by
Emilie Rusch

Colorado School of Mines team takes second place in SME Student Design Competition

“This competition really required us to connect what we have learned throughout our courses and apply it to a real-world situation,” mining engineering senior Samantha McLeary said.
SME Design Competition team around Blaster statue

A team of Colorado School of Mines students won second place in the 2021 Student Design Competition hosted by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) and the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.

The two-stage national competition involves both technical design and oral presentations around a real-world problem facing the aggregate mining industry.

This year, teams were challenged to evaluate an operating quarry in Eastern Tennessee and determine if the existing pit should be expanded or if a new pit should be developed based on net present value and profits over a 20-year lifespan.

The Mines team, nicknamed the Underminers, modeled and evaluated both options to come to the conclusion that the new pit provided the greatest economic value, team member Samantha McLeary said.

“Our proposed solution went beyond the technical aspect of designing and modeling new pits with reviewing permits, social license to operate, environmental impact, reclamation and a thorough economic analysis,” said McLeary, who is graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering.

Rounding out the team was Tanner Plank, Nathaniel White, Sydney Connor, Martina Gilbert and Donovan Cowan. With the exception of Cowan, who is a junior, the rest of the team participated in the competition as part of their Senior Design project.

“This competition really required us to connect what we have learned throughout our courses and apply it to a real-world situation,” McLeary said.

Taking first place in the competition was a team from the University of Arizona. Third place went to students from Virginia Tech.

Emilie Rusch

Emilie Rusch

Director of Communications
303-273-3361
About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public research university focused on science and engineering, where students and faculty together address the great challenges society faces today - particularly those related to the Earth, energy and the environment.