Author: Anne Button

Minority Engineering Program Plants Seeds for Alumna’s Distinguished Career

“Some people know from a really early age what they want to do,” says Frances Vallejo ’87. “I was not one of them.” But a summer program at Mines for minority high school students changed all that for the Pueblo, Colo., native. “It exposed me to geology, geophysics, mining and many engineering disciplines. I learned how to program in Fortran, and this was before we even had computers in my high school.” The program in which she was enrolled, the Summer Minority Engineering Training (SUMMET) program, provided the impetus for what would turn into a distinguished career, which has seen Vallejo rise steadily through the ranks at ConocoPhillips. Starting as a geophysicist after graduating from Mines, she moved to the business side as a finance associate, and then became manager of strategic transactions, assistant treasurer and other upper management positions. She is now vice president and treasurer for the company. In fact, the impact of Mines on Vallejo’s life extends far beyond providing that first glimpse into a new and different world. It’s where she met her husband, Scott Irvine ’87, during field camp the summer before her senior year. It’s where, through The McBride Honors Program in Public Affairs, she was first exposed to what she calls  ’the business world beyond engineering,’ an exposure she says influenced her decision to take a leave of absence from work and...

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Retiring to a Second Career

You’re 60 years old. You’ve had a successful engineering career, spanning four decades and several continents, and you are retiring as president and chief operating officer of a mining company with a thousand employees. Businesses are clamoring for your expertise as an independent consultant, and job offers come in from South America and Africa. What would you do next? Finding himself in just this situation, John Grubb PhD ’08 decided to go back to school, earn a doctorate and fulfill a long-term goal of teaching future mining engineers. A 1969 graduate of Virginia Tech, Grubb began teaching at Colorado School of Mines when he enrolled in the doctoral program in 2006. His mining engineering courses were so successful that he was asked to stay on as an adjunct professor after he graduated. He accepted the job, but, after weighing the salary against other tax considerations, he took the position as a volunteer. “My industry was very good to me,” Grubb says, simply. “Now I want to give back.” He’s now teaching classes in mine ventilation, coal mining methods, mine management and mineral resource development. Holding a PhD is important for his credibility, but Grubb’s greatest resource in the classroom is his experience. During his 40-year career, he’s managed more than two dozen mines and overcome countless challenges. At a copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea, he prevented...

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Prospering by Degrees

Durga Prasad Kar MS ’02, PhD ’10 earned his graduate degrees in economics at Mines. In 2003, he and his wife founded Alternative Development Initiative for Rural Engagement (ADIRE), a nonprofit working to improve the lives of the rural poor in India through appropriate technology, renewable energy and local capacity building.

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Current Issue: Fall 2017

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