Rolla-Region Coverage | St. Louis Public Radio

Rolla-Region Coverage

This cannon made by Missouri S&T faculty and students is being used to test mine seals.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

ROLLA - Sometimes, the best way to see how strong something is means shooting it with a cannon loaded up with stuff found in a coal mine.

While this may sound like a TV comedy bit, it’s part of serious research at the Missouri University of Science and Technology that could make coal mines safer for workers.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

WAYNESVILLE — Sen. Roy Blunt is quick to tell people he is proud of soldiers, veterans and the bases in Missouri.

And he says the state can do better in supporting those soldiers and their families.

Blunt was a speaker Thursday at the annual meeting of the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership, a nonprofit that promotes the region around Fort Leonard Wood.

The theme of the meeting was “Supporting National Defense in the Heart of America."

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Small towns love their high school football team. 

So much so, that every year around this time there are scam artists who try to prey upon that pride to get money from local businesses.

The scam works like this: An out-of-town printing company calls businesses saying it is printing items to promote the high school team, and asks them to be sponsors by buying an ad. 

But the money doesn’t go to support the team, and the items may never be printed.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Mo Dehghani looked at Missouri University of Science and Technology (then known as the University of Missouri-Rolla) when he was picking a school for his undergraduate education.

While he decided to go to Louisiana State University, Missouri S&T’s commitment to science and technology stayed in his mind. Now, he’s ended up in Rolla as the school’s chancellor.

“When I got the call for the position, I was over the moon,” Dehghani said.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

The mostly nondescript Building 2101 at Fort Leonard Wood was the home of the Black Officers' Club before the Army was desegregated in 1948. 

The building had been slated for demolition, but a preservation effort restored it. The goal is to honor African American soldiers who served in difficult times.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Responding to a Department of Defense mandate that all military bases improve housing conditions, Fort Leonard Wood has hired more staff and made it easier for soldiers and their families to report problems. 

The base is reporting those changes have reduced complaints and sped up repairs.

Missouri S&T researchers will look at ways to improve the life of roads, like this section of I-44 in Rolla
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 40 million motorists are expected to hit the road in the U.S. this holiday weekend, and many of them will encounter highways that are cracked or littered with potholes.

Missouri University of Science and Technology is part of an effort to make those roads last longer. 

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Phelps County Prosecutor Brendon Fox filed a petition in court this week to remove Daniel Jones from the Rolla City Council. 

He cited Jones’ 2012 guilty plea to a felony charge of cannabis possession as a violation of state law that prohibits convicted felons from holding public office. 

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

As legal medical marijuana is on its way to Missouri, the city of Rolla is exploring decriminalizing possession of small amounts by recreational users.

The City Council recently voted 10-2 to direct city staff to research the concept and come back with proposals to make possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana punishable by a fine or eliminate prosecution altogether.

Missouri S&T engineering researchers inspect a damaged apartment building in Jefferson City in May 2019.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Among the volunteers and workers moving furniture, broken lumber and fallen trees at Hawthorne Park apartments in Jefferson City last weekend, three engineers with a large remote control watched a drone fly over a building that was missing a chunk of its roof.

A team of engineering professors and students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology began inspecting damages after a violent tornado struck parts of the state capital last Wednesday. For several years, some have been studying ways to design houses in Tornado Alley states like Missouri to withstand extreme weather events.

Missouri S&T engineering professor Grace Yan and her students survey post-tornado damages in Jefferson City in May 2019.
Missouri University of Science & Technology

Engineering researchers from the Missouri University of Science and Technology are spending several days in Jefferson City to study the destruction caused by a tornado that battered the city late Wednesday.

Missouri S&T engineering professor Grace Yan and her graduate students began Thursday to interview residents and capture drone footage of the damages. Her research has focused on designing buildings to become more resistant to tornadoes.

There have been many examples of damages in Jefferson City that are unique to tornadoes, such as roofs being torn off, Yan said.

 Steelville High School senior Caleb Dicus is honored at the event in Waynesville for his decision to enlist in the Army. More than 90 students from 12 high schools were recognized.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Many high school students choose college as their destination after graduation, and receive lots of attention for that decision. A collection of high schools near Missouri’s Fort Leonard Wood wanted to bring that same recognition to students who join the military.

Waters continue to rise around I-55 near Butler Hill on Wednesday morning. May 2017
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Engineers at Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla are developing algorithms that could provide early warnings for motorists about flooded roads.

The system could warn drivers to stay off flooded roads. Researchers began the yearlong project to use artificial intelligence to enhance flood evacuation plans in February for transportation agencies in the Midwest, including the Missouri Department of Transportation. The work focuses on the Meramec River basin in eastern Missouri and the areas of Nebraska and northwest Missouri that experienced record-breaking floods in late March from the Missouri River.

A group playing The Detective room at Great Xscape in Rolla. The four month old business is trying to cash in on the escape room craze in a smaller city.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

The escape room experience sounds a lot like putting yourself in a stressful situation for the sake of fun. These are games in which a group of people are put in a room. A clock counts down. The players have to find clues and solve puzzles hidden in the room before time runs out.

The popularity of escape rooms has increased dramatically, with just a handful in existence in 2015 to more than 2,300 nationwide operating today. There are national chains that operate rooms in dozens of big cities across the country, including St. Louis. But they are so popular that they are opening in smaller cities, usually run by individuals and families.

Staff Sergeants Bradley Miller and Rafael Agosto are one of the teams from Fort Leonard Wood in the Best Sapper Competition.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

“Sapper” is the Army’s nickname for the combat engineers who take on a variety of duties all centered around clearing the way for infantry to get where they need to go.

The name comes from the French word “sappe,” meaning to undermine and collapse a wall.

This week, 50 two-person teams of sappers from around the world are at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks to compete against each other in an event designed to test the wide-ranging skills a sapper needs.

Maj. Gen. Donna Martin is the first woman and third African American to lead Missouri's Fort Leonard Wood.
U.S. Army

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Donna Martin is the first woman to be in charge at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri’s Ozarks. She took the post in August. Martin, 53, is also only the third African American to hold the position in the installation’s 78-year history.

In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl, Martin talked about a variety of issues including how she balances the responsibilities to the military and to the community that relies upon the base:

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Soldiers and their families who live on base at Fort Leonard Wood will now have quarterly opportunities to express any concerns about their homes directly to the Garrison Commander.

And the staff that handles inspections and oversees repairs to the more than 1,800 homes at the base in the Ozarks will increase from three to five.

Those changes are the result of a national effort to review the quality of military housing and address concerns about delays in repairs.

Missouri S&T's Mark Bookout stands near one of the drones being tested to help inspect and repair bridges.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri University of Science and Technology could be part of the solution to the state’s bridge-maintenance problem.

The state is behind on its maintenance and is working with Missouri S&T on robots to make it easier to inspect and repair bridges.

New recruits line up for outdoor lunch on a cold and windy day at Fort Leonard Wood. Some of them are wearing the current version of the boots, others are testing new designs.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Lt. Col. Alfred Boone saw a disturbing trend among the new recruits he oversees at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks.

“Infected blisters, hairline fractures, hip strains,” Boone said, describing the increase in injuries among the new soldiers.

Boone said the Army had a hunch that its iconic boots — the tan, heavy, high laced footwear — were to blame, because so many of the new recruits have never before worn hard-soled shoes.

Sam O'Keefe | Missouri S&T

A team at Missouri University of Science and Technology has received a $1 million grant to research better kinds of cyber security.

They aren’t looking to stop outside hackers — they want to stop threats from the inside.

Facilities and systems like power grids, water plants and driverless cars could all benefit from the research funded by the National Science Foundation.

Nashville-based Contour Airlines will start serving the regional airport at Fort Leonard Wood with 30-seat jets on Feb. 12.

That will be a upgrade from Cape Air, the current provider, and its nine-seat turbo-prop planes that have been flying out of the airport for the past eight years.

And the ninth passenger seat was actually the unused co-pilot’s seat.

The four campuses of the University of Missouri System are seeing an increase in requests for student counseling and other mental health services and are working together to meet the demand.

Chris Sullivan, who oversees counseling services at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said the increase is part of a national trend as students face rising pressure ranging from stress over finances to trying to succeed in a new environment.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Fort Leonard Wood in Pulaski County will start building a new hospital and seeing expanded commercial air service in 2019.

Both moves will create construction jobs and are expected to help the local economy.

Carrie Miller (right), a member of the Rolla Mom Huggers group, hugs a student in front of the library at Missouri S&T on Dec 3, 2018.
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Being away from home at college, especially during finals week, can be a stressful experience.

That’s why a group of moms from Rolla Vineyard Church stand in front of the Missouri University of Science and Technology library once a month shouting words of encouragement and giving high-fives and hugs.

Students head to class at Missouri S&T, one of the campuses that are part of a plan to increase enrollment and improve graduation rates. November 2018
Sam O'Keefe | Missouri S&T

Three University of Missouri campuses are part of a national program looking to increase college access for minorities and lower income students and increase their graduation rates.

The University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla and the University of Missouri-Kansas City are participating in the project. The Association of Public Land-grant Universities has assembled 130 schools around the country to address the issues of college costs, barriers to enrollment and graduation rates of students who start degree programs.

This is one of the solar powered homes in the study of new lead acid batteries on November 9. 2018
Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri University of Science and Technology and two companies that manufacture batteries in Missouri are teaming up on a research project that could make it easier for homes to run exclusively on renewable energy.

The university and representatives from the businessesannounced the three-year project Friday on the Rolla campus.

A charging Nissan Leaf.
Nissan

Engineers in Missouri are taking on a challenge that could make owning an electric car far more convenient — building a charging station that fully charges up a car in 10 minutes.

Electric cars can help reduce carbon emissions and the human contribution to climate change. But the time it takes to charge an electric vehicle’s battery represents a major roadblock to owning one. The fastest available technology is the Tesla Supercharger, which takes an hour to fully charge a car.

The U.S. Department of Energy has given $2.9 million to a team of engineers develop fast-charging electric vehicle stations. The team includes engineers from Missouri S&T, Ameren Illinois, battery maker LG Chem Michigan and Bitrode, a St. Louis battery testing company. The goal is to develop a charger that works almost as fast as a gas station, said Jonathan Kimball, an electrical and computer engineer at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

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