$5M gift boosts underground construction program

A 1976 alumnus has contributed $5 million to Colorado School of Mines to support the university’s Underground Construction and Tunneling Program and to provide scholarships for undergraduate students. Of the total funding, $4.5 million was allocated to the university’s underground construction and tunneling education and research – including $3.5 million in faculty support and $1 million in additional startup funds – and $500,000 will go to providing scholarships for undergraduate students.

Generous support from alumni helps to ensure that our promising young students graduate from Mines as capable leaders and problem‐solvers,” said Mines President M.W. “Bill” Scoggins. “This gift is a testament to the success of our alumni, and their desire to support the development of future generations of industry professionals.”

Underground construction and tunneling is a growing area of expertise at Mines that brings together students and faculty from mining engineering, geology and geological engineering, and civil engineering. In 2011, the university established the Center for Underground Construction and Tunneling as an interdisciplinary center for the study of subsurface engineering. Academic programs and research within the center provide student training and education with exposure to industry topics including site characterization, design and construction of underground infrastructures – including water, highway or subway tunnels – and subsurface underground facilities underneath major metropolitan cities.

“The underground construction and tunneling industry relies on a highly skilled engineering workforce and technical innovation that is only possible through interdisciplinary research and education,” said Mike Mooney, professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and acting director of the Center for Underground Construction and Tunneling at Mines. “This financial support will expand our program, helping us to better prepare our students to become the engineering workforce that industry requires to address the increasingly complex challenges faced today.”

The center currently offers an interdisciplinary minor program and area of specialization for undergraduate students, and is developing interdisciplinary degree programs for graduate students. Students in the program participate in focused coursework, industry-driven research, field trips and technical conferences, and have the opportunity to work with industry professionals on special projects and internships. As the program grows, Mines’ students, faculty and industry partners plan to collaborate on new, specialized training and emerging research initiatives related to underground construction and tunneling.

In addition to the support provided for the Mines underground construction and tunneling program, the gift will also support scholarships for non-resident undergraduate students.

“This transformative philanthropic investment helps Mines to remain at the forefront of providing exceptional engineering education programs,” said Executive Vice President for University Advancement Brian Winkelbauer. “Scholarships are critical to attracting a diverse student population and ensuring that we can develop the technically-trained workforce that the world demands.”