Human powered

Lucas Parker poses with the Human Powered Vehicle Competition Team’s current vehicle, named “Leviathan,” which recently won the American Society of Mechanical Engineers 2015 Human Powered Vehicle Challenge East Coast Competition in Gainesville, Florida.

Lucas Parker poses with the Human Powered Vehicle Competition Team’s current vehicle, named “Leviathan,” which recently won the American Society of Mechanical Engineers 2015 Human Powered Vehicle Challenge East Coast Competition in Gainesville, Florida. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

Lucas Parker, a sophomore in aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering and engineering management at Missouri S&T, is obsessed with fitness. From lifeguarding to coaching a gym class at The Centre, Rolla’s Health and Recreation Complex, Parker spends a lot of time taking care of his body and encouraging others to do the same. And he’s been this way his whole life.

In high school, Parker rode his bike to school every day. So, when he came to S&T and wanted to join a design team, he found the perfect fit in the Human Powered Vehicle Competition Team.

Each year, the team designs, builds and races an aerodynamically fitted recumbent bicycle or tricycle. This year the team earned first place at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers 2015 Human Powered Vehicle Challenge East Coast Competition in Gainesville, Florida.

“Even though we are serious about performance and begin preparation for the next competition as soon as the last one is done, the atmosphere isn’t stressful,” he says. “It’s a relaxed learning experience. It’s just a bunch of friends building a bike and learning at the same time.”

Parker says the team is more than a learning experience — it’s a life experience.

“As a freshman, I didn’t know anyone, so I would go to the shop every weekend to work on the bike and that’s how I met new friends,” he says. “The team has opened up doors for friendships, networking and travel that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”

Though he loves being part of the team, Parker says that he enjoys teaching others teamwork just as much. When he coached soccer at Gene Slay’s Boys Club in the Soulard neighborhood in St. Louis, he learned just how much he loved it.

“All of the kids hated soccer because they didn’t understand it,” he says. “I taught them how to pass and how cool it could be if they worked together and slowly it worked. I felt like I had given them a sense of purpose.”

When Parker is not busy encouraging others to stay healthy, he’s focused on keeping himself healthy. In any free time, the Kappa Sigma fraternity member plays sports with friends and lifts weights in order to stay healthy for Air Force ROTC.

Fitness is an important part of his life, sure, but he says it’s not the only thing he’s focused on.

“My motto is to always stay happy,” he says. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do after Missouri S&T, but I do know I’m going to make it a priority to be happy.”

By Arielle Bodine

Faith and fitness

Kamaria Blaney exercises at the S&T Fitness Center on a recent morning.

Kamaria Blaney exercises at the S&T Fitness Center on a recent morning. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

By her own account, 2012 was the toughest year of Kamaria Blaney’s life.

She had a baby, lost her father and broke up with her boyfriend. Along the way, she ballooned to 238 pounds.

“I was eating my life away,” Blaney, now a senior in engineering management, says. “I just really relied on food instead of my feelings.”

That is, until she took a long, hard look in the mirror – literally.

“I remember the exact moment: It was Christmas time three years ago,” she says. “I was sitting in one of my favorite stores – Charlotte Russe. My boyfriend had gotten me a jacket and he said, ‘I hope it fits you.’ Because it was the biggest size they had.

“I remember sitting in the chair and looking in the mirror and being so disgusted,” she says. I was just so unhappy.”

Blaney signed up for CoolRunning’s Couch-to-5K Running Plan, in which beginners can ease into a running regimen by running 30 minutes a day, three days a week, for nine weeks. She stopped eating fast food and junk food, she says, and started praying.

Blaney says her faith helped motivate her to improve her health.

“I had a good foundation of faith but never tried to further my relationship with God, I guess,” she says. “I just really started focusing on me and God.”

Tragedy struck Blaney’s life again in March 2013, when a friend and classmate took her own life. Despite her grief, Blaney didn’t turn to food.

“I learned the value of friendship and life,” she says. “I learned that there’s no point in being unhappy.”

That loss inspired Blaney to start a motivational Instagram group called “Fit Friends Last Longer.” Here she and her friends share photos and stories of weight loss, exercise and diet.

She says Internet supporters have been her biggest motivators.

“People Snapchat me; they Instagram me; send me all types of nice messages,” she says. “They watch everything that I’m posting.

“People notice I’m putting in this hard work. They love it, and they respond. That’s what drives me.”

Since March 2013, Blaney has lost over 80 pounds.

Now, she trains fellow students, motivating them through fitness. They meet every day at 6:30 a.m. at the S&T Fitness Center. “Everybody has greatness, especially if they’re here at S&T already.”

One day Blaney hopes to get personal training certification and open a fitness center, but for now she’s focused on completing her engineering management degree. “I love the idea of collaboration, figuring out how things work,” she says. “I feel like I can apply that to anything.

“God has given me a brain, and he’s given me a lot of intelligence. He’s given me vision.”

Blaney, who was nominated for an Inspirational Woman Award in 2014 by the Women’s History Month Planning Committee, hasn’t forgotten where she was three short years ago.

“I still look in the mirror every day because I don’t want to lose sight of who I was,” she says. “I’ve been through it. So I know that you can get through it, too. You just have to have goals and trust the process.”

By Greg Katski

 

 

 

Gantner engineers his path to Google

Austin Gantner, who graduates in May, has already secured a job at Google's office in Boulder, Colorado.

Austin Gantner, who graduates in May, has already secured a job at Google’s office in Boulder, Colorado. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

Austin Gantner knows exactly what his future holds:

Graduate. Tour Europe. Work for Google.

In that order.

Oh, sure, first there is studying for and passing final exams to get through: World Literature and Biotech and Film and a presentation and paper in Object Oriented Numerical Modeling. But for Gantner, a senior computer science student at Missouri S&T, the future is going according to plan. It’s a plan more than three years in the making; a plan that S&T advises students to follow; a plan the university actively encourages them to pursue.

“The best thing about S&T is that they let you go take a co-op while keeping your full-time student status,” says Gantner, a St. Louis native. “They make it easy for you to get the real-world experience you need to get a job after graduation.”

Gantner secured a co-op with Nucor Yamato Steel from January to August 2012. He worked full-time and part-time internships for Garmin from January to July 2013. And he nabbed an internship with Amazon.com from May to August 2014. He hit the ground running in all three.

“With internships and full-time work, you don’t get any training when you get there,” he says. “You’re expected to know it. It’s a trial by fire. At all three internships, I made contributions that are still in use today.”

But he believes that the last internship, the one with Amazon, really put him on Google’s radar, where just getting an interview is half the battle.

After an initial interview in October, Gantner was invited on-site in Boulder, Colorado, in early November. He studied for 10 hours before his first interview — and for 15 hours before the on-site trial.

In the on-site interview, he had to write code while Google team members watched, asking him questions about why he went about things the way he did. They wanted to know the thought process that went into it, looking for more than just a programmer, but instead for someone who could think logically about problems he would face in the job and articulate ways to solve them.

His day was broken up in to four 45-minute interviews. His lunch break wasn’t a break but pretty much an interview, too.

After spending the day in Boulder, the wait began. He was cautiously confident.

“There were a couple interviews I knew for a fact that I nailed,” Gantner said. “There was one where I had absolutely no clue how I did. And there was one where it could go either way.”

In late November, Google offered him a job as a software engineer. Of course he said yes.

“It’s the best place to work in the country — if not the world,” Gantner says.

And maybe it wasn’t just three years ago that he started on the road that has led him to Google. He came to Missouri S&T’s CHIP camp (Computer Highly Interactive Program), now known as CyberMiner Camp, before his senior year of high school. By then, he knew where his future was headed — to Missouri S&T.

“It was the only school I applied to,” Gantner says. “This is the place for me.”

By Joe McCune

Weathering the storm(water)

Katie Bartels, a sophomore in environmental engineering, conducts her experiment on the green roof on top of Emerson Electric Co. Hall.

Katie Bartels, a sophomore in environmental engineering, conducts her experiment on the green roof on top of Emerson Electric Co. Hall. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

For Katherine Bartels, environmentalism is all about balance. “It is finding the best solution for humans and the environment without sacrificing one for the other,” she says.

Bartels follows this mantra in her current research project. She studies the volume and quality of stormwater saved from runoff by the green roof on top of Missouri S&T’s Emerson Electric Co. Hall.

The green roof features 16,000 plants arranged in the shape of a shamrock. Most of the plants growing on the roof are a variety of sedum and all were chosen for their ability to thrive in direct sun and wind with limited water. The roof is divided into three sections, each covered with different roofing materials, which allow S&T researchers to compare the water runoff control, water quality and thermal properties of each material.

Bartels, a sophomore in environmental engineering from Independence, Missouri, started the experiment last summer as part of the Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experiences (OURE) program, and plans to continue her research until she graduates. Joel Burken, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering and director of the Environmental Research Center for Emerging Contaminants, directs the research.

Bartels says that although the green roof absorbs a significant amount of stormwater, the stormwater that is washed out has much higher concentrations of nitrogen and phosphate than a typical black roof. When excessive nitrogen and phosphorous levels end up in local waterways, undesirable side effects such as algae blooms can occur. When algae die, they decompose. The decomposition consumes oxygen, and with less oxygen, naturally occurring aquatic plants, fish, crustaceans and other organisms can die. Algae blooms also produce algal toxins that directly pollute the source of drinking water intake.

So now, Bartels is researching how much ground soil is necessary on a green roof to fully absorb the stormwater and minimize the amount of nutrients in the runoff. She is also studying the cooling effect that green roofs have on urban “heat islands.” An urban heat island is a city or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities. That project was initiated by Madison Gibler, a graduate student who plans to complete her master’s degree in May.

“What our research does is maximize the water source potential to cool the urban heat islands, but minimize the amount of nutrients in the runoff,” Bartels says.

Once a month, Bartels tests the rainwater on the green roof. She uses small plots of soil to trap the stormwater, and then filters it through plastic tubes to paint buckets where the runoff can be extracted and tested for nitrogen and phosphate. Some of the plots feature sedum plants. Others are just covered with rocks and soil. By testing varying plots, Bartels can get an idea of the impact different plants and soils have on the stormwater.

She presented her research to the state’s top legislators in Jefferson City on March 10 as part of the annual Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol.

Bartels was also just accepted into the Aaron and Zelda Greenberg Scholars Program in the civil, architectural and environmental engineering department, in which students work with faculty advisors to develop a program of independent research study that will weave through both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.

Bartels says she has always known that she wanted to channel her love of science into an environmentally focused career.

“I remember in elementary school reading about the polar ice caps melting. Then I saw a picture of a polar bear swimming in the ocean and my heart broke,” she says. “That’s when I knew I wanted to do anything I could to help the cause. When you’re passionate about something, you develop skills you might not have had.”

Bartels’ passion for developing clean water took root in high school, where she first learned about diverting stormwater runoff using rain gardens and green roofs in her environmental science class.

Bartels says her teacher used a low-lying recreation field with poor drainage as an example.

“I said, ‘Why don’t we build one?’” says Bartels.

Her teacher agreed, and the class built the school’s first-ever rain garden.

“It’s still there,” Bartels says. “And it’s a good feeling to say that.”

Bartels is treasurer of Missouri S&T’s Water Environment Federation (WEF) student chapter.

The student organization is heavily involved in environmental cleanups, and does float trip and sinkhole trash pickups at least once a year. The organization also monitors the water quality of Beaver Creek in southern Phelps County for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, taking water quality samples twice a year, and makes presentations at local primary schools.

Bartels hopes to work for the Environmental Protection Agency some day, maybe testing and improving water quality.

By Greg Katski

For Friz, NASA holds universal appeal

Doctoral student Paul Friz worked with NASA last fall in California and is working with the space agency again this year in Langley, Virginia. Here he’s at the Langley gantry, where crash tests are conducted on spacecraft, aircraft and helicopters.

Doctoral student Paul Friz worked with NASA last fall in California and is working with the space agency again this year in Langley, Virginia. Here he’s at the Langley gantry, where crash tests are conducted on spacecraft, aircraft and helicopters. Contributed photo by David C. Bowman, NASA

When he was a teenager, Missouri S&T doctoral student and NASA employee Paul Friz looked up into the night sky, the twinkling points of light a thousand beacons in the darkness, irresistible. He was hooked.

So when he was 14, Friz saved up his lawn-mowing money and bought his first telescope – an 8-inch Dobsonian Reflector – to bring the sky’s lights up close. He looked at the gas giant Saturn; it’s the solar system’s sixth planet from the sun and looks like a star to the naked eye, but its rings and moons came to life in his telescope’s lens. Then he went farther into the heavens and out of Earth’s solar system – somewhere between 520 to 610 light years out – to view M44, or the Beehive Cluster, located in the constellation Cancer.

“I believe I chose those objects because they were easy to find in the sky, and I didn’t really know what I was doing at that point,” Friz says.

Looking through that first telescope in a cemetery behind his Creve Coeur, Missouri, home was the first step in a journey that has led Friz, 25, to where he is today: working as a NASA Pathways intern in Langley, Virginia, and pursuing his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from S&T.

At NASA, he’s learning software tools that will help him complete cost analyses for space missions, taking into account a mission’s lifetime, research and development, maintenance, operating costs, scientists’ hours – basically everything that has a dollar amount.

Before that, Friz was at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as an assistant to the project manager on the Rosetta mission that put an orbiter around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. His specific job involved writing software to analyze the data coming from the Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter, or MIRO, that’s on the Rosetta spacecraft. MRIO measures the comet’s gas emissions, which, Friz says, are mostly water with smaller amounts of ammonia, carbon dioxide and methanol.

He was there when the orbiter launched the Philae lander that synched up with and landed on the comet. When it finally touched down and started sending data, the relief in the room was palpable.

“It was awesome,” Friz says. “It definitely was one of the most exciting experiences in my life.”

Last fall, Paul Friz worked on the joint European Space Agency and NASA project that deployed the Rosetta orbiter around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This image of the comet was taken March 25, 2015, from a distance of 86.6 km from the comet’s center.

Paul Friz worked on the joint European Space Agency and NASA project that deployed the Rosetta orbiter around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This image of the comet was taken March 25, 2015, from a distance of 86.6 km from the comet’s center. Contributed photo by ESA-European Space Agency. Used with permission under license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/igo/

The path that led him to being there in the room with the other NASA scientists just sort of came about naturally.

“There was no real eureka moment,” he says of his early stargazing days, which included trips to an aunt and uncle’s house in a remote area east of Rolla. “Mostly I was just really interested in exploring and learning awesome things about the universe.”

After earning his bachelor of science degree in physics from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, he came to S&T and earned a master of science degree in aerospace engineering. He worked on two different projects during his master’s studies, and both are part of his thesis.

Because his interests are wide and varied – he was an orchestral violinist at Truman State and is an accomplished photographer – he hasn’t settled on a Ph.D. area of concentration. He’s plenty busy as it is with the work he’s doing for NASA – his dream long-term employer. Projects such as sending astronauts to Mars and an asteroid redirect project that aims to capture an asteroid and put it in orbit around the moon hold his imagination.

“They’re bigger than anything NASA has done; bigger than the Apollo landing,” Friz says.

He acknowledges, however, that these big-dream projects have no guarantee of being funded.

“It seems that Mars has been 20 years away ever since we landed on the moon,” he says.

Still, he’s undeterred. The stars of his youth are the stars of his future.

“Going to space has always been a dream of mine,” he says. ”If I ever have the opportunity to be an astronaut I will take it, but there are thousands of other people who are more qualified for that job than I am. So right now, I’m not betting on it. But I am aligning my career and lifestyle so that I can take the opportunity if it comes up.”

By Joe McCune

‘It’s not a job, it’s a passion’

Patrick Murphy prepares the Missouri S&T baseball team’s uniforms before a game against Drury University.

Patrick Murphy prepares the Missouri S&T baseball team’s uniforms before a game against Drury University. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

For some, baseball is just a game. For Missouri S&T sophomore Patrick Murphy, it’s much more.

“I first started playing baseball in kindergarten, and it has been a pretty big part of my life for as long as I can remember,” Murphy says. “It has always been something that I’ve enjoyed.”

The native of Bartlett, Tennessee, played baseball through his senior year in high school. When he came to Missouri S&T as a freshman in the fall of 2013 he tried out for the university’s baseball team. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the cut. Instead, he asked head coach Todd DeGraffenreid about being an assistant on the team, and the coach named him the team’s first head student manager.

“Patrick Murphy has been the first student manager of the baseball team since I joined the team as head coach in 2003,” DeGraffenreid says.

As the head student manager, Murphy has the unofficial title of “director of baseball operations.”

DeGraffenreid says he wanted to “give him a title that is a more fitting description of what he does for the team.”

Murphy poses with the 2015 Missouri S&T baseball team and coaching staff.

Murphy poses with the 2015 Missouri S&T baseball team and coaching staff. Photo by Missouri S&T SID

Murphy has many tasks and responsibilities on the team, including managing the team’s inventory; supervising an assistant manager; helping prepare the field and team for practices and games; selecting walk-up music for players getting ready to bat; managing the team’s social media accounts, including @SandTBaseball, the team’s Twitter handle; washing the team’s uniforms and making restaurant reservations during road trips.

“He is hands-down the most committed person to this baseball program, aside from myself,” says DeGraffenreid. “He’s never missed a practice. He’s always the first one here. If we’ve got practice at 5 a.m., Murphy’s here at 4:15 (a.m). His performance is superior and unparalleled and this program wouldn’t be the same without him.”

When Murphy isn’t with the baseball team, he’s busy working toward a degree in business and management systems.

He originally came to S&T to study architectural engineering, but Murphy feels that he is now on the right path to success. “I feel like this major better suits me with the roles I have on the baseball team. I still want to do something sports-related once I graduate, but now instead of creating sports facilities, I’ll be managing sports teams.

I want to do something where I can look forward to going to work every day. That’s why I enjoy baseball so much – it’s not a job, it’s a passion,” he says.

By Sam Ogunmolawa

Strategic scaling

Lindsey Carlson, a junior in information science and technology, is a member of Missouri S&T’s Climbing Club, where she learns to climb obstacles both physical and mental.

Lindsey Carlson, a junior in information science and technology, is a member of Missouri S&T’s Climbing Club, where she learns to climb obstacles both physical and mental. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

Before each rock-climb, Lindsey Carlson plans out her route to the top. Though it’s not an exact science, having an outline of her route has helped her successfully scale rock formations all over the Midwest.

Carlson does some “bouldering” last week during a spring break trip to Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.

Carlson does some “bouldering” last week during a spring break trip to Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. Contributed photo

As a member of Missouri S&T’s Climbing Club, Carlson has scaled routes with names like “Swamp Rat,” “Green Goblin,” and “Up and At ‘Em.”

“Climbing for me is a departure from team sports; it’s a mental game,” says Carlson, a junior in information science and technology. “But, all the while, I can learn from and have the encouragement of other Climbing Club members.”

The mental challenge manifests itself before each climb and continues until it’s complete.

“I try to never look down during a climb. I’m only focused on my next move and where my foot or hand is going to go next,” Carlson says. “Climbing helps me center myself.”

The combination of mental and physical challenges is not the only draw to the sport for Carlson.

“My favorite thing to do is be outside,” she says. “I love when we go on longer trips and I get to camp out with all the people in Climbing Club.”

Carlson is also a tutor in the Writing Center and works in the Laboratory for Information Technology Evaluation (LITE). Through hands-on experience in the lab, Carlson is beginning the climb toward her ultimate goal: influencing the experience a user has with a website or program by designing the spaces where user interaction and machine meet.

Carlson takes a “selfie” while climbing a route called “Swamp Rat” at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas.

Carlson takes a “selfie” while climbing a route called “Swamp Rat” at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas. Contributed photo

“I’m interested in the design of user interfaces and the way that the user interacts with (websites and programs),” she says. “I want to make beautiful interfaces that are easy and simple to use.”

Just like a climb, Carlson has planned her career path. And she’s not looking down.

By Arielle Bodine

Wearing many hats

Nick McGraw (center), current president of the Student Union Board (SUB), has a laugh  with some fellow students in the SUB office.

Nick McGraw (center), current president of the Student Union Board (SUB), has a laugh with some fellow students in the SUB office. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

Nick McGraw, a senior in engineering management, spends nearly all of his free time giving back to the community. While attending Missouri S&T, McGraw has worked on service projects for over 400 hours, doing everything from volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, to cleaning city parks and state highways, to working shifts at the Community Partnership.

“I try to take any time I have to give back and those experiences have been very rewarding,” he says. “I plan on continuing to volunteer for the remainder of my time at S&T, as well as in my professional career.”

McGraw takes a break from painting a house in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with Miner Challenge Alternative Spring Break 2015’s Mississippi team. The team is building houses this week for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

McGraw takes a break from painting a house in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with Miner Challenge Alternative Spring Break 2015’s Mississippi team. The team is building houses this week for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Contributed photo

McGraw says he’s building a foundation for career excellence through careful attention to his coursework, but also through extracurricular experiences.

“As an S&T student, you have to have a solid understanding of the technical aspects of engineering,” he says. “However, it is the things you do and the time you spend outside of class that makes you a great leader and sets you apart from your peers.”

McGraw is the current president of the Student Union Board (SUB); a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity; a disc jockey at 89.7 KMNR, S&T’s student-run radio station; event planning and fundraising chair for the Solar House Team; secretary of the S&T chapter of Toastmaster’s International; and an undergraduate mentor to another student in the S&T chapter of the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM).

McGraw says he’s developing important skills by challenging himself to take part in a wide variety of activities.

“By doing so many different things, I’m able to try on many different hats,” he says. “It allows me to do what I’m good at and get better at the things that I’m not.”

After McGraw graduates in December 2015, he intends to keep challenging himself at a job he’s passionate about.

“I always want to enjoy what I’m doing because that creates the right environment to push myself and those around me to improve.”

McGraw is a member of one of five teams participating in this week’s Miner Challenge Alternative Spring Break 2015. Learn more about each team and where they are volunteering.

By Arielle Bodine

Panning for gold

Deanna Fitzgerald, a senior member of Missouri S&T's 2014 world champion women's mucking team, pans for gold during the international Intercollegiate Mining Competition last year at the Experimental Mine in Rolla. This year, the team is traveling a little further — to Kalgoorlie, Australia — to defend its crown.

Deanna Fitzgerald, a member of S&T’s 2014 world champion women’s mucking team, pans for gold during the international Intercollegiate Mining Competition last year at the Experimental Mine in Rolla. This year, the team is traveling a little further — to Kalgoorlie, Australia — to defend its crown. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

A group of Missouri S&T students is preparing to travel over 9,000 miles to defend two world championship titles in events based on old-fashioned mining techniques generally known as “mucking.” Missouri S&T’s men’s and women’s teams both earned first place at last year’s competition, and this year they will head to Western Australia School of Mines to compete in the 37th international Intercollegiate Mining Competition in Kalgoorlie, Australia, as formidable contenders.

Not only is the women’s team defending world champion, it has a legacy of success, having won the title in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012.

The competition’s events are comprised of:

  • Gold panning. Students must find five flattened lead shot or copper BBs in a pan full of dirt and mud.
  • Hand-mucking. Students run an ore cart down a 75-foot section of track and fill it with “muck” — a combination of gravel and dirt — using shovels.
  • Hand-steeling. Students drill into a block of concrete using a 4-pound hammer and a 7/8-inch-wide steel chisel.
  • Jackleg drilling. Students drill into a vertical rock or concrete wall using a pneumatic air-drill.
  • Surveying. Students are given a starting point and must report the coordinates of a finishing point using an old-fashioned Vernier transit.
  • Swede sawing. Students saw through a 6-by-6-inch piece of pine timber with a 36-inch bow saw
  • Track-standing. Students must set up and tear down a five-meter section of track, including sleepers, rail, connection plates and bolts.

Although the women’s mucking team has a tradition of placing well, this year it’s up against a team with a strong home-field advantage.

“Australia is on home turf and, as far as I know, no one has ever beaten them there,” says Deanna Fitzgerald, a senior member of the team. “We have high hopes, but we know the competition is going to be fierce and we will have to be at our best if we want to earn a good result.”

Missouri S&T’s teams will be in Australia March 20-April 4. While there, the team members will not only compete but visit with several Missouri S&T mining engineering alumni who currently work in Australia’s mining industry.

“The team has been practicing track-standing the most,” says Kelsey Garrett, also a senior member of the team. “It is a team effort and has helped us develop better communication and teamwork.”

Missouri S&T will take four mucking teams to the competition: one women’s, two men’s and one co-ed. Approximately 40 universities from around the world will send teams to compete at this year’s events.

By Peter Ehrhard

Snakes invade Missouri S&T

St. Pat’s Snake Invasion: The Game
Go back in time with this special St. Pat’s game! A nest of snakes has made its way from the springs, streams, swamps and glades of the Ozarks to the highlands of Rolla. Playing as St. Pat, strike down 107 snakes using only your shillelagh and skill. Defeat them all before time runs out and receive a special bonus score. Can you save campus and banish the snakes from Missouri S&T? Help make this St. Pat’s the Best Ever!

 

 


A (Very Brief) History of Snake Invasions at S&T
According to legend, or Dr. Lance Haynes, fourth faculty advisor of St. Pat’s, Snake Invasion was started in 1912 by the junior class as a way to “initiate” freshmen.

Freshmen must use giant sticks called shillelaghs to club (plastic) snakes to death and bite their heads off.

This being the 108th Best Ever, each participating student is expected to club at least one snake 108 times consecutively. If they fail to do so, they have to start over.

Until they complete the ritual rite of passage, participating students must carry around their shillelaghs. So, don’t be surprised to see stripped and customized tree trunks propped up outside of buildings and classrooms on campus during the snake invasion, which starts Monday, March 7.

Now, on with the bashing!

Guiding the next generation

Aysen Malone, a freshman engineering student, mentors a member of one of Rolla High School's FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams.

Aysen Malone, a freshman engineering student, mentors a member of one of Rolla High School’s FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

Freshman engineering student and Rolla High School alumna Aysen Malone knows that a strong mentor can leave a lasting impression on a person. Inspired by her first mentor, she returns to Rolla High School twice a week to help support its robotics teams.

The teams compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), a nationwide robotics competition involving teams of up to 10 students between the ages of 14 and 18 in grades 9-12. Each team designs, builds and programs a robot for a tournament-style competition.

Malone is a three-year veteran of the robotics competition, having joined her sophomore year at Rolla High School.

During Malone’s first year, the Rolla team won the Inspire Award, given to the team that the judges feel embodies the “challenge” of FTC to involve young minds. That award qualified the team for the FTC world championships. Once Malone experienced the fierce competition at a worldwide level, she was hooked on improving the team’s robot.

But she wasn’t always as enthusiastic about the group. Malone credits one of the team’s advisors with getting her fully involved in the competition.

“When I first joined the team, I was shy and kind of intimidated by talking with the other members,” recalls Malone. “But then Philip Allen, one of the team’s mentors, walked up to me and asked me all about what I was interested in and helped introduce me to the team. He was a close friend to everyone on the team and was always willing to go the extra mile to help the students. He is also the main reason I chose to go to Missouri S&T.”

 

During Malone’s first semester at S&T, Allen, a 1994 mechanical engineering graduate of S&T, died in an automobile accident on Oct. 10, 2014. The shock of losing a beloved mentor to the team was difficult for everyone, including Malone.

In Allen’s memory, she continues his legacy of mentoring young minds interested in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Despite her busy schedule at S&T, where she has a job and is president of the Turkish Student Alliance, Malone insists on visiting the teams as often as she can.

“All the Rolla High School robotics teams like competition,” says Malone. “There isn’t a huge rivalry between the three, but everyone wants to be the best they can be. There is a legacy to continue, but all the teams know they have to earn their way with results.”

She also says she respects all the mentors and advisors who help the teams.

“All of the volunteers work so hard and freely give up their time to help the students, no matter if they have other obligations,” she says. “I will always be grateful for the footsteps that Phil left for me to follow.”

All three Rolla High School teams have qualified for the state championships, which will be held at the Gale Bullman Building on campus Saturday, March 7.

More about the upcoming competition can be found here.

By Peter Ehrhard

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