Over the course of seven days, 20 Mines students from the band, orchestra and choir presented 10 concerts along with a music and instruction program to underprivileged K-12 students, mining industry professionals and college students and faculty in Peru.

Robert Klimek, director of the Mines music program, said the group’s best experience was presenting a first-ever concert in the shanty towns of Lima.

“Many in the audience commented that they were grateful for the music, because this was the first live music their children had ever heard, and one said, ‘may ever hear,’” Klimek said.

Chemical engineering student Molly Groom is a soloist in the Mines choir. She shared common interests with native Peruvians, such as the “love of music and the drive to be an engineer.”

“I met several young students who wanted to become engineers, and that created such a special bond because we both knew that it’s not easy being an engineer,” Groom said.

Chemical and biochemical engineering student Ryan Czarny, who plays saxophone in the band, said the performances abroad was just one way he could use his musical talents and engineering skills to provoke change in others.

“After the trip, I have been inspired to continue to give back to my own community, not only through giving of my time and services, but also through my musical abilities,” Czarny said.

Besides music performances, the group attended a presentation on ancient Inca music, watched a few cooking classes and visited Machu Pichu.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

By Katerina Gonzales
The Oredigger

The E-Days carnival provides a place to eat and be merry; however, for some, the carnival is a chance to return to old stomping grounds. The Oredigger caught up with Shamus McNutt, a Mines alum and cofounder of Belong Designs, at the E-Days carnival.


What inspired you to start Belong?

So we started about eight months ago at School of Mines. We were sitting through our final year of engineering classes and kind of realized, "What are we passionate about in life?" Skiing, snowboarding, helping others follow their true passions, and when you follow that passion, you "Belong", and that birthed Belong Designs. And so right now we are making apparel. We make hoodies, hats, shirts...we started to make outerwear jackets, and we'll be in full production of these in about a month and have them in August. And yeah, we have been sponsoring events: we sponsor fourteen athletes, a few Mines athletes actually, from slackliners to skiers to snowboarders. We're looking to go full-time in about a year. So we'll start our own headquarters in the Highlands, and hopefully start hiring some Mines grads. We're making long boards right now, and we'll be starting skis and snowboards in about a few months. Yeah, we're looking to expand.

How does having engineers benefit the business?

Being from Mines, you have that technical background, and honestly when people ask me "What's the most valuable thing you gained from going to Mines?", it's not the classes I've been through, you know, I don't exactly remember what I learned in Thermodynamics, but it is how to learn and how to learn efficiently, and that's why it's great for Mines grads.

Where do you see Belong going?

I see Belong going pretty big; we're hoping to grow it to a good-sized company, probably a mid-sized company from a hundred to five hundred people working for us. Eventually, sponsoring athletes, sending to the X-Games, sending to the know, really helping develop athletes and making sure they're going down the right path in life, and that's what Belong is about. We kind of want to keep it a clean brand in really following your true passions, with a lot of positivity coming out of the brand.

What's your favorite E-Days memory?

Oh man, favorite E-Days memory...there's too many. I would say it would be coming to see Air Dubai and we actually afterwards knew a guy from the band and were hanging out with the guys. It was cool to see that.


This interview originally appeared in the April 7, 2014, issue of The Oredigger.

Colorado School of Mines received high scores at the American Society of Civil Engineering Rocky Mountain Student Conference April 4-5 at Colorado State University. Mines placed first for both the Overall Conference award and the Steel Bridge competition. The “Steel Standing” bridge team will be attending the National Student Steel Bridge Competition in Akron in May.

“As always, I was very proud of the way these students represented Colorado School of Mines!” said Candace Sulzbach, Faculty Advisor of the ASCE student chapter.


  • 1st Place, Overall Conference award
  • 1st Place, Steel Bridge competition
  • 4th Place, Concrete Canoe competition
  • 4th Place, Non-technical paper presentation - Ryan Logan
  • 5th Place, Technical paper presentation - Jordan Downs
  • 5th Place, Pre-Design competition - Melody Clay, Max Ransom and Peter Eisinger



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

Colorado School of Mines senior design team, G-Turn Ski Cores, is working on constructing all mountain, powder and terrain park ski cores for the Colorado-based company, Green Light Skis. Six mechanical engineering students and one electrical engineering student are testing ski cores for bending, shear and torsion until failure.

“One of the complications with the project is the skis are laminated, they’re not quite as straight-forward as what we learned as undergrads; we’ve had to dive in a little deeper to do a SolidWorks FEA analysis,” team leader and mechanical engineering student Shane Rumley said.

The team creates the cores by laminating wood in various configurations and cutting them using Green Light Skis’ computer controlled cutting machine. It takes three to four days for the cores to cure after the process. Once they are cured, the team cuts out the side profiles, which range from 2-12 centimeters. They measure the stiffness of the ski using a custom designed, electro-mechanical rig they built for the project.

“We use softwood for powder skis because when you are doing backcountry, you want skis that are light to carry and playful in the powder,” Rumley said.

Mechanical engineering student Ben Paley said research shows there is an appeal to having your skis custom made.

“One of the coolest things we’ve found is that people are buying around 25 percent of skis from unknown or small ski manufacturing companies,” Paley said. 

Green Light Skis owner Ben Bramer started the company out of his apartment in spring 2012. He said working with the senior design team has exceeded his expectations.

“This research is important for Green Light Skis as it allows for sophisticated research and development of both skis and snowboards,” Bramer said. “This type of testing is non-existent in the niche of custom ski and board making and it will give us a competitive advantage as we can work with our customers to produce a proven product before they purchase.”



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

Colorado School of Mines mechanical engineering student Katrina Bujnoch was recently selected for a remote operated underwater vehicle (ROV) engineering summer internship, during which she will be studying the seafloor aboard the Exploration Vessel. The Ocean Exploration Trust oversees the vessel and more than 150 rotating scientists, engineers, educators and students who are part of the mission.

Bujnoch will be examining the impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil spill on coral reefs and other marine ecosystems.

“I wanted to get into robotics, and I think this internship is unique because I get to be on the research side of the field,” Bujnoch said.

Bujnoch will study and maintain ROVs, Hercules and Argus. She will work with the two systems to explore, locate and describe new habitats, geological processes and cultural sites, to name a few.

“I’m hoping to have a better idea of how an actual ROV works,” Bujnoch said. “It will be exciting to learn what research is like in the field, especially in this different environment.”

Currently, Bujnoch is designing an underwater vehicle that can move around and transport objects as part of an undergraduate research fellowship.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

A Colorado School of Mines Senior Design team, the CSM Oardiggers, is entering their squid-inspired canoe, named Humboldt, into the Concrete Canoe Competition at the American Society of Civil Engineers Rocky Mountain Student Conference April 4 and 5 at Colorado State University.

“The squid is part of the symbology of fighting your inner monster,” EPICS and civil engineering (CE) student Melodie Houston said. “It’s a really menacing sea creature that has its own mysterious intimation.”

CE student Alex Walker was the lead artist for the team, primarily developing and executing the graphic design. Team leader and CE student Edward Huss says the squid played a major role in the hydrodynamic design of their canoe.

“One of the main things that will differentiate us from other teams will be that our hull is shaped like a squid, which will allow us to cut through the water,” Huss said. “This, along with the smooth finish, will give us a competitive edge.”

CE student Katie Courtright is relying on the stability of the canoe. The canoe must be light enough to be competitive in the races, but still strong enough to avoid cracking and capsizing.

“We did some really advanced structural analysis this year; we were able to take more risks and feel confident in them,” Courtright said. “Our canoe is lighter and will be faster for the competition.” 

The 21-member team will be judged on their engineering design paper, oral presentation, overall aesthetics and four races in Horsetooth Reservoir. This year the top two teams from the regional competition will advance to nationals. Last year, Mines placed third in the competition, losing by a margin of one place in one race.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

If you have seen the James Bond movie, GoldenEye, or played the Nintendo 64 video game, you might remember the radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Mines mechanical engineering student Alexis Humann was selected for a 10-week summer research program, during which she will working on building an autonomous robot to clean the world's largest single-dish telescope.

“Right now when people clean it they put on giant snowshoes to even out their weight; the weight of a person would collapse it,” Humann said. “We will need to build a robot that is really light and well distributed.”

The observatory telescope is used to study the properties of planets, comets and asteroids. Scientists who want to use the telescope are required to submit proposals for an independent scientific board. It will be a unique opportunity for Humann to work with the telescope firsthand.

“Everyone in the aerospace industry knows about this observatory and it has a great reputation,” Humann said. “I will be working with some of the top scientists in the world. I am so excited to be able to meet them and learn all about their work.”

Humman is also looking forward to the opportunity to combine her mechanical engineering skills with her interest in aerospace.

“I think space exploration is going to move away from man exploration and go into the robotics side of things,” Humann said. “There is so much technology to improve upon there, and the possibilities are endless.”

Currently Humann is working on an undergraduate research fellowship with Dr. Douglas Van Bossuyt to build a robot that can analyze its health and make its own decisions.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

Mines students are working with Mechanical Engineering (ME) professor John Steele and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) professor Qi Han to build and develop a system to automate oil and gas processes through unmanned robots. Blaster, the original prototype, will be deployed to the Petroleum Institute (PI) in Abu Dhabi to increase the safety in oil and gas refineries. 

Currently, refinery operators are exposed to potential explosions, gas leaks and extreme weather conditions.

“We are trying to get robots to do the same operations humans can do, but by taking the human out of harm’s way, we are increasing safety,” Steele said. “Abu Dhabi can reach up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, so people are exposed to extreme heat as well as sand storms and possibly gas leaks. If the robot is harmed, you can always build another one.”

The robot is equipped with a methane gas sensor, video camera, microphone, thermal imaging camera, GPS, digital compass, laser-range finder and Wi-Fi client-bridge. Each of these sensors will help it navigate, avoid collisions and transfer information back to the control room operator.

EECS students Adewole Ayoade and Marshall Sweatt are collaborating to develop applications that will take readings from the sensors to determine the robotic location and remotely log those readings for analysis. Alex Yearsly, a ME student, designed and manufactured the 5-degrees of freedom robotic arm after taking over from Dan Albert, a recent graduate. John Steuben, a graduate student in engineering systems, designed and 3D-printed the sensor housing for the robot’s head. 

Ayoade emphasized the importance of testing the robot in conditions similar to the refinery. “Because we are working on a real life project, we have to understand the environmental conditions of where we are sending the system,” Ayoade said.

Once Blaster’s build is completed, Ayoade and Sweatt will travel overseas to test its functionality and transfer the technology to faculty and students at the PI.

“I’m really excited; I’ve never been to the United Arab Emirates before,” Sweatt said. “It is an honor to be invited.”

Blaster’s capabilities will demonstrate Mines’ ability to develop a robotic system for inspection and operations. The robot will become the basis for a proposal to a French robotic competition called ARGOS Challenge, sponsored by TOTAL, in which contestants from all over the world will develop advanced robotic capabilities for oil and gas environments.

Watch a short video of the robot here.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /

On Feb. 8, more than 100 Colorado high-schoolers – all female – spent the day at Mines for Girls Lead the Way 2014, a conference focused on women and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

The Mines collegiate section and Rocky Mountain professional section of the Society of Women Engineers partnered to host this event for the second year.

“The purpose of the conference was to get high school girls excited about the STEM fields, expose them to a variety of different industries they may not be familiar with and mostly just to have fun while getting to know girls with similar interests,” said Carly Conley, Mines SWE officer and event organizer.

“I think it is important to reach out to young women regarding STEM because diversity helps enhance creative problem solving in the workplace. Women are very capable of understanding technical subject matter, but we often approach problems differently than men. I think it is to everyone's benefit to have both ways of thinking work together to solve complex problems,” she said. “There are a lot of young women who don't realize the skills they possess, so I think it is important to help them become aware of the possibilities that await them in a STEM field.”

Conley said the day was educational not just for the students in attendance, but also for her fellow SWE members – both collegiate and professional. The conference featured speakers from industries including biomechanical engineering, civil engineering and construction, oil and gas, aerospace and the military.

“The learning most certainly does not end after high school, we are all continuously learning and benefiting from hearing about each other's experiences,” said Conley.

Organizers said both participant and parent feedback was encouraging.

“One parent said the event was ‘an excellent orientation to a truly elite school,’” said Agata Dean, adjunct instructor in the Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department and interim faculty advisor for the Mines SWE section.

Faculty and staff from across campus also participated in the event. Abby Hickman, from the Mines Admissions Office, organized an information session for parents; Katie Schmalzel, of Student Life, facilitated a fashion show for the girls; Lin Sherman, from the Career Center, hosted a session on resume writing; and Dr. Anne Silverman, from the Mechanical Engineering Department, led a seminar on biomedical engineering.

The Girls Lead the Way conference was sponsored by Aera Energy, Williams, BP, Merrick & Company and Stanley Consultants.

In March, two students from Mines’ Engineers Without Borders-Bridges to Prosperity club (EWB-B2P) and mentor Stephanie Fleckenstein will travel to Los Gomez, Nicaragua, to help the community stop one of the biggest causes of death in the world: lack of access to inexpensive, clean water.

Geology and geological engineering graduate student Ethan Faber and mechanical engineering student Eric Rosing will use the trip to gain information about the community’s needs for a water system. Rosing traveled to Los Gomez in spring 2013 with members of the group to help complete a pedestrian bridge. He saw firsthand the current water infrastructure and identified potential needs for improvements.

“Water projects in developing countries often fail—not because of technological failures, but because of social issues,” Rosing said. “I hope that we are at least able to build a better connection with the community so that we can work with the community and not for them.”

One spring in Los Gomez currently provides fair quality water, but it quickly becomes contaminated. When it stops producing during the dry season, the next best option is to retrieve water from shallow hand dug wells.

“Since these wells are located at great distances and have extremely poor quality, many individuals miss work due to being sick or they don't have time since so much of their day is spent gathering the water,” Faber said. “When the average income in rural Nicaragua is around $1 a day, missing any amount of work can be detrimental.”

Once Faber and Rosing examine the problem with community support, they could possibly build wells drilled into confined aquifers, construct additional storage systems and design a water decontamination system.

“I’m excited to be travelling on this trip because I really enjoy helping people, especially when I can put engineering knowledge to use in doing so,” Rosing said.

The group is currently in the design phase of a second bridge project in the neighboring town, La Conquista. The bridge will provide access to healthcare, markets and schools during the rainy season for the surrounding communities. In May, the team will help the community finish constructing the bridge. They anticipate completion in the first week in June.

For more information about EWB-B2P, see



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 /

Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 /


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