It’s Great When ‘Business As Usual’ At S&T Is Big News To Other People

Missouri S&T’s Formula SAE team, AKA “S&T Racing” has been a formidable player in international FSAE design events for several years now. The Student Design and Experiential Learning Center covers the team’s racing events to promote the students and the University’s hands-on learning programs, just as the SDELC does for over a dozen other student design groups.

The stories and images show up in S&T recruiting displays and literature, websites and wall displays, all of which celebrate S&T’s flashiest student engineering project. We’ve seen photos of S&T’s winged beast used on SAE t-shirts and press kits, but it feels even better when the editors at U.S. News and World Report chose one of the Miner shots as #20 out of 14,000 best-colleges-in-photos-picks for 2014!

This revered publication is no stranger to recognizing emerging technology. Back in 2001 S&T’s (nee MSM/UMR) Solar Miner car snared the magazine’s two-page centerfold spread during the Chicago-to-Los Angeles race. We few, we lucky(?) few were treated to the glorious sight of UMR’s Dean of Engineering doing his ‘happy dance’ when THAT shot hit the big time.

This Is NOT Your Parents’ Blue Light Special!*

Student design teams will go to almost any (legal) length to find success, and S&T’s Formula SAE team is probably the most determined group to do so. It takes a lot of asphalt to wring the best out of their scratch-built cars, and quality empty asphalt is scarce around Rolla. Either the surface is too rough or there are sweaty-palmed lawyers denying us parking lot space, screaming “but we could get SUED!”
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black………..
To that end the great folks at BigK (Kmart) have graciously opened their after-hours parking lot to S&T’s flashiest design team, a group that operates pretty much year-round. Construction has started on the 2014 car but summer, fall and winter 2013 is dedicated to testing new concepts on the older cars. That way proven chassis/suspension/cooling/aero systems can rapidly be dropped into the new car without worry.
KMART2DSC_2650The team uses the old vehicle as a testbed for new technologies, and the best way to test? Drive the snot out of it. It’s not for the thrill of driving, but for the purpose of gathering essential data. Make adjustments, test, and record any performance differences. Repeat.

This cold, sometimes damp process is a lot of work, but it’s really about learning. Learning to manage a professional race car project, which just HAPPENS to be exactly like the Global Vehicle Development programs run by ALL automobile companies, large and small. How do we know? Simple. These firms often stop in to the Kummer Student Design Center and tell us so.

What else do you learn? Not to pull the pin on a fire extinguisher and leave the bottle in the trailer. Someone is bound by Murphy’s Law to set a box on it at the worst possible angle, preventing your buddies from getting out of the weather for 20 minutes. How do we know? Call it a hunch.

*For you young ‘uns (that’s an SEC term), decades ago KMart used the “Blue Light Special” to announce in-store specials.

Wanna Learn More About Space?

S&T’s Mars Rover Design Team (MRDT) has a thing about space, and they want to share it with you! They’ve combined resources with the Advanced Aero Vehicle Group, Miners in Space and the S&T Satellite team to establish their 1st annual SpaceWeek from November 4th-8th on the S&T campus.

Our MRDT “Martians” have set up space “tracks” for elementary school kids, junior high and high school students, everything from making paper rockets to meeting real astronauts, lunch-time tech expos to evening workshops and speaker series. And it’s all open to the community.
Spaceweek'13.general_B copy

Learn more about this event at Don’t forget to follow the event on Twitter @SandTSpaceWeek and like it on Facebook at

There’s More To Racing Than Just Racing

FSAElineupSUN_5257What do you do when an important fall-semester autocross event, sponsored by one of the world’s best-known tire manufacturers, no longer exists?  To the S&T SAE Racing Team the answer obvious; keep the tradition alive by establishing the first annual Missouri S&T Invitational Autocross in its place.

For years the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company hosted the “Goodyear Shootout” by inviting the top U.S. and Canadian FSAE teams to Akron for a grueling weekend of testing, networking, and learning from the pros but now it’s the Miners who’ve taken over that responsibility.  Building an event from scratch means developing sales and business skills beyond those specific to their own day-to-day operations.

FSAEblogSUN_6300It took countless hours of planning and coordination to establish the S&T Invitational, not counting three days of setting up and operating the “track” at the St Charles Family Arena, adjacent to the Katy Trail bike and walking path. Joggers and cyclists alike stopped to gawk, and invitations went out to St. Louis-area engineering clubs to see what an S&T education means.

Racing teams from Mizzou, Illinois, and Purdue joined S&T for round after round of autocross laps, using each team’s 2013 competition car while their ’14 cars are still in development and manufacturing.  The Missouri teams even brought along older “legacy” cars for driver training, one of which was turned over to the folks who provided FSAEscorersDSC_2175 - Version 2the timing gear as a way of saying “thank you!” for the assistance.  Even though these, uh, veterans had full-face helmets you could still tell they were sporting ear-to-ear grins that got bigger with each lap.

Now that the event has proven itself it’s time to get more schools involved.  S&T students will count on their guests to text, Facebook, Twitter (twit?) and even, heaven forbid talk  to other regional teams about how much fun it was.

p.s. SEC paraphernalia notwithstanding, the best t-shirt award goes to the Mizzou Tigers, who sported “Eat More Jayhawk” on their backs.  Some traditions will/should never die……………

p.p.s. Today’s “couldn’t resist” photo…………….

Temporary Home in Southern California

Houseon_road_behind_1 - Version 2

It’s been just over a week since Missouri S&T’s massive Chameleon House was spotted plodding down Interstate 44.  Ironically I-44 replaced some of the storied Mother Road, Route 66, that helped lead so many thousands (millions?) of Americans to California through much of the last century.  But this time, they’re taking their home with them.

The house is now coming together on the Orange County Great Park, site the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.  Where once propellor-driven Corsairs trained for World Way II combat there are now houses “taking off” of massive truck/trailers and alighting on runways that will soon make up the 2013 Solar Village.

HouseliftRichard Dalton reports that some Solar Decathlon teams seem to be scratch building their houses, while other university teams bring in nearly-finished structures.  Not every team’s complete house has arrived at the site as there are rumors of a 74,000-lb house module that is still out on the highway somewhere.

The Miners have the living room and bathroom sections bolted together and by nightfall PDT should have the bedroom section secured on piers as well.  All-in-all reconstruction of the Chameleon House is going smoothly. The home seems to have survived the 1,800-mile trip with only a few dents and dings.  Once the house modules are reunited it’ll be time to pull up the protective floor covering and turn it into a home, albeit, a temporary one.

Why the protective floor covering?  This house was built with an interior concrete floor that provides thermal mass for the integrated radiant heating system.  These three slabs, reinforced with as much fiber and steel mesh as we could summon, were bolted down the substructure at nearly 200 points to keep the mass from bouncing down the highway and possibly destroying itself.  So far things seem to be OK, but a lot of students will be holding their breath when the covering comes up.  Only then will they  know that the tinted floor will be ready for public use starting on October 3rd.

Dead Week? Hardly!

The week before final exams is referred to as “dead” week, the time when students rush to submit design papers and prep for finals.  This “dead” week has been anything but for dozens of Solar House Team members, who have kept the Chameleon House site active from breakfast to dusk despite rain, cold, heat, you name it.

Aaron Enz, director of design and construction, gave the team a bit of a breather this morning.  They’ll report for duty at 11:00 a.m., wrap up the safety railing and fix a few things that got over looked in the mad rush.  Follow today’s action at

Things may get a little “dead” on the site for the next few days as students cram for exams, but the summer promises to be a busy one at this construction site.


Some Days You Get The Bear

Some days the Bear gets you!

Steel Bridge Team Judged on Aesthetics, Now Waits

The S&T Steel Bridge Team drew 7th position in the assembly order, so the morning is just a waiting game.BridgeDSC_6143.jpg
While it may not contribute to the actual bridge performance, S&T seems to be one of the most organized and focused teams. Instead of napping the Miners are going over and over their component list, double checking everything.
There are specific “playing fields”, with eagle-eyed and not-very-sympathetic judges making sure no one crosses the boundary lines or commits an unsafe act. Those who do so are assessed penalty points, so a well-rehearsed team tends to be fast, efficient, and disciplined.
In the meantime, classes and tests go on back in Rolla. How do the student design teams manage the schedule conflict? Simple!
Two math exams have been hand-carried to Lincoln, NE under armed guard. Five S&T students will pass up part of tonight’s social event to take Calc II and Differential Equations exams. And then have some fun.

Support for Solar Miners


Media coverage

FYI. Tommy Tran was interviewed by KY-3! Check it out.