Kat Heiden

Mines establishes innovative professional development program

Vallejo-Irvine Professional Development Program will feature combination of classroom, extra-curricular experiences to build skillset needed to be successful after graduation
Scott Irvine and Fran Vallejo

Mines alumni Fran Vallejo ’87 and Scott Irvine ’87 recently made a $1 million gift to establish the Vallejo-Irvine Professional Development Program at Colorado School of Mines.

Also known as the “VIP Development Program,” this new initiative is focused on the professional development of all Mines students, an important part of the university’s MINES@150 campaign priorities and strategic plan. The program is the first of its kind at Mines. It will supplement students’ rigorous technical education and experiences with professional skills, making the students even more distinctive and prepared for the workforce upon graduation.

“We wanted students to have elevated professional development, training, experience and knowledge integrated into their Mines education,” Vallejo said. “As an industry executive, I noticed that many engineers and scientists needed more professional skills in the workplace. From networking and mentoring to building and giving presentations, there was a whole set of skills that could be improved in technical-focused employees if they were taught to them before entering the workforce.”

“Mines graduates are already known as people who get results,” Irvine continued. “Honing their communication and professional skills while still in school will give them an important edge as they begin their careers and will help them grow professionally for years to come.”

The VIP Development Program will include a combination of classroom and extra-curricular experiences to build the skillset needed to be successful after graduation. Program activities include alumni/professional mentoring programming, guest lectures, workshops, and enhanced Career Services programming.

“Graduates of Colorado School of Mines are already differentiated by their technical preparation, but we want them also to be distinctive because they are better professionally prepared than graduates of any other schools” said Paul C. Johnson, President of Colorado School of Mines. “The VIP Development Program will give students skills that make them more valuable in the workforce, enable a quicker career progression, and open doors for more career opportunities.”

About the Donors

Fran Vallejo ’87 is a retired executive of ConocoPhillips. She started her career as a geophysicist and moved into finance and management roles, including Treasurer and Vice President of Corporate Planning and Development.  She played key roles in a variety of major transactions, among them mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and spinoffs. She currently serves on the board of Cimarex, an exploration and production company.

Vallejo earned her BS in Mineral Engineering Mathematics from Mines and was a standout student. She was a Boettcher Scholar and was awarded the Outstanding Senior Award from the McBride Honors Program and the E-Day Engineer Award for the mathematics department. She also went on to earn her MBA from Rice University.

Vallejo has served in a number of capacities as a Mines volunteer, including as Chair of the Mines Foundation Engagement Committee and member of the Mines Foundation Finance Committee. She served on the Mines Board of Trustees from 2010 to 2016 and earned the Mines Distinguished Achievement Medal in 2016.

Scott Irvine ’87 is also retired from a long career at ConocoPhillips, during which he explored for oil and gas all over the world. Irvine earned his BS in Geophysical Engineering from Mines, played varsity soccer, was a member of the SAE fraternity, and proudly led tours at the Geology Museum. Irvine also volunteers at Mines as a member of the Foundation Engagement Committee.

Vallejo and Irvine met while students at Mines.  They married after they graduated and are parents of a Mines alum and current student. They are also members of the Mines Century Society, the President’s Council and Heritage Society.

About Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines is a public university focused on science and engineering, dedicated to educating and inspiring students, advancing knowledge and innovating to address the needs of industry and society. The university has always had unique expertise related to earth, energy and the environment.  Founded in 1874 with specialties in mining and metallurgy, Mines’ scope and mission have evolved to meet the needs of industry and society, producing distinctive graduates and revolutionary innovations, with impact to the energy, aerospace, civil infrastructure, defense, IT, health and earth resource industries.

Kat Heiden

Kat Heiden

Advancement Communications Writer, Colorado School of Mines Foundation
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.