August 2011

CMMF scholarships awarded

By Correy Baldwin

In the last issue of CIM Magazine, we proudly introduced you to three McIntosh Engineering Scholarship recipients. Here, we feature the remaining university-level winners. 

James Anderson – University of British Columbia, Okanagan

James Anderson’s interest in mining began when he got a summer job at an open pit copper mine in the BC interior. Among other things, he was impressed with the level of safety at work. “Safety was constantly brought up and pushed more than I had ever seen before,” he says. “Not only do people go home safe, but the workers’ morale improves as they realize they are valuable to their employer.”

Discouraged by the economic downturn,  Anderson recently turned to engineering at the University of British Columbia, seeing it as a good fit with his past work experience. “After a summer working as an engineering intern, I saw how the senior engineers directed projects, and that many of the managers were professional engineers themselves,” he adds. “I realized that this was a position where I could help make large-scale positive changes.”

He is now working in the quality control department of Kiewit Infrastructure, a subcontractor for Imperial Oil, to facilitate turnover to the customer. “I am excited to be a part of the heavy construction industry that takes place in Canada,” he says.

Olivier Hamel – McGill University

Olivier Hamel began an honours degree in physics at McGill University before switching to engineering. “Even though this field was interesting, I realized it would not likely give me access to work opportunities that I would enjoy and find fulfilling,” he says.

“Mining engineering is an impressive industry,” he adds. “Some mines are literally about moving mountains. Such a scale requires a lot of capital investment and therefore lots of organization and tight schedules. Also, the mining industry is a fundamental, if not the fundamental, industry in today’s economy.”

Hamel is interested in uranium, mined oil sands (as opposed to in situ recovered oil), and hard rock metal mining. He is currently an intern/surveyor at Osisko Mining’s Canadian Malartic gold mine – his second internship in the Abitibi region. “I get to be in the open pit mine 10 hours a day and gain knowledge and experience on how things really happen in a mine,” he says.

Internships also allow him to see engineers at work in all levels of the field. “This helps me understand how they work and communicate,” Hamel explains. “I get to see all the downstream consequences of a good or bad engineering decision on safety, efficiency and environmental issues.”

Azougrou Bozon Koto – École Polytechnique de Montréal

Azougrou Bozon Koto immigrated to Canada from Côte d’Ivoire in 2008 with a degree in energy engineering and experience working at the Ivorian Electricity Company.

“I had decided to switch to finance or computer technology,” he says, “because in Africa, engineering degrees are not highly valued.” Koto entered a master’s program in information systems, but was not entirely confident with his choice. “After attending job fairs at École Polytechnique, I discovered that the industry that really offers the type of career with field work that I had always dreamed about was mining engineering.”

Last summer, Koto worked at the Géant Dormant Mine in Abitibi, Quebec. “This summer they rehired me for an engineering internship, where I did surveying, drafting, ventilation and ground control,” he says. “It’s fascinating work; being kilometres below ground, using special machines, making ore extraction plans and then implementing these plans in the field, doing rock engineering – all of these things intrigued me.”

Koto plans to specialize in rock mechanics, rock support and dam construction for managing mining residues, and he has ambitious plans for the future. “I would like to join a research team to design and carry out the construction and installation or maintenance of mining sites,” he says. “And then, after 10 or 15 years of experience in mining, I’ll be able to set up a Canadian mining law company with some colleagues.”

Gustavo Marquez – McGill University

“I wanted to study something technically challenging, exciting and that promised a fruitful career,” says Gustavo Marquez. The McGill mining engineering student is looking forward to working in what he calls a challenging and dynamic industry. “I want to make practical contributions as an engineer, especially in terms of the environmental and social aspects of mining projects,” he adds.

“What I find particularly interesting about this industry is its sheer scale, with mining projects and equipment, as well as the number of different roles involved, from miners to human resources to contractors to bankers,” Marquez shares. His interests lie in the technical aspects of the industry, although he also wants to explore the operations side and to be a part of mine startup projects around the world.

Marquez is currently working for Encana as a student field engineer in northern Alberta. His previous work term was in the geomechanics laboratory of McGill University.

“Co-op is an invaluable part of my education,” he says. “It has allowed me to learn about a different aspect of the mining industry and provided me with amazing practical, out-of-classroom experience.”

Douglas Vis – University of Alberta

Douglas Vis knew very little about the mining industry before entering into mining engineering at the University of Alberta. “Initially, I questioned whether I had made a good personal and career decision, but the more I learned about the mining industry, the more excited I became about being involved in it,” he says.

The topics that have particularly caught his interest include modern reclamation technologies and mine optimization. “Mining engineering covers a broad range of important subject matter and I am excited about what my future will hold in this industry,” he says.

Vis is working at Suncor in the operations engineering department on an eight-month co-op term. “In my work, I have the opportunity to deal with a lot of data from Suncor’s mining operation and to learn how important optimization is to the mining process,” he says. “It has been a great experience so far and has reinforced my commitment to a career in the mining industry.”

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