Mineral Engineer Wins 2 National Scholarships

SOCORRO, N.M. April 25, 2013 – New Mexico Tech senior Ashleigh Mitchell earned two competitive national scholarships from the Society of Mining Engineers this year.


Dr. Navid Mojtabai presents a certificate to Ashleigh Mitchell, a senior in Mineral Engineering. Mitchell won two scholarships from the SME.


“I’m incredibly excited,” Mitchell said. “I can pay for school this semester and it’s not out of my pocket. I’m especially grateful to the SME for selecting me for these awards.”

A native of tiny Mosquero in northeast New Mexico, Mitchell earned the scholarship by writing an essay about her interest in coal mining, glowing letters of recommendation and her academic record.

“You have to be a stand-out to get this scholarship,” said her advisor, Dr. Navid Mojtabai. “Ashleigh is an exceptional student and she has an interest in coal.”

Mitchell has been active in the student chapter of SME since coming to Tech and has served as president of the club. Mojtabai said the club’s activities have increased dramatically after she became president.

One award is from the Coal and Energy Division of the SME; the other from the Mining and Exploration Division. Both were for $1,500.

“I was in shock. It was awesome,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t expect two awards.”

Mitchell has worked at Peabody Energy’s coal mine near Grants, N.M., for the last two summers – and will return for a third summer this year. She has worked with an explosives crew, did surveying and learned software programs that are standard in the mining industry.

“I love working at Peabody,” she said. “It’s a small community feeling at the mine and I enjoy it. It’s easy to get help and I’m not scared to ask questions. I feel like I learn a lot while I’m there.”

Mitchell said she is pleased with her choice to work in the coal industry and thoroughly enjoyed her work with Peabody.

She expects to graduate with her bachelor’s in mineral engineering in May 2014. She hopes to start her career in Colorado and eventually work overseas.

Her nomination for the awards was supported by letters from Peabody senior engineer Mark Rochlitz, Peabody’s Operations Manager Mitch Knapton and Mojtabai.

Knapton wrote that, “Ashleigh has an extremely positive attitude and willingness to work … Her fellow workings on the blast crew were especially impressed with her performance. … Her work ethic was particularly impressive.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech