Dr. Rockstraw left NMSU on September 1, 2021 to devote his efforts to David A. Rockstraw, Ph. D., P. E., Inc., located in El Paso, TX. During his NMSU tenure, Rockstraw held a number of positions and titles at the institutions, in the private sector, and in the professional community:
- Robert Davis Distinguished Professor
- NMSU Distinguished Achievement Professor
- Academic Department Head of Chemical & Materials Engineering
- Interim Academic Department Head of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (2018-2019)
- Creator/Director, NMSBrew Brewery Engineering program (2016-2019)
- 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
- Board of Directors, National Society of Professional Engineers (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, monomer recovery by depolymerization, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis of cheese by-products, electromembrane processes, bioethanol & biodiesel production, and numerous food processing operations (including the first purple horseshoe cereal marshmallow).
Dr. Rockstraw’s NMSU research program has been as diverse as his industrial background, and includes research in the areas of materials, separations, and reaction kinetics. Some of the areas studied in Dr. Rockstraw’s lab have included:
- the conversion of waste plastics into liquid fuels,
- alternative treatment technologies for N-nitrosodimethylamine,
- solid acid catalyst synthesis,
- activated carbon synthesis from agricultural wastes,
- conversion of extractable sugars from transgenic alfalfa stems for ethanol production,
- flash pyrolysis production of mono disperse core & shell nanoparticles of ruthenium and nickel,
- solid-phase synthesis of potassium ferrate,
- oxidation over ozonated ultraviolet-irradiated TiO2 dispersion in a fluorocarbon,
- kinetics of vitrified magnesia dissolution, and
- the 3D printing of mechanoluminescent materials.
Rockstraw is a licensed professional engineer in the state of New Mexico and Texas, consults for numerous clientele, and works as an expert witness on litigation involving chemical phenomena, chemical processing, patent infringement and trade secret theft, chemical reactor explosions/fires, and spontaneous combustion fires.
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).
Most recently, Rockstraw was the driving force behind his idea to create NMSBrew, an full-service brewery engineering program to support the growing brewery industry. The Rio Grande Chapter was named the 2019 AICHE Beer Brewing National Champions.
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 is an avid (daily) bicycle rider, and 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. He is currently designing and building a new test wall in Mesilla with collaborators.