Q&A with Dick Campbell

Dick-CampbellDick Campbell, ME’62, has been a mentor to Missouri S&T’s Formula SAE student design teams for more than a decade. Today, as a member of the Academy of Mechanical Engineers and a charter member of Miners by Design, he continues to share his wisdom and expertise with the team.

Why design teams: These are hands-on, hardware-oriented programs that provide students with real-life engineering experiences not normally found in the standard engineering curriculum.

I joined because: I was impressed by the enthusiasm and creativity of the students, and I offered to help them by building any of their designed formula car components that they were not able to do themselves. I did get asked to build several components and, as a result, got very involved with the Formula SAE Program.

What students learn: Engineering students are primarily taught how to perform analytical analysis of engineering problems where the result of the analysis is generally a numerical answer. The Miners by Design programs give students an opportunity to extend their engineering education beyond the analytical and gets them involved in all phases of an engineering project: analytical, computer simulations, design, manufacturing and testing.

What I love: I have attended several of the international Formula SAE competitions and the Missouri S&T team is always one of the top contenders. The S&T team comes to the competition events well prepared. The car has been tested extensively and the drivers have had many hours of practice prior to the competition. The decorum of our students is exemplary. I could not be prouder of our students and faculty advisors.

Who should join a design team: I would encourage freshman especially to join a design team. By joining a team the new student can quickly make friends and become assimilated in the student community. Also many members of the design team will be upper classman who can help and advise new students.

I’d like to invent: Two things: 1) a safe renewable energy source that would make the US energy independent, 2) a transportation system that will support the future needs of both our private and commercial vehicles. Adding multiple new lanes to our present highway system is not an acceptable solution.

Campbell began his distinguished career working for Boeing and NASA in the development of guidance and control systems for the Saturn, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs. As the founder and president of Campbell Engineering, he provided engineering and fabrication services for the aerospace, defense and medical industries for 25 years, until selling the company in 2005. Campbell also taught for two decades as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Alabama, where he earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. He and his wife, Sue, are OGS members and live in Huntsville, Ala. 

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