Rising to meet new challenges

by | Apr 12, 2019 | Alumni Note, President's Corner, Spring 2019 | 0 comments

Mines has a long history of looking to the future, developing and delivering the degree programs, knowledge, technological innovations and the scientists and engineers that industry and society need to move forward. 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, and the dreams of space travel and the engineering and scientific research the Apollo program inspired continue today. NASA is currently conducting the Mars InSight mission to collect soil samples from the planet’s subsurface, and humankind is taking aim at exploring farther and farther from Earth. 

This poses new engineering and scientific challenges, including the need to locate, extract and process the resources we need for fuel, food and parts as we travel deeper into space. We cannot launch everything we need for deep space exploration from Earth—we will have to be creative and locate it out in space and develop new chemical and manufacturing processes that work far
from home.

No university is better positioned to contribute to this exciting future than Mines. No one else has our unique combination of expertise in geoscience, extractive engineering and processing, energy, manufacturing and material sciences. Our students and faculty are already applying their expertise to figure out how to transform water mined in space into rocket fuel. Others are designing new rovers and other machinery with complex characterization tools for more efficient in situ testing in space environments. Mines also just launched the world’s first space resources degree program to educate the next leaders in this developing field. 

You can always count on Orediggers to meet the challenges our society puts in front of them, and I’m excited to see how far Mines innovations and graduates travel in space and which endeavors we tackle next.

Go Orediggers!

Paul C. Johnson, PhD

President and Professor

Many of us are familiar with the saying, “Change is the only constant in life.” Orediggers have long embraced those words and are known to meet the challenges that change creates. As evidenced in each issue of Mines Magazine, Mines alumni continue to make advancements in every industry to adapt to the changes our society demands. 

In day-to-day life, consumer and product safety demands are among many things in our lives that necessitate change. Inspired by the need for safer automobiles, a Mines alumnus invented the explosive trigger for airbag deployment, and another alumnus is currently developing a safer

tailgate step for pickup trucks. The leaders on pages 20-23 are tackling the changes in the oil and gas industry to ensure an ambitious and promising future.

Other changes have propelled us into fields that we’d never thought possible and helped advance us as a society. With the first lunar explorations in the 1960s came innovations in math, computing, mechanics and materials that have allowed us to better understand how the world—and the larger universe—works and our place within it. These breakthroughs, among others, have benefited from the creative and innovative minds of Orediggers.

These same kinds of innovations are happening today on the Mines campus and in every industry with Mines alumni leading the charge. Mines taught us the processes involved in scientific evaluation, thinking and design and developed those ideas into a skill set that still resonates in the workforce today. Mines uniquely prepares us for success and emboldens us with the ability and know-how to lead the way to places where others have not yet been.

Damian Friend ’75

Executive Director, Mines Alumni Association