As part of her graduate school studies, Nicole Heinley visited Guatemala twice in the past year, including last spring break, to conduct research on ceramic pot filters that are used locally to remove bacteria from water. Her findings were recently accepted to be published in the Journal of Water Science and Technology.
Inside a non-descript, soundproof building on the south side of town, researchers from Missouri University of Science of Technology are building an audio battlefield, complete with the sounds of tanks, ordnance, gunfire, shouting and helicopters. Called an immersive audio environment, the testbed facility is leading the way in an effort to better prepare soldiers for combat.
As miners dig deeper and deeper into an open coal pit in Colombia, millions of years of history are displaced. On a fossil-hunting expedition to one of these pits in 2006, Carlos Jaramillo’s team found some big bones that belonged to a super-sized creature.
Sixty million years ago, not long after the dinosaurs died out, the tropics were warmer than they are today. And the creatures, though not dinosaurs, were bigger. Jaramillo, who earned a master’s degree at Missouri S&T in 1995, is a scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. He figured the vertebrae he found belonged to a massive crocodile.
“Two years later, a student compared the vertebrae to the skeleton of a modern anaconda,” says Jaramillo. “Then we thought, ‘ah, yes, we have a big snake!’”
This constrictor, now considered to be the largest snake to have ever slithered the Earth, would have made a modern day anaconda look like a glorified earthworm. Jaramillo says his team actually ended up finding the fossils of 28 different snakes, ranging in size from 40 to 50 feet long with a weight in the neighborhood of 2,500-pounds.
If not for a conversation with her best friend while walking across campus during her junior year in high school, Alexandria Merritt is not sure what professional path she would have pursued.
One day as she was switching classes at Normandy (Mo.) High School, she asked her best friend about her career plans. When her friend told her she was planning to become a chemical engineer, Merritt replied, “Me too.”
“I didn’t even know anything about engineering, but I decided that if she could do that, so could I,” Merritt says. After graduation she enrolled at St. Louis Community College’s Florissant Valley campus through the Emerson Minority Scholarship Program, then transferred to Missouri S&T.
Position: Wide receiver
Major: Senior in history with an emphasis on high school social studies education
Scholarships: Clark, Mercier and the Spirit of Jackling
Outside of my parents, my mentors are my teachers, coaches and grandparents. I have had the blessing of being coached by outstanding people, beginning with my dad as my Little League coach.
Why Missouri S&T
Before I started making any recruiting trips, former Miners head coach Kirby Cannon came to my high school and told me that he had watched me play football for the past four years and offered me a very nice scholarship to play for the Miners. He told me to keep his offer in my back pocket and visit the other schools, but to talk to him again before I made my decision. I made a few trips, got a few offers, but in the end decided that the best fit would be with Missouri S&T because of the chance to play as a freshman as well as the Miners’ style of offense – a receiver’s dream!
In the classroom, Missouri S&T students learn the basic skills that form the foundation of their degrees. It’s the hands-on learning — often outside the classroom — that sets S&T students apart from their peers. Organizations like Engineers Without Borders (EWB) give students a chance to learn real-world skills while improving conditions in developing countries.
For Barbi Wheelden, the experience has been life changing.
All her life, Valarie Boatman, a 2006 mechanical engineering graduate, has been interested in two things: racing and cars.
At Missouri S&T, she spent 40-50 hours each week in the Formula SAE shop designing and fabricating the race car. Today, as a performance integration engineer for General Motors, she spends her days at Milford Proving Grounds, testing some of the electronic chassis controls in the electric-powered Chevrolet Volt and working to improve a driver’s experience and safety behind the wheel.
“Even though the software is already in the car, my job is to drive it and make any necessary tweaks to fine-tune its performance,” she says. “That way, once the car is in the customer’s hands, it will run as seamlessly as possible.”
Several glass containers filled with algae-stained water sit on a table in Paul Nam‘s laboratory. Next to the big green bottles are two much smaller vials containing an oily substance. At first, the amount of potential fuel in these little vials doesn’t seem too impressive. But Dr. Nam says algae could play a big role in the unfolding dramas associated with finding alternative sources of energy and reducing greenhouse gases.
Ph.D. student Phillip Mulligan is trying to make improvised explosive devices more powerful with the idea of eventually making them less deadly.
“We are trying to perfect our version of the explosive device,” says Mulligan, a 2007 mining engineering graduate, now pursuing a master’s degree with an emphasis in explosives engineering. “We are trying to create the best device we can, so we can learn how to develop the best armor possible.”
But first, he needs to know just how powerful the little bombs can be and what kind of damage they can do. That’s why he’s making his own.
Architectural engineering student Markell Mills plays the drums in a band and is involved with Voices of Inspiration, a student choir. He is also the drawing expert for the Solar House Team at S&T.
“I participate in research with the Solar House Team. I’m working on design modeling and energy efficiency.”