Faculty

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The Humanitarian Engineering program at Colorado School of Mines has begun leading workshops on the issue of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the education of engineers.

Liberal Arts and International Studies professors Juan Lucena and Jon Leydens, as well as other Mines faculty, will present during the American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference in Seattle June 14-17, 2015.

Leydens will lead a session titled: “Integrating Social Justice in Engineering Science Courses.” Lucena, who is also the director of the Humanitarian Engineering program, will speak in a workshop on “Building Intentional Community Partnerships,” as well as present during the Integrating Social Justice session.

Associate Professor Jessica Smith and her colleague, Nicole Smith, presented another workshop, “Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development: Exploring Opportunities in Engineering Education,” at the Engineering Education for Sustainable Development conference held June 9-12 in Vancouver.

Both of these presentations expand on the “Corporate Social Responsibility in Extractive Industries” workshop Mines hosted May 14-15. The workshop was funded by the Shultz Family in Humanitarian Engineering and brought together leaders from various fields to brainstorm how to integrate corporate social responsibility into the education of tomorrow’s engineers.

“The workshop was exciting because we brought together people from academia, NGOs, corporations and industry to actually brainstorm CSR and how it is practiced in different places in different ways, and how we can bring those insights into our educating of engineers,” explained Lucena.

Roger Fragua, a member of the Pueblo of Jemez and president of Cota Holdings, presented, as did Will Rifkin from the University of Queensland’s Center for Social Responsibility in Mining. Professors from Stanford University and Missouri University of Science and Technology attended, as well as others from South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Australia. Corporate participants included Shell Co., Enbridge, and Newmont Mining Corporation.

One of the key insights from the workshop called for expanding the concept of corporate social responsibility beyond the moniker of corporate to include the social responsibility of individual engineers.

“A second takeaway was the issue of word choice, with some industry leaders expressing discomfort with the term “social justice” and suggesting alternatives such as “social performance” and “co-governance,” said Lucena. “Others brought up the need to expand CSR beyond just the extractive industries, to include civil engineers who aren’t necessarily working in oil, gas or mining, for example, but whose work still impacts communities. And a fourth insight centered around the issue of risk, how we educate engineers and our society in general, because pretending there are no risks involved means choosing to be naïve over being proactive.”

The Humanitarian Engineering program at Colorado School of Mines was the first in the country. A generous gift from Mines alumni, Chuck Shultz and his family, has revitalized the program, so that it now sponsors a speaker series, five Shultz scholars, and research on sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

 

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., June 10, 2015 – The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced awards totaling more than $60 million for U.S. universities including Colorado School of Mines, national laboratories, and industry, for nuclear energy research and infrastructure enhancement with the potential to create scientific breakthroughs that both help strengthen the nation’s energy security and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Three Mines physicists now hold prestigious editorships at respected physics journals. Professor Reuben Collins is editor-in-chief of Applied Physics Letters, Professor Craig Taylor is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy and Emeritus Senior Vice President John Poate is editor-in-chief of Applied Physics Reviews. All three of these journals are published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Publishing.

“Having three editors is extraordinary and speaks highly of the quality of the faculty and students at Mines and the positive trajectory of the campus in terms of its reputation in significant, scientific research,” said Jeff Squier, head of the Mines Physics Department.

To become an editor you must have a reputation of excellence at the international level, Squier said, as well as an excellent track record in service to the scientific community and a knowledge base of the scientific field that is broader than your specialty.

“Craig Taylor, Reuben Collins and John Poate exemplify these qualities and more,” Squier said. 

Collins was appointed editor of Applied Physics Letters in fall of 2014. The Journal offers "prompt publication of new experimental and theoretical papers bearing on applications of physics phenomena to all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology."

Collins earned his PhD in applied physics at the California Institute of Technology in 1985. For the next 10 years he rose through the ranks at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center before joining the Mines faculty in 1994. In addition to his role as professor of physics, he serves as associate director of the Renewable Energy Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (REMRSEC). He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, holds four patents and has published more than 130 scientific articles.

Taylor has been editing The Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy since 2008. He shares the duties with co-editor John Turner, from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It is an interdisciplinary journal covering all areas of renewable or sustainable energy that are applicable to the physical sciences and engineering communities. The journal, which is six years old, covers the widest range of topics of any AIP journal. Topics covered include bioenergy, geothermal energy, marine and hydroelectric energy, solar energy, wind energy and more.

Taylor received his bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and his PhD from Brown University. He has written more than 400 scientific papers including book chapters and review articles. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Materials Research Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers. In addition to his role as professor of physics, he serves as REMRSEC director.

Poate has been editor-in-chief at Applied Physics Reviews since 1984. He co-edits with Bill Appleton, of the University of Florida. The publication features reviews of important and current topics of experimental or theoretical research in applied physics and applications of physics to other branches of science and engineering. These articles vary from comprehensive reviews covering established areas to concise reviews covering new and emerging areas of science.

Poate, who retired from Mines in 2014 after serving as vice president of research and technology transfer since 2006, earned his PhD in nuclear physics from the Australian National University. He later headed the Silicon Processing Research Department at Bell Laboratories and is former dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society and served as president of the Materials Research Society and chair of the NATO Physical Sciences and Engineering Panel. Poate chairs the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory review committees and is on the board of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

 

Contact:
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu

 

GOLDEN, Colo., May 22, 2015 – Members of the Colorado School of Mines academic faculty have received honors for their exceptional work at the university.

Several distinguished faculty members who announced their retirement during the past academic year have been awarded University Emeritus status for demonstrated exemplary service through distinguished teaching and achievement of national and international recognition through outstanding scholarship by the Mines Board of Trustees:

A team of four sophomore students placed first (out of 41 Mines teams) in a Colorado School of Mines Intro to Mechanical Engineering (MEGN200) Wind Station Competition May 5. The team, Stormtroopers, had 2.5 weeks to design, build and program a weather station that was capable of measuring wind speed, temperature and two variables of their choice. Mechanical Engineering students Geordie Campbell, Aaron Fanganello, David Harper and Alicia Helmer created their system with a Star Wars theme, using Legos and an innovative homemade sensor.

“The Stormtroopers used every sensor that was provided to them and purchased additional Arduinos and sensors to use as well,” said Teaching Associate Professor Jenifer Blacklock. “They were very energetic and knowledgeable about their system, and it was clear that they had worked hard and spent numerous hours designing, building and programming their final wind station.”

To measure wind speed, the team 3D printed an anemometer (or windmeter) that they fixed on a rotor shaft of a remote controlled helicopter.

“At the base of the helicopter, we had two brush connections—one that made constant contact and one that made an interrupted contact. This allowed us to count the number of times the circuit was completed and convert that into wind speed,” Campbell said. “We measured temperature in conjunction with a new digital barometric pressure sensor, a BMP 180 chip.”

The top three to four teams from each section of the course were invited to compete in the Wind Station Competition, and were judged by faculty, ME undergraduate and graduate students on four main qualifications: a technically advanced system, appropriate user feedback, creativity and overall aesthetics. Students on the winning team received a $50 gift card to SparkFun, an electronics store.

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

Kathleen Smits is a Civil and Environmental Engineering assistant professor at Colorado School of Mines. Smits has been interested in the environment from an early age and her interest for engineering grew as she advanced throughout her college career, but there are some things about Smits that you might not have known.

1. She is currently a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves

Smits was on active duty in the Air Force for eight years; for three years, she taught at the U.S. Air Force Academy in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Currently she is an operations research analyst in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, working part time at U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

“At Mines I study current and emerging environmental problems that are of interest to our nation and the world using both analysis and experimentation. In the Air Force, I do the same thing for different problems and applications. A lot of the understanding and training that I have from being a scientist directly applies to what I do in the military.”

2. She has been scuba diving 150 times

As one of her first jobs out of college, Smits worked with the National Aquarium in Baltimore to help replant eelgrass in the Chesapeake Bay, a job requiring lots of underwater time. 

Since then, Smits has been on several scuba diving trips, mostly in the Caribbean but also in Japan and Hawaii.

Smits also enjoys sailing with her family, starting trips either in Lake Michigan or the Grenadines Islands.

“I love every minute I’m either in or under the water, which is ironic because even though I study water, I focus mostly on water availability in dry, arid regions.”

3. She’s lived all over the place

Smits grew up in Pennsylvania and went to high school in Illinois. She studied Environmental Engineering as an undergraduate student in the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado and then studied Civil Engineering–Water Resources at the University of Texas in Austin. While in the Air Force, Smits deployed to a military base in Saudi Arabia for about six months and lived in both Virginia and Colorado.

“When I came to Mines to do my PhD, I realized that I really love teaching but I equally love the research. That’s why I wanted to work and contribute at a university like Mines that has both a research and teaching focus.”

4. She loves running and has a top three list of the most beautiful places to run:

  • Zion National Park, Utah

    Since high school, Smits has been an avid runner. Whenever her family took her to a national park for a vacation, she didn’t hesitate to use it as an excuse to go running.

  • Nakuru, Kenya

    “There are giraffes and chimpanzees all over the roads that I had to dodge to run down the street. If you run in a straight line, you’ll hit a large animal!”

  • Diablerets, Switzerland

    During a research conference in a small, ski town in the Swiss Alps, Smits went for morning runs along a river that runs from the glaciers through the town.

    “Where the path ends, there is a road that passes by all the farms with the sheep and cattle to keep you company. What a beautiful place!”

5. Her favorite hobby is photography

Smits started taking photos regularly seven years ago when her daughter, Elizabeth, was born. Now Elizabeth is immune to her mom taking photos and poses regularly when Smits has her camera around.

Smits also enjoys playing around with Photoshop to make her photos appear different than the original.

“I also water color to get the other side of my brain work.”


Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Kathleen Smits has been teaching at Colorado School of Mines for three and a half years, but began her journey at Mines in 2007, when she was a PhD candidate. Smits currently teaches Hazardous Waste Site Remediation, Fluid Mechanics and Environmental Pollution.

Smits is working with fellow CEE professor Tissa Illangasekare on studying natural gas leakage from oil and gas production into the environment. She is also one of two Mines recipients of the 2015 NSF CAREER Award, in which she aims to advance the science and education of land surface-atmosphere interactions.

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

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 citl.mines.edu.

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.

 

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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