Colorado School of Mines is a uniquely focused public research university dedicated to preparing exceptional students to solve today's most pressing energy and environmental challenges.

This is Mines.

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 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

Colorado School of Mines will compete against nine other schools at the National Collegiate Wind Competition in May in Las Vegas. Teams will be showcasing a lightweight, transportable wind turbine that could power small electronic devices. Each team’s prototype wind turbine will be tested in a wind tunnel and scored for performance, operational safety, component durability and system reliability.

Nine students on the Mines team, Zephyrus, are in the process of using design prototypes to build the final turbine.

Competition advisor Cameron Turner said the team has taken an innovative path in the competition by establishing a supporting business plan and developing an understanding of wind power political issues, in addition to, creating a technical solution to their design.

“In many ways, they are demonstrating not only technical competence, but also personal competence as citizens,” Cameron Turner said. “In two months, they will be presenting their work at the American Wind Energy Association meeting alongside nine other schools. I fully expect that the team will be amongst the best teams at the competition.”

Mines will be competing against Boise State University, California Maritime Academy, James Madison University, Kansas State University, Northern Arizona University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Kansas and University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Visit the Zephyrus website and competition website for more information.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

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 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

The Feb. 27-28 Conference on Earth & Energy Research gave graduate students the opportunity to practice presenting their research in a professional environment, while judges provided feedback. Last year, two undergraduates showcased their work, but this year, that number rose to nine.

“I’m very happy about the turnout,” Graduate Student Government Academic Chair John Bristow said. “In the past, they’ve been very grad-centered.”

Two speakers presented keynote speeches between students’ poster and oral sessions.

Ken Salazar, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Senator from Colorado, delivered the opening keynote address on North American energy independence. Salazar told stories of the BP oil spill in 2010 and shared conversations with President Barack Obama two years after the disaster.

Dr. Pieter Tans, Senior Scientist and Earth System Research Laboratory at NOAA, closed the conference with “Climate Change: Man Made Climate Change and Energy Policy.” Tans shared his research on measuring carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere, detailing some of the causes of these increases and what this means for our future.

2014 research competition winners:

  • Overall 1st: Tara Pandey
  • Overall 2nd: Susana Guzman
  • Overall Poster: Tara Yoder
  • Overal Oral: Pascale Meysing
  • Overall Off-campus: Vishal Nangla (U Wyo)
  • Undergraduate: Sarah Rommelfanger
  • Chemical and Biological Engineering: Nicholas Rorrer
  • Chemical and GeoChemistry: Jacqueline Cloud
  • Economics and Business: Ben Johnson
  • Geological Engineering: Joshua Day
  • Geophysics: Joyce Hoopes
  • Hydrology: Rachel Feist
  • Liberal Arts and International Studies: Nathaniel Mauger
  • Materials Science: Alyaa Elramady
  • Mechanical Engineering: Brandon Blakeley
  • Metallurgical and Materials Engineering: Stephanie Miller
  • Petroleum Engineering: Taylor Patterson
  • Physics: Lauryn Baranowski
  • Applied Mathematics and Statistics: Brian Zaharatos
  • Mining Engineering: Yu Koizumi
  • Nuclear Engineering: Michael Servis
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering: Kerri Hickenbottom
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science: Craig Champlin

More information can be found at ceerconference.org.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

More than 100 local area high school students visited Colorado School of Mines Feb. 20 to learn about STEM careers during DiscoverE Engineering Week. The event, sponsored by Lockheed Martin, hosted various activities throughout the day.

Students began the morning with a chemistry show by Mines professor Renee Falconer in Coolbaugh Hall. Falconer performed several demonstrations; one of which included mixing chemical elements in balloons before igniting them on fire. Shortly after the presentation, students were divided into groups to tour Hill Hall and the Geology Museum—observing the moon and florescent rocks on display.

Around noon, students attended a mentoring lunch in Friedhoff Hall. Paul Anderson ’85 spoke on “Dreaming Big” and his journey from Mines to Lockheed Martin. Company experts sat at roundtables with students to answer questions on their experiences.

Energy Education Specialist Dr. Cynthia Howell partnered with Jeanette Alberg, manager of community relations for Lockheed Martin, three years ago with the purpose of celebrating National Engineering Week.

“What started as a pilot project between Lockheed Martin and Mines is now an annual event ever-growing in sophistication, collaboration and purpose as it meets organizational goals,” Howell said. “This event brings together more than 70 volunteers and highlights the Mines and Lockheed Martin recruiting, engineering, scientific and research prowess.”



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu

Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

As part of a senior design project, two teams of Colorado School of Mines students are working with MillerCoors to recommend good practices for energy saving technologies. Teams “Golden Solutions” and “ElectroMech” are collecting data from motors larger than or equal to 50 horsepower that are used in various beer processing and utilities operations to help identify opportunities to reduce the brewery’s electrical costs.

Students are also investigating design considerations such as the use of variable frequency drives, permanent magnet motors, Power Factor Correction capacitors, high efficiency motors and other instrumentation options for increasing plant efficiency.

“From a mechanical stand point, it is neat to see the pumps and piping and how intertwined all the connections are,” ElectroMech project manager and electrical engineering major Erik Johnson said. “From an electrical stand point, it is good to see how safety precautions are carried out because we talked about them a lot in field session, but seeing the actions in person is much different than seeing presentations.”

MillerCoors Senior Project Engineer Sean Yates said the experience has been rewarding as students communicate well and work autonomously. The teams are provided with an opportunity to gain practical experiences, while using theoretical and critical thinking skills in a manufacturing environment.

“I’ve been able to treat them very much like any new engineering consultant with just a little more guidance,” Yates said. “What the students lack in experience, they make up for in diligence and smarts.”

Faculty advisor Eryn Ammerman compared the project to an internship or consulting job as students are able to work with industry professionals firsthand in their environment. 

“Since I worked as an engineer for a couple of years right after I graduated from Mines, it’s really nice to be able to share my field experience with the students and then have them go out and actually experience it for themselves,” Ammerman said.

Student recommendations will be incorporated into MillerCoors’ future optimization projects focused on energy savings.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu

Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

Kenneth Osgood, associate professor and director of the McBride Honors Program, recently published a collection of essays that explores the history of civil rights policies in the post–civil rights era. The book, “Winning While Losing: Civil Rights, the Conservative Movement and the Presidency from Nixon to Obama,” co-edited by Derrick E. White, associate professor of history at Florida Atlantic University, addresses the common perception that the civil rights movement ended in triumph a half century ago. Osgood wants to challenge that notion. 

“When Obama was elected, everyone was ecstatic. But half of the prison population was black; poverty rates for African Americans were double those of whites,” Osgood said.

This summer, Americans will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, which ended segregation. “No doubt many Americans will describe Obama’s historic presidency as the ultimate victory,” Osgood notes. “But the reality is much messier. During the previous half-century, there were successes in some areas, but set-backs in others.”

Osgood hopes his readers walk away with the picture that civil rights politics can be more complicated than originally understood.

“Everything we think we know about the past is oversimplified and distorted,” Osgood said. “To me that’s what I love about the study of history. We develop these really simple pictures, but when we really look at it, we find out how wrong we are. Almost everything we remember, we remember badly, simplistically, or incorrectly. So I hope people will read this and think: that’s not quite how I thought it was.”

Osgood is currently working on his sixth book, “The Biggest Lie,” which connects propaganda and intelligence. The book will be published around 2016.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu

Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

This article is part of a series on the undergraduate research fellowship program

Engineering physics junior Steven Hackenburg is working with physics professor Dr. Lawrence Wiencke on programming that remotely controls the laser systems at the Pierre Auger Observatory, located in Argentina. Hackenburg studies cosmic rays, high-energy particles, mainly originating outside the Solar System, as part of his undergraduate research fellowship.

“Relatively speaking, we understand light and its properties quite well, and we use it to learn about the universe, from confirming Einstein’s theories concerning gravity, to discovering the composition of planets,” Hackenburg said. “On the other hand however we know little about cosmic rays compared to our understanding of light.”

Hackenburg fires laser shots into the sky in directions where potential sources of cosmic rays are believed to exist. He uses the fluorescence detector to study the tracks in the sky created from the laser. The data from the laser tracks are used to verify that the fluorescence detector is measuring the directions of the rare cosmic ray tracks properly.

Hackenburg said he has always been interested in the mysteries of space and the universe.

“It's amazing for me to think about how little of the universe we have been able to explore in any depth compared to the size of the universe or even our own galaxy,” Hackenburg said. “Also, think about how we get the information about the universe; we observe it. We, as scientists, look to the stars for answers.”

In early 2013, research analyzing data from Fermi revealed that supernovae were a source of cosmic rays. However, supernovae do not produce all cosmic rays, and the proportion of cosmic rays that they do produce is a question which cannot be answered without further study.

“The sources of these particles remain an important question, coming from somewhere outside our galaxy. They are very rare,” Wiencke said. “At the highest energies (10^20 eV), the flux is something less than one square mile per century.”

Weincke and Hackenburg generate many tracks with the laser systems every night of operation.

“This data is used to demonstrate that the observatory is working properly and ready for the monster cosmic events when they occur,” Wiencke said.

Applied physics graduate student Carlos Medina helped with the construction, system integration and testing of the Central Raman Laser Facility in Argentina. He collects data from the CRLF that he is analyzing for his PHD thesis in astrophysics.

“I am happy to have the opportunity to study and analyze data that will help us better understand our universe,” Medina said.

Undergraduate research fellowships are administered by the research council. Students can apply for a fellowship to work on a project with a faculty member.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu

Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

This article is part of a series on the undergraduate research fellowship program

As part of a two-semester undergraduate research fellowship, junior chemical and biochemical engineering student Rima Baliga is working with mechanical engineering professor Dr. Anne Silverman on creating a rotationplasty model for a project in collaboration with Children’s Hospital Colorado.

“When people think of Mines, they don’t always immediately think of medicine,” Silverman said. “But in our research, we are using engineering tools to advance clinical care.”

Rotationplasty is an uncommon procedure used when a person has a tumor near the knee and needs to have it removed. Rather than amputating the leg from above the knee down, surgeons can remove the tumor and surrounding tissues. They then rotate the remaining portion of the leg 180 degrees and reattach it to the thigh. The rotated ankle joint becomes a new knee joint.

Baliga is developing computational models to analyze the effects of this surgical procedure.

“Modeling this procedure could be used to improve prosthetic design,” Baliga said.

Baliga is currently using the software program OpenSim to build a skeletal model to represent a patient who has undergone rotationplasty. This program allows Baliga to analyze computerized models in extensive detail to gain greater understanding of human motion.

“Musculoskeletal models help us to understand the action of individual muscles,” Silverman said. “In a movement simulation, we can determine when muscles are active and how they coordinate to move the skeleton.

This semester, Baliga will add a prosthetic limb to her model. She will use experimental walking data from Children’s, in combination with the musculoskeletal model, to develop a walking simulation of a patient. Baliga will also compare muscle forces over the gait cycle between a walking simulation of the rotationplasty patient and that of a non-amputee.

Susan Kanai, a physical therapist at the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis at Children’s Hospital Colorado, hopes this project will improve the level of care for individuals after rotationplasty surgery and that research findings could be shared with the medical community.

“This current project has many layers and we hope to continue this collaboration in the future,” Kanai said.

Undergraduate research fellowships are administered by the research council. Students can apply for a fellowship to work on a project with a faculty member.



Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu

Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu


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