by
Emilie Rusch

Memorable Mines Moments of 2023: Campus construction, E&I Ecosystem and more 

Before our 150th anniversary celebrations get underway in 2024, let's raise a toast to the milestones of 2023
Guggenheim dome in fall with sun flare

Can you spell sesquicentennial?  

Better start practicing now, because 2024 will be a milestone year for Colorado School of Mines as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of our founding in 1874. 

But before the birthday celebrations get underway, let’s raise a toast to 2023 and some memorable Mines moments of the past year. 


USGS, DOI and Mines officials throw a ceremonial scoop of dirt at the EMRF Groundbreaking

Mines, USGS break ground on 190,000-square-foot Energy and Minerals Research Facility  

Once complete in 2026, the U.S. Geological Survey Energy and Minerals Research Facility will be the largest research building on the Mines campus, home to about 250 USGS scientists and 170 Mines faculty members and students working side by side.  

After years of planning, site preparation and construction got underway in late 2023, thanks to $167 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.  

Read more: USGS, Mines break ground on new facility focused on energy and minerals research


Aerial rendering of Mines Park project

Cranes in flight as three more campus construction projects break ground 

The USGS Energy and Minerals Research Facility wasn’t the only project to break ground on campus in 2023: Mines also commenced major investments in student housing, childcare, campus parking and instructional space. 

  • Mines Park: The $151 million redevelopment project will more than double the number of beds on campus for upper-division undergrads, graduate students and graduate-student families, with the construction of five new apartment buildings and the top-to-bottom renovation of 19 other buildings at Mines Park.  

  • Mines Early Childhood Education Center: Operated by Bright Horizons, the on-campus childcare center will serve about 104 children from the Mines community ages 6 weeks through 5 years when it opens in August 2024. 

  • Parking Garage/Classroom Building II: The four-story classroom building will be home to nine new classroom spaces, including a large lecture hall, faculty offices and graduate student workspaces, huddle rooms and breakout rooms for independent study. Attached to the building will be Mines’ second parking garage, with about 870 parking spaces for the campus community.  

Read more:


Headshots of Victoria Bill and Zack Bennett

Mines Entrepreneurship & Innovation Ecosystem launches with key hires 

The Mines Entrepreneurship & Innovation Ecosystem will expand the reach and impact Mines faculty, students and alumni have in the world by providing them with a state-of-the-art network of facilities, programs, resources and business connections to expedite their ideas, concepts and solutions into the marketplace. 

Two foundational pieces of the ecosystem – the Labriola Innovation Hub and Beck Venture Center buildings – are set to open in January 2024. In 2023, Mines hired the founding directors for the two innovation-centric facilities and associated programming. 

Read moreInnovation takes center stage at Mines with creation of Entrepreneurship & Innovation Ecosystem


view of Mines Football player helmet at NCAA title game

Mines Football ranked No. 1 in nation for first time en route to second-straight NCAA DII Football Championship appearance 

The Orediggers nabbed the No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history in October and didn’t let go on their way to a record 14 wins and a second consecutive appearance in the NCAA DII Football Championship Game in McKinney, Texas. The final game of the 2023 season didn’t go our way, but what a season it was for Mines Football.  

Individual records and awards abounded, as well, with Quarterback John Matocha smashing the records for both passing (162) and total (191) touchdowns – among all divisions of college football – and being named the top scholar-athlete in all of Division II. Offensive tackle Levi Johnson won the 2023 Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award, the first Oredigger ever awarded the national honor. 

Read more: 


Blaster climbs aboard the Ore Cart

Mines, City of Golden launch free Ore Cart shuttle service for campus, broader community 

Paraphrasing the student speakers at Fall 2023 Graduate Commencement, the Mines Rover walked so the Ore Cart could run.  

The Ore Cart – a free fixed-route shuttle service for the Mines campus and broader Golden community – launched in Summer 2023, providing regular and reliable connections between the Mines campus, downtown Golden and the RTD W Line Station at Jeffco Government Center. Ridership has been so strong that service expansions are already being planned for early 2024.  

Read more: Ore Cart expands service, with two new routes connecting Mines, W Line, downtown Golden


Humanitarian Engineering Program celebrates 20th anniversary 

Since 2003, Mines’ Humanitarian Engineering (HE) program has taught scientists and engineers how to best partner with communities around the world and take a sociotechnical approach to making a difference in the world.  

Mines was the first university to offer an undergraduate minor in humanitarian engineering in the United States; since then, more than 150 Mines students have graduated with a Humanitarian Engineering minor, and 20 students have received a master's degree or certificate. 

Read more: Humanitarian Engineering program celebrates two decades of transformative impact


Table of students talks to professor during Design I

No surprise here: Mines remains No. 1 national university in Colorado in U.S. News rankings 

Colorado School of Mines was once again recognized among the nation’s top universities in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings.  

In the 2024 edition of the rankings, Mines was No. 76 among national universities and No. 36 among public schools. Several Mines degree programs received recognition among schools where the highest degree granted is a PhD: No. 2 in Petroleum Engineering; No. 17 in Materials; No. 24 in Environmental/Environmental Health; No. 29 in Civil; and No. 71 in Computer Science (Undergraduate). 

Mines also performed strongly in the annual graduate school rankings, with its Geophysics, Geology and Petroleum Engineering grad programs in the top 10 nationwide. 

Read more:


Headshot of Joe Cornell

Campaign for MINES@150 receives historic gifts to support the Mining Engineering Department, scholarships for rural students 

To date, the Campaign for MINES@150 has raised $449 million from 26,048 donors. The impact of every single gift adds up to progress, yet two 2023 gifts stand out as transformative to the future of the Mining Engineering Department and scholarships for rural students:  

  • Denver entrepreneur Joe Cornell's estate gift to Mines, valued at $25 million, should, at its peak and in perpetuity, fund half of 50 rural students’ tuition and half of their board while they live on campus at Mines.  

  • Mines' No. 1 world-ranked Mining Engineering Department received a $7.5 million investment from alum J. Steven Whisler MS ’84 and his wife, Ardyce, of Whitefish, Montana, to create the J. Steven Whisler Chair for the Head of Mining Engineering, the J. Steven Whisler Professor of Practice and the J. Steven Whisler Scholars Program, which funds scholarships for mining engineering students.  

Read more:


Mines, Golden legend Marv Kay passes away at 84 

Marv Kay ’63 – the iconic Mines and City of Golden leader – died on April 19, at age 84. A celebration of life for Kay was held at his namesake football stadium in May.  

Mines Athletics Director David Hansburg summed up Kay’s legacy best: “Rarely do we see people like Coach Kay who have committed their entire life to one school and the surrounding community. Marv Kay is clearly the greatest Oredigger of all time, and his legacy will live on forever in the hearts and minds of his countless friends."  

Read more: Mines, Golden legend Marv Kay passes away at 84 

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.