In 1970, Richard M. Nixon was President, Erich Segal’s “Love Story” was the top-selling fiction book, and Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix died drug-related deaths. In May of that year, U.S. troops invaded Cambodia and a resulting student protest at Kent State University in Ohio ended with the tragic deaths of four students at the hands of the National Guard. Later that same month, Denis Knock BS CiE, Susan (Hogan) Pasternack BS EE, and Glenn Ogden BS ME graduated from Mizzou Engineering and launched their careers. What follows are their reflections about their time at MU and beyond.
My fondest memories of MU are the Sugar and Gator Bowls with Marching Mizzou Band and Engineer’s Week. I was the featured baton twirler with Marching Mizzou for four years, and was somewhat famous for starting my routine at the football games by tossing my baton over the goal post cross bar. One of my worst memories is getting my baton stuck up in a tree while leading the homecoming parade down Greek row—a real bummer. The spectators got a good laugh.
As an MU student, I won the first lottery in the state of Missouri—the one for a trip to Vietnam. Luckily I had signed up for ROTC and I was already in the military.
My fondest memories of Mizzou have to do with its legacy, traditions, the beautiful campus, and the fact that I was able to balance—without a lot of sleep—the challenging engineering curriculum with a lot of campus organization and social activities to obtain the full immersion of college experience.
Although there were very few women in the College of Engineering at the time I attended, the issue of women’s equality was on people’s minds and Mizzou celebrated the centennial of enrolling women. A memorable intersection!
I met Lynne, the love of my life and my wife of 39 years, at MU. She was an education student and farmer’s daughter from Missouri and I was a preacher’s kid who had lived in five states. MU was and is a fantastic campus and place to live, work, and study. We love coming back to MU just to walk around, remembering our days on campus and seeing how things have changed over the years.
I came to MU on a track scholarship to run and become an engineer. It is fair to say that running was my life. My team was my fraternity and the source of most of my treasured friendships. My teammates and I shared the same values of hard work, perseverance, and teamwork that made us successful both on the track and in our lives and careers after leaving MU.
I loved my mechanical drawing and engineering design classes. My engineering studies were challenging, rewarding, and yes, even fun for those of us who like learning and understanding technical stuff.
For fun, I was in Marching Mizzou and active in Engineer’s Club. My friends and I really got wound-up partying on weekends at the private little clubs outside of town.
I was involved in many organizations while at MU, both in CoE and campus-wide, including sorority life, which had many social activities. I grew up in Columbia attending Mizzou football games. It was great fun to graduate from the “white M hill” to the real student section.
While in the Engineer’s Club, I was assigned to organize the St. Pat’s Week Green Tea, held at the chancellor’s house. Being in charge, getting to work with Wilma Schwada, Chancellor John Schwada’s wife, and using historic silver and crystal made it a significant event for me.
Being a distance runner, I “ran around” a lot putting in extra 6 a.m. workouts and doing 10-mile fun runs with my track buds, exploring country roads on the weekends.
It was a real treat when I moved to one of the new dorms—Hudson—that had a TV in the lobby. “Laugh In” was a big hit with all of us.
What I enjoyed most was working in my room building and fixing things for myself and friends with the tools I kept under my bed. I was a licensed electrician so after marrying and starting graduate school, I launched an electrical contracting business out of a van I bought from Dorn Cloney Laundry.
Dr. Rex Wade in electrical engineering was my faculty advisor and professional mentor. He was extremely personable and took the time to adjust our curriculum choices to focus on our real interests or strengths.
F. Dee Harris was my advisor, a friend who really cared about me, and a great teacher who worked hard to make sure his students understood and could use what he taught us. He guided my search and choice of work after college.
I only had a few classes with Dave Wollersheim, but he was a dedicated teacher and researcher, and I knew I could learn so much from him.
I’ve met no finer man than Tom Botts, my track coach and dear friend for over thirty years. He taught me so many life skills and set a marvelous example that has guided me throughout my adult life.
What really challenged me was when at student orientation we were asked to look at the students on our left and right, and told that only one of us would graduate with a degree in engineering. What was most rewarding was becoming that one.
Although I loved my computer classes, dealing with stacks of computer punch cards and lining up to load them into the one mainframe computer to see if my program would run successfully was a challenge that students today wouldn’t even comprehend. A single typo on a punch card meant that I had to re-punch, and get in line again. Heaven forbid if you dropped and shuffled the cards!
The most rewarding part of attending Mizzou College of Engineering was obtaining a degree which gave me many choices for careers when I completed school.
I found mechanical drawing, machine theory, and design classes interesting, rewarding, and fun, especially when we were challenged with developing real solutions to real problems. That’s how I’ve spent my entire thirty-year career.
A rewarding experience that played an important role in determining my career direction was a class trip to Western Electric and a school for special needs children. I designed and built a learning center for the school and later developed several tools for the EMTs at the University Medical Center.
After MU, I received my master’s degree, spent a short time in the Army Reserves, married a schoolteacher, and had three wonderful kids. I became a professional engineer, worked for three different cities, designed and built my own home, joined various civic and professional organizations, became president of my high school alumni association, and still work today as City Engineer/Director of Public Works for the City of Des Peres, Mo.
I married and raised two children, juggling career with family and personal life. As in college life, sleep was the sacrifice!
I spent the first part of my career in technical engineering design assignments. I moved into project leadership followed by program management. The most fulfilling aspect of my career has been working with project teams and my customer relationships.
In 30 years with Proctor and Gamble I found my real niche in designing, troubleshooting, and maintaining high-speed packaging equipment, and teaching others to do the same. The intricacies of machinery have fascinated me since I was a kid and there aren’t many things that can beat the feeling of identifying the root cause of an equipment or process problem and then designing a working solution that eliminates it.
I am now retired, but still enjoy developing clever solutions to technical problems and repairing and building things for family, friends, and our church. In my spare time I sing in a barbershop chorus and a quartet. I have stayed in pretty good shape, but sure can’t run anything like I could forty years ago. I’ve only stayed in touch with one engineering classmate, but have stayed close to a dozen or more of the guys I ran with for four years.
I would like to be in contact with more of my classmates and wish more graduates would sign up on the Mizzou Alumni website. )
I worked as a technician the year between my junior and senior years, and when I returned had a different perspective. Having that practical, hands-on technical experience helped me understand how to put my education to use. I strongly recommend that students use internships or lab work to apply their classroom knowledge for practical use.
Follow your heart. Find what you really enjoy doing and have a gift for and do it. Life is too short to spend it doing something you don’t enjoy. The inventor Thomas Edison was my childhood hero. When I graduated I thought I wanted to invent Ford’s next “better idea,” Westinghouse’s best appliance, or GE’s breakthrough turbine, but I found that the end product wasn’t nearly as important as the quality of the company and people I worked with and the technical and creative challenges of the work.