A free-wheeling solution to poverty

Pearl millet, a hardy grain that is abundant in even the harshest regions of Africa and India, is a staple for many of the world’s poorest people. But removing the edible seed from the chaff is hard work. Traditional threshing techniques usually involve women pounding the plant with mortar and pestle.

Over the summer, Michelle Marincel, NucE’06, MS EnvE’08, helped design an ergonomic threshing machine to provide some relief to that back-breaking work. She was part of a group of students chosen to attend the International Development Design Summit at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The students joined professors and professionals in groups of 10 to work on projects aimed at addressing issues related to poverty.
“A researcher provided panicles of pearl millet for us to roll up our sleeves and destroy as we struggled to understand the best way to remove the grains from the stalk,” says Marincel. “Ultimately, we discovered the physics behind millet threshing. We tried numerous iterations of threshing devices. We tried using rubber, brushes, vacuums, centrifuges and many odd materials to remove the grain.”
They hit upon creating a machine that works like a bicycle. “The key we discovered is hitting the grains at high speeds in the right direction,” she says. “Our idea is that a woman on a bicycle could carry, on her back, an extra wheel for the purpose of threshing. When she reaches the field, she could turn her bicycle upside down and change out the back wheel for threshing. This gives mobility to harvesting.”
Marincel says members of her group will stay in touch in order to prepare the bicycle thresher for field tests. More information is available at www.iddsummit.org and milllet.wetpaint.com.

Around the Puck

Q&A: Miners got game

What was the most memorable sports team during your time on campus? As part of his research for the S&T 150th history book, Larry Gragg, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of history and political science, asked you to share your memories. Here are a few of your answers.

[Read More...]

Honoring new academy members

In October, 12 alumni and friends were inducted into Missouri S&T academies. Academy membership recognizes careers of distinction and invites members to share their wisdom, influence and resources with faculty and students. Some academies hold induction ceremonies in the fall, others in the spring.

[Read More...]

Boosting cyber-physical security

A wide array of complex systems that rely on computers — from public water supply systems and electric grids to chemical plants and self-driving vehicles — increasingly come under not just digital but physical attacks. Bruce McMillin, professor and interim chair of computer science at Missouri S&T, is looking to change that by developing stronger safeguards […]

[Read More...]

MXene discovery could improve energy storage

In spite of their diminutive size, 2-D titanium carbide materials known as MXenes are “quite reactive” to water, a discovery S&T researchers say could have implications for energy storage and harvesting applications such as batteries, supercapacitors and beyond. Their findings were published in 2018 in the American Chemical Society journal Inorganic Chemistry.

[Read More...]

A faster charge for electric vehicles

One drawback of electric vehicles (EVs) is the time it takes to charge them. But what if you could plug in your EV and fully charge it as quickly as it takes to fill up a conventional car with gasoline? Missouri S&T researchers, in collaboration with three private companies, are working to make speedy charging […]

[Read More...]


  1. Keep up this great work!