A free-wheeling solution to poverty

Pearl millet, a hardy grain that is abundant in even the harshest regions of Africa and India, is a staple for many of the world’s poorest people. But removing the edible seed from the chaff is hard work. Traditional threshing techniques usually involve women pounding the plant with mortar and pestle.

Over the summer, Michelle Marincel, NucE’06, MS EnvE’08, helped design an ergonomic threshing machine to provide some relief to that back-breaking work. She was part of a group of students chosen to attend the International Development Design Summit at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The students joined professors and professionals in groups of 10 to work on projects aimed at addressing issues related to poverty.
“A researcher provided panicles of pearl millet for us to roll up our sleeves and destroy as we struggled to understand the best way to remove the grains from the stalk,” says Marincel. “Ultimately, we discovered the physics behind millet threshing. We tried numerous iterations of threshing devices. We tried using rubber, brushes, vacuums, centrifuges and many odd materials to remove the grain.”
They hit upon creating a machine that works like a bicycle. “The key we discovered is hitting the grains at high speeds in the right direction,” she says. “Our idea is that a woman on a bicycle could carry, on her back, an extra wheel for the purpose of threshing. When she reaches the field, she could turn her bicycle upside down and change out the back wheel for threshing. This gives mobility to harvesting.”
Marincel says members of her group will stay in touch in order to prepare the bicycle thresher for field tests. More information is available at www.iddsummit.org and milllet.wetpaint.com.

Around the Puck

Generous partners complete ACML fundraising

Thanks to an investment from the University of Missouri System, major gifts from industry partners and alumni support, S&T will break ground on the Advanced Construction and Materials Laboratory (ACML) on Oct. 12, during Homecoming weekend.

[Read More...]

Alumni help with sesquicentennial planning

Seven alumni, including three Miner Alumni Association board members, have been named to Missouri S&T’s sesquicentennial advisory committee. The group is made up of graduates, students, faculty, staff and community members who are involved in planning the university’s upcoming 150th anniversary celebration.

[Read More...]

Using big data to reduce childbirth risks

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, complications during pregnancy or childbirth affect more than 50,000 women annually, and about 700 of them die every year. Steve Corns, associate professor of engineering management and systems engineering, is working with researchers from Phelps County Regional Medical Center through the Ozarks Biomedical Initiative to reduce […]

[Read More...]

Bogan solves Benton mural mystery

Missouri State Capitol muralist Thomas Hart Benton wrote in his memoir about being called into then-Gov. Guy Park’s office and told that a prominent St. Louis politician objected to Benton’s portrayal of black people, especially depictions of slavery.

[Read More...]

Breaking bias

According to Jessica Cundiff, assistant professor of psychological science at S&T, women who consider careers in the physical sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are deterred by stereotypes that impose barriers on the recruitment, retention and advancement of women in STEM.

[Read More...]


  1. Keep up this great work!