Student Chapters Highlight the Next Generation of the Mining Workforce

September 19, 2022

It’s back-to-school time of year, and SME wanted to get a first-hand account of what it’s like to be involved in a SME Student Chapter. Here’s some insights from Katie Elizabeth Slaughter, SME Student Chapter president at the University of Arizona. Slaughter is majoring in mining engineering and geology.

SME: When was the UArizona Student Chapter formed?

Slaughter: I’m not sure of the exact year, but we’ve been around for about 55 years. This year’s golf tournament is our 27th annual. We currently have about 60 dues paying members.

SME: What are some of your chapter activities?

Slaughter: We have a number of social and professional development events. The biggest events we attend are the SME Arizona Conference, MINEXCHANGE, both the metallic and aggregates design competitions, and the Intercollegiate Mining Games.

SME: What does your chapter do locally?

Slaughter: We attend monthly SME Tucson dinner meetings. On a smaller scale, we have a number of social events and our chapter is a tight-knit group. We participate in events within our school and the College of Engineering, such as the Engineer’s Week competition. We have a student lounge where our members can hang out and study. Our mining games team also participates in local mucking competitions in Superior and Tombstone, AZ. They also work with our student-run mine to host a yearly event called Mining on the Mall, where students run a jackleg on campus.

SME: What fundraising activities do you do?

Slaughter: Our big fundraiser is an annual golf tournament that occurs the weekend of the SME Arizona Conference. The proceeds from the tournament have allowed us to send approximately 40 students to the MINEXCHANGE SME Annual Conference and Expo at little to no cost. In 2021, we also sent approximately 30 students to MINExpo in Las Vegas, NV.

SME: When does your chapter meet?

Slaughter: We meet in person every other Friday in one of our classrooms. Meetings include lunch and a guest speaker from industry. We do have a Zoom option for online students.
Since we do a lot of other activities, field trips are not regularly scheduled. Our design teams are the exception -- the senior team always has a field trip and beginning this year, the junior team will have a field trip as well. We aim to have at least one field trip a semester for the general chapter, and we anticipate having two to three this year.

SME: What are the benefits of joining a Student Chapter?

Slaughter: SME provides us with endless networking opportunities, and makes getting an internship or job a breeze. Additionally, between the guest speakers at our meetings and SME Tucson meetings, we have excellent exposure to many different sides of industry on a regular basis.

We have a team of nine officers, including a vice president of professional development. The officers work directly with students to develop resumes and offer professional development help.

It’s important to get involved in a student chapter because it makes it easy to put your name out there.

The mining industry is such a small community, and your SME chapter provides you with endless connections so you can get a job or internship you’re truly excited about.

Additionally, I’ve met my best friends and made my favorite memories through SME. I’ll never forget practices for the Intercollegiate Mining Games team, staying up late at night for the metallic competition, and hanging out with our alumni during competitions and conferences.

Photo: Intercollegiate Mining Games women’s team.


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