Dr. Paul Santi brings both experience and enthusiasm to the classroom. As a professor in the Geological Engineering department, Santi focuses and thrives upon the success of students. “The students in our department get jobs and are happy, and we have the numbers to prove it,” he saidi.
Santi was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota, where he enjoyed activities such as running and baseball at a young age. His academic journey around the country began when he attended Duke University in North Carolina where he double majored in geology and physics. “I found out that geology plus physics does not equal geophysics,” said Santi. “I attended Duke at a good time; the basketball team was growing and the campus was gaining national recognition.” After his bachelor’s degree, Santi attended Texas A&M University to attain his masters in engineering geology.
Now armed with an impressive résumé, Santi began working in the industry for six years as a geological consultant, primarily in San Francisco and Denver. Santi now had knowledge of the workings of real-world engineering, but returned to school once more, now at the Colorado School of Mines. Here, he obtained his PhD in Geological Engineering. Once more, Santi expanded his repertoire of college affiliations as he taught at University of Missouri Rolla for six years. “The students there were great, but one of the greatest moments was getting the call that a position was available at Mines. It was my dream to teach here,” said Santi. He worked as an associate professor for seven years, and as a professor ever since for a grand total of eleven years thus far teaching at Mines.
Other notable events in his extensive career as a professor are “the acceptance of research grants. You work so hard on them, and only 10-30% come through, so when one is accepted it is awesome.” More importantly, Santi loves when students he has helped along the way “receive awards or publish papers. I love when they succeed because it is very important to them,” he said.
Every year, Santi organizes a field trip for his Terrain Analysis class, and the students come back from the experience with a shared passion for geology. Santi’s unique sense of humor and persistent interest in what he teaches makes the field trip, as well as everyday in class, a delight for his students. Santi often boasts about the geology department here at Mines, and for good reason. “For what we do, we are competitive nationally,” said Santi. He, and other members of CSM’s geology department, work together with the students to achieve excellence on all levels.