Some things change, but the quality of Orediggers remains steadfast

by | Oct 8, 2019 | Fall 2019, President's Corner | 0 comments

There is a line in this edition’s feature story on page 14 that captures the essence of the Mines graduate, past, present and future: “a strong work ethic, superb expertise and an outstanding ability to work collaboratively to get the job done well.” These qualities are a consistent thread that links generations of alumni together.

It is because of these characteristics that so many companies recruit at Mines. When I arrived at Mines in 2015, about 240 companies attended our Fall Career Day. For the recent 2019 Fall Career Day, there were 350, filling all available space in the Student Recreation Center as well as Steinhauer Fieldhouse.

When asked why they come to Mines, recruiters and managers from the energy, aerospace, IT and infrastructure industries all identified the traits listed above, plus proven success in their companies, as the primary reasons.

Asked what they would change about Mines graduates, companies and alumni pretty quickly identify business acumen first, then the need for a broader awareness of the corporate and societal context of their efforts as engineers and scientists. And when we ask students what they feel is missing from our programs, they frequently identify opportunities to be entrepreneurial and a desire to learn within the context of their passions and future interests.

Listening to and acting on this input is key to our future. As we look to Mines’ 150th anniversary in 2024 and beyond, our goal is to retain those timeless qualities in Mines graduates while complementing them with business and leadership skills and offering a learning environment that attracts and inspires bright and hardworking students. We have to do this to remain relevant and to continue to attract recruiters and new students.

With respect to the changing student experience, I know from emails and conversations with alumni that some of you worry that Mines is less demanding today than in the past. After all, from afar, things look more cozy. And in some ways they are. But some things haven’t changed—and won’t.

The students coming to Mines today will be challenged and prepared for the futures they will work in, just as past generations of Orediggers have been well prepared for their times. Achievement will always be something that is earned at Mines. Our students are hungry, hearty, hardworking, ambitious and confident. They want to extract knowledge (and yes, other things) and change not only their lives but the industries and communities they’re about to enter. They still come to Mines for the challenge, and they get just that—read Julia Payne’s comments in this edition’s feature story as an example.

I invite you to visit Mines and have coffee or a meal with today’s students. I believe that 30 minutes with a couple of students will convince you that, while some things have changed, the essence of Mines has not, and that the future is bright for them and for Mines.

Go Orediggers!

Paul C. Johnson, PhD

President and Professor