MTU Students Present Design Project to Lawmakers

May 16, 2018

Lansing, MI – Hundreds of 2018 Michigan Technological University graduates started new jobs this week. Four took a detour to the state capitol, to share their Senior Design project—an underwater utility corridor spanning the Straits of Mackinac—with Michigan lawmakers.

The corridor, a 21-foot-diameter, 4.5-mile tunnel that would house utility lines that cross the Straits, was this year’s senior capstone project for 13 civil engineering and three construction management graduates. The four students representing the group presented the project to the state’s 15-member Pipeline Advisory Safety Board at its quarterly meeting on Monday morning. They made a second presentation, to the joint meeting of the Senate Committee on Transportation and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Tuesday morning. Officials were impressed by both the concept and the students.

“I thought it important the Legislature hear that there are real alternatives for spanning the Straits with the utilities that are critical to the well-being of the Upper Peninsula—alternatives that are environmentally safe and may be economically viable,” said Senate Transportation Chair Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba. “I was all the more eager that the Legislature be made aware of these findings to showcase why Michigan Tech is renowned throughout the world for the exceptional quality of the education it offers students—quality that was evident to my colleagues through the detailed, thorough, thoughtful and articulate analysis students presented.”

Senator Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, transportation committee vice chair and acting chair for Tuesday’s session, said he’s intrigued by the design concept. “Michigan is capable of managing very big projects and our economic and environmental future looks bright if this concept can become a reality. The students from Michigan Tech prove, once again, that some of the world’s smartest people are Michiganders.”

Senior Design projects at Michigan Tech, also known as capstones, are treated more like a first job than a final course. Students work with both faculty and industry advisors—in this case, Mike Drewyor, former owner and partner of Hitch Engineering, Inc. and Traverse City-based engineering consultant Jim Morrison. Both are Tech grads.

Design team member Michael Prast says it felt really good to have the group’s ideas heard and welcomed. “It felt like we were truly working on a project not just to fill a class credit but also to contribute to society and add a solution to a very real and contested problem.”

For more details and contact information, read “New Grads Present Straits Tunnel Project to Lawmakers” on Michigan Tech News.

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