Engineering

Two Colorado School of Mines professors in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have been recognized for their achievements in geotechnical engineering with national awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Ning LuProfessor Ning Lu received the Ralph B. Peck Award, given for outstanding contributions to the geotechnical engineering profession through the publication of a case history or publication of recommended practices based on case histories. Professor D. Vaughan Griffiths received the H. Bolton Seed Medal, awarded for outstanding contributions to teaching, research or practice in geotechnical engineering.

Lu was recognized for his multiyear case study monitoring the subsurface hydrological and mechanical conditions leading to landslide occurrence on the coastal bluffs between Seattle and Everett, Wash., and for using the data collected to develop a new hydromechanical framework for slope-stability analysis.

The ASCE said Lu’s research over the past decade has made significant contributions to the study of rainfall-induced landslides. The recurring landslides in Washington are a major concern for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Sound Transit, which operates a railway along the bluffs. Results from Lu’s research is now being used to develop a comprehensive hazard mitigation strategy for the railway.

D Vaughan GriffithsGriffiths was honored for his innovative software developments, publications, textbooks and professional short courses on finite elements and probabilistic methods. According to the ASCE, “his highly cited work on finite element stability analysis has transformed the way engineers perform slope-stability analysis in practice.”

Griffiths’ workshops have made him a de facto “ambassador” for the profession, according to ASCE. He is currently chair of the ASCE GeoInstitute Risk Assessment and Management Committee, a core member of the equivalent ISSMGE TC304 Committee and has co-chaired two major GeoInstitute conferences. He is a current editor of Computers and Geotechnics, a recent past editor of ASCE’s Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering and on the editorial/advisory board of two other journals.

Contact:
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

 

Colorado School of Mines students and faculty reflect on their time in Nepal as part of a service trip for Hike for Help. The group spent their three-week winter vacation volunteering in Khumbu Valley, Nepal, constructing a public restroom facility for the local community and aiding in repairing the local high school that was destroyed in an earthquake in 2015.

Read more about the students who traveled to Nepal in Winter 2016-2017 here. Learn more about the Hike for Help organization at hikeforhelp.org.

 
A three-day NSF-sponsored workshop will bring to Mines 20 of the world’s top scholars focused on the societal aspects of mining and other extractive processes.
 
“STS Underground: Investigating the Technoscientific Worlds of Mining and Subterranean Extraction” will take place February 5 to 7, 2017. The workshop encourages a research approach that is often referred to as Science and Technology Studies, or Science, Technology, and Society (STS).
 
“STS sheds light on how mining, energy and other extractive processes are not just technical, but sociotechnical practices that have everything to do with questions of knowledge, power and expertise,” said Jessica Smith, Hennebach Assistant Professor of Energy Policy in Liberal Arts and International Studies. Smith is cohosting the conference with Ropali Phadke of Macalester College and Abby Kinchy of Renesselar Polytechnic Institute. “Industry leaders have learned that to be successful and sustainable, they need to be proactive in engaging these sorts of sociotechnical questions.”
 
The conference is the first one in STS to focus specifically on extractive activities. “The existing social science scholarship on mining and extraction comes largely from anthropology and geography, especially in terms of the consequences for vulnerable communities. Yet these fields remain largely distinct from STS and rarely engages practitioners, such as scientists and engineers,” explained Phadke. 
 
Workshop participants who are interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences scholars will have the opportunity to engage with scientists and engineers who work in those fields. They will also have an opportunity to tour the university’s Edgar Experimental Mine. Organizers say STS is well positioned to make an impact in these industries, opening up crucial questions about the technologies, practices and forms of knowledge related to subterranean extractive practices.
 
“We’re proud that Mines is playing a role in bringing these industries from the periphery of this field to the center of it,” said Smith.
 
While the majority of the three-day event is closed to the public in order to workshop papers in a forthcoming book, there are two public events on February 6: a panel discussion with invited guest scholars, who will synthesize and comment on the themes of the workshop, and a keynote address from renowned historian Gabrielle Hecht, an internationally recognized expert on nuclear energy policy and uranium mining. 
 
The panel will take place 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Ben Parker Student Center, Ballrooms A and B, with speakers Anthony Bebbington of Clark University, Trevor Birkenholtz of the University of Illinois, Elizbeth Ferry of Brandeis Unvieristy and Phadke. More information about each of the speakers can be found here.
 
A reception will follow from 5:30 to 6 p.m., where posters showcasing Mines students’ research engaging with the social responsibility dimensions of mining, oil and gas, groundwater and geothermal projects will be on display. 
 
The keynote address will be held immediately after at 6 p.m. Hecht will present “Residual Governance: Mining Afterlives and Molecular Colonialism, seen from an African Anthropocene.”
 
“It’s exciting to see Mines at the forefront of defining the underground as a vibrant specialty inside of STS,” said Smith, “and the workshop is advancing our efforts in the Humanitarian Engineering program to grow research and teaching on social responsibility on campus.”
 
This workshop is being made possible by NSF Award 16322651.
 
Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 ramirez@mines.edu
 
Professor Carl Mitcham
The 2017 Colorado School of Mines Faculty Senate Distinguished Lecturer, Liberal Arts and International Studies Professor Carl Mitcham, will present “Engineering Ethics: Thinking Small and Big” at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25, in the Student Center Ballrooms.
 
Mitcham’s talk will focus on the history of engineering ethics, and how an increasingly changing, engineered world affects the work of engineers in modern society, also discussing what this means for “everyone who directly or indirectly contributes to and is influenced by the engineering way of being in the world”.
 
In addition to his appointment at Mines, Mitcham also holds an appointment as an International Distinguished Professor of Philosophy of Technology at Renmin University of China. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from the University of Colorado, and his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University.
 
For a full bio and abstract, see the faculty senate website.
 
Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
 

Seven students from the winning senior design team, Pig Patrol. Mechanical Engineering

Pig Patrol, a team of seven mechanical engineering seniors at Colorado School of Mines, received first place in the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Fall Senior Design Trade Fair on December 1, 2016. They designed an integrated cleaning and inspection pig (ICIP) that can collect data more frequently and affordably, without interrupting the pipeline flow.

“Pigging” is a common term in pipeline management, referring to devices known as “pigs” that perform maintenance operations. The name originally referred to the squealing noise the early devices made while traveling in the pipe.

“Basically we need to find defects along the inside of oil pipelines so that pipes don’t rupture,” explained team member Kyle Crews. “We designed a robot that can travel along the inside of the pipeline, find the defects and report them back using a unique sensor that could have a big impact on this market. Our design allows for more frequent testing in a cost-effective way.”

The team is working to possibly take to market the sensor technology that they adapted in the design of their pig. The team’s design acquires lower quality data but in a higher quantity that would allow companies to run the ICIP every time the pipeline is cleaned, rather than every couple of years.

“We have a really close-knit team,” said Crews, “and want to take this forward after graduation, even though several of us are moving out of state. We’ve had a lot of great feedback from people in the industry. We also want to thank our client, Craig Champlin, and our faculty advisor, Jered Dean, who really guided us along over the past two semesters.”

The +4 Designs team received second place for their design of an adjustable down-hole probe-centralizer to be used in geophysical testing by their client, Mount Sopris Instruments. The third place team, Dynamic Hydration Systems, created a hydration system intended for endurance auto racing drivers. They built and tested a system that delivers hydration to the driver without detracting from the driver’s focus through a refillable and detachable component.

Other projects included two for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, one developing an online method for measuring the residence time distribution for a biofuel pre-treatment reactor and the other an instrumentation system to determine the physical level and density of process material inside a thermochemical hydrolysis reactor.

Several teams presented projects aimed at improving Mines’ campus, such as an electrical system aimed at allowing the Starzer Welcome Center to function for 48 hours during an interruption of service and another that looked at better stormwater management through the use of green infrastructure.

For the second time, a Mines senior design team constructed a hands-on educational device for the Boulder Journey School. The human-powered water system is designed to introduce children to cause-and-effect relationships via the use of gears, pulleys and other mechanical devices.

Mines Formula Society of Automotive Engineers also presented an aerodynamic design for the car they will use in their 2017 competition in Nebraska. Students from Mines Human Centered Design Studio presented early prototypes of their adaptive equipment designs, even though they will be competing in the spring trade fair. 

More information about all the teams can be found on the Capstone site. Photos from the event are available on Flickr and via the slideshow below.

2016 Fall Capstone Trade Fair

 

Trade Fair Winners

1st Place – Pig Patrol – Integrated Cleaning and Inspection Pipeline Pigging Robot

Students: Logan Nichols, Evan Marshall, Grant DeShazer, Evan Thomas, Matthew Atherton, Victoria Steffens, Kyle Crews

Client: Craig Champlin

Adivsor: Jered Dean

Consultant: John Steele
 

2nd Place – +4 Designs – Adjustable Downhole Centralizer

Students: Steven Blickley, Nick Markel, Jenevieve Parker, Steven Staszak

Clients: Mount Sopris Instruments: Curtis Baker, Jody DuMond

Advisor: Buddy Haun

Consultants: Jered Dean

 

3rd Place – Dynamic Hydration Systems - Endurance Auto Racing Hydration System Challenge

Students: Will Bennett, Matt Craig, Jaime DuBois, Kaan Korkmaz, Allen Jackson, Ry Walter

Client: Scott Durham

Advisor: Robin Steele

Consultants: Robert Amaro

 

Broader Impacts Essay Winners

1st Place - “Are Electric Vehicles More Brown than Green?” by Kelly Dempsey

2nd Place – “Learning to Drive” by Ben Koehler

3rd Place – “The Broader Impacts of Design Choices in the Airline Industry” by Connor Groeneweg

 

CONTACT:

Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

 

At the World University Sport Climbing Championship,
Kuhnel placed 12th out of 50 male climbers.

In October 2016, Martin Kuhnel, a sophomore majoring in engineering physics, flew to Shanghai, China to represent Colorado School of Mines in the World University Sport Climbing Championships.

The competition is basically “the capstone of university climbing,” said Kuhnel, and brings rock climbers from all over the world to one spot. Kuhnel applied and was accepted based on his collegiate national ranking: second overall in the nation. He was excited to compete internationally and represent Mines as “a part of the first university sport climbing championship to take place.”

Kuhnel started climbing and competing when he was nine years old. Nearly a decade later, he is still climbing competitively, training at Earth Treks to keep himself in shape. Of the three rock climbing disciplines—sport climbing, bouldering and speed climbing—Kuhnel mainly participates in sport climbing, providing him with longer and tougher routes. “I mainly do a lot of endurance training since it’s longer routes,” he said. “I try to climb for the majority of a training session.”

The climbers of the U.S. team representing America at the
World University Climbing Champtionships.

And his endurance training was put to the test. Of the 22 U.S. team members in the competition, Kuhnel was one of four participating in sport climbing, which relies on strength and stamina. “It’s a really difficult climb,” he explained. “Each hold is an extra point as you work your way up.”

Yet Kuhnel’s experience and dedication paid off as he placed 12th overall out of over 50 climbers.  When asked what’s next, Kuhnel said, “I want to keep competing and getting into the open circuit more. It’s nice to have a balance.”

Read more about Kuhnel’s journey to the World University Sport Climbing Championships here.

 

Contact:
Leah Pinkus, Communications Assistant, Colorado School of Mines 303-273-3088 lpinkus@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

Mines students volunteering as part of Hike for Help.

This winter break, 16 Mines students will spend their three-week vacation volunteering in Khumbu Valley, Nepal, constructing a public restroom facility for the local community and aiding in repairing the local high school that was destroyed in an earthquake in 2015. Mines is partnering with Hike for Help, an organization that connects with communities in Nepal to work on projects that will have a high impact on the Nepali community.

“There are no public restrooms in the Khumbu Valley, which is the trail that leads to Everest,” said Rachel Osgood, an assistant teaching professor in Mines’ Liberal Arts and International Studies Division. “The people that live there have pit toilets and no sanitation system, so they don’t drink enough water because they don't have anywhere to go to the bathroom.”

Osgood, who will lead students on this international service learning trip, recalled how the founder of the Hike for Help organization, Lhakpa Sherpa, also the owner of the Sherpa House restaurant in Golden, Colorado, was struck by students’ reactions to the pit toilets on a previous community service trip. “Sherpa got together with other local leaders in the Lukla and Khumbu Valley regions and talked about how beneficial [constructing a public restroom facility] would be for the people of the area, particularly in terms of tourism,” said Osgood. The Nepali community agreed that this would be a valuable addition, giving the project a green light.

A young boy playing with his kendama in Nepal.

When approached to help with this project, Mines reacted without hesitation, and the community service trip filled up quickly, mostly with McBride Honors students who are eager to travel to Nepal and make a difference. “I am most looking forward to returning to the area that I helped support with Hike for Help last winter,” said chemical engineering student Chase Li. Engineering physics student, Peter Consalvi added, “To go over there and build (from scratch) a restroom that is going to greatly benefit the valley, we have a great chance to really help someone.”

But this service trip will have many benefits for Mines students as well. Trinity Wilson, a chemical engineering student, admitted, “This experience [will be] far out of my comfort zone; it will take me further from the things and people I depend on and challenge me mentally and physically to face my fears.”

Since the students are required to cover their own travel expenses, all of the fundraising will be put towards the service project—the materials and labor. “It’s pretty expensive, because the cement has to be transported up the valley and the only way to get there is by walking with some yaks or flying in a really small passenger plane,” explained engineering physics student Matthew Kowalsky.

The eventual goal is to build 40 of these restrooms within the next few years throughout the valley. Osgood added, “We want to make this a sustainable relationship between our community and the community in Nepal, because we have a local connection and it hits close to home.

Check out the video below for more information about Hike for Help:

https://youtu.be/iDriqFNG6EE

To support Hike for Help in its fundraising efforts to obtain supplies to help local citizens of the Khumbu Valley, visit giving.mines.edu/goldmine.

 

Contact:
Leah Pinkus, Communications Assistant, Colorado School of Mines 303-273-3088 lpinkus@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

 

Mines students perform a mine rescue training exercise. 
Photo courtesy of Colorado School of Mines Mine Rescue Team.

The Colorado School of Mines Energy, Mining and Construction Industry Safety program has partnered with the Rocky Mountain Education Center at Red Rocks Community College to enhance the effectiveness and broaden the scope of their current training programs.

The partnership will allow the institutions to offer joint certificate training programs for required Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and will open the door to training in other standards as well, such as those of the National Fire Protection Association. The agreement also expands the traditional mining focus of current training programs to other industries such as oil and gas and construction.  
 
“This represents a significant step forward in the evolution of the EMCIS program here at Mines,” said Kirk H. McDaniel, director of business development for the program. “This collaborative partnership with RRCC RMEC enhances both of our programs, and also fits well with other relationships we are developing—such as with Fire Departments for underground technical rescuer qualifications, and with national labor unions for tunnel training.” 
 
Training programs will include both in-classroom training as well as hands-on experience at facilities such as the Edgar Experimental Mine in Idaho Springs and the West Metro Fire Academy in Lakewood.
 
“Our partnership with Mines’ EMCIS program offers the expansion of our OSHA-authorized Education Center courses to include best-practices instruction,” said Joan W. Smith, dean and executive director of RMEC.  
 
Smith explained that this implementation of “best practices” is only made possible by the experiential learning techniques that the EMCIS program will bring to the joint course offerings.
 
Participants in the joint courses will earn certificates from EMCIS as well as OSHA certification from the Rocky Mountain Education Center.
 
Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu

 

The Colorado School of Mines Robotics Club is working on a variety of projects, ranging from autonomous vehicle competitions to robotics competitions for NASA.

Natalie Kalin is the vice president of Robotics Club and is currently working on the NASA Space Grant Consortium Robotics Challenge.

Natalie Kalin, the vice president of the Robotics Club, is currently working on the NASA Space Grant Consortium Robotics Challenge. Her team aims to construct a robot that can navigate the sand dunes in Colorado, which is considered the closest Mars-like environment on Earth. As one of the team leaders, Kalin explained that the challenge is “more of a team collaborative effort. It’s not a first, second, third place competitive event. Ultimately, the goal is to build the best robot we can build and have something that can navigate on Mars.”

As treasurer of the Robotics Club, Sevy Swift is currently working on the Power Wheels Race for Sparkfun, a company in Boulder, Colorado that hosts a variety of competitions every year. The Power Wheels competition has participants “take an old battery-powered power wheels and make it the best go-kart you could make it,” said Swift. “You get $500 to spend, and then you drive it against other [go-karts].”

Nhan Tran is president of the Robotics Club and a computer science major, putting his technical skills to the test.

While not a mechanical engineering major like Kalin and Swift, Nhan Tran, president of the Robotics Club, is a still an integral part of the team, using his technical capabilities as a computer science major to support robotics projects. “Blasterbotica is the senior mechanical design team,” Kalin explains. Due to Tran’s background in software, he has the skills necessary to “help with the computer part of Blasterbotica,” she said. Tran proves that you don’t have to be a mechanical engineer to be involved in robotics at Mines.

When asked what the team’s ultimate goal is for the Robotics Club, the three Mines students looked at each other and smiled. “I would love for us to get on the BattleBots show,” Kalin said. “BattleBots,” a reality-television program on ABC, features well-designed, homemade robots that battle each other to destruction in a tournament-style format until one champion remains.

“Another goal is to allow Mines students to participate in these projects and learn robotics,” said Swift. The 40 members of the Robotics Club are currently working on six different projects and welcoming any new students that want to learn more about robotics. “We want students to become more hands on, more engaged and have this school well-known for robotics,” Kalin added.

To support the Robotics Club in all of their current and future endeavors, visit giving.mines.edu/goldmine.

Contact:
Leah Pinkus, Communications Assistant, Colorado School of Mines 303-273-3088 lpinkus@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

As the population in U.S. urban communities continues to grow exponentially, so does the demand for appropriate housing and office space. Typically, in large urban areas this means building residential and commercial units that are up to 20 stories high, made with concrete or steel, as it has been done in the past century. Yet sometimes, these materials are not ideal in earthquake-prone areas.

 

A new timber structural innovation, known as cross laminated timber (CLT), is being implemented around the world as a sustainable alternative to conventional structural materials. In comparison to building with steel and concrete, timber outperforms in lightness, cost, speed of construction, and environmental impact. However, building tall with cross laminated timber has been limited in earthquake active regions, since a validated design method for tall CLT buildings to resist earthquakes has not yet been developed. Colorado School of Mines plans to change that, with the development of a resilience-based seismic design for tall timber construction.

Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Shiling Pei aims to develop a seismic design methodology over the next four years for resilient tall wood buildings. “This project, scientifically, will answer a lot of questions we have regarding how to design [these buildings] and how to perfect their performance in earthquakes so that the buildings can be immediately reoccupied after a big earthquake,” said Pei, who is also the principal investigator on a $1.5 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the project, A Resilience-based Seismic Design Methodology for Tall Wood Buildings.

With six universities and multiple domestic and international industry partners collaborating on this project, researchers will design, build and validate the performance of a 10-story wood building by conducting a full-scale sub-assembly system testing at the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) experimental facility at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn. This will then be followed by a full-scale test at the NHERI outdoor shake table at the University of California at San Diego—the largest outdoor table in the world.

The model tested on the shake table will be an actual building designed to a resilience performance target, Pei explained, with everything from the finishing drywall to the windows. “This will be the largest building that has been tested on the shake table,” said Pei. But since this is a full-scale model and includes all building components, not just the structural framework, the project can get expensive.

In addition to the support from NSF, the research team still needs to raise approximately $800,000 in order to complete the project. They have already received interest from most industry leaders who see the benefits of their work, which would enable a new sustainable construction practice that is also cost-competitive. If successful, implementing the design method would increase the demand for engineered wood production, providing added value for forest resources and enhancing job growth in construction and forestry sectors.

The researchers expect to have all the designs and donations lined up by the end of 2019 with building anticipated to begin in 2020. “We are excited about the new data this landmark experiment will generate,” said Pei. “It could have an enormous impact on the tall timber building industry, and lead to new building practices using more sustainable materials.”

 

Contact:

Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu
Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
 

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