Junior Aaron Smith Attends Pure Idea Generator Event

It all started with an idea … and then a Tweet.

Junior Aaron Smith was selected last fall as a finalist for St. Louis University’s Pure Idea Generator Challenge, spending an afternoon atop the City Museum with 23 others as they pitched ideas to local entrepreneurs. The accounting major is a member of Missouri Southern’s Entrepreneurship Club.

“I heard about the contest through the club,” says Smith. “You had to tweet them and pitch an idea to St. Louis University’s entrepreneurship center. They picked the most original and creative ideas.” The parameters of the contest were to combine two existing technologies to create “the next big thing.”

“My idea was a water bottle that tracks how much water you drink and then syncs with your personal fitness device,” says Smith.


The finalists gathered on the museum rooftop and were given a new challenge by the mayor of St. Louis: Develop ideas for how the city can attract and retain graduates into the local job market. To get the creative juices flowing, the finalists developed ideas while riding in the museum’s three-story Ferris wheel.

“Our group came up with a work-for-tuition incentive program,” says Smith. “It would help reduce tuition rates while connecting students with local businesses. It would give them more of a connection to the city … more than just the place where they go to school.

“It was really cool, and the thing I took away was the importance of the pitch. We met with business leaders to find out what they’re looking for when they hear your pitch. It can be nerve-wracking, but if your idea is good enough, it’s a lot easier to stand behind it.”
Missouri Southern’s Entrepreneurship Club is now in its second year on campus.

“The club was created to promote entrepreneurship and what that means in today’s society,” says Ken Surbrugg who, along with Karen Bradshaw, serves as a staff advisor to the group.

Spring 2017 The Robert W. Plaster School of Business

Students Travel to Ukraine, Germany

Eighteen undergrad and graduate students will travel to Ukraine and Germany in May, getting a firsthand glimpse at aspects of international businesses beyond their classroom textbooks.

“They’ll be able to look at and compare countries within the European Union,” says Dr. Chris Moos, Interim Dean of the School of Business, who will lead the trip. Germany is a member state of the EU, while Ukraine has taken steps toward membership. “Our graduate students – who are working on their master of science in management degree – will be able to view their management styles, techniques and laws.”

Rebecca Ross, a junior international business major, says she’s already brushing up on her language skills in preparation.

“Right now I’m learning German and I’ll be taking Russian before we go on the trip,” she says. “I want to connect with other people and learn more about business there.”

Spring 2017 Study Abroad The Robert W. Plaster School of Business

Howe Receives 2017 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education

Elke Howe came to the United States planning to stay for only a year, but – to Missouri Southern’s benefit – it didn’t work out that way.

The professor and department head of Engineering Technology is the 2017 recipient of the Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education. She was honored at a ceremony in Jefferson City on April 5.

Howe, who grew up in Germany, says her interest in engineering technology sprang out of a love for chemistry.

“I got a certificate related to chemistry,” she says. “Later, I found chemistry helped me a great deal when I was studying plastics engineering. I also loved math so it was a good combination of skills.”

She moved to the United States in 1989, originally planning only to stay about one year. Her husband came to attend flight school at Fort Scott, Kan., before returning to Germany to find work. “I arrived with three suitcases and a bicycle,” she says. “In the end, we decided to stay. It’s interesting how things develop, especially when you’re young and feel you can do almost anything.”

Howe, a Six Sigma Black Belt, has a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology and a master’s in business administration. She later obtained her doctorate in education from the University of Arkansas. Before coming to Missouri Southern in 2001, Howe worked as a sales engineer for MAMTC in Pittsburg, Kan., and as a process engineer for U.S. Precision Lens headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education is presented to an outstanding faculty member from each of Missouri’s four-year higher-education institutions.

“I am humbled, honored, and grateful to receive this award, especially because I work with colleagues who are just as deserving,” Howe says. “I feel privileged to work at Missouri Southern and to be able to make a difference in students’ lives as a teacher, advisor and mentor.”

Spring 2017 The Robert W. Plaster School of Business

Automation Minor Offers Hands-On Experience

Launched in Fall 2016, the new automation minor program is giving students hands-on experience that will prove invaluable in the
workforce.

“It’s a program that was recommended by our advisory board,” says Dr. Elke Howe, chair of the Engineering Technology department. “Even if some manufacturing companies aren’t automated yet, it’s bound to happen in the years to come.”

Engineering Technology Spring 2017

The 18-credit-hour minor gives students experience with equipment and techniques that can simulate how products are made as well as to develop improvement processes. Last year, Leggett & Platt’s Automotive Group donated a new industrial robot in support of the program.

“We’ve got some good equipment,” says James March, an assistant professor in the Engineering Technology program. “We have the robot and a CNC (Computer Numerically Controlleed) machine for the automatic fabrication of parts, and a manufacturing cell integrated with conveyors, inspection devices and sensors for semi-realistic manufacturing.

“A lot of companies both locally and nationally need skilled people who are able to install, design, operate and maintain automatic equipment. With electronics becoming cheaper, automation is definitely becoming much more prevalent in industry.”

Spring 2017 The Robert W. Plaster School of Business