More than 500 first-year students have been wrestling with the problem of removing and processing plastic debris from oceans and shorelines during this semester’s EPICS 1 course. The top 20 teams will present their designs and prototypes at the final EPICS Competition at 5:30 p.m., May 5, in the Green Center.

Each semester, first-year Mines students tackle a different real-world problem, while being introduced to technical, open-ended problem-solving. Last semester students worked on landmine detection, and the previous spring on wheelchair designs.

"The EPICS program has made a number of changes under leadership from the current director, Leslie Light,” said CECS Dean Kevin Moore.

“In addition to the increased rigor and management-related changes, what I am most excited about is the ongoing integration of the concepts of Human-Centered Design Thinking into the course,” continued Moore. “This methodology, which grew out of the Institute for Design at Stanford and has been promulgated by IDEO, considers the human perspective in all stages of the design process. It helps students begin to understand why we engineer or otherwise innovate in the first place."

Mines EPICS program has added additional permanent faculty, developed more uniform grading policies across sections, and streamlined some practices.

“We still have a focus on communication,” said EPICS Director Leslie Light, “but we’ve expanded deliverables to include stakeholder perspectives as well as the test-refine-iterate cycle. We take a scaffolding approach to solving open-ended problems that apply to science as well as engineering.”

“For example, students are introduced to Gantt chart basics in EPICS, then go deeper into project planning in EPICS 2,” Light explained. “Within CECS, we work with Senior Design Director Jered Dean so that students are building on that foundation to go deep, knowing to build prototypes based on the experiments they need.”

Mines students often take pride in quickly arriving at solutions, which can be a key to success in a typical classroom. EPICS —and intelligent design—require a bit more.

“We ask students to slow down, to learn more about their clients’ perspective, question their own assumptions, and take a systemic approach to solving problems,” said Light. “The world is full of poorly designed solutions, often created by smart people who committed to one solution before fully understanding the problem. EPICS seeks to change that trend.”

You can glimpse the variety of designs from this semester’s ocean debris challenge below, and don’t miss seeing the top teams at Thursday’s competition event.

2016 Mines EPICS Ocean Plastic Removal Project

Deirdre Keating, Information Specialist, College of Engineering and Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 |
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 |



The College of Engineering and Computational Sciences hosted their annual Senior Design Trade Fair on April 28 at Lockridge Arena. Thirty-nine interdisciplinary teams presented their year-long capstone projects. Alumni, faculty and industry leaders served as judges, evaluating the teams on their ability to define, analyze and address the problems of real clients.

The first place winning team was MINESat, a team of six electrical engineering, six mechanical engineering, and two engineering physics students who worked under the direction of the Antennas and Wireless Communications (AWC) Group in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Department. Building on the work of last year’s initial CubeSat team, the team developed and tested a fully-functional CubeSAT bus with ground station to meet NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative requirements.

“The biggest accomplishments were the development of the software and hardware to make a UHF half-duplex wireless communications system possible, and developing versatile software for the space-rated flight board that will serve future Cubesat teams,” said team member Kyle Patel.

Payam Nayeri, EECS Assistant Professor and faculty advisor to the team, attributed the team success to the team’s dedication and attention to detail. “From early on in the project, they were able to gain a good understanding of the problem on a system level,” said Nayeri. “This translated directly to allocating proper time and manpower to every one of the subsystems in the satellite. Thanks to the exceptional technical leads of the project, Kyle Patel and David Hodge, Mines has taken a big step towards launching its first satellite.”

The ground station for the Cubesat program is in the process of being built on the roof of Brown Building. “Expect to see Cubesat more and more around campus in years to come,” predicts Patel.

Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Senior Design Trade Fair:

Broader Impacts Essay Winners

  • 1st Place: “A Sustainable River Waya” by Audra Agajanian (Env.)
  • 2nd Place: “Rare Earth Elements in Electronics” by Ryan Patton (EE)
  • 3rd Place: “Little Decisions, Big Impacts” by Caleb Clough (ME)

Trade Fair Winners

Team Members:

  • David Hodge
  • Emma Watson
  • Evan Stoelzel
  • Garrett Dietz
  • John Hong
  • Kelton Lightfoot
  • Kyle Patel
  • Logan Knowles
  • Richard Uhrie
  • Sean Garneau
  • Shannon Bradley
  • Steven Mohan
  • Tyler Croteau

Client: Dr. Randy Haupt
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Payam Nayeri
Consultants: Dr. Atef Elsherbeni, Dr. Ozkan Celik

Team Members:

  • Thor Andreassen
  • Cortney Ewert
  • Eric Garza
  • Sean Guidi
  • Paige Lonergan
  • Alyssa Spomer

Client: Mary Page Smith
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Eric Bonnema
Consultants: Dr. Linda Layne, Dr. Jeff Schowalter

3rd Place: TIE – Maple Hall Retrofit Team & ESP Consulting

Team Members:

  • Justin Fantasky
  • Hillary Knaebel
  • Emanuel Graves
  • Damian David
  • Yassin Alhauwaj
  • Syamil Amri

Client: John Macpherson, Baker Hughes
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Yitz Finch
Consultants: Dr. Ray Zhang, Prof. Buddy Haun

Team Members:

  • Sarah Dewar
  • Emily Wong
  • Michael Harrison
  • Trevor Lager
  • Victoria Eagen
  • Isabel Goni-McAteer

Client: Dr. Paulo Tabares
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Eric Bonnema
Consultants: Dr. Neal Sullivan

Humanitarian Engineering Award – Urine Good Hands

Team Members:

  • Justin Ripley
  • Isaac Avila
  • Alejandra Ruiz
  • Haley Salzwedel
  • Logan Yamamoto

Client: Emily Woods, Sanivation
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Lee Landkamer
Consultants: Dr. Tzahi Cath, Prof. Ben Teschner

2016 Spring Trade Fair


Deirdre Keating, Information Specialist, College of Engineering and Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 |
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |

A Colorado School of Mines team is raising money for a tiny house that they will use to test technologies and features to include in a future Solar Decathlon competition.

As students research energy modeling, University of Colorado-Denver students are helping Mines with the architecture, structural engineering and design. In less than 300 square feet, the house will be designed to include a kitchen, bathroom and office area.

“Not only do we want our schools to be recognized internationally, but we want to put Denver and Colorado on the map for the various sustainable initiatives occurring in the city and state,” said materials science engineering student Ethan Palay. “We also want to encourage future collaboration between Mines and CU-D, as the programs at both universities can complement each other and, together, achieve more.”

Currently, the two teams are raising $5,000 to cover the cost of a trailer for their house. If they meet their goal, they will start construction this summer at Mines Park.

After the house is built, it will be incorporated into a new course this fall, Renewable Energy Design Project (ENGY 498B). Led by Physics Professor Tim Ohno, the course will give students the opportunity to use the space to test out tiny living and perform research. Faculty will also have the opportunity to use the house to teach classes.

“I think the tiny house poses the potential to really broaden some peoples’ interest in energy and build on the minor program we have now,” said mechanical engineering student Katherine Schneider. “It will also create a place where different disciplines can come together to do research on the house.”

The results of the tiny house will help influence the team's design for a 600-1,000-square-foot house, which will be submitted to the Department of Energy in 2017 to be considered for the 2019 Solar Decathlon competition. If their design is chosen, the team will be one of 20 university teams working to build an efficient, affordable and attractive solar-powered home by summer 2019. The houses will be judged in 10 different categories (hence Decathlon), with the winner collecting the most points out of a maximum 1,000 available.

The team includes students James Proctor, Jo Madenjian, Ethan Palay, George Burton, Veronika Zhiteneva, Cameron Barufaldi, Michael Balmes, Maddy Papell, Supriya Tawde, Emily Makoutz, Jessica Kaufman, Andrew Kavas, Dhrupad Parikh, William Daniels, Patrick Hritz and Tristan Debrunner.

Consider supporting the Mines Tiny House team as they prepare to compete in the Solar Decathlon. Visit their website for more information.





Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 |

On March 25, more than 170 graduate students gathered in the Ben Parker Student Center to present their research and practice presentation skills to a panel of judges who include faculty, alumni and industry professionals. Each year, the Graduate Student Government (GSG) holds a Graduate Research And Discovery Symposium (GRADS), formerly known as the Conference on Earth and Energy Research (CEER). The following students received honors during the Awards Banquet later that afternoon.

Department Level Awards ($200):

  • Chemical and Biological Engineering: Yan Wang for "A Transient Hydrate Formation Model"
  • Chemistry: Xuemin Li for "A Novel Approach Of Producing Alkali Sulfide Nanocrystals For Advanced Rechargeable Batteries"
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: Dina Drennan for "Biogeochemistry Of Sulfate Reducing Bioreactors: How Design Parameters Influence Microbial Consortia And Metal Precipitation"
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science: Wendy Belcher for "Machine Learning For The Automatic Detection Of Anomalous Events"
  • Geology and Geological Engineering: Bryan McDowell for "Inert Gases In The Rocky Mountains: Implications For Risk, Opportunity, And New Understanding In Natural Gas Reservoirs"
  • Geophysics: Jarred Eppehimer for "Spatio-Temporal Microseismic Analysis Of The Woodford Shale, Canadian County, Oklahoma"
  • Hydrology: Nicole Bogenschuetz for "The Effect Of The Mountain Pine Beetle On Slope Stability, Soil Moisture And Root Strength"
  • Mechanical Engineering: Kevyn Young for "Computer Interface Design For Wrist Gimbal Forearm And Wrist Rehabilitation Robot"
  • Metallurgical and Materials Engineering: Mark Strauss for "The Recovery And Reuse Of Rare Earths From Waste Flo"
  • Nuclear Engineering: Jarrod Gogolski for "Using Biomolecules To Separate Plutonium"


  • 1st Place: Stephen Semmens from Geology and Geological Engineering for "An Examination Of The Natural Environment's Impact On Levee Sustainability" ($1,000)
  • 2nd Place: Paul Diaz from Applied Mathematics and Statistics for "Global Sensitivity Metrics From Active Subspaces" ($750)
  • 3rd Place: Halley Keevil from Geology and Geological Engineering for "The White Mountain Breccia-Hosted Gold Deposit, Jilin Province, Northeastern China" ($500)


  • 1st Place: Sean Cowie from Geology and Geological Engineering for "Geological Controls On Rock Strength" ($150)
  • 2nd Place: John Hinton from Geophysics for "Geophysical Waveform's Frequency Attenuation As A Precursor To Rock Shear Failure" ($100)
  • 3rd Place: Tasha Markley from Geophysics for "Impact Of Artificial Fractures On Rock Strength And Deformation" ($75)

For more information on research conference, visit the GRADS website.

The GSG is composed of one graduate student representative from each academic department offering graduate degree programs. The council meets the first and third Monday of every month to make decisions to guide GSG policies and activities. The meetings are open to interested graduate students.

GRADS Symposium 2016



Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |
Agata Bogucka, Information Specialist, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |

The Mines Mining Innovation Challenge, sponsored by Newmont Mining Corporation, kicked off on January 23 with a full-day workshop. After a full morning of industry experts talking about current practices and the future of the mining industry, teams of students had the afternoon to develop new ways to make the mine of the future safer, more profitable, energy efficient and environmentally sound. Students from disciplines all across campus participated and formed teams, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of innovation. The top ten teams received $2,000 each to further develop their ideas, and have since been diligently working to prepare their final presentations and prototypes. The winning ideas were:

  • Team Airband: Michelle Pedrezas, Arjumand Alvi,  Micaela Pedrezas and Daniela Machnik
  • Team Low-Caution: Luke Brown, Zachary Doom, John Kater and Kenneth Graff
  • Team Insulation: Michael Burkhardt, Ryan Simms, Adam Chapman and Christopher Overley
  • Team Miner Monitor: Clay Kramp, Ben Jasinski, Curtiss Spivey, Travis Nordstrom and Jesse Baxter
  • Team RECON: Zachary Brand (ME), John Meyer, Robert Jones and Michael Bowman
  • Team SPR: Alexander Peretiatko, Bryce Wilcox and Dylan Therry
  • Team DAMS: Vinay Duddempudi, Sam Lolon and Ben Goertz
  • Team Balrog Innovations: Marc Valdez, Jenna Lucas, Jordy Lee, John Oldland and Jacob Maes
  • Team Remedy Tech: Kayla White, Shao Liu, Rannen Worsley, Jayce Stricherz and Jake Engman
  • Team Mine Disaster Prevention System: Cody William, Ross Philipp and Makkawi Makkawi

To learn more about the teams and their projects, visit the Mines booth at the Western Mining Conference March 21-24 at the Colorado Convention Center. After testing the waters at the conference exhibition hall, teams will continue on to the competition's final judging on April 20. Finalists will present a 10-minute pitch to a panel who will evaluate the team and their innovation. A total of $30,000 will be presented to the top three teams to bring their ideas to fruition. Learn more at the Midea hub, and read the story on the Newmont Mining blog.

See more photos from the 2016 Mines Innovation Challenge.


Agata Bogucka, Information Specialist, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |

For the first time, a team of 18 Mines students has been selected to compete in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design/Build/Fly competition April 15-17 in Wichita, Kansas.

The competition required teams to submit a proposal detailing the design, testing and manufacturing of two aircrafts. One hundred forty three teams applied and the Mines team, CSM BurroWorks, was selected as one of 93 teams from around the world to compete.

“What has impressed me the most is that these students are participating without any background on aircraft design or aerodynamics,” said Angel Abbud-Madrid, faculty advisor for the Mines AIAA chapter and director of the Center for Space Resources. “They have come up with an innovative and workable design for this competition.”

Formerly known as the CSM Space Society club, the Mines AIAA chapter has been able to expose members to new opportunities like this one.

Mines mechanical engineering senior and AIAA member Dominic Pena met last summer with the president of the Mines chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Sam Drescher, to work on forming a team. They held a club meeting in the fall, reviewed applications and selected 18 out of 80 students who applied to be part of the team.

“My freshman year I heard of this competition and at that time, I tried to get it started. But now that I’m a senior, I really wanted to get it going,” Pena said. “There’s a lot of passion on our team – everyone really enjoys aerospace.”

Using the computer-modeling program, SolidWorks, students designed two planes: one with a 60-inch wingspan made out of carbon fiber and one with a 50-inch wingspan made out of foam. The team is currently performing glide tests with the smaller airplane on the Arvada Associated Modelers Flying Field.

Teams will be judged on the design, manufacturing and demonstration of the flight capabilities of their unmanned, electric powered, radio controlled aircrafts. The winning team will receive $2,500 and be invited to present their design at an AIAA conference.

CSM BurroWorks meets twice a week in the Senior Design Labs on the Mines campus. The AIAA-Rocky Mountain Section, ASME, Lockheed Martin and the Colorado Space Grant are helping fund the club’s participation in the competition.


Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines / 303-273-3541 /


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