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Mines partnership with QL+ featured by multiple news outlets

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 13:22

A partnership between Colorado School of Mines and nonprofit Quality of Life Plus that is bringing Mines students together with injured veterans to to engineer custom solutions for specific mobility problems was recently featured by multiple news outlets, including The Denver Post, CBS4 Denver, FOX31 Denver and the Golden Transcript. 

The Denver Post: Disabled Colorado veterans gain new mobility thanks to School of Mines technology

CBS4 Denver: Engineering Students Help Wounded Veterans Thanks To Partnership


FOX31 Denver: School of Mines engineers help improve lives of disabled veterans

Categories: Partner News

Tilton wins NSF CAREER award to model, improve feed spacers

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 09:03

Nils Tilton, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado School of Mines, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to develop a computational fluid dynamics model to improve efficient, low-energy options for wastewater treatment and desalination.

Tilton’s project, “Robust Numerical Modeling for Rational Design of Membrane Filtration Processes,” will receive $547,364 over five years beginning in August. 

“Shortages in potable water are creating a large demand for water treatment and desalination. California’s recent drought, for example, is motivating municipalities to invest in seawater desalination plants. Desalination technology is also now used to recycle municipal and industrial wastewater. The problem is that desalination requires a lot of energy, and the generation of that energy by power plants requires a lot of water. In the process, you also make more pollution, which exacerbates climate change and drought,” Tilton said. “Finding new, more energy-efficient ways of producing potable water is key to securing long-term water and energy security.”

Tilton’s work will focus on membrane separation processes, such as reverse osmosis and nanofiltration. Both offer promising low-energy solutions for desalination and wastewater treatment – that is, until the membranes get bogged down.

“You're basically filtering water by forcing it through a membrane that acts like a sieve – water goes through the membrane while salts and other contaminants are blocked,” Tilton said. “The problem is, all that stuff builds up on the membrane and increases the pressures needed to force the water through. With time, the salts also form a hard mineral scale, like the calcium deposits you get on shower walls, that impedes filtration, damages the membrane and increases maintenance costs.”

That retention of solutes, known as concentration polarization, can be tackled by patterning a mesh-like net of physical spaces on the membrane to alter the fluid flow at the surface. The impact of those feed spacers, however, is not well understood.

Tilton and his team will develop a new method for simulating the interactions between polarization, scaling and mixing due to feed spacers. Using the information they gather, they will then design better patterns for the meshes to minimize polarization.

Researchers will also collaborate with a 3-D printing company to look into the possibility of using 3-D printing to produce the meshes, as well as Newmont Mining, which will provide sample mine wastewater for testing. 

Applications of membrane separation processes include the desalination of seawater and the treatment of municipal wastewater for potable reuse, as well as the recycling of the wastewater generated during hydraulic fracturing. 

As part of the project, Tilton is also partnering with the Asian Pacific Development Center in Aurora to develop a new summer youth workshop. Aurora high school students would come to Mines for the workshop, learning computer programming using affordable Raspberry Pi computers. Mines students in the Multicultural Engineering Program would lead the workshop.

Tilton joined Mines in 2014 after serving as a postdoctoral research fellow at University of Maryland, College Park, and University of Aix-Marseille. He holds a PhD, master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from McGill University in Montreal.

Categories: Partner News

Tutoring program aims to grow future scientists, engineers

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 11:42

When Kate Smits was an engineering student at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, she struggled to find a mentor.

She had great professors and a great experience overall. But she never found that mentor, that female engineer she could look to and say, “Hey, there’s someone who looks like me. I want to be like that.”

What she did find, though, is a passion for STEM education and breaking down the barriers to participation in a field where nearly half of all workers in 2015 were white males, according to the National Science Foundation

“I started looking into that discrepancy of why people are or aren’t going into engineering,” said the assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Colorado School of Mines. “What the literature shows is there's a critical age – middle school – where students either get really excited about STEM or their interest completely drops off. You either grab them or you don’t.”

So when Smits received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award three years ago, it made perfect sense to dedicate the educational outreach portion of her grant to reaching those potential future scientists and engineers on their own turf – a middle-school classroom.

“I hypothesized that if we introduced STEM to these students in a sustained way at a critical time in their development, they would be more likely to go into it,” Smits said. “A lot of what we do, the decisions that we make, are based on what we’re exposed to.”

Twice a week, 12-15 Mines students visit College View Middle School, a public charter school in south Denver, for a hour of math and science tutoring and mentoring. 

College View, which is part of the Denver School of Science and Technology network, is 95 percent minority and 93 percent of students come from low-income backgrounds. Students attend tutoring based on need, teacher requirement or interest. 

On a recent afternoon, tutors worked with the middle schoolers in small groups, going over the answers to their last test, on linear equations. 

In addition to helping with homework and science fair projects, the Mines students are also encouraged to talk to the younger students about careers, college and life. Some of the tutors are interested in pursuing teaching careers, while others just like working with young people or appreciate the break from their own school work.


“It’s a great way to give back to the STEM community. Education is so important so any opportunity I can help out is important,” said Madison Webster, a sophomore studying chemical engineering. “I’ve really enjoyed it.” 

Blue O’Brennan, a sophomore majoring in physics, once brought one of his own statics exams to tutoring, just to show the younger students how what he’s doing in college is like what they’re doing in middle school. 

Working as a tutor has also been good practice for O’Brennan, who hopes to become a high school physics teacher

“I‘m hoping with my degree at Mines I’ll be able to show students where they can go with that information,” O’Brennan said. “It’s not just, ‘Here’s an inclined plane. Figure out how it works.’ It’s, ‘ Alright, here's what you’ll be doing in college, in research, in industry that involves this knowledge.’”

That connection to the bigger picture is so beneficial for younger students, said Alyse Nelsen, one of two College View teachers who partnered with Smits on the tutoring program.

“Sometimes in middle school it can feel really futile what they’re doing. But I always am overhearing the tutors saying things like, ‘Oh well I felt that way too when I was younger but this is how it applies to college’ or ‘This is what I’m interested in,’” Nelsen said. “I really can't overemphasize how important it is for these kids to see older people who they think are cool and look up to helping them with math.” 

Three years into a five-year grant, the tutoring program is already seeing results, Smits said. Students who have never tested at grade level on standardized math and science tests are passing for the first time and science fair participation at the school is up dramatically.

Smits also got approval to do a long-term study of the students, surveying them multiple times a year from sixth through 12th grade about their interest, participation and self-confidence in STEM. Early results are already showing increases in confidence and interest.

“The crazy thing is it doesn’t cost a lot of money. Here at Mines, you have a bunch of college students who want a part-time job and have huge hearts and are really motivated by service. There, you have a whole bunch of kids who really would love the time of an adult to sit down and work through some STEM issues. What a great combination,” Smits said. “This is a simple grassroots way of making a measurable impact on a community.”

That impact can’t come soon enough, either. STEM occupations in the U.S. are projected to grow by 8.9 percent between 2014 and 2024, compared to just 6.4 percent growth for non-STEM occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration.

“We talk a lot at Mines about preparing the pipeline. If we actually want to do that here in the state of Colorado, we need to start a whole lot sooner than the freshmen who walk through our door,” Smits said. “We need to start back when they’re a lot younger to be able to capture that incredible talent pool that's not currently being captured.”

“We’re missing out on a big percentage of talent by not incorporating underrepresented groups in engineering,” she said. “We’re not going to be able to solve the engineering problems of the future without incorporating everybody.” 

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Categories: Partner News

Hike for Help service trip featured in The Himalayan Times

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 11:07

A group of Colorado School of Mines students traveled to Nepal over winter break to help build foot trails in the Mt. Everest region, and their service trip was featured in The Himalayan Times, an English-language newspaper in Nepal. The volunteers with Hike for Help Nepal also delivered about 400 pairs of shoes to low-income families in the area.

Categories: Partner News

Maniloff interviewed by Los Angeles Times

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 08:58

A Los Angeles Times article about the Trump administration's plans to open coastal California waters to expanded drilling featured an interview with Peter Maniloff, assistant professor of economics and business at Colorado School of Mines.

From the story:

Oil is trading at about $60 a barrel — roughly the price that would make an offshore project profitable, said Peter Maniloff, an economist at Colorado School of Mines who studies the oil and gas industry.

But “you want to be confident that prices will remain that high before undertaking a very large investment to drill an offshore well,” Maniloff said. “And it’s hard to be confident of that because fracking has driven prices down.”

Categories: Partner News

Mines, nonprofit QL+ join forces to help injured veterans

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 09:28

The non-profit organization Quality of Life Plus (QL+) donated $50,000 to enhance a lab at Colorado School of Mines where students work exclusively to develop adaptive equipment to solve mobility challenges posed by veterans and first responders who have disabilities. The funds will be used to purchase equipment for measurement, prototyping and fabrication of innovative, custom devices to elevate the quality of life and independence of injured veterans and first responders.

On January 9 at 11:30 a.m., Mines will dedicate the lab and host an open house to showcase the work of Mines students for QL+ participants, known as challengers. The lab is located in Brown Hall, 1610 Illinois St., Golden.

“These are projects that can make a huge improvement in the lives of people who have sacrificed so much for our nation. The generous support from Quality of Life Plus will greatly enhance the efforts of Mines students on behalf of disabled veterans and first responders,” said Joel Bach, director of Mines’ Human Centered Design Studio.

Mines students are working with five QL+ challengers from around the country to engineer solutions for specific mobility problems through creativity, technology and empathy. One challenger is Velette Britt, an Air Force veteran from Colorado Springs who is paralyzed from the waist down. Velette is a competitive hand cyclist and avid skier whose goal is to compete in the Warrior Games and the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. This fall, Mines students designed a manual wheelchair that allows her to traverse curbs and bumps without having to do a “wheelie.” For a spring project, Velette has challenged the team to design comfortable cranks for her hand cycle and attachments to allow her to ride in inclement weather.

“We selected Colorado School of Mines as a partner university because it is well known for its terrific engineering program and outstanding students,” said Quality of Life Plus Founder and retired CIA Senior Executive Jon Monett. “There is no place better for us in this region than Mines, with its committed faculty and passionate students.”
Mines is one of seven QL+ partner universities connecting students with veterans through a customized, hands-on learning opportunity to produce assistive devices to improve their quality of life.  

At the open house on January 9, student researchers will discuss their projects while touring the lab and demonstrating the technologies used to develop adaptive devices. Mines President Paul C. Johnson will speak.

Rachelle Trujillo, Senior Director of Communications and Marketing, Colorado School of Mines Foundation | 303-273-3526 |

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3361 |

Amber Humphrey, Social Media Director and Midwest Program Manager, Quality of Life Plus | 270-348-0103 |

Categories: Partner News

Student-designed solar system park gets funding commitment

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:25
A solar system learning park designed by a group of Mines students could soon come to life in Denver’s Northeast Park Hill neighborhood.   The students of Team Naztek designed the scaled solar system – with an interactive sundial representing the sun and fiberglass planets placed to scale to represent their true distances in the solar system – for their Capstone Design project. They met with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Councilman Christopher Herndon, who represents the neighborhood, and other city officials Dec. 18 to present the final design.    The Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA), which served as the client for the senior design team, has pledged funding for the project to move forward and is in talks with Denver Parks and Recreation on how to proceed, redevelopment specialist Victor Caesar said.   “We’re hoping to see it implemented sometime soon,” said Emily Quaranta, a December graduate in mechanical engineering and the team’s communication lead. “A lot of senior design projects are just that – projects. If we have the opportunity to actually have it come to fruition, it would be unbelievable.”    DURA tasked the students with creating an active learning module that would stimulate curiosity and interest in STEM among kids ages 6-12 from low-income backgrounds living in Denver’s Northeast Park Hill neighborhood. The team came up with several different ideas – a radial swing to emphasize physics concepts and a math canopy among them – before deciding on the solar system park.   All eight planets – sorry, Pluto – are represented in the module. Both the sizes of the planets and the spacing between them are to scale, although different scales. Each foot of planet diameter represents 7,900 miles while every foot of space between planets correlates to 10 million miles. The smaller planets closer to the sun are mounted on poles, while the larger planets are hemispheres on the ground.    Educational plaques create a scavenger hunt around the solar system, challenging park visitors to find the planet with a wrinkled surface, the planet with the tallest mountain and more. Other plaques explain how old a 10-year-old Earthling would be on Venus or Jupiter or how much a 100-pound person would weigh on Mars or Saturn.    “We talked to several experts in STEM and they emphasized making it interactive but also relatable,” Quaranta said. “Instead of saying how many pounds you’d weigh on a planet, we compared it to a wallaby or a tiger.”   The team also met with community members – including neighborhood children at the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver – to gather input and get them interested in the project. Rounding out the team were Nolan Sneed, Alex Sauer, Zachary Waanders, Thomas Ladd and Kristen Smith.   “It’s been found that in lower-income neighborhoods, a lot of kids aren’t going into STEM,” Quaranta said. “That’s a problem.”   CONTACT
Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |  
Categories: Partner News

Graduate student receives NAGT Outstanding TA Award

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 14:05

A Colorado School of Mines graduate student has been honored with the National Association of Geoscience Teachers Outstanding TA Award.

William Kyle Blount, a PhD student in hydrology, was nominated for the award by Terri Hogue, professor of civil and environmental engineering, in recognition of his numerous academic and community activities, research experience on hydrologic modeling and data analysis, strong rapport among students, countless contributions to improving the learning environment of his classroom and high standards for quality of analysis, writing and critical thinking.

Blount serves as TA for Hogue’s Hydrology and Water Resources Laboratory course (CEEN 482). The NAGT award honors both undergraduate and graduate students who have demonstrated excellence as teaching assistants. 

“I most enjoy interacting with the students,” Blount said. “Seeing them begin to grasp concepts by working through difficulties and learning to answer their own questions is most rewarding to me.”

Blount graduated from Texas A&M University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental geosciences. While there, he completed an undergraduate thesis titled “Future Flooding in Houston: Modeling the Impacts of Climate and Land Cover Change on Hydrology in the Buffalo-San Jacinto Watershed” and was named Outstanding Graduating Senior for the Environmental Programs. 

He arrived at Mines in 2016 and is pursuing both his master’s and doctoral degrees in hydrology. His research interests include remote sensing, hydrologic modeling and land-atmosphere interactions in disturbed areas including urban regions and post-wildfire landscapes in the western U.S. 

“In order to be more effective, I design labs and activities to be discovery-based and allow students to be active participants in the learning process and engage with new material in practical, applied settings,” Blount said. “I also design activities to promote the development of professional skills: to improve technical writing abilities, promote self-directed learning and encourage students to understand how to locate answers to their own questions independently, which will all be necessary in future jobs.”

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Categories: Partner News

Boyle part of team awarded $8M for algal biofuel research

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 10:34

A Colorado School of Mines professor is part of a team that has been awarded $8 million over five years by the U.S Department of Energy to engineer a particular strain of alga to produce renewable biofuel.

Nanette Boyle, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, will receive $616,000 over the next five years for her part in the project, which is to create a genome-scale metabolic model of the algae—Chromochloris zofingiensis—and use it to predict how carbon is directed through its metabolism and what genetic changes will lead to increased production of lipids, which can then be extracted and converted into biodiesel.

“I will also be performing isotope-assisted metabolic flux analysis to quantify carbon fluxes in the cell for both growth on glucose and carbon dioxide,” Boyle said. “This will validate or help to iteratively improve the predictions made using the metabolic model and identify any bottlenecks or undesired side products that can then be targeted using genetic engineering techniques.”

There are two main challenges in developing high-yielding algae strains, Boyle said. “First, our understanding of genetic regulation and cellular physiology lags behind other model organisms like E. coli and yeast,” Boyle said. “Second, we don’t have sophisticated genetic tools to introduce the desired changes.”

In addition to Boyle’s work, the team will collect data on a large scale to gain insight into genetic elements that control metabolic shifts responsible for lipid accumulation. This information will then be used to develop synthetic biology tools to enable fast and efficient engineering of the algae’s cells.

The project, “Systems analysis and engineering of biofuel production in Chromochloris zofingiensis, an emerging model green alga,” is led by Krishna Niyogi of the University of California, Berkeley. Investigators include Crysten Blaby, Brookhaven National Laboratory; Mary Lipton, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Sabeeha Merchant, UCLA; and Trent Northen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The grant is administered by the Genomic Science Program in the Energy Department’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research.

Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |
Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |

Categories: Partner News

Contaminated water exposure study featured by multiple news outlets

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 10:45

A newly funded study of Colorado residents exposed to drinking water contaminated by firefighting foam used at a U.S. Air Force base was recently featured by multiple news outlets. Researchers at Colorado School of Mines and the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus are collaborating on the study, which is being funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Leading the effort at Mines is Christopher Higgins, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Among the news outlets to cover the story were the Associated Press, Colorado Springs Gazette, Colorado Public Radio, CBS4 Denver and KRDO News Channel 13. The AP story appeared in numerous local and national outlets, including The Denver Post, (Fort Collins) Coloradoan, KDVR Fox 31 Denver and The Seattle Times.

Categories: Partner News

Mines team gets NASA funding for intelligent drilling system

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 09:16

An intelligent drilling system capable of characterizing materials as it drills into the lunar or Martian surface is under development at Colorado School of Mines.

A team of three Mines professors, led by Jamal Rostami, Haddon/Alacer Gold Endowed Chair in Mining Engineering and director of the Earth Mechanics Institute, has received NASA funding for the project. Co-investigators are Bill Eustes, associate professor of petroleum engineering, and Christopher Dreyer, research assistant professor of mechanical engineering and associate director of the Center for Space Resources

The NASA Early Stage Innovation funding, announced last month, will provide up to $500,000 over three years for the development of the drilling system, which will use artificial intelligence and pattern recognition to identify materials in real time. 

“Normally, we have to drill, get a sample, test and then characterize. That takes time and it’s expensive,” Rostami said. “Our project is about developing a system that can monitor drilling parameters and, by analyzing data, immediately see what it is going on in the subsurface and know if you’re in compacted soil, frozen soil, rocks and so on.”

That real-time functionality could be particularly useful in permanently shadowed regions of the Moon, where ice is known to exist and temperatures can fall as low as 40 Kelvin, or minus 233 degrees Celsius. That ice has been proposed for use in rocket propellant to fuel space missions but scientists don’t know how deep the layer of icy regolith goes, Dreyer said. 

“It could all be right at the surface,” Dreyer said. “To really understand the regions for eventual large-scale acquisition of resources, you need to study the entire area. It would be far too much material to return back to Earth. Imagine taking a core from a 40 Kelvin-region and trying to return it to Earth keeping it at 40 Kelvin the entire time. The more you can do in-situ, the better.” 

Mines alum Steve Nieczkoski ’86, CEO of Thermal Space in Boulder, is a specialty subcontractor on the project and will advise the group on material behavior at cryogenic temperatures.

And while the drilling system is being developed for use on the Moon and Mars, the technologies could have an impact much closer to home, too, Eustes said. 

“In oil and gas, there’s been tests with near-bit sensors that can actually identify fractures and lithology changes but unfortunately it’s not real time,” Eustes said. “Whatever we develop here will be useful on the Moon, on Mars but also out in the DJ Basin. Being able to characterize what’s going on downhole by just looking at data coming off the drill will be extremely useful not only for Martian and lunar drilling but Earth operations also.”

For Mines, the grant builds on the work already being done to apply the university's deep knowledge of terrestrial resources beyond Earth’s atmosphere, including the soon-to-launch space resources graduate program and two other projects recently funded by NASA: a feasibility study of commercial space-based solar power and research into the dynamic networking of small spacecraft.

“Exploration is the first phase in any mining and construction operation,” Rostami said. “This piece of equipment could be at the forefront of the exploration activities on extraterrestrial resource development.”

Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Categories: Partner News

Raj Rawat named 2018 Executive in Residence

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 11:03

The 2018 Joe Eazor Executive in Residence Seminar Series hosted by the Division of Economics and Business’ Engineering and Technology Management Program will be led by author, speaker, consultant and innovator Raj Rawat.

Open to all Mines students and faculty, the seminar series allows executives from industry to pass on insight and knowledge to students preparing for challenges that the seasoned executive understands well. This Engineering and Technology Management Program initiative facilitates active involvement by industry executives, through teaching, student advising activities and more.

Seminars begin Jan. 16 and take place 4-5:30 p.m. at Colorado School of Mines in Marquez Hall 126.

2018 Joe Eazor Executive in Residence Seminar Series Schedule

  • Jan. 16 - Reverse the Chase, Let Opportunity Chase You - Raj Rawat 
  • Jan. 30 - What Leaders Are Made Of - Greg Keller, James Jamison and Abby Benson 
  • Feb. 6 - Building Your Leadership Core - Katherine Knowles, Bart Lorang and Jessica Garcia 
  • Feb. 27 - Excellence and Leadership - Remy Arteaga and Julie Korak 
  • March 13 - Excellence = Fearless Life - George Promis and Nick Gromicko 
  • April 10 - Your Everest - Student Presenters 

Meet the speakers and learn more at

Raj Rawat: 2018 Executive in Residence
Raj Rawat is an author, speaker, consultant and innovator. After 20 years of leading “impossible” billion-dollar projects for Fortune 50 companies, he found his passion in inspiring companies and individuals to rise to their full potential.

Rawat’s recent book, “Find Your Everest: Before Someone Chooses It For You,” is gaining critical acclaim for its inspirational yet honest approach to think big and achieve. Rawat creates high-performance cultures by aligning individuals’ priorities with the organization’s performance targets.

Learn more at

Kelly Beard, Communications Specialist, Division of Economics and Business | 303-273-3452 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Categories: Partner News

Mines, ColoradoSPH to study contaminated water exposure

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 10:32
  Toxic chemicals from fire-fighting foams have contaminated water supplies in the towns of Fountain, Security and Widefield south of Colorado Springs, affecting at least 65,000 Coloradans

Researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Colorado School of Mines received a two-year grant to investigate contamination of the drinking water in the towns of Fountain, Security and Widefield, Colorado.  Residents of these towns were exposed to drinking water contaminated with pollutants originating from aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) used in firefighting and training activities.

By measuring biological markers of exposure and health indicators in a sample of approximately 200 people who consumed contaminated water, this study will provide communities and scientists with an improved understanding of the biopersistence and potential health impacts of AFFF-derived poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs).  PFASs are a class of chemicals widely used in industrial and commercial applications since the 1950s.

In July, a nine-month U.S. Air Force study verified that firefighting foam used at Peterson Air Force Base contaminated ground water and soil with PFASs at levels more than 1,000 times an Environmental Protection Agency health advisory limit for similar chemicals. 

The grant is from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a program of the National Institutes of Health. This study is being funded because of the recent discovery of the source of contamination, which has impacted the water supplies of these communities for several years. 

“This research will contribute to our understanding of the factors driving this unique exposure and how it may affect long-term health,” said Dr. John Adgate, chair of ColoradoSPH’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and principal investigator of the study. “We will collect the first systematic data on blood levels of these persistent compounds in this PFAS-impacted community. While exposure to PFASs has been significantly reduced due to work by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the local water utilities, our hope is that by gathering data on blood levels shortly after people’s peak exposure we can provide better answers on related health effects and potential next steps.” 

Currently, little is known about the health effects of human exposure to PFASs in areas with drinking water contaminated by AFFF, and no systematic biomonitoring has been done in these communities.  

“Because we suspect that any health effects are likely related to peak blood levels, it is important to collect the blood data and health effect information as soon as we can,” Dr. Adgate said. 

Dr. Christopher Higgins, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Mines and a co-investigator for the study, will be applying advanced analytical techniques to examine the potential that a much broader suite of PFASs is present in the impacted water supplies and possibly in people’s blood. 

“By using high resolution mass spectrometry to look at both water samples and a subset of human serum samples, we hope to improve our understanding of exactly which compounds bioaccumulate in humans and how long they stick around in the human body,” Higgins said. “We will also explore the links between drinking water exposure, PFAS blood levels and the potentially related health effects.”

Interventions to the water system like carbon filtration and alternative water supplies recommended by state and county health departments began in early 2016 soon after discovery of the contamination. As a result, exposures to these chemicals have been significantly curtailed. One of the research team’s challenges will be to work with the water utilities and health agencies to attempt to sample water from wells representative of what people were drinking before these interventions started. The study team hopes the additional water data will be useful to CDPHE and the water utilities that have been impacted by this contamination.

The study will also include Anne Starling, assistant professor of epidemiology at ColoradoSPH, and Katerina Kechris, associate professor of biostatistics and informatics​ at ColoradoSPH.

Tonya Ewers, Director of Communications and Alumni Relations, Colorado School of Public Health | 303-724-8573 |
Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3361 |


Categories: Partner News

Palin contributes to paper on loss of Mars’ ancient oceans

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 11:06

Earth and Mars both possessed abundant surface water shortly after their formation, but unlike on Earth, where oceans still cover 70 percent of the planet, the Martian surface may have acted like a giant sponge, soaking up the water and trapping it deep within the planet’s interior.

That’s according to a new paper from an international team of researchers published this week in the journal Nature, showing that planetary rock chemistry can have significant controls on a planet’s future development and prospects for life.

Richard Palin, assistant professor of metamorphic geology at Colorado School of Mines, is among the co-authors of the paper, “The divergent fates of primitive hydrospheric water on Earth and Mars.” The international team led by the University of Oxford’s Jon Wade also included researchers from Simon Fraser University, Pennsylvania State University and the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

“This work is very timely, given NASA’s Curiosity Rover performing active research on the Martian surface and SpaceX developing a transportation infrastructure to facilitate the planet’s eventual colonization. The more that we can determine about Mars’ geological history, the better informed our decisions can be when planning future expeditions,” Palin said. “There have always been questions about why Mars has no liquid water on its surface, and many mechanisms have been proposed for its loss over geological time. Our work shows that fluid–rock reactions between freshly erupted lavas and the steamy atmosphere were likely more efficient at removing water from the hydrosphere than, for example, loss to space via photolysis. It’s an important step forward in understanding how early Mars evolved into its current geological state.”

The study stemmed from a discussion of how the initial stages of planetary formation may influence the composition and physical properties of a planet’s outer crust. Researchers chose to compare the primitive hydrosphere evolution of Mars and Earth because while the planets have a similar composition, their fates have been very different. 

“I had previously performed calculations on the comparative water-carrying capacity of crustal rocks on the modern-day and early Earth, which was published in Nature Geoscience in 2016,” Palin said. “Applying this methodology to other planets in our solar system was a natural next step.”

Calculations for Earth and Mars revealed the relative volume of water that could be removed from each planet’s surface via reactions that occur around volcanic regions. The Martian crust contains more iron than Earth’s, which is predicted to have caused Mars’ crust to form greater quantities of hydrous minerals during burial and metamorphism. Hydrous minerals can hold molecular water in their crystalline structures, and so provide a way for liquid water to be directly removed from the hydrosphere.

In other words, the Martian crust could have effectively acted like a geological sponge, soaking up surface water and irretrievably trapping it within the planet’s crust and mantle. Mass-balance calculations suggest that this sequestration process could have consumed a 3-kilometer-deep ocean covering the entire Martian surface.

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Categories: Partner News

Outstanding graduates honored at midyear commencement

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 14:23
Colorado School of Mines celebrated its midyear commencement Dec. 15, conferring a total of 239 bachelor’s, 175 master’s and 63 doctoral degrees during undergraduate and graduate ceremonies.   At the undergraduate ceremony, 11 students – each representing a different academic department – were recognized for their high scholastic achievement and active involvement in departmental and school activities. The Fall 2017 Outstanding Graduating Seniors are:   - Christopher Overley, Department of Mining Engineering Overley, from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, has accepted an offer to join Martin Marietta Materials as an associate mining engineer. Favorite Mines memory: “MINExpo was such an amazing opportunity to spend time with friends and faculty outside of school.”   - Julia Hawn, Department of Geology and Geological Engineering Hawn, from Bellevue, Washington, plans to spend time with family, travel and ski for a couple of months before starting work at AECOM in Denver. Favorite Mines memory: “Camping with friends during field session.”   - Ryan Givan, Department of Petroleum Engineering Givan, from Englewood, Colorado, will join Matador Resources Co. in Dallas as a reservoir engineer following a two-week family trip to New Zealand. Favorite Mines memory: “The time we got to visit an offshore production platform in California during the first field session. It was the first time I really got hands-on exposure to the industry and it further sparked my interest not only in oil and gas but engineering in general.”   - Aspen Anderson, Department of Geophysics Anderson, from Fort Collins, Colorado, is moving to Vancouver to start her doctoral studies in the Department of Earth Science at Simon Fraser University. She plans to focus on regional-scale hydrogeologic systems and is receiving full funding. Favorite Mines memory: “Geophysics Field Camp solidified everything I learned in class, showed me how much geophysics can be used, and allowed me to connect with my classmates on a more personal level.”   - Rachel English, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering  English, from Warren, Pennsylvania, will be attending Carnegie Mellon University for her doctoral degree in materials science and engineering. Favorite Mines memory: “MAC had an outdoor movie night on Kafadar Commons where the sprinkler system turned on halfway through the movie. Everyone had to pack up and move quickly to avoid getting soaked.”   - Jonathan Helland, Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics Helland, from Larkspur, Colorado, will pursue his master’s degree in electrical engineering at Mines. Favorite Mines memory: “The availability of faculty members thanks to the small school environment that Mines provides. Access to faculty members has been the catalyst for everything that I’m doing now.”   - Thomas Tarcha, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (civil) Tarcha, from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, plans to stay in Colorado and work at a structural firm. Favorite Mines memory: “Building relationships with faculty and classmates. Mines has a unique community that allows for students to make lifelong friendships.”   - Quentin Geile, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (environmental) Geile, from Parker, Colorado, will attend grad school at Mines in the Environmental Engineering master’s program. Favorite Mines memory: “Meeting fellow environmental engineers who share the same interests and passions as I do. I could not have gotten through Mines without their support and help.”   - Tiffany Kalin, Department of Computer Science Kalin, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been accepted into the Lockheed Martin Engineering Leadership Development Program as a software engineer. Favorite Mines memory: “I’ve always enjoyed E-Days at Mines.”   - Ryan Hunt, Department of Electrical Engineering Hunt, from Fort Collins, Colorado, plans to pursue a master’s degree in computer science at Mines. Favorite Mines memory: “Building Breakout with LEDs and shift registers during the Microcomputer Architecture class.”   - Collin Kinder, Department of Mechanical Engineering Kinder, from Littleton, Colorado, is currently entertaining multiple job offers in defense and aerospace and plans to eventually complete a master’s degree. Favorite Mines memory: “E-Days – from winning the trebuchet competition to freezing during the cardboard boat race, every experience has been memorable.”   OTHER STUDENT AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS:   Undergraduate
  • The Alan Kissock Award is awarded to a graduating senior in metallurgical and materials engineering, acknowledging creativity in metallurgy: Michelle Hoffman
  • The Brunton Award in Geology is awarded in recognition of the highest scholastic achievement and interest in and enthusiasm for the science of geology: Michelle Franke
  • The Clark B Carpenter Award is presented to the graduating senior in mining or metallurgy who, in the opinion of the senior students in mining and metallurgy and the professors in charge of the respective departments, is the most deserving of this award: Erika Nieczkoski
  • The Faculty Choice Award in Computer Science is given to a top graduating senior who helped improve computer science at Mines: Jack Rosenthal
  • The Mary & Charles Cavanaugh Award, presented in metallurgy, is determined by scholarship, professional activity and participation in school activities: Brian Medberry
  • The Outstanding International Undergraduate Award is presented to an international student who has demonstrated scholastic achievement: Huan Wang
  • The Outstanding Senior Research Award in Chemistry is awarded to a student who demonstrates superior performance and creativity in undergraduate research: Maleigh Pagenkopf
  • The Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award in Computer Science is awarded to a student who demonstrates superior performance in undergraduate research: Huan Wang
  • The Mendenhall Prize is awarded by the Department of Geophysics to the department’s outstanding graduate student: Kendra L. Johnson, PhD Geophysics
  • Chemical and Biological Engineering Outstanding Thesis Award: Liqui Yang, PhD Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • The Dr. Bhakta Rath and Sushama Rath Research Award recognizes a Mines doctoral graduate whose thesis demonstrates the greatest potential for societal impact: Xuemin Li, Applied Chemistry
Military Commissions The following students will be commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the United States Army:
  • Tyler Z. Brown
  • Zachary R. Doom
  • John D. Kater
  • Emily M. Quaranta
  • Kristen M. Smith
  • Erik H. Trenary
The U.S. Army Cadet Command annually rank-orders ROTC seniors, with the top 20 percent in the nation earning the designation of Distinguished Military Graduate: John D. Kater
  The Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower Award is awarded to the outstanding ROTC Cadet commissioned each year, based on demonstrated exemplary leadership within the Corps of Cadets and academic excellence in Military Science: Kristen M. Smith


Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Categories: Partner News

Cornerstone Design projects propose novel ways to upcycle

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 16:18

A durable, easy-to-install roofing shingle made from waste ceramics and grocery store plastic bags was the top project at the Fall 2017 Cornerstone Design Final Competition on Dec. 6.

A total of 24 student teams from Intro to Design (EPIC 151) exhibited their design solutions for reducing waste through upcycling at the final competition, representing the top team from each class section. 

The Engineers of the Round Table’s roofing shingle won first place in the Best Design Process category. Their shingle-making device utilizes a heating element to melt the plastic bags together and adhere the crushed ceramics to one side of the shingle, with a press and second plate ensuring uniform thickness. Team members were Justin Rozendaal, Ernest Smith, Anais Rostad, Jordan Vickers and Joseph Protiva.

Earning second place was Tr# Upcycle, for their machine to melt waste plastic into bricks for building houses. Team members were Charles Collins, Torin Hopkins-Arnold, Zack Hart, Connor Smith and Caleb Kotter.

The award for the Most Potentially Viable project went to Enginerds, for their modular phone charger assembled from the functional batteries in discarded cell phones. Forming the team were Kellen Parker, Landon Walker, Paxton Heiting and Nick Gonzales.

Required for all Mines undergraduates, EPIC 151 is a semester-long design course whose centerpiece is an open-ended design problem that students must solve as part of a team effort. 

This semester’s task was reducing the amount of material that enters the waste stream by designing novel, useful solutions – and the tools required to make those solutions – from items that would otherwise be thrown away. Solutions were required to fulfill a need felt by a significant number of people, while also making a meaningful impact on the waste stream, the environment and/or the community.

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Categories: Partner News

Society of Women Engineers hosts midyear continuum

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 15:18

The Colorado School of Mines student section of the Society of Women Engineers celebrated graduating female students at its midyear Continuum on Wednesday, December 13.

The Continuum is a biannual event held at the end of the fall and spring semester, and invites families, friends, alumnae and members of the Mines community to campus to celebrate the class of graduating women.

Kim Bogue ’03, a Mines graduate and systems engineer at Raytheon, was the keynote speaker at the event. Bogue has worked on multiple programs for the company, supporting the development of mission management and command and control software and hardware for satellite ground stations.

Graduating electrical engineering seniors Nana Adu and Andrea Benefiel also spoke at the event.

“I’m sure we are all anxious about entering the next stage of our lives but we want to encourage you to embrace that fear,” Adu said. “Keep learning because you have the ability to make a real impact in the world.”

The Continuum started in 1999 when Susan Rainey, a SWE member and graduating senior, wanted to form an event recognizing the women on campus. Rainey brought together SWE, the Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics program and the Mines Alumni Association to develop and sponsor the event.


Joe DelNero, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3326 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Categories: Partner News

Mines president on team that wins ESTCP Project of the Year

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 10:37

Colorado School of Mines President Paul C. Johnson was part of a team of researchers recently honored for the top environmental restoration project of the year by the U.S. Department of Defense’s environmental technology demonstration and validation program.

The Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) announced its annual awards at the 2017 SERDP-ESTCP Symposium Nov. 28-30 in Washington D.C.

The project Johnson contributed to, “1,4-Dioxane Remediation by Extreme Soil Vapor Extraction (XSVE),” led by Rob Hinchee from Integrated Science & Technology Inc. (IST), was honored for developing a novel cost-effective way to remove 1,4-Dioxane from soils. 1,4-Dioxane is a possible cancer-causing chemical that can contaminate and persist in groundwater, and is found at chlorinated solvent spill sites and in some household products. 

“This project was a great example of the accelerated technology transfer that DoD hopes to see in the ESTCP program,” Johnson said. “Within only a few years, the XSVE technology went from concept to validation, and now environmental engineers have a new easy-to-apply option for restoring 1,4-Dioxane-contaminated sites.”

The team successfully demonstrated the XSVE technology at a field site and developed a design tool, HypeVent XSVE, that others can use to simulate the remediation of 1,4-Dioxane under a range of XSVE design conditions. Study results showed 1,4-dioxane concentrations in the treatment area decreasing about 95 percent, in good agreement with the projected results.

In addition to Johnson, team members included Hinchee and Dave Burris of IST, Paul Dahlen and Yuanming Guo of Arizona State University, Kimiye Touchi of AECOM, Hunter Anderson of AFCEC and Dave Becker of USACE. This is the third project-of-the-year award that Johnson has received from the SERDP-ESTCP programs.

A chemical engineer by training, Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree from University of California–Davis and master’s and doctoral degrees from Princeton University.

Established in 1995, ESTCP’s goal is to identify and demonstrate the most promising, innovative and cost-effective technologies to address DoD’s high-priority environmental requirements. Projects are managed within five areas – energy and water, environmental restoration, munitions response, resource conservation and resiliency, and weapons systems and platforms. 

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Categories: Partner News

Solar disinfection system wins CECS Fall Capstone Design Fair

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 09:49

A solar-powered water disinfection system for use in rural Uganda was awarded first place in the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences’ Fall Capstone Design Trade Fair on Dec. 5.

Team Uganda Solar also won the fair’s Humanitarian Engineering Award for the sustainable and economic point-of-use water disinfection system, which utilizes ultraviolet LEDs instead of the traditional mercury vapor lamps. According to the 2017 Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene report, prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, nearly 22 million residents living in rural areas of Uganda lack access to safe, clean drinking water. 

Members of Team Uganda Solar were Cole Alexander (mechanical engineering), Barron Keith (electrical engineering), Shao Liu (environmental engineering), Chad McFarland (mechanical engineering) and Caitlyn Smith (environmental engineering). 

Second place went to Team Dentium Engineering for their project, Dr. Sluggo’s A-45 Oscillator Toothbrush. Team members were William Cullum (mechanical engineering), Matthew Lewis (mechanical engineering), Duncan Melton (mechanical engineering), Brock Morrison (engineering physics), Cesar Navejas Garcia (mechanical engineering) and John Kater (mechanical engineering).
A first-place award was also given out to the top Human-Centered Design Studio project, Team 13e’s Motocross Foot Positioner. Primary team members were Rheana Cordero, Lauren Harrison, Kayla Hounshell and Megan Koehler, all studying mechanical engineering. 
Judges evaluated the projects based on poster and display, discussion, problem definition, design analysis and overall impression. 

"For two semesters these teams have been putting to use everything they had learned during their engineering studies to solve a client's problem and the trade fair is the proof in the pudding,” said Kevin Moore, dean of CECS. “Trade Fair is where we can showcase partnerships between Mines and the outside world, as well. This fall's winning team, Uganda Solar, with their project titled ‘eMi Solar-Powered UV Disinfection’ is a perfect example. Partnering with support from an NGO and with a co-client who also had in-country NGO experience, the team put together an amazing humanitarian-motivated solution to a real problem, a true ‘project that matters.’”

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |

Categories: Partner News

Graves accepts International Distinguished Achievement Award from SPE

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 16:52

The Society of Petroleum Engineers has named College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering Dean Ramona Graves as the 2017 recipient of the International Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty.

SPE presents international awards to recognize those who have made significant technical and professional contributions to the industry and contributed exceptional service and leadership to the society. 

Graves received the award “for her significant scientific achievements in the areas of laser-rock interaction, for dedication to students, teaching and the teaching profession, and for furthering cross-functional cooperation.”

Graves is a Mines alumna, and the second woman in the country to earn a doctorate in petroleum engineering.

“It really is an honor to receive an award for doing something that I absolutely love for the last 40—almost 40—years,” said Graves after receiving her award.

Graves went on to thank colleagues and family, saying she owed a special debt of gratitude to the women in her life.

The award was presented by SPE President Janeen Judah at the Annual Awards Banquet during the Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, October 9-11, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas.

Watch Graves’ entire thank you speech here.

Contact: Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 |  
Categories: Partner News