Friday, October 24, 2014

CAMP and the Leadership Hall of Fame

Similar to many students here, one of the main attractions that brought me to this campus was the CAMP program. The promise of working on real world projects from the start of my freshman year could not be matched by other universities, and to this day still remains unique among other elite undergraduate engineering campuses. Comparable programs exist at Missouri S&T, Olin College, and Harvey-Mudd College, but seeing how the cost of attendance (COA) at those schools are over $38,000, $64,000, and $66,000 respectively, the CAMP program is a huge benefit to our university, with a COA of just under $20,000 for out-of-state students.

But another factor that brought me to this campus was the ability to be a leader. While I had confidence in my skills as a high school senior, I wanted to continue to thrive in a smaller pool rather than be drowned in an ocean of students with much alike ideals. The CAMP program seemed to fit the bill, giving me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills while exploring a technical project that complimented my studies. In its entirety, the CAMP program can be seen as a breeding ground of leaders; students are molded by their respective teams into the executive roles available and given the utmost opportunity to succeed.

With no disrespect to other organizations on campus, there are currently no other student groups or student-led umbrella organizations at this school dedicated to developing student leaders to the extent that the CAMP program is. Yet our Leadership Hall of Fame (LHOF), the yearly award given out to the most exemplary students of the graduating class, has seen a sharp decline in CAMP students being recognized over the last 5 years. There are other areas on campus where students have found places to thrive and contribute to the university well-being, and they have been deservingly elected into the LHOF, but I found it concerning that an organization committed towards developing those skills struggles to ascertain recognition for their students. I wanted to know more.

I spoke with Dean Mahon about the predicament, and while she recognized the large contribution that CAMP plays in both student recruitment and retention she did note that some CAMP leaders concentrate on CAMP and are not as involved in the other arenas, referring to the multiple facets of student involvement opportunities that are available. She continued, “They are totally committed to what they are doing, so that’s where they spend their time, energy, and resources.”

Dr. Dolan, Director of CAMP, supported Dean Mahon’s comments, while also suggesting that outside factors play a role, including consistent job offers from companies that are impressed with the accomplishments that students have ascertained as team members. However, he also noted that CAMP does provide opportunities for students to grow their personal development skills. “We encourage [students] to broaden and to get out into other organizations...they are not finding the time to get out there…they aren’t seeing the reasons for it.” He also suggested that sometimes students can, “get so into the technical [experience], they miss what we are really dealing with.”

As a student who has been involved with CAMP to varying degrees over the last 4 years, I can also attest to the opportunities that we students have to expand our horizons. CAMP is one of (if not the only) student body that organizes the Wharton Memorial 5K/10K run annually. The faculty leaders of CAMP consistently push students to reflect on the purpose and results of team activities. CAMP also sponsors students to attend the leadership retreats hosted through other student organizations, namely the Professional Development Institute for Student Leaders, where students develop skills that make them people, not just engineers.

The discrepancy between the LHOF and CAMP comes down to the students on these projects. I applaud the efforts of my fellow CAMP participants. We go to national and international competitions that require so many different disciplines and we perform well. But I cannot say at this point that the majority of CAMP students are developing into the well-rounded leaders that not just make the LHOF, but reach their maximum potential for the betterment of society. To quote fellow CAMP-ee Scott Lindborg, “It becomes very easy [in the CAMP program] for students to become very specific leaders as opposed to well-rounded ones.”

I challenge you, my fellow CAMP students. Don’t be just a CAMP engineer, but be a CAMP person.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Letter from President Raysby

Dear students,

As you all may know I am your Student Association President. My hometown is Chancellor, South Dakota and this is my 3rd year here at South Dakota Mines and I am majoring in Geological Engineering. The Student Association Vice President is Alec Matteo Knox, a 3rd year Chemical Engineering student from New Richmond, Wisconsin.

We, as a senate, are very excited to see the Wellness Center expansion completed by April of 2015. This project has been broken into two different phases. The first phase of the Wellness Center expansion will be completed in the latter part of January. This phase includes the addition of two regulation basketball courts, one having all wood floors, and the other being all purpose flooring. The final phase of the Wellness Center will be hopefully completed in late April. I know that there are students off and on campus that are frustrated with our current weight room. I would ask that you please fill out some upcoming surveys, so that we can hopefully find solutions for this problem. We are looking forward to have the students’ vision come true!

One project that is up and coming is the expansion of the Student Surbeck Center. We are very excited to get the ball rolling on this project. We will be working very hard to make sure that the plans are geared towards benefitting the students.

Another topic that the Senate is focusing on this year is reaching out more to our constituents. Our student senators are working hard to gain the opinions and concerns of our student body. We are here to serve.

Our Senate office is located in lower Surbeck near SALC. Also our weekly senate meetings are every Wednesday at 5:30 pm in the Bump Lounge in upper Surbeck.

Your Freshman Class Senators are: Ariana Lopez, AJ Videckis, Gina Elmore, Anthony Wright, and Marcus McKinney.

Your Sophomore Class Senators are: Nicole VanDerWolde, Alexander Spilman, Claire Peavey, Yanlin Li, and Taylor Evens.

Your Junior Class Senators are: Alexander Muchow, Caleb Childers, Gina Rossi, Tait Earney, and Tyler Rust.

Your Senior Class Senators are: Chance Costello, Michael Leopold, Heather Goka, Kaitlyn Mahlik and Mohamed Hakeem Mohamed Nizar.

Your International Senator is Rohit Dulal.

Your Non Traditional Senator is Claudia Fiegelman.

Your Graduate Senator is Andrew Pedersen.

Thank you and have a great semester! And go HARDROCKERS!

A Letter from Dean Mahon

Dear Students,

I hope your fall semester is going well. It certainly seems to be passing quickly with all of the classes, activities and programs.

At the School of Mines we continually work to help you get the most out of your college experience while at the same time preparing for life after graduation. I hope you are utilizing the Mines Advantage program, which emphasizes six core competencies – career preparation, cultural and global diversity, community development, personal development, leadership and teamwork, and communication. Mines Link is the online tool to assist you in tracking your activities. In September I visited alumni at Garmin and Burns & McDonnell in Kansas City. It was evident that these characteristics are important to these companies and our alumni working for these large employers are demonstrating these attributes. Examples of Mines Advantage activities that foster personal development on a professional level include:

  •  Participating at the Career Fair and career workshops.
  • Volunteering (afternoon of service during orientation; Trick-or-Treat for Canned Goods;             service through your courses and clubs/organizations).
  •  Participating in the leadership retreat.
  •  Attending Diwali, presented by the India Club in November.

There is extensive information on the website; also see members of the Professional Development Institute, Dr. Darrell Sawyer, director, and Jay Pfeifer assistant director of the Career and Professional Development Center; and of the Student Activities and Leadership Center, Mike Keegan, director, and Corey Headley, assistant director.

The renovation and addition to the Newlin Family Wellness and Recreation Center continues to move along. The new gym space will open the latter part of January and the entire project is slated to be completed in April 2015.

Family Weekend will be October 24 and 25. Do invite your families to attend. Events start Friday evening with an open mic night at the Music Center. Saturday events include the President’s Tailgate and Hardrocker football. A full schedule is posted on the Mines website.

Best wishes with your demanding course work. As you continue your studies at the School of Mines, please contact me if I can be of assistance.


Patricia G. Mahon, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

A Letter from President Wilson

It’s hard to believe that we just passed mid-terms and the semester is already half over.

It’s been a great start.

The enrollment at the School of Mines has been steadily increasing as the reputation of the University continues to grow.  This year, we grew by 6% and have just under 2,800 students.  The region needs more well prepared engineers and scientists and we are doing our part to help meet that need.

Undergraduate and graduate student groups are both increasing. The freshmen class includes 591 first-time, full-time bachelor-degree seeking students, a 9.2 percent growth compared to one year ago.  Graduate student enrollment increased 4.8 percent compared to last year.  Mines has twice as many PhD students as we had a decade ago.

This year’s students come from 45 states, and 39 foreign countries.  We have 150 veterans on campus and were just named one of the best schools for veterans again this year.  We are also, for the 17th year in a row, one of the 100 Best College Buys in America.

While Mines is growing, the quality of the students coming to the university is staying high. The average high school GPA for first-time freshmen was 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.

With a growing student body, we are able to start some new programs and expand the variety of things for students on campus.

We now offer a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering and this is the second year for our PhD in Physics and our Bachelor’s degree in Applied Biology.

The new Applied Biological Sciences (ABS) program is by far the fastest-growing major.  Within four years, we expect that Applied Biological Sciences will be one of the five largest majors at Mines.  We expect our graduates will fill a need in the health professions, as well as the growing bio-tech industry in South Dakota.  The Applied Biological Sciences program allows students to specialize in one of three areas: biomedical engineering, pre-health professions, and molecular biology/genetics. Mines is the only school in South Dakota that offers an undergraduate degree related to Biomedical Engineering.

This growth will also affect our facilities.  Thanks to the leadership of students and the support of alumni, the Wellness Center will open in April.  The Loop Road will be finished at the end of October (with 75 more parking spaces).  This summer we had 60 smaller infrastructure projects going on throughout the campus.  And, we will go to the legislature in January to ask them to approve funds to finish the upgrade of the remainder of the old chemistry building.

There are a lot of things I like at Mines, but, for me, the greatest joy is the students.  I have enjoyed getting to know you.  Thanks for making it a great start to the year!


Heather Wilson
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

Anonymous Opinion

Dear Editor,

I was a freshman last year and I remember that, although not spectacular, the food for the Surbeck Dining was at least mostly edible.

However, this year I have found a decline in quality of the food. Do you agree with this or have you heard of those who also share my opinion?

Also, do the Miner Shack prices seem way too high for the amount/quality of food received?


Dear Anonymous,

I also was a first year student last year and I would agree with your initial statement. But your second statement is not quite right as there is a MASSIVE decline in the quality of the food (either that or I’m just older now and used to it). Some days, I’d rather not eat at all in the dining and go somewhere like Pancheros or Hardees and at least feel full and satisfied after spending $9+ in food.

Oh and your final statement is a definite truism as well. But at least I know what I’m getting is going to be fairly decent.

Dustin Johnson

J. C. Christensen Opinion

Dear Editor,

As the only veteran in this year's South Dakota US Senate Race, former and future senator Larry Pressler, recognizes that the US is involved in fighting wars for others who should be resolving their own conflicts.

Saudi Arabia and the other oil rich Middle East countries don't involve their militaries and their trillions of dollars in other Middle East countries such as Iraq and Syria. Why is it always the US losing its soldiers and treasure? And unbelievably, while we are wasting money on these wars, money that could be reducing the national debt, congress wants to raise student loan interest rates.

This attitude on wasteful military expeditions, the nation debt, and student loan interest rates is that of South Dakota farm boy, USD and two-time Harvard graduate, Rhodes Scholar, Larry Pressler A two-tour veteran of Vietnam.

He knows military waste.

J. C. Christensen

Dear Mr. Christensen,

I truly appreciate your input on this issue. And if you have served yourself, I thank you for your service.

I couldn’t agree with you more on wasteful spending normally, but looking at the other side of the issue makes me suggest that you look at the common denominator in this issue and that is regarding oil.

I loath the idea of big government and fighting wars that aren’t ours as much as I’m sure you do, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready for $6/gallon gas if we decide to let the Middle East deal with itself or in a more extreme case, a third world war erupting from Middle East and forcing the US to get involved anyway.

The reason I say $6/gallon gas (in South Dakota) would be how oil dependent this country is and how timid it is to use its own resources which from my understanding we have a bountiful of. I think you and I can agree that at the root of this issue is the federal government and if Larry Pressler is elected now or in the future, then he can help eliminate wasteful spending.

Dustin Johnson

The Back Page Rant

Normally, I would like to highlight artwork and literature and photography on the back page here, but since it’s 11:30 p.m. on the night before I need to send this to the Rapid City Journal, I’m just going to do the only thing I’m even remotely good at. Actually, scratch that. The only TWO things I’m even remotely good at. Ranting and making fun of myself. So the only downside in doing this is how it leaves me susceptible to accidentally (or not accidentally) critiquing certain things without a filter and potentially leaving me subject to massive criticism and/or heat from faculty and administration, but let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point.

And even if it does, I’m not worried in the slightest because I doubt anybody will realistically keep reading past this point since there’s been way too much text for an engineer to read. Maybe I should have thrown up a steam table or a PV diagram on here to strike up some more interest. Anyway I hope you all have had a great midterm. I don’t know about all of you, but it has happened quite fast already. I haven’t even had time to commence the mass production of the drums I’m going to build for the campus drumline that has yet to be formed.

Like all of you, I constantly am busy and my free time is consumed by doing things that most people naturally do such as sleeping and eating. You see if you have taken Organic Chemistry, Thermodynamics, and Differential Equations all in the same semester, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. Oh yeah, and I forgot I’m in Fluid Mechanics and I have an exam in Microbiology tomorrow that I should probably sudy for since I haven’t all weekend.

Realistically though, I do have some extracurricular activities that I do which take up time. For example, the newspaper here on campus that I’d say about 35% of students don’t even know it exists, 59% of students don’t bother to read it, and the rest are either a part of the organization or do in fact read it. So to the 6%, thank you.

“Thank You” is also a great song by Led Zeppelin from their 1969 album Led Zeppelin II (track number four). Which is kind of my theme song right now. Or wait, no, it’s definitely not that song, it has to be “Subdivisions” by Rush from their 1982 Signals album (track number one).

Oh by the way, my name is Dustin Johnson if you didn’t already know and I for one am very passionate about music from a musicality, lyrical, and production standpoint and sometimes I wonder why I didn’t go to school for that instead of engineering, but then I remembered that I didn’t want to be out of a job, living in my parents basement with a useless degree. (Kind of sounds like a Black Hills State graduate life.)

You see though, I only appreciate the older, classic rock music because I play drum set where I always try to improve by learning new concepts and because I feel as though there is a lot more passion in that music than the likes of a lot of modern music. Also, older music meets the three criterion laid out before. You can disagree with me all you
want, but I don’t really care when it comes to music. What I listen to is definitely better than anything you listen to unless it’s of similar variety. I do appreciate jazz music and orchestral music in addition to some lighter metal and funk music, but other than that, you can take your dubstep and just throw it away in my opinion since I could make that kind of music with a $70 microphone and Audacity.

So far I’m very satisfied with this newspaper though. It has a fair variety of content and from what I can tell now at 11:55 p.m. it doesn’t have too many errors except for the ones I may or may not intentionally be committing in this rant. May or may not you might ask? Well I say that because I could be making simple mistakes that you are overlooking (if you have even read this fart) to try and prove the point of not waiting to do things until
the last minute. Ever since high school, I have been guilty of procrastinating and I work at preventing it with my higher priority subjects. I would recommend you do the same because I know most of you procrastinate as is.
Look, you can learn from my mistakes or you can make your own and try to learn from it. That’s your call. All I’m saying is that I’m writing 500+ words and have no other set of eyes looking on this paper other than my own and I’m bound to make mistakes. So let’s look at some things that people should ask me,
but never do or never will.
            1) Hey Dustin, how come your hair is so exceptionally incredible?

Well the answer to that is how it’s a gift from God. It truly is. A lot of the stuff in my life I’ve had to work exceptionally hard for (like my well-defined abdominal muscles), but my hair has been given to me and my sister purely out of the grace of God.

            2) Do you know any languages other than really bad English?

That answer is a definite yes as I’m a very fluent speaker in the driest imaginable sarcasm. I mean it’s bad. It is probably the sole reason why I can’t maintain a relationship as well as my hair. Well... either that or I’m a narcissistic, arrogant, blunt, unattractive male at a school with very few women that would even be remotely interested in me. But yes, I am very fluent in another language and that is sarcasm.

            3) So like the other people who write letters have their picture on like the paper,                             like why don’t you?

Well like that’s a very good question. You see, I don’t think anybody really wants to know what I look like, because if they did, then I wouldn’t be hypothetically asking this question. However, I’m sure many of the students have seen me around campus. For reference, I’m the guy who always wears jeans, has wavy, amazing brown hair and is air drumming to the music that apparently severely leaks out of this type of headphones. And those headphones happen to look like a color that would more closely match one of Dr. Boysen’s suits from the 1960s.

Well those were some interesting questions. And I feel like I have built up enough material to become a stand up comedian if this whole engineering thing doesn’t work out. All I really did was talk about myself and then proceed to make fun of it. I feel as though I should start to conclude this letter and maybe put some pictures on here since I’m paying for the front side to be in color which means the back side will also be in color. But be sure to engage in a conversation with me if you see me and check out our website
as many people behind the scenes worked hard to put forth this product of The Aurum Student Newspaper. Anyway, just remember that life is going to beat you down and that it’s not whether you get up, it’s what you do after you get up.


Dustin Johnson

P.S. Anything without credit being given was done by me. It’s now 12:25 a.m.