Bolivia, Utah, Ecuador, California

Friday, June 2, 2023

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

In the words of Ben Franklin, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” So, you may wonder what Atahuallani, Bolivia; San Diego, California; Agua Fria, Ecuador; and Hanksville, Utah, have in common with Franklin’s statement. The answer? Experiential learning.

As I write this note, Missouri S&T’s Mars Rover Student Design Team is in the desert outside of Hanksville, Utah, competing in the final days of the University Rover Challenge, an annual design competition that involves 37 teams from around the world. Our team has had great success in this competition over the past several years, including an international championship.

At the same time, our Steel Bridge Design Team is at the University of California, San Diego, competing in the National Finals after winning the Mid-America regional competition for the fifth year in a row.

In South America, for the first time since the pandemic, members of our Engineers Without Borders (EWB) team recently returned to villages in Bolivia and Ecuador to help bring clean water and sanitation systems to those areas.

Many of our design teams participate in national and international competitions, address the basic engineering needs of the underprivileged, or invent solutions to new challenges. All as a part of our Student Design and Experiential Learning Center, where the teams design and build everything from off-road Baja buggies to battle bots, to high-powered rockets, to concrete canoes, to human-powered vehicles, to chemical-powered mini-cars, to underwater robots, to genetically engineered machines, to many other projects. Each team emphasizes the principles of teamwork, multidisciplinary collaboration, design thinking and experiential learning. In fact, many of our undergraduate students join design teams to complete S&T’s unique experiential learning graduation requirement.

While some of the national and international competitions were canceled or conducted virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, our design teams continued to be an attraction for our students. Today, the teams are back in full swing and performing well. Recently, one of our newest teams, the Biomedical Engineering Design Team, won first place for their development of a skin graft to help heal burn wounds.

As the world of AI threatens to alter the workspace, the need for learning the fundamentals, teamwork and global communication will remain essential. Insular YouTubeing will not be the answer as teamwork and experiences will remain the core for learning anything worth learning well. In fact, we must become even more intentional about the workspace of the future and here at S&T, we are always Solving for Tomorrow!

As one of our earliest graduates, L.R. Grabill, put it way back in 1878, our students “work not only with their heads, but with their hands” to “unravel the mysteries and solve the problems which nature lays before us.”

Knowledge is what our students gain along with the wisdom of acknowledging what they don’t know. To “unravel the mysteries” of nature, and to provide critical contributions to challenges, however, they bridge what they know and what they don’t know by getting involved, building teams, competing in world-class events and, in the process, finding their indelible, teachable, experiential moment. 



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
Chancellor | 573-341-4116

206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910