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UA Licenses Mining Safety Game to Engage Trainees

Recently retired University of Arizona mining and geological engineering professor Mary Poulton and UA researchers have come up with a game-like interactive training program for miners that promises to keep trainees engaged and thinking.

"We know from teaching that sitting there, staring at a screen, listening, is not a way to engage people," Poulton said in an interview with Tech Launch Arizona. "It doesn't make people more safety conscious and it doesn't lead to better safety behaviors at the job site."

The University of Arizona has licensed the interactive training program to startup Desert Saber. Check out the local coverage of this story in the Arizona Daily Star.

Mary Poulton to Retire

Mary Poulton, center, with mining engineering students at the annual rock-drilling contest outside Old Main on the UA campus.Following a 30-year career in public service, Mary Poulton, University Distinguished Professor in Geosciences, Mining Engineering, Law and Public Health, and director of the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources, is retiring from academia.

At a special luncheon in her honor, words of support and congratulations poured in from Arizona's governor, U.S. senators and the state House of Representatives and Senate. Arizona State Mine Inspector Joe Hart also presented Poulton with a certificate of excellence.

After earning bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in geological engineering from the UA, Poulton joined the MGE faculty and later broke new ground when she became its department head in 2000.

Under her leadership, enrollment quadrupled and she spearheaded efforts to bring more women and minorities into mining education and the mining profession. She also helped celebrate the Arizona School of Mine's 125th anniversary in 2013.

Poulton will start a new chapter in her career this summer in a new role at the Spokane Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

MGE Faculty Selected as SME Krumb Lecturers

From left to right: Sean Dessurealt, Moe Momayez and Ihor KunaszThree current and former faculty members of the UA Department of Mining and Geological Engineering were chosen by the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, or SME, as 2017-2018 Henry Krumb Lecturers.

The 10 honorees were selected from among those who presented technical papers at the SME Annual Conference & Expo, and were announced during SME's National Western Mining Conference in February.

MGE's Krumb Lecturers are:

  • Sean Dessurealt, associate professor, "Using Tablets, Internet of Thing Beacons, and Big Data Analytics for Safety and Productivity in Small Mines and Quarries"
  • Moe Momayez, associate professor, "Distributed Air Properties Sensors for Underground Mine"
  • Ihor Kunasz, former adjunct professor, "The Lithium Paradigm"

Kraft Wins Annual Drilling Competition

MGE student, Nathan Kraft, leans on the jackleg drill after starting a hole. (Arizona Daily Star)MGE student Nathan Kraft bored his way to first place in the 2017 MGE rock-drilling competition on the University of Arizona campus outside Old Main.

Kraft beat out seven other students by drilling the deepest hole in a 20-ton rock in two minutes. His triumph came not with a trophy but a traditional toss into the Old Main fountain.

The Arizona Daily Star photographed the event, including Kraft's victory dunk, and video of the competition is available courtesy of KGUN9.

Photo: Nathan Kraft leans on the jackleg drill after getting a hole started. Courtesy of Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star

TLA Startup of the Year Boosted by MGE Contributions

The MetOxs team accepts their I-Squared awardOn April 18, Tech Launch Arizona held its fourth annual I-Squared Expo & Awards, highlighting University of Arizona researchers whose inventions impact the quality of life of people in Tucson, across Arizona and throughout the world.

This year's event showcased eight UA startups, including MetOxs Solutions, which was honored as 2017 Startup of the Year.

MetOxs specializes in providing technology for more sustainable mining and energy production. Included in their portfolio are Hexopanel and Acrete, two products developed by MGE faculty.

Associate professor Moe Momayez developed the Hexopanel to slow water evaporation from mining tailings ponds and reservoirs while simultaneously generating solar energy. Acrete, invented by associate professor Jinhong Zhang, is a fly ash-based substitute for concrete for use in construction.

The MetOxs inventor team receives their I-Squared Award. From right to left: David Allen, Jinhong Zhang, Dominic Gervasio, Abe Jalbout, Moe Momayez and Kimberly Espy.

Getting Rocky at MGE Drilling Competition

A UA student uses a jackleg drill to bore holes in a giant rock outside Old Main during the 2014 competition.

On Friday, April 21, UA mining and geological engineering students will test their drill skills at an annual rock-drilling competition outside Old Main.

Each student has two minutes and a 130-pound jackleg drill to bore as deep a hole as possible in the 20-ton rock, and the lucky winner gets hosed down by their teammates or thrown into the Old Main fountain.

Curious? Watch the 2014 competitors in action.

The competition runs from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is open to the public.

Design Day 2017: The Next Big Thing, 100 Times Over

Student at Design DayEngineering affects virtually every aspect of our lives, and at the University of Arizona's Engineering Design Day on May 1, more than 500 students – including 20 seniors from the UA Department of Mining and Geological Engineering – inte​nd to prove it.

The public is invited to see the displays in the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom and on the UA Mall from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., and to attend the awards ceremony in the ballroom from 4 to 5:30 p.m., when industry sponsors will present more than $25,000 in cash prizes to project teams.

Download the UA Engineering Design app, available for iOS and Android! Find your favorite project and presenter, and then – new this year! – post to social media directly from the app.

Register Now for 2017 SME Barbecue

The University of Arizona student chapter of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration invites you to its annual Operators' Barbecue, on Saturday, April 22, at 11 a.m. Students and workers enter a mine

Come out and join UA SME at the San Xavier Mining Laboratory and celebrate the amazing mining community in Southern Arizona.

Entertainment will include:

  • Mine and facility tours
  • A P&H shovel simulator
  • Lawn games
  • Equipment demonstrations
  • ... and more!

The BBQ is free for UA SME chapter members, UA faculty and children under 12. All others pay just $5 at the door.

Space may be limited, so please RSVP online.

View or download the event flyer (PDF).

MGE Alumni Take 2nd in International Collegiate Mining Competition

Call it March Mining Madness. At the 39th International Collegiate Mining Competition in Kentucky, student and alumni teams from the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Brazil tested their skills in seven old-fashioned mining skills, including panning for gold, surveying land and laying railroad track.Teams compete in the 39th Annual International Collegiate Mining Competition

Seven alumni from the University of Arizona's mining and geological engineering program competed in the alumni division, coming in second place.

The competition commemorates the 91 miners who died in the 1972 Sunshine mine disaster and continues to honor all miners who have lost their lives while on the job. The rivalry is fierce, but the atmosphere is decidedly friendly with the focus on fun, teamwork, networking and paying respect to the industry's heritage.

The following alumni competed on behalf of the UA:

  • John Featherston BS/MGE 2011
  • Tim George BS/MGE 2007
  • Robert Tracy BS/MGE 2011
  • Cris Valenzuela BS/MGE 2008
  • David Vatterrodt BS/MGE 2004
  • Will Werner BS/MGE 2011.

Photo: A team competes in the 39th International Collegiate Mining Competition at the University of Kentucky.

From Byproduct to Buildings: Finding New Use for Fly Ash

Associate professor Jinhong Zhang has spent years researching construction materials created from waste, most recently fly ash.Jinhong Zhang shows off a sample of his concrete alternative material

A byproduct of coal-burning plants, fly ash – and more specifically, its extremely fine and easily inhaled particles – have been an environmental and medical concern for years. In some studies done in China, it was even linked to medical problems such as infertility.

Though regulated in the U.S., fly ash is still produced, but thanks to Zhang, it now has a new, environmentally friendly purpose as building material.

Zhang has launched a startup, Acrete, to produce the material – a concrete alternative that is three times the compressive strength of cement and twice the flexural strength. The company has since partnered with Tech Launch Arizona to patent the product and ultimately bring it to market.

Not only is using fly ash in the material a more sustainable use for the byproduct, it requires less energy to produce than traditional Portland cement.

"The initial idea was not to replace concrete, it was to reduce industrial waste by creating a construction material," Zhang said in a recent interview. "In the process of experimenting, we found that we could actually make a very strong material."

Zhang and Acrete have applied for a patent for the concrete alternative, and are already researching the use of other industrial byproducts, such as mine tailings, in other applications.

Photo courtesy of Courtney Kock/Cronkite News


University of Arizona College of Engineering