Students

Colorado School of Mines is a uniquely focused public research university dedicated to preparing exceptional students to solve today's most pressing energy and environmental challenges.

This is Mines.

The Mines student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) placed fourth overall (out of 13 teams) in the Rocky Mountain Student Conference last weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The steel bridge team placed fourth overall and the concrete canoe team third overall in their respective competitions.

“There is some tough competition in our conference so we were happy to improve from 4th place last year to 3rd place this year,” said Rachel Steenerson, a civil engineering student who worked as the technical director on the canoe. “We really had an edge over the competition because we had an awesome group of EPICS students that worked on the aesthetics and display part of the competition during the spring semester so the senior design students were able to focus on the more technical aspects of the project.”

The complete ASCE rankings by competition are listed below:

  • Concrete Canoe: 3rd Place Overall

Senior Design Students: Heather Mergentime, Brett Mahon, Laura Brewer, Rachel Nagel, Rachel Steenerson, Dina Vakarchuk, Katie Herrera and Broc Patterson
EPICS students: Taylor Poynor, Cohen Turner, Melanie Stephenson, Aaron Graham, Jorge Rodriguez, Alex Deseau, Maito Okamoto, Jared Roberts and Jon Chesnut

  • Design Paper: 2nd Place
  • Oral Presentation: 3rd Place
  • Final Product: 4th Place
  • Race Results:
    • Women's Sprint: 2nd Place
    • Men's Sprint: 2nd Place
    • Coed Sprint: 3rd Place
    • Women's Endurance: 3rd Place
    • Men's Endurance: 4th Place
       
  • Non-Technical Paper: 3rd Place

Student: Jon Chestnut

  • Steel Bridge: 4th Place Overall

Students: Nikol Hall, Alexi Scherkenbach, Eli Ludtke, Max Ransom, Mark Sundstrom and Travis White

  • Mystery Design - 4th Place

Students: Melanie Stephenson, Jared Roberts and Aaron Graham

  • Pre-Design: 5th Place

Students: Taylor Poynor and Thomas Chesson

  • Technical Paper: 9th Place

Student: Rebecca Boggan

  • Charity Event: Habitat for Humanity coin donation box featuring a Colorado Ski Resort

Students: Jenny Mathew, Maito Okamoto, Nicholas Alexander Chavez, Ashley Rosacker, Krista Hickey and Emily Echelberger

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

There’s more to Mines’ ‘Introduction to Brewing Science’ course than making beer. Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE) associate professor Paul Ogg is using the class to teach students the science behind beer production.

“The process from going from barley to beer is the almost exact same process as going from cellulose to bioethanol fuel,” Ogg said. “When students interview with an employer, they can say, ‘I didn’t make bioethanol fuel in a semester, but I did make beer.’”  

Before Ogg’s course was offered this spring, students could take the class, ‘Biochemical Process Engineering,’ to study fermentation products and alternative fuels. CBE associate professor John Persichetti works with students through most phases of brewing, and sometimes vinification (wine making)—including enzymatic breakdown of starches to sugars (brewing), fermentation and product analysis— which at times includes chemical analysis using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (students make beer or wine as part of the fermentation portion of the course lab), to test the impact of process parameters on flavor and color.

The CBE Department is in the process of finalizing a still system designed to remove alcohol from the beer and wine products (those that aren’t as desirable as a beverage).

“This will give us a new experiment where students can step through fermentation to make ethanol, then concentrate the ethanol to levels suitable to industrial use,” Persichetti said.

In Persichetti’s class, students making beer use already malted barley, similar to homebrewing. Ogg wanted his course to take it one step further and have students learn the process of malting their own barley, and explore how to design a recipe to achieve very specific desired product characteristics.

“My hope was we could have local brewers taste the beer students are making and say, ‘This isn’t what the big breweries are making but this works for me because I have a different market and I’m looking for new flavors in my craft beers,’” Ogg said.

This past year, CBE Laboratory Technician Michael Stadick designed and built a small-scale malting system in the Unit Operations Building (located behind Alderson Hall) for students to use in Ogg’s class.

Chemical engineering student Tanner Taylor is one of 40 students in the course. He is working in a team of four students to create a Scottish ale for his final project.

“Learning how to make my own beer and hearing from head brewers has made me want to work at a brewery in the future,” said Taylor. “This course is continuing to help motivate me to follow that path.”

Visit the malting system and you will see students learning all aspects of the brewing process including testing, cleaning, bottling, malting, flavor extracting and tasting beers. Guest speakers from MillerCoors, Odell Brewing Company, Golden Moon Distillery, Bierstadt Lagerhaus, Mountain Toad Brewery and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have spoken on a variety of topics ranging from sour beer production to malt whiskey production. Several guests have been Mines alums, including Josh Robbins (Chemical Petroleum Refining ’95, ’00, 03) from Mountain Toad. On April 29, local brewers and staff members will be judging student teams on the sensory basics of their beer and will give them a tasting score that will make up 10% of their final grade.

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

Summer is fast approaching and these four Colorado School of Mines students with different majors are venturing outside of Colorado to have some unique opportunities.

Student: Amos Gwa
Major: Computer Science
Internship: Google
Location: Mountain View, California

“Google impacts lives everyday and changes the way we learn. My passion is technology and my goal is to contribute to humanity with what I do.”

Computer Science student Amos Gwa will be working this summer at Google through an Engineering Practicum Internship. Amos will be using JavaScript and C++ to work with ads on mobile-friendly websites. In order to be selected, Gwa had to submit an application and participate in a two-hour coding interview.

Amos is currently working with other Mines students to develop an app for events on campus and designs flyers for the Residence Hall Association.

 

Student: Katarina Bujnoch
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Internship: Texas Instruments
Location: Dallas, Texas

“What interested me is that I will be spending part of my internship working in a clean room. All of the silicon wafers made by Texas Instruments are manufactured in the clean rooms because the wafers cannot have impurities. These wafers are then used in products in almost every industry, from automotive to cell phones.”

Mechanical Engineering student Katarina Bujnoch will be working as a Semiconductor Manufacturing Engineer Intern at Texas Instruments. She will be supporting teams in the plant with solving problems in current fabrication process and installing new equipment.

“I hope to learn how robotics and automation processes are being implemented in manufacturing. Texas Instruments is in the forefront of this process by converting older hands-on facilities into automated facilities, as well as building new fully automated facilities.”

Katarina is on the Club Tennis Team and Tau Beta Pi, and the Evening with Industry Director for Society of Women Engineers.

 

Student: Justin Fantasky
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Internship: Aera Energy
Location: Bakersfield, California

“I’m looking forward to a new challenge and building on what I already know.”

Last summer, Mechanical Engineering student Justin Fantasky worked as a Technical Intern at Aera Energy, helping insulate oil gathering lines and performing heat loss and flow rate calculations.

“They let me take charge of my project. I learned more than I ever needed to know about insulation and drilling rigs.”

Justin wanted to return for a second summer because he valued the company atmosphere and connected with last year’s interns.

Justin is also the Vice President of Beta Theta Pi and the E-Days Chair on Mines Activities Council.

 

Student: Sam Ramsay
Major: Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
Internship: Coeur Mining, Inc.
Location: Rochester, Nevada

“Last summer, I did a lot of office work. This summer, I am getting my hands dirty. I want to learn about mining and how I can help others in society with what they are making."

Sam will be working as a Metallurgist Intern this summer for Coeur Mining, where he will be performing lab work, touring their facilities and researching silver and gold mines.

Sam hopes to diversify his work experience, as last summer he had a materials internship with a biomaterials company.

Starting this fall, Sam will be a Hall Director for Residence Life. He is very involved on campus as a pledge for Blue Key, a student assistant in the Career Center and sits on the Ore Cart Pull Committee for the Mines Activities Council.

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

Eleven members of the Mines Band, along with Teaching Professor & Music Program Director Bob Klimek, Colorado School of Mines Alumni Association Board President Ray Priestley ’79 and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science professor Cathy Skokan '70, '72, '75, spent Spring Break (March 9-13) in Jamaica.

While in Mona, the group visited with the environmental science and engineering departments at the University of the West Indies to hear about their senior design projects and see their preparation for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers robot competition. In Kingston, they teamed up with the Alpha Boys’ School to perform in a five-hour recording session in the Tuff Gong Studio that was founded by Bob Marley in 1965.

Engineering physics student Nick Smith said his favorite part of the trip was recording at the studio, where Mines students had to learn, arrange and record a song in real time.

“We met the students the day before recording, and did not even start rehearsing a song until the morning of the recording session,” Smith said. “Once I figured out the chords, I ended up arranging many of the instrumental parts of the music, and guiding the players through the song as we recorded it.”

Smith plays many instruments with the Mines music department—bassoon in concert band, tenor saxophone in marching band, cello in the orchestra and bass in the jazz band. He wanted to make sure that even though he was not majoring in music, he still had a connection to the arts.

“The greatest way that music makes me a better engineer is that it gives me some sort of connection to humanity, rather than just being a number-crunching, science-doing machine,” Smith said. “I am currently taking an ethnomusicology course, where we study the music of different cultures and how the music is intertwined with their cultural history. Everything in music can teach you about the culture it came from, and this allows me to have a sense of humanity in my engineering.”

As one of the organizers of the trip, Skokan also juggles multiple instruments, playing bassoon in the band, violin in the orchestra and erhu in the Chinese Band. She is not only active in band, but also in the music program, where she organizes small ensembles. Skokan picked Jamaica given that it has a musical as well as technical component.

“Our music students at Mines are very well rounded and are able to use both their creative and analytic parts of their brains,” Skokan said. “We try to expose students to a culture different than in the U.S., but one that they might encounter in their professional careers. Because they have traveled and worked with people from other cultures, they will be more able to adjust when needed.”

In mid-March, the Music program received approval for a new Music Technology minor and will see its first graduates this fall. Next Spring Break, the marching band plans to travel to Dublin to perform in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

Colorado School of Mines has once again won the Materials Bowl, held by The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society at its annual meeting and exhibition March 15 to 19 in Orlando.

The Mines chapter of the Material Advantage Student Program defeated Georgia Institute of Technology in the final.

Four chapter members represented Mines in the "Jeopardy"-style knowledge and trivia competition: Blake Whitley, Emily Mitchell, Connor Campbell and Andrea Bollinger.

TMS has held the Materials Bowl at its annual meeting since 2007; the Mines chapter has now won five of those nine competitions, also coming out on top in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013. No other school has won twice.

Mines students also took home third place out of 25 entries in the TMS Bladesmithing Competition, with their submission of a kukri blade -- a Nepalese knife similar to a machete.

The team members for the bladesmithing competition were team captain Allison Loecke, Connor Campbell, Ryan Peck, Grant Bishop, Hunter Sceats and Kyle Heser.

TMS is a professional organization composed of scientists, engineers, and students in the materials field.

 

Contact:

Mark Ramirez, Communication Specialist, College of Applied Science and Engineering | 303-383-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu

In the sixth annual and largest NASA Robotic Mining Competition, a team of 14 Mines students will be competing against 53 teams from all over the nation to design and build a mining rover.

The senior design team, Blasterbotica, is taking apart last year’s rover and building new components to build a smaller rover for the competition May 18-22 at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The rover will have to traverse a simulated Martian terrain, excavate regolith and gravel and deposit them into a collector bin within 10 minutes. The winning team will receive the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence trophy, KSC launch invitations, team certificates for each member and a $5,000 team scholarship.

It’s unusual for teams to build a new rover instead of improving the previous team's rover, but Blasterbotica thinks this will give them an advantage.

“Ours will have a regolith delivery system made up of a bucket ladder and dumping system,” said David Long, mechanical engineering student. “We have created a unique method to lower the excavator, allowing it to go from perpendicular to vertical to almost horizontal. We can lower it in as deep as we want. This will give us a lot more mobility in terms of how we want to excavate.”

One of the challenges the team faces is staying within the weight and size limitations of the contest. The students received a donation from Lockheed Martin to fund their lightweight materials, such as aluminum and steel for the frame and polycarbonate for dust shielding and electronic boxes.

“It has to be durable because we want future teams to be able to use it,” said mechanical engineering student Nichole Cusack. “We will be using chains similar to ones you might see on a bucket ladder. This allows us to get better traction and turn easier so the treads don’t sink in.” 


Last year, the team lost functionality in the rover during the competition because they used a faulty interface. To prevent that from happening again, the team will be using LINUX to allow for flexibility in driving the rover.

“We can’t sense the walls in the arena this year so we have to use inertial measurement units and camera vision to determine location,” said Long. “Power monitoring the rover is a big deal.”

The team is working quickly to have a build done by early April in order to have a month of testing. Since October, the team has delivered STEM presentations using previous rovers to area schools, such as Bell Middle School, Powderhorn Elementary School, Foothills Elementary School, Coal Creek Canyon Elementary School and Mitchell Elementary School.

Blasterbotica is comprised of students in the fields of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science. The team’s faculty advisors include mechanical engineering professors Christopher Dreyer and Ozkan Celik. Their client is Angel Abbud Madrid, director of the Center for Space Resources at Mines.

Visit blasterbotica.mines.edu to read more about the team. Keep up with the team’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.

The Senior Design Program is part of the College of Engineering & Computational Sciences, and is a creative multidisciplinary design experience emerging from combined efforts in civil, electrical, mechanical, and environmental specialties in engineering.

 

Contact:

Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / kgilbert@mines.edu

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

This quote is on the wall in the office of Megan Harris, who acts as an academic advising coordinator in the Center for Academic Services and Advising (CASA). It is just one of the tips she offers Mines students who come to her with desires or requirements to raise their grade point averages.

Last year, Harris started the Bounce Back Program—an experience that gives students a concentrated academic coaching experience, providing structure, resources, accountability and support to help them achieve their goals. In addition to academic skills, the program focuses on resiliency and having the ability to bounce back from adversity.

For the past year, Harris has watched students who completed a semester of the program improve their GPA.

“We have seen whole grade changes, where students went from a ‘C’ average to a ‘B’ average,” Harris said. “As the program continues to grow, we hope this pattern of success continues.”

Harris said 60 students signed up this semester, an increase of 40 students from the semester before. She attributes the growth to expanding the program from including first year students to sophomores and juniors, and to the positive reaction from students who have successfully completed the program.

Electrical engineering student Eugene Duran went through the program last fall and was eager to share his experience with students currently in the program. Duran serves as one of Bounce Back’s peer coaches, helping facilitate weekly meetings where students learn academic skills such as time management, stress management, techniques to improve memory and test taking strategies.

Duran knows firsthand that it can be difficult to come back to school after a tough semester.

“It was through this program that I was able to earn the best grades I've ever had at Mines,” said Duran. “I had been a deficient student for a time leading up to the point where I was on academic suspension. When I came back to Mines, I attended Bounce Back because it seemed like I could learn from the program and be part of an environment where I could share my experiences with students who had faced similar academic hardship.”

Peer coaches help students like Jim Feng, a petroleum engineering student, who is participating in the program this semester because he hopes to boost his GPA by a full point. In the last month, he has already seen significant changes in his study habits and has learned how to better organize his academic responsibilities.

“It's been so rewarding to have a group of students and coaches keeping me accountable,” Feng said. “The most important thing I've learned from Bounce Back is that I am not alone and that facing my fears is the first step to success.”

Bounce Back acts as a support system for students’ goals, but the success of the program comes from students’ willingness to improve.

“If the person is committed to making a positive change for themselves, this is the place to do it,” said Harris.

Learn more about the Bounce Back Program.

 

Contact:

Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / kgilbert@mines.edu

Eleven students are part of a humanitarian engineering course that is designing plans to relocate a village displaced by mining operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. The course “Projects for People,” taught by corporate social responsibility and Human Centered Design professor Benjamin Teschner, is geared toward students interested in the social challenges associated with the extractive industries and how engineering helps address these problems.

During the first class, Teschner gave each student $20 to design a prototype that would act as a tool to explain to someone living in the village how their lives would change after relocating.

“Commonly, students think of prototypes only as something they build to test their idea or to help themselves as engineers refine a design. What this assignment does is force them to think about how to design a prototype that will show someone else how their idea works so they can engage non-engineers in their design process,” Teschner said. “Students will immediately lay their assumptions about the problem out on the table for everyone to see—assumptions that they didn’t even know they were making.”

Aina Abiina is one of two graduate students in the class. The course is not required for Abiina’s Liberal Arts and International Studies degree, however she chose to enroll because she wanted to learn about the interaction between multi-national companies and people that are affected by these companies’ activities.

“In order to minimize a negative impact on the environment of those people and to optimize the production of the mine, a proper assessment is needed,” said Abiina. “Designing solutions to this complex engineering and social challenge will help students gain valuable skills in human-centered design methods, research techniques, brainstorming tools and approaches.”

Over the next few months, teams in two groups will have three phase gate reviews that will explore problem definition, design exploration and design analysis. The unique thing about this course is that the grades and passage of the phase gates are not linked. Grades are determined instead by how the team works within these phase gates.

“I hope students are able to develop empathy for people who use the things they design and that they recognize by bringing these people into the design process, they can create better, more sustainable engineering outcomes,” Teschner said.

Chemical and Biochemical Engineering student Karyn Burry hopes to end the course with better design flow skills.

“I am a super organized person and that usually is really helpful in a group, but this class is pushing me out of the organizer position into a position where I am forced to think outside the box in attempt to find a solution to this relocation project,” Burry said.

To better understand the village and relocation process, students are working with Thabani Mlilo, manager of sustainability for the America region at AngloGold Ashanti, who is acting as the ‘client’ on the project. Mlilo’s goal is to catalyze a paradigm shift early enough in an engineer’s education so that it is “part of their DNA” and a natural part of how they approach problems or solutions wherever there is a sustainability aspect to their work.

“In the sustainability field, one of the biggest challenges we have is shifting the paradigm of professionals in technical and scientific disciplines to the changing landscape of the business-society interface,” Mlilo said. “My impression of Mines students is that they don’t shy away from a challenge and are not afraid of treading unknown waters.”

For questions about the course, please contact Benjamin Teschner at bteschne@mines.edu.

 

Contact:

Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / kgilbert@mines.edu

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