In the spring of 2015 undergraduate Dominic Pena approached Sam Drescher, president of the Mines student chapter of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), with a crazy idea: What if they were to gather students with a shared passion for aerospace at Mines and enter the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) competition?

Each August AIAA releases the new challenge for that year’s Design/Build/Fly competition. It also involves students designing, fabricating and demonstrating the flight capabilities of a radio-controlled aircraft, but each year the specific mission profile changes. Mines had never previously competed.

The challenges were steep. While Mines boasts top-rated mechanical engineering and physics programs, there isn’t an aerospace program. The group would be competing against schools with years of experience, funding, and space for their work.

Nonetheless, Pena and Drescher met throughout the summer and in the fall of 2015 held a meeting with more than 80 students in attendance.

“We knew the interest was there,” said Drescher. “When we polled students in ASME for what topics they would like to see more options for, 70 percent of our members said aerospace.”

Students were asked to submit applications. Eighteen students, mostly mechanical and physics majors, sophomores and juniors, were chosen to form Team Burroworks.

EPICS and Senior Design faculty will be proud to learn of the systematic approach the team took to their design.

Drescher describes the design process as “a total group effort. We broke the 18 of us into two teams. Each team presented three concepts for the planes and then as a group we voted on the best one based on a matrix. We did initial sketches and then Spencer Connor created preliminary designs in SolidWorks.”

“We found an airfield about five miles from Mines,” Pena explained, “and made friends with a lot of mentors out there. The president of the Arvada Associated Modelers acted as a great resource to us, and Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid (Director of Mines Center for Space Resources) went through safety checklists with us as well as flight checks. He became our faculty advisor. We never had any close calls.”

Initially AIAA’s Design/Build/Fly competition is open to all schools. More than 140 teams submitted proposals and the top 80 made it to the final competition. Burrowork’s final report was ranked 17th best.

“In order to continue in the competition, you have to meet a series of deadlines. If you miss one, you are out. And you have to realize, none of us were doing this work for class credit. We were juggling our course loads, work, activities, athletics or senior design projects for some, all at the same time. So it was truly a passion project. We were all choosing to spend our time and energy on this. That’s what made it so great and the group so close,” explained Drescher.

Despite their disadvantages, the Mines team progressed and on April 13 prepared to leave for the competition in Wichita, Kansas. Some of those very disadvantages became benefits too.

“Compared to the other teams, we had minimal advising, minimal funding, minimal equipment and no space. Our project was stored either at someone’s family garage or in the senior design lab. We just made it work, but it also required that our design be strong and not fragile.”

That strength turned out to be a double-edged sword for the team.

“Many of us had exams the evening before we left for Kansas,” said Pena. “So we just drove all night and got there without much sleep. It was rainy and windy. Only about 30 teams even managed to get one mission done. Several teams built their planes out of balsa with monocot, which is great for weight and very streamlined, but not great for poor weather conditions.”

“Our large plane was carbon fiber and fiberglass mixed composite. The smaller one that was required to fit inside the larger plane was foam with laminate and re-enforced with more carbon fiber on the inside. And that thing was durable. It survived 25 crashes prior to the competition. The only thing that ever broke on it was the landing gear. Luckily we put the prop in the back and so every time we crashed the prop was okay. It was probably about 50 feet in the air with a 2-pound payload hanging below it, and nothing broke. You could definitely tell that mechanical engineers build this as opposed to aerospace students because it weighed a lot, went fast and was durable.”

Ultimately the team finished in 19th place out of 82 teams.

“We were one of the only teams out of the first 17 to actually complete the first mission successfully,” said Drescher. “We were the only team that never had a breakdown or needed repairs. We walked off the field singing the Mines school song. After we did that, other schools starting doing the same thing, but we were the first, even if we weren’t as loud since most had three times as many students there.”

“We were ecstatic to finish as well as we did our first year,” shared Pena. “We beat all the other Colorado schools, and even schools with strong aerospace programs like MIT, Purdue and Berkeley. Just imagine what we could accomplish with more funding and more space!”

Sam Drescher attributes their success to three things: “First, we had a great pilot, Ryan Friedman. And we had Spencer Connor, who had great build knowledge. And finally, we had a team where each person was personally invested – no one was assigned to the team or doing it for a grade.”

Next year AIAA’s Design/Build/Fly will be held in Tucson, Arizona. The team plans to meet throughout this summer and build on their initial success. You can follow along with the team as it designs, tests and reiterates for the 2017 competition via their YouTube channel at CSM DBG Burroworks.



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 Colorado School of Mines Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science celebrated the grand opening of “The Outlet,” a student-run lab where students can work on personal projects, finish lab experiments outside of class, or meet to work on group assignments.

Alan Barsophy, chief technical officer for ArcelorMittal USA, did the official ribbon cutting on April 27, 2016, to welcome student to their new lab space in Brown 146. ArcelorMittal was a significant donor in the creation of the lab, with Rohde & Schwarz and Ricoh also donating equipment.

“The lab can meet any electrical hardware needs that a student may have,” explained Teaching Associate Professor Stephanie Claussen. “In addition to the comfy chairs and social area, it has oscilloscopes, power meters, signal generators and a collection of components.”

The idea for the student-centered lab was originally proposed by Associate Professor Marcelo Simoes in 2014. Faculty from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) worked closely with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) student branch at Mines in securing space, equipment, and industry support.

Current IEEE student president Emma Watson said, "The Outlet has turned out better than I could have imagined. Everyone on the student committee did an amazing job putting it together, from designing the logo, to painting, and so much more. I'd like to thank Ryan Patton, Kevin Lannan, Briana Farris, Josh Nelson, and Ben Holland for all the time and hard work they put in to making he Outlet an amazing success."

According to Atef Elsherbeni, EECS interim department head, the new lab is a great addition to variety of labs within EECS. “We are fortunate to have a variety of undergraduate and graduate labs which we continuously upgrade to meet recent technological advances,” said Elsherbeni. “We see our students spending many hours in these labs, which complement what they learn in the traditional classroom.”

The Outlet is the latest in the continuing expansion of student Maker Spaces within the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences. The lab is designed to be open 24/7 to all students with Blastercard access. Students can receive access by signing the user agreement on the EECS student portal on Blackboard. It is being managed by both student and faculty advisory committees.

See more photos from the grand opening here.


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 |

Team Airband, an interdisciplinary all-women team, received the top prize of $20,000 in the Colorado School of Mines Mining Innovation Challenge sponsored by Newmont Mining.

The team’s invention is a wearable air-quality monitor that utilizes special sensors to detect the levels and presence of hazardous air pollutants. The team included students Michelle Pedrezas, Arjumand Alvi, Micaela Pedrezas and Daniela Machnik, and was led by EPICS mentor Leslie Light.

Teams Recon and Low-Cation also won awards and received $5,000 each. Team Recon was recognized for being the most market ready and Low-Cation for being the most innovative.

Ten student teams have been working on prototypes and pitches since the Jan. 20 Innovation Challenge kickoff. On April 20, the finalists presented their 10-minute pitches to an evaluation panel who ranked them on five criteria: presentation, prototype, innovation, marketability/business viability and impact/value.

Judges included College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering Dean Ramona Graves, Mining Engineering Department Head Priscilla Nelson, Director of Technology Transfer Will Vaughan, Newmont Group Executive and Global Exploration Solutions Perry Eaton, and Traxion co-founder Chris Cone.

To learn more about the three winning projects, visit the Midea hub.

See more photos from the April 20 Innovation Celebration.


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 |


The ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST hosted a Research Symposium for WE2ST, the Department of Civil and Environment Engineering (CEE), and Hydrologic Science and Engineering (HSE) students on April 14. Posters from 20 WE2ST undergraduate scholars and graduate fellows were presented and judged. An additional 18 posters were presented by the CEE and HSE programs, although they were not part of the competition.

First and second place for the best poster by a WE2ST Graduate Fellow were awarded to Ella Walker and Chris Ruybal, respectively. Best Poster by a WE2ST Undergraduate Scholar went Kate Newhart, and second place to Kaylie Haynes. The faculty award for most student presenters outside of WE2ST went to CEE Professor Timm Strathmann.

Attendees also voted for the overall favorite poster at the Symposium, and this award went to Skylar Zilliox.

Finally, the Symposium showcased the winning water project from 6th graders at Shelton Elementary. The four elementary school students presented posters and a model to show off their water-saving shower design.

The symposium connected more than 75 distinguished guests from industry, academia, and the community. Mines students, faculty, and staff enjoyed an evening full of networking and conversations while reviewing student research in the overlapping fields of hydrology, environmental and civil engineering.


The ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST welcomes you to learn more about their program and get involved by visiting their website.



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 |

GOLDEN, Colo., April 15, 2016 –On April 6, 2016, the Colorado School of Mines Society of Petroleum Engineers Chapter (SPE) Student Chapter hosted a Joint Session with SPE Denver Section in Friedhoff Hall. This annual event provides a great opportunity for Mines SPE students to network with industry professionals from the Denver area.

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 |

GOLDEN, Colo., March 25, 2016 – Colorado School of Mines won first place in the University of Denver’s Analytics Challenge earlier this month. Sponsored by Daniels College of Business, the competition centered on finding insights from two large data sets about Denver crime over the previous five years.

GOLDEN, Colo., March 15, 2016 – Students from the Colorado School of Mines Department of Petroleum Engineering participated in the 2016 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Rocky Mountain Student Symposium & Paper Contest recently hosted by Montana Tech University.

Master’s student Angela Dang won first place in the master’s category and will get to present her research on chemical tracers in hydraulic fracturing at SPE’s Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition to be held in September in Dubai.


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