The below article is reprinted with permission from the Rolla Daily News. This article orginally was published on Thursday October 11, 2007 on page 1, Volume 133, Number 252 of the Rolla Daily News.
Lawmakers learn of UMR’s impact
from the Missouri House of Representatives
Appropriations Committee for Transportation and Economic
Development toured UMR on Wednesday. In this Photo, the
tour group visits a non-destructive testing lab at the
HyPoint Industrial Park to learn more about ongoing
research at the university. Pictured are, Committee
Chair and District 11 State Rep. Charles Schlottach,
R-Owensville, left, Committee Vice Chair and District
147 State Rep. Don Wells, Committee Analyst Glenn
Fitzgerald, Program Manager for the Center for
Entrepreneurship Barry White, Dr. Sunggyu Lee, professor
of Chemical & Biological Engineering and UMR
lobbyist Jim Snider.
Laura Ginsberg, Staff Writer
from the House Appropriations Committee for Transportation and
Economic Development toured the University of Missouri-Rolla
on Wednesday to learn more about how UMR is boosting the
state’s economy and helping to improve its
The visit from Committee Chair and
District 11 State Rep. Charles Schlottach, R-Owensville, and
Vice Chair and District 147 State Rep. Don Wells, R-Cabool,
was part of the Committee’s ongoing effort to merge academia,
business and politics within the state. Also joining the group
was 149th District Rep. Bob May.
The campus tour
highlighted several university research facilities that are
working on projects that will be a benefit not only to
Missouri, but the nation and the world.
“These are our
crown jewels,?Vice Provost K. Krishnamurthy said of the
The first stop was a laboratory in
McNutt Hall, where students and professors are working on
friction stir welding, a process developed to join aluminum
The technique uses localized heat generated by
friction to weld metal without melting. The process is being
used in the aerospace industry to create strong, lightweight
welds on aircraft.
Next, Schlottach, Wells and May were
shown the progress of the construction on the university’s new
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering facility, Toomey Hall.
Construction of the $29 million Toomey Hall, which should be
complete in May, is possible, in part, because of $15 million
in state funding granted to UMR through the Lewis & Clark
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is UMR’s largest
engineering program, with 760 students enrolled. Currently,
1,100 of the university’s graduates are employed by Boeing,
showing the cooperation UMR has formed with corporations
interested in employing its students.
The group of
legislatures and UMR representatives then moved to the Center
for Infrastructure Engineering Studies (CIES) in the
Butler-Carlton Civil Engineering Building.
studies are being conducted at the CIES that could benefit
Missouri’s transportation systems. The CIES now is involved in
18 bridge projects in the region, including one in Phelps
County, using Fiber Reinforced Polymers and carbon sheeting to
The techniques being developed
by students and faculty at the CIES can be used to expand the
lives of existing bridges, rather than tearing them down to
build new structures.
Another project at the CIES is
part of a study involving five other universities to observe
the effects of earthquakes on bridge columns. The research
will help to develop methods to design stronger bridges, as
well as make existing bridge columns stronger.
was time for the group to hop on UMR’s hydrogen-powered
shuttle bus for a ride to the laboratory of Dr. Sunggyu Lee,
professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering, located in
the HyPoint Industrial Park.
Lee and his team of
graduate and undergraduate students work on research and
development contracts from major corporations, such as Dow and
BASF, and the government. The non-destructive testing lab is
engaged in several projects, including chemical extraction
from plants, hydrogen fuel production and chemical
Finally, Committee members were taken back
to UMR for a brief presentation on the progress of the
“Over the next five to 10 years, we
hope to see some technological companies coming to our area,?
UMR Chancellor John F. Carney told the group. “It’s phenomenal
what it could mean for our community.?BR>
director of Technology, Commercialization and Development,
said the Innovation Park will serve as a bridge between the
research being conducted at UMR and the marketplace, and
hopefully will keep UMR’s best and brightest students in the
Strassner said the three major goals of the park
are to create revenue, cultivate entrepreneurship and develop
infrastructure, which is good for the Rolla area and the
“We worked with the community to develop
something everyone can be proud of,?Strassner said, adding
that several potential clients have shown interest in
developing the property.
Among those interested in
building facilities in the Innovation Park are defense
contractors and at least one Fortune 500 company.
a name you would recognize,?Strassner said of the potential
client. “It’s an opportunity to bring good-paying,
high-quality jobs to this region of Missouri.?BR>
plans to build at 20,000 to 30,000 square-foot business
incubator in the park.
At the conclusion of the tour
and presentations, Schlottach voiced the Appropriation
Committee’s desire to continue to work with UMR. He said he
believes there are many challenges ahead of the state in terms
of strengthening the economy and transportation, but many of
the developments at UMR are helping lead the way.
challenge ahead of us is absolutely incredible,?Schlottach
said. “But I’m more sure now than ever that we will meet it