Letters to the editor: Fall/Winter 2016

Accounts of my death have been greatly exaggerated. In the April 1987 MSM Alumnus on page 33 it was reported that I had passed away. Other than me being dead, all of the other details were correct. I have enclosed a copy of the front page of the Alumnus and page 33 for your review. I have just retired from the city of University Park after 27 years and hope to enjoy many more years in retirement. I thought it was time to correct the record.

Robert E. “Bob” Whaling, CE’73
Plano, Texas


I have just completed reading from cover to cover the latest Missouri S&T Magazine, and I especially enjoy the stories of the current S&T collaborative projects and how these help give students some practical experience. During my visit to Rolla for my 50th class reunion last year, I enjoyed touring the Kummer Student Design Center and seeing the chemical car in the ChE department. From the alumni magazine, I see that all students must now take part in at least one experimental learning project before they graduate.

I would like to tell you about the required student collaborative projects required by the chemical engineering department for students taking ChE 255, Chemical Engineering Design, in 1965. In order to graduate, you had to do a chemical engineering design project as a team. In the 1960s, the farmers of Missouri voiced a loud complaint that while they paid taxes to support the Missouri universities, they did not receive any benefit. Therefore, Dr. Dudley Thompson, chair of chemical engineering, declared that the design classes must do a project that would benefit the farmers. It was determined that there was an unlimited supply of scrub oak within a 50-mile radius of Rolla, and this scrub oak was considered a weed tree. Therefore, the project must be one that would consume this tree in some form. A couple of the design teams took the easy way out and designed a charcoal production process.

Prof. Russell Primrose challenged our group to do something more innovative. We learned that The Masonite Corp. blasted trees with high-pressure water to break down the tree trunks to form the basis for their Masonite boards. That process produced a side product of wood lignins that they had to figure out how to use since they could no longer discharge this byproduct into the river. They developed a process to convert these lignin fibers into a type of livestock feed. Thus our project was to take scrub oak as the starting material and design a commercial-sized plant to turn this scrub oak into a livestock feed. At that time there was an oak barrel maker not far from Rolla, and we were able to get an unlimited supply of gunny sacks full of oak sawdust.

After a series of trials first on a lab scale and then scaling that process up into larger equipment in the unit ops lab, we were successful in developing a process to hydrolyze this sawdust into what we called a wood sugar. I still fondly remember the very hot days in the unit ops lab with my fellow chemical engineering students sweating and working out the necessary equipment and processing techniques to complete this project.

The disappointing outcome was that we could produce a wood sugar, but the capital expense was so large that a pound of wood sugar would cost about $5/pound while you could buy refined cane sugar in the grocery store for well under $1. Dr. Primrose gave us an A for our efforts. I guess there is still an unlimited supply of scrub oak just waiting for someone to figure out how to turn it into a cash crop for the farmers.

Wick Doll, ChE’65
Spartanburg, S.C.


would like to commend you on Missouri S&T Magazine. It is very interesting and full of news — without typos, which is unusual these days. The latest issue, Spring 2016, was especially good. I especially enjoyed the young man who was into volunteering. As an avid volunteer myself, I was very impressed
by him.

Pat Swanson, wife of the late Ken Swanson, GGph’59, CerE’62
West Liberty, Ohio

Q&A: Fall/Winter 2016

I owe my success to … “Which individual — faculty, staff or administrator — from your time in Rolla had the greatest impact on your success?” Historian Larry Gragg, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of history and political science, posed this question during the summer. Here are a few of your answers. [Read more…]

To the editor

Ladies and Gents,

The Fall/Winter 2015 issue of Missouri S&T Magazine has now made a quantum jump in significance, importance and intelligent reporting about issues and topics relating to alumni contributions. Obviously many other topics aside from the great inventors need to be addressed but the inclusion of these several alumni inventors is a great step forward. [Read more…]

Tell us about your charitable side

Miner alumni are a generous bunch. You share your time and treasure with all types of organizations that serve others in many ways. Many of you give back to your alma mater. We asked what inspires you to give, and here is what you told us.
[Read more…]

What was your favorite food during college?

Before the days of university food service, many Miner alumni ate their meals at eating clubs. Later, campus cafeterias provided the three squares a Miner needed. For some students, a landlady or fraternity or sorority cook served the meals. Others had a favorite restaurant. We asked about your favorite food during college. Here is what you told us. [Read more…]

Social

Letter to the editor

I just received and read the Spring issue of Missouri S&T Magazine. I enjoy the articles and especially the notes about the old-timers of my generation and before. 

However, I was disturbed by something in the article on page 38 titled “Reliving History.” My
hat is off to men like
Joseph Senne (MS CE’51) who fought in that war and won it, but a phrase in the article stated “… the peace treaty with Japan … .” Joseph and others of the Greatest Generation won that war. Period. The U.S. did not negotiate a peace treaty. Japan signed an unconditional surrender. There is a difference.

In today’s politically correct world we seem to have forgotten what winning is. Please don’t forget that there was a generation that won. Completely, unconditionally.

Sincerely,
Henry R. Atkinson, CE’56
Richmond, Va.

Editor’s Note:  Thank you very much for your note and for pointing out our error in using the phrase “peace treaty with Japan” to characterize the terms of Japan’s surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, to mark the end of World War II. It would have been more accurate for us to have written that Senne was on Okinawa when “Japan surrendered” or “Japan signed the instruments of surrender” on that date.

What was your most memorable all-nighter?

At one time or another, nearly every Miner has pulled an all-nighter. Maybe you stayed up all night cramming for a calculus test. Maybe you road-tripped across the country with your fraternity or sorority pledge class. Maybe you just hung out with friends having a good time. We asked about your memorable all-nighter. Here is what you told us.

In early March 1973, I was carving a snake head and body from a large oak limb to be mounted on Sigma Tau Gamma’s entry in the St. Pat’s cudgel contest. About 1 a.m. I sliced my left index finger to the bone, made my way to the infirmary and woke the night nurse. When she offered to sew it up I asked whether I would still be able to bend it for the remainder of the evening. I explained “I have a carving to finish, so our cudgel will win.” Her answer being “No,” I asked her to just disinfect it and wrap it up. I returned to the house and continued carving until dawn, making sure the occasional blood did not ruin the carving. I still have the snake head carving; it matches the snake on the winning 1973 St. Pat’s sweatshirt design (mine, also). Our cudgel did win the 1973 competition, carried by Mark “Tiny” Middendorf, GGph’74.

Jim Martin, AE’75
Raytown, Mo.


I had to pass every final exam to graduate in January 1965. I spent nine all-nighters studying in the Kappa Alpha dining room. The study table stood in front of a coat closet, and for years I was known as “Keeper of the Closet.”

Jay W. Alford, MetE’65
Miller, Mo.


Math came easy for me, and the logic behind it easily kept me awake during all-night sessions. (This may explain why after 50 years, I’m still a working structural engineer.) But if I had a reading assignment for literature or history, I ran into difficulty. I would hold my right arm vertical on the desk with a pen in my hand, and if I dozed off, I would drop the pen and wake myself up. I would then pick up the pen and start the process all over again, pushing myself through the reading assignment.

Dale Mueller, EE’62
St. Louis


It was St. Pat’s 1948. We started a bridge game on the Sigma Nu front porch at about 10 p.m. It was a warm evening with no wind, and we had a good time. All of a sudden, we noticed the sun coming up. We had spent the whole night without ever getting tired. I still think about it with good memories.

Jim Fisher, CE’48
Lakewood, Colo.


I remember the time I spent in the Kelly Hall basement laundry room cramming for some long-forgotten test. I didn’t want to disturb my roommate with the light and me talking to myself. When I finally gave up, I had just over an hour to sleep. I set two alarm clocks to make certain I did not oversleep. I woke up AFTER the second one went off — because it fell on me when I tried to turn it off while I was still in my sleepy grogginess.

Willard Sudduth, CE’66
Decatur, Ill.

What is your favorite place in Rolla?

For some alumni, a campus locale holds a special place in their heart. Others have fond memories of recreation spots or enjoying the great outdoors. We asked about your favorite place in Rolla. Here is what you told us.

[Read more…]

Letters – Fall/Winter 2014

Dear Editor,

I first read your article “Where’s Dave” in Missouri S&T Magazine during my freshman year in 2009. At that time I was looking for motivation and a direction for my future. Of all the material I had read while searching for my dream career, I found this article to be the most inspiring; I decided I wanted to travel in Dave McCann’s footsteps. My career needed not be with GE, but would simply allow me to interact directly with people of many different cultures while solving technical problems. I still reread the article now and again to remind myself of the end goal. I would like to contact Dave McCann, so if you could point me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it.

Evan Carroll, senior in mechanical engineering, Clarence, Mo.

Editor’s note: Dave McCann, ME’79, was featured in the Summer 2009 “Miners Around the World” issue. We forwarded Evan’s note to Dave. Here is his response:


Dear Editor,

Wow! What a nice and unexpected honor to know that my story has provided inspiration for a young person interested in following a similar path in life. Thanks for forwarding his message to me. I will contact Evan directly, and hope that I can provide him with some insights. And just in case you are interested, I retired last year, and have continued to travel and explore new places and cultures. I came back to Jeff City to attend my 40-year high school reunion and celebrate my dad’s 87th birthday, but I just got back from my first-ever trip to Costa Rica, where I spent the month of May sightseeing. My favorite moment was spotting a wild toucan in the trees just above me one afternoon while I was watching the sun set over a little beachside village. Life is good. 🙂

Dave McCann, ME’79, Jefferson City, Mo.


Dear Editor,

I just received the latest issue of Missouri S&T Magazine and while reading through it I noticed that on page 22 in “by the numbers” it says the baseball team has 608 wins since its inception in 1966. I take exception to that because I was part of the first baseball team that played in the spring of 1965. So this year would be the 50th year. We were 6-6 that first year. I even have the school newspaper that mentions that record. I always felt that we didn’t get any recognition for that year and it seems like we’ve been forgotten. I hope you can rectify this error. We would start each practice on the third base line and walk the infield to pick up any rocks on the infield.

Mike Hahn, ME’70, Florissant, Mo.

Editor’s note: You are correct, Mike. The Miners played as an independent team in 1965, one year before joining the MIAA Conference in 1966. We apologize for the error. Thank you for setting us straight.