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.
This is Mines.
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.
This is Mines.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | email@example.com
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
Broader Impacts Essay Results
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.
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator, Colorado School of Mines / 303-273-3088 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines / 303-273-3541 / email@example.com
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.”
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."
Petroleum engineering student Kohl Knutson has been skydiving for a year, and recently received an A license through the Accelerated Free Fall program for completing 25 jumps. After free falling in California, Colorado, Utah and Norway, Knutson is ready for a new challenge.
“When I watched someone in a wingsuit for the first time, I thought, that’s crazy. That looks like one of the most intense situations you could be in, and that’s why I want to pursue it,” Knutson said.
Knutson doesn’t peg himself as a team sport player. He was recruited to Mines on a wrestling scholarship, and valued the individuality and strength needed for each fight. As competitions became more challenging, Knutson said he felt a greater sense of reward.
Wingsuit flying would add another extreme element to skydiving. Knutson would be more constricted in a wingsuit, resulting in greater movement sensitivity in the sky. Until Knutson deploys his parachute, he’ll receive extra descent lift and be able to perform aerial tricks, both while descending much slower than he normally would be while skydiving.
“It would be just me and the sky in a very extreme situation ... I would be in the zone.”
But for now, finishing Mines in the spring is Knutson’s first priority. When he tried to skydive and work on schoolwork, he felt himself falling behind. Now he primarily jumps in the summer, and will start wingsuit flying next fall.
“If you want to do anything that’s special or different, it’s going to be hard. I don’t know of a better place that’s going to prepare me than Mines. They push you just as far as you can go.”
After graduating, Knutson will apply to the mechanical engineering master’s program at Mines and focus on wingsuit development.
“I’d like to create an improved wingsuit while I’m flying at the same time. There’s been work with a sustained wingsuit flight – one that’s built to be capable of more than just falling. I’d like to help progress the human flight dream.”
Sport: Mountain Biking
Motivated by his brother, Josh, petroleum engineering student Cory Wittwer began mountain bike riding when he was nine years old, but he didn’t start racing competitively until he attended Mines. Last year, he entered the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships and placed 8th overall, receiving sponsorships from several clothing and bike companies.
“Biking is a huge outlet for me because it’s time to myself and distance from everything else,” Wittwer said. “I’d ride everyday if I could.”
Wittwer has traveled with his bike to North Carolina, New Mexico and Utah, but enjoys living in Golden because he has access to local trails such as Chimney Gulch, White Ranch and Apex Open Space.
On the Centennial Cone trail in Jefferson County, Wittwer crashed into a deer that jumped in front of the trail, giving him a fat lip and black eye. In Durango, he saw a mountain lion sitting on a ridge 10 yards away from him. Despite these close encounters, Wittwer said his main worry has been breaking his bike. In several races, he has ridden on flat tires and damaged chains.
“In my last race, I was in second place when I broke my chain and had to go chainless. I had to run a few sections and tried not to touch my brakes on the way down to keep my speed the whole time.”
For two years, Wittwer has been racing in the A category through USA Cycling after two top five finishes, but he hopes to advance to pro. After he graduates Mines in December, Wittwer plans to work in a field related to petroleum or mechanical engineering.
Earlier this year, the Mines Campus Safety Committee set a goal to implement emergency evacuation procedures for each of the university’s academic buildings in an effort to ensure consistency in emergency preparedness campuswide.
“The main problems we see are people milling too close to the building, some wandering back in before the all clear is given by the Fire Department and we’ve even had delivery personnel enter buildings during an evacuation,” said Barbara O’Kane, director for Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS).
Students, faculty and staff from Hill Hall volunteered to be a part of a pilot program that included the use of a building evacuation team. Team members were trained to direct people away from the buildings and to a designated assembly area, keep people from re-entering the buildings, communicate updates from the fire department and answer questions from evacuees.
During a practice fire drill in Hill Hall on Aug. 27, the building evacuation team wore red vests and directed evacuees out of the building to the west side of the Green Center. O’Kane attributes the success of the drill to the clear identification on the volunteers’ vests and their ability to give straightforward directions to students and staff.
“The vast majority of evacuees went to the designated assembly area. This is huge because we now have a central gathering point where we can communicate updates to the evacuees, and evacuees can clearly identify evacuation team members.” O’Kane said.
The team developing the new evacuation procedure consists of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering professors John Chandler and Scott Pawelka, Raymond Castillo from fFacilities mManagement, David Cillessen from Public Safety, and Dick Porter and Barbara O’Kane from EHS.
After a successful pilot, the team plans to expand the process to the other academic buildings.
General Evacuation Procedures
1. Leave class/room/lab
2. Take belongings if they are close at hand
3. Encourage others to leave; close doors behind you
4. Follow exit signs and leave the building at nearest exit
5. Do not use elevators
6. Move away from the building and follow building evacuation team member’s directions to designated assembly area
7. Re-enter the building when prompted by building evacuation team member
8. Do not interfere with Fire Department; direct questions to building evacuation team member