Virginia Tech, a leader in women pursuing mining engineering education, to host conference
March 6, 2013
The Virginia Tech Chapter of Women in Mining will host the national group's 2013 meeting, beginning on April 25 at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Roanoke, Va.
Two Virginia Tech Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering faculty members, Kray Luxbacher and Emily Sarver, are hosting the national meeting.
Founded in 1972 Women in Mining's mission is to facilitate education about the mining industry. Its members include engineers, geologists, secretaries, lobbyists, mine workers, educators, and concerned citizens.
The Virginia Tech Chapter of Women in Mining was founded in 2004 as the first student chapter in the nation. It is now one of three student chapters in the U.S., and currently has over 50 members, both male and female.
This year's meeting will include a field trip to the Lhoist Kimballton underground limestone mine in nearby Giles County. The visit will include a tour of the mine and hazard training.
"I do think that the Women in Mining student chapter has helped attract a more diverse group of students to mining and minerals engineering. In an industry faced with increased demand, depletion of reserves, and environmental and social challenges, diversity of thought is critical to developing innovative solutions in a rapidly changing field," said Luxbacher.
"As a national organization, Women in Mining's primary mission is outreach and education related to mining and society's needs for mineral resources.
Our student members are certainly active in public education. However at Virginia Tech, Women in Mining has also evolved into a great recruiting resource for our department and networking catalyst for our students. Prospective students see that mining engineering is a field ripe with opportunities, and current students benefit from early engagement with industry leaders through field trips and other professional activities," Sarver said.
Sarver helped found the Women in Mining chapter when she was an undergraduate in the department. Along with Luxbacher, they represent the first female faculty members in over 100 years of history for Virginia Tech's Mining and Minerals Engineering Department.
"In addition, they represent two of five tenure track female faculty members in mining engineering programs throughout the U.S.," said Greg Adel, professor of mining and minerals engineering and department head.
Since 2008-09 the percentage of female students in the mining and minerals engineering at Virginia Tech has increased from 11 percent to nearly 20 percent. "It is certainly no coincidence that Dr. Luxbacher and Dr. Sarver joined our faculty during this time. There is no substitute for positive female role models when it comes to encouraging young women to consider mining engineering as a career choice," Adel added.
In total, the mining and minerals engineering program at Virginia Tech has some 225 undergraduates. Of the 14 accredited mining engineering programs nationwide, Virginia Tech is largest supplier of graduates in this discipline in the country, producing approximately one-fourth of all the mining degrees in the last ten years. Over the past five years, the department has averaged about 35 graduates per year, but it is slated to produce 50 in both 2013 and in 2014.
The 2013 Women in Mining student officers are: Lynn Kern of Blue Bell, Pa., president; Libby Boccarosse of Reston, Va., vice president; Tyler Daugherty of Richmond, Va., treasurer; and Meredith Scaggs of Ashburn, Va., secretary.