A team of mining engineering students, the Mackay Muckers, from University of Nevada, Reno, competed in numerous old-time mining events at the 38th annual Intercollegiate Mining Competition – earning them first place in the overall co-educational division. There were seven events in total, five of which consisted of the entire team, and the other two events consisted of two-man teams.
The first five events put the competitors’ knowledge and skill to the test by examining how fast they could drill the deepest hole in rock, saw through a 6-by-6 inch piece of timber, find five lead bb’s in a gold pan, fill two-ton ore carts with dirt, and set up and tear down a section of railroad track.
The other two events required two team members to use a pneumatic drill on a single leg and drill as far as possible into rock for three minutes. In the last event, competitors got 45 minutes to survey a 150-foot closed traverse and calculate the end point.
The team included five male and two female students – Nick Winter, Alesio Rios, James Ellis, Chase Kittilsen, Emma Baker, Stephanie Shelley and team advisor Danny Taylor.
Shelley, a University senior, is the secretary of the Mackay Muckers as well. She said she has enjoyed her time competing in the past five mining competitions.
“This experience has been one of the best of my life,” Shelley said. “This was my fifth mining games, and every year it has been fantastic in its own way. The first place win was a good way to end my college career.”
The competition was held in Butte, Montana from April 1 to April 3. Fourteen men’s teams, 16 co-ed teams (the Mackay Muckers division), two women’s teams and eight alumni teams participated.
“My favorite part of the competition has always been seeing people from all over the United States, as well all over the world, come together,” Shelley said. “Every year I see so many old friends and I also make so many new ones.”
The team spent a large amount of time learning and practicing how to work together in order to execute everything smoothly and diligently. This paid off as they placed first in the hand steel and survey portion of the competition, and third in the jackleg and swede saw event.
The Intercollegiate Mining Competition held its first competition in 1978 and was initiated by several mining students from the University of Idaho and the University of Arizona. The University of Nevada, Reno has been attending since 1980 and the event has grown into an international event.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to network with people from all over the world,” Taylor said. “I have met others since 1980 and still see them today at the competition.”
The Mackay Muckers club was originally a part of the John Mackay Club, the student chapter of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration. This past year, the Mackay Muckers have split off to be an independent club. The mining team began in the 1980s, and is in commemoration of the 1973 Sunshine Mine Disaster.