Explosives Club Website Tops In Nation

SOCORRO, N.M. March 11, 2010 – The Explosives Club had a blast in Orlando!

Tech students Marcus Chavez (from left), Brittni Romero, Justine Davidson and Shaun Geerts visited Mickey Mouse while in Orlando at the ISEE Conference.

The Tech chapter of the International Society of Explosives Engineers sent 11 students to the Society’s conference in Orlando in February, won the “Best Website Award” and received a certificate for the club’s 10 year anniversary. Also, Tech students presented three research projects.

Club president Shaun Geerts, a senior in mechanical engineering, said the Tech contingent was the largest campus group and the only university to win an award.

“This conference is good for students to meet people in the industry and network,” Geerts said. “It’s also good to network and find internships and jobs.”

The club’s website was judged against all chapters, not just college chapters.

Geerts presented research that he and Micah Wild developed on shaped charges. Mason Timm presented research on improvised shaped charges with co-authors Graham Walsh and Geerts. Walsh also gave a presentation about the three experiments MythBusters did at New Mexico Tech.

The Explosives Club contingent poses at the EMRTC booth at the ISEE conference. Seated are (from left) Brittni Romero, Justine Davison and Mason Timm. Standing are (from left)
Marcus Chavez, Jason Phillips, David Chavez, Micah Wild, Graham Walsh, Dan Hoff, Shaun Geerts and Lee Martin.


Walsh, who is the faculty advisor for the Club and an engineer at EMRTC, talked about the diamond-making tests and the two sled track tests done for MythBusters.

“I talked about the science behind diamond shots and what gives us the best chance of making diamonds,” he said. “I also talked about the science of setting up the sled track tests and the models we used to predict sled track velocity.”

The MythBusters sled track tests were unique because of the odd devices attached to the rockets.

“Normally we’re sending something down the track that looks like a bomb or that looks like it can fly,” Walsh said. “In the pancaked car test, the projectile looked like sail. We didn’t know what would happen. We thought it might break the sled apart. With the tall wedge, we were worried it might act like kicking the bottom of a chair.”

Walsh talked to a rapt audience about how EMRTC engineers avoided calamity and how they engineered the sled track to impact the cars as planned.

Timms presentation focused on improvised shaped-charged explosives and detailed a series of experiments he, Geerts and Walsh did.

Shaped-charges are typically packed in metal and used in anti-tank or anti-armor weapons. The Tech trio used everyday objects – wine bottles and martini glasses – to form shaped explosives to demonstrate how they work. Geerts said the team started by recreating the original, pioneering work on shaped charges, then moved in steps toward toward novel shapes using common objects.

The Explosives Club is one of the largest and most active on campus. The club meets regularly with 40 to 50 people at regular meetings and more than 100 attending special events. Faculty advisor Graham Walsh said the club gives students opportunities to attend conferences and launch their careers.

Graham Walsh (left) and Shaun Geerts, the driving forces behind the Explosives Club at Tech.

Neither Geerts nor Walsh wanted to take credit for the success of the club. Geerts said Walsh resurrected the club a few years back when the group was floundering. Walsh said Geerts deserves credit for building the club.

“Since Shaun took over, we’re getting a lot more people to come to meetings,” Walsh said. “We took 11 students to Orlando, which is more than tech has ever taken to ISEE. Shaun did all the fundraising; and he’s had some large events.”

The Club hosted guest speaker Paul Cooper, who is an author and a pioneer in the explosives field. That event drew more than 100 people. Geerts and Walsh, along with Vice President of Research Dr. Van Romero, organized the MythBusters appearance at Macey Center last year, which had more than 400 people attend.

“Hopefully the club has been a good thing for the student population,” Walsh said. “And Shaun has really done that. He’s put a lot of hours into making it useful for students.”

For more information about the Explosives Club, check out the club's award-winning website.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech