Engineering

Colorado School of Mines students have teamed up with architecture students from the University of San Francisco in the Gabion Band Ring Beam Challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to test and evaluate masonry home designs and their resistance to seismic activity.

In 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, devastating communities and areas in the Kathmandu region. As homes and buildings lay in ruin, the question became, “How can the effects of a natural disaster be minimized in an area like Nepal, where homes are constructed with unreinforced masonry, and where materials are simply inaccessible?” 

The Gabion Band is a constructive technique that uses ring beams of stone wrapped in wire mesh to tie the masonry walls together to become more stable in seismic events. 

Team “Banding Together” is made up of Mines civil engineering seniors Jessie Berndsen, Molly Epstein and Jared Roberts, along with mechanical engineering seniors Caitlin Kaltenbaugh and David Pum. The team constructed models and performed tests on a shaker table throughout the course of one year as part of a project for the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Capstone Design Program. The shaker table is able to simulate earthquakes of various magnitudes, allowing the team to evaluate the construction and integrity of their masonry design for use on Nepalese homes. 

The team will get the opportunity to showcase their findings at the CECS Capstone Senior Design Tradeshow on April 27, 2017, and they hope that the project will continue with future classes of seniors.

Learn more about the team's project in the video below.

UPDATE: After judging for the CECS Capstone Senior Design Tradeshow, the team eceived the Humanitarian Engineering Award for having the project with the highest humanitarian impact.

Contact:
Joe DelNero, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3326 | jdelnero@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

The Colorado School of Mines chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers hosted its annual Joint Session on April 12, 2017, bringing together Mines students, faculty, alumni and oil and gas industry professionals from across Colorado. 

The speaker this year was SPE International President Janeen Judah, who spoke to the bustling Friedhoff Hall audience about current trends in the industry and gave career advice for those looking to enter the field.

“Joint Session is essentially when the ‘Petro Mafia’ gets together from across Colorado to eat, drink and network with Mines students,” said Alexandra Susich, junior in petroleum engineering and director of this year’s Joint Session. “Having an SPE president—two out of the three years we've put on Joint Session here at Mines—reflects how well-respected Mines is by the industry.”

Judah highlighted current trends in the oil and gas industry, focusing on the “Big 3”: big data, automation and robotics, and visualization and simulation. She encouraged students to get involved with these latest technologies to stay up to speed with the evolving industry.

Judah went on with more career development tips, framing her talk around the “3 Es”: excellence, endurance and empowerment. She explained that in such a highly cyclical industry, endurance and empowerment and the ability to pay it forward and work through the hard times, are essential. She also challenged audience members to come up with other industries that are not overly affected by economic ups and downs, emphasizing that “it’s not just our industry”.

Excellence, Judah stressed, should never be overlooked, even when working an internship unrelated to your true interests. “Be good at the job that you have now,” she said. “Don’t be thinking so much about becoming a manager that you forget to be an engineer.” 

Mines SPE Chapter President Bryan McDowell was proud of how the event came together, and is confident that the club will continue to exemplify the excellence that has gained Mines SPE its reputation as a leader among student chapters nationwide.

“Leading the SPE student chapter has been a great experience, both personally and professionally,” McDowell said. “The level of commitment from our officers and members continues to amaze me. Maintaining high standards is tough, but maintaining those standards while innovating and reinventing our club takes another level of dedication and talent.”

 

View photos from the event in the slideshow below.

SPE Joint Session 2017

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

 

 
David LaPorte, a master’s student in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, is working to help mitigate landslide risk in communities in Guatemala thanks to a Fulbright grant. 
 
In 2015, a devastating landslide in a Guatemala City ravine killed an estimated 350 people in the settlement of El Cambray II, highlighting the urgent need for more research on landslide risk management.
 
LaPorte is conducting research at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, with the cooperation of Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres, as part of a project to evaluate landslide risk management in precarious settlements of Guatemala City’s metropolitan area and develop cost-effective solutions.
 
“These settlements are built on the slopes of steep ravines and are populated by the area’s most economically vulnerable population,” explained LaPorte, whose ultimate goal is to help those who have little choice but to live in at-risk areas by studying ways to better manage these natural hazards.
 
To do this, LaPorte is evaluating the current landslide risk management initiatives put in place by Guatemalan government agencies and NGOs, such as risk-reduction tools and educational programs. “I plan to evaluate the effectiveness of some of these initiatives through a study of risk perception and behavior of the inhabitants of at-risk communities,” he said. Currently, there are no statistics in this field, which LaPorte’s research is working to address. Communities will be surveyed before and after risk-communication strategies are implemented, with the ultimate goal of improving initiatives to encourage risk-reducing behavioral change.
 
One of the biggest challenges LaPorte has faced during his three months in Guatemala thus far has been breaking into the existing network of researchers and organizations, many of whom have been working on this issue for years. “As an independent researcher, it has been challenging to catch up on the understanding of the way things are done here, and the recent history of risk-management initiatives in the settlements,” he said.  But LaPorte said everyone he has collaborated with has been very helpful, and finds this opportunity to experience a new community and culture very rewarding.
 
“The core of the Fulbright program is based on increasing cultural exchange and mutual understanding between people in the US and those abroad,” he said. “Being able to dedicate ten months of my master’s degree to not only my thesis project field work, but also to this cultural exchange, is such a joy.”
 
LaPorte is confident that the experience will help him “ become a more globally competent citizen and engineer.” 
 
“It is work that I love, and that has been made possible by the Fulbright grant.” 
 
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

 

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

 

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