June/July 2012

A Student Perspective

Conference a perfect chance to learn and network

By Breanna MacEachern

The annual CIM Convention, held this year in Edmonton from May 3 to 9, was a rewarding experience: I presented a paper, networked with mentors and peers, and learned about innovation in the industry.

The M4S show kicked off the event, which was held at the Shaw Conference Centre, with two days geared to educating elementary and high school students. The turnout was incredible! Almost 3,500 school children came to see the show. On Saturday, May 5, the show was open to the public and some of the students who had attended the show with their schools enjoyed it so much they returned with their parents.

On Monday, May 7, I spent the day at the technical sessions. I watched several presentations, and my part­ner and I delivered a talk on a Placer Gold deposit in Ghana. We learned a lot from the experience and from the feedback we got from people who have had first-hand experiences with similar deposits. Many people were keen to see exactly what we, as students, learned through our degrees and were interested in the fresh perspective we provide to the industry.


 Students and industry represenatives share food and ideas at the student-industry luncheon.
© Normand Huberdeau / NH Photographes Ltée

That evening, I attended a travelling dinner organized for students attending the Convention. The majority was from the University of Alberta, but there was a handful from other Canadian schools. The best part was connecting with those studying other fields of engineering. For instance, I spoke with a nanotechnology engineering student from Waterloo who was fascinated by the diversity of projects and the challenges faced by the mining industry.

The next day, I attended more technical sessions, this time about iron ore and clean water, and got to see fellow students present their projects. It was in­teresting to see the incredible new technologies being developed to resolve common issues facing the industry, like the Westbay system that is designed to deal with groundwater in permafrost areas.

At the student-industry luncheon, I mingled with people from industry and saw an incredible presentation on leadership. Several people who were taking the CIM Leadership Development Program shared their experiences about how the course helped them. As a recent graduate about to join the workforce, I was inspired by the many young leaders, and I was very interested in getting their input on how I could develop my own leadership skills in the future.

That evening, the students gathered for a barbeque and then headed to the P&H MinePro Services Gala. The gala was beyond impressive – and for some of the students, a little overwhelming. Several of my classmates said it the most incredible party they had ever attended. With all the free drinks, the amazing food, the great music and the fireworks, the gala easily outshone any typical university function. But not only was it a lot of fun, it was a great networking opportunity. It was amazing to have the chance to interact with people in the industry. Attendees were more than willing to share their experiences and give advice.

Overall, this experience was a great one. I met amazing people, both students and members of industry, and obtained information about innovative technologies currently under development. I also learned about the approaches used to resolve issues that arise in the mining world. I look forward to attending the CIM Convention again.

Breanna MacEachern graduated from the University of Alberta’s mining engineering program in April, and began working for Syncrude Canada in May.
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