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.

Visit student Laine Greaves-Smith in his garage, and you will find him buried in an assortment of sprockets, gears, pipes, bearings, aluminum, steel and transmission chains. He is using recycled car parts to create functional art pieces, such as a chandelier, table, lamp or vase. Instead of heading to a furniture store, Greaves-Smith, who is studying both mechanical and electrical engineering, sifts through his garage for inspiration and begins stacking and welding pieces together until he creates a design.

“It’s important for engineers to look at problems differently than how they’re taught in class,” said Greaves-Smith. “I get enough numbers in classes, so this helps me de-stress and use my hands.”

Greaves-Smith originally attended Webster University for technical theater design but transferred to Mines because he “missed the challenge of advanced courses.” However, some of his most rewarding experiences have occurred outside of class.

When Greaves-Smith was constructing a battle axe, he teamed up with Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Teaching Associate Professor Gerald Bourne to study the best way to strengthen the steel. In Bourne's lab, Greaves-Smith created micrographs of the treated and untreated steel to analyze the internal structure of each sample.

This past fall, he collaborated with Mechanical Engineering Teaching Associate Professor Robert Amaro to determine the best bearings for all seven moving parts of a table he was constructing. He then worked in the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences machine shop in Brown Hall to fabricate the precision parts required for the design. 

“I enjoy using car parts because there are so many beautifully engineered and crafted components inside a car that most people never see,” said Greaves-Smith. “By putting these components out in the open as art, more people can appreciate the craftsmanship of each piece and that of my assembly.”

In April, Greaves-Smith received third place in in Longmont's EcoCreations 6 juried exhibition for his chandelier piece, which was made up of bike chains and a bike wheel. In February, he showcased some of his collection at the First Friday Art Walk in Denver.

Greaves-Smith recently returned from competing with the Blasterbotica team in the NASA Robotic Mining Competition where they placed second in the presentation and demonstration category. This summer, he has an internship at Kurion (founded by Mines alumnus Marc Rood ’03), where he will be designing and assembling robots to help clean up contaminated reactor sites at Fukushima.


Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

GOLDEN, Colo., May 12, 2015 – Congratulations to the following Colorado School of Mines students who received awards at the Student Life Awards Luncheon May 7.

Outstanding Student Service Award

Presented to a student(s) who went above and beyond their academic role on campus to vigorously participate in activities or projects that benefit their fellow students and the Mines community.

A team of four sophomore students placed first (out of 41 Mines teams) in a Colorado School of Mines Intro to Mechanical Engineering (MEGN200) Wind Station Competition May 5. The team, Stormtroopers, had 2.5 weeks to design, build and program a weather station that was capable of measuring wind speed, temperature and two variables of their choice. Mechanical Engineering students Geordie Campbell, Aaron Fanganello, David Harper and Alicia Helmer created their system with a Star Wars theme, using Legos and an innovative homemade sensor.

“The Stormtroopers used every sensor that was provided to them and purchased additional Arduinos and sensors to use as well,” said Teaching Associate Professor Jenifer Blacklock. “They were very energetic and knowledgeable about their system, and it was clear that they had worked hard and spent numerous hours designing, building and programming their final wind station.”

To measure wind speed, the team 3D printed an anemometer (or windmeter) that they fixed on a rotor shaft of a remote controlled helicopter.

“At the base of the helicopter, we had two brush connections—one that made constant contact and one that made an interrupted contact. This allowed us to count the number of times the circuit was completed and convert that into wind speed,” Campbell said. “We measured temperature in conjunction with a new digital barometric pressure sensor, a BMP 180 chip.”

The top three to four teams from each section of the course were invited to compete in the Wind Station Competition, and were judged by faculty, ME undergraduate and graduate students on four main qualifications: a technically advanced system, appropriate user feedback, creativity and overall aesthetics. Students on the winning team received a $50 gift card to SparkFun, an electronics store.


Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

GOLDEN, Colo., April 28, 2015 – Forty teams of students in the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences have spent the last two semesters working on projects to present at the Senior Design Trade Fair which was held April 23. Faculty, industry representatives and alumni judged teams on their ability to define, analyze and address a design problem and to present their work through display and dialogue.

Imagine a 10,000-square-foot “food hub” that would allow Golden residents access to local foods from Front Range farmers. Eileen Regan, an active member of Golden Farming Cooperative (GoFarm), asked Mines senior design students in the College of Engineering and Computational Science to outline how the nonprofit could construct a green, low-impact, mobile CSA pick up site where farmers could store and distribute their products.

“Right now, local food (especially organically grown local food) is not very affordable and there’s a need for accessibility,” said Regan. “Golden has historically served as a depot, and intersects the six major agricultural regions. I’m hopeful that that this would allow us to connect with a local food network across the state.”

The project originally started with one Mines senior design team and soon morphed into three teams as one needed to focus on the facility’s design, another on a refrigeration model and one on eliminating food waste.

The team “Turnip the Beet,” made up of six students (three civil engineering and three environmental engineering), analyzed the cost, floor plan and materials for the warehouse. After researching sustainable design options, they chose an Eco-Smart roof with recycled materials, a glass curtain wall, structural insulated panels (SIPs) and an aluminum sun shade.

“We wanted our building to be as passive as possible so that we could help GoFarm lower their energy costs,” said environmental engineering student Taylor Baird. “Our sun shade allows the most sunlight into the building through the glass curtain wall during the winter and the least amount during the summer. SIPs provide the warehouse with vertical support as well as insulation that helps maintain a constant temperature within the four temperature zones.”

In order to know what types of materials to use, Baird’s team used data from the Golden Energy Solutions team, who were looking at “green” ways to refrigerate the food hub. Along with five other mechanical engineering students, Carly Conley worked with her team to build a refrigeration model using EnergyPlus, an energy simulation software.

“We chose a geothermal/vapor-compression hybrid system because it was the most efficient and environmentally responsible option,” said Conley. “Using this system, we could generate around 30 percent energy savings, which translates to the food hub requiring a 9-ton cooling system.”

Another team, Dynamic Energy Providers (three mechanical engineering students and two electrical engineering students), analyzed how different power sources could work together to remove food waste and turn it into energy. Their design utilizes two different natural gas generators—one that powers the refrigeration model and one the storage and dry food load.

“We started researching all passive options (wind, solar, natural gas) and narrowed it down to using natural gas generators so that it could be as off-the-grid as possible, and we chose a biodigestor to break down food waste into biogas,” said mechanical engineering student Reed Sanchez. “We’re creating free energy and doing something about the food waste. The biodigestor helps lower the cost of operation, which in turn lowers the cost to consumers and farmers.”

GoFarm’s food hub is slated for construction in or near Golden in 2018.


Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /


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