The night started as one of celebration, as more than 450 seniors received their diplomas from Joplin High School on May 22. A light rain interrupted snapshots of new graduates and forced them to leave the open lawn of Missouri Southern State University for the shelter of their cars. Moments later, the day’s joy and happiness turned into chaos as a deadly EF-5 twister ripped through the southwestern Missouri town.
Recently, while deployed in Joplin, Mo., Steve Winters, PetE’83, was reminded of Sept. 11, 2001. “After the tornado,” he says, “the smell of wet concrete dust brought an immediate flashback to the smells in New York.”
The peace and quiet is broken by emergency sirens. Soon the distant thump of a medical helicopter gets louder. In communities across West Tennessee, paramedics arrive on the scene and administer life-saving care taught by Gerald Foon, ME’74.
Six years ago, after he retired, Jerry Sellers, ME’69, got into the mosquito business. “I needed something to occupy my time,” says the president and owner of MosquitoZone.
Society’s widespread use of antibiotics often causes bacteria to genetically mutate to survive, creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can be deadly. But decades of research by James Knox, Chem’63, has given pharmaceutical companies vital tools to help them design new antibiotics or re-engineer old ones these resistant bacteria can’t elude.
When he eventually made it out of the danger zone that day, John Allen went looking for a British ship — because they had the good scotch. Like many in his generation, he’s reluctant to talk about it. The last thing Allen wants to do is make a big deal about his role in the invasion. “I just happened to be one of the guys who lived through it,” he says.
Maj. Dennis Sugrue, GeoE’04, learned an important lesson during his time in Afghanistan — engineering projects can solve social problems, but only if they maintain a community’s social balance.
Before there was “Extreme Makeover” on national television, the Kansas City area had HopeBUILDERS Home Repair, a volunteer organization that does everything from changing light bulbs to installing wheelchair ramps to whole-house rehabilitations. The group, co-founded by Greg Wayne, EE’79, started as an outreach ministry of a collection of churches in 2000. Volunteers do most of their work on Saturdays.
In 2007, two years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and three years before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, John Hoffmanstarted Black Elk Energy, an oil company that strives to be eco-friendly.
In 2004, Jerry Rich, EE’74, took early retirement from a 30-year career as an electrical engineer with Eastman Chemical Co. and went back to school to become a teacher. After a couple of prerequisite courses at a local technical college, Rich entered a “career changers” program at the University of South Carolina. His first year of teaching was 2006.