GOLDEN, Colo., April 28, 2015 – Forty teams of students in the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences have spent the last semester (some two semesters) working on projects to present at the Senior Design Trade Fair April 23. Faculty and alumni judged teams on their ability to define, analyze and address a design problem and to present their work through display and dialogue.
There’s more to Mines’ ‘Introduction to Brewing Science’ course than making beer. Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE) associate professor Paul Ogg is using the class to teach students the science behind beer production.
“The process from going from barley to beer is the almost exact same process as going from cellulose to bioethanol fuel,” Ogg said. “When students interview with an employer, they can say, ‘I didn’t make bioethanol fuel in a semester, but I did make beer.’”
Before Ogg’s course was offered this spring, students could take the class, ‘Biochemical Process Engineering,’ to study fermentation products and alternative fuels. CBE associate professor John Persichetti works with students through most phases of brewing, and sometimes vinification (wine making)—including enzymatic breakdown of starches to sugars (brewing), fermentation and product analysis— which at times includes chemical analysis using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (students make beer or wine as part of the fermentation portion of the course lab), to test the impact of process parameters on flavor and color.
The CBE Department is in the process of finalizing a still system designed to remove alcohol from the beer and wine products (those that aren’t as desirable as a beverage).
“This will give us a new experiment where students can step through fermentation to make ethanol, then concentrate the ethanol to levels suitable to industrial use,” Persichetti said.
In Persichetti’s class, students making beer use already malted barley, similar to homebrewing. Ogg wanted his course to take it one step further and have students learn the process of malting their own barley, and explore how to design a recipe to achieve very specific desired product characteristics.
“My hope was we could have local brewers taste the beer students are making and say, ‘This isn’t what the big breweries are making but this works for me because I have a different market and I’m looking for new flavors in my craft beers,’” Ogg said.
This past year, CBE Laboratory Technician Michael Stadick designed and built a small-scale malting system in the Unit Operations Building (located behind Alderson Hall) for students to use in Ogg’s class.
Chemical engineering student Tanner Taylor is one of 40 students in the course. He is working in a team of four students to create a Scottish ale for his final project.
“Learning how to make my own beer and hearing from head brewers has made me want to work at a brewery in the future,” said Taylor. “This course is continuing to help motivate me to follow that path.”
Visit the malting system and you will see students learning all aspects of the brewing process including testing, cleaning, bottling, malting, flavor extracting and tasting beers. Guest speakers from MillerCoors, Odell Brewing Company, Golden Moon Distillery, Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Mountain Toad Brewery and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have spoken on a variety of topics ranging from sour beer production to malt whiskey production. Several guests have been Mines alums, including Josh Robbins (Chemical Petroleum Refining ’95, ’00, 03) from Mountain Toad. On April 29, local brewers and staff members will be judging student teams on the sensory basics of their beer and will give them a tasting score that will make up 10% of their final grade.
Eleven members of the Mines Band, along with Teaching Professor & Music Program Director Bob Klimek, Colorado School of Mines Alumni Association Board President Ray Priestley ’79 and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science professor Cathy Skokan '70, '72, '75, spent Spring Break (March 9-13) in Jamaica.
While in Mona, the group visited with the environmental science and engineering departments at the University of the West Indies to hear about their senior design projects and see their preparation for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers robot competition. In Kingston, they teamed up with the Alpha Boys’ School to perform in a five-hour recording session in the Tuff Gong Studio that was founded by Bob Marley in 1965.
Engineering physics student Nick Smith said his favorite part of the trip was recording at the studio, where Mines students had to learn, arrange and record a song in real time.
“We met the students the day before recording, and did not even start rehearsing a song until the morning of the recording session,” Smith said. “Once I figured out the chords, I ended up arranging many of the instrumental parts of the music, and guiding the players through the song as we recorded it.”
Smith plays many instruments with the Mines music department—bassoon in concert band, tenor saxophone in marching band, cello in the orchestra and bass in the jazz band. He wanted to make sure that even though he was not majoring in music, he still had a connection to the arts.
“The greatest way that music makes me a better engineer is that it gives me some sort of connection to humanity, rather than just being a number-crunching, science-doing machine,” Smith said. “I am currently taking an ethnomusicology course, where we study the music of different cultures and how the music is intertwined with their cultural history. Everything in music can teach you about the culture it came from, and this allows me to have a sense of humanity in my engineering.”
As one of the organizers of the trip, Skokan also juggles multiple instruments, playing bassoon in the band, violin in the orchestra and erhu in the Chinese Band. She is not only active in band, but also in the music program, where she organizes small ensembles. Skokan picked Jamaica given that it has a musical as well as technical component.
“Our music students at Mines are very well rounded and are able to use both their creative and analytic parts of their brains,” Skokan said. “We try to expose students to a culture different than in the U.S., but one that they might encounter in their professional careers. Because they have traveled and worked with people from other cultures, they will be more able to adjust when needed.”
In mid-March, the Music program received approval for a new Music Technology minor and will see its first graduates this fall. Next Spring Break, the marching band plans to travel to Dublin to perform in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
This story appears in the Spring 2014 issue of Mines magazine.
Are Women the Mining Industry’s Most Underdeveloped Resource?
Once legally barred from working in mines, women have spent decades battling for a place in the industry. Today, mining companies are finding that in addition to bringing valuable skills, female leaders are good for the bottom line.
By Lisa Marshall
In 1969, Betty Gibbs ’69, MS ’72 graduated from Mines armed with the third mining engineering degree the school had ever granted a woman (the first since 1920). She’d toiled nine years for it, juggling her studies with a part-time job and raising her daughter, but as she began to show up for job interviews, she was greeted with superstition and hostility.
Colorado, Wyoming and many other states still had laws on the books expressly prohibiting women from working underground. Myths that they were too fragile or brought bad luck abounded. On two occasions, Gibbs was refused entrance to mines due to her gender. “I know for a fact that most miners would walk off the job if a woman entered their mine,” a spokesman for the Colorado Bureau of Mines told the Rocky Mountain News in a story referencing Gibbs’ graduation.
Nevertheless, she persevered, becoming the first woman to work underground at Colorado’s Climax mine and quietly opening doors for generations of women to come. “I wasn’t out to prove anything,” says Gibbs, now executive director at the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America. “I just did my work, and eventually I was appreciated for it.”
Fast-forward to today when the mining industry not only is more accepting of women, but—in the face of mounting research showing that companies with more gender diversity enjoy greater profitability, improved safety records and higher social and environmental responsibility ratings—is also actively courting them.
By Katerina Gonzales
The E-Days carnival provides a place to eat and be merry; however, for some, the carnival is a chance to return to old stomping grounds. The Oredigger caught up with Shamus McNutt, a Mines alum and cofounder of Belong Designs, at the E-Days carnival.
What inspired you to start Belong?
So we started about eight months ago at School of Mines. We were sitting through our final year of engineering classes and kind of realized, "What are we passionate about in life?" Skiing, snowboarding, helping others follow their true passions, and when you follow that passion, you "Belong", and that birthed Belong Designs. And so right now we are making apparel. We make hoodies, hats, shirts...we started to make outerwear jackets, and we'll be in full production of these in about a month and have them in August. And yeah, we have been sponsoring events: we sponsor fourteen athletes, a few Mines athletes actually, from slackliners to skiers to snowboarders. We're looking to go full-time in about a year. So we'll start our own headquarters in the Highlands, and hopefully start hiring some Mines grads. We're making long boards right now, and we'll be starting skis and snowboards in about a few months. Yeah, we're looking to expand.
How does having engineers benefit the business?
Being from Mines, you have that technical background, and honestly when people ask me "What's the most valuable thing you gained from going to Mines?", it's not the classes I've been through, you know, I don't exactly remember what I learned in Thermodynamics, but it is how to learn and how to learn efficiently, and that's why it's great for Mines grads.
Where do you see Belong going?
I see Belong going pretty big; we're hoping to grow it to a good-sized company, probably a mid-sized company from a hundred to five hundred people working for us. Eventually, sponsoring athletes, sending to the X-Games, sending to the Olympics...you know, really helping develop athletes and making sure they're going down the right path in life, and that's what Belong is about. We kind of want to keep it a clean brand in really following your true passions, with a lot of positivity coming out of the brand.
What's your favorite E-Days memory?
Oh man, favorite E-Days memory...there's too many. I would say it would be coming to see Air Dubai and we actually afterwards knew a guy from the band and were hanging out with the guys. It was cool to see that.
This interview originally appeared in the April 7, 2014, issue of The Oredigger.
Former Mines PhD student and recipient of the 2014 Nicholas Metropolis Award for Outstanding Doctoral Work in Computational Physics, Michael Wall, was invited to present “Quantum many-body physics of ultracold molecules in optical lattices: models and simulation methods,” at the American Physical Society March Meeting 2014 in Denver March 3-7. Nearly 10,000 physicists, scientists and students are expected to attend the conference and present research from industry, universities and major labs from all over the world. Nearly 50 abstracts will be presented by Mines researchers.
Q: Why is winning the Nicholas Metropolis award significant in the world of physics? What is the potential impact of your research?
A: The Nicholas Metropolis award is the dissertation award given by the American Physical Society (APS) for computational physics, named after one of the inventors of the Monte Carlo method. The APS dissertation awards are significant because only one person is awarded each year in a given area, even though there were nearly 1,800 physics PhDs awarded in the U.S. in 2012! It is an honor for me to receive this award, and a great reflection on Mines as an institution.
My research is focused on understanding the behavior of very, very cold gases of molecules. These systems are expected to enable revolutionary advances in quantum many-body physics, precision measurement, and chemistry, and may also have practical applications in quantum metrology (i.e. atomic clocks).
Q: What was your graduate experience like at Mines? How was it working with (physics professor) Dr. Lincoln Carr?
A: I loved attending graduate school at Mines. I visited several schools all over the country when deciding on graduate school, and Golden immediately struck me as one of the nicest places to live. In addition, Prof. Carr took me both around the school and around Golden personally, something that potential advisors at other schools did not do. Lincoln is very enthusiastic about research, and also very dedicated to his students. While Mines was the smallest school that I visited, I still had every opportunity I could wish for.
Q: Talk a bit about finding the balance between your PhD work and parenting/other responsibilities.
A: While on one hand obtaining a Ph.D. while raising two small children was challenging, being a graduate student also gave me scheduling flexibility while my wife worked long and odd hours as a nurse. The most important skill for balancing work and family life is good time management, which is key for any graduate student. It also helps that Golden is a wonderful place to raise a family.
Q: You are from Alabama, was moving to Colorado a difficult adjustment on top of everything else?
A: The hardest thing about moving is that all of my family is still in Alabama. Several generations of my family are from my hometown of Huntsville, and my brother and all of my cousins and their families still live there. Modern technology makes the distance so much easier, though. My kids routinely see their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins by video chat. Also, while a Colorado summer beats an Alabama summer hands down, the snow took some getting used to...
Q: What are you working on now?
A: After leaving Mines I took a postdoctoral research position at JILA (CU Boulder), working with Ana Maria Rey. JILA is one of the premier places in the world for atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) research, which is the field of my Ph.D. JILA is also home to the most successful ultracold molecule experiment. My current research is still in the general area of many-body physics of atoms and molecules and computational techniques. However, I also work more closely with the many great experiments here at JILA, including the next generations of ultracold molecule experiments and atomic clocks.
Mines hosted the biannual Career Day Feb. 11, which featured global organizations in engineering, science and technology. More than 2,200 students, graduates and alumni attended.
“I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity because I don’t think many schools have more than 200 companies come twice a year,” said civil engineering student Greg Proulx. “It’s nice to see what’s out there.”
Julianne Fantich, who graduated in December, said it was helpful there were more biomedical companies this year.
“Now that I am looking for a full time job, I want to build connections in the industry,” Fantich said.
Mines has a high success rate for 2012-13 graduates. Ninety-one percent of undergraduates and 95 percent of graduate students have strong outcomes and employment.
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu
This story appears in the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of Mines magazine.
The Mines Society of Physics Students (SPS) will be hosting the Haunted Physics Lab Oct. 26 in Friedhoff Hall in the Green Center, 924 16th St. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. and the event will start at noon.
This family-friendly event will display the spirit of Halloween while SPS members demonstrate several experiments including a Frankenstein electricity bolt contraption called a Jacob's Ladder, a bed of nails and a Ping-Pong ball cannon. Younger children can enjoy hands-on experiments that will focus on physical principals such as total internal reflection, diamagnetism and laminar flow.
The Society of Physics Students is a national organization under the umbrella of the American Institute of Physics.
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu