Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Back to the Future: Mining Engineering returns to Michigan Tech

HOUGHTON -- Beginning in fall 2012, Michigan Technological University will offer a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, with a technical emphasis in mining engineering, and it is the first step in moving toward a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering.

"It’s not your grandfather’s mining anymore," says Wayne Pennington, chair of geological and mining engineering and sciences (GMES). "Mining today is so different, and this new program will be tailored to that."

It will be interdisciplinary, too, he said, with faculty coming from across campus and new courses being added to many existing ones.

"It will be accredited," Pennington says, "since it is part of the BSE program. And, of course, it’s a great use of the science and engineering available at Tech."

The program will be administered through GMES, and an advisory board will be formed, made up of industry, academic, and government expertise, to help direct the program, Pennington adds.

"It’s part of our heritage, and it’s part of the future, too," added Leonard Bohmann, associate dean of engineering. "There’s a definite need for mining engineers, now and into the future. We are positioned where we can help fill that need."

That need extends far beyond renewed local mining concerns, Bohmann said.

"There’s a global need for mining engineers," Bohmann said. "And getting this degree up and running will help us put together a mining program. This is a quick way of getting started."

Although it’s tough to gauge future enrollments, Pennington thought thirty to fifty students were not out of the question. Additional faculty members could be needed some day, too, Bohmann added.

GMES Professor Emeritus Allan Johnson was pleased about the new degree.

"It’s just great," he said. "The people who get mining degrees get good-paying jobs."

Johnson cited another reason for the renewed interest in mining.

"In the last half-dozen years, the price of all the mineral products and metals are high," he said. "Wealth is generated from natural resources."

"The world needs people to run mining operations that control costs, are safe, and don’t damage the environment," Johnson added. "That takes intelligence, excellent training and experience."

Pennington is announcing the new degree program at the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration conference in Marquette, today, Wednesday, April 25.


Margaret Comfort said...

Yup, he's right about that. It is NOT your grandfather's type of mining anymore. Watch out!

aunteedahlia said...

It isn't possible to mine without causing "damage" to the environment. Regulations set levels for acceptable losses, but to whom are they acceptable? We should be having conversations about strengthening protections, including siting requirements, not "streamlining" and removing control from affected communities.