Battle of the Brains: Scholars and Donors Team Up For a Cause

Battle of the BrainsMore than 200 powerhouse pugilists went to the mat on April 25 for Philanthropy Week’s prizefight of the year, the second annual Battle of the Brains.

In a night of fun, feasting and fast-thinking, 36 teams of scholarship students and donors stepped into the ring to vie for the mental heavyweight title of Biggest Brainiac, raise money for student organizations and celebrate the scholarship support that provides educational opportunity.

“This past year, Missouri S&T awarded 11,707 scholarships ranging in size from $1,000 to $30,000,” said Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader during her welcome remarks. “The value of these scholarships total more than $31 million. While these numbers speak volumes, dollar figures alone cannot capture the impact of this financial support.”

Following a buffet dinner, the bell rang on a fight night for the record books, with Dr. Matt O’Keefe, MetE’85, professor of materials science and engineering, serving as emcee and referee for five rounds of trivia. While every contender exhibited bareknuckle bravura, the winning teams were:
Winning Teams

  • History Club, first place ($500) for a trip to the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo.
  • Delta Omicron Lambda, second place ($400) in support of Russell House
  • Alpha Phi Alpha, third place ($200) in support of the March of Dimes Foundation

View more Battle of the Brains event photos here.


Test your own mental mettle by answering these trivia showdown sample questions:

Round 1: Average Joes

  1. From which branch of the U.S. military did the term “cup of joe” originate?
  2. What does the “G.I.” stand for in G.I. Joe?
  3. “Joes” have become a mascot for several universities. Match the Joes to their appropriate schools:

Joe Miner
Cowboy Joe
Joe Vandal
Joe Bruin

University of Wyoming
University of Idaho
University of California, Los Angeles
Missouri S&T

Round 2: Miner Mash Up

  1. How many arches comprise S&T’s Stonehenge?
  2. What is the current use of the first dorm on campus?
  3. A four-leaf clover is considered lucky, but according to the Guinness World Records, what is the largest number of leaves ever found on a clover?

Round 3: Giving Back

  1. What famous actor partnered with S&T alumnus Gary White, CE’85, MS CE’87, to form the philanthropic
  2. In what year was the Order of the Golden Shillelagh founded?
  3. Of the $300 billion donated to the United States in 2012, what percentage came from individuals vs. corporations, foundations and institutions?

Round 4: Silver and Gold

  1. What are the chemical symbols for silver and gold?
  2. What part of the body is sometimes metaphorically described as silver?
  3. In the 007 movie Goldfinger, how does the film’s namesake villain die?

Round 5: Robots
Name these pop culture robots.

photo 1









Photo 2









Photo 3








Answer Key

Round 1: Average Joes

  1. Navy
  2. Government Issue
  3. University of Wyoming – Cowboy Joe, University of Idaho – Joe Vandal, University of California, Los Angeles – Joe Bruin, Missouri S&T – Joe Miner

Round 2: Miner Mash Up

  1. 5
  2. Chancellor’s Residence
  3. 56

Round 3: Giving Back

  1. Matt Damon
  2. 1977
  3. 70%

Round 4: Silver and Gold

  1. Ag and Au
  2. The tongue
  3. Sucked out the window of a plane in flight

Round 5: Robots

  1. HAL 9000
  2. R2-D2
  3. Wall-E

Making OGS a Family Affair

imagePaul and Jillene Hoffman credit their daughter Jennifer with inspiring their decision to support Missouri S&T – she joined OGS as a junior member immediately after graduating with her bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering.

For Jennifer Hoffman Sison, AE’11, giving back is nothing unusual.  As an undergraduate, she served as student chapter president of Engineers Without Borders, traveling to Bolivia five times to work on community development projects.

She also interned with the U.S. Air Force and studied abroad in Spain to strengthen her minor in Spanish. After graduating in 2011, Jennifer went to work for Aero Engine Controls, an Indianapolis-based division of the Rolls-Royce Group.

“Jennifer always wanted to pursue a career in space,” says her father. “When she was 7 or 8, she started going to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.  It was her dream to be an astronaut.”

When it came time look at universities, Jennifer had a strong interest in the University of Illinois, where her uncle who works for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.  But out-of-state tuition costs were high.

“It came down to the value of Rolla as an in-state institution,” says Paul. “My daughter didn’t have to leave Missouri to get a world-class education.”

Today the Hoffmans share their daughter’s enthusiasm for Engineers Without Borders as donors to the organization. They are also charter members of Miners by Design and contributors to the Gavin Donohue Memorial Scholarship.

“We began contributing to Engineers Without Borders because of our daughter,” says Paul. “The experiences she had as a 19-, 20- and 21-year-old were fantastic. After she graduated and became involved as a donor, we decided to increase our own support to the OGS level.

Jennifer moved back to the St. Louis area last year and married a fellow S&T alumnus, Terrence John Sison, EMgt’07. She works as an engineer for GKN Aerospace, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of metallic, composite and engine products for the aviation industry. Terrence works in the St. Louis office of ABB, an international engineering company specializing in power and automation technology.

The Hoffmans look forward to attending future OGS events with their daughter and son-in-law. Meanwhile, there may be another Miner in the making. Their youngest son attended a Missouri S&T robotics camp two summers ago and just finished his freshman year in high school.

Leading from the heart


Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader and her husband, Jeff, were the first donors to accept the 20/20 challenge.

When Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader heard that Missouri S&T had received state funding for 20 new scholarship endowments — contingent upon raising matching funds from private donors — she did more than get to work fundraising. She made a gift.

Continue reading