Students

Colorado School of Mines is a uniquely focused public research university dedicated to preparing exceptional students to solve today's most pressing energy and environmental challenges.

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“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

This quote is on the wall in the office of Megan Harris, who acts as an academic advising coordinator in the Center for Academic Services and Advising (CASA). It is just one of the tips she offers Mines students who come to her with desires or requirements to raise their grade point averages.

Last year, Harris started the Bounce Back Program—an experience that gives students a concentrated academic coaching experience, providing structure, resources, accountability and support to help them achieve their goals. In addition to academic skills, the program focuses on resiliency and having the ability to bounce back from adversity.

For the past year, Harris has watched students who completed a semester of the program improve their GPA.

“We have seen whole grade changes, where students went from a ‘C’ average to a ‘B’ average,” Harris said. “As the program continues to grow, we hope this pattern of success continues.”

Harris said 60 students signed up this semester, an increase of 40 students from the semester before. She attributes the growth to expanding the program from including first year students to sophomores and juniors, and to the positive reaction from students who have successfully completed the program.

Electrical engineering student Eugene Duran went through the program last fall and was eager to share his experience with students currently in the program. Duran serves as one of Bounce Back’s peer coaches, helping facilitate weekly meetings where students learn academic skills such as time management, stress management, techniques to improve memory and test taking strategies.

Duran knows firsthand that it can be difficult to come back to school after a tough semester.

“It was through this program that I was able to earn the best grades I've ever had at Mines,” said Duran. “I had been a deficient student for a time leading up to the point where I was on academic suspension. When I came back to Mines, I attended Bounce Back because it seemed like I could learn from the program and be part of an environment where I could share my experiences with students who had faced similar academic hardship.”

Peer coaches help students like Jim Feng, a petroleum engineering student, who is participating in the program this semester because he hopes to boost his GPA by a full point. In the last month, he has already seen significant changes in his study habits and has learned how to better organize his academic responsibilities.

“It's been so rewarding to have a group of students and coaches keeping me accountable,” Feng said. “The most important thing I've learned from Bounce Back is that I am not alone and that facing my fears is the first step to success.”

Bounce Back acts as a support system for students’ goals, but the success of the program comes from students’ willingness to improve.

“If the person is committed to making a positive change for themselves, this is the place to do it,” said Harris.

Learn more about the Bounce Back Program.

 

Contact:

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

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

Sabré Cook, a sophomore mechanical engineering student at Colorado School of Mines, is the only female with a professional kart racer license and is one of four finalists (out of 15,000) who have been named to the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy and MAXSpeed Group Driver Advancement Program.

“As a driver, my engineering studies give me an advantage because I can relate things better to my team about how my car is functioning,” she said.

Cook took a year off school last year to focus on kart racing. She traveled to several countries, and was never in one place for more than two weeks at a time. Despite experiencing some of the most amazing things in her life, she said she missed Mines.

“At one point, during the summer, I went to the library and checked out an AP Calculus book. On the plane I would work through calculus problems just because I missed math."

Balancing her schoolwork with racing is difficult, but she is happy to be back at Mines. Most days of the week, she can be found at the gym where she works on strengthening her core and balance to increase her reaction time. After class or on the weekends, she trains in a racing simulator that allows her to drive life-like tracks.

She will be test-driving cars at the USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda Jan. 28 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“This will be my first time on an oval track. I’m excited for that. This is one step closer to racing the Indy 500,” she said.

Cook has been trying to move from kart to car racing since she was 16 years old. But to race cars, she needs more sponsors or more money.

“If you don’t have enough money, it doesn’t matter how good you are, you can’t really move up.”

Cook grew up in Grand Junction in a racing family. Her father, Stacey Cook, professionally raced motocross and supercross, but didn’t want his daughter exposed to the physical risks that came with that type of racing. Karting and cars were the compromise.

At age 8, she was go-kart racing against her cousins and spun out. After that incident, she drove slow for a while, receiving the family nickname, “Driving Miss Daisy.”

“One day, I was tired of getting beat by all the boys and some little boys teasing me. I went to my dad and asked for a faster kart so that I could win. After my dad gave in and I raced in a new kart, I won by 10 seconds.”

She started competitively racing at 10 years old, two years later than most of her fellow racers. Since then, she has become a six-time Colorado State Champion, a 2012 Superkarts USA S2 Semi-Pro Stock Moto champion, won two TAG USA World Championships and received a SKUSA Mountain Region title.

Last year, Cook learned about the less-glamorous aspects of racing as luck was not on her side. During a race over the summer, a driver ran over the side of her car and she was left with a concussion and destroyed kart, unable to race for a few days. In the fall, she participated as the first female in history in the FIA KZ World Cup kart championship in Sarno, Italy. She made it around the first lap before her motor blew up, and wasn’t able to finish.

On the horizon, Cook is looking forward to racing in the 2015 FIA European Championship Series in the spring. She is hoping to qualify for the World Cup in September.

After Mines, Cook would like to pursue graduate school as a F1 engineer at Oxford Brookes University in England. She is also interested in applying for an internship on a Formula 1 Team.

 

 

 

Contact:

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

Colorado School of Mines Mechanical Engineering professor Xiaoli Zhang and graduate student Songpo Li have developed a gaze-contingent-controlled robotic laparoscope system that can help surgeons better perform laparoscopic surgery.

Laparoscopy is an operation performed in the abdomen or pelvis through small incisions with a camera. Laparoscopic instruments (typically 0.5-1 centimeters in diameter) are inserted through small incisions and then operated inside a patient’s body together with a laparoscope that allows the surgeon to see the surgical field on a monitor. Unlike open surgery, laparoscopic surgeries have reduced scarring, lessened blood loss, shorter recovery times and decreased post-operative pain. But due to limitations of holding and positioning the laparoscope, surgeons struggle with physiologic tremors, fatigue and the fulcrum effect.

Zhang and Li’s attention-aware robotic laparoscope aims to eliminate some of these physical and mental burdens.

“The robot arm holds the camera so the surgeon doesn’t have to,” Zhang said, noting that the camera is controlled effortlessly. “Wherever you look, the camera will autonomously follow your viewing attention. It frees the surgeon from laparoscope intervention so the surgeon can focus on instrument manipulation only.”

Their system tracks the surgeon’s viewing attention by analyzing gaze data. When the surgeon’s eyes stop on a new fixation area, the robot adjusts the laparoscope to show a different field of view that focuses on the new area of interest.

To validate the effectiveness of this procedure, the team tested six participants on visualization tasks. Participants reported “they could naturally interact with the field of view without feeling the existence of the robotic laparoscope.”

Zhang and Li anticipate that their technologies could have more than just healthcare applications, such as being used for the disabled and the elderly, who may have difficulty with upper-limb movements.

“Using this system, the surgeon can perform the operation solo, which has great practicability in situations like the battlefield and others with limited human resources,” Li said.

In mid September, Li received the Colorado Innovation S.T.A.R.S. challenge award for “Best Technical Achievement” at the college level during the JeffCo Innovation Faire. Zhang and Li are working with clinical researchers and industry partners to commercialize their attention-aware robotic laparoscope.

 

Contact:

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

Colorado School of Mines geophysical engineering student Bradley Wilson does more than study earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. As an avid photographer, he enjoys finding ways to apply scientific concepts to his images.

Last fall, Wilson received the Blackwell Award for Excellence in Creative Expression. He used four of his photos for a “choose your own adventure” project, where he was given the freedom to produce an artistic piece connected to water.

“The photos I've selected for the piece all represent an aspect of water, although many of them in non-traditional ways,” Wilson said. “For example, the flow of the dancer mirroring the flow of water and the carving of a canyon really represent the power of water more than anything else. “

Inspiration for Wilson’s project stemmed from the McBride Honors Program’s elective, “Water in the West,” where he examined water issues in the western U.S. from several angles.  

“One of the things that stuck out to me during the class was how pervasive the water metaphor was in many peoples’ lives. As a universal symbol, the concept of water extended far beyond its physical definition.”

Water also carries a personal context, which inspired the second portion of Wilson’s piece—poems. A series of four haikus carry the reader through a father-son relationship, as the water metaphor links the photos together.

Wilson plans to pursue his Ph.D. in geosciences at the University of Arkansas, working on earthquake risk analysis in the Middle East, focused specifically on understanding hazard mitigation in differing cultural and religious contexts.

Recipients of the Blackwell Award for Excellence in Creative Expression are chosen semi-annually by faculty in the Liberal Arts and International Studies department.  Valued themes for this award include the human condition; humanity’s relationship with nature, technology, and/or science; the essence or spirit of a given culture; globalization.

 

Contact:

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

The Mines campus generously gave food and monetary donations during the fall 2014 Castle of Cans food drive, providing enough to give boxes to 45 families. Eight additional boxes of food were also donated to the Golden food bank.

Petroleum engineering undergraduate Katey Bowlby serves as the Order of Omega Honors Society social chair and spearheaded this year’s Castle of Cans event.

“It was rewarding to be able to work on this event and see the amount of food we were able to give to families in need. I was absolutely thrilled with the turnout,” Bowlby said.

During the drive, one Mines staff member gave $100 cash in an effort to give back for receiving the food assistance himself during his first few years of employment with the university.

Click the slideshow to view some of the can sculptures created by campus groups. (Photos courtesy of Katey Bowlby and Fran Aquilar.)

 

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

The College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Senior Design Trade Fair is an opportunity for Colorado School of Mines students to showcase projects that they have been working on with a client during the past two semesters. Nine teams presented their work, while judges consisting of faculty and alumni graded them on their ability to define, analyze and address a design problem and to present their work through display and dialogue.

Trade Fair Results

  • 1st Place: CSM FlightLab
    • Client: Mounir Zok, Faculty Advisor: Joel Bach, Consultant: Sam Strickling
    • Team Members: Michael Blaise, Adam Casanova, Andrew Eberle, Ryan Elliott, Kelli Kravetz and Perry Taga
  • 2nd Place: JB Engineering
    • Client: Edge of Seven, Faculty Advisor: Judy Wang, Consultants: Joe Crocker and Juan Lucena
    • Team Members: Matthew Craighead, Steven Johnson, Ali Khavari, Brian Klatt and Jasmine Solis
  • 3rd Place: AutoBots
    • Client: Jered Dean, Faculty Advisor: Judy Wang, Consultant: Jenifer Blacklock
    • Team Members: Arveen Amiri, Dorian Illing, Adriana Johnson, Keeranat Kolatat and Jennifer McClellan
  • 4th Place: SolTrak
    • Client: iDE, Faculty Advisor: Judy Wang, Consultant: David Frossard
    • Team Members: Miranda Barron, Lincoln Engelhard, Oluwaseun Ogunmodede, Brenda, Ramirez Rubio, Eric Rosing and Kevin Wagner

Broader Impacts Essay Results

  • 1st Place: Jace Warren for "The World Cup, It's Not Rocket Science"
  • 2nd Place: Aaron Heldmyer for "The Modern Renaissance Men and Women"
  • 3rd Place: Jennifer McClellan for "Engineering Modern Vehicles for First Responders"

Winning teams will receive plaques at the post-graduation banquet in December.

You be the judge. Listen to two teams present their projects at the Senior Design Trade Fair.

Senior Design Project: SolTrak

Senior Design Project: CSM Outreach Engineering

View more information about the Senior Design Program.

 

Contact:

Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator, 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

Travis Gordon attended Mines from 1989-91, leaving in the middle of his degree to enter the Marine Corps. He enrolled back at Mines this summer as a petroleum engineering student. Find out why Gordon left and came back more than two decades later.

In the spring of 1989, Gordon was recruited from Grand Junction High School to play football at Mines by former football coach and Director of Athletics Marv Kay.

“Marv Kay came to my house and sat down with my parents. Marv and my father went to school together, and even though Marv was a little older, my dad knew who he was. It was at that point, I decided to go to Mines,” Gordon said. The common bond between the former Mines alumni provided Gordon with the trust he needed in his new coach and college commitment.

In his first two years at Mines, Gordon enjoyed playing football and rugby, but wasn’t interested in the academics. He recalls a “less professional student” version of himself. Several of Gordon’s friends were in the Marines and encouraged him to try something different. Inspired by the physical nature of the Marines, Gordon left Mines to enlist in spring 1992. Soon after his enlistment began, he completed his bachelor degree and was commissioned, pursuing flight school where he was designated as a Naval Flight Officer. Over the subsequent years, Gordon progressed through the ranks until he was selected to be a commanding officer. In his 21-year military career, Gordon traveled to more than 10 countries, including Iraq where he participated in Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. 

After more than two decades in the Marines, Gordon realized that if he wanted to finish what he had started at Mines, he would have to leave the Marines.

“I decided I wanted to get out (of the Marine Corps) when I was young enough to do something else. I spent several years away from my family and I wanted to get back to be close with them.”

Gordon re-enrolled at Mines this past spring, and is currently a full-time petroleum engineering student. He chose the major due to family influence and his interest in an occupation that balanced aspects of intellectual and physical demands.

Although he realizes it might seem odd that he’s more than 20 years older than most of his classmates, he believes it keeps him young at heart.

“I am very impressed and motivated by the students here. The young men and women who are here are fully committed and know what they want to do. That’s rare to see, even for a lot of students who have graduated college.”

In the past 23 years, Gordon has seen the modernization of Mines campus, including increased access to computer labs, simulators and wireless technologies. While he’s impressed with the new buildings on campus, Gordon appreciates some of the old architecture that he remembers from his first years at Mines.

Gordon noted that downtown Golden has become “trendier” since the early 1990s, but still enjoys frequenting older watering holes, such as Ace High Tavern. “When I was here before, the Foss family businesses dominated Washington Street, now the only place I recognize from before is Ace.”

For now, Gordon is focused on graduating Mines in spring of 2016, spending anywhere from 60-80 hours on campus per week.

“I’m very happy to be here and extremely thankful to all the people who gave me an opportunity for a second chance to accomplish my goals and improve myself.”

 

Contact:

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

Mechanical engineering graduate student Songpo Li received the Colorado Innovation S.T.A.R.S. challenge award for “Best Technical Achievement” at the college level during the JeffCo Innovation Faire Sept. 12. Li’s research project, “Gaze-Driven Automated Robotic Laparoscope System,” allows surgeons to interact with the laparoscopic vision easier and more naturally using their gaze, while freeing both their hands for manipulating the surgical instruments in laparoscopic surgery.

“It was a great opportunity to demonstrate our research results to the public through the Innovation Faire, and it was also my great honor and pleasure to receive this award,” Li said. “Using this system, the surgeon can perform the operation solo, which has great practicability in situations like the battlefield and others with limited human resources.”

Submissions were awarded based on research that was "original thinking and solved a real problem."

 

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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