September 2013 TSK News

19 Aug

MCBETH NEWTON SPROUSE died in August 2013. Mac was a member of Church Street United Methodist Church; graduated from Clemson University, a military school at that time, received a direct officer’s commission in the United States Army Signal Corps, and during WW II led the combat field radar from Normandy Beach to Berlin. He

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served the armies of the liberation across Europe. After returning to Knoxville at the end of the WWII, he began a career with TVA and retired after 42 years as the director of engineering and design. Upon his retirement from TVA, Mac became a faithful member of the Technical Society and his presence at our meetings will be missed very much.

Grant Goodge, senior analyst at

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STG INC. was speaker on September 9, 2013. He described the United States Climate Reference Network measuring equipment past and present. The U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) consists of 114 stations in the continental United States for the express purpose of detecting the national signal of climate change. The vision of the USCRN program is to maintain a sustainable high-quality climate observation network that 50 years from now can with the highest degree of confidence answer the question: How has the climate of the nation changed over the past 50 years? In the past weather data measurement and recording was haphazard and there is still not enough money and emphasis on getting data that will improve weather prediction in the future. The federal sequester has hurt the program and without money, some of the rain gages will have to be capped. Many of the people who monitor the stations are volunteers- who take their responsibilities very seriously. Some of the sample stations measure ground moisture so drought conditions can be recognized. Some stations measure the

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economically important western snowfall. It is an important program that needs more public support. East Tennessee has a lot of people who do not realize and/or accept the critical nature of the atmospheric changes now taking place and the potential for disruptions to the climate that the world is facing and the information gathered by this network will be crucial in educating everyone about the changes that are occurring.
On September 16 Congressman John James “Jimmy” Duncan, Jr. U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 2nd congressional district spoke to the Technical Society. Congressman Duncan listed four points that he feels are important.

1. Constituent service.

2. Non interventionist foreign policy. He does not want to see young people getting killed. He wants to spend our money at home.

3. Too much debt. He has spoken out in favor of infrastructure repair.

4. Environmental extremism. He cited an example of a project that took 14 years to complete because of environmental concerns.

He feels that the number of STEM immigrants should be limited and the technology jobs should go to US graduates. “We have the best educated waiters in the world”. He thinks companies should not be able to bring in foreign graduates at lower wages than they pay US graduates. He does favor bringing in highly qualified foreign graduates. He thinks TVA is not well enough run to justify big executive bonuses.

Congressman Duncan writes his own newsletters and he tries to make them relevant and inexpensive- the ideas in the newsletters are his.
On September 23, 2013 Ken Barry, PE described a number of proposal for a manned trip to Mars. People have been thinking about such a journey for many years and they have thought up a number of space vehicles and a number of flight paths. Ken is a water resources/civil engineer with S&ME, Inc. who has a long interest in Mars and he gave us a very good presentation. I think Ken is ready to go to Mars but I am not sure many other Technical Society members will volunteer, however, one proposal is to send older people since they will have a short life expectancy anyhow and the exposure to radiation in space will not shorten their lives very much (so some of our older members might want to think about going).
Dr. David J. Bjornstad spoke on September 30. He described the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. The Baker Center provides a number of interesting and useful programs and presentations that are open to the public and are very worthwhile. It is an important resource and information is available on the website.

Their email address is

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