Homecoming is an annual event that Mines students and alumni look forward to each year. This year’s festivities will be held on Oct. 5–8 and will feature new and traditional events for Orediggers to come together and show off their Mines pride. “Our theme is ‘Ignite the Night,’” said Mines Activities Council Homecoming and Outreach Chair, Cassidy Steen. “I like the idea of our alumni coming back and igniting their memories and having students come out and ignite their passions.”

One of the 2015 Homecoming Beast nominees posing with Marvin the Miner
Photo credit: The Oredigger

The festivities kick off Wednesday evening with the President’s Distinguished Lecture from none other than Bill Nye the Science Guy. “Everyone is getting so excited,” Steen said. “Bill Nye is the person they grew up with who got them excited about science.” Those who were lucky enough to win a ticket will fill Lockridge Arena located in the Student Rec Center at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

Those who won’t get the chance to attend the Bill Nye’s lecture still have plenty activities to attend, including the ever-popular Oredigger Challenge on Thursday afternoon. Students can get a team together, sign up on the MAC website and compete in field day games for the chance to win the coveted trophy. The Oredigger Challenge will be held from 4–6 p.m. on the North Intramural Fields, located across the street from the Outdoor Recreational Center.

“Everyone loves E-Days so much, and we are really focusing on making Homecoming as big of an event that gets everyone as excited,” said MAC Royalty Chair Meagan Lundgren. “I think that the bonfire is going to be a big part of that.”  When asked what she is most looking forward to this year, Steen said, “I am definitely most looking forward to the bonfire, because I think it is going to be a really unique event, and we’ve never really had anything like it here at Mines before.” On Friday evening, students, alumni, faculty and staff will get the chance to enjoy s’mores, play glow-in-the-dark corn hole, meet the 2016 nominees for Homecoming Queen and Beast and, of course, watch the “M” light up in the glow of the first-ever homecoming bonfire, which will be held in parking lot Q beginning at 8 p.m.

To ensure the bonfire is a celebratory event and to add to the excitement of the evening, Orediggers can show their support for Mines athletics and cheer on the women’s soccer and volleyball teams at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively, followed by a pep rally.

Mines students riding in a float for Homecoming 2015
Photo credit: The Oredigger 

On Saturday, rounding out Homecoming weekend is the much-anticipated parade, tailgate and football game where Mines will take on Azusa Pacific University. Students can build a float and walk in the parade or simply enjoy the show. The parade kicks off at 9 a.m. at the corner of 19th and Cheyenne. View the parade route here. The ever-popular tailgate will follow the parade in parking lot Q, located up the street from the traditional halls, where students can vote for this year’s Homecoming Queen and Beast. Football lovers can then follow the crowd down to Marv Kay Stadium at noon to watch the football game and halftime show, where this year’s Homecoming Queen and Beast will be announced.

As Homecoming weekend draws near, the focus is on bringing students and alumni together to celebrate what it means to be an Oredigger and all that is Colorado School of Mines.

Students can register for all Homecoming events on the MAC website. Alumni registration is now closed, but a full schedule events is available for attendees on the Alumni Association’s website. All attendees can also download a Guidebook app, which contains the 2016 schedule, day-of updates, giveaways and more.



Leah Pinkus, Communications Assistant, Colorado School of Mines 303-273-3088
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 |


Physics student Martin Kuhnel rock climbing outdoors
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Barolak

The freedom is what Martin Kuhnel enjoys most about his chosen sport of climbing.

“There’s a million routes up there you can try, just a bunch of variations,” said Kuhnel, a sophomore majoring in engineering physics at Colorado School of Mines. “Everywhere you go, there’s a climbing gym with new and different climbs and walls, and when you go outdoors, it’s the same thing—it’s always different, and you can do it anywhere.”

But while Kuhnel simply enjoys the sport for what it is, he has also found fulfillment in competition, taking part in his first world cup events this past summer and raising money to compete in the first World University Sport Climbing Championships in Shanghai this October.

“There’s a part of me that just wants to go outdoors, have fun and see how good I am there, relative to myself,” Kuhnel said. “But there’s definitely a sense of I want to compete to get better and show how good I am.”

The 18-year-old first started climbing indoors at the age of 9 in Arizona. He joined the climbing gym’s youth team, competed in the youth circuit and ended up going to nationals.  After moving to Australia after eighth grade, Kuhnel got into outdoor climbing as well, though his recent focus on competition has kept him more indoors.

Kuhnel competes mainly in lead or sport climbing and bouldering. In lead climbing, competitors ascend taller walls with ropes and harnesses for safety; bouldering is performed on shorter walls without ropes or harnesses, with pads on the ground to protect climbers.

Kuhnel returned to the United States in 2015 to attend college, and while he says he had a hard time selecting a school, the end result now seems like the obvious choice. “I realized Colorado was the best place for me,” said Kuhnel. “It’s definitely the best place to go for outdoor bouldering and has a high density of good climbing places.”

Physics student Martin Kuhnel climbs on a climbing wall
Photo credit: Standa Mitáč

Kuhnel doesn’t have to venture far from campus to get his climbing fix—he’s co-coach of the climbing club twice a week at the Student Rec Center and trains at Earth Treks, a climbing gym in Golden. “I’ve met a lot of people there, some of whom are my best friends,” Kuhnel said.

The academic side of things has also confirmed he made the right decision. A teacher in eighth grade inspired his interest. “As I dug more into physics, I realized that this is a way of analyzing how things work in the real world, using mathematical and quantitative tools,” Kuhnel said, who is in a combined program that will earn him a master’s degree in mathematics just one year after earning his bachelor’s.

“Mines has been really good—small classes, a small, close-knit department,” Kuhnel said.  Plus, faculty and administration have been supportive of his climbing exploits.

Coming back from Australia and getting ready for his freshman year last summer left Kuhnel little time for competition, but he has certainly made up for it in 2016.

In April, Kuhnel represented Mines on the national collegiate circuit and came in second in sport climbing, qualifying him to represent the U.S. and the university in the Shanghai competition.

Kuhnel also applied to compete in six world cups and was accepted to all of them. First up was for bouldering in Vail in June, the only world cup in the U.S. “I placed 51st—not the best, but for my first world cup I was pretty happy with it,” Kuhnel said.

Then he flew to Europe for three lead climbing world cups, competing in Chamonix and Briancon in France and Villars, Switzerland, in a two-week period. After a three-week break spent in the Czech Republic, he was back at it, competing in bouldering in Munich, Germany, at the biggest world cup ever. Kuhnel placed 89th out of 140 competitors. After another competition in Imst, Austria, he flew to Colorado and was soon back at school.

“It was a really big summer,” said Kuhnel, who’s not done climbing this year.

The first World University Sport Climbing Championship takes place Oct. 12 to 16. While he’s received some funding from the Mines Foundation, Kuhnel is also raising money online for travel, registration, a Chinese visa and other expenses.

Internships will probably take priority for Kuhnel next summer, but his recent competitions have whetted his appetite for more. He’ll go back to the regular climbing competition circuit in the U.S., which runs October through January for bouldering, and just March for lead climbing, “then we’ll see if I do any world cups next summer,” Kuhnel said.

“I really want to continue the momentum.”

Support Kuhnel on GoFundMe:
Follow him on Instagram:
Read his blog:

Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 |
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 |


Mines female student talks to a recruiter at the Fall 2016 Career Day.With 232 companies and over 800 recruiters visiting the Mines campus on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, Mines’ bi-annual Career Day remains an important resource for students, graduates, alumni, faculty and staff.

Attendees met with industry representatives from fields such as civil and structural engineering, energy, environmental, manufacturing, mining, high tech, biomedical and aerospace. Many companies have been long-standing attendees at Mines career day events, but this fall also brought many new employers to Mines.  

Prior to Career Day, students were offered the opportunity to meet with employers for workshops and information sessions on resume writing, interview techniques and networking. These sessions are offered through the Career Center for the remainder of the week and throughout the academic year – students interested in attending a session can find them posted on DiggerNet (login required).

In 2014-2015, Mines undergraduates earned an average starting salary of $66,394, MS graduates $76,253 and PhD graduates $86,120. Program guides are available in the Career Center or online via DiggerNet.

View the list of participating organizations at this fall’s event.


Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 |
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |




Nuclear Engineering PhD student Michael ServisA PhD student in nuclear engineering has been awarded a prize in the Innovations in Fuel Cycle Research Awards, sponsored by the Department of Energy Office of Fuel Cycle Technologies.

Michael Servis’ award-winning research paper, “A Molecular Dynamics Study of Tributyl Phosphate and Diamyl Amyl Phosphonate Self-Aggregation in Dodecane and Octane,” was published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry in February 2016.

The awards program is designed to recognize graduate and undergraduate students for innovative research publications relevant to the nuclear fuel cycle, demonstrate the Department of Energy’s commitment to higher education in fuel cycle-relevant disciplines, and support communication between students and DOE representatives.

The program awarded 17 prizes in 2016. Servis, advised by Chemistry Assistant Professor Jenifer Braley and Chemistry Professor David Wu, was a winner in the competition for students who attend universities with less than $600 million in research and development expenditures in 2014.

Winners receive cash prizes, as well as travel and conference opportunities.

Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 |
Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 |

Colorado School of Mines was recently approved by the U.S. Peace Corps to house the first Peace Corps Prep program in Colorado. All Mines undergraduates now have the opportunity to prepare for adventures overseas, either as a Peace Corps volunteer or as a professional.

Photo courtesy of Peace Corps

The Peace Corps Prep program aims to enhance students’ undergraduate experience by preparing them for international development fieldwork and overseas service. Mines was selected for the pilot program based on the highly technical skills and knowledge of its graduates. “There is a real synergy between Peace Corps and Mines, because they need trained, technical people,” said David Frossard, a web administrator for Mines Computing, Communications and Information Technologies and one of the co-coordinators of the program. Frossard also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and Zambia.

The Peace Corps Prep program encourages students to expand their global awareness and gain international knowledge and skills that employers value, as well as develop leadership skills through volunteer work or internships. The program integrates coursework with hands-on experience and professional development, allowing students to gain sector-specific skills and foreign-language proficiency, while also cultivating a cultural competence that will help students succeed no matter where they are in the world.

Peace Corps volunteer reads books to children in Moldova.
Photo courtesy of Peace Corps

Frossard, along with fellow co-coordinator, Juan Lucena, hopes students will be eager to be a part of the Peace Corp Prep program. “It just seemed to us that this would be a great opportunity to give our students,” said Frossard. “For those who want to work abroad, who want to not just be a tourist but live in a place and become a part of a place, this is a fantastic experience.”

Overall, the Peace Corps Prep program is a stepping stone for Mines students to put their engineering or science degrees to use in service of others after graduation. Successful completion of the program will earn students a certificate and a competitive edge when applying for Peace Corps volunteer positions as well as make them attractive candidates for professional positions in government or industry.

For students interested in volunteering and gaining a broader understanding of another culture and sharing that understanding with others, the Peace Corps Prep program is ideal. Frossard adds: “Once you’re a Peace Corps volunteer, you’re always a volunteer.”

For more information about the Peace Corps Prep program or to get involved, visit

Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 |
Deirdre Keating, Communications Manager, College of Engineering & Computational Sciences | 303-384-2358 |


Two student physics organizations are offering bricks salvaged from Meyer Hall, the longtime home of the Physics Department, as a reward for helping members attend the largest gathering of undergraduate physics students in the world.

David Schmidt and Lindsey Hart holding Meyer Hall bricks

David Schmidt, president of Sigma Pi Sigma, and Lindsey Hart, president of the Society of Physics Students, hold bricks from Meyer Hall.

Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society, and the Society of Physics Students hope to send 30 to 40 students to PhysCon, according to David Schmidt, president of Sigma Pi Sigma. “It will depend on how much of the trip we can cover for each student.”

Held every four years, this year’s PhysCon takes place Nov. 3 to 5 in Silicon Valley, CA, and has the theme of “Unifying Fields: Science Driving Innovation.” Attendees will explore graduate programs, summer research opportunities and job options, present their research, grow professionally through workshops, and become inspired by renowned physicists and lab tours. Between registration fees, travel and accommodations, sending one student costs around $700.

Built in 1963, Meyer Hall was torn down in March 2016 to make way for the CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering, a $50 million centralized teaching and research space.

Physics students rescued about 160 bricks from the building, as well as two larger “special” bricks from an interior wall in lecture hall Meyer 220, which will go to the two donors who give the most as of September 1. “I’d worked in the building for 21 years and didn’t know they existed until shortly before the building came down,” said Barbara Pratt-Johnson, program assistant for the Physics Department.

“Bricks from Meyer may contain actual blood, sweat, and tears from 50 years’ worth of physics majors,” Pratt-Johnson said.

While he’s excited about the new building, Physics Professor and Department Head Jeff Squier has many fond memories of Meyer Hall, first earning his BS and MS degrees from Mines, then occupying an office as a faculty member since 1980.

Squier said he’ll miss the mural in the department office—a photo of the lunar landscape. “I think it’s one of the best photos in the world.” Stopping the swinging of the Foucault pendulum “hit home for me,” Squier said.

“We’re in the age of interdisciplinary science—Paul Meyer, whom the building is named for—exemplified this as a doctor, mathematician and physicist,” Squier said. “This is an opportunity to have some unique memorabilia about a man and a building that was ahead of his time, and a tradition we now get to build on in a major way with the construction of the CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering,” he added.

Donations can be made at Click on “STUACT-STACT” and select “Donations for Society of Physics Students.” Rewards for various donation levels are as follows:


  • $15 to $24.99 – Leather bookmark engraved with the SPS logo
  • $25 to $99.99 – Bookmark and personalized sign
  • $100 to 119.99 – Commemorative brick, engraved with the text “Meyer Hall” 1963-2016” and the SPS logo
  • $120 and up – Brick, sign and bookmark

The bookmarks, signs and bricks were engraved using CNC laser machines, recently acquired by the Physics Department and used by students in summer field session. “Some students were experimenting with different materials in the laser machine and they figured out the best power and speed settings to engrave the bricks, said Lindsey Hart, president of the Society of Physics Students. “We then made a design and started engraving all our bricks.”

Mark Ramirez, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-384-2622 |
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |

Faculty students and industry members brainstorm strategies for increasing CSR education for engineers.Liberal Arts and International Studies Assistant (LAIS) Professor Jessica Smith and Postdoctoral Scholar Nicole Smith recently hosted a workshop for engineering professors who are integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) into their courses. The workshop was sponsored by J. Smith’s NSF-funded project, “The Ethics of Extraction: Integrating Corporate Social Responsibility into Engineering Education.”
“The interviews we’ve been doing with Mines alumni clearly show that CSR is a crucial area of expertise that our undergraduates need to have,” said J. Smith. “It is important for them in their own career advancement, and is essential for their companies to maintain the social license to operate.”
President Paul Johnson said that the project “fits well with our broader university goal of ensuring that our students not only have a distinctive technical depth, but also a full understanding of the broader context of their impact to society and the complementary professional skills needed for success and leadership.”
"I’m proud that Mines is taking a leadership role in embedding CSR concepts into engineering and science curricula,” said Johnson. “Today, industry leaders are driving similar thinking into their company cultures to ensure their survival and prosperity." 
College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Dean Kevin Moore added that incorporating CSR into the curriculum would help teach students of their own impact. “Ultimately the reason we engineer and work in applied science is to advance just solutions to the problems facing individuals, communities, and the world,” he said. “Because many of our students are employed by corporations, we want them to learn that even as employees, they can make a difference for people.”
Workshop participants included Mines faculty in the areas of humanitarian engineering, petroleum engineering and mining engineering; professors from the project’s two partner schools, Virginia Tech and Marietta College; Mines students; and members of the mining and oil and gas industries. By drawing on expertise from practicing engineers and community engagement specialists, project leaders are working on designing undergraduate educational experiences to help prepare students for potential CSR challenges and opportunities in their career.
J. Smith’s grant is one of numerous recent initiatives establishing Mines as a national leader in corporate social responsibility and engineering. In addition to the NSF grant, alumni donations have had a significant impact. “Thanks to the support and generous gifts from the Shultz family, CSR has become a crucial area of growth for the Humanitarian Engineering Program,” said Program Director and LAIS Professor Juan Lucena. “It distinguishes us from our peers, since we want to tackle the tough areas where communities and the extractive industries intersect.”
Mines now hosts an alumni interest group dedicated to CSR and a lecture series sponsored by the Shultz Fund. J. Smith’s CSR course was one of three Mines courses to be named an exemplar in teaching engineering ethics by the National Academy of Engineering, and the humanitarian engineering faculty have been invited to share their work with multiple international audiences, including the Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility at the Copenhagen (Denmark) Business School and the National University of Colombia.
“It’s a thrill to see the momentum surrounding CSR building so quickly at Mines,” said J. Smith.
Workshops such as this one will continue to be offered over the duration of the four-year project, and the research team will continue to develop, implement and assess new strategies to effectively integrate CSR into the engineering curriculum.
View more photos from the workshop here or in the slideshow below.

Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |


Petroleum engineering faculty recently presented at The Oil and Gas Conference, hosted by Enercom, Inc. in downtown Denver. CNBC has called the annual conference “the largest gathering of energy CEOs in the industry.”

Adjunct Professor Will Fleckenstein and Assistant Department Head Jennifer Miskimins spoke on the future of shale technologies, joined by Mike Vincent, an independent frac consultant who has worked with Mines on numerous occasions in the past. 
Fleckenstein’s presentation focused on the future of environmental developments, explaining how new technologies allow for increased risk analysis, better well design and an overall greener completions model. Miskimins followed with a more in-depth look into how new technologies such as fiber optics will allow for increased efficiency and treatment optimizations.
Petroleum engineering students were also present at the conference, many of them having been recruited to be volunteers. 
A full webcast of the presentation can be seen here.
Following the conference, Fleckenstein was interviewed by Oil and Gas 360. Watch the interview here.
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |
Ashley Spurgeon, Editorial Assistant, Mines magazine | 303-273-3959 |

In a state with an energy economy as purple as its politics, it can be hard to decide where to stand.

The Payne Institute for Earth Resources at Colorado School of Mines has teamed up with Inside Energy to host Spark! Unpacking the Politics of Energy in Colorado at 5 p.m. on Sept. 8 in the Ben H. Parker Student Center (1200 16th Street, Golden), Ballrooms A and B.

Join the Payne Institute and Inside Energy to explore everything Colorado’s energy portfolio stands to lose, gain or change in the 2016 election. Journalists from Inside Energy will press a panel of experts on critical energy issues to help the public make their own decisions in November.

The panel includes Ian Lange, PhD, Mineral and Energy Economics Program Director, Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines; Tracee Bentley, Executive Director, Colorado Petroleum Council; Meghan Nutting, Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, Sunnova; and Lee Boughey, Senior Manager, Communications and Public Affairs, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

“This panel covers the full spectrum of the Colorado energy landscape,” says Dr. Lange. “I’m excited to hear the views of my fellow panelists and share my thoughts on how Colorado could be impacted by the policies on the ballot this fall.”

The event is now SOLD OUT, but you can catch all the action via Facebook Live. Tune in right here at 6 p.m. on Sept. 8.

Visit for more information.

About the Payne Institute at Colorado School of Mines
The mission of the Payne Institute for Earth Resources at Colorado School of Mines is to inform and shape sound public policy related to earth resources, energy and the environment. Its goal is to educate current and future leaders on the market, policy and technological challenges presented by energy, environmental and resource management issues, and provide a forum for national and global policy debate. For more information, visit

About Inside Energy
Inside Energy is a collaborative journalism initiative among public media with roots in Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota. It is funded by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Its mission, in collaboration with its partner stations, is to create a more informed public on energy issues. Inside Energy seeks to make energy issues a household topic and to inspire community conversations on the topic of energy. Learn more at

Kelly Beard, Communication Specialist, Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3452 |
Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |

On Friday, Aug. 19, incoming Mines students will hike up Mt. Zion with a 10-pound rock from their hometown to add to the M. As is tradition, they will coat their rock with fresh whitewash at the mountainside monument. President Paul Johnson and Mines faculty and staff will join students in this year’s M Climb.

Mines again received a high number of applications (around 12,800) for the 2016-17 academic year, and the campus is expecting to welcome approximately 1,140 new students—1,000 freshmen and 140 transfer students. Of this total, 28% are women and 19% identify as underrepresented domestic ethnic or racial groups.

New students are coming to Mines with an average high school GPA of 3.8 (out of a 4.0 scale), average ACT score of 31 and SAT composite score of 1337.

Facts and stats about Mines Class of 2020:

  • 118 first-generation college students
  • Over 90 slated to join one of Mines varsity athletic teams
  • 70 new transfer students from one of the five colleges (Red Rocks Community College, Arapahoe Community College, Community College of Denver, Community College of Aurora and Front Range Community College) with whom Mines has a formal transfer articulation agreement.
  • 75 countries and 49 states represented
  • 36 are new Harvey, Boettcher, Daniels, or Denver Scholarship Foundation Scholars
  • 11 are graduates of the Mines SUMMET (Summer Multicultural Engineering Training program)
  • 7 pairs of twins (a typical year includes 1 or 2)

The M Climb will kick off around 7:35 a.m. on the South Intramural Fields as members of Blue Key Honor Society spray paint the hard hats of incoming students. Students will take a bus across 6th street and will begin the climb below the arch on Lookout Mountain Road. Please note Lookout Mountain Road west of Highway 6 will be closed to public access during the M Climb.  After the climb, students will take a bus back down to campus and will celebrate with a BBQ on the lawn south of Sigma Kappa.

New students move in this week and classes begin Monday, Aug. 22.

Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 |
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 |



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