Best class ever

What was your favorite class? As part of his research for the S&T sesquicentennial history book, Larry Gragg, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of history and political science, asked you to share memories of your favorite class. Here are a few of your answers.
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Miners just want to have fun

One chapter of the S&T sesquicentennial history book will focus on pranks and scandals. As part of his research for that chapter, Larry Gragg, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of history and political science, asked you to share your stories. Here are just a couple of them.

My freshman year, several of my dorm friends and I had a water balloon fight outside our RA’s room.

She only came out to tell us to stop when she heard one explode on her door. Oh yeah, the balloons were water‑filled condoms. A year or two later, my roommates and I got really into interior decoration using items found around campus. Some of these items included “wet floor” signs from various buildings, traffic cones with Missouri S&T painted on them and orange construction fence. Prior to graduating, I returned all items except for a hot pink wet floor sign with a mustache painted on it that was taken from the electrical engineering building.

Becky Robinson, IST’16, Blue Springs, Mo.


One Halloween about 1982, some students of Del Day in the MRC (Materials Research Center) decided to honor his role in making specialty glasses in the space shuttle missions. So Heidi Rutz, CerE’85, MS CerE’88, donated her white Honda Civic coupe and the ‘crew’ set out to convert it to a shuttle craft to fly through Rolla and trick-or-treat (heavy on the treat) at the Days’ home. Heidi, Glenn Whichard, MS CerE’83, and I fabricated wings and a rudder with white cardboard and 2x4s. The propulsion unit was three metal ash tray cylinders taped together with a CO2 fire extinguisher in one, mounted out the back of the hatch. Top speed was 35 mph before the whole thing became unstable. Still searching for that photo. Never heard from safety about the empty fire extinguisher! Was there even a safety department back then?

Tom Wetteroth, CerE’79, MS CerE’83, Chandler, Ariz.

In your words

One of the highlights from this weekend: Young woman during the Q&A portion of my talk: “I don’t have a question. Just wanted to let you know I want to be an engineer and have just decided to go to @MissouriSandT because of your talk.”

Stephanie Evans, AE’12, an electrical test engineer at Space Systems Loral in Palo Alto, Calif., and creator of The STEMulus YouTube channel, spoke to a group of high school students in Illinois about making STEM more welcoming. The comment Evans tweeted came during the Q&A portion.

“So heads up, fellow Miners. You’ve got a new recruit incoming, and I’m confident she’s going to continue the Missouri S&T tradition of shaping STEM fields, not just with innovation, but also with inclusion,” wrote Evans about the experience. Read her complete essay at magazine.mst.edu.

– Steph Evz @StephEvz43


Thank you for being there as a fellow member and advisor. You have helped keep KMNR fantastic (and yes, weird), and we struggle to think of a better person to be our advisor. For those moments when we struggle, you are there to lend a judgement-free ear and practical guidance. Your advice and opinions carry weight with us, and we take them to heart. We respect you and we will always be there to return the favor. Dr. Schramm, you have done so much for us and for KMNR that we want to give back. Please accept this gift, obtained through donations from DJs past and present, as a token of our appreciation. We hope you enjoy it, and we hope you realize how much appreciation we hold for you and the impact you have made on all of us. Read the full letter.

My students bought me a hydraulic wood splitter.

Since I arrived here at S&T, I’ve been the faculty advisor for KMNR, 89.7 FM, the student-run college radio station. The students are kind enough to allow me to do a one-hour radio show most Wednesday mornings 10–11 a.m. As the advisor to a great bunch of students, I do what I always try to do, treat people with kindness, respect and love. I didn’t think I was doing anything special. But the students and alumni of KMNR evidently thought otherwise. They organized, unbeknownst to me, a fundraising effort to buy me a gift to show just how much they appreciated my advice over the years. They raised more than enough to purchase this wood splitter! They presented it to me after my radio show last week. For one of a very few moments of my life, I was actually speechless. It’s taken me several days to even put my thoughts together here. They composed a nice letter to go along with the splitter. It will soon be framed and on my wall in a place of honor.

As a professor, I teach a great many students, both inside and outside of the classroom. They spend their time here at S&T, then move off into the world and live their lives. We professors may keep in touch with a few, but we never really know how they are doing and if all our time, energy, effort and passion in our teaching and interactions with students makes any real difference. But today I know that, perhaps, just a little, I did. I am honored and humbled beyond words.

– Jeff Schramm, Hist’92, associate professor of history and political science

“Alex’s Pizza, of course!”

We asked about your favorite place to eat, and boy did you respond. It was such an overwhelming response that Larry Gragg, author of Missouri S&T’s sesquicentennial history book, was inspired to write about it.
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Wanna grab a bite?

What was your favorite off-campus place to eat during your time in Rolla? [Read more…]

Letter to the editor

Each issue I always take special notice of the alumni who have most recently passed. The vast majority of the older alumni served their country during times of conflict and went on to complete long careers, often with only one or two companies. Although I am saddened by the passing of a great generation of men and women, I greatly appreciate being reminded of the service and sacrifices those before us made. Many of these same folks are those that helped grow our university to what it is today.

Will Kirby, CE’08, ArchE’08
Overland Park, Kan.

Make us laugh

What is the funniest incident or story you recollect from your
time in Rolla?

Historian Larry Gragg, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor emeritus of history and political science, recently posed this question to our readers and on social media. Here are a few of your answers. [Read more…]

Q&A: Why Rolla?

“Why did you choose to attend MSM-UMR-Missouri S&T?” Historian Larry Gragg, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of history and political science, posed this question to Miner alumni this past fall. Here are a few of your answers. [Read more…]

Letters to the editor: Fall/Winter 2016

Accounts of my death have been greatly exaggerated. In the April 1987 MSM Alumnus on page 33 it was reported that I had passed away. Other than me being dead, all of the other details were correct. I have enclosed a copy of the front page of the Alumnus and page 33 for your review. I have just retired from the city of University Park after 27 years and hope to enjoy many more years in retirement. I thought it was time to correct the record.

Robert E. “Bob” Whaling, CE’73
Plano, Texas


I have just completed reading from cover to cover the latest Missouri S&T Magazine, and I especially enjoy the stories of the current S&T collaborative projects and how these help give students some practical experience. During my visit to Rolla for my 50th class reunion last year, I enjoyed touring the Kummer Student Design Center and seeing the chemical car in the ChE department. From the alumni magazine, I see that all students must now take part in at least one experimental learning project before they graduate.

I would like to tell you about the required student collaborative projects required by the chemical engineering department for students taking ChE 255, Chemical Engineering Design, in 1965. In order to graduate, you had to do a chemical engineering design project as a team. In the 1960s, the farmers of Missouri voiced a loud complaint that while they paid taxes to support the Missouri universities, they did not receive any benefit. Therefore, Dr. Dudley Thompson, chair of chemical engineering, declared that the design classes must do a project that would benefit the farmers. It was determined that there was an unlimited supply of scrub oak within a 50-mile radius of Rolla, and this scrub oak was considered a weed tree. Therefore, the project must be one that would consume this tree in some form. A couple of the design teams took the easy way out and designed a charcoal production process.

Prof. Russell Primrose challenged our group to do something more innovative. We learned that The Masonite Corp. blasted trees with high-pressure water to break down the tree trunks to form the basis for their Masonite boards. That process produced a side product of wood lignins that they had to figure out how to use since they could no longer discharge this byproduct into the river. They developed a process to convert these lignin fibers into a type of livestock feed. Thus our project was to take scrub oak as the starting material and design a commercial-sized plant to turn this scrub oak into a livestock feed. At that time there was an oak barrel maker not far from Rolla, and we were able to get an unlimited supply of gunny sacks full of oak sawdust.

After a series of trials first on a lab scale and then scaling that process up into larger equipment in the unit ops lab, we were successful in developing a process to hydrolyze this sawdust into what we called a wood sugar. I still fondly remember the very hot days in the unit ops lab with my fellow chemical engineering students sweating and working out the necessary equipment and processing techniques to complete this project.

The disappointing outcome was that we could produce a wood sugar, but the capital expense was so large that a pound of wood sugar would cost about $5/pound while you could buy refined cane sugar in the grocery store for well under $1. Dr. Primrose gave us an A for our efforts. I guess there is still an unlimited supply of scrub oak just waiting for someone to figure out how to turn it into a cash crop for the farmers.

Wick Doll, ChE’65
Spartanburg, S.C.


would like to commend you on Missouri S&T Magazine. It is very interesting and full of news — without typos, which is unusual these days. The latest issue, Spring 2016, was especially good. I especially enjoyed the young man who was into volunteering. As an avid volunteer myself, I was very impressed
by him.

Pat Swanson, wife of the late Ken Swanson, GGph’59, CerE’62
West Liberty, Ohio

Q&A: Fall/Winter 2016

I owe my success to … “Which individual — faculty, staff or administrator — from your time in Rolla had the greatest impact on your success?” Historian Larry Gragg, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of history and political science, posed this question during the summer. Here are a few of your answers. [Read more…]