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.
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
Thirteen-year-old Jaden is a Colorado native and is starting his freshman year at Mines this fall majoring in applied mathematics and physics.
From a very early age, it was clear Jaden was a gifted child. He was reading proficiently at 15 months, working on multiplication and division problems at 2 years old, and by age 9, Jaden had completed the middle and high school core content. He started taking classes at Mines when he was 11.
Q. What was your experience like in elementary school?
When I was 6 years old, I was at a higher grade in math and some of my other subjects. That’s the first time I was aware my math was at a different grade level. To meet my scope of learning, most of my subjects were delivered with a teacher one-on-one or online, which is where I took high school math during third and fourth grade.
Q. Why did you choose Mines?
I chose Mines because of the interesting classes offered, and I knew Mines had accepted two, highly gifted younger learners in the past. One of them being Santiago Gonzalez, who is 16 years old and graduating this December. Santiago attended elementary school previously with me.
Dr. Willy Hereman, Dean of the Mathematics Department, gave me the opportunity to take Calculus I. For the first time, I learned a new subject area with the pace and depth I needed. With so many courses at Mines being group based, this was one of my favorite experiences at Mines. This cooperative learning was something I never had till now and I love the synergy with other students.
Q. What classes are you taking this semester?
I’m taking Chemistry 2, Linear Algebra, C++, CSM 101 and Biology. I’ve never taken five classes (two with a lab) before.
Q. What will your daily schedule be like?
Typically, I will have four or five classes back to back. I will come on campus around 9:30 a.m. and leave around 3 p.m. My on-campus time is a little more limited because we commute and need to take my younger sister to her school and pick her up.
Q. What’s it like being younger than your classmates?
My classmates don’t really care about my age. Being younger doesn't matter when having normal conversations on common topics with friends.
Q. What will you major in at Mines?
I currently declared an applied math and physics double major, but I’m aiming for a triple major in applied math, physics and chemistry. There are many real life situations that involve chemistry and physics (and math underlies everything), and I always like to learn the new elements that have been discovered.
Q. What are your hobbies?
I like playing piano, tennis and golf. I also enjoy playing card games, especially bridge. I am interested in astronomy and the nuclear reactions that create new atoms from ones originally present.
Q. What do you want to do after you graduate Mines?
I might be a mathematics or science professor. I would like to get a PhD from Mines and teach here. I could also be some sort of scientist.
This story appears in the 2014-15 issue of Mines' research magazine, "Energy & the Earth."
Water and oil don’t mix. With oil and gas production and water, it’s quite the opposite.
Getting at the unconventional oil and gas reserves at the heart of America’s energy boom can take millions of gallons of water per well before the first hydrocarbons emerge. One estimate puts the hydrologic demands of the 80,000 wells in 17 states drilled since 2005 at more than 250 billion gallons. That’s three times the volume of Denver Water’s Dillon Reservoir.
Yet in the western United States and elsewhere, geologic “accident” has placed some of the most promising unconventional oil and gas reserves below parched landscapes.
Mines researchers are at the forefront of enhancing our still-nascent understanding of this modern story of oil and water, and more broadly in the development of new ways to boost freshwater resources in an era of rising demand and growing scarcity.
ConocoPhillips’ recent $3 million gift to establish the new Center for a Sustainable WE2ST (Water-Energy Education, Science and Technology) is the latest testament to Mines’ strengths in water.
The idea is to focus on a single formation such as the Niobrara, taking a comprehensive look at the complex technical and social interdependencies of oil and gas development and limited water resources. Professor John McCray, head of Mines’ Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, describes a wide-ranging effort, involving remote sensing and hydrological models to map out water sources and the tools of geochemistry, hydrology, microbiology and environmental engineering to develop ways to clean up the water that emerges from the depths during oil and gas operations. The work also will involve a strong social-sciences component led by Mines anthropologist Professor Jessica Rolston, McCray said, to help define ways to communicate the actual risks of unconventional energy development and get energy companies, regulators and the public on the same factual page.
“It’s a partnership with ConocoPhillips that can break new ground, and one that doesn’t exist outside of this center,” McCray said. “We want to come out and be the honest broker.”
Education is a key component of the ConocoPhillips center, said Associate Professor Terri Hogue, who is directing the new center. A big part of the budget will go to fellowships for 15 to 20 masters and PhD students, she said, in addition to 10 undergraduate fellowships each year. The center will attract top-notch talent all focusing on the nexus of water resources and energy development.
Professor Tzahi Cath is among those at Mines already at work at that confluence. Cath directs Mines’ Advanced Water Technology Center (AQWATEC), which is developing a range of water-treatment technologies. This spring, the masters students in Cath’s Environmental Engineering Pilot Lab course were studying if adding an inky slurry of activated charcoal to the city of Golden’s water treatment process might help remove the organics that have spiked in reservoirs along Colorado’s Front Range after the 2013 flood. A green garden hose snaked from a tank in the bed of the AQWATEC pickup parked on the sidewalk outside Coolbaugh Hall. It fed a bench-scale model of Golden’s water treatment plant, its upper tanks full of fluid like curdling apple cider. If it worked here, they would test the activated charcoal in a Mines pilot plant housed in the treatment facility itself and, assuming the city adopts the approach, would help with the transition to the full-scale plant.
“Usually, the city adopts our recommendations,” Cath said.
A bit downhill, in AQWATEC’s space in Mines’ General Research Laboratory, PhD student Bryan Coday was working near several hip-high plastic drums, some encrusted with salt (they’re for a project testing new ways to extract valuable potassium sulfate from the Great Salt Lake).
Others contained produced water from hydraulic fracturing operations, and Coday was working on a system to cleanse it using low-pressure osmosis and flat-sheet polymeric membranes. To the touch, the membranes felt like high-end wrapping paper, but in practice is a very sophisticated material. The system uses salt water to attract clean water from the deep-brown produced water across the membrane, which retains contaminants.
“Produced water is difficult to treat because of the hydrocarbons and complex organic compounds, plus high salinity,” Cath said. Mines environmental chemist Professor Christopher Higgins is working with Cath to identify just what chemicals from the different samples of produced water cross the membranes, and how they can improve the process to produce even drinking-quality water from produced water.
A test system had performed well enough that Coday and research assistant Mike Veres were now in the midst of building a pilot-scale system. “Harnessing the natural chemical energy of brine as the driving force for wastewater treatment has its advantages,” Cath said. “Such systems are mechanically simpler, take less energy, and are easier to clean because the grime hasn’t been rammed into filter pores as happens with high-pressure systems.”
If some combination of low-pressure filtration and microbial treatment (another AQWATEC project being tested across the lab in columns of activated carbon next to the AQWATEC aluminum boat) can economically bring produced water to the high standards of municipal wastewater treatment, the benefits are hard to miss. Water locked up two miles below could be released into streams in drought-prone regions, actually boosting the water budget. And oil and gas operations could reuse some portion of this new resource in their hydraulic fracturing operations. Coday is enthusiastic.
“It’s a great opportunity to work on a project where industry is moving at such a quick pace on the energy side, on the water side and on the regulatory side,” he said.
Another major project has a similarly sweeping purview, but pertains to urban water use. Since 2011, Mines has teamed with Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley and New Mexico State University on a 10-year, $40 million effort that aims to transform how cities in the arid West use and reuse water. The program, called Re-Inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), is the first National Science Foundation-funded Engineering Research Center to focus on water issues.
McCray, who leads the Mines effort, said a dozen Mines faculty are leading or working on some 20 ReNUWIt projects. Hogue is spearheading an effort involving several Mines colleagues to determine the potential impact of August 2013’s 257,000-acre Sierra Nevada Rim Fire on water supplies to San Francisco and surrounding counties. Cath’s team is refining a portable, commercial-scale sequence batch membrane bioreactor that has proven its mettle with the wastewater from the apartments at Mines Park – capable of producing drinking water from domestic wastewater. Mines professors Tissa Illangasekare and Kate Smits lead a project that is developing technology to allow underground aquifers to treat and store water and then re-use it rather than letting it escape downstream. They are researching the use of sensors that provide real-time feedback on system performance, so decisions can be made to improve operation efficiency. Mines Associate Professor Linda Figueroa is working with the Plum Creek Wastewater Authority south of Denver on a pilot-scale system using anaerobic wastewater treatment. The system has been in operation for 1.5 years and has reduced more than 40 percent of the influent organic matter without the expense of oxygen (unlike traditional aerobic methods) and, as a bonus, produces energy while it cleans wastewater.
As with the ConocoPhillips center, ReNUWIt involves a heavy social science component. That’s because, for all the technological capabilities on display at Mines, the biggest challenges facing smarter water systems may reside between our ears. People just don’t like the idea of drinking reclaimed water (in Singapore they call it NeWater), McCray said, even though that’s what the South Platte River really is. Collectively, such apprehensions coalesce into powerful social and political barriers.
“They’re by far the biggest hurdles to clear if we’re going to have any change in the way we develop our infrastructure,” McCray said.
Mechanical engineering professor Ozkan Celik and two Mines students have designed a robotic exoskeleton, named the Wrist Gimbal, which would assist stroke patients to complete repetitive movement therapy tasks. Based on a previous model Celik designed, this new robotic device focuses on two rotational degrees of freedom and would cost less than $5,000.
Robots have degrees of freedom, otherwise known as joints that enable their movements. Each revolute joint creates one rotational degree of freedom. As the team decreased the degrees of freedom from three to two in the new device, they used more balanced and robust materials and created an improved intuitive visual interface.
“The degree of freedom we eliminated was wrist abduction and adduction—which has the smallest range of motion among the three,” Celik said. “Also, exercising wrist flexion and extension can be expected to benefit abduction and adduction as some muscles are involved in both movements.”
Since wheelchairs are not uncommon for stroke patients, the team developed a robotic exoskeleton that a stroke patient could be strapped into while seated. Patients would hold onto the device and use wrist movements to complete assessment exercises that would determine their maximum range of motion. The robot applies force to aid or deter movements, and records responses in particular tasks.
“The device provides motivation,” Celik said. “Our game-like interface exerts assistive forces to stimulate patients and prompt them to complete exercises with assistance.”
Senior mechanical engineering student and president of Robotics Club David Long worked on the mechanical design and 3D printed, machined and laser cut several of the parts of the device and specialized in the robot’s control system.
“Feedback control is one of those classes I took last semester that I didn’t think I was going to use much. Then suddenly, that’s all I did all summer and it was great because when you see something theoretical like that and apply it in practice, it really gives you a lot of faith in course work,” Long said. “I am going to be using it for a long time.”
Graduate mechanical engineering student Hossein Saadatzi is currently working on the kinematics and dynamics of the device and developing an active gravity compensation method that would allow the robot to provide more accurate force feedback.
“In my graduate study, I wanted to improve my skills in practical and experimental work,” Saadatzi said. “I chose biomechatronics because I can apply my knowledge to help patients get better.”