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On-line Mining Education 

 
Author: Simon Houlding - EduMine

Summary

This review lists the resources available on-line if you choose to enhance your mining skills and knowledge. It describes several worldwide mining education and certification programs.

INTRODUCTION

What we learn at school and at university may not be enough to keep us "educated" throughout our working lives. Most of us have to brush up our knowledge as we advance and as technologies change. This is as true in mining as in any discipline. In this review, we list the resources available on-line to you if you choose to enhance your mining skills and knowledge.

WHY ON-LINE LEARNING?

Some reasons why people may be interested in On-Line education related to mining:
  • industry is turning to other, related disciplines such as civil / mechanical / chemical engineering to alleviate the demand for personnel ... as a result there is a rapidly growing demand for cross-training of personnel
  • industry is beginning to recognize that career improvement, in the form of corporate training programs or accredited professional development, is a big incentive for young professionals, resulting in increased employee retention ... it also increases the demand for training and professional development resources
  • mining schools and universities on their own are struggling to justify the resources required for development and delivery of new and specialized teaching programs ... a factor in this is the limited audience accessible to a mining school using conventional approaches to education.

MASTERS PROGRAMS

One of the first examples of online education was the Master of Engineering in Mining program offered by the University of Missouri - Rolla. This has been available since 2001 and currently has 20 students across North America.

The Mining Engineering Department at University of Missouri - Rolla has been offering a comprehensive graduate program in Mining Engineering online since 2001. Leading to the degree of Master of Engineering, this program is intended primarily for non-mining engineers and scientists working in the mining industry, and for the mining engineers who wish to bring their knowledge of the profession up-to-date. The program has an enrolment of over 20 students located at various mine sites scattered between Alaska and Connecticut. This course is offered by UMR using on-line learning methods. Students will learn by listening to the on-line lectures and through directed self-study.

Another example is the Graduate Diploma in Mine Ventilation one of several such courses offered by the University of New South Wales in Australia.

REGULAR PROGRAMS

Here are two opportunities for regular on-going, on-line education about mining:

The new Sandvik International Mining School is an example of industry sponsored development of courses tailored to company requirements. It is the result of a partnership between the company and six mining schools around the world. The universities are the Mining University of Leoben, Austria (course coordinator); University of New South Wales, Australia; Helsinki University of Technology, Finland; Camborne School of Mines, U.K.; Colorado School of Mines, USA; and the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. Courses will provide Sandvik employees with a well funded academic, job-orientated specialization and intense education in raw materials extraction, with emphasis on international standards.

The UBC Certificate of Mining Studies is an example of industry focused continuing education, accredited by a mining school, and delivered by industry specialists. The program is targeted at a cross-training audience comprising professionals from mining-related disciplines who need a fast, convenient route towards upgrading and augmenting their current skills.

The program combines the convenience of online learning with intensive short-courses presented by industry specialists in a classroom, and then finishes the learning experience by assigning a take-home project to be completed after the short-course. The program has been in operation for 5 years and currently has 40 registered participants from around the world.

This program has been developed as a collaborative effort by the University of British Columbia, the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) and EduMine, the professional development division of InfoMine Inc.

Benefits of the learning model include:

  • integration of the convenience of online learning with the dynamics of a classroom session by industry specialists
  • a minimum requirement for time away from the job
  • academic accreditation by an internationally recognized and respected mining school
  • professional accreditation by a leading mining institution (CIM)
  • a resource for mining corporations to enhance their intellectual capital ... courses can be integrated into corporate engineer-in-training programs or equivalent

ABOUT ALMOST EVERYTHING MINING

EduMine is the professional development division of InfoMine Inc. In collaboration with mining schools, professional associations and industry, EduMine has been delivering online courses and certification to the global mining industry since 2000. Currently there are about 80 courses available, representing approximately 1100 hours of professional development. There are also several courses available in Spanish. The courses are authored by industry specialists and cover a wide range of mining topics. They include an online certification process that meets professional competency requirements.

EduMine's online audience of active enrollees, from mining operations, mining companies, consultants, suppliers and individual professionals around the world, currently numbers ~1050. This large audience is a significant advantage in terms of justifying the costs of developing and presenting courses on specialized mining topics.

EduMine courses are currently used in a range of educational contexts, including:

  • continuing education for the cross-training audience (see UBC Certificate above)
  • professional competency requirements, supported by many professional associations in mining
  • augmenting of mining school curricula
  • integration into corporate training programs

EduMine also has a special section with information on mining schools around the world. This section provides information on faculty members, educational programs, research projects, professional development, and opportunities for collaboration.

NETWORKING BETWEEN MINING SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES

Networking and collaboration between mining schools and universities is a way to take advantage of the strengths and specializations of individual schools, by forming a larger group within which schools complement each other. This approach also increases the available student audience and helps to justify development and delivery of teaching programs. Students are required to travel between mining schools and universities and experience different teaching, working and cultural environments.

Examples of this sort of networking include the programs presented by the Federation of European Mining Programs (FEMP) and the Globally Employable Mining Engineer (GEME) program operated by the Colorado School of Mines.

The FEMP programs involve six European mining schools with strong industry support. The programs include three two-year M.Sc. programs in mining, geotechnical and environmental engineering, accommodating a total of 60 students. Students spend one of the two years traveling and studying at four of the other institutions involved. The programs have been in operation for almost ten years.

FEMP is also the organization that co-ordinates the 2 year European Mining, Minerals and Environmental Program (EMMEP) for students in Mining and Geotechnical Engineering, Mineral Processing, Recycling and related academic studies.

Participating students study together at universities in different European countries for one of the two academic years. Participating institutions include:

  • RWTH Aachen, Germany
  • Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
  • Camborne School of Mines, UK
  • Helsinki University of Technology, Finland
  • University of Miskolc, Hungary
  • Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland

The program is strongly supported by industry (more than 30 multinational companies). A choice of internships and job opportunities are offered to participating EU and non EU students.

The GEME program is a relatively new undergraduate program that networks four mining schools with the stated aim of increasing enrolments in Mining Engineering programs by emphasizing the exciting international nature of a career in the global mining industry. Students are encouraged to spend at least a semester at one of the other participating mining schools. Faculty members are exchanged on a regular basis and work together on cooperative research projects. The program is sponsored by four major mining companies.

Participating Universities include:

  • Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado, USA
  • University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
  • Pontifica Universidad Catolica del Peru, Lima, Peru

The program aims at preparing talented mining engineering students for global employment by enhancing their education with international study and work experiences. It features a student exchange program, scholarships, and internship opportunities with international mining companies.

REFERENCES

  1. MIHR, "Mining Industry Attraction, Recruitment & Retention Strategy (MARS) - Project Overview" (http://www.mihr.ca/_english/)
  2. McCarter, M.K. "Mining Faculty in the United States: current status and sustainability", Mining Engineering, SME, September 2007
  3. UNSW, "Survey of Final Year Mining Engineering Students - 2006" (http://www.mining.unsw.edu.au/)
  4. Hebblewhite, B. "MTEC Mining Engineering Education Initiatives in Australia", SME Conference, Salt Lake City, 2005 (copy of paper)

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