Smart living in everyday life

The university's eBus and Solar Village are just two of the ways S&T is researching and implementing smarter and more sustainable ways of living. Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

The university’s eBus and Solar Village are just two of the ways S&T is researching and implementing smarter and more sustainable ways of living as part of its Smart Living signature area. Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

Missouri S&T’s Smart Living signature area concentrates on improving your quality of life. Its researchers work to transform home, workplace, transportation and energy infrastructures into “smart” environments.

Smart Living also helps expand the world’s understanding of how people and technology interact. It’s more than just creating sustainable homes. It means developing intelligent systems that will change the future of everyday life.

“Currently, there is a rapid expansion of technology that impacts our lives each day,” says Nathan Weidner, assistant professor of psychological science at S&T. “Weak artificial intelligence systems – algorithms that help us make choices throughout the day – lead us to make better decisions and are having a clear impact on society. These technologies can be so small that they are wearable but have an enormous influence on us.”

Smart Living draws on S&T’s strengths in cyber security, sustainable energy research, social dynamics, usability, big data analytics, architectural design, behavioral and environmental psychology, and transportation and infrastructure to lead research and development efforts toward a more secure and sustainable society.

“People in these new smart systems will have to learn to share resources,” says Bruce McMillin, professor of computer science and associate dean of the College of Engineering and Computing. “With that comes the need for privacy and security. This allocation of resources carries a lot of personal information in it, and we must rely on history to give us clues to help predict the future of this technological advance.”

“Trust in human-computer interaction and AI decisions is important, but there are immediate problems that need to be considered as well,” says Weidner. “For example, if a metropolis has a large number of electric car drivers, what will happen when they arrive home for the night and all plug in their vehicles at 10 p.m.? We don’t want rolling blackouts to happen to that city nightly, so energy storage needs to be considered.”

Research in Smart Living includes:

  • Smart grid and transportation systems. Intelligent peer-to-peer systems manage renewable energy resources like wind and solar, which are backed by energy storage, including fuel cells and batteries, to provide energy to buildings. S&T’s Solar Village is a “micro” example of a smart grid in operation. Transportation and energy systems interlink with improved urban planning to provide individualized, cost-efficient transportation.
  • Decision-making and governance. Smart living requires more than data and analytics. Understanding how people process, react to and interact with information and technology will lead to a sustainable shared governance of resources.
  • Privacy and security. Intelligent systems must be resistant to security attacks while maintaining personal privacy and supporting the users’ trust in the system. In Smart Living, people must adapt to the technology and the technology must adapt to the people. The result is enhanced trust and security.
  • Building materials. New smart materials turn buildings into “living laboratories” that, through advanced analytics, provide feedback to inform users as well as to adapt to human behavior. This leads to improved infrastructure, chemical or biological environments, and decision-making. Embedded sensors can monitor how efficiently a building uses energy, water or even bandwidth, empowering people to make informed decisions on how to use resources wisely.

“Usually, we think of technology as leading the charge in this area, but if we do that we risk missing the human aspects of living,” says Nancy Stone, professor of psychological science at S&T. “The human aspects have a very high potential for research, with acceptance and ethics both needing to be addressed to ensure the needs of individuals are being met.”

S&T’s Smart Living initiative is led by McMillin and Stone. Smart Living is an interdisciplinary effort pursued jointly by faculty from arts, languages, and philosophy; business and information technology; chemical and biochemical engineering; civil, architectural and environmental engineering; computer science; economics; electrical and computer engineering; engineering management and systems engineering; English and technical communication; history and political science; mathematics and statistics; mechanical and aerospace engineering; and psychological science. It also involves industry partners and other University of Missouri System campuses to make the research a statewide effort.

Story by Peter Ehrhard
Video by Terry Barner

Working to enjoy the ride

Graduate student Manish Sharma works on his nuclear engineering research in Fulton Hall. Sam O'Keefe/Missouri S&T

Manish Sharma, a graduate student at Missouri S&T, works on his nuclear engineering research in Fulton Hall.

During high school, Manish Sharma often studied by candlelight. Power outages lasting six to eight hours a day were a fixture of hometown life in Khurja, India. For most of his peers, studying in America was a distant dream. But Sharma never gave up on his goal.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from universities in India, Sharma set his sights on Missouri S&T to complete his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering.

“I never gave up because I knew tomorrow would be better,” he says. “I turned my plans into actions and went out of my comfort zone to make things happen.” [Read more…]

Testing it out


Tim Victor, a mechanical engineering senior, spent his summer working as a hydraulic development intern at a Caterpillar facility in Peoria, Illinois.

In today’s job market, practical work experience gives new graduates the edge they need to land the most sought-after positions. If that’s the case, senior Tim Victor should have no problem landing his dream job when he graduates from Missouri S&T. The mechanical engineering major from Manchester, Missouri, just completed a hydraulic development internship with Caterpillar’s Product Development & Global Technology Division in Peoria, Illinois. It was the third opportunity he’s had as a student to gain on-the-job experience.

A typical day for Victor starts with checking a rigorous endurance test of a hydraulic control valve to see if a shutdown occurred overnight. It’s a responsibility that puts the fluid dynamics and control theory he learned in class into practice.

“If I had a shutdown, I go through the data collected and discover the reason,” he says. “I use this data to hypothesize the location of a possible leak or malfunction in the valve being tested and use my resources to have the leak fixed or instrumentation replaced.” [Read more…]

Joe Miner’s big break

For most, summer is a time for vacations and relaxation. But at Missouri S&T, one individual sees summer as a time to get ready for the upcoming semester. Mascot Joe Miner uses every minute of down time during the break to support his students.

Before students arrive for the first day of class, Joe takes care of all the things he doesn’t have time for during the busy school year. Here’s what Joe Miner did this summer:

Getting an edge


The first thing Joe did was visit the Student Design and Experiential Learning Center to sharpen his pickax. After a long school year, it was getting dull.

[Read more…]

The iceman cometh

Ryan Priesmeyer, an incoming freshman at Missouri S&T, owns and operates the Tropical Sno on 10th Street in Rolla.            Sam O'Keefe/Missouri S&T

Ryan Priesmeyer, an incoming freshman at Missouri S&T, owns and operates the Tropical Sno on 10th Street in Rolla.

On a sweltering summer afternoon, a mother of three pulls in to a parking space parallel to the Tropical Sno stand at the corner of 10th Street and Forum Drive in Rolla. Ryan Priesmeyer is leaning out of the front window to greet her and her children with a smile. A tow-headed boy with red cheeks is crying uncontrollably. A brown-eyed girl with pointy pigtails is tugging at her mother’s shirt and a tall, thin teenaged boy is mostly removed from the situation.

“How can I help you?” Priesmeyer asks, then takes the woman’s order.

Soon, cups piled high with brightly tinted ice shavings are passed through the window. The crying dies down; the tugging stops; and the teenaged boy smiles.

This is a scene that Priesmeyer has repeated time and time again this past summer as manager and owner of Tropical Sno.

The Rolla High School graduate recently bought the stand outright from previous owner Dr. Judd Boehme, a Rolla dentist who moved out of state. Priesmeyer expects it to help pay his tuition at Missouri S&T, where he plans to major in mechanical engineering this fall.

“It’s going to put me through college, which I’m really happy about,” he says.

When Boehme announced that he and his family were moving to Nevada to be closer to family, he gave first dibs on the sale to Priesmeyer, who took over the stand in April — two months shy of high school graduation.

Priesmeyer is confident he can balance college classes and schoolwork with running the stand, which usually stays open through September. “I like to stay busy,” he adds.

2015_priesmeyer_ryan_discover_secondaryPriesmeyer met Boehme through a friend who worked at Tropical Sno. Boehme asked Priesmeyer to manage the shack while he was out of town and was impressed with his work. Their friendship and trust grew from there.

“It was an amazing friendship that we built,” Priesmeyer says.

Boehme showed Priesmeyer how to manage the money for the business, place orders and make snow cones.

“I’d be over at their house late making snow cones,” Priesmeyer says. “I learned how to make the flavors and how to order from Tropical Sno. All the little things you think of behind the scenes.”

Priesmeyer says the transition from managing the stand to owning it was seamless.

“I already knew what I was doing whenever I fully took over,” he says, adding that he feels good about owning a business at such a young age.

“I know that sounds really arrogant, but I’m a business owner.”

He’s also happy to be keeping a Rolla landmark in town.

“I’m glad the shack is staying in Rolla because it’s a Rolla thing,” he says. “This stand has been here most of my life. It’s like a tradition for me.

“As a kid, I never thought I would own it. I went there all the time,” he says. “The fact that I own it now is awesome.”

Story by Greg Katski
Photos by Sam O’Keefe

Learning outside the classroom box


Missouri S&T students enrolled in the summer Field Ecology course return to the field station at the Bohigian Conservation Area after conducting experiments in Mill Creek.

Southwest of Rolla, 10 acres of land once farmed by some of the area’s earliest settlers is now being explored by Missouri S&T students, who are themselves pioneers of a sort.

Students who took Field Ecology, Cave Biology or Vegetation of the Ozarks courses over the summer were among the first to spend more time in this outdoor laboratory than inside a classroom. They studied in and alongside three spring-fed ponds, a wetland fen, a nearby stream and countless flora and fauna. [Read more…]

From the Middle East to the Midwest

Mohammad AlKazimi and Hanan Altabbakh with their children.              Sam O'Keefe/Missouri S&T

Mohammad AlKazimi and his wife Hanan Altabbakh pose for a family portrait with their children (from left) Abdullah, 12, Jana, 9, infant son Abdulrazzaq and Malak, 14. Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

When Mohammad AlKazimi and Hanan Altabbakh return home to Kuwait later this summer, they will take a lot of Rolla with them.

They will return to their homeland with three Missouri S&T degrees between them, one additional child, several boxes of books, four black belts in Taekwondo and over six years of memories.  [Read more…]

Below the Earth’s surface

Nathan Bashir, a graduate student in both geology and geophysics, and geological engineering, studies limestone formations, for which he says Missouri, is an ideal location.

Nathan Bashir, a graduate student in both geology and geophysics, and geological engineering, studies limestone formations, for which he says Missouri, is an ideal location. Photo by Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

Nathainail “Nathan” Bashir is more at home in the field than in the classroom. The graduate student, who is earning a master’s degree in both geology and geophysics and geological engineering, constantly travels around the state studying bedrock variations and perfecting ways to find their depth.

Bashir is studying the Burlington and Keokuk limestone formations in the southwest Missouri town of Brookline. “Missouri is a great place to be for my studies. All around the area are caves, limestone deposits and other surface data to help me find bedrock.”

Bashir uses two main mapping techniques to find bedrock’s depth: multichannel analysis of surface waves and electrical resistivity tomography. After performing these tests, he combines the results. This process helps Bashir cut through the “clutter” of false readings that can be caused by caves and sinkholes, and identifies the differing levels of bedrock depth.

The geology of the area he studies is quite different from that of his hometown. A native of Nonar, Pakistan, Bashir studied at the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, prior to moving to the United States.

“I love being in the field and seeing what we actually study in classes,” Bashir says. “There are so many interesting places that are close by, you have to go see them.”

Last summer, Bashir was on co-op at Engineering Consulting Services (ECS) in Virginia. His work dealt mainly with structural geology and included analyzing a construction site for a new National Science Foundation facility.

Besides his research, Bashir serves on the International Student Council at Missouri S&T, sings in the choir at the Campus Christian Ministry and is a part-time clothing model.

“I starting modeling back in Pakistan to help out a friend who had designed clothes for a university event,” says Bashir. “After that, I would occasionally be asked by others who saw the photos to model. It is a fun hobby and something that lets me see a whole new industry.”

By Peter Ehrhard

Having a blast at summer camp

Students participate in a demolition during Explosives Camp at S&T's Experimental Mine.

Students participate in a demolition during Explosives Camp at S&T’s Experimental Mine. Photo by Aimee Whitmire/Missouri S&T

Who needs the campfires and bugs that traditional summer camps offer when you can learn how to detonate dynamite instead? [Read more…]

One last dip in the deep end

Justin Levy, who recently graduated with his bachelor’s degree in geology, waves to the camera while snorkeling off the coast of San Salvador Island in the Bahamas while on a nine-day field study trip.

Justin Levy, who recently graduated with his bachelor’s degree in geology, waves to the camera while snorkeling off the coast of San Salvador Island in the Bahamas while on a nine-day field study trip.

Justin Levy completed his collegiate career at Missouri S&T doing what he enjoys most – traveling.

Levy was one of eight geology and geophysics students to join Dr. David Wronkiewicz, associate professor of geology and geophysics, on a nine-day field study trip to San Salvador Island in the Bahamas in May. The group left just days after Levy crossed the stage at commencement with his bachelor’s degree in geology.

Although the students did group research on the geological formations and processes occurring on the island and their interdependency on biologic processes, each student also had the opportunity to do individual research.

The group spends some time studying the Cockburn Town fossilized reef.

The group spends some time studying the Cockburn Town fossilized reef.

With a passion for paleontology, Levy focused his research on the types of fossils found on the island. He studied a section of the island called the Cockburn Town fossil reef, which is made up of fossilized coral and shell fragments. He also tried to find fossilized decapods such as crabs, shrimps and lobsters.

“I wanted to compare the evolution of them (the decapods), and see if any evolution had taken place in the last million years,” says Levy. “If it had, it could signify a drastic increase or decrease in the food supply. Say, if one species had gotten much bigger, it could mean there was an increased food supply to allow them to grow to that size.”

Unfortunately, Levy didn’t find any decapod fossils, but he still learned a great deal about the nature of field studies.

“I found out that field research never goes the way you want it to go,” he says. “I thought I had an idea of what I was going to do. I thought it would be fairly easy; that everything would go my way. But I learned that you plan, plan, plan, and when you get to the field, you modify, modify, modify.”

Dr. David Wronkiewicz, associate professor of geosciences and geological and petroleum engineering, holds some organic material pulled from the hypersaline water of Storr’s Lake while researching the shallow lake on San Salvador Island.

Dr. David Wronkiewicz, associate professor of geology and geophysics, holds some organic material pulled from the hypersaline water of Storr’s Lake while researching the shallow lake on San Salvador Island.

In addition to studying the fossilized reefs of Cockburn Town, the students studied modern reefs, hypersaline lakes and cave systems. Much of their research was conducted in the water, either snorkeling on offshore coral reefs or wading in the shallow water of inland Storr’s Lake. They even did several snorkeling dives at night, encountering sea turtles and a shark.

“James Hutton, the father of modern geology, said that the present is the key to the past,” says Wronkiewicz. “The diversity of geology on the island allowed the students to see Hutton’s concept of past and present geologic processes adjacent to one another in only a few hours of time.”

Levy and other students on the trip wrote about their experiences on S&T’s Miners Abroad Blog. Levy wrote about the striking lack of fresh water on the island. A Club Med resort was built on the island in 1994, he wrote, which increased the island’s freshwater pump rate by some 400 percent. By the early 2000s, the island’s fresh water had dried up. Nowadays, locals use rain collection systems to collect freshwater, then purify it.

The group poses for a picture on San Salvador Island.

The group poses for a picture on San Salvador Island.

The group explored a “blue hole” that used to pump fresh water from beneath the island, but now it pumps salt water. Blue holes are inland caves or underwater sinkholes sometimes called vertical caves. These types of studies using blue holes as well as sea-level proxies can tell researchers about the past environment and help to predict the future, according to Levy.

Levy says he’s thankful for his time at S&T, and the many opportunities he had to travel as a geology student, which included three weeks of field camp in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico; three weeks of advanced field camp in Utah and Arizona; a summer trip to Bolivia with Engineers Without Borders; and a semester as an exchange student in Hong Kong.

“This school has allowed me to find my passion, and that is travel,” he says.

Story by Greg Katski

Photos by Justin Levy

Dance therapy

Kailea Tilden dances in front of the Millenium Arch on campus.

Kailea Tilden dances in front of the Millenium Arch on campus. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

Everyone has a passion for something. For Kailea Tilden, that passion is dance.

Through dance, Tilden can show off her own uniqueness. Teaching others to dance, she says, helps her draw out their confidence and creativity, too.

“Dancing definitely improves the lives of others,” says Tilden, who graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences in May 2015. “It’s fun, it’s exercise, and you get to express yourself and be creative. It’s just a really great experience for everybody that’s involved.”

Tilden taught dance at a Rolla studio for two years before starting her own program at the local health and fitness center.

Tilden performs during a production of "The Little Mermaid" by the S&T Ballet and Dance Club.

Tilden performs during a production of “The Little Mermaid” by the S&T Ballet and Dance Club. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

“I am the coordinator and sole instructor for the program, which has around 25 kids and includes seven different classes,” says Tilden, who has coached and choreographed for competition dancers for three years.

As a student, Tilden served as president of the Missouri S&T Ballet and Dance Club for two years. There, she directed, choreographed and starred in several full-scale dance productions and led a group of over 40 student dancers and children from the community.

“I am in the position to share my love of dance with many people each day – from toddlers to adults,” she says.

Tilden was also a member of the Scrubs Pre-Med Society. She completed over 60 hours of observation with physicians and physical therapists and plans to use that experience as a platform to launch her next endeavor.

Tilden shakes S&T Chancellor Cheryl Schrader's hand as she crosses the stage at commencement in May 2015.

Tilden shakes hands with S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader’s as she crosses the stage at commencement in May 2015. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

Next year, Tilden plans to enroll in physical therapy school. Her ultimate goal? Becoming a dancer-specialized physical therapist. Tilden believes that through dance, she will be able to help others better express themselves while they improve their physical and mental health.

“Dance is everything that I do,” Tilden says. “It has shaped me physically, mentally and emotionally. Everything I do has been influenced by dance in some way. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t dance. I can’t imagine.”

By Sam Ogunmolawa

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