Sena Cicek headshot


Sena Cicek


MSc in Mining Engineering at West Virginia University

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What initially led you to pursue your profession? Why have you continued to study and pursue your profession throughout school?​ ​

Being the witness of a major earthquake which caused the death of almost 17,000 people and a financial loss of about $6.5 billion deeply affected me when I was a kid and also made me passionate about helping people. Instead of serving in health services, I preferred being a mining engineer where I can combine my analytical skills and interest in rocks to help the society with solid engineering applications. I have continued to pursue a mining engineering degree since mining is such a vibrant sector with distinct opportunities to fulfill a career. 

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

I have been a member since I came to the U.S. to study for my masters degree in August, 2018. The SME West Virginia University Student Chapter has been very active and places great importance on the development of students through involvement in the SME. The curiosity about how mining engineering students in the U.S. are professionally improving themselves motivated me to join SME. I have not missed any of the SME events during my education. It helped me to quickly understand the structure of SME and find ways to increase my involvement in SME.

How has being an SME member enhanced or shaped your future career?

As an international student in the U.S., meeting with successful mining professionals and learning the mining industry from different people with various perspectives was a great opportunity. During local and annual SME conferences, I had a chance to expand my network with people who vary by age, demographic, field, and company. Currently, more than 10 of them from 6 different companies are helping me with my masters study by letting me analyze their mines. Collaborating with several companies gave me insight into unique site-specific issues as well as their different problem-solving strategies and decision making processes.

Favorite SME member benefit(s) to take advantage of?

There are lots of member benefits, especially for the students who seek ways to improve themselves professionally. Participating in the Move Mining Competition in order to increase the awareness of mining was one of the most remarkable experiences I have had through SME. For this competition, my teammates and I designed a video game concept which aims at changing the negative perception towards mining implicitly through the use of this video game and won second place.

Also, I joined SME Young Leaders Committee as Class of 2020 and serve as a Sub-Committee Vice-chair in Global Section. I focus on identifying the places, particularly in Europe, where the SME can potentially increase its presence and I truly enjoy motivating my peers outside of the U.S. to join the SME by sharing my personal experiences with them.

What challenges do you anticipate facing as a mine engineering professional, either personally or through the lens of the industry as a whole?

The mining industry is continuously improving with technologies and tools such as artificial intelligence, robotics and automation, big data management, automated drones and many others to become safer, more efficient, and sustainable. Implementing new technologies into the operation would be challenging but I believe this challenge can be overcome with adopting a holistic approach that considers management systems and work culture in addition to the new technological innovation itself.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of being a part of the mining industry?

I think the most rewarding part of the mining is relocation opportunities. The mining industry is an evolving industry all over the world and there is always a need for passionate and talented individuals across the globe. For this reason, I believe a mining career can take me all over the world and allows rotations internationally to experience different countries and cultures. 

Also being able to be involved in both the design and operation parts of mining and simultaneously having the end products of mining as an essential part of daily life are very rewarding.

Who has been key in shaping your future career path, and how?

Dr. Onur Golbasi, one of the professors in METU where I received my BS degree, enormously supported me during my senior year while I was applying for the graduate schools abroad. He has been a great mentor to me by sharing his own experiences and showing possible ways to shape my future education and career.

What advancements do you hope to see within the industry once you begin your career?

I hope to see more elevated awareness of our natural resources such as recycling water and materials to reduce the raw material for future operations and ultimately to make mining more sustainable and environmentalist.

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

New places in the world! What I like the most about my future career in mining is the vast array of opportunities offered by the mining industry. I am very excited to take different responsibilities, work for the extraction of different mineral deposits, solve distinct problems, and be a part of different teams in interesting places in the world.