Diversity and technology take center stage at the 2019 SME Annual Conference & Expo
Mining Engineering, 2019, Vol. 71, No. 5, pp. 30-30
Gleason, William; Renner, Georgene; Theng, Chee
A walk through the exhibit hall or a glance at the technical programing that was offered at the 2019 SME Annual Conference & Expo and CMA 121st National Western Mining Conference in Denver, CO, Feb. 24-27 makes it evident that the mining industry is an innovative one that is on the cutting edge of technology. However, a glance at the nearly 6,700 attendees of the conference and it is also evident that while the industry is moving forward at a rapid pace in some areas, it is lagging behind in terms of diversity, both in gender and ethnicity.
At Monday morning’s keynote session, Hannah Ubi, a millennial and a public speaker who joked that she is the proud owner of a sixth-place swimming trophy and a number of participation medals, addressed a full house that consisted of many men with gray hair or balding heads. The issue of an aging workforce that is rapidly being depleted by retirements is not a new one for the mining industry. In fact, it has been a concern for the industry for more than a decade. The central question has long been, “when the current senior-level people begin to retire, how do we replace them, and how do we fill the knowledge gap that is walking off into the sunset?” SME has been on the front lines in searching for solutions to the impending problem and, along with industry partners, has worked hard to develop programs that will address these issues. Among other efforts, the Society has developed a Ph.D. fellowship program to encourage people to remain in academia to teach the next generation and to help train the next generation to take over in the private sector.
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