Dec '12/Jan '13

Reaching out

CIM Edmonton Branch builds local ties with students

By Krystyna Lagowski


The winning team for the SE Coalminer’s STARS golf tournament, sponsored by CIM Edmonton, accepts a trophy from Tim Joseph, branch chair.

The CIM Edmonton Branch started in 1912 as the Northern Alberta Group of the Rocky Mountain Branch, a small group of professionals that got together to exchange knowledge about their field. After decades of activity, the branch was officially named the CIM Edmonton Branch on March 20, 1981. Today, it is one of the most active groups within the CIM network and, with its broad membership base of professionals and students, runs a variety of programs to both support the industry and to engage local stakeholders in mining.

The branch’s biggest focus is young people. “Whether they’re already involved in the mining industry through their degree program, or just in high school deciding on a career, we want to talk with them,” explains Tim Joseph, branch chair, associate professor of mining engineering at the University of Alberta and president of JPi Canada.

“Probably two thirds of our branch members are students in mining engineering, geology or processing engineering,” he adds. “The students are part of the organizing committee; they’re part of the way we choose our speakers and the activities in our branch – they have a huge say.”

The student members also manage an outreach program to high schools and elementary schools, developed in 2011 after branch members realized educational programs to promote mining were reaching target audiences too late. Already, the branch has 130 elementary and high schools signed up for visits over the 2012-13 school year.

Branch meetings, which are held on the first Monday of every month at the University of Alberta’s Faculty Club, feature speakers from various sides of the mining industry. “Of the 70 to 100 people who turn out, there are 60 to 70 students,” says executive board member Gord Morris, an account manager with Wajax Equipment. “We want to encourage their attendance, so they don’t pay a nickel.”

The branch also offers various scholarships. It contributes $1,000 to the $3,000 Ian Muirhead Memorial Scholarship, also funded by the Alberta Chamber of Resources, in addition to independently funding two $2,000 scholarships for mining engineering students, and one $1,000 scholarship for a geology student at either the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology or Grant MacEwan University.

Joseph, who has been the chair or vice-chair of the Edmonton branch for about four years, has helped organize three national CIM conventions in Edmonton, and is looking forward to 2015, when the Mine Equipment and Mine Operators Conference will be in town. “Last May, we had 13,500 people from all over the world come to the CIM Convention,” he points out. “It was the biggest yet for CIM.”

The branch also sponsors an annual golf tournament in support of the Alberta Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS). “It’s a helicopter emergency rescue service for Alberta, Saskat­chewan and parts of British Columbia,” says Morris. “To date, we’ve raised over $100,000 for STARS – it’s a great cause.”

The wide range of initiatives organized by the Edmonton branch is part of its commitment to give back to the Canadian mining industry. “I’ve been involved in the Canadian mining industry for many years,” says Joseph. “It’s been a long, rewarding career, and I’m happy to put something back into it.”

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