It’s no secret that student enrollments in mining engineering programs have been declining globally. In the United States and Australia, numbers are down by nearly 50 percent (Roy et al., 2019; Roy, 2019) and as much as 80 percent (Minerals Council of Australia, 2019) from their respective peaks in 2013 and 2012, and it is much the same story for Canadian schools (Mining Industry Human Resources Council, 2018). We’ve all heard plenty of speculation as to why — young people think mining is dirty and archaic, it destroys the planet or maybe they just don’t know it still exists? Then there’s just straight-up competition from other fields.
In an effort to improve our programs, the University of Arizona’s (UArizona) Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources and Mining and Geological Engineering department started asking students about their awareness and perception of mining and mineral resources and we learned some very interesting things.