Mineral Engineer Wins National Scholarships

SOCORRO, N.M. January 27, 2014 – New Mexico Tech senior Ashleigh Mitchell earned a competitive national scholarship from the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration this year.

“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 again for this award.”

   ashleigh-mitchell-2014-IMG 0879

 Ashleigh Mitchell with mineral engineering professor Dr. Navid Mojtabai.


A native of 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.

The award is a $2,500 scholarship from the Coal and Energy Division of the SME.

“I wasn’t going to apply because I didn’t think I’d get it a third time,” Mitchell said. “So I was shocked that I got it. I guess they know it’s my last semester and they want to help seniors who are graduating.”

Mitchell has worked at Peabody Energy’s coal mine near Grants, N.M., for the last three summers. She has worked with an explosives crew, did surveying and learned software programs that are standard in the mining industry.

Upon graduating in May, she will start working for Peabody on a two-year contract as an operations associate. She’ll shuffle through various engineering departments and, hopefully, visit other Peabody mines as well.

“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.

Her nomination for the award was supported by letters from Peabody senior engineer Mark Rochlitz and Mojtabai.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech