Terri Hogue, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE²ST, and Andrea Blaine, assistant director of WE2ST, have been awarded a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Site at Colorado School of Mines.

The Mines RET project, Water-Energy Education for the Next Generation (WE2NG), will provide summer training and year-round support for 25-30 K-12 teachers over three years with the intention of infusing current research in the water-energy nexus into K-12 classrooms.  WE2NG will recruit STEM teachers from Jefferson County School District to attend a full-time 8-week summer program at Mines engaging in research under the direction of faculty and graduate student mentors. 

The program will include teacher-faculty research development, technical workshops, collaborations with industry (such as AECOM, ConocoPhillips and Denver Water) and integrated curriculum development. The WE2NG program will also establish long-term collaborative relationships with teacher participants by providing classroom support throughout the academic year with integration of graduate and undergraduate students from the ConocoPhillips WE2ST center and the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center for Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt).

“The program will kick off in the summer of 2016,” said Hogue, “though the ground-work is already under way. WE²NG will take the outreach component of the WE²ST even further. Last spring our center delivered over 25 STEM labs at elementary schools, as well as presentations on Earth Day at Ralston Elementary, and Shelton’s Math & Science Night. Training teachers directly and developing curriculum with them allows us to reach exponential numbers of students. Rather than reaching one classroom at a time, all of the participants’ future students will receive a deeper understanding of the water-energy nexus, particularly as it relates to our western region.” 



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

Mounir Zok, senior sports technologist for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), was researching how boxers moved during a match through video taken by an overhead camera suspended in a boxing ring, when he got an idea that evolved into a Colorado School of Mines field session project.

“We are constantly thinking about how can we help coaches and athletes make the best informed decision through current technology,” Zok said. “Because gymnasts are performing coded actions, their movements are ideal to be measured and analyzed.”

In December, Zok met Electrical Engineering and Computer Science professors Bill Hoff and Hao Zhang and computer science graduate student Brian Reily to observe male gymnasts and collect performance data with computer vision technology—a Microsoft Kinect v2 camera. The color camera uses a depth sensor and microphone array to sense the location and movements of people.

Within a few months, Reily was able to take their results to develop a method to track gymnasts and produce data on their performances.

“It was a great opportunity to collect a unique type of data. I'm working on human detection and pose estimation, and pretty much all existing data out there is collected in a lab,” said Reily. “Collecting this data and publishing it as a dataset would actually be pretty important just on it's own.”

Reily requested the help of four Mines students and USOC coaches to add features—such as tracking gymnasts to create useful data visualizations for both gymnasts and coaches. Computer science students Austin Kauffman, Zac McClain, Evan Balogh and Travis Johnson took Reily’s data to build an app that could record and analyze a routine, playback video, and provide performance statistics.

“I’ve always been interested in computer science and bioinformatics,” said McClain. “I would like to use this project to get into a more active area of computer science.”

The Computer Science field session team, advised by Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Teaching Associate Professor Christopher Painter-Wakefield, sees their app advancing in the future if more features could be added, such as color video playback, consistent frame rates and angle tracking.

“We’ve had students involved in our projects for the last year and a half. The engineering talent coming from Colorado School of Mines is helping us gain insights into some of our sports programs,” Zok said. “These students are scientifically prepared to face the challenge.” The USOC has also been working with Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Joel Bach and a senior design team to develop other technologies to help further athlete development and training.


Kathleen Morton, Digital Media & Communications Manager / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

GOLDEN, Colo., April 28, 2015 – Forty teams of students in the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences have spent the last two semesters working on projects to present at the Senior Design Trade Fair which was held April 23. Faculty, industry representatives and alumni judged teams on their ability to define, analyze and address a design problem and to present their work through display and dialogue.

Meet Sam Spiegel, the director of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) at Colorado School of Mines. The center—started by Applied Mathematics and Statistics professor Gus Greivel and Physics professor Pat Kohl—is part of Mines’ Strategic Plan initiative to further the school’s STEM reputation, expand research opportunities and increase graduation rates.

Spiegel sees the CITL as a way to enhance faculty connections, provide them with resources and form an active learning community at Mines.

“The pieces that get me excited are real and rich conversations about teaching and learning,” said Spiegel. “I am looking forward to getting involved in the design aspects and supporting faculty and students in changing, growing and enhancing their experiences at Mines.”

The CITL will offer resources in coaching, course review, curricula design, grant support, learning communities, teaching observations and teaching professional development.

“There are quite a number of Mines faculty trying new things and the center is here to be a resource to support them,” Spiegel said. “CITL can provide support and guidance to refine instruction. For those faculty that want more intensive support, we will be offering one-on-one coaching.”

An example of support around course design will happen this summer when Spiegel will work with Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry professors Renee Falconer and Allison Castner to redesign a freshman course with a more active learning style, focusing on furthering student engagement on conceptual learning.

On April 21, Spiegel presented a pedagogy seminar with Chief Information Officer Michael Erickson on how CCIT and CITL plan to collaborate to support faculty and advance teaching and learning at Mines. The CITL will offer seminars this summer on producing educational videos and the science of teaching. The center will also meet with the Office of Academic Affairs to examine student data in efforts to produce consistencies in student learning experiences.

“If you were to put a GoPro on a student and watch them across a week, would their experiences be consistent—particularly at a freshman and sophomore level?” asked Spiegel, who will see the freshman experience firsthand when he serves as a faculty mentor for CSM101 in the fall.

Visit the CITL’s website for information on pedagogy seminars and updates at

Spiegel comes to Mines with 15 years specializing in science education and transforming systems—his past experiences ranging from middle school to university graduate levels. Prior to Mines, Spiegel served as Chair of the Disciplinary Literacy in Science Team at the Institute for Learning and Associate Director for the Swanson School of Engineering's Engineering Education Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh.


Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

In the sixth annual and largest NASA Robotic Mining Competition, a team of 14 Mines students will be competing against 53 teams from all over the nation to design and build a mining rover.

The senior design team, Blasterbotica, is taking apart last year’s rover and building new components to build a smaller rover for the competition May 18-22 at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The rover will have to traverse a simulated Martian terrain, excavate regolith and gravel and deposit them into a collector bin within 10 minutes. The winning team will receive the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence trophy, KSC launch invitations, team certificates for each member and a $5,000 team scholarship.

It’s unusual for teams to build a new rover instead of improving the previous team's rover, but Blasterbotica thinks this will give them an advantage.

“Ours will have a regolith delivery system made up of a bucket ladder and dumping system,” said David Long, mechanical engineering student. “We have created a unique method to lower the excavator, allowing it to go from perpendicular to vertical to almost horizontal. We can lower it in as deep as we want. This will give us a lot more mobility in terms of how we want to excavate.”

One of the challenges the team faces is staying within the weight and size limitations of the contest. The students received a donation from Lockheed Martin to fund their lightweight materials, such as aluminum and steel for the frame and polycarbonate for dust shielding and electronic boxes.

“It has to be durable because we want future teams to be able to use it,” said mechanical engineering student Nichole Cusack. “We will be using chains similar to ones you might see on a bucket ladder. This allows us to get better traction and turn easier so the treads don’t sink in.” 

Last year, the team lost functionality in the rover during the competition because they used a faulty interface. To prevent that from happening again, the team will be using LINUX to allow for flexibility in driving the rover.

“We can’t sense the walls in the arena this year so we have to use inertial measurement units and camera vision to determine location,” said Long. “Power monitoring the rover is a big deal.”

The team is working quickly to have a build done by early April in order to have a month of testing. Since October, the team has delivered STEM presentations using previous rovers to area schools, such as Bell Middle School, Powderhorn Elementary School, Foothills Elementary School, Coal Creek Canyon Elementary School and Mitchell Elementary School.

Blasterbotica is comprised of students in the fields of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science. The team’s faculty advisors include mechanical engineering professors Christopher Dreyer and Ozkan Celik. Their client is Angel Abbud Madrid, director of the Center for Space Resources at Mines.

Visit to read more about the team. Keep up with the team’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.

The Senior Design Program is part of the College of Engineering & Computational Sciences, and is a creative multidisciplinary design experience emerging from combined efforts in civil, electrical, mechanical, and environmental specialties in engineering.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

More than 100 local area high school students visited Colorado School of Mines Feb. 20 to learn about STEM careers during DiscoverE Engineering Week. The event, sponsored by Lockheed Martin, hosted various activities throughout the day.

Students began the morning with a chemistry show by Mines professor Renee Falconer in Coolbaugh Hall. Falconer performed several demonstrations; one of which included mixing chemical elements in balloons before igniting them on fire. Shortly after the presentation, students were divided into groups to tour Hill Hall and the Geology Museum—observing the moon and florescent rocks on display.

Around noon, students attended a mentoring lunch in Friedhoff Hall. Paul Anderson ’85 spoke on “Dreaming Big” and his journey from Mines to Lockheed Martin. Company experts sat at roundtables with students to answer questions on their experiences.

Energy Education Specialist Dr. Cynthia Howell partnered with Jeanette Alberg, manager of community relations for Lockheed Martin, three years ago with the purpose of celebrating National Engineering Week.

“What started as a pilot project between Lockheed Martin and Mines is now an annual event ever-growing in sophistication, collaboration and purpose as it meets organizational goals,” Howell said. “This event brings together more than 70 volunteers and highlights the Mines and Lockheed Martin recruiting, engineering, scientific and research prowess.”



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /

Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

On Feb. 8, more than 100 Colorado high-schoolers – all female – spent the day at Mines for Girls Lead the Way 2014, a conference focused on women and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

The Mines collegiate section and Rocky Mountain professional section of the Society of Women Engineers partnered to host this event for the second year.

“The purpose of the conference was to get high school girls excited about the STEM fields, expose them to a variety of different industries they may not be familiar with and mostly just to have fun while getting to know girls with similar interests,” said Carly Conley, Mines SWE officer and event organizer.

“I think it is important to reach out to young women regarding STEM because diversity helps enhance creative problem solving in the workplace. Women are very capable of understanding technical subject matter, but we often approach problems differently than men. I think it is to everyone's benefit to have both ways of thinking work together to solve complex problems,” she said. “There are a lot of young women who don't realize the skills they possess, so I think it is important to help them become aware of the possibilities that await them in a STEM field.”

Conley said the day was educational not just for the students in attendance, but also for her fellow SWE members – both collegiate and professional. The conference featured speakers from industries including biomechanical engineering, civil engineering and construction, oil and gas, aerospace and the military.

“The learning most certainly does not end after high school, we are all continuously learning and benefiting from hearing about each other's experiences,” said Conley.

Organizers said both participant and parent feedback was encouraging.

“One parent said the event was ‘an excellent orientation to a truly elite school,’” said Agata Dean, adjunct instructor in the Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department and interim faculty advisor for the Mines SWE section.

Faculty and staff from across campus also participated in the event. Abby Hickman, from the Mines Admissions Office, organized an information session for parents; Katie Schmalzel, of Student Life, facilitated a fashion show for the girls; Lin Sherman, from the Career Center, hosted a session on resume writing; and Dr. Anne Silverman, from the Mechanical Engineering Department, led a seminar on biomedical engineering.

The Girls Lead the Way conference was sponsored by Aera Energy, Williams, BP, Merrick & Company and Stanley Consultants.

Students in the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Senior Design Program are building a lunar mining rover with technology that could support driverless vehicles.

Electrical engineering senior Megan Salinas is one of a 16-member multidisciplinary student team called Blasterbotica. She said their project “supports robotic mining technology in deep mines and Australian deserts, to self-driving cars in California.”

“The sensing and driving technology we are researching could develop into your personal driving chauffeur,” said Salinas.

Students have to apply to be a part of the team and are selected by administrators in the Senior Design Program. Two senior design teams working on locomotion and autonomy subsystems are reusing a rover built last year to make improvements for this year’s project.

“I was interested in the coding and autonomy aspects of this project,” mechanical engineering senior Ryan Stauffer said. “They wanted computer science students so it was a perfect fit for me.” 

The class is designing and building a mining rover for NASA as part of a Regolith Mining Competition. In its fifth year in the competition, Mines must develop a winning robot that will excavate and deposit a lunar regolith simulant (rock powder), traverse an obstacle area and deliver the materials to a collection container.  The winner of the competition will receive a $3,000 team scholarship and an invitation to watch a rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the spring.

Chris Dreyer is the faculty advisor for the team and an assistant research professor in the mechanical engineering department.

“NASA created the competition to develop technologies for and promote the concept of space resource utilization—and STEM education,” Dreyer said.

The team often does testing on the Golden volleyball sand pits, as it is a convenient substitute until a regolith test bed is ready. Dreyer said that regolith is a difficult material to drive on and can confound sensors.  

“It is an interesting robotics problem because the environment is difficult to predict,” Dreyer said. “No team has completed the competition with an autonomous rover.”

In addition to support from the program, the team raises funds through donations for most of their expenses. Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the Center for Space Resources, also helps sponsor the team by providing funds and an assembly and testing workspace in the center’s lab on the Mines campus.

“This project directly relates to the research we are conducting at the center,” Abbud-Madrid said. “We are learning how to design autonomous systems for remote space applications. This particular project is beneficial because it brings all expertise of Mines together for this purpose.”

The Senior Design class has a website at The team has a website at

Blasterbotica is looking to expand student participation beyond the senior design groups. Students interested in helping out can contact Dreyer at



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /

Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /


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