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Courtney Young

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What sparked your interest in pursuing a career in mining and minerals?

When I was in HS, I toured the Anaconda Smelter and Refinery in Great Falls MT. Wow, could I do metallurgical engineering for a living? Afterwards, I toured Montana Tech and visited two engineering departments: mineral processing and metallurgical. I received scholarships from both but ultimately decided on mineral processing engineering because it involved more chemistry with applications in flotation and hydrometallurgy as well as pyrometallurgy.

What part of your career makes you the most excited?

I absolutely love being a professor and interacting with students and their eager minds. It's best when they are working on an industrial project through undergraduate research, senior design, or graduate research for either their Master's or PhD. This addresses an industrial problem, gives the student a real-world issue to solve, and ultimately gives both of them a first-hand opportunity at becoming employee/employer. Does it get any better?

What mining/engineering innovations are you most excited about?

It's not so much the innovations that I get excited about but rather it's the challenges and the innovations that will come from addressing them. Our challenges are many and include but are not limited to processing ores that are low grade, contain multiple valuables, and have small liberation sizes, particularly when critical materials are being mined and separated domestically.

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

Retirement (laughing). Seriously, I just see myself continuing to work with industry and the students; albeit, I suspect I will increase my consulting activities. It will just add to the ways I work with and help industry.

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

That's a tough question. Perhaps that I love doing applications more than fundamentals or the fact that my “research program” is not filled with any one particular topic but rather many.

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

That's an easy question! My job requires service which can be done at any combination of campus, community and professional levels. Of course, I have done each but have particularly stressed the latter with SME and encouraged students to do the same. It has helped me grow professionally through a wonderful network of experts, friends and colleagues. While this is emphasized during the SME Annual Meeting, it is truly about careers as well as lifelong relations after! I count my blessings.