Archives for December 2010

From Rolla to Guatemala: Water studies

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Nicole Heinley, Missouri S&T student. Photo submitted

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.

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Shock and awe – in stereo

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Dr. Steven Grant, Missouri S&T associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. Photo by B.A. Rupert

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.

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Snakeasaurus! Missouri S&T grad makes a BIG discovery

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Illustration by Jason Bourque, University of Florida

Carlos Jaramillo looking for Snakeasaurus

Carlos Jaramillo (far left), Missouri S&T alumnus. Photo submitted

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The hefty vertebrae of Titanoboa (right) dwarfs that of a modern anaconda. Photo by Jason Head and John Bloch, University of Florida

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.

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Alexandria Merritt: ‘A reflection of excellence’

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Alexandria Merritt, Missouri S&T alumna. Photo by Mary Gillespie Photography

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.

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Chad Shockley: Wide receiver

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Chad Shockley. Missouri S&T student. Photo by B.A. Rupert

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!

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Barbi Wheelden: Going global

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Barbi Wheelden, Missouri S&T alumna. Photo by B.A. Rupert

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Barbi and the Missouri S&T Engineers Without Borders team construct a water-holding tank in Bolivia. Photo submitted

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.

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Valarie Boatman: Adrenaline junkie

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Valarie Boatman. Missouri S&T alumna. Photo submitted

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.”

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Paul Nam: Saving the world with green slime

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Dr. Paul Nam. Missouri S&T professor of chemistry. Photo by B.A. Rupert

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.

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Samantha Filla

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Samantha Filla, Missouri S&T student. Photo by B.A. Rupert

English and secondary education student Samantha Filla says she came to Missouri S&T because, here, she’s a name and not just a number. When she was a little girl, she liked to play “school,” pretending she was the teacher.

“I know I want to be a teacher. I have always known that.”

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Phillip Mulligan: Master blaster

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Phillip Mulligan, Missouri S&T Ph.D. student. Photo by B.A. Rupert

Ph.D. student Phillip Mulligan is trying to make improvised explosive devices more powerful with the idea of eventually making them less deadly.

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Markell Mills

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Markell Mills, Missouri S&T student. Photo by B.A. Rupert

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.”

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