Leading the way in teacher education

PLTWMore than 200 middle school and high school teachers from across the United States spent part of their summer at Missouri S&T learning how to teach engineering and biomedical science to their students this fall. The teachers are involved in Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a national effort to get more youth interested in studying engineering and science in college. Missouri S&T is the state affiliate for PLTW.

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New name, broader emphasis for biomedical center

The five-year-old Center for Bone and Tissue Repair and Regeneration now has a new name: the Center for Biomedical Science and Engineering. The change took effect July 1. “We believe this new name is appropriate, as we are broadening the scope of the center,” says center director Len Rahaman, professor of materials science and engineering.

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The visualized data is strong with them

V4DiRMembers of the 2013 V4DiR Team are, from left: Nathan Jarus, David Zemon, Nick Eggleston, Robert Higgins, Mark Bookout and Travis Bueter.

Making sense of ever-increasing mounds of data is a huge challenge facing researchers today. But staff and students in Missouri S&T’s information technology department have come up with a way to help researchers make sense of all that information by turning it into 3-D visualizations.

Make that 4-D visualizations, because the tool created by IT’s research support services team at S&T shows 3-D imagery over time.

The tool is called Visualizing Four Dimensions in Rolla, or V4DiR for short. The IT folks call it “Vader,” as in Darth. But unlike Luke Skywalker’s Star Wars nemesis, V4DiR sheds light, not darkness, by letting researchers see their data in 3-D over various time spans.

On campus, RSS director Mark Bookout and his team have been demonstrating V4DiR’s power by showing researchers maps-in-motion of natural disasters: all of the world’s earthquake occurrences from 1920 through 2012 as well as tornado activity in the U.S. since 1950. The earthquake data is also being used by Stephen Gao, a professor of geology and geophysics who is studying seismic activity in the Horn of Africa region.

That on-screen loop of information can be manipulated to help researchers home in on specific data points. For instance, the visualization can be tilted on an axis to provide greater levels of depth or various angles. Or it can be stopped if researchers want to examine data from a particular time frame.

“We can pinpoint exactly where on the earth, as well as how deep within the earth, an earthquake has happened,” says Nick Eggleston, a junior computer science major who leads the project.

“V4DiR has the potential to enhance any sort of research,” Bookout says. “It allows us to use our natural pattern-recognition capabilities to isolate interesting groupings of information. And our association with vendors ensures that we have enough computing horsepower to build and display very large data sets in quick order.”

Student Success Center up and running

BurnsMcD Success CenterChancellor Cheryl B. Schrader and Breck Washam, ME’90, vice president of Burns & McDonnell and an outgoing member of the Miner Alumni Association board of directors, were on hand April 2 to formally dedicate the Burns & McDonnell Student Success Center, a new outreach to S&T students. Located in Room 198 Toomey Hall at the center of campus, the new center serves as a clearinghouse of information and services for Missouri S&T students. [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.

Letter from the editor

Dear Fellow Alumni:

This issue of Missouri S&T Magazine is about opportunity and taking a chance. It is about taking what you have and turning it into something greater. In this case, the catalyst is Missouri S&T.

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STAT hosts opening week barbecue

Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) hosted a free barbecue during the group’s first meeting of the year on Aug. 28. Students enjoyed food hot off the grill and learned about STAT, the alumni student organization.

Golden Miners reunite

Golden-AlumsThe Miner Alumni Association hosted 48 members of the Class of 1963 and their guests at the 2013 Golden Alumni Reunion May 20–21. In addition to getting reacquainted with each other, alumni and guests toured campus and the Kummer Student Design Center, visited their departments and learned about life on campus today through a presentation by Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader. In a grand recognition ceremony on the final day of the reunion, Schrader and Miner Alumni Association executive director and past president Darlene Ramsay, MetE’84, presented class members with their 50-year pins and certificates. [Read more…]

Miner Made

MinerMadeMiners are makers. Maybe not always in the traditional sense, but the theme of making is a deeply rooted part of who they are.

Look around your house. Your office. Your car. Nearly everything you see has a connection to a Miner, from basic personal needs like shampoo, diapers and prescription medications to lawn mowers, bleach, bed springs and adhesives. Even the railroad that transports these goods and the credit cards you use to purchase them involve Miners.

That trait has marked Rolla students since the university’s founding in 1870. From the first day they step onto the Rolla campus, Miners are taught to push beyond theory — to grasp and tinker with what could be. To think. To create. And to do the hard, practical work needed to make things happen.

We’ve come a long way since our graduates helped drive the Industrial Revolution and launch the Space Age. Today, our graduates continue the tradition of creating real solutions to everyday problems. In corporations around the world, Miners use their skills, knowledge and creativity to produce the goods and services that we encounter every day.

Nine different alumni — and the companies that employ them — are represented in this issue. Their stories illustrate just a few of the ways that Miners touch our everyday lives. We may not know what tomorrow’s great must-have will be. But we know our grads will be involved in making it.

Right at home with P&G

KatieDambachAccording to researchers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most American workers last four years with an employer. Katie Dambach, ME’06, defies that statistic. “I have never interviewed with another company,” Dambach says of her experience with Procter & Gamble. “I got the first internship and never looked back.”

Dambach, a manufacturing project leader for Pampers, acts as a liaison between her plant and others. Her workday includes preparing projects, making sure proper documentation is done, facilitating conference calls between “diaper design engineers” at various plants (both domestic and international), and troubleshooting the execution and assembly process. And while these job duties don’t necessarily sound like those of a typical mechanical engineer, she says her current position allows her to draw on her engineering background.

“School allowed me to learn mechanical troubleshooting, an ability and strength of engineers; it’s more about the process than design.” she says. “Because of that, engineers tend to be more mobile and progressive in their careers.”

Dambach was first introduced to P&G when she was invited to attend a Minority Technical Summer Camp in Cincinnati after her freshman year at Missouri S&T. “The next summer, I interned with Bounty Research and Development in Cincinnati,” she says.

Dambach returned to P&G for two additional internships, both times to the manufacturing site in Cape Girardeau, Mo., the same plant where she currently works. She and her husband, Travis, live in their nearby hometown of Jackson, Mo., with their toddler, Birkley. Dambach says her daughter gives her an invaluable perspective on her career.

“Not only am I a producer, I’m a consumer. Therefore, I really understand the need for the quality checks and all that goes into producing the diapers,” she says. “They have to be perfect because they are going on our most prized possessions — our babies.”

The amount of pride and dedication Dambach puts into her work is a direct reflection of what P&G puts into their employees.

“Our employees are our number one asset,” says Dambach. “Without them, there is nothing. P&G builds leaders and invests in their employees — they really care.”

For example, Dambach recalls running into the plant manager who hired her seven years earlier. He had since become a vice president, working in Cincinnati. “He came up to me and said, ‘Hi, Katie! How are you doing? How’s Travis?’”

P&G strives to maintain the family-friendly feel it was built upon more than 175 years ago. Headquartered in Cincinnati, P&G has production plants in more than 80 countries and consumers in more than 180 countries. The company now manufactures more than 300 products, from Crest to Tide, and at least one product is found in nearly every American household, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.

“I love knowing that what we make improves our consumer’s lives every day,” says Dambach. “It’s pretty cool to be part of that.”