Thinking About Mining Engineering

The Macleans article I referenced in a previous post had a story about mining engineering, and the many lucrative career opportunities that are opening up in Canada.  Part of this is the increased demand for resources (a similar story for petroleum), but part is the well-known demographic wave of upcoming retirements among engineering professionals.  This is a challenge in many industries, and not unique to mining.  There are a couple of things to say about this article, however.

The story cites a number of examples about mining engineering programs in Canadian universities.  Unfortunately it doesn’t mention Waterloo’s Geological Engineering program.  Probably because we don’t have “mining” in the title, but the core concepts taught in the program are quite adequate for the same purpose, and a number of co-op students and graduates go to work in the mining industry.  It’s probably a little less specific than a mining engineering curriculum, but it allows graduates to work in the geotechnical area, designing foundations and dealing with earthquakes and landslides too, not just mines.  A little more general curriculum can be a good thing.

Waterloo’s Geological Engineering program is our smallest one, with typically less than 30 students entering per year.  I’ve talked to some of the instructors, and they really get to personally know their students because the classes are small.  They also do unique things like field trips (I think one group went to Peru!).

The other thing about the Macleans article, was that it possibly left the impression that you need a mining engineering degree to work in the mining industry.  That would be a very wrong impression.  Mining, like most industries, needs a variety of engineering disciplines to function.  So, we always find chemical, mechanical, civil, and electrical engineers there too (and probably others), especially when you think about the refining of the raw ore that gets brought out of the mine.  Those can also be good career paths into the mining industry, if that’s where you might like to go.

3 thoughts on “Thinking About Mining Engineering

  1. Hi prof, could you make an article about geological engineering program? It would be interesting to see the program from your perspective. I am an international student studying in a High School in Canada and have been accepted into geological engineering program.

    • I don’t know when I’ll have time to make many more posts, but here are some quick comments. Geological engineering (Geo) is one of our lesser known programs, and relatively small (about 25 student intake each year), although this does not mean it is not good. It’s relatively unique, being a joint effort by Civil Engineering and the Earth Sciences department. Students and graduates do a variety of interesting work, from mining sites to skyscraper foundation design, to landslide and earthquake design issues. Anything that involves the earth and structures on or in it (https://uwaterloo.ca/civil-environmental-engineering/geological-program-overview) It’s probably the only engineering program with significant class field trips. One year, I believe they went to Peru, if I remember correctly.

    • Hi William,

      I am a student entering 4th year of Geological Engineering. If you have any questions about the program feel free to ask!
      It is a fantastic program with about as many unique disciplines as students. For example I have worked in petroleum, mining, geophysics, alternative energy, and project management throughout my co-op placements. Additionally, these co-op have been all around the globe with terms in Toronto, B.C., Alberta, and even the United Arab Emirates.
      The small class size is fantastic as you will develop incredible (and likely life lasting) relationships with your peers. It is not uncommon to see over half of the Geo Engineering class together outside of school.
      One of the best aspects of the program in my opinion is that because it is not specified to one industry (such as a petroleum or mining engineering program would be). This allows you to have a broad skill set and knowledge base which you can draw upon during your co-op terms. I have often received praise in the workplace for providing a new/different perspective to a problem. I attribute this to the breadth of knowledge Waterloo has bestowed upon me.

      Congratulations on your acceptance into the Geological Engineering program.
      Best of luck!

      Stu

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