STEAM Café: Engineering from Termites

Learning About Engineering from Termites and Nature

Bret Lingwall, Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering


When it comes to engineering, nature is often our best teacher. Take the Macrotermitinea, or fungus-growing termites, for example. This species cultivates a fungus for decomposing dead plant material within colonies, and constructs massive structures that provide ventilation, thermal regulation, disease resistance and food for 20 million termites in one colony. Their use of mechanics, physics, biology, chemistry and microbiology to solve problems shows a masterful integration of engineering principles. Join Dr. Bret Lingwall as he broadens our understanding of how humankind can mimic natural engineering to solve human-based problems.

STEAM Café is a partnership between South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, South Dakota Public Broadcasting and Hay Camp Brewing Company. This series of free informal talks by SD Mines faculty, staff and visiting experts covers topics ranging from cutting edge research to history.

STEAM Café, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, is held at 6 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month, at Hay Camp Brewing Company. A food truck is available at each STEAM Café where patrons can purchase dinner. Handcrafted beer is available for purchase from Hay Camp.  

“STEAM Café is a great opportunity for the community to connect with the staff and faculty at SD Mines to talk about the amazing things happening in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” said Rachel Mannhalter, SD Mines Training & Development Coordinator. “We love the idea of this very informal atmosphere where conversations can happen, and connections can be made.”



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