South Dakota School of Mines &Technology: STEM education with real-world relevance

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The future of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers is bright – with an expected growth of 13% by 2027. Universities around the globe are reworking their offerings to best prepare their students, with South Dakota School of Mines & Technology leading the way with its dedicated mission to train a generation of bright, curious and tenacious STEM professionals. 

Here, you will find the best in their fields seeking solutions for making cities more sustainable, building a human-powered generator to power electronic parts, developing virtual reality training modules that mimic mining environments, or studying plastic-eating microbes that could reduce pollution

At South Dakota Mines, each educational path is experiential in its own unique way. All qualifications are tailored according to industry standards and emphasise the importance of hands-on learning, enabling students to get their hands dirty in maker spaces and state-of-the-art laboratories that feature industry-level equipment they will eventually use as professionals. Professors, who are experts in their field like Dr. Scott Wood who won the National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his research on osteoarthritis, serve as educators and mentors.

Without their steadfast support, Maryam Amouamouha would not have developed a mini wastewater treatment plant called AMBER (Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor with Electrolytic Regeneration)

“I received emotional support and non-emotional support especially with regards to my technology development,” says the PhD candidate in the Karen M. Swindler Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. “The school helped me to file a patent, mentored me to write a business plan and compete in different competitions across the state.”

Her new device could revolutionise water treatment and improve water quality and availability around the world. It has won multiple awards, including the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps, and, most recently, first place in the highly competitive business category at the South Dakota Governor’s Giant Vision Competition — a fantastic example of the groundbreaking technology created at South Dakota Mines.

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Small class sizes and ample face time with experienced professors ensure students are set up for success. Source: South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Amouamouha’s success is built off South Dakota Mines’ impactful approach to STEM education. To elevate the learning experience, South Dakota Mines provides students with real-world relevance through industry-aligned curriculum as well as access to internships, co-ops, capstone projects, and research. Students not only get to apply their theoretical knowledge in a practical setting but also learn what is expected on the job. 

This allowed students like Grace Clark, a freshman chemical engineering major, to land her co-op at Kimberly Clark. “It’s helped me understand machines from a process engineering perspective, as well as methods of introducing new materials or practices to a current product,” Clark says. “I’ve observed a lot of how changes are made, as well as how they are evaluated, whether the changes are new equipment, configurations, or materials. I’ve also learned that working a job is a much different environment than school is and adjusting to several hours of free time has been new!”

At South Dakota Mines, you’ll change the world with STEM — and a good dose of entrepreneurship.  William Trevillyan, a double major in chemical engineering and chemistry, won the 2020 Ann and Dave Braun Student Inventor Award, for his invention that prevents water leaks and flooding. This fluid detection sensor can alert a property owner that maintenance is needed before significant damage occurs. 

Students are making rounds in e-sports, revolutionising the usage of dating apps, and participating in STEM-based competitions such as engineering and combat robotics too. Some even design and build a brand new Formula racing car every year from the ground up before competing against other universities nationwide

The South Dakota Factor

Nestled in the eastern slope of the Black Hills — in Rapid City, South Dakota — is a campus where there is always a new discovery. For those eager to get involved, the opportunities are seemingly endless as over 20 bachelor’s degrees in STEM are on offer here. A lineup of accelerated master’s degree programmes allows students to complete both an undergraduate and postgraduate qualification in as little as five years as well. 

With its experiential learning approach, it’s little wonder outstanding outcomes are guaranteed to all or why South Dakota Mines ranks first for return on investment — think an average starting salary of US$68,685.

In fact, a study by Georgetown University ranked South Dakota Mines as the top four-year public university in the state with a 40-year lifetime average earnings of over US$1.52 million. Understandably so when 97% of graduates gain placement in state agencies, small businesses, or powerhouse companies such as Google, Microsoft, NASA, Amazon, and more — oftentimes prior to graduation.

Amouamouha is one of the many successful South Dakota Mines graduates – and it all started with her dream of solving the global water shortage crisis. This led her to the people in the Black Hills who supported her vision. 

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

With over 2,475 students at the Black Hill campus, South Dakota Mines is just minutes from the vibrant streets of Rapid City. Source: South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

South Dakota Mines fulfilled all her personal needs as a PhD candidate too – the right school, excellent facilities, a vibrant student community and a city surrounded by great people and pristine nature

“Living in the Black Hills, I really love the nature here,” she says. “I also love how supportive people in South Dakota are. They supported me and my idea which turned into my startup AMBER.”

Want to be part of this experience? South Dakota Mines believes you can too. Click here to join its dynamic, diverse student body of over 40 nationalities today.

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