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.

National award for sustainability

ClimateLeadershipAwardS&T’s Solar Village and geothermal energy project combined to help the campus earn a 2013 Climate Leadership Award last spring. The award is from Second Nature, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability in higher education.

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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.”

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.”

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.”