How ideas bloom

Joseph G. Straeter, PetE’83, has spent his life tinkering, modifying, improving — inventing — and his work has made him one of the most prolific Miner inventors. From the flower fields to the oil fields, Straeter’s patents at last count total over 500.

flower-arrangementS&T: Why did you focus on the floral industry for much of your career?

Straeter: It was said by a previous author that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Mechanical machines and new designs are needed in all industries. The floral industry is just where I landed, and I worked for Highland Supply Corp. from 1988 to 2004. A large part of my innovative work was to build a machine that made the floral items like high-speed coaters and laminators for the plastic pot cover on a plant you might see in the floral section of a grocery store. Or drying ovens for the wire stem in a rose.

S&T: What is your favorite patent?

Straeter: My favorite patent thus far is the “horizontal water jet drilling” that a professor from Texas Tech University and I co-invented. My next favorite will be the one I’m working on now that has the potential to keep oil prices below $50 for the next 50 years. I am currently a consultant in the oil field industry with my company, Straeter Engineering, LLC.

S&T: What advice do you have for would-be inventors?

Straeter: The best advice I can give is that invention is a developed talent that takes a lot of experience to master. But it’s also true that invention is easy; marketing the resultant product to sell is the tough part. I’ve read that only one in a thousand patents actually is a market success. I think less than 100 of mine actually made it to market.

S&T: Do all of your inventions get patented? 

Straeter: Normally, machine designs are proprietary and sometimes not patented so they (inventors) can keep their market edge. A patent is basically an invitation to a fight. If it’s worth any salt, you’re going to have a battle to fight infringers.

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...]