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…]

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.
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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…]

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.

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What is your best spring break memory?

Some college students spend spring break lounging on a beach. Others help rebuild a small town after a natural disaster or trek the Continental Divide. We asked about your favorite spring break experiences. Here is what you told us.

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What advice would you share with a new S&T student?

 To welcome new students to campus during Opening Week at the start of the school year, we asked upperclassmen and alumni to share advice for new S&T students. Here is what they told us.

“This will be the most impactful four years (or more) of your life. It is a watershed. As an alumnus (retired vice president of a Fortune 500 company) said, “Come to Rolla and change you and your family station in life for generations to come.” Most of us came from modest means. We look back and realize we would not be where we are today if it were not for that decision to come here … and the stick-tu-it-ive-ness to hang in there when it got tough. Best decision I ever made, many of us have said.”
– Bob Stevens, ChE’81, Houston, Texas

“Work hard, make friends, workout, stay safe.”
– Jeff Evans, ME’11, Kansas City, Mo.

“Join a design team. Employers care more about your campus involvement and leadership skills than your GPA. You can be as smart as Sheldon Cooper, but if you don’t demonstrate an ability to work with a team, they won’t hire you. I was hired in largely because of my leadership positions with AAVG (Advanced Aero Vehicle Group).”
– Tim Peters, AE’10, Derby, Kan.

1. Study hard — Most employers have minimum GPA requirements. 2. Get involved — There are plenty of extracurricular activities to choose from (design teams, faith-based groups, res life organizations, etc.) Starting as a freshman will put you in a good position to be in a leadership position your junior or senior year — another thing employers look for. 3. Actively participate in Opening Week — Class, Project X, make some new friends, and don’t forget the evening activities! 4. Make the most of the opportunity — College is your opportunity to try new things, meet new people, build new skills and develop friendships that will last long after you graduate.”
– Gail Lueck, EMgt’02, MS EMgt’03, St. Louis

Q&A: What was your hardest class at S&T?

Maybe it was beneficial and you use the knowledge you gained daily or maybe you’re just glad you survived. Either way, we asked about your hardest class or your toughest professor. Here’s what you told us: [Read more…]

Is S&T haunted?

University campuses and college towns are notorious settings for ghost stories. Is Rolla one of them? Is Missouri S&T haunted? We asked about your spooky Rolla experiences. Here’s what you told us.

Two incidents occurred within a couple weeks of each other at the same house a few blocks from campus in Rolla. First, I usually fell asleep listening to the radio playing softly. One night I was awakened by my radio as it was turning itself up until the volume was blasting. This
was an old tube radio with a mechanical volume knob. Second, I was awakened one night by the shower running full blast, not from broken plumbing but from the handle being turned wide open.

Mark Buhr, MetE’89
Washington, Mo.

A few years after graduating from S&T, I brought a group of college students to campus for a conference. While taking the students on a tour of campus, sharing with them what I remembered from my ambassador days, the students asked “Do you have any ghosts?” You see, there is a residence hall on the campus where they go to school that is supposedly haunted. I laughed and explained that when engineers hear weird sounds from the attic, they go upstairs, nail down the floor boards, seal the windows and make sure the mouse traps are set.

Aimee Rea, Psych’06
Maryville, Mo.

During my freshman year at S&T, in the fall of 1980, my grandmother asked me to visit the
Pi Kappa Alpha house, which had been the home of my great-uncle, Carl Cromer. He had been a member of Pi Kappa Alpha long ago and passed away during his sophomore year after an October 1937 car accident on Highway 63, near the present-day Stonehenge.

I was surprised to find out that Carl was reputed to have haunted the Pike house for years. Many members refused to occupy his room, which had been dedicated in his memory. Many unexplained phenomena had occurred over the years, ranging from the sound of glass crashing, to “ghostly images” and dogs barking and jumping up and down on the tiled crest just inside the front door.

Perhaps the strangest occurrence happened after the fire that destroyed the Pike house in February 1999. My husband, Chris Ramsay, MetE’83, MS MetE’85, who is chapter advisor to the fraternity, and several members scoured and searched the rubble of the house looking for the memorial plaque that hung on Carl’s door. They searched and searched, but found no plaque. A year later on the first Founder’s Day after the fire, my husband returned to his desk in the metallurgy department foundry to find the plaque, a little discolored, bent and scarred by the fire, mysteriously sitting on his desk.

Darlene Ramsay, MetE’84
Rolla, Mo.

Q&A: Did you ever pull a prank in college?

Were hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone Missouri S&T alumni all work and no play during college? We don’t think so. We’ve heard tales of students leading a calf to the third floor of the Rolla Building, constructing a brick wall across Pine Street and burning an outhouse on campus. We wanted to hear more of those stories, so we asked.

Yeah, they’ve tried to get me to incriminate myself before. It’s not going to happen.
Jeff Spencer, CSci’93, Rolla, Mo.

To this day, I will testify that I know nothing about who disabled the elevators in TJ Hall. Move along folks, nothing to see here.
Patrick Williams, CE’11, Helena, Ark.

There might be stickers on hard-to-reach places around campus. Some are in plain sight and were still there as of February 2012 when I was last there. Some are probably in official press pictures. Good luck finding them, and to whoever put them there.
Scott Frazier, EE’09, Rochester Hills, Mich.

The final in the 1997 Intro to Programming C++ involved debugging an application. Simple things like finding compile time errors and logic errors and fixing them. The lab probably had about 40 students in it. One student had created a program to play “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on delay. You loaded it off of your 3.5-inch floppy disk, ran the program (which loaded it into memory), popped out the floppy and were out of the room before it went off. He passed out several copies the week before the final. My guess is almost half of the class had a copy of this program. I stayed until almost the end of the final, sitting in the back row listening as more and more PCs played out the song in all its 8-bit glory.
Nate Taylor, EE’00, Omaha

We repeatedly painted the Mu back on the rock at the Sigma Chi annex after they had the big “Burning the Mu” party. The Mu was dropped after getting their charter. We even went in camouflage with war paint. They tried to catch us, but it never worked. It was great fun. I was even dating a Sigma Chi and they were clueless. The sorority girls were not on the suspect list.
Cheri Mohan-Schmitt, ME’87, St. Louis

It is a tradition for the pledges of Sigma Phi Epsilon to drag the large rock in their front yard to another fraternity so their members would have to drag it back. In 1994, the students at the fraternity where the rock ended up rented a jack hammer and made the rock easier to carry back to Sig Ep. I’m not Greek, but I had some great friends in the Sig Ep house. When I asked them if they were going to replace it, of course their answer was “yes.” Their minds going wild with the size of rock they wanted to get. But then after a bit of estimation of what they could actually haul, they realized their goal was out of reach because no one in the house had a large enough truck to move a three-ton granite boulder. I said, “You find the rock, I’ll haul it.” I worked for Poe’s Gas, which had a truck equipped with a hydraulic boom for hauling propane tanks. One of the guys got permission to take a large red granite boulder from the Experimental Mine. I secured the truck from Gordon Poe, who had only one request, “Just don’t flip my truck over.” I delivered the rock the Saturday before finals week during the fraternity’s traditional senior round of golf. As soon as the rock was on the ground, someone shouted, “Let’s move it!” Those of us that loaded the rock knew this was nearly impossible, but we sat back and watched them try. The rock was sitting on edge and after a few minutes of grunting, it did roll over to a larger flat with a loud thud. I don’t think that rock moved for several semesters because of its extreme weight.

Another time, during the spring of 1997, the old IBM system in the computer lab was going away and all the 1-inch reel-to-reel tapes would all be obsolete. Dax Sparks, AE’96, ME’96, and I were working in the operations and equipment room on weekend shifts. We stockpiled about 80 of those reels and then unwound them and stuffed the mess into Charlie Irwin’s office one Sunday night. (Irwin is a retired supervisor of computing and information services, now known as IT.) His office was on the edge of the room and the walls were all glass. The tape filled the room to about chest height with his desk, chair and computers still inside.
Brian Call, ME’97, MS EMch’99,
Dunlap, Ill.