David A. Rockstraw, Ph. D., P. E. holds a number of positions and titles at NMSU, in the private sector, and within the professional community. Some of the more visible positions include:
- Robert Davis Distinguished Professor
- NMSU Distinguished Achievement Professor
- Academic Department Head of Chemical & Materials Engineering
- Expert Witness and Forensic Analyst in matters of Chemical-Related Incidents, Intellectual Property or Trade Secrets, and similar or related matters.
- Fellow, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
- National Society of Professional Engineers, past Board of Directors (2013-2015)
Dr. Rockstraw joined the NMSU CHME Faculty in 1995 from the chemical processing industry. Rockstraw worked for E. I. duPont de Nemours, Conoco, Ethyl, and Kraft where he gained extensive experience in design, development, pilot, and commercial implementation of chemical processes that involved alternatives to CFCs, catalyst manufacture, agricultural & pharmaceutical intermediates processing, monomer recovery by depolymerization, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis of cheese by-products, electromembrane processes, bioethanol production, and numerous food processing operations (including the first purple horseshoe cereal marshmallow). Dr. Rockstraw’s NMSU research program is as diverse as his industrial background, and includes research in the areas of materials, separations, and reaction kinetics. Today, Dr. Rockstraw’s lab is studying the conversion of waste plastics into liquid fuels, the conversion of the stems of transgenic alfalfa plants into ethanol, and alternative treatment technologies for N-nitrosodimethylamine.
Rockstraw is a licensed professional engineer in the state of New Mexico, consults for numerous clientele, and works as an expert witness on litigation involving chemical processing, patent infringement and trade secret theft, chemical reactor explosions/fires, and spontaneous combustion fires. Rockstraw’s 20 hours marathon testimony over a 3 day period was critical in resolving the case of Norit vs. ADA Environmental Services. Rockstraw served on the Board of Directors in the National Society of Professional Engineers as representative of the interest groups, and was a member of the NSPE House of Delegates representing the Professional Engineers in Higher Education (PEHE) interest group (which he also previously chaired). Rockstraw also serves as the student chapter advisor to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and has previously served as faculty advisor to organizations that include: Omega Chi Epsilon Chemical Engineering Honor Society; National Society of Professional Engineers; Biomedical Engineering Society; Saudi Students Club; Energy Club; and the NMSU Hockey Club.
For fun, Rockstraw works with the non-profit Mesilla Valley Preservation, Inc., assisting to research preservation methods of historic adobe structures in the valley, himself living in one built in 1875. Rockstraw and his co-authors presented the results of their ongoing research at the 2015 Earth USA Conference in Santa Fe, NM.