Christmas In September

Yeah, it’s a cliche, but we’re not talking about Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas decorations on store shelves before the summer even ends.

It’s a fact of life that design team students must project their manufacturing/material needs many months in advance. Stealing a line from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” students are “making their list and checking it twice” to get the materials on hand when needed.

Design teams aren’t funded by the university, they’re “assisted.” They can’t simply buy what they need (blank check? Fuggedaboutit!) unless they’ve found the cash, and that’s a tough process. A better idea is to establish long-term sponsor relationships with people who have a stake in S&T’s experiential learning programs.

A top “stakeholder” is Chuck Miller of Coastal Enterprises, manufacturer of high density urethane (HDU) boards. Coastal’s HDU boards are used dimensional signage, model making, marine applications and a variety of tooling applications from solar car forms to robot shrouds. Chuck’s crew not only ships pallet-upon-pallet of this high-dollar material freeto Rolla each year, they also follow the progress of many S&T design teams. They’re proud to trumpet our Human-Powered Vehicle’s progress in a California event, and Chuck even drove down to Irvine, California to meet the Miners’ Solar House Team last fall.

The Human Powered Vehicle Team first “negotiated” the Coastal relationship. The “negotiations” had but one contractual term, pay-it-forward; pass on to others the good that has been done to you. Now the Mars Rover, Formula SAE, Solar Car, and Robotics Competition teams all share in the largesse, and any excess gets hauled to competition and shared with other universities.

That’s a life-long lesson that you don’t find in a textbook.

If you’ll excuse us we have to email Chuck with our HDU needs for the 2014-2015 season.

THANKS, Chuck (and Amy, Brad, Don and Krystle)!


  1. Jonathan Sanders says

    Loved this write up Bob.