Innovation and Invention

Alumni leading the telecommunications industry

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Roy Wilkens, EE’66, and Mario A. Padilla, MetE’60, worked for years to challenge and change the status of the telecommunications industry in the early to mid 1990s.  Wilkens, founder, president and CEO of telecommunications company WilTel, worked to challenge and outpace the “big three” at the time of AT&T, MCI and Sprint. His 3,500 employees…

Building a legacy of mechanical engineering

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A registered professional engineer, John Toomey, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering in 1949 and 1951, founded both VSE Corp. and Starr Management Corp. He is a member of the Naval Institute and holds five patents for photographs, safety and missile equipment as well as a copyright on design and technical-drawing computer…

EV pioneer

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As the auto industry begins to fully embrace the notion of electric vehicles, it has EV pioneers like Jon Bereisa to thank. Bereisa, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1967 and master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1970, helped General Motors bridge the gap from the EV1 electric vehicle to the Chevrolet Volt’s successful launch.…

Non-stop innovation

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Dan Scott, a 1970 metallurgical engineering graduate, holds more than 100 patents and has dozens more patents pending. The technical advisor for oilfield drilling contractor Baker Hughes Inc. takes a customer-advocate approach to assure that the product or process he develops can meet his clients’ needs. “There are very few eureka moments for me,” he…

Bringing back the wetlands

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Donald Hey, a 1963 graduate in civil engineering, is passionate about proving the economic efficiency and sustainability of using restored wetlands for water quality management and flood control. Hey, an executive director and co-founder for Wetlands Research Inc. based in Wadsworth, Illinois, focuses his research on river and wetland restoration throughout the Mississippi River Basin.…

Surveying the future of mining

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Karl F. Hasselmann, who graduated in 1925 with a degree in mining engineering, was oil prospecting in Europe when he began researching how to use gravitational survey methods to locate offshore oil. After returning to the U.S., Hasselmann began drilling with his own company in the Gulf of Mexico and discovered one of the first…

The fine art of tuning a Corvette

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Charlie Rusher, a 2011 graduate in mechanical engineering, “makes Corvettes sound like Corvettes.” Rusher was interviewed by The New York Times about his work with Corvette engines as a noise and vibration engineer at Chevrolet in Milford, Michigan. “I fine-tune what the engine sounds like, both inside and outside the car – I’m the composer…

NIH’s first woman scientist

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Dr. Ida Bengston was the first woman the National Institutes of Health (NIH) hired as a scientist in 1916. For 30 years she served the NIH – and several communities throughout the U.S., including Rolla. Bengston came to Rolla in 1924 to lead research on a blindness-causing eye disease named trachoma at the city’s hospital…

All a-Twitter

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The creator and co-founder of Twitter — Jack Dorsey — spent a couple of years studying electrical and computer engineering at Missouri S&T in the 1990s before heading off to New York University. He never earned a college degree, but the St. Louis native, in addition to creating the influential social media platform, also co-founded…

Fruit juice helps send children to school

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Boonchai Songthumvat, MS EMgt’76, and his food scientist wife, Nuchanart, started Nuboon Co. in 1992 to manufacture fruit and vegetable juices, coffee and tea and was the first of its kind in Thailand to pasteurize fruit juice. They quickly realized that they could support area children with the foods they produced and formed a foundation…