Students

Colorado School of Mines Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Marte Gutierrez, Petroleum Engineering Professor Azra Tutuncu and alumnus Luke Frash have been awarded the 2017 Applied Rock Mechanics Research Award by the American Rock Mechanics Association.


Luke Frash and Marte Gutierrez during a visit with Darren Mollot, Director of the Office of Clean Energy Systems in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy.
Luke Frash and Marte Gutierrez showcase their research during a visit from Darren Mollot, Director of the Office of Clean Energy Systems in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy.

Frash earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering with specialties in civil engineering and a PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Mines, studying under Gutierrez. He is now a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The team is receiving the award for their 2015 publication, “True-Triaxial Hydraulic Fracturing of Niobrara Carbonate Rock as an Analogue for Complex Oil and Gas Reservoir Stimulation.” The main topics of research, funded partially by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Unconventional Natural Gas and Oil Institute, were development of enhanced geothermal systems and hydraulic fracturing in shale oil and gas reservoirs.

“Well stimulation by hydraulic fracturing is a common method for increasing the injectivity and productivity of wells,” Gutierrez said. “This method is beneficial for many applications, including oil, gas, geothermal energy and CO2 sequestration; however, hydraulic fracturing in shale and other similarly complex geologies remains poorly understood.”

Seeking to bridge the gap in understanding, the team conducted research on large natural rock specimens using true-triaxal stresses, intended to represent field-scale complexities of known oil and gas reservoirs.

“Results from such large-scale hydraulic experiments, particularly on naturally heterogeneous rock samples, remain very limited,” Gutierrez said.

The research team developed special equipment to conduct these innovative field-scale experiments, and Gutierrez says “the results from the scale-model hydraulic fracturing experiments are envisioned to be of important value to the practice of hydraulic fracturing in several fields.”

The award will be presented during the 51st U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium in San Francisco, California, on June 25-28, 2017.

Support for the research was provided by the Unconventional Natural Gas and Oil Institute (UNGI) Coupled Integrated Multi Scale Measurements and Modeling Consortium (CIMMM), and the U.S. Department of Energy under DOE Grant No. DE-FE0002760, “Development and Validation of an Advanced Stimulation Prediction Model for Enhanced Geothermal Systems.”

Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

Rosie-FryerGeology graduate student Rosemarie (Rosie) Fryer has been awarded two grants from national organizations for her research on the submarine lobe deposits of Point Loma in San Diego, California.

Fryer received a $2,500 grant from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Grants-in-Aid Program, and a $1,775 grant from the Geological Society of America.

The AAPG program provides financial assistance to graduate geoscience students to promote research in petroleum and energy mineral resources or related to environmental geology issues, awarding scholarships ranging from $500-$3,000 to approximately 100 graduate students nationwide every year.

The goal of the GSA student research grant program is to support geoscience master’s and doctoral thesis research, awarding approximately 400 grants averaging $1,752 to graduate students across the United States each year.

Fryer plans to use her grant money to fund field trips to the Point Loma study area during the 2017-2018 academic year. “I am extremely excited that these funds will be used directly towards a field season in the fall, for creating thin sections and laser grain size analysis for my master’s thesis,” she said. 

As these sand-rich submarine lobe deposits form significant hydrocarbon reservoirs, Fryer’s research could prove extremely beneficial to the oil and gas industry by allowing for more accurate geological reservoir models. According to Fryer, the project has immediate applicability to reservoirs currently hosted in submarine lobe deposits, such as the Deepwater Wilcox Reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico and others in the North Sea, West Africa and the Permian Basin.

Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Assistant Editor, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

Colorado School of Mines hosted the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 30th Annual National Concrete Canoe Competition in Golden, Colorado, from June 17 to 19. Twenty teams from across the United States, Canada and even a team from China came to campus to showcase their unique watercraft.

ASCE’s concrete canoe competition challenges civil engineering students to apply their classroom lessons to solve a creative and difficult problem while working on a team. Getting a concrete boat to float is only part of the competition. Teams are scored based on an oral presentation, a design paper, the final product and the performance of the watercraft in five races, which were held at Evergreen Lake in Evergreen, Colorado.

More than 200 teams, including Colorado School of Mines, participated in regional events for a chance to compete at the national competition.

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo was the overall winner of the competition followed by the University of Florida and the University of Akron.

2017 ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition

CONTACT
Joe DelNero, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3326 | jdelnero@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

Lauren FosterLauren Foster, a PhD student in the Hydrologic Science and Engineering Program at Colorado School of Mines, will spend next year researching the effects of climate change in complex terrain at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program.

The program provides opportunities for graduate students to conduct part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE laboratory in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist—53 awards were granted to graduate students across the country in this cycle.

Foster’s graduate research focuses on the impacts and feedbacks from climate change in complex terrain, and she will be continuing this work with Kenneth Williams, the lead for the Environmental Remediation and Water Resources Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

“More than one-sixth of the world’s population depends on mountain snowpack for their water supply, but there is currently a large gap in the scale of our climate change research,” said Foster. “Global climate models are unable to resolve the complex feedbacks in mountainous regions and observations rely on proxies to scale point measurements over larger areas. My work uses supercomputers to try to bridge these differences by modeling the East River near Crested Butte, Colorado, from 10m resolution up to 1km resolution.”


East River supercomputer model at 10m, 100m and 1km resolution (note: this image can be viewed with 3-D glasses to see topography).

Foster is currently working under Reed Maxwell, Rowlinson Professor of Hydrology and director of the Integrated Groundwater Modeling Center at Mines.

Maxwell characterized Lauren as a stellar student interested in the broader impacts of her work. “Never satisfied with just the science answer or engineering solution, she wants to know how best to communicate her results to stakeholders, managers and the public,” he said. “She is currently in Africa doing an internship to provide low-cost, low-energy filtration systems, providing an easy path to cleaner water.”

Steve Binkley, acting director of DOE’s Office of Science, says “the SCGSR program prepares graduate students for science, technology, engineering or mathematics careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission.”

Binkley also noted that the program is meant to enhance an awardee’s doctoral thesis by providing access to the expertise and resources available at DOE laboratories.

Foster said that she is very excited to spend a year working with LBNL staff and learning from Williams’ expertise.

Contact:
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu
 

Student Life award winners from left to right: Rob Thompson, Lisa Goberis, Deb Roberge, Isabelle Jeffries, Emilie Nemchak and Amanda Davis.

The Division of Student Life recognized exceptional staff and programs at its annual awards presentation at Marv Kay Stadium on June 7, 2017.

The Student Life Annual Awards luncheon highlights top performers who are nominated by their peers. More than 50 nominations were submitted for five award categories. The submissions were reviewed by a committee that presented the winners with their awards at the event.

  • New Oredigger Award: Amanda Davis, Academic Advising Coordinator
  • Oredigger Community Spirit Award: Rob Thompson, Assistant Athletic Director/Director of Student Recreation Center
  • Unsung Hero Award: Lisa Goberis, Director of Student Life Business Administration
  • Outstanding Student Life Employee Award: Deb Roberge, Director of the Coulter Student Health Center
  • Outstanding Program/Service Award: Helluva Service Event represented by Isabelle Jeffries, Coordinator of Greek Life, and Emilie Nemchak, Residence Life Coordinator

“Congratulations to all of our nominees and award winners,” said Lia Franklin, executive assistant to the vice president. “You make us proud as a division as we continue to strive for ‘excellence in everything we do.’”

CONTACT
Joe DelNero, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3326 | jdelnero@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

Twenty members of the Society of Physics Students at Colorado School of Mines shared their love of physics with students at Pinnacle High School earlier this spring, encouraging them to pursue science and higher education with hands-on demonstrations.

The chapter’s annual outreach event was funded by the Future Faces of Physics Award, given by the national Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma to promote physics across cultures, particularly among people from groups historically underrepresented in the field.

“We take all of our demonstrations and experiments to the school and put on an interactive day of science for the students,” said Lindsey Hart, president of SPS at Mines. “We make worksheets to help guide the students’ thinking and learning so we can help them understand the physics, in addition to seeing how exciting it can be.”

The demonstrations, which took place April 27, featured five stations: electricity, magnetism, mechanics, vacuum/fluids/sound and optics, each with a lead volunteer with expertise in the topic. “Our goal is to encourage high school students to think about going to college and pursuing science, and to help our members develop their leadership and communication skills,” Hart said.

The group has also brought its presentations to local middle schools to cultivate the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Contact:
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu
Ashley Spurgeon, Assistant Editor, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 | aspurgeon@mines.edu

A team of Colorado School of Mines students have worked for the past year on a method to reduce the use mercury in small-scale gold mining and the resulting pollution, and recently presented their proposed solution to the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.

Team Mad Hatter Mitigation Squad, a group of seven Mines seniors, worked on the project as part of the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Capstone Design Program. The project was funded by an EPA P3 grant, and the team presented at the TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo in May. The team included environmental engineering majors Boshra Alfowzan, Tom Carter and Emiley Lopez; metallurgical and materials engineering majors Laszlo Panyi and Emily Davis; mining engineering major Erika Nieczkoski; and mechanical engineering major Carl Scheevel. 

The team was advised by mining PhD student Benjamin Teschner, and their client, Mining Engineering Assistant Professor Nicole Smith. Both Teschner and Smith conducted fieldwork during the summer of 2015 in Suriname with small scale miners, which was the basis for both the grant and student project.

“In the United States, we stopped using mercury in gold mining about 50 years ago,” said Alfowzan. “But around the world, small-scale gold mining is still the number one anthropogenic source of mercury pollution.”

The team focused their project on a gold mining site in Suriname, where small-scale gold mining is socially and culturally important and mercury is widely used in the gold extraction process for efficiency and economic reasons.

“It’s important that the gold have reliable purity so miners can sell to buyers and split profits with their workers,” said Panyi. “Gold produced with mercury has a specific look that buyers and sellers know how to value.”

The team focused on reducing the amount of mercury used, as well as increasing efficiency to reduce pollution. They also invited a miner from Suriname, Jurgen Plein, as well as an anthropologist working in Suriname, Dr. Marieke Heemskerk, to a weeklong workshop on their project. 

“The key to this challenge was that the team was able to engage with Jurgen and Marieke and drive their solution from the stakeholder’s perspective,” said Teschner. “They presented a number of ideas to Jurgen and Marieke, and essentially waited to see what Jurgen liked and thought could work. They considered needs of the actual miner in their system and figured out how their design could support them.”

To reduce the amount of mercury used, Team Mad Hatter proposed replacing the stage where the most mercury is being added with a method of gravity separation.

“It works like a giant gold pan,” said Carter. “The gold settles, while lighter materials are swept away. This way, the miners only have to add mercury at the very end of the process, and only on gold-worthy ore.”

The team’s solution met with approval from Plein, who the team described as a “key player in the Suriname mining community.” Beyond using less mercury, their solution also would save miners money, as mercury is very costly and can often only be found on the black market. 

Plein also offered to test the team’s solution in Suriname. While the team built a small prototype of their design in Colorado, their full-scale design can be made from locally sourced materials in Suriname.

“It was evident in their final project that their interactions with Jurgen expanded their views of the ways in which engineering can be applied to real world scenarios and can be coproduced with the end users,” said Smith. “I am extremely proud of this team for their dedication to making a difference in the livelihoods of small-scale miners in Suriname.”

Learn more about the Capstone Design Program at Mines by visiting capstone.mines.edu. Photos from this year’s CECS Senior Design Tradeshow can be seen in the slideshow below.


Contact:
Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science and Engineering | 303-384-2358 | mhanson@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

A group of five Colorado School of Mines students recently competed in the 2017 Drillbotics Competition, one of seven teams to make it to the final round of the international competition. 

Team Molebots, made up of one electrical engineering senior, three mechanical engineering seniors and one graduate student in petroleum engineering, competed in the competition as part of the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Capstone Design Program. The competition is hosted by the Drilling Systems Automation Technical Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and encourages innovation in drilling automation.


Team Molebots at Senior Design Trade Fair
Team Molebots presents their design at the Senior Design Trade Fair.

The competition challenges students to design, create and program a drill rig that can autonomously drill through a two-foot-thick rock sample. Once the drilling begins, team members are not allowed to make any changes or provide any input to the rig, which must drill through the rock within two hours. Team Molebots’ rig made it approximately three-quarters of the way through the rock before they reached the time limit.

“Unfortunately, we suffered a large mechanical failure that led to some safety concerns, so we weren’t able to push the rig as hard as we would have liked,” said petroleum engineering graduate student Reed Baker. This is the second year in a row Baker has competed in the competition, which requires one member of each team to study petroleum engineering. 

Team Molebots, which was the first of the finalists to compete, won’t know the results of the competition until later this summer. If they win, they will be invited to present a paper about their design at SPE’s annual conference. 

The multidisciplinary competition also offered a great learning experience for students who hadn’t previously worked in petroleum engineering. 

“I really enjoyed this competition,” said mechanical engineering senior Nick Collins. “I’ve always been interested in robotics and automation, so this competition played to those interests. I also learned a lot about drilling, which taught me more about how to figure out the parameters of a system, what can go wrong, and how to fix it. I can definitely apply the knowledge to my future career, and have already had several job prospects show interest in my experience.”

“I am delighted at our consistent improvement and results every year,” said Team Molebots’ faculty advisor and mechanical engineering professor Carolina Payares-Asprino. “We are proud of the students’ Senior Design efforts through each phase, and especially of our SPE Drillbotics team that took home a Top 10 finish.”

Contact:
Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science and Engineering | 303-384-2358 | mhanson@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

A team of Colorado School of Mines seniors took part in the Shell Eco-marathon, a competition to design, build and drive energy-efficient vehicles, and came in seventh out of more than 25 teams in the battery-electric prototype division. The competition was held April 26 through 30 in Detroit, Mich. 

The 11 students, which included four electrical engineering majors and seven mechanical engineering majors, participated in the competition as part of the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences Capstone Design Program. Team 2 Efficient 2 Furious worked together for the entire academic year to design and build a three-wheeled vehicle that runs on battery electric power, which they named Vin Electric, a play on the name of popular actor Vin Diesel. This is the first year Mines has competed in the battery-electric prototype division, which required students to bring together three separate engineering disciplines: mechanical, electric and computer science.


Team 2 Efficient 2 Furious competed in the Shell Eco-marathon, a competition to design, build and drive energy-efficient vehicles

Teams drive their vehicles on a road course and they must complete 10 laps, totaling six miles, in under 24 minutes. Each team is judged by the amount of energy used and allowed six separate runs, with the run with the lowest energy use counting toward the final results. 

Before they are allowed to race, each team must also pass a tech inspection that includes 10 different tests to ensure the car is roadworthy. The Mines team was one of the first teams to pass the tech inspection, while 10 other teams failed the inspection and were unable to race their vehicles on the track.

“We had a drop-dead date on construction in mid-March,” said team communications lead and mechanical engineering senior Zach Swanson. “This not only made sure that our vehicle was ready to go well before we arrived at the competition, but also gave us several weeks to practice driving.” 

The team, which also developed an Android app that provided data on the vehicle and its energy usage during the race to both the driver and the engineering team, was able to communicate with the driver as he was racing and see their progress and results in real time.

“It was a bit like an F1 car, really,” said team mechanical lead and mechanical engineering senior Josh Wisda, who also drove the vehicle on its final run. 

The team designed their vehicle entirely from scratch using mostly custom parts, impressing faculty advisor Bill Sekulic, adjunct faculty for the design program and an electrical engineer at National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

"I was really impressed by how close the team’s designs and completed vehicle were to each other,” said Sekulic. “They had to build a vehicle that would actually function, and everyone worked together really well as a team. I’m very proud of their success.”

“A lot of the teams that placed above us brought back vehicles they’d competed with before, or worked off of previous designs,” said Swanson. “For us, it was a much more valuable learning experience to build something from scratch. Designing a project from start to finish is something that will benefit us all greatly as we move forward in our careers.” 

Contact:
Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, College of Applied Science and Engineering | 303-384-2358 | mhanson@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu

A solar-powered LED system that alerts motorists to cyclists in bike lanes won the Colorado Department of Transportation’s RoadX challenge May 3, 2017, part of the spring innovation design competition for the EPICS 151 course at Colorado School of Mines.

Nineteen teams of Colorado School of Mines students exhibited their design solutions for the Colorado Department of Transportation’s RoadX challenge May 3, 2017, as part of the spring innovation design competition for the EPICS 151 course.

EPICS courses are required for all Mines students, with the centerpiece an open-ended design problem that students must solve as part of a team effort.

More than 500 students organized into 40 teams participated in the RoadX challenge to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

All teams presented their ideas to judges on May 2; judges then selected 19 finalists who exhibited their designs May 3. After two rounds of judging, the winning teams were Team Guardian Angels in third place, Team Illuminatey in second and Team Side Swipers Safety in first. These top three teams were awarded scholarships totaling $1,750 and invited to attend the RoadX awards event in late May.

Team Guardian Angels created a crosswalk that illuminates pedestrians when it’s dark and tracks them as they cross the road. Team Illuminatey’s project, called Lit Lanes, is a strip of LED lights that run along bikes lanes and are activated in segments as a bicyclist passes them, creating an active, moving light strip that follows the biker’s path. Team Side Swipers’ winning design is a solar-powered LED bicycle alert system to help ensure motorists are aware of a bicycle in a bike lane.

“Our target was for vehicles that turn right without thinking to check for a cyclist approaching in the lane,” said Team Side Swipers member and mechanical engineering freshman Christian Tello. “When vehicles don’t check, it can lead to sideswipes, especially since the bicycles are much smaller than vehicles. With our proactive system, the LED array alerts drivers that a cyclist is inbound and we eliminate the need for humans to check. We used a police light pattern for the LED alerts to take advantage of the psychological effects of police lights and to ensure it catches the eyes of all drivers.”

As part of their course work, teams were required to conduct stakeholder interviews and research before beginning their design solution.

“As we worked on this problem, we began to realize how large this issue is—especially for people who commute by bicycle every day,” said Seamus Millet of Team Illuminatey. “We were happy to try and design a solution that would have a positive impact,”

“This semester’s RoadX challenge was an ideal EPICS I project,” said EPICS Program Director Leslie Light. “EPICS teaches open-ended problem-solving and workplace skills, and this challenge has many different solutions through a variety of disciplines,” she said. “Issues with biker and pedestrian safety affect us all, so the students could also relate to it and see the mark their work can leave on the world around them.”

 

Contact:
Megan Hanson, Communications Manager, Academic Affairs | 303-384-2358 | mhanson@mines.edu
Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu

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