Design at Southern Illinois University

Don Johnson

Here are some articles from Spring 1974 Daily Egyptians. The “environmental issues” were just starting to really become apparent to the general population and a number of us students, of course, had our own ideas. Richard Archer put together a “class” and we came up with a number of projects. We exhibited them in the spring with the help of the Student Environmental Center. For many years after graduation from SIU I stayed away from the environmental scene, focusing mainly on the design and construction of recreational boats. However that experience eventually brought me back to environmental services when I was hired by a company (Elastec Inc.) that produced oil skimmers. They needed someone to develop an aluminum boat line to deliver their equipment into oil spills. I spent 3 months in the gulf during the BP spill of 2010. That spill prompted the X Prize group to hold a competition to come up with an improved oil skimmer. I was the project manager/team leader to design and build a skimmer to enter into the competition. There were about 350 entries from 12 different countries. Our team won the competition by developing and building a skimmer that, when tested, picked up 4680 gallons per minute of oil off the surface of the water at a 90% efficiency. That skimmer was deemed one of the “Most Hopeful Energy Developments of 2011” by the National Geographic Society. After that I turned my sights on litter. Working on the design of different equipment to help stop trash from going from ditches to streams to rivers to oceans. Then covid hit and I decided it was time to retire. Now I am enjoying retirement out in the country here in southern Illinois, constantly working in the shop. Thank you for your website and helping bring back some memories of the Department … good old days … smiles dj
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