A group of faculty and students from the Colorado School of Mines partnered with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College in Denver to promote women in STEM on Saturday, April 15.

The group, which included representatives from several different departments at Mines, set up presentations and demonstrations at the school, where girls of all ages, along with their parents, were able to experiment and learn more about the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. 

Mines faculty and students  partnered with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College in Denver to promote women in STEM.

Mines faculty and students engaged students in a variety of experiments and activities throughout the day. The Mines Chemistry Department helped students create “polyworms” by adding liquid sodium alginate into a solution of calcium chloride, making gummy worms that showcased a range of different polymer properties. A group from the Physics Department shared four different activities with electricity and magnetism, while the Geophysics Department demonstrated small-scale earthquakes using a watermelon as a model for Earth. 

Other activities included learning about error detection in computers with the Computer Science Department, drilling for oil—aka maple syrup—with the Petroleum Engineering Department, and mining for chocolate chips from cookies with the Mining Department.

“Overall, it was a blast,” said Kamilia Putri, a graduate student in petroleum engineering, who noted the students were surprised to learn how much oil they used in everyday life. 

“Encouraging more women to enter STEM fields is always a worthy endeavor, and this was a great way for Mines to engage with students in an interactive way,” said Computer Science Professor Tracy Camp who helped organize Mines’ involvement in the event. “Events like these are not only a great way for students to learn about STEM, but also to learn about Mines and all of the exciting work we do here.

Mines' Geophysics Department demonstrated small-scale earthquakes using a watermelon as a model for Earth.

Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, Academic Affairs | 303-384-2358 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Colorado School of Mines students have teamed up with architecture students from the University of San Francisco in the Gabion Band Ring Beam Challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to test and evaluate masonry home designs and their resistance to seismic activity.

In 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, devastating communities and areas in the Kathmandu region. As homes and buildings lay in ruin, the question became, “How can the effects of a natural disaster be minimized in an area like Nepal, where homes are constructed with unreinforced masonry, and where materials are simply inaccessible?” 

The Gabion Band is a constructive technique that uses ring beams of stone wrapped in wire mesh to tie the masonry walls together to become more stable in seismic events. 

Team “Banding Together” is made up of Mines civil engineering seniors Jessie Berndsen, Molly Epstein and Jared Roberts, along with mechanical engineering seniors Caitlin Kaltenbaugh and David Pum. The team constructed models and performed tests on a shaker table throughout the course of one year as part of a project for the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Capstone Design Program. The shaker table is able to simulate earthquakes of various magnitudes, allowing the team to evaluate the construction and integrity of their masonry design for use on Nepalese homes. 

The team will get the opportunity to showcase their findings at the CECS Capstone Senior Design Tradeshow on April 27, 2017, and they hope that the project will continue with future classes of seniors.

Learn more about the team's project in the video below.

UPDATE: After judging for the CECS Capstone Senior Design Tradeshow, the team eceived the Humanitarian Engineering Award for having the project with the highest humanitarian impact.

Joe DelNero, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3326 |
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |

The Colorado School of Mines chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers hosted its annual Joint Session on April 12, 2017, bringing together Mines students, faculty, alumni and oil and gas industry professionals from across Colorado. 

The speaker this year was SPE International President Janeen Judah, who spoke to the bustling Friedhoff Hall audience about current trends in the industry and gave career advice for those looking to enter the field.

“Joint Session is essentially when the ‘Petro Mafia’ gets together from across Colorado to eat, drink and network with Mines students,” said Alexandra Susich, junior in petroleum engineering and director of this year’s Joint Session. “Having an SPE president—two out of the three years we've put on Joint Session here at Mines—reflects how well-respected Mines is by the industry.”

Judah highlighted current trends in the oil and gas industry, focusing on the “Big 3”: big data, automation and robotics, and visualization and simulation. She encouraged students to get involved with these latest technologies to stay up to speed with the evolving industry.

Judah went on with more career development tips, framing her talk around the “3 Es”: excellence, endurance and empowerment. She explained that in such a highly cyclical industry, endurance and empowerment and the ability to pay it forward and work through the hard times, are essential. She also challenged audience members to come up with other industries that are not overly affected by economic ups and downs, emphasizing that “it’s not just our industry”.

Excellence, Judah stressed, should never be overlooked, even when working an internship unrelated to your true interests. “Be good at the job that you have now,” she said. “Don’t be thinking so much about becoming a manager that you forget to be an engineer.” 

Mines SPE Chapter President Bryan McDowell was proud of how the event came together, and is confident that the club will continue to exemplify the excellence that has gained Mines SPE its reputation as a leader among student chapters nationwide.

“Leading the SPE student chapter has been a great experience, both personally and professionally,” McDowell said. “The level of commitment from our officers and members continues to amaze me. Maintaining high standards is tough, but maintaining those standards while innovating and reinventing our club takes another level of dedication and talent.”


View photos from the event in the slideshow below.

SPE Joint Session 2017

Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |


David LaPorte, a master’s student in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, is working to help mitigate landslide risk in communities in Guatemala thanks to a Fulbright grant. 
In 2015, a devastating landslide in a Guatemala City ravine killed an estimated 350 people in the settlement of El Cambray II, highlighting the urgent need for more research on landslide risk management.
LaPorte is conducting research at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, with the cooperation of Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres, as part of a project to evaluate landslide risk management in precarious settlements of Guatemala City’s metropolitan area and develop cost-effective solutions.
“These settlements are built on the slopes of steep ravines and are populated by the area’s most economically vulnerable population,” explained LaPorte, whose ultimate goal is to help those who have little choice but to live in at-risk areas by studying ways to better manage these natural hazards.
To do this, LaPorte is evaluating the current landslide risk management initiatives put in place by Guatemalan government agencies and NGOs, such as risk-reduction tools and educational programs. “I plan to evaluate the effectiveness of some of these initiatives through a study of risk perception and behavior of the inhabitants of at-risk communities,” he said. Currently, there are no statistics in this field, which LaPorte’s research is working to address. Communities will be surveyed before and after risk-communication strategies are implemented, with the ultimate goal of improving initiatives to encourage risk-reducing behavioral change.
One of the biggest challenges LaPorte has faced during his three months in Guatemala thus far has been breaking into the existing network of researchers and organizations, many of whom have been working on this issue for years. “As an independent researcher, it has been challenging to catch up on the understanding of the way things are done here, and the recent history of risk-management initiatives in the settlements,” he said.  But LaPorte said everyone he has collaborated with has been very helpful, and finds this opportunity to experience a new community and culture very rewarding.
“The core of the Fulbright program is based on increasing cultural exchange and mutual understanding between people in the US and those abroad,” he said. “Being able to dedicate ten months of my master’s degree to not only my thesis project field work, but also to this cultural exchange, is such a joy.”
LaPorte is confident that the experience will help him “ become a more globally competent citizen and engineer.” 
“It is work that I love, and that has been made possible by the Fulbright grant.” 
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |


A team of first-year students took the $25,000 top prize in an annual challenge sponsored by Newmont Mining Corporation for a product inspired by a popular comic book hero, while an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering was honored as Inventor of the Year in a celebration of innovation held April 13, 2017, at the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum.

Team ExoTechTeam ExoTech’s proposal for an exoskeleton that protects and supports a mine worker’s arms, legs and spine came out of mechanical engineering student Peter Wilson’s suggestion that they “build an Iron Man suit.”

The system includes a full-body harness that holds the miner’s equipment, a spinal support system that encourages good lifting form and a knee brace. The team consulted with biomechanical, materials and mine safety experts in designing the device and conducted market research to come up with an estimated cost and selling price and their target market.

While the practicality of the product got the team into the final round, it was the “cool factor” that kept them going, said Van Wagner, mechanical engineering. “We’d print out pieces, and seeing them made it easy to put in the extra effort.”

Rounding out the ExoTech team are Joshua Rands, engineering physics; Parker Steen, mechanical engineering; and Ben Topper, mechanical engineering. They were advised by Mirna Mattjik, teaching associate professor in the EPICS program. The $25,000 prize will be used to further develop their idea.

Team PipeWalker was named Most Innovative and received $2,500 for its proposal for a device that detects stresses, leaks and breaks in pipelines. Members included Zachary Brand, mechanical engineering; Iker Madera, geophysical engineering; John Oldland, engineering physics; Max Sweeney, mechanical engineering; and Jenna Lucas, civil engineering. They were advised by Petroleum Engineering Teaching Professor Linda Battalora.

Vader Technologies received $2,500 and the award for Most Market-Ready for a lightweight and comfortable respirator that’s an improvement on current devices. Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Teaching Assistant Professor Greg Rulifson advised the team, which is made up of petroleum engineering students Dania Elmadhun, Fadhila Tanjungsari, Khadija Uzzaman and Carlos Perdomo-Correa.

“You all are winners,” said Mike Aire MS ‘99, director of environment at Newmont and a Mines alumnus. “Just because you didn’t receive a prize tonight doesn’t mean you’re not going to get a call from us or some other company,” he said, addressing the other finalists.

“I am struck by how farther along you are in your thinking, behavior and skills than I was when I was on campus,” said Perry Eaton ‘81, Newmont’s chief geologist and also a Mines graduate. “It gives me optimism about the future and the planet.” Eaton hopes the competition has shown students that there are many interesting problems to work on in the mining business. “That’s why we need bright young minds and innovative ideas,” he said.

Melissa Krebs and Will Vaughan.Assistant Professor Melissa Krebs was named Inventor of the Year for her work in three distinct areas: polygels, scaffolding for regenerating bone and glaucoma monitoring.

“I’m incredibly honored,” said Krebs, who accepted the award with her two young daughters. “It’s been a lot of fun to bring biomedical to Colorado School of Mines.” She credited the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral fellows in her lab, as well as her collaborations with the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

The event at the Geology Museum was also a celebration of the growing culture of entrepreneurship and innovation at Mines.

“Just knowing Mines’ quality of faculty, the creativity of its students and our connections with industry, there’s no reason we can’t be an entrepreneurship and innovation powerhouse,” said President Paul Johnson.

That innovation ecosystem has been in development for a couple of years, said Professor Kevin Moore, dean of the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences, and continues with the creation of the position of director of entrepreneurship and innovation. Werner Kuhr, who attended the event, is currently director of technology commercialization and industry professor of chemistry at Stevens Institute of Technology and will join Mines in July.

Will Vaughan, director of technology transfer at Mines, said it’s been another successful year for the university, with six start-ups in various stages of due diligence. Also recognized at the event were Mines’ University Innovation Fellows, the students behind the makerspaces on campus and the revived Entrepreneurship Club.

But that ecosystem also goes beyond the university and includes entities such as the city of Golden and Traxion, a Golden-based business accelerator.

“The city is proud of you,” said Steve Glueck, Golden’s director of community and economic development. “It’s time to focus on individuals and smaller-scale opportunities, and we look forward to sponsoring you.”

Entrepreneurship and Innovation Celebration

Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |
Ashley Spurgeon, Assistant Editor, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 |

A group of Colorado School of Mines undergraduate students have spent nearly two years preparing for a competition to build a home that generates as much energy as it consumes, and their work is about to pay off in a “tiny” way.
Mines Tiny House, which formed in the fall of 2015 as a way for students to prepare for the 2019 Solar Decathlon, is nearing completion of construction on a 220-square-foot tiny house. 

Mines Tiny House
Mines students installed the windows on the tiny house on a Saturday in April.

“We thought of it like a pilot project,” said engineering physics sophomore Katie Schneider, Mines Tiny House co-planning chair. “For the decathlon, the house will be full-size, so building a tiny house first was a great way for us to learn what a big project like that will take, while also showing knowledge and experience for our application into the competition.”
The Solar Decathlon, which takes place every two years, challenges teams of students from universities around the country to build a “net-zero home.” For the competition, this is accomplished primarily by the use of solar energy, through solar panels, passive solar heating and other methods.
Colorado School of Mines has never competed in the international Solar Decathlon competition, and Schneider noted most teams that apply come from construction or architecture backgrounds, making Mines’ team unique with their engineering and science perspectives. 
“We will be one of the most unique teams applying,” said Schneider, who also noted that none of the team members have construction or civil engineering backgrounds, with most of them majoring in engineering physics. 
In addition to building the tiny house, the team also submitted a paper for the Race to Zero competition, which asks students to design a full-size, net-zero home, but not actually build it. The team will present their paper next weekend at the competition, which will be held at NREL.
“We could not compete in the Solar Decathlon without having done either of these projects,” Schneider said. “Both the tiny house and Race to Zero taught us a lot about time management, organization and preparation, which will be essential for our success moving forward as we submit our application to the Solar Decathlon in October and then hopefully build a full-size home over the next two years.”
And while a full-size house is the end-goal, the team is celebrating their smaller success for now. 
“We put the windows on last week, and are hoping to have it fully complete by the end of the summer,” Schneider said. Fundraising through the Gold Mine will be used to complete the interior. The team plans to keep the tiny house, which was built on a trailer bed, on the Mines campus as a research lab and for community outreach.
“I’m really excited about the opportunities for outreach with the tiny house once it’s completed,” said Schneider, who noted that several community groups, including Boy Scout troops and school groups, have already come out to see their progress. 
“Last fall we were invited to be a part of the Golden Solar Homes Tour,” Schneider said. “We were only able to show off our design plans then, but this year we are excited to show the completed house.”
They are also hoping to show off the house at the 2017 Solar Decathlon, which will be held in Denver this October. 
Their faculty advisor, Physics Professor Tim Ohno, praised the team, made up mainly of freshmen and sophomores, saying that they have overcome a “steep learning curve” and have “pushed their limits” in order to accomplish their goals. 
For more information, the team has put together a website on the tiny house at
Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, Academic Affairs | 303-384-2358 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Helluva Service Event

More than 300 Mines students volunteered at the Helluva Service Event on April 8, 2017. Students worked on nearly 50 community projects including gardening and spreading mulch and gravel to help local groups like the Table Mountain Garden Club. The morning event contributed roughly 1,000 hours of labor to the Golden community. The Helluva Service Event is a student-driven day of service dedicated to giving back to Golden, a city that has supported the growth and development of Colorado School of Mines and its students.

Joe DelNero, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3326 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Ian Lange and Peter Maniloff

Division of Economics and Business professors Ian Lange and Peter Maniloff, in cooperation with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, were awarded a Sloan Foundation grant to host the Colorado Technology Primer for Economists and Social Scientists.

Two one-week sessions will be offered July 31-Aug. 4 and Aug. 14-18 on the Colorado School of Mines campus in Golden. Application materials are due April 25.

The goal of the summer primer is to provide advanced doctoral students and early-career academic professionals with an interdisciplinary (engineering and social science) understanding of electricity distribution systems and the interface of technology and policy. The summer sessions will help participants bridge the gap between economists’ and engineers’ perspectives as well as improve the quality and applicability of their academic research.

The two one-week sessions will essentially be identical, and applicants are asked to choose their preferred week to attend but should also give notice if they are available for either week. If selected, there will be no tuition fee. A small amount of travel and lodging reimbursement will also be available and the decisions on this award will be made concurrent with admission decisions.

The weeklong program will consist of seven lectures by staff members from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, faculty from Colorado School of Mines as well as industry professionals. Additionally, there will be a tour of NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility and National Wind Technology Center that will allow students to see the renewable energy systems and electrical equipment first-hand, supplementing the knowledge gained in the classroom.

The primer will have sessions on:

•          Principles of Power System Planning and Operations

•          Industrial Organization of Electricity Markets

•          Distribution System Principles and the Evolving Interface with the Bulk Power System

•          Determinants of Electricity Demand and their Impact on the Distribution System

•          Critical Issues for Distribution Systems Moving Forward

•          Understanding the Highs and Lows and Overall Challenges of Multidisciplinary Research

Applicants must be a registered PhD student in economics or a related field and have completed the first two years of coursework, or an early-career academic professional (post-doctoral fellow or assistant professor) in an economics or related university department.

Please submit the following for consideration:

  1. One page cover letter describing research interests in electricity distribution, renewable energy systems or related topics. In an effort to balance class sizes, please include preferred dates, and whether you are available for either session.
  2. Curriculum Vitae

Additionally, PhD students must submit a letter from an advisor or, if an advisor hasn’t been selected yet, a faculty member. This letter should be less than one page and should endorse the application to the summer primer.

The program welcomes individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences and ideas. Participants are expected to learn as much from fellow students as they will from the instructors, and diversity will enrich everyone involved.

Send all application materials electronically in a single PDF file to by April 25. Decisions will be communicated to applicants by May 5. For questions about the program, contact Ian Lange,

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 |

Four Colorado School of Mines students are seeking to create lasting change on campus as the newest University Innovation Fellows under the mentorship of Mines alumnus Corey Brugh’16, who was the first to take part in the national program.
Emma May, computer science; Tanner McAdoo, metallurgical and materials engineering; Sarah Ingram, chemical and biochemical engineering; and Sam Warfield, electrical engineering, underwent six weeks of training earlier this year on design thinking, the lean methodology and how to map their entrepreneurial campus ecosystem.
“The training was intense,” said Warfield. “It was like having another four-credit course on top of the normal workload.”
Brugh, who was named a University Innovation Fellow in 2014, provided the team with mentoring, encouragement and connections. “This program has changed my life, and it is my responsibility to give back,” he said. Brugh earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and is now a research and development engineer with Procter & Gamble.
“He helped us get our foot in the door, so to speak, and secure the audience we needed to make our ideas heard,” McAdoo said. “He was an excellent mentor during training and continues to help as we pursue our own ideas as fellows here at Mines.”
Corey BrughInitiatives Brugh helped start at Mines include a relaunch of the Entrepreneurship Club, creating a learning community around the theme of Engineering Grand Challenges, establishing maker spaces, TEDxCSM, organizing the first innovation competition at Mines and identifying his successors as University Innovation Fellows.
In addition to reaching out to the latest cohort of fellows during their training, Brugh also met with the four students during the program’s Silicon Valley Meetup, held March 9-13 at Stanford University’s, which brought together 350 students and faculty members from 80 colleges and universities around the world. He shared his experience as a fellow with the entire group.
The meetup was incredibly inspiring for May. “This is when the whole program clicked for me,” she said. “It was here that I really understood that I can make a change on campus, and I do not need to settle for the way things usually are.”
May hopes to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship at Mines through workshops and “hackathons.” “I believe many students are hungry to be more than just an engineer, but they don't know how to do that,” May said. “I want to provide them the opportunity to explore what that can look like for them and empower them to think differently, to realize they don’t need to follow the typical career path that we are trained to expect from a young age.”
Beyond Mines, May has ideas for reshaping how we view education. “I believe we can rethink how we teach students in order to better engage them and make education exciting from a young age,” she said. “I also believe we need to be incorporating innovative technology into the classroom, because as our tech advances, we cannot remain stagnant in our teaching practices.”
Ingram said she is excited to pursue a plan to implement a creative space on campus “for students to exercise the right side of their brain, while also having the chance to relax and de-stress.” She also hopes to work with the different cultures on campus to create more of a community feel.
One of the biggest things Ingram learned in training is that ideas take time. “A great idea may come out of the blue, but it takes work to develop it and figure out the goals that are associated with it,” she said. “This is when I realized having a strong team to work with and bounce ideas off of is key.”
McAdoo said the training taught him to value networking. “Students tend to underestimate how powerful making connections with people can be,” he said. “As a fellow, I got to meet all sorts of people, including deans and professors at Mines as well as students from around the world who I never would have come in contact with otherwise.”
Warfield said he wants to focus on psychological safety, paying particular attention to automatic negative thoughts. “This is where the first thought when attempting a task is just negative, like ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘I’m not cool like them,’” he said. “Part of the problem is that society does not like discussing these issues or their solutions. I hope to combat this at Mines, as it can greatly impact lives.”
Brugh said Mines has gotten a lot of value from previous University Innovation Fellows, and he expects the same from this latest group. “You’d have to hire many full-time people to do the same work that fellows do without pay,” he said. “Fellows are more motivated to see their ideas come to life before they graduate.”
May said Brugh has pushed her to think bigger. “He has very high expectations for us, and these expectations push me to work harder and dream bigger for Mines,” she said.

Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |
Ashley Spurgeon, Assistant Editor, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 |
The Colorado School of Mines Student Chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists was chosen as the 2017 Outstanding Domestic Student Chapter during AAPG’s 100th Anniversary Annual Convention and Exhibition.

 Mines AAPG Student Chapter members hold their award check. Left to right: Joshua Payne, Chapter President; Elizabeth Wilson, Treasurer; Julia Peacodk, Vice President; Mark Hansford.
Mines AAPG Student Chapter members hold their award check. Left to right: Joshua Payne, Chapter President; Elizabeth Wilson, Treasurer; Julia Peacock, Vice President; Mark Hansford, Secretary.

ACE 2017 was held April 2 to 5 in Houston, Texas, with the chapter’s high honor being awarded at the Student Reception on April 3. Several speakers were there to address the student chapters, including AAPG President Paul W. Britt.
Chapter President Joshua Payne, a master’s student in geology, couldn’t be more proud. “Personally, as a student of the science and a great beneficiary of the opportunities and resources available through AAPG and its rich history, there is no higher honor at this stage of my career,” he said. Payne went on to boast about his fellow chapter members, noting the “exceptional character and leadership of each of the members.”
The mission statement of the Mines chapter, according to Payne, “is to advance the science of geology as it relates to petroleum through four themes: education, industry, networking and community involvement.” Participation in events such as ACE, but also core activities such as a weekly lunch-and-learn series, technical workshops, service events, field trips and more allow the chapter to thrive, this being its 36th year in existence at Mines. Although the group is officially housed within the Department of Geological Engineering, membership extends across the reaches of the geophysics and petroleum engineering departments, reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of the field.
Teamwork at this cross-disciplinary level has proven essential to the group’s success. “We have understood our individual strengths and used each in a way to complement another,” said Payne. “We have set highest goals and strived to accomplish each in a manner that has far exceeded expectations. We have learned from each other.”
Payne also noted the importance of the history of AAPG at Mines, saying that the award not only reflects the work of the current group of students, “but is a result of the culmination of the body of work put together by the chapters who have preceded us—past presidents, past officers and past members—who have showed great responsibility in ensuring the well-being of the chapters of the future.”
Despite the recent volatile nature of the oil and gas industry, Payne is confident that the AAPG chapter at Mines will continue to prosper. In fact, the chapter's $2000 award will be put away to be used by next year's officers to support its mission.
“This is a reflection on the overall culture that is inherent to Colorado School of Mines, one of integrity, innovation, success and a will to never give up."
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |


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