UAF team heads to final round of Mine Design Competition in Denver

The UAF Mine Design Team led by Simon Ortega has progressed into the final phase of the international SME/NSSGA Mine Design competition. Of the roughly 18 teams from around the world that participated this year, only six have moved into the final round. UAF was among those successful teams. According to team captain Ortega, it's the first time in history that UAF is being selected to compete in the final phase of this competion. The final round will be held in Denver on February 22 & 23, 2013, at the start of the SME Annual Meeting.

The SME/NSSGA Mine Design competition is split up into two stages. Phase 1 takes place at the individual universities and is overseen by a faculty advisor, who ensures that students follow the competition's rules and obey time requirements. A team of six students is given a set of information, including geological data, drill hole and core log information and market value of the resource, and is asked to design a mine within a certain time frame. The set of information given to the teams is generally based off a real world mine although an actual name or location is never revealed, of course. This year, the team has been working on a dolomite and limestone mine.

The students have a total of 21 days to develop their ideas. Within these 3 weeks, each of the students is allotted 35h to work on their assigned tasks. Each of the students usually specializes in a different section of mining, may it be geology, modeling, or machinery and equipment, for example. The final product, a technical report, is then sent off to the judges by the faculty advisor. For the members of the mine design team, this is an intense three-week period that requires juggling time between completing the assignment for the competition, classes, homework and possibly a job.

Phase 2 of the Mine Design competition expands on the initial design of phase 1. Additional blocks of information are given to the competing teams and each team is required to come up with design solutions that account for the new parameters. The teams will have two full days to formulate solutions and prepare an oral presentation of their redesign. Presentations will be given on the third day in front an audience of mining professionals and leaders of the mining industry kicking off the SME Annual meeting.

This year's Mine Design team members are Simon Ortega, Mindona Krzykowski, Blake Bogart, Terry Taylor, Alexander Bertram and Alex Legrismith. Rajive Ganguli, Chair of the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering, has acted as team coach and faculty advisor.

When asked what qualities lead to this year's success in the competition, Ortega says that the team not only brought more experience but also a wide variety of experience to the table. "Last year I was team captain, too, but it was my first time. And my team members were in the same boat. However, all of us have gained valuable experience during our internships last summer, in addition to having more mining classes under our belts. Everyone was able to contribute their skill set to different areas of the project."

Good luck to the Mine Design Team in the final round of SME/NSSGA Mine Design competition!