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Mining Class Offered to Caterpillar Funds Scholarships
South Dakota Ag Connection - 12/04/2018

A unique program at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology that provides Caterpillar employees with professional training enabled the Mining Engineering Department to offer scholarships this academic year through the Caterpillar Mining Excellence Scholarship fund.

The 30-week program, called the Mining Practitioner Program, was created in April 2017. The class is taught by SD Mines Professor Andrea Brickey, Ph.D., who instructs Caterpillar employees via online, interactive live sessions. The 2017-2018 class included more than 50 Caterpillar employees as students, whose tuition revenues were in turn converted for mining scholarships.

"It exceeded what we thought. Originally, we were expecting maybe 30 participants," says Lance Roberts, Ph.D., head of the Mining Engineering and Management Department. "A portion of the tuition goes directly to fund scholarships for students majoring in mining engineering." This year, 11 SD Mines students accepted two-year scholarships as a result of this program.

"The program was designed to give Caterpillar employees a basic understanding of all aspects of mining," says Professor Brickey. "The participants typically come into the program with a limited knowledge of mine operations and our goal is to help them better understand the industry, beyond mining equipment & support, so they can provide better solutions to their mining customers."

The course includes an overview of the mining industry: exploration, mine design and planning, health and safety, mine operation, and mineral extraction and processing. The class also includes a focus on the importance of minimizing environmental impact, post-mining reclamation and an examination of what the future of mining holds.

The 2018-2019 class kicked off in August and has increased to more than 60 students. As the program has evolved, the mining department hired a Ph.D. student to aid Dr. Brickey so that the program continues to grow and thrive. The program also includes a variety of expert guest lecturers from the mining industry and academia.

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