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Colorado school adds space mining minors

Aerospace engineering, space mining minors offered this fall Metal Tech News – February 17, 2021

With NASA and the private sector taking a serious look at mining lunar and Martian soil in support of human outposts, Colorado School of Mines has unveiled two new undergraduate minors to support these space-faring endeavors.

Currently the only academic institution in the Unites States to offer an advanced degree in space resources, the Colorado School of Mines is adding a space mining minor this fall that will allow undergraduate students to get a flavor of the future of both mining and space exploration.

This Golden, Colorado university says space mining is a developing field that attracts interest from a wide range of students and industries including many non-traditional mining disciplines.

The space mining minor, believed to be the first in the Solar System with this specific focus, will provide Colorado School of Mines undergraduates with a strong foundation of knowledge to make an immediate impact as they look to play a role in the exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.

"Space exploration has long been an aspiration of various scientists and engineers, and success in deep space missions depends on our ability to utilize the resources in outer space," said Jamal Rostami, associate professor in the Department of Mining Engineering, where the program will be housed.

These missions will be in need of space mining engineers that can contribute to providing the raw materials for building habitats and other onsite manufacturing, supplies of consumables, and fuels for spacecraft.

"Design of mining operations in space requires some out-of-the-box thinking and emphasis on automation, safety and remote operation," Rostami said. "The Space Mining minor can facilitate this transition between the current state-of-the-art mining techniques and the operation of mines in the future both on Earth and in space."

To help support the commute of these space mining engineers to their extraterrestrial destinations, the Colorado School of Mines is also adding a minor in aerospace engineering to its fall lineup.

The mines school says the aerospace industry represents five of the top 10 employers for mechanical engineers in Colorado.

The aerospace engineering minor is designed to support students interested in aerospace engineering careers who are majoring in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, metallurgical and materials engineering, physics and other areas.

Housed under the Department of Mechanical Engineering, this aerospace engineering minor will provide students pursuing other majors with a competitive advantage if looking to work in the aerospace sector.

"The minor is in response to our constituents' needs, both industry and current students," said Kristine Csavina, assistant department head for undergraduate studies and teaching professor in mechanical engineering. "In discussions with managers and alumni in the aerospace industry, they reiterated their desire to hire our Mines engineers, but they feel new employees would have a better start in their companies with a background of fundamental knowledge in aerospace engineering."

The new aerospace engineering minor will capitalize on three existing mechanical engineering courses important to aerospace fundamentals and add three additional courses in space-related topics and systems engineering. 

"Industry desires fundamental aerospace engineering training in such topics as astrodynamics, propulsion, the space environment, mission design and analysis, structures, materials, and space systems engineering," Csavina said. "We are excited to expand our offering of courses in aerospace engineering."

A major in space resources with a minor in aerospace engineering could provide an aspiring space miner the credentials to design future operations on the Moon, Mars or 16 Psyche – an asteroid estimated to be made up of as much as $10 sextillion worth of metals, which is the equivalent to about $1.3 trillion for every person on Earth.

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Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.


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