Mining Companies Award Five Scholarships

SOCORRO, N.M. December 3, 2010 – Two mining companies have continued their support of the mineral engineering department at New Mexico Tech with scholarships and donations.

Peabody Energy and Freeport MacMoRan each awarded scholarships, in addition to donations to the university.

Four Tech students garnered five scholarships from mining companies in New Mexico. From left are Kameron Ray, Toby Stanley, Chris Schumacher and Anthony Bates. They earned scholarships from Peabody Energy and Freeport MacMoRan Copper and Gold. Photo by Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech

“These two companies obviously appreciate what New Mexico Tech is doing to support the industry by educating the next generation of engineers,” Mineral Engineering Department Chairman Dr. Navid Mojtabai said. “Their continued financial support of our department and of the university demonstrate that company officials recognize the value of a New Mexico Tech degree and the value of hiring our graduates.”

All five 2010 scholarships were awarded to students in mineral engineering; however, Mojtabai said the companies employ Tech graduates from all engineering disciplines in key leadership roles.

Peabody Energy, which provides significant internship and employment opportunities for Tech graduates, added a $25,000 donation to their existing endowed scholarship earlier this year. The Peabody Energy Endowed Scholarship is now funded at $100,000. Those scholarships are awarded at the discretion of the Mineral Engineering Department. Cody Winclechter, a 2010 Tech graduate in electrical engineering, returned to campus in Socorro as an employee of Peabody and presented Mojtabai with the donation.

In addition to that donation, the company also awarded two $4,000 scholarships to Tech students in mineral engineering. They are Toby Stanley and Chris Schumacher, both of whom completed summer internships at the company’s Lee Ranch mine near Grants, N.M.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., Peabody has 28 surface and underground mining operations, including four mines in the Four Corners region. Peabody is also the only U.S.-based coal company with operations in Australia, the world's largest coal exporting nation.

Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Co. awarded three scholarships for $7,500 each to three mineral engineering students: Kameron Ray, Chris Schumacher and Anthony Bates.

“This helps a lot,” Ray said. “With Tech scholarships alone, I still have some out of pocket expenses for school. This scholarship more than covers those expenses”.

Set to graduate this month, Ray said he’ll finish school without debt. A graduate of Mayfield High School in Las Cruces, Ray has a job with Orica Mining Services’ office in Gillette, Wyo., as an explosives engineering consultant.

Bates said, “I was really happy to hear about it. This means I don’t have to do odd jobs to make money or take out loans.”

Dr. Navid Mojtabai, chair of the Mineral Engineering Department, accepts a donation from Cody Winclechter of Peabody Energy. Winclechter completed his degrees in electrical engineering and engineering management in 2010. Photo by Heather Miller/New Mexico Tech

Bates will graduate in 2012 and is not sure of his plans yet. He said he is considering staying at Tech for a master’s, but is tempted by the strong job market in mining. Last summer, he completed an internship at a calcium carbonate mine in Georgia for Imerys, a French industrial minerals company.

“One thing I like about the industry is that the companies take care of you really well,” he said. “I made good money, plus they supplied me with housing and a rental car.”

Bates said his course work at New Mexico Tech prepared him very well for his internship. Exercises in the Mine Systems class with Mojtabai were the exact tasks he accomplished for Imerys.

Freeport McMoRan is a global mining company that operates the copper mine in Morenci, Ariz., and owns the Chino Mine near Silver City. Operations at Chino were suspended in 2008, but the company announced in October that the mine will be reopened in 2013.

The company donated $1 million to the Mineral Engineering Department at Tech in 2008. The 2010 scholarships are in addition to the Freeport MacMoRan Endowment.

“New Mexico Tech’s relationships with these mining companies is mutually beneficial,” Mojtabai said. “The real winners, however, are these students. They’ll complete their degrees with virtually no debt and they have careers waiting for them.”

Schumacher, who received scholarships from both Peabody and Freeport MacMoRan, said the experience working for Peabody was challenging. He is returning for a winter internship later this month and again for another summer internship in 2011. A native of the area of Lansing, Mich., he hopes to work as a mining engineer after graduating.

Stanley, a graduate of Mayfield High in Las Cruces, worked for Peabody in the mid-1990s and again as an intern for the past two summers.

“Tech does a really good job of preparing you for the work,” he said. “I wasn’t too overwhelmed.”

Stanley has lined up an internship at the Gateway Mine in Coulterville, Ill., for next summer, where he is looking forward to learning about underground coal mining.

“Mining companies really need people,” Stanley said. “There’s such a shortage of mining engineers that they’re hiring people with degrees in civil engineering and training them. It’s a good time to be entering the industry.”


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By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech