Buffalo Battalion cadets wait to board a Chinook Helicopter on top of South Table Mountain
Buffalo Battalion cadets prepare to board the Chinook Helicopter for a training exercise on the top of South Table Mountain.
(Photograph by Luke Brown)

100 years after the establishment of ROTC, Mines’ program remains a national stand-out.

Sixteen miles into the 2016 Bataan Memorial Death March, Army ROTC Cadet Parker Bolstad felt his quads seize up, and he collapsed to his knees. He was clad in a full military uniform and boots, a 40-pound pack on his back. The blazing sun beat down on him, and the hot desert sand of New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range made the 80-degree day feel like 100. He was dehydrated and exhausted. But when
a four-wheeler loaded
with National Guardsmen drove up to pull him off the course, Bolstad instead filled his water bottle and kept running.

Ten miles later, he crossed the finish line at a time of 8:22:09, flanked by a crowd of cheering fellow cadets who had road- tripped from Mines to run either the 13.1-mile or 26.2-mile race in commemoration of World War II service members or cheer on their comrades from the sidelines. Inspired by the experience, Bolstad, a sophomore environmental engineering student, is now training other cadets for next year’s march. In a way, he says, it illustrates what ROTC is all about.

“It’s about showing yourself what you can do when you put your mind to it, and then helping others do the same,” says Bolstad. “It’s an incredible confidence builder.”

Established by Congress on June 3, 1916, the Reserve Officer Training Corps has for a century helped students like Bolstad earn degrees at top-tier civilian colleges and universities, while gaining resilience, discipline and leadership skills members say are not often emphasized in the traditional classroom. Awarding more than $431 million annually, ROTC is among the nation’s largest grantors of scholarships. Students can earn a generous aid package in exchange for committing to military science classes and physical and combat training during school, as well as a four to eight year service commitment (either active duty or in the U.S. Army Reserve) post-graduation.

As one of the first four schools in the nation to establish an ROTC program, and, until the 1970s, one of the only to make ROTC mandatory for all students, Mines has been integral to the program since its inception, producing more Army officers (2,400 to date) and receiving more accolades than schools twice its size. As ROTC celebrates its centennial, alumni say the program is as relevant today as ever.

“If you look around at our major political parties, and Congress, and certain areas of industry, many would argue that there is a crisis of leadership in this country right now,” says ROTC alumnus Paul Dorr ’74. “There is no better place to learn how to be a leader than ROTC.”

“The West Point of the Rockies”

Three Mines ROTC cadets hold the American flag in 1925.
Mines ROTC members present the colors in 1925.
(Photograph courtesy of Prospector 1925)

ROTC was officially established at Mines in 1919, under an authorization from the U.S. War Department. But the school’s close relationship with the U.S. military dates back to Mines’ inception.

As far back as 1873, students of what was then known as the “University Schools at Golden” could be found performing military exercises on campus under the leadership of decorated Civil
War Captain George West. When Mines was officially founded one year later, the Military Department was among the first three departments established on campus.

“We have had Mines students in every war since 1874,” says ROTC University Liaison Fran Aguilar, as she tours a visitor through an office decorated with black and white photos and the retired, reddish battle ag of the 115th Engineers Regiment.

The precursor to Mines’ first ROTC Unit, the regiment was first established in 1909, making up one of the first engineering-focused infantries in the country. By August 1918, the regiment touched down in France amid the battles of World War I, where members put their combination of engineering skills and military savvy to work constructing and repairing roads, bridges and camps near the front lines.

The following year, with World War I drawing to a close, and the U.S. military eager to be prepared for future conflicts, it established an official ROTC unit at Mines, expressly to train graduates for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In the decades to come, aspiring students would refer to Mines as “The West Point of the Rockies” and generals would call the school “The backbone of the Corps of Engineers.”

“Very early on, the military recognized that the Mines graduate was a unique graduate. Our students come out of school prepared to go to work,” says Dorr, now an ROTC board member who also co-authored a comprehensive history of Mines ROTC.

A Hero Hall of Fame

Survey the roster of the Buffalo Battalion ROTC Alumni Hall of Fame (which recognizes distinguished graduates), and you find tale after tale of wartime heroics by Mines ROTC alumni:

Wendell Fertig ’24 famously refused to surrender to Japanese forces when they tried to occupy the island of Mindanao in the Philippines during World War II. Instead, he organized a successful U.S-Filipino guerilla force, installed a civilian government and built a communications network there. After the war, he came to Mines to head up the ROTC program.

Keith Comstock ’50 had already served on the India-Burma border during World War II and earned two bronze stars during the Korean War when he was commissioned to spearhead a top-secret CIA mission, Operation Gold, to build a quarter-mile tunnel on the border of East Berlin. According to press reports, the tunnel helped British intelligence officers tap into 1,200 phone lines, accessing 40,000 hours of conversations between the Soviet Union and East Germany during the early Cold War. Comstock wasn’t permitted to discuss his work with anyone, including his wife and children, until it was declassified in 2007, 52 years after it was completed.

Hugh Evans ’49 is one of the last surviving members of the
U.S. Army’s famous 10th Mountain Division which trained in the Colorado Rocky Mountains to fight on the snow-packed terrain of Eastern Europe. He was a platoon sergeant in Italy during World War II, returned to Mines to get a master’s degree and join ROTC, then served again in the Korean War. At 92 years old, he still participates in a commemorative backcountry ski trip to his wartime training ground each year. When Mines was chosen to host a 100th anniversary celebration for ROTC in April 2016, he proudly cut the cake. “You can have a narrow life, or a deep and broad life,” says Evans. “ROTC gave me depth.”

The Vietnam Era

Mines graduates’ unique engineering skills continued to play a key role in the military theater during the Vietnam years. “You go into a triple-canopy jungle and there is no infrastructure. It has got to be built. Guess who built it. Our engineers,” says Paul Dorr.

But as the war dragged on and anti-war sentiment peaked, ROTC began to fall on hard times.

Amid a wave of student and faculty protests over the U.S. military’s involvement in the Vietnam War, Harvard University expelled ROTC from campus in 1968, prompting a
host of other prestigious universities to follow suit. (Only recently has Harvard invited ROTC back to campus). At Mines, anti-war protests were less common, but a group of students did petition the state legislature to ask Mines to do away with its compulsory ROTC service. As a result, it was dropped in the early 1970s. After that, enrollment declined sharply from 768 members in 1968 to 387 members in 1974, before picking back up again slightly during the 1980s.

At one point, in 1991, the Army embarked on a plan to reduce the number of ROTC programs nationwide and pegged the Mines program for elimination, due to the school’s small size and a perceived lack of demand. But Bruce Goetz, then professor of military science, personally fought to keep the program on campus. He succeeded.

“The tradition of the citizen soldier has always been revered at Mines,” wrote Goetz, in
the biography he presented for his recent induction into the Buffalo Battalion Hall of Fame. “There rests a quiet pride in the continuation of the tradition of military science here.”

Today, Mines is part of a 13-member Buffalo Battalion, which includes University of Colorado Boulder, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and other Front Range schools. In both 2013 and 2015, the battalion earned the U.S. Army Cadet Command’s MacArthur Award, recognizing it as one of the top eight programs in the nation.

Building Leaders, From Battlefield to Board Room

A group of Air Force ROTC cadets stand in formation during the Veteran's Day ceremony in November 2015
Air Force ROTC cadets stand in formation on the Veteran's Day Ceremony in November 2015. Front row: Andrew Blaney '16, Brandon Hall, John Boswell, Adam Nelson, Mary Bell. Row 2: Timothy Kelvin, Gary North, Timothy Cranor, Kristina Gately, Scott Kumjian. Row 3: Matthew Jaszai, Steven Mohan, Heidi Logsdon, Malek Awad. Row 4: Jason Loving, Chris Campbell, Luke Laroque, Justin Dollar.
(Photograph courtesy of Mines ROTC)

Those who joined ROTC in more peaceful times also say their experience shaped their lives in invaluable ways.

Paul Dorr, a Steamboat, Colorado, native whose parents collectively made less than $10,000 annually at the time, said ROTC’s financial generosity made it possible for him to attend college. After graduating in 1974, he spent four years on active duty in Hanau, Germany, aiding in the construction of bridges, and then another 16 years in the Army Reserve. Meanwhile, he built an illustrious career as a strategic planner and entrepreneur in the mining industry.

He credits his private sector success largely to the lessons 
he learned in the military. He learned how to communicate concisely, not only with subordinates, but also with superiors and “those on your left and right.” He also learned how important
it is to take care of your employees. “I learned that you have to give people responsibility and training. But you also have to give them the authority to execute that responsibility. And then you have to hold them accountable for it,” says Dorr. “That’s true leadership, and too often it is not taught in business school.”

Janet Patev ’86 says she was attracted to ROTC because, unlike West Point and other U.S. military academies, it allowed her to get a taste of the military culture without being fully immersed in it or having to pledge right away to a post-graduation commitment. (ROTC members aren’t required to commit until their junior year).

“You could go to a [civilian] college and a few times a week put the uniform on. Most of the time, you felt like a regular student,” says Patev, who spent four years active duty post-graduation. She now works in a civilian position for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Herein lies another perk she got from ROTC.

“If you want to be hired for a federal position, being a veteran is a huge benefit,” she says. “It helped me get my job.”

ROTC Today

CPT Ryan Gibbons and Hugh Evans cut the ROTC's 100th birthday cake.
CPT Ryan Gibbons '09 and Hugh Evans '49, one of the last surviving members of the 10th Mountain Division, cut the ROTC's 100th birthday cake.
(Photograph by Kathleen Morton)

When it comes to physical training, today’s Mines ROTC company is recognized as among the most physically fit in the nation. Members rise at 5 a.m. Four to five days a week for a rigorous workout (a perfect score on the physical training tests involves: 71 pushups in two minutes, 78 sit-ups in two minutes and a two mile run in 13 minutes or less.) Many climb, ski or run on the weekends, or—as Parker Bolstad did—crank their training up a notch by heading to competitions like the annual Bataan Memorial Death March.

Unlike cadets who came before them, ROTC members today aren’t certain who the enemy is or where they will face them.

“Because the world is so chaotic, we tell the cadets they will deploy somewhere in the world, but we have no idea where,” says Aaron Roof, the current professor of military science. “There is an emphasis on not what to think, but how to think—how to handle whatever complex task they are asked to deal with.”

And those tasks aren’t necessarily on the battlefield. In recent years, ROTC alumni have touched down in West Africa to help with the deadly Ebola outbreak, South Sudan to provide food to starving children and Haiti to aid earthquake survivors.

To John Kater, a mechanical engineering senior, ROTC has been a pleasant surprise.

In high school, he envisioned himself as a theologian and saw the army and the ministry as diametrically opposed. “I envisioned myself cleaning toilets with a toothbrush like they did in the old war movies,” says Kater, who changed his mind after attending an American Legion meeting. “I didn’t realize ROTC could help me become a more competent leader and more impactful in my community.”

Since arriving at Mines, Kater has gone to air-assault school in Georgia (where he learned how to rappel out of a helicopter), own to Moldova (between Russia and Ukraine) for a language and cultural understanding program, and completed a grueling 16- day combat training camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Now as a senior, he looks forward to leading new cadets to the program. Looking back, the former “wild child” as he describes himself, says it helped him become more disciplined and responsible and changed his image of the military.

“I went from thinking of it as a band of fighters to thinking of it as a band of peacekeepers,” he says. “On occasion you have to fight to keep the peace.”

Reprinted from the fall 2016 issue of Mines Magazine, the Colorado School of Mines Alumni Magazine

Story by Lisa Marshall


Students learn about Saudi culture and history.
Colorado School of Mines celebrated the culture and traditions of Saudi Arabia on Oct. 17, in an event that included informational booths, cultural performances and cuisine and an appearance by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission’s Cultural Attaché for the U.S., Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa.
Mines students collaborated with six other student groups from across Colorado to put on the event. Petroleum engineering student Ibraheem Gazzoz embodied the excitement shared by all the organizers now that the big day had finally arrived. “We are so honored to be presenting in front of [Mines] President [Paul] Johnson and the cultural attaché—there are butterflies among other animals in my stomach right now,” he said.
Mines geological engineering student Maram Al Saif explained the concept and inspirations behind the event. “We have a lot of booths at our exhibition—they are divided into eras—our goal was to highlight how Saudi Arabia developed in such a short period of time,” she said. The booths showcased various periods of Saudi Arabia’s history, focusing on developments in education, health care, economy, sports, the roles of women in Saudi society and more.
President Johnson speaks about his experiences in Saudi Arabia and the importance of cultural events at Mines.Johnson expressed his admiration for the nation, which he had visited this past summer. “It’s amazing to see a country so invested in the development of its citizens,” he said, and emphasized the importance of cultural events such as this one to Mines. “Understanding cultures around the world is necessary for our students to be able to change the world,” he said.
With over 500 people in attendance throughout the day, the event was certainly a success. Learn more and see photos on the Explore Saudi Facebook page.

Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |
Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 |
Leah Pinkus, Communications Assistant, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |


2016 AGI Critical Issues Forum

The Payne Institute for Earth Resources at Colorado School of Mines has teamed up with the American Geosciences Institute to host a series of events on the Mines campus that focus on the High Plains Aquifer. A free film screening of “Written on Water” takes place Oct. 26, followed by the AGI Critical Issues Forum, Oct. 27-28.

Mines to host film screening and forum on High Plains Aquifer

Groundwater is often a "transboundary" resource, shared by many groups of people across town, county, state and international boundaries. Changes in groundwater resources can create unique challenges requiring high levels of cooperation and innovation amongst stakeholder groups, from individuals to representatives at the state and federal government levels.

The Payne Institute for Earth Resources at Colorado School of Mines will host two events centered around the High Plains Aquifer Oct. 26-28.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “The High Plains Aquifer, which spans eight states from South Dakota to Texas, is overlain by about 20 percent of the nation’s irrigated agricultural land, and provides about 30 percent of the groundwater used for irrigation in the country.”

Free film screening of “Written on Water”
The series kicks off with a free film screening of “Written on Water” at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at Mines’ Ben H. Parker Student Center, Ballrooms B+C. The screening will include an introduction by the film's director and producer, Merri Lisa Trigilio, followed by a question and answer session after the movie. Refreshments will be served. 

“Written On Water” focuses on the Ogallala Aquifer and examines the conflicts, politics, economics and groundwater depletion in the High Plains region. Farmers and communities survive on the precious waters of the Aquifer, yet it is being depleted at alarming rates. Learn more and reserve your seat by Oct. 18 by visiting

American Geosciences Institute Critical Issues Forum
Work by the Kansas Geological Survey indicates that some parts of the High Plains Aquifer are already effectively exhausted for agricultural purposes; some parts are estimated to have a lifespan of less than 25 years; and other areas remain generally unaffected (Buchanan et al., 2015).

The AGI Critical Issues Forum, “Addressing Changes in Regional Groundwater Resources: Lessons from the High Plains Aquifer,” Oct. 27-28, is a one-and-a-half-day meeting that will cover multiple aspects of groundwater depletion in the High Plains and will include abundant time for participant discussion. Break-out sessions will identify lessons learned and best practices from the High Plains Aquifer experience that might apply to other regions facing changes in the Earth system. Keynote speakers include:

  • Sharon B. Megdal, University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center
  • Jason Gurdak, San Francisco State University
  • Merri Lisa Trigilio, Director/Producer, “Written on Water”

Forum registration is $250; $35 for students; and $10 for Mines faculty and students with promo code: CSMWATER. Learn more, or register for the Critical Issues Forum.

About the Payne Institute at Colorado School of Mines
The mission of the Payne Institute for Earth Resources at Colorado School of Mines is to inform and shape sound public policy related to earth resources, energy and the environment. Its goal is to educate current and future leaders on the market, policy and technological challenges presented by energy, environmental and resource management issues, and provide a forum for national and global policy debate. For more information, visit

About the American Geosciences Institute
AGI was founded in 1948, under a directive of the National Academy of Sciences, as a network of associations representing geoscientists with a diverse array of skills and knowledge of our planet. AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in our profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society’s use of resources, resilience to natural hazards and the health of the environment. Learn more at

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

Over two decades after his show aired on PBS and took the ‘90s by storm, “Bill Nye the Science Guy” is still a hit among science enthusiasts, especially with the millennials who grew up watching him. On Oct. 5, Nye visited the Colorado School of Mines to speak to a sold-out crowd of students, alumni, faculty, and staff in Lockridge Arena. 
Bill Nye speaks to sold out crowd at Mines' 2016 President's Distinguished Lecture.
Bill Nye speaks to sold out crowd at Mines' 2016 President's Distinguished Lecture. Photo Credit: Agata Bogucka
“It was a childhood dream come true,” said sophomore Victoria Martinez-Vivot. Martinez-Vivot got the opportunity to meet Bill Nye prior to the talk, due to her role as MAC Co-Publicity Chair. 
Mines' President Paul Johnson, Bill Nye and Blaster the Burro in their matching bow-ties, all part of the Bill Nye official bow-tie collection.
Mines' President Paul Johnson, Bill Nye and Blaster the Burro in their matching bow-ties, all part of the Bill Nye official bow-tie collection. Photo Credit: Thomas Cooper

Nye’s talk— part of the President’s Distinguished Lecture series and kickoff to the 2016 Homecoming festivities— focused on the biggest problems facing our planet and what society, especially young people, can do to make the world a better place.

His catch phrase for the night was: “I want you guys to — dare I say it — change the world.”

Climate change sparked the conversation, but was only one element of Nye’s advocacy for “renewable and reliable energy for all”. In addition to encouraging the crowd to recognize renewable resources as the future of energy, he also dared Mines students to design the better battery and invent hydro-fusion engines for airplanes.

Fueled by his views on climate and the need to recognize the reality of our rapidly changing planet, Nye challenged the crowd of young engineers to solve the world's top three engineering grand challenges: providing clean water, renewable reliable energy and Internet access for all. He also expressed his support for space exploration.
“Space exploration brings out the best in us," said Nye. "There are two questions we all ask: Where did we come from? And are we alone in the universe?” Nye asserted that our desire to explore space illustrates the innate yearning within humankind to understand our origins, despite problems planet Earth may be faced with.
After a humorous introduction highlighting his father’s fascination with sundials and Nye’s own “MarsDials”, Nye quipped about how times have changed and reflected on his own scientific youth, including the moment he learned that there are in fact, “100 times more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on the Earth.” One of the most memorable moments of the night was Nye’s birthday call to Neil deGrasse Tyson — last year’s Distinguished Lecturer — where he invited the audience to join him in wishing Tyson a “happy orbit around the sun.” The Mines crowd could not have roared any louder.
One Mines student gave a heartfelt thank you to Bill Nye during the Q&A at the end of the lecture — “I just want to say that your plate tectonics episode is probably the reason I’m here studying geology right now, so thank you.” 
Nye is currently the CEO of The Planetary Society, continuing his legacy of teaching people of all ages the joys and wonders of science. He spent Earth Day 2015 speaking with President Barack Obama about climate change and science education. He also had a short debut on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” but had to drop out after sustaining an injury.
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |
Leah Pinkus, Communications Assistant, Colorado School of Mines 303-273-3088

Colorado School of Mines was ranked second in the nation by The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking for schools that do the best in combining scholarly research with classroom instruction.

The article, “Great Research, Great Teaching,” featured in the Sept. 28, 2016, issue of The Wall Street Journal discussed the findings of this new ranking system and recognized the top universities for their teaching excellence.

According to the article, the new ranking system “looked at how many research papers per faculty member each school produced and asked students to rate on a scale of 0 to 10 how accessible their professors were to them and to what extent the school provided them with opportunities for collaborative learning.”

“This ranking validates the uniqueness of Mines. Students and faculty working together engaged in teaching and discovery is one of the foundational qualities of our university,” said Paul C. Johnson, president of Colorado School of Mines. “This blending of our teaching and research missions is evident in the significant investments our donors and Mines have recently made in both faculty development and state-of-the-art research facilities.  It is also reflected in our hiring, which targets faculty who can successfully marry instruction with a passion for innovation and discovery.”

Mines was ranked just behind Massachusetts’ Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Correction to the article: Colorado School of Mines is a public university. 

Read the full article from The Wall Street Journal now.

Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 |
Jake Kupiec, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3067 |

Crowdfunding is the fastest growing form of fundraising on a national basis, and Mines is on the cutting edge as one of a small number of universities who have launched platforms. On October 4, the university launched its exclusive crowdfunding platform, the Gold Mine, to help students, faculty and staff bring the projects they’re passionate about to life. Four projects are live on the website collecting donations, and several more are expected to launch throughout the month of October.

Crowdfunding is online fundraising for a specific project through small gifts from a large number of contributors. “We are pleased to provide the campus community an opportunity to raise money for projects they may not have been able to get funded through more traditional means,” said Colorado School of Mines Foundation President and CEO Brian Winkelbauer. “By showcasing some innovative projects from our talented faculty and students, the Mines community can help them reach their goals.”

Current fall fundraising projects are for:

·  Building the first public restroom in a Nepalese village near the base of Mt. Everest. With the restroom, CSM Hike for Help and McBride Honors Program hope to improve the quality of life for those who live in the village and support the region’s efforts to regain lost tourism as it recovers from the 2015 earthquake.  

·  Engineering prosthetic limbs and adaptive equipment to help people with disabilities be better able to participate in sports and live life more fully. The Human Centered Design Studio at Mines hopes to help those with the will to push beyond what is expected.

·  Building a plane and funding competition costs for Mines’ American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics team. Their aircraft must be compact, robust and fast to win.

·  Competing in the international Genetically Engineered Machine competition. Biology is a relatively new area of study at Mines, and starting a team to compete will help it grow.   

Fundraising through crowdfunding is experiencing tremendous growth, with more than $34 billion raised worldwide in 2015. Last spring the Gold Mine piloted the platform featuring two student projects. Relying on outreach to their own personal networks and corporate connections, both teams exceeded their goals, raising over $10,000 and receiving gifts from 113 donors across the country.

“Crowdfunding was instrumental in getting our feet off the ground on fundraising,” said Ethan Palay, of the Mines Tiny House team pilot project. “It helped give our team credibility and was also the most effective means of communicating to my friends and family how I am spending my time, and getting them excited about my project.”

The Gold Mine is available to help academic departments, student groups, and other members of the Mines community raise money for research, service trips, projects, events, and other Mines-specific ventures. The platform is not meant for students who seek to raise tuition dollars or money for personal projects. New projects apply for launch throughout the fall and spring semesters.

Unlike most crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter or Go Fund Me, the Gold Mine delivers the money to the fundraisers whether or not they reach their goal and charges no fees, as opposed to the typical 6 to 8 percent. Gold Mine projects have the credibility of the Mines brand and teams receive personal training and coaching to help them succeed.

To learn more about crowdfunding at Mines, to support any of the student and faculty projects or to apply to fundraise on the Gold Mine, head to

Brandon Farestad-Rittel, Foundation Digital Marketing Coordinator | 303.273.3579 |
Rachelle Trujillo, Foundation Marketing Communications Director | 303-273-3526 |


Colorado School of Mines Geology PhD student Sebastian Cardona was awarded the Stephen E. Laubach Structural Diagenesis Award during the Geological Society of America’s 2016 Annual Meeting, held September 25-28 in Denver.
Cardona after receiving the Laubach award, with advisor Lesli Wood.

Cardona after receiving the Laubach award, with advisor Lesli Wood.

Cardona represented Mines’ Department of Geology and Geological Engineering at the conference with Professor Lesli Wood, his advisor and lead of the Sedimentary Analogs Database and Research Consortium.

The award promotes research combining structural geology and diagenesis, highlighting the growing need to break down disciplinary boundaries between structural geology and sedimentary petrology.
Cardona’s research exemplifies this interdisciplinary focus by integrating different data sets and methodologies such as seismic, well log, outcrops and microscopic data. His goal is to use these multidisciplinary data sets to understand the sealing properties of mass transport deposits in deep water settings. 
“Sebastian is one of many great student researchers we have in the SAnD research program who capture the integrative nature of science here at Mines,” said Wood. “I am proud of his work and the recognition he has received.”
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |
Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 |

Homecoming is an annual event that Mines students and alumni look forward to each year. This year’s festivities will be held on Oct. 5–8 and will feature new and traditional events for Orediggers to come together and show off their Mines pride. “Our theme is ‘Ignite the Night,’” said Mines Activities Council Homecoming and Outreach Chair, Cassidy Steen. “I like the idea of our alumni coming back and igniting their memories and having students come out and ignite their passions.”

One of the 2015 Homecoming Beast nominees posing with Marvin the Miner
Photo credit: The Oredigger

The festivities kick off Wednesday evening with the President’s Distinguished Lecture from none other than Bill Nye the Science Guy. “Everyone is getting so excited,” Steen said. “Bill Nye is the person they grew up with who got them excited about science.” Those who were lucky enough to win a ticket will fill Lockridge Arena located in the Student Rec Center at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

Those who won’t get the chance to attend the Bill Nye’s lecture still have plenty activities to attend, including the ever-popular Oredigger Challenge on Thursday afternoon. Students can get a team together, sign up on the MAC website and compete in field day games for the chance to win the coveted trophy. The Oredigger Challenge will be held from 4–6 p.m. on the North Intramural Fields, located across the street from the Outdoor Recreational Center.

“Everyone loves E-Days so much, and we are really focusing on making Homecoming as big of an event that gets everyone as excited,” said MAC Royalty Chair Meagan Lundgren. “I think that the bonfire is going to be a big part of that.”  When asked what she is most looking forward to this year, Steen said, “I am definitely most looking forward to the bonfire, because I think it is going to be a really unique event, and we’ve never really had anything like it here at Mines before.” On Friday evening, students, alumni, faculty and staff will get the chance to enjoy s’mores, play glow-in-the-dark corn hole, meet the 2016 nominees for Homecoming Queen and Beast and, of course, watch the “M” light up in the glow of the first-ever homecoming bonfire, which will be held in parking lot Q beginning at 8 p.m.

To ensure the bonfire is a celebratory event and to add to the excitement of the evening, Orediggers can show their support for Mines athletics and cheer on the women’s soccer and volleyball teams at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively, followed by a pep rally.

Mines students riding in a float for Homecoming 2015
Photo credit: The Oredigger 

On Saturday, rounding out Homecoming weekend is the much-anticipated parade, tailgate and football game where Mines will take on Azusa Pacific University. Students can build a float and walk in the parade or simply enjoy the show. The parade kicks off at 9 a.m. at the corner of 19th and Cheyenne. View the parade route here. The ever-popular tailgate will follow the parade in parking lot Q, located up the street from the traditional halls, where students can vote for this year’s Homecoming Queen and Beast. Football lovers can then follow the crowd down to Marv Kay Stadium at noon to watch the football game and halftime show, where this year’s Homecoming Queen and Beast will be announced.

As Homecoming weekend draws near, the focus is on bringing students and alumni together to celebrate what it means to be an Oredigger and all that is Colorado School of Mines.

Students can register for all Homecoming events on the MAC website. Alumni registration is now closed, but a full schedule events is available for attendees on the Alumni Association’s website. All attendees can also download a Guidebook app, which contains the 2016 schedule, day-of updates, giveaways and more.

Leah Pinkus, Communications Assistant, Colorado School of Mines 303-273-3088
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 |
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |


Physics student Martin Kuhnel rock climbing outdoors
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Barolak

The freedom is what Martin Kuhnel enjoys most about his chosen sport of climbing.

“There’s a million routes up there you can try, just a bunch of variations,” said Kuhnel, a sophomore majoring in engineering physics at Colorado School of Mines. “Everywhere you go, there’s a climbing gym with new and different climbs and walls, and when you go outdoors, it’s the same thing—it’s always different, and you can do it anywhere.”

But while Kuhnel simply enjoys the sport for what it is, he has also found fulfillment in competition, taking part in his first world cup events this past summer and raising money to compete in the first World University Sport Climbing Championships in Shanghai this October.

“There’s a part of me that just wants to go outdoors, have fun and see how good I am there, relative to myself,” Kuhnel said. “But there’s definitely a sense of I want to compete to get better and show how good I am.”

The 18-year-old first started climbing indoors at the age of 9 in Arizona. He joined the climbing gym’s youth team, competed in the youth circuit and ended up going to nationals.  After moving to Australia after eighth grade, Kuhnel got into outdoor climbing as well, though his recent focus on competition has kept him more indoors.

Kuhnel competes mainly in lead or sport climbing and bouldering. In lead climbing, competitors ascend taller walls with ropes and harnesses for safety; bouldering is performed on shorter walls without ropes or harnesses, with pads on the ground to protect climbers.

Kuhnel returned to the United States in 2015 to attend college, and while he says he had a hard time selecting a school, the end result now seems like the obvious choice. “I realized Colorado was the best place for me,” said Kuhnel. “It’s definitely the best place to go for outdoor bouldering and has a high density of good climbing places.”

Physics student Martin Kuhnel climbs on a climbing wall
Photo credit: Standa Mitáč

Kuhnel doesn’t have to venture far from campus to get his climbing fix—he’s co-coach of the climbing club twice a week at the Student Rec Center and trains at Earth Treks, a climbing gym in Golden. “I’ve met a lot of people there, some of whom are my best friends,” Kuhnel said.

The academic side of things has also confirmed he made the right decision. A teacher in eighth grade inspired his interest. “As I dug more into physics, I realized that this is a way of analyzing how things work in the real world, using mathematical and quantitative tools,” Kuhnel said, who is in a combined program that will earn him a master’s degree in mathematics just one year after earning his bachelor’s.

“Mines has been really good—small classes, a small, close-knit department,” Kuhnel said.  Plus, faculty and administration have been supportive of his climbing exploits.

Coming back from Australia and getting ready for his freshman year last summer left Kuhnel little time for competition, but he has certainly made up for it in 2016.

In April, Kuhnel represented Mines on the national collegiate circuit and came in second in sport climbing, qualifying him to represent the U.S. and the university in the Shanghai competition.

Kuhnel also applied to compete in six world cups and was accepted to all of them. First up was for bouldering in Vail in June, the only world cup in the U.S. “I placed 51st—not the best, but for my first world cup I was pretty happy with it,” Kuhnel said.

Then he flew to Europe for three lead climbing world cups, competing in Chamonix and Briancon in France and Villars, Switzerland, in a two-week period. After a three-week break spent in the Czech Republic, he was back at it, competing in bouldering in Munich, Germany, at the biggest world cup ever. Kuhnel placed 89th out of 140 competitors. After another competition in Imst, Austria, he flew to Colorado and was soon back at school.

“It was a really big summer,” said Kuhnel, who’s not done climbing this year.

The first World University Sport Climbing Championship takes place Oct. 12 to 16. While he’s received some funding from the Mines Foundation, Kuhnel is also raising money online for travel, registration, a Chinese visa and other expenses.

Internships will probably take priority for Kuhnel next summer, but his recent competitions have whetted his appetite for more. He’ll go back to the regular climbing competition circuit in the U.S., which runs October through January for bouldering, and just March for lead climbing, “then we’ll see if I do any world cups next summer,” Kuhnel said.

“I really want to continue the momentum.”

Support Kuhnel on GoFundMe:
Follow him on Instagram:
Read his blog:

Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 |
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 |


Mines female student talks to a recruiter at the Fall 2016 Career Day.With 232 companies and over 800 recruiters visiting the Mines campus on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, Mines’ bi-annual Career Day remains an important resource for students, graduates, alumni, faculty and staff.

Attendees met with industry representatives from fields such as civil and structural engineering, energy, environmental, manufacturing, mining, high tech, biomedical and aerospace. Many companies have been long-standing attendees at Mines career day events, but this fall also brought many new employers to Mines.  

Prior to Career Day, students were offered the opportunity to meet with employers for workshops and information sessions on resume writing, interview techniques and networking. These sessions are offered through the Career Center for the remainder of the week and throughout the academic year – students interested in attending a session can find them posted on DiggerNet (login required).

In 2014-2015, Mines undergraduates earned an average starting salary of $66,394, MS graduates $76,253 and PhD graduates $86,120. Program guides are available in the Career Center or online via DiggerNet.

View the list of participating organizations at this fall’s event.


Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 |
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |





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