Andrea Brickey headshot


Andrea Brickey


Associate Professor at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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What led you to join SME? For how long have you been a member?

I knew I wanted to be an engineer at a very young age after learning what engineers do - solve problems! Despite growing up in a mining family, I was more interested in chemistry and headed to university with the idea of pursuing a chemical engineering degree. But after learning more about the field, I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me in the long-term. On the prompting of my family, I visited the mining engineering department and after talking to the department head for a few minutes, I knew that mining was exactly what I was looking for. It had everything I wanted: adventure, excitement, and lots of problems to help solve.

What part of your career makes you the most excited?

As a professor, my greatest joy comes from working with students. To see their creativity and passion towards the industry makes it easy to get out of bed in the morning and head to work. It is very rewarding to prepare young engineers for a career in mining, send them out into the world and then see what they accomplish. I also love to travel, visiting mining operations and learning from miners around the world. It is a dynamic industry and I find it fascinating to see it change and grow.

What mining/engineering innovations are you most excited about?

I might be a bit biased in this response, but I am so excited about the innovations and advances we have made, and continue to make, to create safer (for both miners and our environment) and more productive mines. Specifically, optimization research continues to find ways to better incorporate safety factors into the mine plans, making it possible to design mines to be developed in a more efficient and much safer way. Also, as a Space Camp alumnus, it’ll be pretty cool to see how mining techniques will be used in the next phase of space exploration.

Where do you think the industry will take you in the next decade?

I hope to keep teaching future generations of miners and other working professionals in the mining industry. Additionally, I plan to continue working with my team to find solutions to hard problems impacting the industry.

What is something that someone outside the industry would find surprising about what you do?

That our students are just as passionate about protecting the environment as they are about providing the raw materials required to maintain and improve society’s quality of life.

What is something your SME membership has given you that you didn’t anticipate when you first joined?

I knew that it would be a great networking opportunity for business relationships, but what I have also found are wonderful people who have become good friends. And those friendships are priceless.