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Imagining cookie crumbs as dirt and gummy worms as organic matter, Colorado School of Mines students introduced elementary school students to the concept of oil and gas formation in one of several science demonstrations held during the 6th Annual Math & Science Night at Shelton Elementary on Nov. 4.

Mines students had a large presence at the math and science expo: The Water-Energy, Science and Technology (WE²ST) Center ran nine stations and several other Mines student organizations also participated. Shelton’s Math & Science Night provides parents and students a fun, engaging and hands-on learning environment with the goal to get students excited about math and science.

Karen Brown, principal of Shelton, attributed the success of the program to the participation of Mines students. “We are so thrilled to have built a partnership with Mines and its students,” said Brown.

“Since its inception, Shelton’s Math and Science Night has always been well attended because of the expertise and fun the Mines students, as well as other presenters, bring to the table,” Brown continued. “They are also great role models for our students.”

According to Andrea Blaine, assistant director of WE²ST, “one of the strongest aspects of WE²ST’s participation was our ability to establish a meaningful connection between Mines and the larger community. Our presence at the event allowed us to educate children and adults on important current environmental topics, such as water and energy, in a non-threatening, fun atmosphere.”

In addition to the edible “fossil fuels” demonstration, students used a four-foot square model to see the paths of water within a watershed and community at the EnviroScape station and received hands-on experience learning about osmosis, the properties of gasses, aquifer sand tanks, and water use in the U.S. compared to other countries.

“It really is fantastic and wonderful that Shelton offers this type of thing,” said Alison Bodor, a Shelton Elementary School parent, who complimented WE²ST in particular on their organization.

Mines Blasterbotica Team, dressed like cowboys for the event’s Wild West theme, also had a large number of participants. They demonstrated how robots could be used for mining in space exploration.

Mines’ Nao robot, “Gold,” was a star attraction for the children. Mechanical Engineering Professor John Steele encouraged his student Steven Emerson to participate and showcase the robot.

“She was a big hit. The kids seemed a little awestruck when she did her choreographed demo,” Emerson said. He also noted that teaming up with the Mines Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) chapter helped, as they provided other demos that allowed the robot time to cool off between groups of children.

Mines Society of Geophysicists, Society of Physics Students, Society of Women Engineers, the Integrated GroundWater Modeling Center at Mines, and the Re-Inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt) Research Center also set up hands-on learning demonstrations for the students of Shelton Elementary School.


Deirdre Keating, Information Specialist, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 |
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 |

Colorado School of Mines recently celebrated the grand opening of the Starzer Welcome Center at the corner of 19th and Illinois streets, named for Michael R. and Patricia (Patty) K. Starzer ’83, who gave a $4 million gift for construction of the building. It is the new home for the Colorado School of Mines Office of Admissions, Foundation and Alumni Association.

The Starzers say they attribute school, family and faith to their personal and financial successes. It’s also where they place their contributions.

Their gift and the story of their financial successes dates back more than 100 years and involves the man that Stratton Hall was named after.

Patty tells it best in this story she shared during the building’s ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Nov. 2:

“In the mid 1860's, there was a young man living in the midwest who dreamed of striking it rich prospecting in the Wild West of Colorado. He followed after and prospected with another enterprising young man named Winfield Scott Stratton.

This young man ventured off to seek his fortune with Stratton and others in their prospecting party in the Colorado Mountains, leaving Justina Reichuber-Starzer, his wife at home.

After long, lonely months of prospecting with nothing to show for it, the young man decided to stick it out a little longer than he and his wife had agreed and prospected a few more months. Still not finding his fortune, he decided to return home to his wife, while he still had a wife. He knew she would be miffed, so he purchased a peace offering for her in hopes that she would forgive him for being away so long and coming home poor. Upon returning home to Justina, he presented the peace offering. The story is that while his wife indeed welcomed him home, she flatly refused to accept the gift—which she viewed as very expensive at the price of their savings.  

Stratton, however, stuck it out and in July 1891 staked what became the Independence Mine near Cripple Creek. Stratton became not only rich, but was very generous. He was appointed to the Colorado School of Mines Board of Trustees in 1899. In 1900, Stratton presented a check for $25,000 to Regis Chauvenet to benefit the school. This was the first sizable philanthropic gift to Mines. The money was applied to construct Stratton Hall, completed in 1904, which still stands on our Mines campus today. Unfortunately, Stratton passed away in September 1902 and did not see the completion of the building that bears his name.

So how did I hear of the young man’s story? About one and a half years ago, Mike and his mom, Marilyn, and I were discussing the history of Mines and the various buildings on campus, and the need for the Welcome Center as a starting point for prospective students and their parents. When we mentioned Stratton Hall, Marilyn began questioning us about Winfield Scott Stratton and the timeframe of his involvement in the Colorado gold and silver rush and Mines. She then shared with us this story told to her by Mike’s grandfather, Joseph Francis Starzer, about Joseph’s grandfather prospecting in Colorado with Winfield Stratton and others in the prospecting party.

The story and the peace offering were passed down four generations, beginning with Mike’s great, great grandfather, that prospector from Kansas, Xaver Starzer, who wore the ring himself on his pinky because his wife, Justina, refused to accept it. This same ring I am wearing today.

Today—111 years later—we celebrate the opening of the Starzer Welcome Center on the same campus as Stratton Hall. I feel like we have come full circle and wonder what the two young prospectors would think if they were here today. We are privileged to be a part of Mines history and hope that many generations to follow will be blessed as well.”

Other major donors to the building include David and Marti Wagner (East and West Board Rooms), the Patrick M. James Family (Heritage Lounge) and Howard and Cherine Janzen (Executive Conference Room). Supporters include: Heather Boyd, The Galena Foundation, William Jr. and Jann Klett, Linda Landrum, Ronald and Judy Lease, and William and Kyle Neidt.



Kathleen Morton, Digital Media & Communications Manager / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

Santiago Gonzalez, a graduate student in computer science, started his undergraduate degree at Mines in 2010 at the age of 12. He is currently teaching the Mines course, Operating Systems, and getting ready to defend his thesis in November. Gonzalez is set to finish his master’s degree in December 2015.

We asked Gonzalez about his experience at Mines, what it's like to teach a 400-level course and what he plans to do after he graduates.

Why did you choose Mines?

It’s more that Mines chose me. I got in contact with Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor Tracy Camp who is my advisor. She invited me to apply and come to Mines. Everything ended up working out really well.

Did anything surprise you about Mines after coming here?

I was super happy to be with a group of people that thought like me, very scientifically-minded and nerdy.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

I’m not sure it’s as much a favorite spot as it is where I have to get my work done on campus, but the SINE (Sensing Imaging and Networking) lab in the Brown Building. It’s where I’m doing work for my thesis and getting it ready for my defense Nov. 16.

I spend about 30 hours a week there.

What else are you doing aside from defending your thesis and getting ready to graduate this December?

I’m taking a class this semester called Distributed Computing Systems with Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Associate Professor Qi Han.

I’m teaching CSCI-442 Operating Systems (OS), which is one of the computer science undergrad classes. That should keep me pretty busy.

Also, my advisor and I are thinking of publishing a paper from the results from my thesis.

What has been the best thing you’ve experienced at Mines?

I’ve really gotten an understanding of exactly how computers work and why they work the way they do. It’s not really just some magic box that does stuff when you type things in the keyboard. I think that’s one of the really cool things that has happened here.

What was your favorite project at Mines?

For my thesis, I had to develop some new geophysical sensing mote (hardware) for the SmartGeo research group.

Right now for Distributed Computing Systems, my partner and I are building a simulator to validate different computer systems in high radiation environments in space. We’re simulating a spacecraft around some body and all the different subsystems you would have like reaction wheels. We had an idea for how to make the spacecraft computer systems much more resistant to radiation without having to use any super fancy expensive hardware, just using redundancy with commercial systems. Probably a larger project than we should have chosen for that class, but it’s fun.

How did you choose that project?

The class is studying how to get a network of computers to accomplish some goal. So that goal could be storing data across a large number of computers so that it’s more reliable. Or in our case: spreading computation across several systems to make it more resistant to radiation. We were discussing a bunch of ideas and this evolved out of the discussion.

What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced at Mines?

Physics I was so difficult. It’s a very demanding class. Conceptually, the material is pretty understandable. Physics I is basically mechanics—how things move given a system of things. If I have this book and I tilt it, how long will it take for something to slide down it? But then you start getting into the math and all of the work—it’s just a lot of work.

There’s definitely been tons of challenges, but nothing so insane that you couldn’t overcome it with tons of work.

How did you get involved in teaching?

Dr. Camp has been the professor who taught OS for the past decade here at Mines. She was busy with other work this semester, so she’s teaching another class this time. She invited me to teach the course, and thought it would be a fun experience for me.

What’s it like standing in front of the class instead of sitting as a student?

It’s really different. It’s interesting how different things are. You notice a bunch of things you wouldn’t notice otherwise.

I remember on the first few days, everything seemed super quiet so you try to talk faster to make it less quiet. It’s really interesting.

It’s really cool seeing how when you explain something, suddenly some students understand the material and they’re like, “Oh, OK!” Just being able to see them understand the material is really cool.

Do you think it makes you a better student having that other perspective?

It definitely makes me appreciate it more.

What’s your favorite thing about teaching here at Mines?

Since I’ve been teaching OS, I’ve changed the curriculum and projects a little bit. It’s fun thinking of new projects that students can do that will both be challenging and fun while still relevant to the class.

How do you balance teaching and schoolwork?

It’s one of the things I thought would be easier. It’s actually kind of challenging. You could devote so much time to the class, but ultimately you have to set a stopping point. Because you could either completely change everything (the entire curriculum) and that would take a really long time and you wouldn’t have time to dedicate to other things. But in general, I think I found a good balance.

If you could offer advice to a new student, what would you say?

Make sure you understand calculus because it will come up everywhere, even when you least expect it.

Persevere through everything. Mines is definitely demanding. Make sure you’re on top of everything instead of putting things off until the end. Just keep a good pace throughout the semester.

What are you up to this summer? Tell us about it.

I’ll be interning in a development position with Apple from January through August. I got the internship through someone that I met at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference this past summer. I was planning on applying anyway, but I got offered the internship. So that was cool, not having to worry about that.

What are your plans after Mines?

I will be pursuing a PhD, and am working on applications right now. My top two choices are MIT or Stanford. They are some of the best engineering universities in the world for computer science.

I know I don’t want to become a professor, but I’d like to work in industry. I’m not sure what I’d be doing; I haven’t thought that far ahead. It would be cool to work at SpaceX or something like that.



Kathleen Morton, Digital Media & Communications Manager / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

Chemical and biochemical engineering students Corey Brugh and Mallory Britz are leading 32 freshmen as part of new themed-learning community, Engineering Grand Challenges. Incorporating elements of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges Scholars Programs at universities across the country, Brugh came up with the idea when he was brainstorming a living experience that would encourage students to be more innovative.

“This community gives students the unique opportunity to explore social justice and engineering in a creative way that inspires future engineers to use their expertise to help others,” said Brugh.

Teaching Associate Professor Stephanie Claussen, along with Brugh and Britz, attended the invite-only Global Grand Challenges Summit in Beijing in September. The summit, sponsored by the NAE, the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), and the Royal Academy of Engineering, focused on themes from the NAE Grand Challenges, such as sustainability, energy, and infrastructure. There was also a business competition where student teams pitched ideas focused on the grand challenges.

“I think it was beneficial for our students to see the international momentum around these grand challenges,” Claussen said. “They also got to meet a lot of students from other universities who are doing this. That was a huge thing—creating this community and shared conversation around what’s important and what they’re working on.”

Currently, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Kevin Moore, is working with Claussen, Brugh and Britz to draft a proposal for a student-run Grand Challenges Scholar Program at Mines. The program will combine curricular and extra-curricular activities with five components designed to prepare students to be the generation that solves the grand challenges facing society in this century. If students achieve the five requirements to be such a scholar, they will receive a certificate from the NAE upon graduation.

Liberal Arts and International Studies (LAIS) Teaching Assistant Professor Olivia Burgess and Teaching Associate Professor Alina Handorean are co-teaching a pilot course that focuses on one of the Grand Challenges: “Providing Access to Clean Water.” Twenty-eight freshmen are currently enrolled in a LAIS 100-level course that integrates Nature and Human Values with EPICS I. Next spring, these students will advance to an integrated EPICS II with a Human Systems course.

Across Kafadar Commons, LAIS Adjunct Professor Mateo Munoz is teaching 18 upper-level students in a new course, “History of Innovation: Engineering Grand Challenges in Historical Perspective.”

“Throughout the course, we move back and forth between historical case studies and a critical engagement of the challenges and opportunities facing engineers of the future. The innovative process is explored and we learn how to identify opportunities for innovation along intellectual and technical lines,” Munoz said.

These two courses further Mines’ commitment in the spring to advance programs that support the grand challenges concepts. In March, Mines and more than 120 U.S. engineering universities committed to a White House initiative dedicated to educating a new generation of engineers equipped to meet the grand challenges of today and the future. Their commitment was unveiled at the 2015 White House Science Fair.

“Historically, back when I was younger, people became engineers and scientists because they liked math and science in school,” said Moore. “But we see lots of people today picking math and science fields as careers because they altruistically want to make a difference. These programs provide students the opportunity to be impactful and to make a difference in the workplace.”

The National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges identified 14 sets of opportunities for engineering in the 21st centuryfrom making solar energy economical to reverse-engineering the brain and more. Many of the challenges overlap with areas of research already active at Mines.



Kathleen Morton, Digital Media & Communications Manager / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

On Sept. 30, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson visited the Colorado School of Mines campus to speak to a sold-out crowd of students, alums, faculty, staff and community members in Lockridge Arena.

“This has got to be the geekiest audience I've ever seen; I’m not holding back,” Tyson said at the beginning of the night.

Tyson’s talk, part of the President’s Distinguished Lecture series and a kickoff to the 2015 homecoming weekend, was centered on “Astronomy Bizarre”— a grab-bag of unusual objects, phenomena and ideas in the universe. He included recent NASA images indicating evidence of salt water on Mars, and reminded the audience of Pluto’s status as a planet.

“We all thought Pluto was just trying to be a victim of its environment with craters and stuff that happened to it. But if you have mountains that means you’re doing something from within. You’ve got some action of your own,” Tyson said. “But regardless of all this, it’s still a dwarf planet; get over it.”

Tyson dropped “knowledge eggs” on the crowd, including his love of black holes.

“The Earth wants to kill us! So does the universe,” Tyson said. Later he added, “The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”

Recently Tyson served as executive editor and on camera host and narrator for “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey," the 21st century reboot of Carl Sagan's landmark television series. Tyson is the fifth head of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City and the first occupant of its Frederick P. Rose Directorship. He is also a research associate of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.


2015 Neil deGrasse Tyson


Kathleen Morton, Digital Media & Communications Manager / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

GOLDEN, Colo., Sept. 23, 2015 – Colorado School of Mines will celebrate Homecoming and Alumni Weekend Sept. 30-Oct. 3.

Events include a spirit rally on Kafadar Commons from noon to 2 p.m., men’s soccer at 5 p.m. and women’s soccer at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 2.

On Oct. 3, the homecoming parade begins at 9 a.m., and Mines Football vs. New Mexico Highlands begins at noon at Marv Kay Stadium.


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