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.

By Andrew Hoffman
The Oredigger

Members of the Engineers Without Borders / Bridges to Prosperity (EWB/B2P) student organization at the Colorado School of Mines recently traveled to Nicaragua to complete a social survey for a community development project. The team of five included four students: Ethan Faber, Eric Rosing, Ashley Lessig, and Jeremy Beard as well as professional mentor Stephanie Fleckenstein. Over the course of the survey trip the team spent their spring break collecting information about a group of four rural communities in the Carazo region of Nicaragua. The main goals were to collect information about development needs in the communities and identify what opportunities they saw for themselves. The Los Gomez area communities were the site of a pedestrian bridge construction project which was completed by the community members and EWB/B2P students at Mines in May, 2013.

A central focus of the organization is to help foster sustainable development by building a lasting relationship with communities. Additionally, the students work closely with the community members in developing feasible projects. It is critical that the community owns the project however. In this way Mines students are able to use their technical training to help implement a project that is truly needed and which will be maintained long after the students have left.

In this current project, which is still in its initial stage, the travel team helped identify a list of the most prominent issues the communities face such as access to a reliable water supply and to health services. Faber mentions that such trips really help open your eyes to the scale of poverty in the US versus developing countries. Lack of basic engineering infrastructure, such as primary schools without clean water, are virtually unheard of here, but in the Los Gomez communities it is a fact of daily life. For American college students, the opportunity to help such communities develop their own solutions to their problems is rewarding both as real-world engineering experience and also for personal improvement. An interesting thing happens when you see families and even young children coping with such severe life problems and yet appear to be fundamentally happy, Faber muses. "You can learn a lot from these people, and it really puts your own life and daily problems in perspective." A project can really be considered a success when both groups in an international development project come out having gained something and also having new lifelong connections.

The team had a great time and got a lot of crucial social data over their trip. They are continuing communication with the communities and identifying next steps for the project. As the project becomes defined the group will create a master plan document which will guide what actions need to be taken to realize the final goal.

The club is made up of a wide range of students. All majors and fields of study have something to contribute regardless of the type of engineering project. Knowing Spanish is an excellent asset but not at all required for group members. The travel team recalls that a main highlight of the trip was hanging out with the community after a day's work collecting data. A lot can be shared even without words. The important thing is making the connection to develop a working relationship. Lessig recalls that she particularly enjoyed getting to play and interact with the kids.

EWB/B2P Mines would like to thank donors Alcoa, CH2MHill, Schlumberger, and Shell who sponsor travel and material expenses for current projects, and also to Bridges to Prosperity for all their work in the past and current bridge projects.

Are you interested in joining? The club has two current projects: a second bridge construction and the new Los Gomez project. EWB/B2P has committee meetings Mondays at 6:00 PM (MZ 322), Tuesday at 5:00 (MZ 335), and Wednesday and Thursday at 5:00 (both in MZ 322). Also, the club is having a silent auction lunch benefit pig roast on Saturday, April 19 from noon to 2:00. Both are great ways to learn about the club and have fun. For more information see our website (just search "EWB Mines").


This interview originally appeared in the April 13, 2014, issue of The Oredigger.

Colorado School of Mines Equestrian Team president Allison Pelzel qualified for the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Nationals Finals after competing in the Zone 8 Finals in early April at Stanford University.

Pelzel competed against teams from several schools such as Colorado College, United States Air Force Academy, University of Colorado and University of Wyoming.

For Nationals, Pelzel will have to compete against the top 16 riders in the country at each level. She will draw a horse's name out of a hat and will be judged on her position while riding that horse. Competing on a horse she’s never ridden before could be a challenge.

“It's also an amazing opportunity to get to know some very talented horses,” Pelzel said. “Every horse you get on is a new experience and it often helps you realize what you need to work on in your riding to be on a horse that responds differently to you than your own horse.”

Riding keeps Pelzel on track with engineering physics schoolwork at Mines. She constantly reminds herself that homework comes before riding.

“Riding is also a way of relaxing and releasing stress for me,” Pelzel said. “When I have a particularly hard week of classes and exams, I get through it by taking a break to go to the barn and working with the horses.”

Pelzel will be competing at Nationals May 1-4 in Harrisburg, Pa. The IHSA includes 410 teams and more than 9,000 riders from universities and colleges across the nation.



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 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 /

Three women in the Colorado School of Mines Triathlon Club have qualified for their first trip to the Collegiate National Triathlon Championships. Club president and graduate student Tess Weathers, and undergraduates Lauren Lundquist and KC Kent will represent Mines on April 5 in Tempe, Ariz.

Club advisor and geology and geological engineering professor Paul Santi is thrilled to be sending Mines athletes to the event.

"It is rare for such a small team to qualify three athletes, and this is a testament to their hard work and disciplined, consistent training," Santi said. "Triathlon is a tough sport to stay on top of, especially for full-time students, and I'm excited that they are being rewarded for their efforts."

Weathers knows it can be intimidating competing against larger schools such as University of Colorado-Boulder or Colorado State University that have more than 30 competitors.

“For every race we've done this year, we know it's all or nothing. If we don't finish at our best, we know we could be putting our entire team standing at risk,” Weathers said. “We're Mines students, we know how to excel under pressure, and I couldn't think of any teammates who are more deserving of the national arena than the women who will be joining me in Arizona.”

On March 22, the club competed at the Mountain Collegiate Triathlon Conference Regional Championships in Lake Havasu, Ariz. Nine schools from New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado were represented by more than 200 athletes. The  Mines club was one of the smallest teams in the conference, but still finished the regular season in fifth, solidifying three berths for Nationals.



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

Ten Colorado School of Mines cadets received high placements in the individual marathon, ROTC female heavy division, civilian male heavy team and civilian coed heavy team categories in the Bataan Memorial Death March. The 26.2-mile Bataan course took place March 23 in the high desert terrain of White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The March honors heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II.

Congratulations to:

Colton Becker (3:25:17)
Placed 3rd out of 3354 racers
In the individual Marathon category

Rebecca Horn (7:52:05)
Kristen Smith (7:52:06)

Placed 6th and 7th out of 17 racers
In the ROTC Female Heavy Division*

Scott Baker, Luke Brown, Blake Cross, Zachary Doom and Julian Uy (6:53:53)
Placed 1st out of 11 teams in the Civilian Male Heavy Team Category*

Jared Loving, Jason Loving
On a team with AFDet 105, Addison Baker, Stephanie Sprecher, Adam Martelon (10:37:22)
Placed 6th in the Civilian Coed Heavy Team Category*
*Those entering the “Heavy” category must carry a minimum 35-pound pack.



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 /

Colorado School of Mines mechanical engineering student Emily Wong recently launched Project Positivity, a movement to spread positivity on campus. Wong leaves post-it notes with uplifting messages, encouraging quotes and jokes to make others smile. Her notes are intended to make “that bad day a little better, and that great day a little bit funnier.”

“If everyone could leave one note a day, just think about the impact that would make on the Mines community,” Wong said. “There’d be so much more positive energy on campus.”

Wong has left messages in women’s bathrooms, on study tables and around campus buildings.

“You never know when someone needs little laughter,” Wong said. “Taping a note to the bathroom mirror reminding the next person that they are beautiful or appreciated could make their day. I am hoping that other people spread the word, leave notes and utilize social media.”

Wong’s goal is to spread her movement beyond Mines. She is encouraging students to leave notes during their spring break trips March 8-13 using #ProjectPositivity.

You can see her project in action on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



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

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


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