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.”

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...]