Lawmakers learn of UMR’s impact
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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

Touring: Legislatures 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


State representatives 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 infrastructure.

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 research facilities.

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 alloys.

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 Discovery Initiative.

 

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.

Several 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 strengthen structures.

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.

Next, it 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 processing.

Finally, Committee members were taken back to UMR for a brief presentation on the progress of the Innovation Park.

“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>
Keith Strassner, 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 area.

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 state.

“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.

“It’s 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>
UMR also 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.

“The challenge ahead of us is absolutely incredible,?Schlottach said. “But I’m more sure now than ever that we will meet it with flying colors.?/P>

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Missouri University of Science and Technology was formerly the University of Missouri - Rolla