It’s Official: UA Mining Society Chapter Is Winningest Team

Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration showers University of Arizona students and faculty with awards and scholarships in 2014.

The UA student chapter of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration has received the 2014 SME Outstanding Student Chapter Award. This marks the seventh time the Wildcats have won the award -- more often than any other chapter since SME started giving it out in 1967.

But that’s not all. The UA won two outreach contests sponsored by SME’s Minerals Education Coalition, or MEC. The UA received the MEC 2014 Student Chapter Award for accomplishments in community outreach and mining/mineral education. This is the second year in a row the UA has won.

Side bar of scholars and sponsorsPassing On Their Wonder of Minerals

The UA chapter is also the first-time winner of a new contest: The International K-12 Outreach Challenge, in which students take MEC’s PowerPoint presentation on the importance of minerals and mining into as many classrooms as possible.

Five UA mining engineering students made 27 of these presentations to 1,600 children in K-12 schools throughout Tucson. A photo and story about their accomplishments will be published in Mining Engineering magazine.

“The children were very inquisitive and excited to learn about rocks and minerals,” said K-12 challenge participant Megan Naff, a senior who first developed her passion for minerals as a volunteer at the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in Phoenix.

For mining engineering junior Ericka Tucker, who is also executive vice president of the UA’s Engineering Student Council, the highlight of the outreach challenge came during a presentation to a second-grade class.

“A little girl brought her father, who was a miner, and she kept telling us it was ‘so awesome’ that we had come to describe her dad!” Tucker said.

It reminded Tucker of her own early discovery of the magic of minerals: “My stepdad used to bring me out on hikes, letting me fill his pockets along the way.”

“Our outreach program benefits immensely from our mining engineering students,” said Pamela Wilkinson, education outreach coordinator for the UA Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources. “They are our best ambassadors, fabulous at sharing their knowledge and love of their chosen career with students and adults. I am so very proud of all of them.”

Several UA students will receive travel allowances to attend SME’s annual conference February 2015 in Denver, where the awards will be presented. 

From left: Professor Mary Poulton with the UA student winners of the SME Minerals Education Coalition K-12 Outreach Challenge: Dakota Doyle, Ericka Tucker, David Kijewski, Mara Erhardt and Megan Naff.Mary Poulton Receives SME Rahn Award

University of Arizona students aren’t the only ones being recognized by SME. Mary Poulton, professor and director of the UA Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources, has received the 2015 Ivan B. Rahn Education Award, presented to SME members who have made significant contributions relating to ABET, student affairs, continuing education, professional registration or the Council of Education.

“Winning outstanding chapter awards from both SME and its Mineral Education Coalition, and the Ivan Rahn award, demonstrate our students’ and faculty’s extraordinary level of engagement and commitment to the mining engineering program,” said Moe Momayez, associate professor and associate head of mining and geological engineering.


Top picture: We’re No. 1! The UA student chapter of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration.