Idaho energy expert named Laufer Chair at S&T

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On April 12, 2011

Dr. Joseph D. Smith, manager of advanced process and decision systems for Idaho National Laboratory, has been named the first Laufer Chair of Energy at Missouri University of Science and Technology. He will join the S&T faculty on July 1.

joseph smith.jpg “Missouri S&T is well positioned to be among the nation’s leaders in energy research and education, with programs like electrical, chemical, geological, mining, nuclear and petroleum engineering,” says Dr. Warren K. Wray, Missouri S&T provost. “Dr. Smith brings a multidisciplinary expertise that will help the university develop innovative and forward-looking ways to address the country’s energy challenges. We are pleased he is joining the S&T faculty.”

“Energy security is our generation’s grand challenge,” Smith says. “Wars have been fought over energy and our nation’s future will be defined by how we address our growing energy needs. Finding and using sustainable energy is essential to minimizing our impact on climate change. I am excited for the focus this position provides to address our grand challenge.”

Smith studies next-generation hybrid energy systems to combine small modular nuclear reactors with conventional and renewable energy sources and the design and optimization of industrial-scale coal gasification systems. His other research interests include industrial gas flare design, operation and regulation, and process modeling, monitoring, control and operation.

Smith earned Ph.D., master of science and bachelor of science degrees in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University in 1987, 1984 and 1982, respectively. He holds 7 U.S. patents with two more pending, has authored or co-authored more than 40 technical papers, book chapters, and reports, and presented at more than 50 technical conferences. Currently, Smith is working on a book for CRC focused on Hybrid Energy Systems.

Prior to coming to Missouri S&T, Smith held adjunct teaching positions at in chemical engineering and mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University and the University of Tulsa. He served as visiting professor of chemical engineering at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and as adjunct professor of chemical engineering at the University of Utah, the University of Michigan and as an associate professor at Tennessee Technological University.

Smith has also spent several years working in industry, including serving as manager of advanced process and decision systems for the Idaho National Laboratory since 2008. He is also co-founder and president for Systems Analyses and Solutions in Owasso, Okla. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society.

Smith is the first person to hold the Laufer Chair of Energy, which is currently endowed with $3.8 million. The chair was established through a 2009 gift of $3.4 million from Wayne Laufer, a 1967 civil engineering graduate of Missouri S&T, and his wife, Gayle.

Laufer, who spent his career in the energy industry, is the retired co-founder and CEO of Bois d’Arc Energy Inc., an NYSE Houston-based company that specialized in offshore oil and natural gas exploration and production. Laufer retired from Bois d’Arc executive management in November 2007 but remained active on the board of directors until the company was sold to Stone Energy Corp. for $1.6 billion in August 2008.

“The Laufer Energy Chair, under the guidance of Dr. Smith, will provide a forum for Missouri S&T to assume a leadership role in the development and implementation of a national energy policy,” says Laufer. “Dr. Smith’s experience and skills will allow for the careful evaluation and enhancement of traditional energy resources and the rational apolitical evaluation and analysis of the development of supplemental energy sources and processes.”

Since earning his civil engineering degree from the Rolla campus, Laufer’s career has been in the energy industry. His first job out of college was as a production engineer for Shell Oil Co. He worked in various capacities for Shell from 1967-1977, then co-founded an independent energy consulting company in 1977. He served as vice president of operations and production for two independent companies from 1980-1983. In 1984, he co-founded Bois d’Arc Resources and Bois d’Arc Operating Corp. and served as managing partner and president until all company assets were sold in December 1997. Continuing the Bois d’Arc tradition, Bois d’Arc Offshore was formed in 1998 and was active in Gulf of Mexico exploration until it was folded into the Bois d’Arc Energy Inc. initial public offering in 2005.

Formerly a registered professional engineer in the state of Texas, Laufer is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association.

Smith will hold a tenured faculty position in Missouri S&T’s chemical and biological engineering department.

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