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.


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

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

Colorado School of Mines has a long tradition of women pursuing studies in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields – dating back to 1898 when Florence Caldwell was the first woman to graduate with a degree in civil engineering. 

Last year, Mines’ total undergraduate enrollment was 26.6 percent women, 6.7 percent above the national average of 19.9 percent (according to the American Society for Engineering Education). The fall 2015 first-year class has set a record with 31.2 percent women (353 students versus 297 in last year’s entering class), an 18.9 percent increase from last year.

Beyond Colorado, these women come from 30 different states and 18 countries including China, Angola, India and Saudi Arabia. Sixty report a legacy relationship and are continuing a family tradition in their attendance at Mines. Thirty-four students are participating across the full spectrum of our women’s varsity athletic programs.

Mines also has the largest collegiate section of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in the country with more than 650 members. SWE has weekly meetings devoted to personal and professional development, the members participate in outreach, and it provides a really strong community for women on campus.

“For the past 15 years, Mines has been working to recruit and retain women through the Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (WISEM) program. We are very excited these efforts are working to create a pipeline of future female engineers,” said Stephanie Berry, director of WISEM. “A diverse student population is important to Mines because it leads to more creative problem solving and innovation.”

So what does it look like to be a female engineer on campus this year? Get to know six students from this first-year class.

Kenzley Sparks

Major: Metallurgical and Materials Engineering

Hometown: Murray, KY

Hobbies: Running

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Bubbly
  • Athletic
  • Clumsy

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

Meeting new people.

Why did you choose Mines?

I loved the community atmosphere where everyone works together and helps each other through tough classes. Also, the beauty of Colorado is amazing to wake up to every morning and I feel very fortunate for this opportunity.

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

There are a lot of people out there that doubt your ability, but at the same time everyone here at Mines and many others encourage you and believe in you.

What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

Don’t be scared to step away from the norm and go after your dreams.

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines?

Working at Nike headquarters as a materials engineer specializing in synthetic polymers to develop materials for athletic gear and running shoes.

Nicole Demby

Major: Mechanical Engineering 

Hometown: Cortez, CO

Hobbies: Playing sports and hanging out with friends 

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Outgoing
  • Athletic
  • Friendly

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

This year I am looking forward to meeting new people and experiencing new things.

Why did you choose Mines?

I chose Mines because it is a top engineering school that is also in one of the most beautiful places in the country. 

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

It is really exciting being a part of the movement of more women in the STEM fields and breaking the stereotypes that surround women in engineering. 

What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

Advice to other young women like me: let the skepticism of others become your motivation for proving them wrong. When people warned me about how hard Mines is and how much math and science I'd have to take, it only made me want to work even harder rather than go to a school with an easier workload. 

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines?

After Mines I would love to use my mechanical engineering degree to work all over the world designing things that will improve the lives of others.

Tatjana Scherschel

Major: Undecided (thinking Petroleum Engineering)

Hometown: Roxborough, CO

Hobbies: Swimming, sailing, running and reading

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Friendly
  • Optimistic
  • Taking from President Johnson's Convocation speech, a little bit quirky

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

I am most definitely looking forward to being a member of the Mines community. There are so many different people around campus and all of them inspire me in their own way. Some are just way too good at slacklining and others are fantastic at rock climbing or volleyball. And everyone I have met has impressed me with his or her intellect and ambition.

Why did you choose Mines?

I chose Mines because of the type of people who are associated with the university and, of course, because of its excellence in engineering. The atmosphere is very driven and focused, but yet there is still balance. Students find time to be a part of so many clubs and organizations, and they still excel in very difficult classes, work, and somehow remain very friendly and welcoming. I wanted to be a part of such an energetic group of people while taking classes that would give me the knowledge and ability to obtain the engineering job of my dreams.

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

It is inspiring! As a woman interested in science and engineering, I feel as if I am not only studying for myself but for millions of others young girls, who perhaps have an interest in geology or physics, but talk themselves out of it or never get the chance to pursue a degree. This realization motivates me to do what I can to reach out to other women and encourage them to follow their dreams, even if it requires calculus.

What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

I would tell them to go for it! A young woman should never give up her dreams just because she may currently be a minority. She is tougher than that! I would tell her that she has the strength to earn a degree in science or engineering and that she can become a role model to other young girls just like her. Anything that a young lady puts her mind to she can accomplish.

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines?

I have always been interested in studying the Earth, and after Mines I would like to work in a field that involves geology or earth science to some degree. Right now, I am thinking about petroleum engineering. However, no matter what I decide to major in or where I work, I hope to continue to support women in science and engineering.

Victoria Martinez-Vivot

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

Hobbies: Biking, hiking, soccer, viola, photography and videography

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Dedicated
  • Enthusiastic
  • Thoughtful

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

This year I am looking forward to just jumping into the Mines community! I am excited about my classes, and can’t wait to get involved, and try lots of new things around campus. I look forward to meeting lots of new people and to making a lot of new friends. I am just thrilled to be here and can’t wait to see what college will bring.

 Why did you choose Mines?

I chose Mines because I just love the community. It’s a great very focused community and coming from a really small school, I knew I didn’t want to go on to a very big school so when I learned about Mines it just felt like the perfect size and the perfect fit for me. I like that it’s a school where you get to know your professors and is a place where everyone is taking engineering specific math and sciences classes so that we can all work together to succeed. Plus, the campus is perfect!

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

Honestly, it feels pretty normal, at least for me. I feel pretty cool when I tell people that I want to be an engineer and I always get a lot of comments about how awesome it is that I’m pursuing a STEM career. I guess I grew up in a community where a woman being interested in science wasn’t a weird or unusual thing.  

 What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

Just do it! If you feel passionate about math and or science, then go for it. Don’t let the opinions of others or the male to female ratio make you doubt a STEM career. It may be hard work, but in the end it’ll pay off and you’ll be doing something you love. You’ll never have to “work” a day in your life.

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines?

After Mines, I hope to end up working somewhere in the medical field with my mechanical engineering degree. I love medicine and anything medically related but being a doctor wasn’t really the best fit for me, so I hope to be able to make a difference by engineering various different tools and products to better our healthcare.

Kim Marie Bessler

Major: Biochemical Engineering

Hometown: Schenectady, NY

Hobbies: Trail running, mountain climbing, rock climbing and cooking

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Driven
  • Passionate
  • Brave

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

I am looking forward to meeting new people, getting to know the faculty, and taking classes that are more relevant to my major.

Why did you choose Mines? 

Mines has a reputation of being tough and producing some of the greatest engineers in this country. That is exactly what I expect out of an engineering school.

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

I think it is fun. I absolutely love learning how everything, including myself, works. 

What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

Work hard because the knowledge gained is incredibly rewarding.  

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines? 

I would like to get involved with the research of clean plastics. My goal is to create a material that replaces current packaging and is able to biodegrade returning elements to the planet rather then polluting — the outcome being a carbon-zero planet. I feel a strong ethical responsibility to leave a clean planet for future generations.

Chloe Archuleta

Major: Biological and Chemical Engineering

Hometown: Arvada, CO

Hobbies: Netflix, listening to music, and organizing my room over and over and over again

Three adjectives you would use to describe yourself:

  • Stressed
  • Organized
  • Passionate

What are you looking forward to this year at Mines?

Exploring my major and meeting students and professors with the same passions as myself.

Why did you choose Mines?

Because more women need to be here!

What is it like to be a woman interested in STEM?

Amazing! I feel like I'm setting a new standard and role model for young women. I am eager to watch and help more and more women enter STEM fields.

What advice would you give to other young women interested in STEM?

Keep up your studies and work hard. Your studies and education should be your top priority and never stop fighting to be successful. Be the role model you wish you had when you were younger.

What are you dreaming about doing after Mines?

Biomedical technology research.



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

“What is it you think you’re gonna find? Boredom sets into the boring mind.”  - Lars Ulrich, Metallica

Weimer Distinguished Chair and Sedimentary and Petroleum Geology professor Lesli Wood isn’t a Metallica fan, but uses the song lyrics to explain that “life is too short to be boring or bored.”

And this Mines professor is far from boring.

Here are a few things you might not learn about Wood in the classroom.

1. She grew up in rural Arkansas where she first became interested in geology.

Wood grew up running around in the hills and creeks of central Arkansas. By the time she was a junior in high school, she already knew she wanted to major in geology at Arkansas Tech College.

“We backpacked several times through the Wind River Range in Wyoming and we camped in the Medicine Bow Mountains. I was immersed in nature and looked for an occupation that I could be in nature. I also grew up liking mysteries. Geology studies the mysteries of earth and other planets. It was the perfect science.”

2. She has a pot belly pig named Bartley.

Along with two Australian Heelers and a chiweenie (chihuahua-dachschund mix), Wood owns a pet pig. The pig named Bartley has his own Twitter account @TheMountainPig where he has more than a dozen followers and a few selfies.

“He is the ultimate miner, able to dig up a stretch of ground in record time—mostly placer mining. But I would not put it past him to don a hard hat and grab a pick, or knowing Bartley, he would be blasting.”

3. She is a singer and songwriter who has performed in four states.

Wood has played in several venues in and around Austin for the past 18 years with her band, The Spiceboys. Over the summer, the band played its fourth appearance at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Annual Convention and Exhibition in Denver.

Wood has played in music festivals in Texas and Utah, and at a bar in Massachusetts.

Recently she released the solo album, Larger than Life, which is available on iTunes.

“Just like music, geology can be boring or fascinating. It is how you present it to the audience that matters, and I enjoy that stage.”

At Mines, Wood teaches three courses: Seismic Geomorphology, Integrated Petroleum Exploration and Development and Engineering Terrain Analysis.

“I study everything from river systems and dunes, all the way down to the deepest parts of the ocean.”

Most recently, she has been fascinated with researching sea-floor landslides.

“Up to 70 percent of the fill in some of the ocean basins around the world are these huge landscape deposits. We have a lot of affect on them, not only drilling for oil and gas, but also hazards that companies create drilling in deep water. Some of the largest tsunamis that happen in the world are because of landslides that perturb the seafloor.”

Wood hopes to create increased integration between her own research in submarine landslides and that of her colleague Paul Santi, who heads the Geology and Geological Engineering Department and has immense expertise in subaerial landscapes (mountain landslides).

“I always felt like those two communities—those studying ocean landslides and subaerial landslides—could learn a lot from each other. I have already seen the fruits of that relationship. It’s going to be an opportunity to set Mines apart from some other institutions, and I’m looking forward to that.”


Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu

GOLDEN, Colo., July 23, 2015 – The development of affordable and efficient ceramic fuel cells that could be used to power homes, the culmination of five years worth of work by Colorado School of Mines researchers, is featured in the July 23 issue of Science magazine.

The research, led by Mines Professor Ryan O’Hayre, would enable more efficient use of natural gas for power generation through the use of fuel cells that convert the chemical energy of a fuel source into electrical energy close to where it is used.


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