What led you to join SME? For how long have you been a member?
The mining industry has so many twists and turns in terms of career paths, it is very easy to be overwhelmed. SME provides a sense of community between its members. I have gone to SME meetings at my school’s chapter since 2017, but I became an official member in February 2020. The community lays the groundwork to establish an extensive network of knowledgeable professionals and other college students to reach out to. Being able to reach out to professionals in the industry makes the thought of figuring out a career much more manageable.
What initially led you to pursue your profession? Why have you continued to study and pursue your profession throughout school?
Mining Engineering is critical to the foundation of our modern-day society. Unfortunately, the population of people pursuing careers in the mining industry is declining. Only 12 universities in the United States offer Mining Engineering as a degree path. Without mining engineers, we cannot advance our society. I was born in Boston and moved to Atlanta when I was 8 years old. In every interview, they ask me, “How does someone who grew up where you did, get involved in mining?” I knew that I wanted to go to engineering school, but a Mining Engineering, Engineering Day information session somehow drew me in. It managed to beat the materials science demonstration. The information session made me realize that, with this degree, I can make a difference in the world every day I go to work. That inspired me to continue studying.
How has being an SME member enhanced or shaped your future career?
SME has given me so many opportunities to see different aspects of the industry to help shape my future career. SME has led me to joining WIM and the Mine Rescue team. Participating in our extensive outreach programs got me more involved in the community. Weekly SME meetings led me to getting interviews and eventually internships. I had an internship with Blackhawk Mining summer 2019. My internship for summer 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19. As I look around, I see my colleagues in various other engineering degree paths struggling to get a foothold in their industries. SME feels like several hands are reaching out to pull me in.
Favorite SME member benefit(s) to take advantage of?
In February I was fortunate to go to the SME conference in Phoenix. The conference was the highlight of my SME career so far. I walked away from the conference much more confident in my future in the mining industry. The conference put me in contact with knowledgeable professionals who gave me insight on the industry, technical talks that opened my eyes to research being conducted, and it connected me to other mining students around the country. I hope to go again next year.
What challenges do you anticipate facing as a mine engineering professional, either personally or through the lens of the industry as a whole?
A major challenge is overcoming the stigma that mining exists only to hurt the environment for monetary gain. It seems like everyone has a negative stigma against mining. The stigmas have existed since the first stone was pulled out of the ground. It is imperative, as professionals in the industry, we work to combat those stigmas. With incredible advancements in technology and social media, we have more tools than ever before to spread the truth about mining. One of the first steps we need to take is early education. Teaching people what mining is from an early age helps to prevent the stigmas from developing in the first place. Reaching out to the youth is a cornerstone of the outreach event of our chapter.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspects of being a part of the mining industry?
The most rewarding aspects of being a member of the mining industry is the daily impact. Mined materials are used by almost every person, if not, every person in the world, every day. Being a small part of that global network is remarkable.
Who has been key in shaping your future career path, and how?
Megan Doyle has been key in shaping my future career path. She is the assistant to the department chair and event coordinator. She is also responsible for recruiting and purchasing. Megan is the backbone of the University of Kentucky Mining Engineering department. She is normally sitting at her desk in the front office with a remote control dump truck full of blow pops and mints with a smile on her face. She is always there to give some helpful advice or just listen to you. She encouraged me, as a freshman, to come to events and meet more people in the department. I stop by and talk to her almost every day. Her presence has the unique ability to dissolve the stress of classes and make everyone feel better.
What advancements do you hope to see within the industry once you begin your career?
Once I begin my career, I want to see increased usage in drone technology and more unmanned equipment. At the SME conference in February, I saw the Caterpillar booth. They had demonstrations of semi and fully autonomous dozers and haul trucks. I see technology like this as the future of the industry. I also hope to see greater strides in education and communication to improve the public perception of mining.
Where do you think the industry will take you in the next decade?
In the next decade, I plan on being a licensed professional mining engineer. I want to travel around the country and the world to see as many different mining operations as possible. I’ve especially been interested in seeing operations in Australia and Europe. I think travel will give me a wider perspective on different mining techniques and provide a more diverse experience. I think it is important to get out and see as much as possible while I am still young.