Alper Tonga: Ensuring smooth sailing

During a near-shore practice in rough seas, a United Kingdom Ministry of Defense naval frigate struck a rock and the hull was breached. The ship took on water and began to list heavily to one side. But because it was equipped with a special tank monitor, the ship’s crew was able to balance its ballast tanks long enough to beach the ship and keep it from sinking in deep seas.


The tank monitor, an advanced fuel measurement and monitoring system for ships – in particular, naval ships – was developed by North Cyprus-based Medisys. The company is a subcontractor to the UK MoD.

“The tank monitor allows the ship’s staff to monitor and control levels and maintain the best trim for the ship at all times,” says Alper Tonga, EE’02, a native of Turkey and the company’s software engineer. “Whenever a monitored tank’s content goes under or over a set threshold, the system alerts the crew.”
Tonga, a native of Alanya, Turkey, came to Missouri S&T at age 16 on a full scholarship from Hurriyet International Trade, a subsidiary of the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. After graduation, he went to work for Medisys, where he and his boss, an electrical engineer from the University of Kansas, designed and built the tank monitor from the ground up.

“I am not all work,” Tonga says. “As they say in The Shining, all work and no fun makes Jack a dull boy.”

“Whenever a tank’s fuel is used, the ship gets unbalanced and leans toward the side of the ship that still has full tanks,” Tonga explains. “To balance the ship, the crew pumps sea water into partially empty fuel tanks.” The device can distinguish between the two liquids and allow the crew to monitor the fuel left in the tank, even after it’s filled with sea water.
“By using the device, the crew knows exactly which tanks need sea water added, and how much to add, in order to keep the ship’s balance.”
Although developed for naval frigates, the UK MoD has installed it on other naval vessels and has proposed it as a replacement fuel monitoring system for all conventionally fueled ships. Derivatives of the system are being used in other NATO naval ships, as well as civilian cargo ships, where it can monitor the moisture level of bulk cargo during transport.
Keeping up with current software trends is important to Tonga, so he reads industry news whenever he can, then practices what he learns by writing code or building equipment. But he likes to have fun, too.
“I am not all work,” Tonga says. “As they say in The Shining, all work and no fun makes Jack a dull boy.”
A member of Aikido Martial Arts Club as a student, Tonga still enjoys meditation, but with no Aikido dojo in North Cyprus, he does Pilates to get his meditation fix. He’s also a budding photographer.
“I have a Canon AT-1 camera. It’s a manual,” he says. “Despite my work, where everything I do is digital, I am all analog when it comes to photography.”

Around the Puck

“Forged in Gold: Missouri S&T’s First 150 Years”

In the 1870s, Rolla seemed an unlikely location for a new college. There were only about 1,400 residents in a community with more saloons than houses of worship. There were no paved streets, sewers or water mains. To visitors, there seemed to be as many dogs, hogs, horses, ducks and geese as humans walking the dusty streets.

[Read More...]

By the numbers: Fall/Winter 2019

[Read More...]

Bringing clean water to South America

Assessing water quality, surveying mountaintop locations and building systems to catch rainwater — that’s how members of S&T’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders spent their summer break.

[Read More...]

Geothermal goals exceeded

After five years of operation, Missouri S&T’s geothermal energy system continues to outperform expectations. S&T facilities operations staff originally predicted the geothermal system would reduce campus water usage by over 10% — roughly 10 million gallons per year. The system, which went online in May 2014, cut actual water usage by 18 million to 20 […]

[Read More...]

What happens in Vegas…may appear in print

In his latest volume of Las Vegas lore, historian Larry Gragg says it was deliberate publicity strategies that changed the perception of Sin City from a regional tourist destination where one could legally gamble and access legalized prostitution just outside the city limits, to a family vacation spot filled with entertainment options and surrounded by […]

[Read More...]