Sustainability

Colorado School of Mines Department of Mining Engineering Professor Masami Nakagawa recently brought together two indigenous cultures from the United States and Bolivia to discuss development of natural resources.

The Navajo Nation is a sovereign Native American nation occupying the largest land area of all Native American nations in the U.S.; the Aymara are an indigenous nation in the Andes and Altiplano of South America – both are seeking balanced and sustainable sources of energy.

Enter Nakagawa, who works on building capacity for geothermal resource development and has been focused on sustainable energy initiatives in Bolivia, Peru and El Salvador. During this initial meeting, representatives from the two cultures discussed various options and challenges associated with this development in their native lands.

“Geothermal offers not only power generation, but by using the heat (without even generating electricity) geothermal resources offer many ways to build local businesses that are green and sustainable,” he said, noting that he is currently working on a Navajo GeoPark project that focuses on capacity building through geothermal/solar assisted greenhouses. 

The project will continue into the summer, when Nakagawa will lead a delegation of indigenous people to Bolivia. A group of five from the U.S. (including three Navajo and two from Mines) will visit the capital city of La Paz, Cochabamba, Sala de Uyuni, and a small town called Tocana, where they will discuss sustainable energy solutions.

Nakagawa serves as a Fulbright Specialist on energy and sustainability for Latin and South American countries. This project is funded by the U.S. Department of State.

 

Contact:
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Information Specialist, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

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.

 

 

Contact:
Deirdre Keating, Information Specialist, College of Engineering and Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu

Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu

Imagining cookie crumbs as dirt and gummy worms as organic matter, Colorado School of Mines students introduced elementary school students to the concept of oil and gas formation in one of several science demonstrations held during the 6th Annual Math & Science Night at Shelton Elementary on Nov. 4.

Mines students had a large presence at the math and science expo: The Water-Energy, Science and Technology (WE²ST) Center ran nine stations and several other Mines student organizations also participated. Shelton’s Math & Science Night provides parents and students a fun, engaging and hands-on learning environment with the goal to get students excited about math and science.

Karen Brown, principal of Shelton, attributed the success of the program to the participation of Mines students. “We are so thrilled to have built a partnership with Mines and its students,” said Brown.

“Since its inception, Shelton’s Math and Science Night has always been well attended because of the expertise and fun the Mines students, as well as other presenters, bring to the table,” Brown continued. “They are also great role models for our students.”

According to Andrea Blaine, assistant director of WE²ST, “one of the strongest aspects of WE²ST’s participation was our ability to establish a meaningful connection between Mines and the larger community. Our presence at the event allowed us to educate children and adults on important current environmental topics, such as water and energy, in a non-threatening, fun atmosphere.”

In addition to the edible “fossil fuels” demonstration, students used a four-foot square model to see the paths of water within a watershed and community at the EnviroScape station and received hands-on experience learning about osmosis, the properties of gasses, aquifer sand tanks, and water use in the U.S. compared to other countries.

“It really is fantastic and wonderful that Shelton offers this type of thing,” said Alison Bodor, a Shelton Elementary School parent, who complimented WE²ST in particular on their organization.

Mines Blasterbotica Team, dressed like cowboys for the event’s Wild West theme, also had a large number of participants. They demonstrated how robots could be used for mining in space exploration.

Mines’ Nao robot, “Gold,” was a star attraction for the children. Mechanical Engineering Professor John Steele encouraged his student Steven Emerson to participate and showcase the robot.

“She was a big hit. The kids seemed a little awestruck when she did her choreographed demo,” Emerson said. He also noted that teaming up with the Mines Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) chapter helped, as they provided other demos that allowed the robot time to cool off between groups of children.

Mines Society of Geophysicists, Society of Physics Students, Society of Women Engineers, the Integrated GroundWater Modeling Center at Mines, and the Re-Inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt) Research Center also set up hands-on learning demonstrations for the students of Shelton Elementary School.

 

Contact:
Deirdre Keating, Information Specialist, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu

Colorado School of Mines Civil and Environment Professor Tzahi Cath has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Geothermal Technologies Office of the U.S. Department of Energy to study membrane distillation desalination of impaired water using low-grade heat from geothermal power plants. 

The grant is part of a three-year, $4.8 million project led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in collaboration with Sandia National Lab, University of California, Riverside, GE, and Ormat. 

Geothermal resources and water scarcity are common features of the western United States. Within this region, low-temperature (<100 °C) geothermal resources have wide geographic distribution, but are highly underutilized because they are inefficient for power production.

A potentially useful application of low-enthalpy geothermal energy, from low-temperature resources or rejected heat from high-temperature geothermal power plants, is the desalination of impaired waters.

Cath’s research focuses on water and wastewater treatment and reuse. He was formerly the systems leader for the Engineering Research Center for Re-Inventing America’s Urban Water Infrastructure (RENUWIt), which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Recently, Cath and Chemistry and Geochemistry Professor Kim Williams hosted a Membrane Research Workshop at Mines that brought together faculty and groups on campus conducting research on membrane separation processes. As many as 60 faculty members discussed the science and applied domains pertinent to their research with the goal of identifying opportunities for collaboration and program development. 

The workshop concluded with a group discussion on relevant topics, including possible collaborative proposals, additional ways to promote dialogue and collaborations, strategic off-campus collaborators, and the new NSF and DOE focus and upcoming funding opportunities in the area of energy-water-food nexus.

 

Contact:
Deirdre Keating, Information Specialist, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 | dkeating@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu

 

GOLDEN, Colo., April 22, 2015 – The Colorado School of Mines Office of Special Programs and Continuing Education will host the fourth International School for Materials for Energy and Sustainability July 13-20. 

The weeklong school will present state-of-the-art and future perspectives for materials as they can be applied to energy generation and storage for sustainable energy technologies.

Eleven students are part of a humanitarian engineering course that is designing plans to relocate a village displaced by mining operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. The course “Projects for People,” taught by corporate social responsibility and Human Centered Design professor Benjamin Teschner, is geared toward students interested in the social challenges associated with the extractive industries and how engineering helps address these problems.

During the first class, Teschner gave each student $20 to design a prototype that would act as a tool to explain to someone living in the village how their lives would change after relocating.

“Commonly, students think of prototypes only as something they build to test their idea or to help themselves as engineers refine a design. What this assignment does is force them to think about how to design a prototype that will show someone else how their idea works so they can engage non-engineers in their design process,” Teschner said. “Students will immediately lay their assumptions about the problem out on the table for everyone to see—assumptions that they didn’t even know they were making.”

Aina Abiina is one of two graduate students in the class. The course is not required for Abiina’s Liberal Arts and International Studies degree, however she chose to enroll because she wanted to learn about the interaction between multi-national companies and people that are affected by these companies’ activities.

“In order to minimize a negative impact on the environment of those people and to optimize the production of the mine, a proper assessment is needed,” said Abiina. “Designing solutions to this complex engineering and social challenge will help students gain valuable skills in human-centered design methods, research techniques, brainstorming tools and approaches.”

Over the next few months, teams in two groups will have three phase gate reviews that will explore problem definition, design exploration and design analysis. The unique thing about this course is that the grades and passage of the phase gates are not linked. Grades are determined instead by how the team works within these phase gates.

“I hope students are able to develop empathy for people who use the things they design and that they recognize by bringing these people into the design process, they can create better, more sustainable engineering outcomes,” Teschner said.

Chemical and Biochemical Engineering student Karyn Burry hopes to end the course with better design flow skills.

“I am a super organized person and that usually is really helpful in a group, but this class is pushing me out of the organizer position into a position where I am forced to think outside the box in attempt to find a solution to this relocation project,” Burry said.

To better understand the village and relocation process, students are working with Thabani Mlilo, manager of sustainability for the America region at AngloGold Ashanti, who is acting as the ‘client’ on the project. Mlilo’s goal is to catalyze a paradigm shift early enough in an engineer’s education so that it is “part of their DNA” and a natural part of how they approach problems or solutions wherever there is a sustainability aspect to their work.

“In the sustainability field, one of the biggest challenges we have is shifting the paradigm of professionals in technical and scientific disciplines to the changing landscape of the business-society interface,” Mlilo said. “My impression of Mines students is that they don’t shy away from a challenge and are not afraid of treading unknown waters.”

For questions about the course, please contact Benjamin Teschner at bteschne@mines.edu.

 

Contact:

Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / kgilbert@mines.edu

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