HOUGHTON - Michigan Technological University alumni are back on campus and learning how the university has changed since they graduated.
The three-day alumni reunion, which began Thursday, continued Friday with class gatherings, a children's science exploration and other activities.
Friday afternoon, several departments held open houses to show off their latest developments. In mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics, alumni and their families could either work on a bridge-building activity or work with an accelerometer to measure the speed of the MEEM building's elevators, as well as taking tours of the facility.
For MEEM, it was also a chance to test-run the department's new curriculum, which places more of a focus on what associate professor Charles D. Van Karsen called a "open-ended, true engineering experience," in following with trends in how real-world engineering takes place. The new curriculum reduces core courses and adds four practice-based courses in the second and third years and adds more technical elective credits.
"We're really trying to integrate the analysis with practical experience ... they get to see the connection between the two," said lecturer Paul van Susante.
Van Karsen demonstrated how to use an accelerometer to measure the rate of the MEEM elevator, which at 500 feet per minute, has been called "the fastest elevator in the U.P." by the technician who works with most elevators in the peninsula, Karsen said.
The department's new direction was to the liking of Ken Schneider. The Chillicothe, Illinois, resident is an MTU alumnus twice over; he graduated in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and getting a master's in the same field in 1990. He and his family come up every year for the alumni reunion, and camping at McLain State Park.
"We enjoy coming to the area, kayaking, bicycling, and it's interesting to come back and see what's going on with the department," he said.
Other activities he's taken part in include the mechanical engineering-engineering mechanics boat cruise and a pasty picnic.
"They were really great," he said. "My whole family enjoys that."
Alumni weekend continues today with events such as canoeing and hiking trips and tours and the tennis and women's basketball facilities.