The progression of innovation

by | Oct 8, 2019 | Fall 2019, Looking Back | 0 comments

Mines is continuously at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation, adapting to evolving societal needs and solving some of the world’s complex problems. To continue being a preferred partner in industry and the place for educating top scientists and engineers, Mines has had to expand its educational scope, campus size and more over the years while remaining true to its commitment of tackling the biggest challenges in earth, energy and environment.

Although Mines often looks to the future, we’re taking a moment to look back. Here’s a brief breakdown of what Mines has looked like in the past six decades and some defining moments in science and technology that have shaped how graduates of the time viewed the world.


On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, marking the first time humans set foot—literally—on terrain beyond Earth. This defining moment spurred a fascination with space for many and propelled future explorations and discoveries within our solar system and beyond.

Average student population: 1,252

Tuition in 1960: Resident: $235 | Non-resident: $650

Campus expansions:
1960: Volk Gymnasium
1963: Meyer Hall
1964: Ben H. Parker Student Center

Alumni perspective

“Mines was a campus whose culture transformed me and fulfilled my life’s purpose. The opportunities at Mines gave me an education, creative interest and confidence to solve and deal with any problems that I have encountered.”   
Phil Bowman ’67


The first commercially available microprocessor, the Intel 4004, was released by Intel Corporation in 1971. The 4-bit central processing unit shook up the IT world, becoming the core of personal computers and most electronic devices in use today.

Average student population: 1,880

Tuition in 1970: Resident: $350 | Non-resident: $1,100

Campus expansions:
1972: Green Center
1975: Aspen Hall
1977: U.S. Geological Survey
1979: Earth Mechanics Institute, Weaver Towers

Alumni perspective

“There are several things a Mines education drills into you that are critically important. One is learning how to work hard. Mines teaches you how to buckle down, stay focused and wrangle whatever the challenge is you’re trying to conquer. All of that leads to confidence—you have to have confidence to be able to tackle obstacles and be a leader in business, have people be willing to follow, be a good role model and a good example.”
Howard Janzen ’76, MS ’77


In the early 1970s, it was believed the U.S. would source a large portion of its energy from nuclear power. But the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania and the April 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine significantly changed these projections.

Average student population: 2,052

Tuition in 1980: Resident: $694 | Non-resident: $3,672

Campus expansions:
1980: Brown Hall

Alumni perspective

“One of the key learnings a lot of us had at Mines is that if you take on a challenge and find a way to persevere, you develop confidence. I’ve grown up in industry with other Mines alumni, and we have a lot of good networks professionally and socially. At Mines, we got a solid foundation for some great, fun and challenging opportunities along the way.”
Steve Enger ’81


The World Wide Web was made available on a royalty-free basis in April 1993, creating the basis for new methods of communication, information access and social interaction.

Average student population: 2,446
Tuition in 1990: Resident: $3,540 | Non-resident: $9,812

Campus expansions:
1998: Mines Park

Alumni perspective

“When I did a trip to Everest base camp, I wore a Mines baseball cap. As I was coming down the trail, this woman and man came up and said, ‘We go to Mines.’ So anywhere you go you can find a Mines alum—I know people from all over the world because of Mines.”    
Donna Anderson PhD ’97


In 2003, the Human Genome Project was completed, determining the sequence of nucleotide base pairs that make up human DNA and mapping the genes of the human genome from both a physical and functional standpoint. The project has helped shed light on human migration, common diseases, new energy sources and more.

Average student population: 3,278
Tuition in 2000: Resident: $4,750 | Non-resident: $15,304

Campus expansions:
2001: CTLM, Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity House
2002: General Research Laboratory (a new home of the Geology Museum)
2004: Alpha Phi, Pi Phi and Sigma Kappa Sorority Houses
2007: Student Recreation Center

Alumni perspective

“Mines is unique in that it educates a wide range of sectors tied to the mining industry. Consequently, when we engage with Mines students and alumni, we can feel comforted that the same discipline and rigor is being applied across the various aspects of the mining industry, not just a targeted area of focus. This fact also allows us to increase the diversity of our teams by bringing in people with complementary skill sets.”    
Josh Parrill ’03, MS ’08


IBM unveiled the IBM Q System One—its first-ever quantum computer designed for commercial use—in January 2019. Quantum computers promise to vastly outperform regular machines and could spur the development of new breakthroughs in science.

Average student population: 6,117
Tuition in 2010: Resident: $13,174 | Non-resident: $24,750

Campus expansions:
2011: Maple Hall
2012: Marquez Hall, W. Lloyd Wright Student Wellness Center
2014: Harold M. & Patricia Korell Athletic Center, Marv Kay Stadium, Elm Hall
2015: GRL Annex, Starzer Welcome Center
2017: CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering

Alumni perspective

“I think Mines tries to emphasize not only the technological piece but the ethical piece along with that. Not only does Mines encourage innovation and new technologies but also encourages students to ask how that is impacting the world.”     
Sydney Zywicki ’10