Efficiency


Engineering and Technology Job Fair Monday, April 13, 2015

ATTENDEES: BUILD A BETTER CAREER > FIND THE RIGHT JOB Whether you’re a seasoned professional, a recent graduate or an in-between careers job seeker, you’ll find your next position at The Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD) Engineering and Technology Job Fair. The ESD job fair is your best opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from leading engineering and technology companies. Known for being the premier recruitment event, the job fair will feature more than 50 of Michigan’s top engineering, technology and management companies hiring for full or part-time positions, internships or co-op opportunities. The job fair will be held at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. Cost to attend: FREE for ESD members; $20 for non-members. To register or for more information, visit or call 248-353-0735. 10 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

ADDED BONUS: Upload your resume into the ESD Job Bank,, free of charge. The Job Bank provides confidential resume posting and is easy to use.

In its 18th year, this conference, the only one of its kind in Michigan, is designed to educate small to large commercial and industrial businesses on energy technology, products, and services that will assist them in successful energy management. This year’s conference will include: ■■ Keynote presentation by Christopher B. McGill, Vice President Policy Analysis, American Gas Association. ■■ Five educational tracks—technical, industrial, commercial, financial, and construction—offering 20 informative 30-minute sessions. ■■ Dozens of exhibitors offering energyrelated products and services. ■■ Major awards recognizing energy efficiency initiatives. ■■ A Ride and Drive featuring a fleet of new vehicles, as well as classic cars. The conference will be at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Cost to attend: $85 for ESD members; $100 for non-members; $154 non-members can attend and join ESD. This offer is available to new, first-time members only. For more information or to register online, visit or call 248-353-0735.


The University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center M City Tour

Sweet Engineering: Technical Tour of Sanders & Morley Candy Makers Inc.

The University of Michigan (UM) is building M City, a real-world environment simulating cities and highways, to test autonomous and connected vehicle technology. Join ESD for this exclusive, members-only presentation on M City and tour of the test area. Testing new technologies in a realistic off-roadway environment is an essential step before automated vehicles can be deployed safely on roadways. Working with the Michigan Department of Transportation, UM researchers have designed M City, a test center for evaluating the capabilities of connected and automated vehicles and systems. The tour will take place at The University of Michigan’s North Campus in Ann Arbor. Registration begins at 2:30 p.m. and the tour will run from 3–4 p.m. The cost to attend is $25 for ESD Members; non-members can join ESD for $75 (a 25% discount) and attend the tour for free. (This offer is for first-time members only.) Register online at or call 248-353-0735, ext. 222, to register by phone.

Join ESD for an exclusive, members-only tour of the place where Sanders chocolate and desserts are created. This tour will give ESD members an up-close look at the science and technology behind the unique form of cooking known as candy making. Even the simplest sugary treat is the product of complex chemistry. You’ll hear from a Morley Candy executive who will give expert information on the engineering and science of candy making. Visitors will also enjoy a free candy sample as they watch candy makers create luscious treats as they make their way down the 100 foot observation walkway overlooking the production area. The tour will take place at 23770 Hall Rd., in Clinton Township. Registration begins at 1 p.m. and the tour will run until 2:30 p.m. The cost to attend is $25 for ESD Members; non-members can join ESD for $75 (a 25% discount) and attend the tour for free. (This offer is for new, first-time members only.) Register online at or call 248-353-0735, ext. 222, to register by phone.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Technology Behind Leader Dogs for the Blind Thursday, May 14, 2015

Leader Dogs for the Blind has adopted high-tech GPS technology along with its traditional trained dog techniques to give mobility and personal freedom to the visually impaired.  On this tour you’ll get an overview of how Leader Dogs uses GPS and tablet computing in its program. You’ll also tour Leader Dogs’ residence center, where clients and their service dogs undergo training - and, weather and conditions permitting, tour the new Leader Dogs Canine Center, now under construction. The tour will take place at The Leader Dogs for the Blind office in Rochester Hills. Registration begins at 2 p.m. and the tour will run from 2:30–4 p.m. The cost to attend is $25 for ESD Members; non-members can join ESD for $75 (a 25% discount) and attend the tour for free. (This offer is for new, first-time members only.) Register online at or call 248-353-0735, ext. 222, to register by phone. | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 11

ESD Upcoming Events



Fourth Annual Golf Outing

ESD Annual Dinner

Join us for a day of fun and networking to support engineering! ESD is all about supporting engineering and technical professionals. So is this outing. Proceeds of the outing help support endeavors like scholarship programs and ESD Student Chapters at each of Michigan’s top 25 engineering schools. The outing will be at Oak Pointe Country Club in Brighton. To attend or sponsor, contact Linda LaPointe at 248-353-0735, ext. 111, or

We cordially invite you to celebrate with us at our most anticipated event of the year, ESD’s Annual Dinner at the Detroit Institute of Arts museum. This one-of-a-kind event brings out the best, brightest, and most diverse group of engineering, design, and construction professionals in Southeast Michigan. To register, visit or call 248-353-0735. To sponsor, contact Elana Shelef at 248-353-0735, ext. 119, or

Monday, June 1, 2015

12 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Judges Needed for Engineering SMArT Michigan™ Competition Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Engineering SMArT Michigan™ competition provides high school students with a taste of real-world engineering opportunities through a hands-on project experience. The program enables students to address critical energy and environmental challenges realized in their local communities, and will cultivate their desire to be active contributors to the sustainability and vitality of their environment. Judges are needed on competition day, Thursday, May 21, at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. High school students have designed an energy efficient home and will be presenting their ideas and design drawings at the competition. To volunteer as a judge, contact Leslie Smith, CMP, at or 248-353-0735, ext. 152.

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who donated to the 2014 ESD Annual Appeal. Together, we raised almost $15,000 to be used for programs like establishing Chapters in each of the top 25 universities with engineering programs in Michigan and engineering scholarships.

ESD’S 2014 ANNUAL APPEAL $2000+ “IMPLEMENTATION” DONOR UAW–Ford National Programs Center on behalf of Jimmy Settles and Bill Dirksen $1000+ “CREATION” DONORS Edward C. Levy, Jr. Roy H. Link, FESD Raymond Okonski (in memory of Suzanne Marie Sloat)

$500+ DONORS Ronald F. Buck Thomas M. Doran, PE, FESD Frank J. Ewasyshyn, PEng David C. Munson, FESD John Rakolta, Jr., FESD, and Richard J. Haller, FESD (Walbridge) Robert Richard Satish S. Udpa, PhD, FESD

$150+ DONORS Michael A. Aznavorian Stanley A. Beattie, PE Vincent G. Dow Marty Hogan Robert Magee Glenn Mroz (for an ESD Student Chapter) Parikshita Nayak, PE Fritz Quitmeyer Mike Scimeca James P. Scullion

$75+ DONORS Anonymous Anonymous Anonymous (in memory of Dave Skiven) Michael D. Bolon, FESD Denise Carlson David Edward Cole IV, FESD John P. Cole, PE Steven Cook Thomas C. Cook, CPE Jim D. Cyrulewski, PE James DeDyne Utpal Dutta Robert A. Ficano, JD Jesse F. Goodwin Kameshwar Gupta, PE, FESD, CEM Matthew A. Gustke Susan S. Hawkins, FESD John Hibbler Richard P. Kughn Lydia B. Lazurenko, PE, FESD Maria Lourdes Meldrum Micco Construction, LLC David E. Pamula, PE Douglas E. Patton, FESD Robert Victor Petrach, CMfgE Joseph Lawrence Schaffer Thomas Schreitmueller Charles K. Sestok III Paul Allen Simpson Kevin Smith Joel Steinberg Richard L. Sun, PhD Scott Tacey Reinhold M. Tischler, FESD (in honor of Dr. Richard E. Marburger) Roy P. Trowbridge, FESD Mumtaz A. Usmen, PE, FESD (in memory of Dean Ralph Kummler) Gary G. Witt, FASM

UP TO $75 DONORS Mo Abraham James L. Bertram Richard A. Bither, PE David A. Cottrill, BSIE, ASQ CQE John F. Edwards, PE Mike Faubert, PhD, PE, FESD Mark Hairston Jason Huber Ronald Huber James Hall Kent Raymond A. Kobe, PE Alicia Lane Reno J. Maccardini Remo Mastroianni, PE John B. McWilliams David Murray Thomas A. Musselman, PE Patricia O’Brien Novak, PE Lawrence Parets Luke John Popiel John Harold Redfield Roland G. Rosslip, CSP Robert Dwayne Smart, Sr. Doug Smith Walter Sobczak Donald R. Spivack, AICP David G. Stevens Raymond M. Womack

Thank you also to Shannon Dobreff and Kathy Nauer for donations in support of our new domain name: Look for it to be live later this year! | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 13

Future City: Learning and Fun for All, and a Repeat Champion from Michigan


housands of hours of hard work by more than 40,000 students from 1,350 schools nationwide—and it all boiled down to a seven-minute presentation from three kids from a small school in Rochester, Michigan. Yes, St. John Lutheran School did it again—winning the ESD Michigan Regional Future City Competition for the fifth straight year in January—and then going on to win the National Future City Championship, held as part of National Engineers Week, for the second straight year. 14 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

The St. John team also won three special national awards—best essay, best use of renewable energy, and best virtual city design. St. John’s city, called Lekol-la-fre, was the creation of Leah Schroeder, Emily Abramczyk and Abby Dayton and a team of other St. John’s students, guided by St. John teacher Jon Pfund and volunteer mentor Linda Gerhardt, Ph.D., global lead for paint quality at General Motors in Warren. “The most memorable part of our Future City experience was how we bonded with

each other,” said Dayton, 13. “There were stressful days but we stayed bonded and held each other up.” Teammate Schroeder, also 13, added: “We learned that if you do what you do to the best of your ability, you’re a winner inside.” Future City gives sixth, seventh and eighth graders the opportunity to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics activities—and then apply those activities to real-world problems. Students create and build a city set 150 years in the future that’s organized around a central theme. The theme changes every

ESD organizes the Michigan regional competition, recruiting over 125 engineers and tech professionals to serve as team mentors and judges.

year to keep the competition fresh. This year’s theme was “Feeding Future Cities,” an urban agriculture challenge, in which students were asked to pick one vegetable and one protein product and grow enough of them within the city limits to feed their city’s population. Participants design the city in the Sim City computer game, write an essay about their city, build a model of their city on a maximum budget of $100, and make a presentation about their city to a panel of engineering experts, making the competition a combination of engineering,

writing, design, building and public speaking skills. St. John bested teams from 37 other regional competitions to win the Future City National Finals in February at the Capital Hilton. Finishing in second place in the Michigan Regional competition was a rookie team from the ISKCON Sunday School in Novi. Third place went to St. Valentine School in Redford Township. Fourth place was earned by Team 1 of the Crescent Academy of Canton Township. Rounding out the top five was the Trinity Lutheran School of Utica.

By winning the national championship, St. John takes home the grand prize of a trip to U.S. Space Camp for its three presenters, their teacher and mentor, and $7,500 for its school STEM programs. ESD organizes the Michigan regional competition, recruiting over 125 engineers and technical professionals to serve as team mentors and judges. DTE Energy Foundation is the presenting sponsor of the competition. Major sponsors are the Ford Motor Company Fund and the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 15

Technology and Lessons Learned by a 100-Year-Old Michigan Company By Thomas M. Doran


nly one in 10,000 companies make it to 100. Hubbell, Roth & Clark (HRC) is the only infrastructure design company in Michigan to have achieved this milestone. With dizzying changes in technology and business practices, what are the core principles that enable HRC to survive, and thrive? You don’t have to be huge to survive and be successful. Many believe that only by adding people and revenue can a company survive. “Growing” is essential, but there are more ways to grow than by getting huge. HRC has “grown” over its history by adopting innovative technologies to enhance projects: designing the first bridge in Michigan that uses plastic fiber reinforcement to extend its lifespan, playing a major role in helping to eradicate deadly waterborne diseases in the first half of the 20th century, helping Delhi Township in the 21st century to implement their “Poo to Power” process where wastewater solids produce electrical energy. Relationships are essential, and they can never be bought and paid for. Projects are more than just concrete and steel. Earned trust between project stakeholders often makes the difference between success and failure. If the goals for a project aren’t met, then who will remember that the lowest price engineer or contractor was selected? Guiding these strong relationships must be high ethical standards. HRC has walked away from some opportunities when not comfortable that the work could be performed up to its technical or ethical standards. 16 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

Technology is important but not everything. When HRC began doing business, there were no “talking pictures”, jets, satellites, computers, IPods, or Google, and safe drinking water was a scarce commodity. In spite of these “deficiencies,” iconic projects were designed and built. While technology can enhance project outcomes, over-reliance on technology can prevent us from thinking through decisions and seeking broader perspectives, with bad consequences. In the public works area, new technology transcends physical infrastructure and equipment. Intelligent transportation systems and intelligent water/wastewater systems provide real-time information, diagnostics, and even control, optimizing existing infrastructure and enabling more efficient and effective use of these systems in an era when dollars are hard to come by. Leadership transition matters in fostering a long-term perspective. Leadership transition is one of the most important factors in any company’s survival and success. Mentoring and coaching from one generation of leaders to the next provides a company with a longer-term perspective. GE’s Jack Welch was a mentor to his successor, Jeffrey Immelt, and, in sports, we have the example of Michigan State’s Jud Heathcote and Tom Izzo. These next generation leaders have their own distinctive styles, but the mentoring process passes on important principles and values. Each generation of HRC leaders has worked with the previous generation of leaders so that time-tested practices and new approaches to meet current needs are adopted.

Yes, there are more important things than money. Companies must be financially successful to survive, thrive, retain good employees, and invest in the business, but if money and market share are the top priorities, a company will never be great. There were periods in the past 100 years when business conditions were dire, but HRC partners came to work even when there were no projects; they didn’t call it quits, taking the long view and believing that HRC was doing important work, like designing infrastructure for the World War II Willow Run Bomber Plant that made Michigan the “Arsenal of Democracy,” designing roads and intersections to make driving safer, helping Michigan communities reduce the frequency of basement and street flooding, and making lakes and rivers cleaner by purifying trillions of gallons of wastewater and by reducing the impact of combined sewers on our waterways. In the mid-1980s, a young HRC engineer was rafting inside a 14-foot sewer below Detroit’s streets to determine if a new 50-story building could be constructed over this sewer. This young engineer, George Hubbell, is now HRC’s president. One of HRC’s future leaders is getting their hands dirty in 2015, learning the business from the ground up—or down!

Thomas M. Doran is the Chair of the Editorial Board of The Engineering Society of Detroit, a Fellow and former Director of ESD, and a retired Vice President of Hubbell, Roth & Clark.

Education for Future Engineers By Dr. Jacqueline El-Sayed


oore’s Law predicts that technology’s rate of improvement will increase exponentially over time and has been validated by some of our country’s top scientists1. However, it doesn’t take theoretical calculations to understand that technology is increasing at a pace never before seen in human history. Therefore, the need for well-equipped future engineers to harness technology has never been greater. Engineers must understand phenomena and work within constrained design spaces, including limited resources, to tackle tomorrow’s challenges. And the challenges are certainly great, so the demand for engineers is increasing. According to Forbes Magazine nationally engineering jobs have grown 7 percent from 2010 to 2014 with some disciplines in the double digits. Our own city of Detroit is one of the most-concentrated metropolitan areas for engineering jobs in the country2. Engineers of today need to have increased skills compared with the past. Accordingly, engineering education goals are aligned with these needs. To graduate engineers that can tackle the challenges of tomorrow, challenges that we do not yet know or can even yet conceptualize, ABET, the national accrediting body for engineering programs, has updated the criteria for accreditation. These criteria include problem-solving, communication, teamwork, self-assessment, change

management and lifelong learning skills and more3. In addition to the ABET criteria, many educators agree that additional learning objectives such as professionalism and practice should also be included. To this end, engineering educators have risen to the challenge and now use instructional methods that have been shown to improve student learning in these knowledge areas as well as the development of the desired skills and practice. Among these instructional innovations are pedagogies, delivery strategies and curricula that engage students, sometimes also called “active learning”4. Active learning includes such methods as problem based learning (PBL), hands on projects, service learning, experiential learning, exploratory laboratory exercises, computer simulations, and technology enhanced classrooms. Research has shown that active learning (guide on the side) and especially immersion learning (student led projects in the field with expert mentorship), constructs knowledge in a superior manner over the passive “sage on the stage” lecture-only methods of the past. The “Clinic” model at Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, Calif.) is one example of a project based learning model that is integrated across the entire campus for all students. Clinic projects are developed in partnership with industry. Interdisciplinary teams of HMC students and faculty work together with professional in the field on high level art projects that are financially supported by and utilized by a corporate sponsor. These



2 the-most-in-demand-and-oldest-engineering-jobs/

4 Does Active Learning Work? A review of the Research Michael Prince JEE Volume 93, Issue 3, pages 223-231, ASEE Washington DC, July 2004

projects are housed on the college campus in dedicated work spaces and the industrial liaisons provide regular, often weekly, input and mentorship via technology or visits. The final result is showcased in an end-of-term “Project Day” where the leaders and liaisons from the corporate sponsors are invited to the campus for an itinerary that includes reports, poster sessions and presentations as well as networking opportunities. The cooperative education program at Kettering University is an example of an immersion learning model. The program includes alternating work and school terms and a final mandatory thesis, largely completed at the student’s co-op corporate campus. In the Kettering thesis model, the students are employed with a company and lead a project in collaboration with the professionals in the field at their place of employment. In this case, Kettering faculty act as the advisors and visit students at their work sites. Students complete a written thesis which is reviewed and graded by the faculty advisor. In this model students have the opportunity have a “solo flight” on a high level project with the mentorship of both a faculty and employer advisor to turn to for advice and guidance. One significant ongoing challenge in engineering is the fact that women and minorities are significantly underrepresented at all levels, undergraduate, graduate and the profession. There are several reasons postulated for this ongoing condition, such as loss of interest and self-efficacy in middle school, poor marketing and communication as to the value of engineering careers, and unwelcoming | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 17

campus environments and learning delivery practices. To address this, research has been conducted to identify and develop models and pedagogies to help students overcome educational obstacles and help these populations of students learn better. These methods not only help underrepresented groups but also have been shown to help majority groups learn better, as well. An example of using best practices for students from underrepresented groups is documented in the ENGAGE work supported by the National Science Foundation5. This work focused on implementing the top three issues found in the research: Everyday Examples in Engineering, Spatial Visualization Skills and Faculty-Student Interaction. Everyday Examples in Engineering brings to light the fact that students are socialized differently and they don’t all have a uniform prior experience. Therefore, because the majority of engineering professors in the profession are white males, the examples used in the classroom to provide contextual understanding may not be understood uniformly by all students. So this attempts to develop teaching materials that are built around examples that almost all students would have experienced before. It also attempts to use examples that appeal to various audiences. For example, one of my female students once complained to me that “all the examples yesterday were about war.” Many women select fields that help people so examples about war machines may be the antithesis of many women’s career goals. Therefore selecting an example in the health field may provide broader engagement for students from diverse backgrounds. In general, developing a broad portfolio of well-constructed educational examples and customizing the selection to the students’ learning needs may increase learning and engagement. Spatial visualization skills have been shown to be important for students to succeed in engineering. Some students, especially underrepresented groups, do not always enter college with strong skills in these areas. However, spatial visualization can be assessed and taught, 5

18 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

so learning modules have been added to the curriculum to develop spatial visualization skills. Purdue University has developed an online assessment for special visualization skills that can provide a means to identify gaps in these skills early in a student’s program so that they can be provided with curriculum and activities to enhance their understanding. Faculty Student Interaction is important for students to feel comfortable and develop positive self-efficacy in engineering. Engineers and engineering professors often tend to be critical, so feedback to students can sometimes be entirely composed of “constructive criticism.” Instead, healthy positive validation must be given regularly to students. However, this cannot be a general “good job” to the entire class. To be effective, feedback must be specific and meaningful. Professors must catch students doing something right and take the time to tell them while connecting this to the student’s good fit for the engineering profession. Other important factors for the success of underrepresented groups are mentorship and community. Students need to see themselves reflected in the campus community and faculty. Students then identify with these educators and feel “if they can do then I can do it.” These educators model professional behavior and attitudes for students. Students from underrepresented groups also need access to mentors who are accessible and with whom students feel comfortable. Mentors can guide students through the obstacles associated with completion. An undergraduate research model specifically developed for individuals from demographic groups underrepresented in STEM was recently established at Marygrove College in collaboration with University of Detroit-Mercy, Wayne State and Wayne County Community College District. This model allows students to build close relationships with the Marygrove faculty in the first two years within its diverse urban campus community. This provides students with a sense of belonging during their foundational years and establishes the mentoring relationship. The faculty and students at Marygrove College

collaborate on projects with faculty at the two research institutions. This provides the students with meaningful undergraduatefocused mentors and in parallel with access to challenging high level research projects and state-of-the-art research laboratories6. Online learning and technology offers flexibility for students as well as the opportunity to interact with other students and faculty around the world. Students can work on projects and speak with engineers at NASA, across the world or under the oceans. The flexibility means that students may participate in international study abroad programs and offers non-traditional students the opportunity to pursue their educational goals while holding down full time positions at jobs or as caregivers. Technology also provides the means to afford access for students with differing learning styles or with disabilities. Today’s engineering educational environments break down barriers while building skills and knowledge in significant, comprehensive ways. There has never been a more exciting time to study engineering. Campuses have state of the art technology and curricula that engage students in fascinating projects and experiences. In addition, the profession promises a productive, meaningful career that combines students’ passions with the ability to make positive impact for the world. While technology progresses at an ever faster rate, as predicted by Moore’s Law, the rates of noteworthy challenges that can only be addressed by innovative resourceful engineers will only grow. 6 “BUILDetroit” Consortium of Marygrove College, University of Detroit- Mercy, Wayne State and Wayne Community College, National Institute of Health, 2014

Dr. Jacqueline El-Sayed is professor of mechanical engineering and vice president for academic affairs at Detroit’s Marygrove College. She is a graduate of General Motors Institute, now Kettering University, and the University of Missouri. She was previously a faculty member and associate provost at Kettering.

It’s No Mr. Fusion, But Sefton Motor Uses Almost Anything For Fuel


here’s a scene in the Back to the Future movies where “Doc” Emmett Brown feeds trash into his “Mr. Fusion” to power his time machine. Apparently, to Mr. Fusion, the fuel doesn’t matter. Tim Sefton uses Mr. Fusion as an analogy to describe the Volo One Engine he’s developing at his Sefton Motors Inc. Anything that will generate heat will power the Volo One—natural gas, a wood fire, a solar thermal collector, even waste heat. And the small, portable engine will take that heat and make a kilowatt of electricity out of it—at prices competitive with solar power. For all its futuristic appeal, the Stirling engine is nearing its bicentennial—it was invented by a Scottish clergyman, the Rev. Dr. Robert Stirling, in 1816, in part as a safety improvement compared to the steam engines of the time, whose boilers were prone to explosion. Sefton got interested in Stirling engines after a 25–year career in engineering and the internet. A New York native, Sefton came to Detroit in the late 1980s to work at Chrysler Corp. after getting a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Colorado. He later worked for a simulation software and consulting firm VSA, the broadband provider Saavis, and founded an internet telephony company, invivo, before founding Sefton Motors in 2013. “I came upon these engines online,” Sefton said. “I built a prototype and was amazed at how it worked. You just get it

hot and it starts running—nothing going in, nothing coming out.” Well, except for mechanical motion that can be transformed into electricity. The Stirling engine works by expanding hot air pushing a piston in one direction, and contracting cool air pushing it back the other way. All you need to do is put the “hot end” of the engine close to a heat source, and the engine runs. “It’s very energy efficient, but it has some drawbacks,” Sefton said. “It does take a while to warm up—you don’t just step on the gas, so it’s not suitable for automotive. It’s more for a steady–state application. And that means that for generating electricity, it works really well… It’s very low maintenance. There are only two sealing surfaces in the entire engine, and no valves.” A modest Kickstarter crowdfunding

campaign got Sefton Motors off the ground, and now the company is seeing its first sales. Fabrication of the parts for the six–foot-long, 250–pound Volo One engine takes place at the Allen Park maker space TechShop, while assembly and

testing takes place in Sefton’s garage. Each engine–retail price, $1,395—generates about 1 kilowatt. The first customers? “There’s a guy in New Zealand who runs a fertilizer plant,” Sefton said. “He wants to reclaim some of the energy from the wasted heat in his plant. There’s a guy in the U.K. who I think just wants to test it out. And there’s a guy in Texas who drills oil wells. He wants to use the methane coming out of his wells as fuel to power the engine.” Sefton is also working on a solar– powered front end for the Volo One that will concentrate the sun’s infrared rays into heat to power the Stirling engine, while the visible light of the sunshine is converted into electricity by photovoltaic cells. The company’s website,, shows the design. Sefton says he’s expecting to sell 40 units in 2015 and 200 units in 2016. Eventually, he said he believes Stirling engines will have widespread application for off–the–grid users or those simply interested in a grid backup system that’s easy to maintain and use. Not to mention possible applications in areas of the world where a power grid barely exists or is unreliable. “We think the same thing can happen with electricity as happened with cell phones and the wired phone network,” Sefton said. “Instead of a centralized system with a grid, we see a decentralized system where you have your own power plant at your house, and you can use any fuel you want to run it.” Just like Mr. Fusion. | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 19

Back to the Future— By Kevin Hodur

10110 01011 10101


o, we don’t have hoverboards. That, alongside to-the-minute weather forecasting and handy fusion generators, forms a good chunk of the list of unfulfilled promises from the Back to the Future trilogy. While we’ve followed Marty McFly to 2015 the slow way, there have been radical changes in our education, society, and culture over the decades that no one could have foreseen.

The Rise of STEM The talk everywhere from politics to industry in 2015 is focusing on the need for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-centric education in the United States. It’s a matter of maintaining competitiveness, but it’s also the realization that this emphasis sparks innovation and tomorrow’s invention. When Doc Brown’s DeLorean flew out of the shopping mall parking lot in 1985, Michigan Tech was celebrating its centenary, 100 years of STEM and industryfocused education. 20 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

“Something we’ve come to realize as a society is that no single person has all of the answers,” explains Glenn D. Mroz, president of Michigan Tech. “Teams carry the day, and education has evolved to meet that need.” That realization has gained urgency through the changes wrought by the recent recession. “The post-recession economy is not a recovery to the way things were,” Mroz explains. “Many entering the workforce need to have different skills to succeed now.” The focus on STEM doesn’t result in a collection of facts or very specific skills. “STEM education closes no doors,” Mroz says. “It teaches an approach; it’s processoriented. This helps students get ready to take their broadly focused education and solve specific problems, whether they’re engineers, actuaries, or physicians.”

From Lecture to Conversation One of the ways institutions like Tech are helping students to succeed is by changing the classroom. Michael Meyer, director of the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Tech, highlights the biggest difference: the move to “blended learning.”

“The old model, where an instructor stands in front of a class and lectures, is basically obsolete,” he explains. “Content isn’t delivered in the classroom; students get that online on their own time. In the classroom now we build comprehension and understanding.” This means that online learning tools like Canvas and Blackboard are not supplementary to a class; they are an integral part of it. Recorded lectures, related videos, and additional texts are available for the student to absorb. Then, questions can be addressed and examples given during the actual class time, allowing for a more interactive, practical experience. Places like the CTL, established through a gift from William G. Jackson, have been charged with facilitating this paradigm shift in Michigan Tech classrooms. “It’s about finding new and better ways to capture content and deliver it to students,” Meyer says, listing new technologies just from this year to implement this blended approach. “We’re used to a model where the teacher was was the center of the conversation. Now the teacher is a tour guide, and it’s much more improvisational. It’s a total paradigm shift.”

—of Education a

“Content isn’t delivered in the classroom; students get that online on their own time. In the classroom now we build comprehension and understanding.” A low-tech approach to this interactivity is highlighted by Brigitte Morin, lecturer in biological sciences: she uses what look like a cross between Scantron answer sheets and scratch-off lottery tickets. “They’re great,” she says. “I have them work in pairs, talking out the answer. Then they know immediately if they’re correct or not.” The correct answer has a small star beneath the correct choice. “Then if they’re wrong, they can work out why and try again. At the same time, I know how many tries it took for them to get it right.” The goal is to place more focus on the process of getting to the right answer, while at the same time having a method for assessing student progress and performance. Getting the students to focus on the process instead of the answer, in fact, is perhaps the hardest part. “It’s a good thing, of course, but it takes a bit of prodding for them to realize that a wrong answer isn’t the end of the world,” Morin says. “We want them to know the steps to take to get to the right answer, to know how to do something. Working through a problem and seeing what you do right and wrong helps to emphasize that.”

From Classroom to Office The inquisitiveness nurtured in the classroom is now being channeled through to industry as well. “Young professionals today, the one thing we keep hearing is that they don’t want to be trapped in just one career,” explains Steve Patchin, director of Michigan Tech’s Office of Career Services “They want the ability to explore, to try new things.” This has led to companies changing the way they bring new employees onboard. “We’re seeing a rotation system more and more,” Patchin says. “A student joins a company, and they go through a number of different departments over a series of months. This way the new employee and the company can both figure out what the best fit is. And they have a chance to expand their skills, too.” Students making the transition to employee want to be ready to go, to hit the ground running. According to Patchin, recent studies show they are willing to sacrifice salary in favor of an innovative workplace culture. “It’s because they want to do something meaningful,” Patchin explains. “This generation really wants to make a differ-

ence. They want to learn new skills and apply them; they’re lifelong learners.”

Where We’re Headed A lot has changed in 30 years. In 1985, the imagination could conjure up flying cars and self-tying shoes, but that was also the era when the Internet’s Domain Name System was created, when the world’s population was just 4.8 billion compared to 7+ billion today, and when Super Mario Brothers first came to television screens. Today’s Hollywood can dream in CGI, but Mroz sees tomorrow’s reality being formed on campus. “The drive of this generation amazes me,” he says. “I’ll drive past the library on a Friday night, and it’s full. They have big ideas and big goals, and they’re working hard to make them happen.”

Kevin Hodur, PhD, is a content specialist at Michigan Technological University. | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 21


hen it comes to the 2015 technology envisioned in “Back To The Future II,” everyone always mentions the flying cars, and Michigan State University engineers admit we’re far short of those. But in many other ways, Leo Kempel, Dean of the MSU College of Engineering, and Ph.D. student Randy Olson of Los Angeles, Calif. say the 2015 we wound up with is way cooler than the movie predicted. For one thing, we could make hoverboards if we wanted to, Kempel says. No, not apparently powered by anti–gravity or even magnetism, but just good old fashioned compressed air would do the trick, Kempel says. The problem is cost—“You couldn’t get it to the price where consumers would buy it,” Kempel said. “You’re looking at least a thousand bucks.”

22 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

But what’s even cooler than the movie? Kempel is a fan of electric bikes, given the emission–spewing gasoline–powered mopeds that were popular in the 1970s and 1980s. And drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, which Kempel says he’s confident will soon be used in product delivery. As for the kind of medical rejuvenation that added 30 or 40 years to “Doc” Brown’s life, Kempel maintains it’s already here—just in a lot of little steps. “My grandfather died in his 50s of a heart attack in 1965,” Kempel said. “Back then you didn’t track cholesterol and that is probably what killed him. Me, once I hit 30 they started checking and I take a pill every day to control my cholesterol.

That pill, along with the other medicine that we enjoy, will probably provide statistically 30 more years of life… It’s not a bottle of ‘add 30,’ but collectively.” Olson said that after rewatching the movie—on Netflix over the Internet, something the movie didn’t really foresee—he said he thought the film’s predictions “were really pretty humble, other than flying cars.” Very early in the movie, Olson noted an observation that the National Weather Service could predict the weather down to the second. “We’re not there but we have made a lot of advancements in predicting the weather,” said Olson, who was born in 1987, two years before “Back To The Future II” was released. Even 20 years ago, Olson said, we didn’t have reliable hour–by–hour forecasts 36 hours out, and we couldn’t see serious heat waves or cold snaps coming a week or 10 days in advance the way we can today. Kempel and Olson also noted hand– controlled video games were predicted by the movie, which started almost a decade ago. Also right on the money were e–books, giant–screen TVs and Google Glass–style wearable computers. Voice commands for home systems aren’t yet common, but they’re becoming feasible. And the movie got video calls right, although they were provided by AT&T, not Skype. Somewhere in the middle of technological feasibility, Kempel says, are autonomous cars. “Personally I would love it, jump in the car, press a button or say ‘go to work,’ and I could sit back and listen to music or do some work,” Kempel said. “I don’t see it happening soon, though, not because of the technology, but because of the laws. Who’s responsible if there’s an accident? It’s not you, because you’re not driving. Is in the company that made the car? Is it the company providing the communications that makes the driving decisions? Who’s going to own that?” But Kempel said such systems will do a lot to improve driving safety—automatic takeover of systems in some emergency situations. “If you’re trying to change lanes but the car knows there’s somebody there— unlike the lady who tried to run me off the road today—the car won’t give you the option of doing that,” Kempel said.

The big problem with such systems, Kempel said, is cybersecurity. “How are we going to protect those cars as we let them talk to each other or the infrastructure?” Kempel asked. Both Kempel and Olson say biometrics–thumbprint, voiceprint, eye pattern or other biological identification—is rapidly approaching everyday use, just as it was used to confirm payment on a tablet–like device in the movie. Also farther off are the kind of neural and robotic implants some characters in the movie have. Olson said there are some early prosthetics that can be controlled by the mind, but direct neural implants that would give you access to knowledge or skills, Olson said, “I have not heard anything of.” And by the way, Olson says fears of an artificial intelligence taking over and hurting humans, the plot of science fiction from 2001: A Space Odyssey to the Terminator movies, are way overblown. “I am working on the latest advances in AI, and we are nowhere near a dangerous intelligence that is going to learn and take over,” Olson said. “There is a deep divide between intelligence and consciousness. Our algorithms are getting more intelligence, but they are nowhere near consciousness… we still barely understand how the brain works, so it’s kind of crazy to think we’ll be building a human like AI in the near future.” In fact, Olson said, even the little trash pickup robot of the movie is beyond current technology. “Just autonomously navigating is a huge problem,” Olson said. “Their trash robot was going all over the city and not crashing into anything, and I was thinking, ‘Boy, I wish we could make a robot like that.’” Dead wrong? A continued reliance on fax machines. “Rehydrating” ovens even faster than a microwaves. The film totally missed the rise of the internet–connected smartphone and on–demand TV (and kind of missed the internet, too). There was no mention of 3D printing. And thank goodness, ties with double knots are not standard business wear. And sorry, no flying cars, Kempel says. “The mass–to-energy ratio of all the energy sources we have don’t support flying cars as a consumer product,” Kempel said.

Olson says fears of an artificial intelligence taking over and hurting humans, the plot of science fiction from 2001: A Space Odyssey to the Terminator movies, are way overblown. | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 23

They’ve Seen The Future– And It’s One Big Wow

24 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

The future is a different but better ‘wow’ than the movie


ost of the high tech in the version of 2015 presented in “Back To The Future II” of course involves electronics. So it makes sense to ask electronics experts about the high tech of today vs. the technologies presented in the 1989 movie. Kun Hua, Umasankar Kandaswamy and Nabih Jaber are all assistant professors of electrical engineering at Lawrence Technological University. And when it comes to today’s technologies, no, we don’t have flying cars or hoverboards that apparently work on antigravity. But we do have high-speed mobile internet and smartphones that put the world in our pockets—and we’re getting closer to cars that drive themselves, or are at least smart enough to avoid horrible accidents like that 193-vehicle chain reaction crash over the winter on I-94 near Kalamazoo. “The future is a different but better ‘wow’ than the movie,” Jaber said. Jaber’s research centers on wireless communications and smart grid applications. He said he got interested in smart cars as a child, when the family Nissan used recordings to talk to its occupants about doors ajar and other problems. Kandaswamy is involved in research on image processing, computer vision and vision learning—making computers see and learn just like humans do. And Hua is working on wireless communications, signal processing, and vehicle communications—creating what is in essence a moving network that can warn cars behind of trouble ahead. (The technology can also be used for unmanned robotic applications like search and rescue.) When it comes to such warnings, Hua said, “even if it’s one second or two seconds, that can save a lot of lives.” The sensors can

communicate car to car, and also between the highway and cars—for example, a sensor on a light pole warning nearby vehciles that someone is running a red light. Jaber spent the summer of 2014 working at Delphi Corp. with LTU students on vehicles and pedestrians using wireless technology called DSRC that will make cars more aware of their surroundings. He’s also studying using what up to now has been a largely dead-end data transmission technology called WiMax that can send and receive data over a large area. Unfortunately, the three young stars of the LTU engineering faculty say all these technologies are in the labs, not yet in cars. All three professors have busy, working laboratories—Hua’s is the Awareness Communications and Network Laboratory, Kandaswarmy’s is the Digital Signal Image Processing Laboratory, and Jaber’s is ISWIN, the Innovative Smart Wireless Networking Laboratory. Jaber says he started working on networking and the smart grid after the eastern United States’ infamous 2003 blackout, which occurred when he was a postdoctoral researcher. His version of the smart grid uses sensors to detect potential faults before they happen and alert engineers to take steps to fix them before the circuit breakers begin flipping, even pinpointing the location of faults so utilities don’t have to waste time searching for the problems in trucks. He’s also working on an app to educate consumers about energy efficiency and electric usage. Hua is working on a network of wireless body sensors that could communicate with a smart home—for example, monitoring people with heart disease or other chronic conditions and communicating automatically with caregivers before there’s a crisis. And Kandaswarmy’s working on a project to integrate the unique locations of features on each human face with the unique pattern of each person’s iris to create a biometric login for smartphones, computers and smart homes. He’s also working on a biomedical app to compress medical data and have it available on smart mobile devices. And he’s filed a patent application on a novel image compression algorithm, and has

If you told me even five or seven years ago that I would be watching live TV on an iPad or an iPhone, I wouldn’t have believed you...

established a startup business called Texsar to work on it. As for their favorite modern technologies? None were really envisioned in “Back To The Future II.” Jaber mentioned direct humancomputer interface. Said Kandaswamy: “If you told me even five or seven years ago that I would be watching live TV on an iPad or an iPhone, I wouldn’t have believed you, but here we are.” Also, all three said smartphone video has made everybody a TV reporter, and anyone can post music or writing on the web for the entire world to see. The only question, they said, is how that content gets monetized. Kandaswamy said he can see a future in which people will get some kind of payment for whatever they contribute to a website—video, music, even comments—using some kind of signature that can’t be removed from the content. | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 25

The Science of Sitting: Engineering next generation products for human design


he consumption of digital media on mobile phones, tablets and laptops is at an all-time high and technology is rapidly evolving to accommodate touch and motion interfaces as a replacement for the traditional mouse and keyboard. As technology expands, so does the pursuit of safe and ergonomically sound uses of digital devices in Dr. Justin Young’s lab at Kettering University. “What did the introduction of laptops do to change how people do work? What about tablets? Ergonomists are constantly playing catch-up to technology and the idea hopefully is that we can be proactive to solve design issues before they arise,” Young said. Young’s research focuses on touchless gestural controls for devices—the ability to control elements occurring on a screen without making physical contact with an interface. “These types of interfaces have worked really well in certain types of situations,” Young said. “You aren’t likely going to use gestures to control Microsoft Excel but if I’m working in 3D environments, and I want to, for example, spin a map of the earth around, gestures may be better options than the mouse.” Another practical application of gestural controls may involve radiologists who spend a lot of time examining body scans or images on a screen, a task which can be a cumbersome procedure when using a mouse. So what if there’s a new way to rotate, angle and interact with MRI images on a computer? While these touchless gestures may seem new and different, gestural controls are already common in our everyday lives. 26 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

“Everyone knows about surface gestures now because of common controls on smartphones,” Young said. “We’ve engrained in ourselves that “pinching” means “zooming”—it’s thinking about and associating each gesture with what’s happening on the computer.”

The Importance of Supports for Computing Young co-authored a recent publication titled, “Effects of Forearm and Palm Supports on the Upper Extremity During Computer Mouse Use,” in Applied Ergonomics in 2014. The paper was a result of Young’s research efforts at Harvard University alongside Dr. Jack Dennerlein, a professor in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. Dennerlein and his colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health set out to comprehensively examine the results of supports on arm and shoulder muscles during computer use and the results were clear—supports do help, particularly for the shoulder. “In ergonomics, there’s a balance between avoiding awkward postures and getting stuck in just one position for long periods of time. You want to move around when you are working,” Young said. “Supports do help. It reduces muscle effort and therefore we should be providing these types of surfaces for people when they are using the computer. ” This study was the most comprehensive examination of the effects of shoulder, forearm, and palm supports as they collected data on users movements and postures using a motion tracking system, muscle activities of the arms, as well as forces and torques applied to

supports. Using this methodology they were able to use inverse dynamics and calculate the required forces that an individual’s arms need to maintain their working positions. “People have looked at arm rests quite a bit but what makes [this paper] unique is that we did full inverse dynamic analysis,” Young said. “For the shoulder—the supporting surfaces helped a lot.” Young is using these findings to continue to evolve and develop his current research at Kettering University. The study concludes that supports are good for our postures and muscles in the traditional mouse and keyboard computing environment, but Young is looking ahead to the next generation of technology to determine what sorts of supports are necessary to accommodate new products and interfaces like phones, tablets, touchless gestures and beyond.

Searching for the Next Wave of Office Furniture While at Harvard, Young co-authored two publications in the journal Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation titled “Touch-screen tablet user configurations and case-supported tilt affect head and heck flexion angles” in 2012 and “Wrist and shoulder posture and muscle activity during touch-screen tablet use: Effects of usage configuration, tablet type, and interacting hand” in 2013. These studies examined head, neck, wrist and shoulder postures of individuals using tablets in four different configurations—two in their laps and two on a table. The results of the study informed the product and case designs of recently released tablet products such as at the Microsoft Surface. In August 2014, Young embarked on the expansion of this research by examining

The next generation of technology and the related office furniture is going to differ just as gesture and touch control continue to be the new normal in user interfaces. how new interfaces and current office furniture should be designed to help users integrate newer technologies like mobile phones, tablets and gestures safely. The study is funded by the Office Ergonomics Research Committee, a consortium of companies hoping to improve the design and engineering of the office computing environment. The consortium includes the Grand Rapids-area furniture companies Haworth, Herman Miller, and Steelcase as well as computing industry giants like Apple, Microsoft, and HP. “What I’ve taken away from our recent Harvard studies is that we know that supports are good and we should allow people to have them,” Young said. “But as technology changes, as you use your phone or tablet at your desk, as we start integrating new devices and interaction techniques, how are we going to support these interactions?” Young currently has a prototype chair in the lab that allows users to completely adjust the height, angle and direction of their arm rests. This will allow Young to measure the position that users prefer their arm rests while using alternative

technologies and examine what supports are necessary to ensure comfort and longevity in the future as other gestures, not unlike the “pinch to zoom” motions common for touchscreens, will be ubiquitous for desktop computer workstations. “The outcome of this research is: where do people want to put their arms? How much does that reduce the load on the shoulder?” Young said. “The designers will like to see and use these results. They are going to want to know where to put their arm rests for the next generation of chairs.” The next generation of technology and the related office furniture is going to differ just as gesture and touch control continue to be the new normal in user interfaces. Young’s goal is to stay ahead of the curve to determine the ergonomic effects of current and future gestures and work habits. Technology is changing and it’s up to him and his colleagues to ensure that the results are safe and healthy for users. “We want to get ahead of technology so that 10 years from now people don’t end up with problems in their fingers,

thumbs or shoulders because of the way we decide to design and implement new gestures. Technology often brings unforeseen consequences, like how texting and driving is such a problem, and we need to try and catch these before they happen,” Young said. | The Engineering Society of Detroit | 27

...And What About

2045? A Look Ahead


t’s easy to look back at some of the predictions about 2015 from the perspective of 1985 and laugh a bit. So hello there, Engineering Society of Detroit members and friends of the year 2045. Get ready for a few belly laughs. And, hopefully, a few good guesses. Wayne State University associate professor John H. Heinrichs thinks about the future a lot for a living. He teaches Wayne State University’s School of Business ISM 7505 class, “Inbound Information Technology,” in which MBA students focus on techniques to gain insight into complex organizational issues and learn inbound technologies. Most of what Heinrichs thinks about the future involves the internet and social discovery applications, because, as he says, “the internet is not solely about information access, it’s about building relationships and helping others.” In just the next five years, he predicted a tenfold growth in the amount of data humans will have to deal with, and a hundredfold growth in what he calls “machine to machine work”—for instance, smarter cars that know when they need an oil change and schedule it conveniently for you. 28 | TechCentury | Spring 2015

In business, the key to ensuring that all this IT power is being successfully used is intelligently predicting what your customers want, and giving it to them, before they ask. That relationship gets closer and closer as more information is exchanged and trust is built. (Heinrichs uses his own students as active participants in this field of study, surveying when they open their homework, how much time they spend with it, and what they do and don’t find valuable—all as a way to tailor his course content to make it more valuable and meaningful for the student.) Recently, one of Heinrichs’ ISM 7505 students, Saad Ghayas, put together a list of other technology predictions for the years ahead. Most of these predictions go out just 20 years, not 30, but even so, hang onto your hats: Auto driving cars will be everywhere. Get used to it... if for no other reason than safety and traffic control, autonomous vehicles are coming. Computers will have the computational ability of humans by 2023. A single computer will match the power of all human cognition by 2050. Whether this will lead to self-awareness— consciousness—on the part of computers is unknown. And probably unknowable. Robots will take over more and more jobs, from stocking shelves to making Big Macs to filling out your taxes.

 Around-the-clock, planetwide surveillance

is coming. That’s either wonderful or horrible, and probably a bit of both—we’ll be safer, but privacy will be a quaint relic. Computers will do a better job than humans of medical diagnosis within just a few years. The age of 100 will be the new 60 within 20 years. Developments in healthcare and disease prevention will extend the human lifespan to its limits, somewhere in the triple digits.  3D printing will drop the cost of many items to simply that of materials and energy. Innovation will increase as a result. Printing of tools and building materials will become common. And by 2045? Maybe food and even human organs. Unskilled labor will disappear in favor of robots. Even skilled labor may be done only for art’s sake—think of the blacksmiths at Greenfield Village. There are still a few blacksmiths, but not thousands like there were 150 years ago. As for Heinrichs? He can’t wait to see what’s next. He’s seen a lot already—he started out selling computers for IBM, when a 500-megabyte storage unit was the size of a washing machine, cost $35,000 and had a $480-a-month maintenance contract. Today, we give out eight-gigabyte thumb drives as party favors.

Energy Conference & Exhibition 2015 Hosted by DTE Energy and The Engineering Society of Detroit

In its 18th year, this conference, the only one of its kind in Michigan, is designed to educate small to large commercial and industrial businesses on energy technology, products, and services that will assist them in successful energy management. This year’s conference will include: • Keynote presentation by Christopher B. McGill, Vice President Policy Analysis, American Gas Association • Five educational tracks—technology, industrial, commercial, financial and construction—offering 20 informative 30-minute presentations • Dozens of exhibitors offering energy–related products and services • Major awards recognizing energy efficiency initiatives • A Ride and Drive featuring a fleet of new vehicles, as well as classic cars Cost to Attend: $85 ESD Member $100 Non-Member $154 Non-Member—attend and join ESD at a discounted rate! (This offer is available to new, first-time members only.)


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Visit for more information and to register, or call 248-353-0735. Exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact Leslie Smith, CMP, at or 248-353-0735, ext. 152 for more information. SPONSORS

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TechCentury v.20 n.1 Spring 2015  

The Engineering Society of Detroit's TechCentury magazine, Spring 2015

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