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Reflections From Five Decades of Teaching and Engineering

Spacetransportation Science Directory
Minnesota Glacier  Can you make out the words BOWIE CREVASSE FIELD on this map element? You are on the Minnesota Glacier in West Antarctica. The glacier feeds ice from the continent to the sea.

NSF letter  I am deeply proud of this letter, even though my mother always said "Pride cometh before a fall".
By the Grace of God, I did not fall into a crevasse. Meanwhile, may I presume to try to inspire at least one young person to try harder, to seek the adventure open to us at every corner of this wonderful world --- this world full of wonder.
We are here to excel in order to be better able to help others. Yet inspite of these stuffy words, we must have fun in the process. You can only guess how I enjoyed the free, open beauty of Antarctica.

crevasse field Glacier and crevasse field with Vinson Massif beyond. I crossed the field twice in the 1962-63 season. The object was to provide targets for two surveyors to spot. One of them was Rob Collier. Results were used to find glacier flow rate.
I began to think about ways people might be using the field some months ago when I read a National Geographic note about tourists who had traversed the Minnesota Glacier.

Visit Become familiar with the Vinson Massif by means of

You can begin to understand how organizations gain access to West Antarctica by reading

Four Austalians undertook an expedition in 2006 to traverse from sea level to the summit of the Vinson Massif. Their names are Duncan Chessell, Robert North, Peter Weeks, and Robert Jackson. They performed the feat on behalf of Centacare Catholic Family Services, and solicited corporate sponsors using the mission title 'Centacare Antarctic Challenge'.
I am intrigued by their use of the word 'mist' in their excellent online records of the sea-to-summit skiing and climbing expedition. I became familiar with 'whiteout' conditions while surveying the crevassefield, yet do not remember sensations of mist conditions. I would be pleased to chat with team members about their experience with mist while traversing the crevassefield.

Quotation: The problem of geographic nomenclature in Antarctica differs from that of any land area of comparable size. Antarctica has no permanent settlements. Even in the stations continuously occupied for a number of years, the personnel are rotated. The continent has been visited and explored by the representatives of many nations, who, by their heroic efforts to broaden man's knowledge of this land of ice and snow, have fully demonstrated the international nature of the world of science.

In 1962, Norman D. Hardie taught me survival techniques on Mount Cook in New Zealand. Among many other details, he taught me how to achieve an ice-axe belay. He pushed me down a snow slope to make sure I understood. Norman D. Hardie recently authored On My Own Two Feet The Life of a Mountaineer".
Instead of waiting 45 years to edit a 35 mm Kodacolor slide into the above two images, I should have followed an invitation Norman Hardie made to me in 1963 to share my crevassefield experiences with NZAC members.

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My early and late 1962-63 field season traverses across, and through, the crevassefield were made from surveyors' station E1C on the Heritage side of the Minnesota Glacier to A1RC on the Sentinal side.

It is common for exploration team members to collect posed photographs of themselves. I have a few Polaroid images. They are of poor quality. Here I am at Station E1C, pretending to know how to use a theodolite. It was really used by two USGS Topographic Engineers, Robert M. Collier, and Dean T. Edson.

The blocks of snow or ice were used to stabilize the tellurometer in the presence of wind. Rob and Dean might have let me use it from time to time.

See the can at left? It contains a Worden gravimeter. The instrument is suspended on bungee cord in the can. It must not be jostled nor tipped too much. It contains a quartz mass-spring system. An optical viewer can be used to detect changes in deflection of the mass as the instrument is moved from one gravity field to another. Perhaps Don Soholt helped me. We tied a climbing rope to the gravimeter can. I rappeled into the crevasse while the can was being lowered to me. I steadied the can between my knees. At some depth, I stopped, took the gravimeter out of the can --- as I remember, by holding onto my rope with one hand, turning around, and gradually lifting the instrument out of the can. Readings at surface and depth yielded average ice density.

I used a self-belaying technique when entering crevasses. One entry was to a depth of 96 feet. belayself-belay
The closed-loop object at right center is a carabiner or "beener".
It was given to me in 1962 by Norman Hardie. He taught survival methods to University of Minnesota United States Antarctic Research Program (USARP) members.

Can you find the beener in the above self-belay image? Perhaps you will find it more easily in this enlarged image.

I am supported by three Prussik slings; a chest Prussik, and two foot Prussiks. Safety implies a preoccupation with attention to detail with repect to rope handling. The knot below is a hitch. It is in a foot Prussik. The rope is nylon square parachute cord. Cord ends have been flamed to prevent fraying. The hitch has been whipped in two places.
Dianne Christensen was a Physics Class of 1966 major. She wrote an "UP FRONT" column for the Feb. 1964 edition of Minnesota Technolog, a University of Minnesota student publication. She wrote the following about me:
Dr. Glenn E. Bowie, Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Engineering Mechanics, considers work with students rather than symbols as his job. ...... According to Dr. Bowie, the greatest danger in the cold of the Antarctic is getting too warm! The existence is a selfish one; one seems to become a part of the cosmos. Dr. Bowie's hobbies include annoying the administration with student projects.
1964 award
mm142 Aero lab
In the 1963-64 academic year, I was assigned to teach Experimental Mechanics via television. I hated the assignment. How could I keep in touch with the students? Lance Berglund, an Electrical Engineering student, set up the TV studio and classroom arrangements. Each of three classrooms down the hall from the studio had two TV monitors: one to show me and another to show details about the subject I was teaching at the moment. A teaching assistant was assigned to each classroom. I decided that one minute before each class period and one minute after were mine to use as I pleased. If I stunted cleverly enough for a minute, Lance and I could hear laughter coming down the hall from the classrooms to the studio.

I reasoned that students would come to class to participate in the stunts, even if the class topics were dull. One day I lectured in a stuffy professorial way about friction of a rope over a pulley. I theorized that one might choose to lower himself on a rope using a shoulder as a pulley. A carabiner would be used to change rope direction. As the end of class period bell resounded through the building I said "What good is all this crap if we do not use it? See you in the stairwell."

Lance had tied my climbing room to the pipe banister and extended it down the circular stairwell to the basement. The students rushed from the classrooms to line the stairs. I climbed over the banister and attempted to get in rappelling position on the rope. I had to hold onto the banister with one hand while transferring my weight to the rope. I realized that in doing so, I could very easily fall to the basement rather than rappel. Lance sensed I was in trouble, reached over the railing and grabbed my jacket shoulder to take my weight while I let go of the handrail and prepared to rappel. He saved my life.

I rappelled successfully to the sound of student cheers. Fellow staff members and the Department Head did not even stir from their offices to see what caused the commotion. They knew by the time of day that Bowie must have been stunting again.
Maybe I was 12. Summer of 1944. Did I really keep the ice house open from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.? ice house

From 1956-58, I was an Instructor in Mining Engineering at Michigan College of Mining and Technology. I was between graduate schools.
The same mining curriculum had been followed for decades. Access to Frat Files provided an easy path to graduation.
Walfrid Been became the new Department Chair. He hired me. I had free reign to revise the entire curriculum. My proudest achievement: a course called Design and Support of Mine Openings.
mining instructor

Search Mining Engineering
1. What Mining School claims to be the best in the US?
2. Which school teaches Design and Support of mine openings? Distinguish between Rock Mechanics and mechanics of support structures.

Search West Antarctica
1. What is the West Antarctic Ice Shelf (WAIS) Initiative?

Search Macalester College. Find Gerry Webers on the Faculty. See him standing in front of the Minnesota Glacier. He is one of the map makers. If you want to learn Antarctic Geology, you cannot do better than studying under him.
1. Especially if you are a Kiwi (New Zealander to the uninitiated among you), find and read a copy of Norman Hardie's book "In Highest Nepal."

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