Ball State Graduate School Blog

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Guest Post: Meet Jules, a stained glass expert and recent Historic Preservation graduate

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Today’s guest post was written by Ryan Hamlett, a graduate student earning his Masters degree in Historic Preservation. He recently wrote a profile of Jules Mominee, a 2014 Historic Preservation graduate who owns and operates a stained glass restoration and fabrication studio with his wife and son. Read on to learn more about Jules: 

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Photo Credit: Ball State University Photo Services

For some, graduate school is the logical next step taken immediately after finishing their undergraduate degree, a continuation of an educational process that will further prepare them for the career path of their choosing. Some are there to pursue a lifelong passion. However, for others, a master’s degree augments the skills of an already established and respected professional, helping to open doors and to expand opportunities.

It is the latter that applies to 2014 MSHP graduate Jules Mominee of Evansville, IN. Though he is only one year out of the program, his name is frequently mentioned around CAP as a prime example of a non-traditional graduate student. Mominee owns and operates Mominee Studios, a stained glass fabrication and restoration studio, with his wife Terry and son Nicolas. Jules and Terry are no strangers to Muncie. Both received Masters of Arts degrees from Ball State’s Art Department in 1979, having previously earned their bachelor’s degrees from the University of Evansville.

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While completing his second master’s degree at Ball State, Mominee still needed to continue running the business. Mominee possess a commercial pilot’s license, so he reduced his commute time (4-5 hours one-way by car) to little more than one hour by flying back and forth from Muncie to Evansville in a 1968-vintage airplane he and a partner had restored.

Though his original thesis covered “Contemporary Production Pottery,” Mominee’s post-master’s focus returned to stained glass, a craft to which he was introduced as a teen via an informal apprenticeship with a retired stained glass craftsman. After graduating from Ball State in 1979, he and Terry returned to the Ohio River Valley and founded Mominee Studios in his native Evansville.

For more than three decades the Mominees, now joined by their son, have repaired hundreds of historic stained glass windows, and created hundreds more custom pieces of art glass for religious, commercial, and residential clients – in total, thousands of panels.

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Photo Credit: Ryan Hamlett

Enter Jules Mominee, Ball State Graduate Student: Round Two.The greatest difference between Jules and his fellow MSHP students (beyond differences in age, and air vs. ground commutes) was his motivation to join the program. While his classmates were beginning their career tracks, Mominee was already a leader in his chosen field. Instead, Mominee was looking to increase the ways in which he could be of benefit to his clients. By using his MSHP degree to meet Secretary of Interior professional qualifications (required for participation in federal preservation projects), Jules could eliminate his existing clients’ need to hire a 3rd party preservation consultant. Additionally, preservation credentials would also enhance his already substantial qualifications, allowing Mominee to take on new clients and projects previously unavilable to his firm.

What Mominee is perhaps most well-known for within the program, much to his amusement, was his innovative development of an imaging system using Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS’s, for building evaluation. The small, remotely operated drones enabled him to conduct visual inspection of stained glass windows and other historical features that would otherwise require the use of expensive and time-consuming scaffolding or lift systems to accomplish. He made this practical application of UAS’s for preservation his professional project, which he presented at the 2014 CAP Symposium with virtual 3D designer Chris Harrison. This was Mominee’s second presentation to CAP, the first presentation having been about the use of Photogrammetry to create rectified drawings, i.e. flat scalable architectural images, for various architectural purposes.

Commercial use of drones is still a topic being hotly debated by the Federal Aviation Administration, the entity controlling all manner of aircraft, including small drones – even prior to the recent landing of one on the White House lawn. The FAA instituted a moratorium on drone usage until a broad spectrum of legal implications can be resolved. His drone may be temporarily grounded, but Jules continues to participate in the FAA’s discussion on the use of small drones for commercial and private applications.

I asked Mominee what advice he had for other HP students, and he had this to say: “Find something you’re passionate about and pursue that. Never stop learning. Your legacy is not the things you receive, such as salary or awards – rather, it is what you leave for others that adds to their quality of life.”

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Photo Credit: Ball State University Photo Services

Thanks for sharing Jules’ story with us, Ryan! If you’re interested in contributing as a guest writer for the Graduate School blog, contact us with your story idea. You can learn more about Mominee Studios at their website.

If you’d like to learn more about earning a Master of Science in Historic Preservation degree, check out their website or contact Dr. Mary Ann Heidemann, Director of the Graduate Program. 

This piece was originally published in the April 2014 Historic Preservation newsletter, Preservation + Innovation.

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