Miners of Tomorrow
Welcome to Miners of Tomorrow, a look at how recipients of Mintec scholarships are faring. Luke Sturgeon studies Mining Engineering at the University of Arizona, and received a Mintec scholarship this summer. Luke has worked for Colorado-based Balfour Holdings and is due to graduate in May 2012.
Tell us about your work for Balfour Holdings.
During the summer of 2010, I was working for the University of Arizona Hydrology Department as a lab technician. Over the summer, I was contacted by Balfour Holdings president, Doug Silver, in regards to some extra work he needed help with. He explained to me about a project that involved 3D modeling of a lake in Colorado. I accepted the job and designed a model of the lake using MineSight. Using this program as for a lake was challenging, but the flexibility of the software and a lot of time in front of a computer ended up with a model that was presented at Colorado State University.
How did the Mintec scholarship come about? Did you apply or were you picked?
During the same summer as when I started working for Balfour Holdings, I received an email regarding a new scholarship. It required a comprehensive essay explaining the challenges of balancing mining issues concerning public opinion, environmental impact, economic benefits, and technological innovation along with a few other criteria. I chose the Resolution Mine since its depth demands technology not required in other copper mines and its proximity to the community of Superior, Arizona. I knew it would be a competitive scholarship, but with a few sleepless nights and a lot of research, I was able to produce an application worth such a great scholarship.
Did it pay for tuition, courses, living expenses? Presumably it helped in the midst of student loans, etc.
This scholarship allowed me to fulfill a life goal. When I was in the 3rd grade, I did a research project on Australia. I was mesmerized by how different a country could be even though most aspects (economy, language, etc.) were the same as in America. I still have the map I drew for the project hanging on my wall. With this scholarship, I was able to take a semester abroad, studying at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. To say the trip was life changing is an understatement. One day, I hope to work in Australia.
Do you use MineSight at U of A?
Besides the work I did for Balfour Holdings, my classes are mainly what I use the software for. I have a surface mine design and planning class that uses the program extensively. I find it challenging since there are so many things that can be done with the software, but the uses in industry are what make the program fun.
What are your career plans upon graduation?
My ultimate goal is to head back to Australia and work as an engineer. The time I spent traveling and studying there have me hooked. I would love to work along the east coast of the continent, particularly in the coal industry since my internships have given me a better understanding of the industry. I understand that it’s difficult to get a job across the Pacific, but like studying in Australia, it’s another life goal that I have.
What attracted you to mining as a career?
I started studying Geophysics when I arrived at University of Arizona. I met a few people in the mining department and it seemed to me that mining engineering was pretty similar to geophysics, but you get to use massive toys in a giant sandbox. I took a trip with a few students to San Xavier, the student-run mine, and I’ve never looked back.
What are your life ambitions beyond career (family? travel?)
There are a lot of things that I want to do before I settle down. Australia was just the beginning: I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. I have had too many friends and family coming home with amazing stories about Sweden, France, Italy, China, South Africa, and Chile to settle for only one stamp in my passport. After I satiate that craving, I’d like to start another dream I’ve had since I was a child. It sounds silly when I write it, but I’ve always wanted to start my own small business, particularly a bakery or coffee shop. I love the idea of looking at a successful business and knowing that I created that.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
As any fresh engineer alumnus will tell you, students can sleep when they graduate. With the few moments I can claim, I enjoy working out or whatever hobby has taken my fascination at the moment. I tend to go through hobbies every three months or so since I always find something new and intriguing, but right now home brewing beer is what I find myself doing on Sunday afternoons.
Do you live on campus? What’s fun to do in Tucson?
I live a street over from campus but like to think I’m a part of the community. One of the reasons I came to Tucson was for the weather and outdoor activities that the area has to offer. Mt. Lemmon is a 45-minute drive away for some spectacular views and camping while the city itself has a night life that easily keep one entertained (responsibly of course).
I see you’re from Eagle, Idaho – famous for its fire department’s annual ‘World’s Largest’ Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed! Have you ever witnessed this spectacle?
Ha-ha and I thought we were famous for our potatoes! I’ve seen the competition up close, and to this day it makes me cringe. When I was 12, my twin brother and I convinced one of our friends who had just moved from California to try one. He didn’t understand why we were on the floor laughing since they apparently taste pretty good. I’ll never forget the look on his face when we told him what they were.
What music do you like to listen to?
I tend to go through phases of what I listen to. For example, when I was in high school it was classical since I had been playing the upright bass for eight years. Ever since I’ve been back from Australia, I’ve been listening to a lot of indie and alternative music since that’s what dominates the airwaves across the Pacific.
What’s the last book you read for pleasure?
My dad is one of those that will tear through a book in a day. He loves sending me a few that he thinks I should read, and the last book I read was one of those I obliged him with. He sent me Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did since it reads like a textbook, but it was fascinating to see how the world developed into how it is today through a non-European colonialism lens.
Your top three dinner guests, dead or alive?
I would love to have Nikolai Tesla and Thomas Edison sit at the same dinner table. I wonder if their competitive relationship is really what history claims. I don’t expect to get a word in edgewise but the conversation would probably be entertaining enough. The last guest I would like to have over is one that I’ve studied for a while through studying Latin (another hobby that took hold of me a few years ago). I would love to learn the exact details of Caesar’s death from Marc Anthony, one of Caesar’s good friends and political allies. Along with that, his conquests in Africa would be interesting to hear about.
Anything else to add?
I know Australia sounds repetitive in these answers, but I cannot stress enough how much that trip meant to me. There is no amount of gratitude that I could give you to make up for that adventure. Everything that adventure means to me is cliché, but so true. I guess the best gift that the scholarship gave me was understanding what “life changing” and “I’ll never be the same” really means. It’s not nearly enough, but thank you.