Many of the things we use are made from materials that come from the ground.
That includes everything from the gas in our cars to the rings on our fingers.
But do you ever think of how we get those materials out of the ground? Mining
engineering students learn the latest techniques.
Students take courses in things like soils and foundations, surface
mining, mining engineering analysis, mineral economics, and mine ventilation
and environment control.
Most engineering programs include a co-op component. That's when
students complete work terms in the industry. It offers you the opportunity
to gain experience and earn money. But it also lengthens your time in the
The co-op bachelor of engineering program usually takes about five years
to complete, says Georges J. Kipouros. He is the head of mining and metallurgical
engineering at a university.
"The program instills work ethics through co-op education, responsibility
and accountability and technical competence," Kipouros says.
The program also tries to help students develop an analytical attitude,
as well as teamwork and communication skills.
"Our students receive the typical basic knowledge in math, science,
mechanics and thermodynamics, as do all engineers," says mining engineering
professor Allen Hall. "In addition, our students learn about the strength
of rock in order to construct mines that are safe and secure."
Greg Adel is a professor of mining and minerals engineering at Virginia
Tech. He says the skills students learn include:
- Planning the mining operation to maximize the recovery of ore
- Properly ventilating underground mines to prevent dust and explosive gases
from building up
- Designing belt haulage systems and pumping systems
- Processing ores to separate the valuable minerals from the waste materials
- Managing mining operations
"Finally, they learn how to reclaim the mining area in order to protect
the environment when mining is completed," Adel says.
Get a good background in math and science. Kipouros recommends that high
school students study math, physics and geology.
Hall says students should be willing to travel and to work in remote
locations. He adds that courses in language, geology and chemicals would
also be helpful.
The main costs are tuition and books.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Mining
and Geological Engineers, Including Mining Safety Engineers
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Serving the non-metallic mining industry