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Conference 2019

October 8-11, 2019

William Schonberg

Civil Engineering Department
Missouri University of Science and Technology

Dr. William Schonberg is a Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Missouri S&T. His research has been applied to many engineering problems, including the development of orbital debris protection systems for the International Space Station, planning for future lunar and Mars habitats, protection for tanks and other armored vehicles, and the collapse of buildings under explosive loads. At Missouri S&T, Dr. Schonberg teaches courses in civil, mechanical, and aerospace engineering. He has also been department chair at two different universities and served one year as Interim Dean of the Missouri S&T School of Engineering. In 2007 he received the Pacheco Award from the President’s Academic Leadership Institute recognizing his leadership skills and accomplishments within the University of Missouri System. Dr. Schonberg has also been honored numerous time by his peers and by NASA for his many scholarly accomplishments as well as for his dedication to the future of engineering education. He also continues to be invited to serve on national technical committees by various federal agencies and organizations that are often charged with reviewing key technical issues related to the nation’s space exploration programs. In 2007 Dr. Schonberg received a Bessel Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation, which enabled him to spend 7 months in Germany developing preliminary designs for safe lunar habitats. Most recently, Dr. Schonberg was awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Chair. This award allowed him to spend 6 months in Australia working on increasing the safety and security of our people as well as fighting men and women.  


(B6): Accidental Discoveries – The Role of Luck in Scientific Progress
9 October 2019 01:00 PM–02:00 PM

Scientific discovery is often thought of as the result of a careful, systematic wading through reams of data, out of which a nugget of new information is ultimately extracted, much to the delight of not only the scientist, but all those who are thrilled by the discovery. And yes, sometimes it happens this way. Although the exact number is not known, Thomas Edison is said to have conducted thousands of experiments with thousands of different wires before hitting upon the one that actually worked in a light bulb. However, many a scientific discovery has been made purely by chance, or at best, inspired luck. The Post-It-Notes we see everywhere are the result of an accidental mixture of chemicals in a 3M Company chemistry lab that was actually looking for a new and better permanent adhesive. At first the 3M Company didn’t know what to do with the stuff, but now Post-It-Notes are sold in more than 100 countries around the world. Velcro was created by a man named George de Mestral in the 1940s as the result of an inspiration he had while hunting in the mountains in Switzerland. Mr. de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, realized that it was the tiny hooks on the burs growing in the woods where he hunted that enabled them to stick on his pants and in his dog's fur. From that “lucky” moment, Velcro was born. By exploring how a few fun, but still important, discoveries came to be, this presentation hopes to be a fun way to engage students of ALL ages, and let them know that marvelous things can be imagined and created by ANYONE and ANYTIME!

(D6): Full STEAM Ahead! - The Connection Between Art and Engineering
10 October 2019 11:00 AM–12:00 PM

Form and function are equally important in today’s society. People not only want something that works well, but they want it to look good, too. For example, why should we care what cellphone cases look like, as long as they protect our phones when we drop them? But, apparently we do care, otherwise, why would there be millions of cellphone covers out there for us to choose from? Apple revolutionized computer architecture, and continues to be the leader in innovative computer design. Buildings and bridges need to be functional, yet they are also a platform to showcase new materials and new concepts. The really impressive ones are designed to blend in with the local environment, too. Green walls, green roofs, walls made of recycled materials – all are state-of-the-art building design concepts that are not only a mix of art and engineering, but they also push recycling to a new level.


Even though artists and engineers see things differently, in the end there is a natural connection between the two. While engineers deal with tolerances and specifications, the different perspectives that artists enjoy are important when tackling problems that have never been solved before. This presentation will explore the link between engineering, technology, and art – and will demonstrate how when the two areas blend their skills and expertise, the result is a vast improvement over what would result if either area worked in isolation. Students will be encouraged to allow the “art side” of their brain to communicate with the “STEM side”, and will see what wonderful things can happen when they do!