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

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…]

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.

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.

A note from (Mehmet) Nihat Taner, MS CE’73

It was a long journey from Istanbul. Our plane refueled somewhere near Ireland and then in a small airport in eastern Canada before landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. At JFK we learned that we must go to La Guardia Airport for the flight to St. Louis. There was another person, a middle-aged Greek lady who was also going to St. Louis. We all got into a cab and barely made it on time to our flight. From St. Louis, we had to take a Greyhound bus to Rolla. We arrived sometime after midnight, very early on a Sunday morning in August 1972. [Read more…]

Letters to the editor

The article on Ron Epps, Phys’67, was of high interest to me as there were four students from Mount Vernon High School in two consecutive years who were physics majors at (then) UMR – Epps, Nick Prater, Phys’67, Charles Steven Nichols, Phys’68, and myself. This would seem to be exceptional as our high school classes were only about 70 students! We all graduated near the top of our classes at UMR — pretty good record for four country kids from a small high school in southwest Missouri. This was due in no small part to the mentoring we received from Henle Holmes, MS Tch Math’61, our physics and math instructor at Mount Vernon, and then the fine university leadership of Dr. H.Q. Fuller and Dr. John T. Park, who later became chancellor.

I taught math and physics for 11 years and then worked 30-plus years in the oil service industry, retiring in April from Schlumberger as project manager in the area of exploration software development.

—Eugene Aufdembrink, Phys’68, MS Phys’70, Needville, Texas

I earned my master’s degree in December 1973 and we moved on to Montréal, Canada, for my doctorate. Now, 40 years after we left Rolla, I am writing from my hometown of Mersin, Turkey. My wife is a professor in Mersin University. I am director of a manufacturing company and our clientele includes Nooter/Eriksen Inc. It is always nice to find out that some of the people at Nooter were students at Rolla at the same time with me.

Looking back, I can say that we have spent some of our most pleasant days in Rolla and we remember them fondly. Thank you, Rolla. It has been a privilege and honor to be among your students and alumni.

(Mehmet) Nihat Taner, MS CE’73, Mersin, Turkey

I just received my Fall/Winter issue of I and it reminded me of Prof. Kent Peaslee, who presented me with the Benjamin F. Fairless Award at AISTech 2013 in Pittsburgh on May 7, 2013. Prof. Peaslee was president of the Association for Iron and Steel Technology (AIST) and he presented the award at the President’s Breakfast with more than 1,200 people in attendance. I have attached a photo of the presentation. Tragically, Prof. Peaslee suddenly passed away the following week. I thought that you may want to include the photo in an upcoming magazine.

— Bruce Bramfitt, MetE’60, MS MetE’62, PhD MetE’66, Steelton, Pa.

Letters to the editor

I was pleased to see (“On the Right Track,” Summer 2013) that you do not share the Wall Street Journal’s hatred of railroads (and bicycling and walking for that matter). One of my very few professional regrets is following my father’s otherwise excellent advice when I left MSM/UMR/Missouri S&T in 1967. A railroad employee all his working life, he recommended I not consider railroads as a career. For about one decade, the advice looked sound; but as we, and Warren Buffet, know this has changed dramatically. Based on what I saw while riding the “High Line” from Seattle to Minneapolis, It would appear that Travis Duncan, the subject of the article, faces better employment prospects than pipeline engineers.

Paul Marlin, MS CSci’67
Quincy, Ill.

I have an ash tray that I cast in a foundry class in 1959 that the archives might be interested in. It is a testament to the cultural changes that have occurred during the past half-century. At the time, a large number of students smoked and it was a fairly popular item, but it was a poor design. It 
was really too shallow to keep ashes from being blown around, and if you set a cigarette in the notch on the side, the length of the cigarette would contact the bottom of the ash tray and extinguish the cigarette. The other interesting feature is the name cast in the top — “Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy.”

Kudos to Missouri S&T Magazine. It is a great publication. It is amazing the number of women that are mentioned. I graduated in January 1963 and I think the number was around 30 then. 

Ed Kriege, ME’63
Ocean Pines, Md.

Dear Editor,

I am what you might call one of the ol’ timers. I graduated from, as we called it, MSM, way back in 1947. This afternoon, I was sitting in the swing on our front porch in Erwin, Tenn., that is halfway between Flag Pond, Tenn., and Unicoi, Tenn. (now you know where it is!), reading the summer copy of your Missouri S&T Magazine. I enjoyed it very much. You all did an outstanding job. I finished reading it and picked up my copy of the July 15, 2013, National Review. On page 27, I saw an article titled “Blowing up Barbie.” I didn’t think I wanted to read it until I saw “Rolla, Mo.,” under the author’s name. This piqued my interest and I found the article to be very interesting. I don’t know whether or not you have seen it. On the assumption you did not, I have enclosed the article. I found it to be very interesting as it told the story of the Explosives Camp offered at Missouri S&T. Keep up the good work.

Cliff Dameron, MetE’47
Erwin, Tenn.

Letters: Fall/Winter 2012

On Nov. 23, 1965, I took possession of a 1966 Pontiac GTO hardtop in Rolla, Mo. I was a college graduating senior. I had no job. I had, as yet, no firm job offer. Nonetheless, the dealer offered a financing deal:  my old 1958 Hillman Minx, no payments for 30 days, the first year’s insurance was included in the purchase price and the first three payments were $25.00. The deal was closed in less than 30 minutes. The dealer gave me the keys and told me to drive it off of the show room floor, which I did. I bought the car with every intention of keeping it forever. So far so good.

[Read more…]

Letters: Spring 2012

As usual I enjoyed the latest issue of Missouri S&T Magazine. Item No. 125 (Ramey’s) of the “140 things we love” reminded me of Bear Tracks. As I recall, it was downtown above a bowling alley. You could have your own beer stein with your name on it and it was always available from a rack of steins on the wall. You walked in, grabbed your stein, and it was filled at a discount price. I still have my stein from the place. How about doing a bit of research on Bear Tracks and include the information in a future issue of the magazine? I think us older alumni would enjoy it. (I did, on rare occasion of course, visit Ramey’s.)
Keep up the good work.
Gary W. Davis, EE’57
Onyx, Calif.

The list of 140 things was a welcome and inspired idea for the Fall magazine. Having attended UMR in the late ’60s, I kept looking for mention of the “Green Sheet” (I think that was the name). This several-green-page publication would appear around campus about the time of St. Pat’s and would be a kind of “roast” for professors, graduate assistants and others who deserved a bit of mention — mostly negative, often bawdy, mainly off-color remarks and description. No one knew where this paper originated, but I remember looking forward to it year after year. I wonder if someone has a copy tucked away in the attic somewhere.
Lyle Hill, ME’73
Rhineland, Mo.

Regarding No. 129 of the 140 things we love about S&T in the Fall 2011 issue, before it was the Grotto, the Cavern, Brewster’s, or the Mine Shaft, it was Hiram and Mortimers. I know; I was a bartender there in 1975, just before I graduated. That was the first that I know of that basement being a bar. It was during the foosball days. We had six foosball tables and free barrels of peanuts; eat the peanuts and throw the shells on the floor. Good times!
Roger Keller, MinE’75, MS MinE’82
Las Vegas

In the Fall 2011 issue, you missed the football team’s unbeaten season in 1980. You also missed the 1949 football team, which was undefeated in the MIAA Conference. They lost the first two games, both non-conference games. The 1950 football team played in tennis shoes on ice and snow. They were the MIAA Conference champions, losing one non-conference game and one conference game.

The 1914 and 1980 football teams were the only unbeaten teams, and 1949 was the only other undefeated football team in the MIAA conference.
Since the 1980 unbeaten team, Missouri S&T has changed to a weaker conference and still is unable to have a winning championship season. I still enjoyed the Missouri S&T Magazine.
Arthur L. Schmidt, ChE’50
Lake St. Louis, Mo.

Regarding the 140 things we love about S&T, No. 102 Schuman Pond? As both a townie and proud 1977 graduate, I always heard it referred to as Frisco Pond, named after the Frisco railroad. Has my memory finally gone or has the name changed? And yes, No. 126 Tim’s Pizza did have the best pizza and salads in town. There was nothing wrong with the pitchers of beer, either.

I lived in Rolla from 1955, when my dad was assigned to the ROTC department after we returned from Japan, until I graduated in 1977, with time out for the Navy (1970-74). Back then, the ROTC department was in a wooden two story WWI-era building behind the gym. My dad’s office was on the second floor and I remember a rifle range on the ground floor. I pretty much grew up on campus and have fond memories of both the university and Rolla.
John Walker, Econ’77
La Porte, Texas

The 141st thing we love about Missouri S&T is amateur radio station W0EEE.
Douglas Hughes, EE’63
Ann Arbor, Mich.

Letters: Spring 2009

Mike Swoboda and I pledged Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity in Rolla in the fall of 1956. Mike was voted in as chapter president in his sophomore year: An unusual move at that time.
He quickly consolidated his leadership team and our fraternity began to move up in all aspects of our activities and in prestige on campus. Bob Elrod, CerE’63, was the chapter treasurer and Mike would have Elrod announce all the moves and changes that might be controversial. Poor Elrod was his lightning rod but they made a good team. Mike led our fraternity to high respect on campus in his two years as president.

We shared a great love for sport and competition. Mike’s primary sport was tennis but he became a very effective player in flag football, volleyball, basketball, and softball (fast pitch). At one point we did not have a good pitcher so Mike and I went up to one of the local school play grounds that had a backstop fence and took turns trying to learn to pitch using the classic windmill motion of fast pitch softball. Neither of us could master it.

Though we were about the same height, Mike was a spiker and I was his setter in volleyball. He was left handed and not an overpowering spiker but enormously effective. Mike had that rare ability to think in the middle of a competitive event and would sense where the defense was and direct the ball away. His dinks scored as often as his slams.
Once I came into his room and it happened to be election night. Mike had two yellow legal pads on his desk and was listening intently to the radio. On the pads were the names of all the Senators and Governors running for office and he was keeping tally with a pencil.

He loved the political process and particularly loved small town politics. He eventually got his dream job, Mayor of Kirkwood, and he brought to it the same skills that make him so effective as a fraternity president. Mike would always do all of the grunt work to secure and know where all of his votes were. Folks who found themselves on the opposite side of an issue from Mike rarely were willing to put in the time and effort that Mike did regularly. As a result they regularly lost and Mike won setting up some long standing resentments.

But one could never question where Mike’s heart was. He was determined to be the very best mayor that a town ever had… And he was. I keep thinking of that song “Jimmy Walker loved New York… “Well Michael E. Swoboda really loved Kirkwood and served his town well.

Michael C. Kearney, EE’60, Kirkwood, Mo.
Kearney is a fraternity brother of late Kirkwood, Mo., Mayor Mike Swoboda, ME’60, who died Sept. 6 as a result of injuries suffered in the Kirkwood City Hall shootings of Feb. 7, 2008.