Michigan Tech Magazine, Spring 2006

Entrepreneurial Alumnus Combines Engineering with Fine Arts

Some might call combining Michigan Tech's traditional strength in engineering with fine arts a mixed marriage, but to alumnus Adam Johnson '98, it is just business—Brockit Solutions, to be exact.

Johnson graduated in 1998 with a degree in mechanical engineering, but he spent his spare time in fine arts. "I did a lot of recording engineering for Milt [chair of fine arts Milton Olsson]. In fact, we expanded the recording capabilities."

While doing audio recording for fine arts, he began to experiment with photography during performances. One thing led to another, and today he is a freelance photographer working for national companies. He still shoots locally, however, including work on the recent Alan Parsons Live Project residency in Houghton.

When asked about his engineering degree, he quickly notes that he is still a mechanical engineer, doing consulting on the side.

Johnson says his combination of engineering and fine arts training make him a successful photographer. "A camera is basically a computer. It is a tool. Learning how to manipulate that tool and get it to do what you want it to do—that is true engineering."

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Art & Technology: New Degree Programs

That marriage of art and engineering is what the Department of Fine Arts has developed into degree programs that the growing world of art through technology can use.

  • Audio Production and Technology, BS
  • Sound Design, BA
  • Theatre and Entertainment Technology, BS/BA

Graduates from these programs will be particularly attractive to employers because the field is growing beyond traditional entertainment venues. Designers are getting work doing everything from theme park rides and restaurant design to corporate event planning.

Department Chair Milt Olsson affirms, "There is nobody else in the country that is offering this combination of the arts and technology."

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Michigan Tech Loses a Great Friend

Theodore Rozsa '36 (1915-2006)

Theodore Rozsa '36 (1915-2006)

Ted Rozsa '36, whose generous gifts jump-started construction of the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and helped dozens of students attend Michigan Tech, passed away March 2 in Calgary, Alberta, at the age of ninety.

He and Lola, his wife of sixty-six years, donated more than $3 million to Michigan Tech, including $2 million to what would become the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts and two $500,000 scholarship endowments. The Rozsas also supported the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences, from which Ted graduated with a BS in Geology.

"I will always remember Ted for a conversation he and Lola and I had two years ago," said President Glenn Mroz. "We were talking about all the students who were benefiting from their scholarships and the thank-you cards those students sent. He loved reading them. As we were saying our goodbyes, Ted and Lola's generosity and their commitment to Michigan Tech's students was summed up in one simple request they made-'Please let those students know we think of them all as our grandchildren.'"

In 1996, Ted Rozsa remembered his years at Michigan Tech as good but lean in the areas of music and theater. Everyone, he said, needs exposure to the finer things in life.

"Part of my reason for supporting the fine arts building at Tech was because they need a little more than straight engineering," he said. "When I was there, they had sports but not too much in the humanities."

After graduating at the top of his class in Grand Rapids' Creston High School, Rozsa had a number of scholarship offers but came to Michigan Tech because the University promised him free tuition for a full four years. Shouldering a fifty percent class overload, he completed his degree in record time-less than three years-and headed south to Oklahoma where the oil was. After fourteen years of traveling throughout North America for Shell Oil, he struck out on his own, founding a number of exploration companies and settling in Calgary. He made his fortune by applying geophysics in new and creative ways to reveal previously undiscovered underground petroleum reserves.

The Rozsas also supported the arts in their adopted home, donating millions to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. For his professional and charitable achievements, Ted was made an officer in the Order of Canada and received the Gold Medal of the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysics, the Canadian Lescarbot Award, and was honored by the Canadian Music Council. In addition, he received Michigan Tech's Board of Control Silver Medal and honorary doctorates from both Tech and the University of Calgary.

For more on Rozsa's extraordinary life, visit www.theglobeandmail.com.

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Tech Alumnus Becomes Bishop

Rev. Sample

At his installation ceremony, Rev. Sample raised the chalice first used by Bishop Baraga. Photo courtesy of the Marquette Diocese.

A Michigan Tech alumnus ('82) has become the youngest Catholic bishop in the nation. The Rev. Alexander Sample, 45, is the twelfth bishop of the Diocese of Marquette. The first was the beloved Jesuit priest, Bishop Frederic Baraga, who served from 1853 until his death in 1868.

Appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, Sample was installed on Jan. 25 by Archbishop Adam Cardinal Maida of Detroit. A chalice that belonged to Bishop Baraga, a gift from Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, was used in Rev. Sample's installation ceremony.

Humbled, Sample said of his appointment, "My goal is to be truly a shepherd . . . not to be served, but to serve."

Earning both bachelor's and master's degrees in metallurgy from Michigan Tech in 1982 and 1984, respectively, Rev. Sample recalls fondly his years at Tech: "They were formative years for me. I really matured there and sort of came into my own. I was active on campus and learned a self-confidence that has served me well."

Although he had kind of a "nagging" inclination to join the priesthood since he was in the fourth grade, "I just kept putting it aside," he says. After earning his master's at MTU, he was ready to follow his inclination: "The 'call' became very strong, and I knew I would never know peace until I explored the vocation to be a priest," recalls Sample. "Once I made the decision, I never looked back or regretted it."

Sample then studied at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Pontifical College Josephinum Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. He was ordained a priest on June 1, 1990.

The Marquette Diocese, which covers the entire Upper Peninsula, is the perfect appointment for a man who enjoys mountain biking and cross-country skiing. "I love being out in the beauty of God's creation."

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