SME President's Page

Ron Parratt

The Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Foundation, Inc. (SMEF) was established in 1991 and was created to attract and leverage resources for a sustainable mining industry through education and outreach. Through its many years of operation, it has been supported by numerous SME members, friends of the industry and, importantly, many mining and mining-related corporations. SMEF is well known to SME members, and their support over the years has been critical to the overall success of the Foundation. I certainly encourage SME members to support the Foundation and its activities that are so important to our industry. In that regard, I thought it would be helpful to review the various programs that SMEF currently supports, and to provide members with a better idea of what their donations are accomplishing.

SMEF currently supports five specific programs: the Ph.D. Fellowship and Academic Career Development Grant Program, ABET, the Professional Engineers (PE) Licensure Committee, Minerals Education Coalition (MEC), and SME Foundation scholarships. Specifics of each of the programs are as follows.

Ph.D. Fellowship and Academic Career Development Program

This program supports the advancement of Ph.D. students to attain Ph.D. degrees in mining and metallurgical engineering and provides support for existing Ph.D.s to attain tenure in the teaching of these important disciplines, given the declining number of such faculty. There are 21 current and former participants in the Fellowship program with six having earned their Ph.D.s and one additional Ph.D. recipient accepting an assistant professorship position. There are 14 current and former participants in the Career program, and nine individuals have achieved tenure, one has accepted a faculty position and one received a promotion.

This program is fulfilling its goal of replacing retiring faculty and assuring the continued education of mining and metallurgical engineers for the remaining 13 U.S. mining schools.

ABET

ABET is a nongovernmental organization that accredits more than 4,360 applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology programs at more than 850 institutions in 41 nations. Eighteen program evaluators were nominated from SME for geological, mining and mineral engineering and geology program visits for the 2022-2023 review cycle. Of these, 10 visits are in the United States and will be conducted in person, while six visits to foreign institutions will be completed virtually. The group rigorously evaluates these programs to ensure they meet the standards necessary to grant the degrees noted. Each college or university that grants these degrees must be re-evaluated every five years to ensure the programs continue to meet the requirements. Funds provided by SMEF are for travel and related expenses and the materials needed to visit the colleges or universities being evaluated.

SME Professional Engineers Licensure Committee

Each year SME administers the PE Exam in October. To prepare individuals to take the exam, SME conducts a PE Review course that is held in September of each year. The 2021 PE Exam was the first computerized exam for the mining and mineral processing discipline. The PE Committee has supervised the writing of the Mining Reference Handbook, Edition II, which is the single reference allowed in the PE Exam. The SMEF provides funds for the committee’s activities.

Minerals Education Coalition

The MEC provides resources for K-12 classrooms, consisting of fact-based curriculum on minerals and mining. MEC also ensures that lesson plans are current and continually design new programs according to educational and STEM standards. The MEC also provides outreach to communities regarding the importance of mining. All of these efforts inform students and educate the public about the importance of mining in their everyday lives. Funds for the MEC cover the costs of preparing and disseminating education lessons, and the materials used in these efforts.

Additionally, the MEC supports Scouting outreach and awards the Mining in Society Merit Badge. Scouts learn about mine safety, reclamation, exploration and careers in mining. The MEC also provides materials for the American Geosciences Institute’s Earth Science Week and for the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) Conference. It supports the Miners Give Back program to support initiatives focused on humanitarian efforts and community service that tangibly improves the lives of individuals and inspires a commitment to give back to the local community. Miners Give Back has an award program for the recognition of SME Section community service, and humanitarian outreach initiated by SME Sections within their communities, and facilitates networking among Sections.

Foundation scholarships

In 2022, SMEF awarded 17 scholarships totaling $68,500 to students pursuing several mining-related disciplines. Six of these scholarships are named scholarships provided by individuals and mining-related companies, with one scholarship given jointly by the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America (MMSA) and SMEF.

Summary

I hope that you can see that the value of the SMEF is significant and of great support to SME, our members and our future members. Maintaining our Society and the benefits that it provides to our industry is critical to the well being of our nation. The Foundation is investing in our future by ensuring we have the educators needed and the students we need who will become the geologists, engineers and metallurgists of the future. But importantly, too, we need to continually provide society with the message of mining — what we do, and why its important. We need to deliver that message to our K-12 educators and to the communities we touch. These efforts take all of us in SME and mining to accomplish the task and the Foundation is a huge part of that effort. So please consider providing support for the efforts of SME and especially the SMEF. The SMEF is a major part of our Society and needs support from SME members and the companies that employ us, allowing its important work to continue. Help that effort to be successful.