Division highlight: Get to know the M&E Division

April 7, 2021

SME’s largest division, the Mining and Exploration Division, is chaired by Matt Blattman who was kind and charitable enough to entertain a few questions as part our inaugural effort to periodically feature SME’s eight different divisions. Read here for the Q&A with Blattman and also mark your calendar for the upcoming M&E Division Virtual Coffee Break on Thursday, May 6 from 9-10 a.m. (MDT). It’s open to all SME members!

Q: How many members are in your division?
4,384 members as of Dec 31, 2020. As with most other divisions, as well as the Society (and industry) as a whole, we’re concerned about declining membership. It is definitely one of our areas of focus for 2021 and we’re always looking for new ideas from our members.

Q: What are your goals for 2021?

  • Communications — For all of the obvious reasons, this year has been difficult for everyone when it comes to staying connected to our social and professional networks. Traditional interactions at the annual meeting and other face-to-face locations have not been an option for many of us. To help mitigate this impact, the M&E Division is putting a significant effort into reaching out to our members. One way of doing this is through open forums like our upcoming Coffee Break (May 6). Another way is to make a concerted effort to contact individual members directly for division business, (e.g., award nominations). Just like all forms of communication, to do it effectively, it takes focus and attention.
  • Award Nominations — I’m always amazed at the diversity of experience, expertise and backgrounds in our division, afforded by our relative size. We all know individuals deserving of professional recognition by their peers, but the pool of submitted nominations always seems too small. The executive committee has made it a focus for 2021 to make sure we keep the nomination process front and center and that we actively recruit members to nomination their colleagues for these prestigious awards. Related to this focus area, the M&E Division will be publishing Rock in the Box articles in the Mining Engineering magazine that document the individuals and histories behind each of the awards.
  • Programming — With the hope that restrictions will start to lift in the new future and we can meet in person again, we will continue to strive for quality technical programming at 2022’s annual meeting. We’re constantly looking for volunteers to serve as session chairs or make presentations. At the Coffee Break on May 6, we’ll have an opportunity for individuals to speak directly to Brad Dunn (Vice Chair-Programs) and the Programming Area Managers (PAMs) and get involved.

Q: Quote from 2021 chair about why you should join this division?
Get involved! “Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you; spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” ? Amy Poehler, The Art of Inside Out

Q: What does the Mining & Exploration Division have to offer?
Opportunity to be involved at a level that works for you — My high school graduating class had 118 students while my kids attended a high school in Texas with more than 4,000 students at any given time. They had options for sports, clubs, teams and academic courses that I only saw in movies growing up. I see similarities in the M&E Division where success is driven by its membership and there are a wealth of opportunities to get involved. From technical programming, professional awards, research and academic activities, SME advisory roles and even social issues such as the new Inclusion and Diversity Committee, there’s always a need for the unique skill sets that each of our members hold.

Q: What are your favorite things/memories about your time with the division?
In hindsight, it seems remarkable yet at the same time, commonplace in our division. As a recently graduated (Go Mackay!) young professional, I volunteered to help out with the student mentoring program at the annual meeting. That evening, I found myself talking to students and professionals alike, all sharing experiences from various parts the world. People that I had seen as “celebrities” in trade publications and SME leadership profiles were standing there, genuinely engaged and interested in those in the room. While the formal division meetings and business are an important aspect to the effort, I value most those social and professional reconnections at every meeting.

Q: Number of technical sessions in 2020?

At the annual meeting in Phoenix in 2020, we had 23 sessions with 147 presentations. Obviously with the reduced scale of the virtual MINEXCHANGE 2021 conference, there were fewer sessions but definitely of the highest quality. In total, 2021’s annual meeting included a total of eight semi-live sessions with 22 presentations. An additional 43 presentations were recorded and made available through the on-demand option.

Q: What scholarships are available through the M&E Division?

At the annual meeting in Feb. 2021, we awarded $31,625 in scholarships to 12 deserving individuals. The division scholarchips include the Steven C. Potter, the Eugene P. Pfleider, Henry DeWitt Smith and Steward Wallace Memorial scholarships as well as awards from the M&E Division's general scholarship fund. Our biggest fundraiser every year is the M&E luncheon on Wednesday afternoon at the annual meeting and the silent auction, which usually generates more then $5,000 that goes directly to the students. One of the most significant and direct impacts of COVID on the division has been the cancellation of the luncheon and reduced scope of the silent auction. We will be asking our members to dig deep this year to help the students and overcome this shortfall.


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