Michael Moats headshot


Michael Moats


Professor of Metallurgical Engineering and Interim Chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Missouri University of Science and Technology

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Number of years as a metallurgist and educator: 29
Number of years as an SME member: 23

What are a few of your favorite career highlights?

Developed benchmarking energy efficiency formula for large metal producer.  Solved technical problem which significantly disrupted a high purity metal production facility in one day. Assisted in creating an empirical formula used by a large smelter to produce on-spec metal.  Trained operating personnel on six continents.  Educated hundreds of future and current engineers. Seeing elephants, rhinos, giraffes and zebras during a safari in South Africa. Touching the Berlin Wall. The incredible people I have met through SME and my work.

What do find to be the most challenging aspect(s) of your job?

Administrators. Seriously, as an educator it is meeting students where they are and teaching them scientific and engineering fundamentals while hopefully inspiring them to see how this can be use this information in practice. Another challenge is deciding when a student really needs to re-take a class due to bad performance as I understand how disruptive that can be to their progress.  Finally, time management and work-life balance are major challenges as professors wear many hats and need to manage teaching, research and other responsibilities.

In what ways have you seen the industry change since you first began your career?

The industry is more diverse, but still needs to improve.  At my first job at a company that sold products to the mining industry, the plant management and technical team had 28 white men out of 30. The industry is much more focused on safety now. Safety shares and risk analyses were not routine. Fatalities were not uncommon.

How do you help improve the image of mining?

I have provided tours and made numerous presentation to demonstrate the importance of raw materials to our society to junior high and high school students. I have testified to congressional members on the on importance and problems with creating domestic critical mineral chains.

How have mentors played a role in your career?

My mentors opened doors of opportunity for me.  They provided wisdom and knowledge about situations that I was facing. They taught me practical ways to be a good engineer and/or researcher. They demonstrated good ways to interact with others and treat them with respect regardless of their standing in the organization.

What member benefit(s) was/were the main reason you joined SME? 

I joined SME as an undergraduate student so I could apply for a scholarship.  Then I re-engaged with the society after my PhD studies because I saw the value of the technical information and networking opportunities that SME provides.