Mackay Mine Design Team competes in international competition

College of Science team uses experience to look ahead toward next year’s event

Mackay Mine Design Team competes in international competition

College of Science team uses experience to look ahead toward next year’s event

The International Student Mine Design Competition gives undergraduates the opportunity to experience solving real world mining problems. The University of Nevada, Reno's junior Mackay Mine Design Team competed against five other universities from around the world in a competition hosted by the Society from Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration this month in Denver, Colo.

This was the first time in three years that a team from the University has made it to phase two of the competition and the first time in four years that a junior team from the University has advanced to phase two.

For the competition, the teams were asked to complete a conceptual study on a possible mine site and to recommend if a mining company should invest money in mining a deposit.

"The teams are provided with drill hole data, a site layout and other various site information," Sean Diggins, team captain and junior mining engineering major, said. "The teams never have enough information, just as it would be in the real world, and must make appropriate assumptions."

The team started the first phase of the competition in October 2014. During the course of 21 days, the team was limited to working 35 hours prior to submitting their report. The team was notified in mid-January that they were selected to advance to phase two. On the day of the phase two competition, the teams were given a new project and had three days to add to their report before presenting their solution to a panel of judges. According to Diggins, this experience broadened his perception of engineering.

"I always thought that in the world of engineering there was only ever one correct solution because it was just math and equations," Diggins said. "But, after finishing this project and seeing all of the team's different solutions I realized there really is a lot of creativity that is put into engineering solutions."

The team did not place in the competition but they are already thinking about how to use this experience for next year.

"Fortunately, since we were the junior team the majority of us will be returning next year and will have another chance," Diggins said. "Most teams that make it to phase two are senior teams and do not often get a second chance."

In addition to Diggins, the team was comprised of sophomore mining engineering major Ralston Pedersen, senior mining engineering major Orgil Norov, senior mining engineering major August Greth, junior mining engineering major Manuel Toledo and junior geologic engineering major John Hartley.

The University's College of Science team competed against teams from Virginia Tech, the Indian Institute of Technology and three Canadian universities including McGill University, Queen's University and Université Laval.

Next year's competition and the Society from Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration Annual conference will be held in Phoenix, Ariz. For more information about Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, visit

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