Express engineer

PatrickDippel“I thrive under pressure,” says Patrick Dippel, EMgt’04. “I was looking for a company that was aggressive in improving itself, and I found it. I have never seen such strong passion and alignment across all segments of a business and through the efforts of every individual employee.”

Dippel is talking about Express Scripts Inc. in St. Louis, where he is senior manager of operations. His group manages the order intake channels for the company’s home delivery operations.

“We’re involved in the entire home delivery process, so we interact with all areas — from the home delivery technicians, the pharmacists who communicate with both the patient and the doctor’s offices, and the people who fill the orders and send them out,” he says.

Dippel is also a member of the strategy and continuous improvement group, which helps shape the vision for home delivery operations and looks for ways to drive out waste.

The company recently acquired another large prescription benefit management company, Medco Health Solutions. Dippel has had a large role in helping the companies integrate.

“Merging two different business models is pretty challenging,” he says. “But both sides are committed to being flexible and transparent. We’re working together to get the merger done successfully so all of our patients and clients benefit.”

Making tall grass short

SamPattersonSam Patterson is one of the voices of John Deere.

A design engineer in John Deere’s rotary mower group, Patterson, ME’06, is passionate about his work — making lawn mowing easy — and it shows in the company’s latest “How We Run John Deere” video, which features Patterson.

Patterson designed the two new high-capacity mower decks on John Deere’s updated X700 tractor. He followed the project all the way through production, working on everything from computer modeling to performance and reliability testing. That breadth of knowledge made him a natural fit for the video.

“Aside from making tall grass short, my main job is to make it very easy for the customer to attach the mower deck to the tractor,” Patterson says.

There is one latch to flip in the front of the tractor, but the majority of the connection to the vehicle is automatic, which makes maintenance and cleaning simple. Patterson says the technology was first developed for large commercial tractors.

“John Deere first developed this feature for our commercial customers on larger tractors, but it is very exciting to give this flexibility to residential customers,” Patterson says. “It allows customers to mow very tall and thick grass while still leaving a manicured look, and gives them tremendous mulching capability.”

Patterson is now working on Deere’s new EZtrack mowers. When he isn’t fine-tuning a mower deck, he travels with his wife, Amy (Edwards) Patterson, Engl’07, and plays guitar in a garage band near their Beaver Dam, Wis., home. He says the problem-solving skills he developed at Missouri S&T were the foundation of his success.

“Missouri S&T gave me the skills, attitude and discipline necessary to work at an innovative company like John Deere,” Patterson says. “The faculty understand exactly what it takes to be an engineer in today’s rapidly changing workplace, and they provided me with the tools I needed to succeed.”

Outside-the-box hair care

AnitaHeinzkeAnita Heinzke, ChE’10, thinks outside the shampoo bottle.

That creative thinking earned Heinzke, a project engineer in L’Oreal’s Florence, Ky., hair care facility, a $5,000 Beauty Shakers award from the company. Her suggestion — to use corn plastic in L’Oreal shampoo packaging — took third place out of more than 900 submissions in the company’s annual ideas competition.

“Corn plastic is a 100 percent biodegradable material that has a lot of environmental benefits,” says Heinzke, who works with the lines that fill bottles with shampoo. “Most plastic is made from oil, but this type is made from corn. It could potentially save hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil annually by switching our products alone to this material.”

Heinzke is helping the company with its recent launch of the new restage of the L’Oreal shampoo line, Advanced Haircare. It required the purchase of $6 million in new equipment and the installation of four packaging lines that were modified to handle the capacity.

“L’Oreal is a company that gives its employees a lot of opportunity and freedom to be creative,” Heinzke says. “The company has a strong passion for promoting women in science. Every day there is something new and challenging.”

On the right track

TravisDuncanYes, it’s an old company. It’s been a fixture in the transportation industry since Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 to create a transcontinental railroad. But that doesn’t mean Union Pacific is out-of-date.

“Most people look at us and think, ‘You’re a railroad, you must use a lot of old technology,’” says Travis Duncan, BAdm’08, IST’08. “And while it’s true that Union Pacific has been around for 150 years, we are a leader in developing and applying cutting-edge technology in transportation.”

The nation’s largest railroad covers 23 states across the western two-thirds of the United States and employs about 45,000 people.

Based in Omaha, Neb., Duncan is manager of “MyUP,” Union Pacific’s internal company portal. “It’s a place where our various departments (operations, marketing, sales, etc.) have access to the information and applications they need to do their jobs. Our goal is to be a one-stop shop that brings together what they need on a daily basis,” he says.

“Because MyUP touches all departments, I get to interact with a lot of people throughout the company and learn about all the different pieces of the business,” he says.

Duncan says he was initially drawn to UP because of its technology aspect, not from a fascination with trains as many other employees have. But he’s a fan now. “I’ve developed a real appreciation for trains since I’ve been with Union Pacific,” he says. “We get things from one place to another in ways trucks just can’t. A single train can carry as much as 300 trucks can. And we’re really efficient too, with less impact to the environment.”

Union Pacific moves freight, not people, but Duncan plans to get out in the field soon and take a ride on one of the trains himself.

He encourages new graduates and others to consider Union Pacific for a career. “A lot of baby boomers will be retiring in the next few years, creating tremendous career opportunities for younger employees,” he says.

“It’s the diversity in both the technology and people that makes Union Pacific a fun, challenging and rewarding place to work,” he says.

Beyond mining

LaylandWatsonBy the time Layland Watson left Rolla in 1996, he knew how to drive a haul truck, design a mine, and work in open pit copper mines and underground coal mines — tasks a mining engineer would normally expect to have acquired after some time on the job.

“I truly believe the co-op opportunities in Rolla prepare you to go to work,” Watson says. “You work a regular schedule and it prepares you for real life. It gives you instant credibility with prospective employers.”

With four co-ops under his belt, Watson, MinE’96, joined 3M as a process engineer for an open-pit quarry in Little Rock, Ark. The facility produced roofing granules — the small, coated pieces of rock found on roofing shingles.

People don’t always associate 3M with mining, but the company was founded in 1902 as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., Watson says.

Mining has been part of Watson’s whole life. He was born in a gold-mining town in Western Australia and grew up in Rolla under the watchful eye of his father, former metallurgical engineering chair John Watson.

After leaving Arkansas, Watson worked at a number of 3M facilities across the United States. While working as a product manager at a multi-technology plant in Cumberland, Wis., he was asked to help lead the micro-finishing film business. He enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management and spent every Friday and Saturday night in class for two straight years to earn his MBA.

“I was in Cumberland for three years before I left to work at the headquarters in St. Paul,” Watson says. “It was a project management assignment, known within the company as a black belt position that let me lead projects for Scotch Brite products and window films. I then went on to a plant manager role in Northern California at an optical film manufacturing facility.”

Today, Watson is the plant manager at a facility in Decatur, Ala. The plant manufactures specialty resins and films that serve as the base for many finished products.

“The great thing about 3M is we’re so diverse that even a guy in mining engineering can advance,” Watson says. “You aren’t pigeonholed. You can progress to be what you want to be.”

It’s about quality

BradLindBrad Lind, EMgt’96, is a quality guy. To him, quality — the continuous improvement of products and services — is a key driver in improving consumers’ lives.

A member of The Clorox Co.’s corporate quality assurance team, Lind focuses on reducing risks and increasing consumer value with new and existing products.

A 16-year veteran of the company, Lind and other members of his team do that by examining the several different data streams available from all the business units — from its namesake bleach and cleaning products unit to Kingsford charcoal. He takes a systematic approach to driving out waste at the plant.

“We are the guardians for the consumer,” he says of his team. “We have the right processes, tools and systems to build great brands for customers and consumers.”

After graduation, Lind joined First Brands Corp. in Rogers, Ark., as a production supervisor at a Glad manufacturing plant. It was a typical entry-level position for an engineer with the company.

“During the interview process, I went on site to the plant,” he says. “If you had told me before I went that it would have been a good fit, I would never have believed it. But it truly was a great fit for me personally and professionally.”

Lind liked that Clorox Co. is a true manufacturing facility and over time, he says, he got to see it move from manual processes to automation. The company now embraces technology, Lind says.

Lind had the opportunity to take on different roles after Clorox acquired First Brands in 1999.

“After the acquisition, Clorox was nearly twice the size of the former First Brands Corp.,” he says. “It’s been great.”

After leaving Arkansas, Lind joined the leadership teams at a Glad manufacturing plant in Amherst, Va., and then later at Forest Park, Ga. At that time, due to supply chain needs, the company closed a couple of plants and shifted its operation to the Atlanta area.

For the last three years, Lind has worked in a satellite office in Kennesaw, Ga., where operation services and R&D teams are housed.

“If you’ve been around manufacturing long enough, and doing enough, you develop an invaluable lens,” he says. “Getting experiences in the plant is a great place to get started for anyone who’s going to get in the world of manufacturing. You understand how critical people, processes and technology are to drive out waste and achieve your goals.”

Outside of work, Lind enjoys spending quality time with his family. He and his wife, Angela, have a 10-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter. A former Miner football player, Lind now finds himself on the sidelines, coaching his son’s football and basketball teams or cheering on his daughter’s competitive gymnastics team.

As Clorox celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, Lind credits the company’s success to its emphasis on finding the right people.

“We’re relatively small and competing with giants, but we’re boxing above our weight,” he says. “We have great people who work together, understand business and consumer needs, and understand how to get product to market quickly.”

Room to grow

BreenaeWashingtonBreenae Washington, EMgt’12, didn’t know what to expect when she started her first job after graduation.

“I thought I’d be treated like an intern, but I’m not,” she says of her project management position with MasterCard in O’Fallon, Mo. “Although there’s a steep learning curve, I’m learning as I go.”

Washington says she’s discovered there’s a big misperception about the company. “We’re not a payments company — we’re actually a technology company that works on solutions to make the payment industry more safe and secure,” she says. “We don’t issue cards or control interest rates.”

As a member of the global project management office, Washington helps manage the financial aspects, plans and team schedules for projects.

“I get a lot of exposure to different things here,” she says. “I worked on the environment testing phase of Priceless Cities, a unique program that gives holders one-of-a-kind experiences around the world, including fine dining, world-class sporting events and indulgent shopping experiences. It started in New York and has expanded to 20 cities around the globe.”

She’s also part of a team that is working to help MasterCard better market itself to top talent.

“It’s easy to find the positives about working here,” she says. “MasterCard cares about its employees’ development and job satisfaction, and it promotes from within. I can set my own path here.”

It started with a bed spring

RandallWoodCarthage, Mo.-based Leggett & Platt manufactures a broad array of products, so it’s only fitting that one of the company’s staff vice presidents has an equally broad resume of experience.

Randall Wood, ME’85, MS ME’87, began work at Leggett & Platt as a director of operations optimization nine years ago. He moved into a leadership role and then took his current position. Today, a typical workday begins before 6:30 a.m. Wood says the early hour gives him time to prepare for the day’s meetings and planning sessions.

Wood credits his broad experience prior to joining Leggett & Platt with his career success.

After graduation he began work for General Electric analyzing heat transfer in the engines of F-16 aircraft. He left GE to pursue a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia to “get closer to manufacturing,” he says.

While finishing his Ph.D. dissertation, Wood took a job at Joplin, Mo., based Able Body Corp., designing sleeper cabs for the heavy truck industry. After a product launch, he took on a lean manufacturing role in the company that expanded his business expertise.

Wood then took a job managing a Vermeer plant in Iowa that made stump grinders, brush chippers and large tub grinders. After a short stint as a stay-at-home dad, Wood joined Simpler Consulting to provide lean manufacturing solutions to companies like Lockheed Martin and Snap On Tool.

“My broad experience both prior to Leggett & Platt, and with L&P, has prepared me for this career,” Wood says. “I have seen a variety of businesses and manufacturing processes and been involved in virtually every aspect of manufacturing.”

Leggett & Platt itself has a broad manufacturing footprint. The company began 130 years ago with a partnership of ideas and know-how that produced the first commercially viable bed spring. The company has come a long way since J.P. Leggett and C.B. Platt first shook hands.

“Our bedding components are found in most sleep products in the United States, including fasteners, fabrics, bed frames, foundations, sheets and pillows,” Wood says. The company then expanded into home and office furniture and carpet padding and underlay.

The company also diversified into automotive seating, retail fixtures, and steel wire and tubing industries. It manufactures wire and tubing for its own components as well as those produced by other companies. It also provides lumbar support in automotive vehicle seats and engineered tubing components for the aerospace industry.

Today Leggett & Platt has grown to more than 130 manufacturing operations in 20 countries with 19,000 employees.

“I help our partners around the globe achieve success in their business and in their careers,” Wood says. “I enjoy developing the strategy for our business process development and the supporting technology, and then executing that strategy.”

Wood has a longstanding connection to S&T and the Rolla community. While he was in college, his father, Richard Wood, ME‘64, and his mother, Betty, lived in Rolla. Betty worked at the old Foster’s Bakery. Today, Wood’s son, Ryan, is studying computer science and computer engineering at S&T.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Missouri S&T and certainly gained a great education that has propelled my career,” Wood says.

League of Super Miners: A Homecoming of Heroic Proportions

SuperMinersSummoning all Super Miners to return! Reunite! Reconnect! In Rolla!

Like our miraculous Miner metals, silver and gold, the peculiar, preternatural powers of Miners past and present were forged in the furnace of perseverance and persistence. Now, we’re calling on you to join hundreds of your fellow Miners in Rolla this fall to rediscover the source of your super power. The greater our numbers, the stronger our powers. Join us for a Homecoming of Heroic Proportions and come meet our heroes!

Alumni Achievement
•  Col. John Pierre Powell, AE’87, president, PAMCO Investments Corp.
•  LeRoy E. Thompson, CE’56, MS CE’65, retired principal and vice president, C3TS, and emeritus professor, Florida International University

Alumni Merit
•  Kathryn A. Walker, MS EMgt’82, managing director, OPENAIR Ventures

Robert V. Wolf Alumni Service
•  Bradley H. Hornburg, CE’69, CEO, Landmark Contract Management Inc.

Distinguished Young Alumni
•  Daniel P. Ellis, CE’99, vice president, Crafton Tull and Associates
•  Karlynn Sievers, Engl’96, LSci’96, physician and clinical assistant professor, University of Wyoming

Frank H. Mackaman Alumni Volunteer Service
•  Jerry D. Parsons, CE’70, retired materials engineer, Illinois Department of Transportation

Class of 1942 Excellence in Teaching
•   Jennifer Pattershall, assistant professor of psychological science at Missouri S&T

* Illustrations by Dave Bryant

 

Giant forces in super-strong nanomaterials

GaoandYang

Jie Gao (left) and Xiaodong Yang report that a new class of nanoscale slot waveguides pack 100 to 1,000 times more transverse optical force than conventional silicon slot waveguides.

In a study that could lead to advances in the emerging fields of optical computing and nanomaterials, Jie Gao and Xiaodong Yang, both assistant professors of mechanical engineering, report that a new class of nanoscale slot waveguides pack 100 to 1,000 times more transverse optical force than conventional silicon slot waveguides.

The findings, which were published in the Sept. 24 issue of the journal Optics Express, could lead to advances in developing optical computers, sensors or lasers.

Gao and Yang describe the unusual optical and mechanical properties of nanometer-scale metal-dielectric structures called metamaterials. Using computers, they simulated nanometer-scale models of metamaterial slot waveguides, which are structures designed to channel beams of light from one area to another. Waveguides function like tiny filaments or the wires of an integrated circuit, but on a much smaller scale.

For their study, the Missouri S&T researchers simulated slot waveguides made of layered structures of silver and a dielectric material arranged like the alternating bread and meat in a club sandwich. A nanometer — visible only with the aid of a high-power electron microscope — is one billionth of a meter, and some nanomaterials are only a few atoms in size.

Gao and Yang simulated what would happen with modeled identical waveguides stacked with a tiny air gap between them. They then measured the transverse optical force between the waveguides. Optical force refers to the way beams of light can be made to attract or repel each other, as magnets do.

They found that “the transverse optical forces in slot waveguides of hyperbolic metamaterials can be more than two orders of magnitude stronger than that in conventional dielectric slot waveguides.” For this reason, Gao and Yang describe the magnitude as “giant” in the title of their Optics Express article, “Giant transverse optical forces in nanoscale slot waveguides of hyperbolic metamaterials.”