Friday, June 30, 2023

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

Would you sign a document if you thought that by doing so you would risk death, torture, war, or the pillaging of your home? Well, 247 years ago 56 brave souls did just that and risked their livelihood and lives. In fact, five were captured and tortured, nine fought in the ensuing Revolutionary War and died, and the homes of at least a dozen signers of the Declaration of Independence were pillaged and burned. The lasting result of their selfless sacrifice? Establishment of a new nation with the enduring truth “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As the Fourth of July approaches, and as I wrote in my message last year, “we will celebrate the birth of the American democracy that has placed faith in the concept of ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people.’ The concept that has resulted in an amalgam of races, cultures, ideas, faiths and yes, differences, that has functioned to create a social experience like no other in human history – the American experience. ‘We are not a narrow tribe,’ as Herman Melville so beautifully expressed. In fact, it is fair to say that we are not merely a nation; rather, we are a world.”

Americans at home and abroad celebrate the Fourth with parades, carnivals, picnics, family gatherings – and, of course, fireworks. In fact, S&T-trained pyrotechnics experts have been behind hundreds of fireworks shows, small and large, including those put on by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. Beyond fireworks, explosives engineers work in mining, construction and demolition, and Missouri S&T offers the nation’s only Ph.D. program in explosives engineering. S&T was also the first in the U.S. to offer undergraduate and graduate minors in explosives engineering in 2005, a graduate certificate in 2006, and a master’s degree in 2010.

Earlier this month, high school students from around the nation attended our popular Explosives Summer Camp, where they learned about detonators, high explosives, blasting agents, rock blasting and demolition. The camp’s founder and lead instructor, Dr. Paul Worsey, professor emeritus of mining and explosives engineering, co-hosted “The Detonators,” which aired on the Discovery Channel, with one of his former students, S&T alumnus Dr. Braden Lusk.

A fun fact for me to learn was that the audio finale of many Fourth of July fireworks displays often includes Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Ironically, the song was composed for a different struggle than the Revolutionary War, as Dr. David Samson, our assistant professor of music, explains in this video.

Wishing all of you in the U.S. a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend filled with family, friends and of course, fireworks!



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
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