March/April 2006

President's notes

Students: the future of our institute

By R. Hallbauer

I just returned from Edmonton where I attended the Edmonton branch’s Student Night for University of Alberta Mining Engineering students. Over 40 undergrads attended, not only to supplement their university diets with a dinner paid for by the branch, but also to recognize their peers who were receiving CIM Edmonton Branch scholarships.

To see this turnout of undergraduate engineers is amazing considering where the mining engineering faculty at the U of A was going just a few very short years ago. The faculty was going to be closed because of a lack of enrolment - oil prices were low, copper and zinc prices were at historical lows, coal wasn’t worth talking about, and the resource industries were on life support.

It’s a standard process for any university. Why support facilities with little or non-existent enrolment? The same process was occurring at the University of British Columbia.

Thanks to the efforts of many members of CIM, in the Edmonton Branch and scattered throughout the province, the university was convinced to not close the faculty. Through their continued efforts, they resurrected the University of Alberta’s mining engineering program to such a degree it is now the largest mining school in Canada, with dozens of undergrads.

Similar initiatives, as I’ve indicated, have occurred across the country at other universities, and while we are still lacking in terms of having enough undergraduates, without the foresight of many CIM members in a number of branches, our industry would have an even larger crisis on its hands.

The recipients of this largess will be firstly the undergraduates who will enter the job market over the next few years and be presented with job opportunities and challenges beyond their dreams. The Canadian minerals industry will benefit from the surge of youth into our businesses, bringing new ideas and concepts to advance mineral exploration development, not only in Canada, but worldwide.

And, finally, CIM will have future leaders knowing that the commitment of past members have helped them attain many of the goals they were seeking when they joined the mining fraternity.

We should feel secure in the future of our Institute.

Russell Hallbauer, CIM President

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