Sustainability

Colorado School of Mines petroleum engineering students took first place in the Student Challenge Contest held as part of the 2017 Society of Petroleum Engineers Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility (HSSE-SR)—North America Conference, held April 18-20 in New Orleans.


Members of the Mines team with Laura Johnson, training and development manager for safety, security, health, and environment at ExxonMobil (far right). Students from left: Zak Hartman, Danika Ahoor, Connally Reid, Emilio Gonzalez, James Blaney, Joe Brady. Photo credit: Adam Wilson, SPE.
Members of the Mines team with Laura Johnson, training and development manager for safety, security, health, and environment at ExxonMobil (far right). Students from left: Zak Hartman, Danika Ahoor, Connally Reid, Emilio Gonzalez, James Blaney, Joe Brady. Photo credit: Adam Wilson, SPE.

The quiz-style contest tested university students’ knowledge in HSSE-SR topics, with teams competing in thought-provoking challenges as well as lightning-round-style questions. Mines excelled in all three categories where points were awarded, beating the second-place team from Oklahoma State University 180 to 158 in the final score.

This was the third year of the Student Challenge Contest, sponsored this year by ExxonMobil. Other participating teams were Louisiana State University, University of Oklahoma, Stephen F. Austin State University and Texas Tech University.

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

A group of Colorado School of Mines undergraduate students have spent nearly two years preparing for a competition to build a home that generates as much energy as it consumes, and their work is about to pay off in a “tiny” way.
 
Mines Tiny House, which formed in the fall of 2015 as a way for students to prepare for the 2019 Solar Decathlon, is nearing completion of construction on a 220-square-foot tiny house. 

Mines Tiny House
Mines students installed the windows on the tiny house on a Saturday in April.

 
“We thought of it like a pilot project,” said engineering physics sophomore Katie Schneider, Mines Tiny House co-planning chair. “For the decathlon, the house will be full-size, so building a tiny house first was a great way for us to learn what a big project like that will take, while also showing knowledge and experience for our application into the competition.”
 
The Solar Decathlon, which takes place every two years, challenges teams of students from universities around the country to build a “net-zero home.” For the competition, this is accomplished primarily by the use of solar energy, through solar panels, passive solar heating and other methods.
 
Colorado School of Mines has never competed in the international Solar Decathlon competition, and Schneider noted most teams that apply come from construction or architecture backgrounds, making Mines’ team unique with their engineering and science perspectives. 
 
“We will be one of the most unique teams applying,” said Schneider, who also noted that none of the team members have construction or civil engineering backgrounds, with most of them majoring in engineering physics. 
 
In addition to building the tiny house, the team also submitted a paper for the Race to Zero competition, which asks students to design a full-size, net-zero home, but not actually build it. The team will present their paper next weekend at the competition, which will be held at NREL.
 
“We could not compete in the Solar Decathlon without having done either of these projects,” Schneider said. “Both the tiny house and Race to Zero taught us a lot about time management, organization and preparation, which will be essential for our success moving forward as we submit our application to the Solar Decathlon in October and then hopefully build a full-size home over the next two years.”
 
And while a full-size house is the end-goal, the team is celebrating their smaller success for now. 
 
“We put the windows on last week, and are hoping to have it fully complete by the end of the summer,” Schneider said. Fundraising through the Gold Mine will be used to complete the interior. The team plans to keep the tiny house, which was built on a trailer bed, on the Mines campus as a research lab and for community outreach.
 
“I’m really excited about the opportunities for outreach with the tiny house once it’s completed,” said Schneider, who noted that several community groups, including Boy Scout troops and school groups, have already come out to see their progress. 
 
“Last fall we were invited to be a part of the Golden Solar Homes Tour,” Schneider said. “We were only able to show off our design plans then, but this year we are excited to show the completed house.”
 
They are also hoping to show off the house at the 2017 Solar Decathlon, which will be held in Denver this October. 
 
Their faculty advisor, Physics Professor Tim Ohno, praised the team, made up mainly of freshmen and sophomores, saying that they have overcome a “steep learning curve” and have “pushed their limits” in order to accomplish their goals. 
 
For more information, the team has put together a website on the tiny house at www.minestinyhouse.weebly.com.
 
Contact:
Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, Academic Affairs | 303-384-2358 | mhanson@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu
 
 

Ian Lange and Peter Maniloff

Division of Economics and Business professors Ian Lange and Peter Maniloff, in cooperation with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, were awarded a Sloan Foundation grant to host the Colorado Technology Primer for Economists and Social Scientists.

Two one-week sessions will be offered July 31-Aug. 4 and Aug. 14-18 on the Colorado School of Mines campus in Golden. Application materials are due April 25.

The goal of the summer primer is to provide advanced doctoral students and early-career academic professionals with an interdisciplinary (engineering and social science) understanding of electricity distribution systems and the interface of technology and policy. The summer sessions will help participants bridge the gap between economists’ and engineers’ perspectives as well as improve the quality and applicability of their academic research.

The two one-week sessions will essentially be identical, and applicants are asked to choose their preferred week to attend but should also give notice if they are available for either week. If selected, there will be no tuition fee. A small amount of travel and lodging reimbursement will also be available and the decisions on this award will be made concurrent with admission decisions.

The weeklong program will consist of seven lectures by staff members from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, faculty from Colorado School of Mines as well as industry professionals. Additionally, there will be a tour of NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility and National Wind Technology Center that will allow students to see the renewable energy systems and electrical equipment first-hand, supplementing the knowledge gained in the classroom.

The primer will have sessions on:

•          Principles of Power System Planning and Operations

•          Industrial Organization of Electricity Markets

•          Distribution System Principles and the Evolving Interface with the Bulk Power System

•          Determinants of Electricity Demand and their Impact on the Distribution System

•          Critical Issues for Distribution Systems Moving Forward

•          Understanding the Highs and Lows and Overall Challenges of Multidisciplinary Research

APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS
Applicants must be a registered PhD student in economics or a related field and have completed the first two years of coursework, or an early-career academic professional (post-doctoral fellow or assistant professor) in an economics or related university department.

Please submit the following for consideration:

  1. One page cover letter describing research interests in electricity distribution, renewable energy systems or related topics. In an effort to balance class sizes, please include preferred dates, and whether you are available for either session.
  2. Curriculum Vitae

Additionally, PhD students must submit a letter from an advisor or, if an advisor hasn’t been selected yet, a faculty member. This letter should be less than one page and should endorse the application to the summer primer.

The program welcomes individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences and ideas. Participants are expected to learn as much from fellow students as they will from the instructors, and diversity will enrich everyone involved.

Send all application materials electronically in a single PDF file to ilange@mines.edu by April 25. Decisions will be communicated to applicants by May 5. For questions about the program, contact Ian Lange, ilange@mines.edu.

CONTACT
Kelly Beard, Communication Specialist, Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3452 | kbeard@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

In its third academic year, the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST (Water-Energy Education, Science and Technology) was formed to promote the sustainability of unconventional energy production and conduct research on both community acceptance of resource development and water resources related to energy production. As water resources can become stressed locally, finding solutions to the diverse and specialized challenges affiliated with competition for water use is crucial. The center was established with a ConocoPhillips leadership investment of $3 million in 2014.

In collaboration with the center, ConocoPhillips recently released a video that provides an in-depth look at the work happening in the area of education and outreach associated with water resources and unconventional energy production. Watch the video here.

Do you want to help make building the most fuel-efficient vehicle possible? Support the Mines Triathlon Team? With the launch of the spring semester Gold Mine crowdfunding projects there are eight Mines student causes to get behind, no matter where your interests lie.

Colorado School of Mines’ official crowdfunding platform is only in its second semester of operation, but has raised over $32,000 with 16 different teams taking advantage of this new fundraising opportunity so far.

Students and faculty members alike have been planning and working for months to get their ideas off the ground. Spring projects:

- Helping the newly-established Filmmakers at Mines Club purchase essential video and audio equipment to serve as a resource for campus.
- Designing and building an ultra-efficient, battery-powered vehicle to compete in the Shell-Eco Marathon in Detroit, MI.
- Covering registration costs to allow up to 40 students attend the Society of Petroleum Engineers Annual Technical Conference in San Antonio, TX.
- Building a footbridge for a remote community in Nicaragua to provide residents access to essential resources. Students will be working through the Mines Without Borders program.
- Furnishing the inside of the Mines Tiny House project to complete the build and prepare the team to compete in the 2019 Solar Decathlon.
- Subsidizing race fees for the athletes of the Mines Club Triathlon Team to allow them to compete in prominent races in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Triathlon Conference.

 

- Hosting the National Concrete Canoe Competition for the American Society of Civil Engineers on the Mines campus.
- Building an off-road vehicle for the Society of Automotive Engineers Baja Competition.

The majority of projects just launched within the last week. However, two teams are nearing the completion of their campaigns and are looking for a last-minute push through the finish line.

As the exclusive crowdfunding platform for Colorado School of Mines, project creators see many benefits over other crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter or GoFundMe. For one, all teams keep 100 percent of what they raise with no fees. Typical crowdfunding sites take anywhere from 6 to 8 percent of the total amount raised.

Additionally, all teams are provided with a dedicated success coach to offer training in best practices and marketing. With this assistance and the backing of the Mines brand, teams hit the ground running with strategies and a community to help them accomplish their goals.

To learn more about crowdfunding at Mines, support the currently active projects, or submit a project of your own, please visit giving.mines.edu/goldmine.

 

Contact: Brandon Farestad-Rittel bfarestadrittel@mines.edu or Rachelle Trujillo rtrujillo@mines.edu

Minerals and metals are at the foundation of modern technology-based societies. Each year, the average American uses about 25 tons of earth materials. Exploration for new resources is at the front end of the mining life cycle, with mining companies spending billions of dollars per year exploring for new metal and mineral resources yet often coming up empty. 

Now, Colorado School of Mines researchers are teaming with Virginia Tech researchers, bringing together over 250 years of experience in earth resource research, to develop an integrated approach to locating, characterizing and visualizing mineral resources. Their goal is to boost exploration success rates and advance mining operations while cutting costs and minimizing both financial risk and environmental impact.
An open-pit mining operation at the Veladero Mine in Argentina.
An open-pit mining operation at the Veladero Mine in Argentina.

The researchers have proposed a national cross-disciplinary Center for Advanced Subsurface Earth Resource Models, an industry-funded consortium that would provide exploration and mining companies worldwide with new 3-D subsurface geological models. The models would inform decision-making and risk management at all stages of the mining life cycle, from exploration to operations and including mine closure and environmental reclamation.

The center has received early support from the National Science Foundation through a $15,000 planning grant to each institution. These planning grants will enable the Mines-Virginia Tech team and representatives from the exploration and mining industry to define a joint industry and university research agenda, consolidate support and develop a business plan under NSF’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Center Program. Launched in 1973, the I/UCRC program supports research and workforce development in various industry sectors by establishing and fostering cooperative, long-term innovative university-industry-NSF partnerships.
 
“The purpose and long-term vision of this center is directed toward research challenges in the development of 3-D subsurface geologic models for mineral deposits, with the ultimate goal of informing decision-making and minimizing geological risk in mineral exploration operations,” said Geology and Geological Engineering Professor Ric Wendlandt, Mines’ principal investigator on the project.
 
The Mines team includes 14 researchers from the departments of Geology and Geological Engineering, Geophysics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Mining Engineering. Professor Wendy Harrison and Associate Professor Thomas Monecke, both from the Geology and Geological Engineering Department, are co-principal investigators. At Virginia Tech, Math Professor Matthias (Tia) Chung leads a team of 12 researchers.
 
The consortium represents an ideal cross-disciplinary effort, balancing geological and geophysical exploration methods with essential mathematical and computational approaches and risk analysis perspectives.  
 
The research team will explore innovations in measurements of chemical and physical properties of rock materials and improvements to integrating and scaling of diverse geological and geophysical data types. These improvements will help mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists build more accurate tools for 3-D imaging and visualization of the Earth’s subsurface.
 
According to Monecke, who specializes in economic geology, the exploration and mining sector is unlike other industries. The time between onset of exploration to resource production and recoup of investment often exceeds 10 years.
 
“The mining business is a complex process, taking many years to develop a project from exploration to production and finally mine closure and reclamation. Successful modern mining operations generate wealth and employment for several decades, yet because failure at any step is prohibitively expensive, companies are slow in developing and adapting new technologies and often rely on business strategies proven to have worked in the past,” said Monecke. “Our center’s vision is to advance the digital revolution of the global exploration and mining industry during all stages of the mining life cycle—research in this area will be the stepping stone to transforming exploration and mining into an industry of the 21st century.”
 
The center will need industry support to receive full funding from the NSF. During the initial yearlong planning phase, Mines will recruit companies to join the consortium. “There are already 28 companies interested in working with us, in the long run looking to fund innovative fundamental research that will accelerate the mining sector forward,” said Wendlandt. “We’re very encouraged.” 
A Mines geophysics student works with 3-D imaging software.
A Mines geophysics student works with 3-D imaging software.

Companies expressing interest in the consortium include those in mineral exploration and mining, software development, consulting, geochemistry and exploration geophysics and instrumentation. Federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the U.S. Geological Survey may also participate. Research priorities are set by the consortium’s members, who will establish an industry advisory board.

 
“Mining is intrinsic to modern society’s transition to a sustainable existence,” said Ramona Graves, dean of the College of Earth Resources Science and Engineering. “The center’s projects will promote socioeconomic prosperity and help in reducing the environmental impact of the mining industry.”
 
The center will also be a major effort to prepare college graduates at both the undergraduate and graduate levels to move directly into the industrial workforce, explained Harrison, helping students make essential contacts in the industry even before they graduate. There is an emerging need in the mining industry for professionals who provide expertise in advanced computer-controlled equipment, computer modeling and data analysis that support the daily activity of a company.  
 
“The Center for Advanced Subsurface Earth Resource Models, if successful in attracting members, would be the first geoscience-based program started under the 44-year-old NSF program,” said Harrison. Expectations for the planning year are to gain industry support for the Center’s operation plan, agree on research goals and initial projects and get individual companies to commit to joining the center.
 
 
This research is being made possible by NSF Grant 1650500.
 
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

 

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.

Martin Kohn, Dov Quint, August Steinbeck, Muhammad Abdullah Khawar, Phillip Ruban

Mineral and Energy Economics students Martin Kohn, Dov Quint, August Steinbeck, Muhammad Abdullah Khawar and Phillip Ruban placed third the Columbia University Energy Symposium case competition in New York City.

Five Mines graduate students placed third, winning $500 at the Columbia University Energy Symposium case competition in New York City on Feb. 2. Muhammad Abdullah Khawar, Martin Kohn, Dov Quint, Phillip Ruban and August Steinbeck study Mineral and Energy Economics in the Division of Economics and Business at Colorado School of Mines.

This competition allowed teams to present creative and innovative solutions for critical challenges facing the energy and environment sectors. Students also had the opportunity to interact with professionals, professors and students in the energy sector.

Learn more about the Columbia University Energy Symposium.

About Mineral and Energy Economics at Mines
Founded in 1969, this world-renowned program in the Division of Economics Business leads to MS and PhD degrees in Mineral and Energy Economics. This program attracts students from all over the world, and Mines MEE alumni are known globally for their career achievements and qualifications. Students gain the skills necessary for understanding the complex interactions of markets and policy that influence the energy, mineral and environmental industries. The program focuses on applied quantitative tools and models that form a foundation for sound business and public policy. Learn more about Mines’ Mineral and Energy Economics MS and PhD programs.

CONTACT
Kelly Beard, Communication Specialist, Division of Economics and Business | 303-273-3452 | kbeard@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

 
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
 

Colorado School of Mines has received a $7.5 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish a University Transportation Center (UTC), focused on improving the durability and lifespan of underground transportation.

James R. Paden Distinguished Professor Marte Gutierrez from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is the lead on this interdisciplinary project that draws on the expertise and reputation of Mines’ Center for Underground Construction and Tunneling (UC&T).

“This is such a huge win for Mines,” said Professor Mike Mooney, the Bruce Grewcock University Chair and Director of UC&T. “This is the first U.S. DOT funded center at Mines and the first ever U.S. DOT center focused on underground infrastructure. This effort will build upon the strong foundation of UC&T at Mines and cements UC&T and Mines as the number one place in the world for underground construction and tunneling research and education.”   

In collaboration with affiliate partners, California State University, Los Angeles and Lehigh University, the new center includes research, education and outreach to make underground construction and transportation safer, more sustainable and more cost-efficient.

“We are running out of land, especially in urban areas. The only way to meet increased demand for transportation is to go underground,” explained Gutierrez. “Underground transportation and infrastructure is key to reducing congestion and pollution.”

UC&T graduate students explore an underground construction site.

The center hopes to work closely with industry leaders to develop advanced technologies that would avoid the problems that often extend the time and cost of underground construction. “Our goal is to help the construction industry,” said Gutierrez, “by providing tools, methodologies and technology for underground construction. We want to partner with the industry so that we can apply our findings, as well as offer continuing education courses—that’s how technology transfer really happens.”

Mines’ UC&T, started in 2011 with generous initial support from Mines alumnus Bruce Grewcock, has been leading efforts toward a more adaptive design system in the field of underground construction and tunneling. Boreholes and geological/geophysical surveys provide limited information on ground conditions until excavation starts. Predicted responses often differ from the reality once a project is underway. Gutierrez is proposing the use of adaptive computational modeling to align design with the site-specific geology. 

“We want to exploit the new knowledge we gain every time we excavate,” said Gutierrez. “The design must adapt. As we improve our understanding of the site’s geology, the design also improves, ultimately avoiding the unexpected high costs and extended timelines that can occur when the natural and built environments do not match.”

The center will also look at extending the life of existing aging infrastructures and how transportation infrastructure can best be repaired with the least impact on congestion. Ultimately, with cooperation from industry, the UTC at Mines will lead to increased safety, reliability and sustainability in underground transportation infrastructures.

“Marte has done such a fantastic job leading the successful proposal effort and now leading a great cross-campus interdisciplinary team,” said Mooney, referencing the diverse expertise of the faculty members who are involved in the project: professors Hugh Miller, Jurgen Brune, Rennie Kaunda and Department Head Priscilla Nelson from Mining Engineering; Andrei Swidinsky from Geophysics; as well as the Co-PIs: Gabriel Walton and Wendy Zhou from Geology, Eunhye Kim from Mining, and Reza Hedayat, Panos Kiousis, and Shiling Pei from Civil and Environmental Engineering—in addition to Mooney and Gutierrez.

Mooney added, “The Mines community of current students and alumni out there shaping the future of underground infrastructure should all be very proud.”   

 

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

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