Department Preview: Geological Engineering

If there were any two words that could embody the Geology and Geological Engineering department at the School of Mines, it would be community and diversity. Along with the general education provided by the world-class faculty, the department also functions as a unique community on campus. Dr. John Humphrey, head of the Geology and Geological Engineering department expects that with a degree in this field, “You will know how the Earth works in a way that you can use it in a variety of situations… the department has two tracks, geotechnical engineering, which has more engineering, and minerals and fuels exploration, which focuses more on geology. Regardless, each of these gets you a bachelor of science in geological engineering.”

“One of the great things about an education in earth sciences is that you can go in many different directions,” Humphrey explained, emphasizing its diversity. “The geological engineering department at Mines focuses in four different directions: mineral deposits, petroleum exploration, geotechnical engineering, and hydrogeology,” each of which is represented by a senior design track in the final year. Any direction taken within these specialties can lead to even more possibilities, just as a focus in mineral deposits can lead into igneous studies, or surprisingly, even Wall Street. “We have students that are working as investors and advisers on the floors of Wall Street,” said Humphrey with pride. On top of all this, since geology is a derivative science, it is possible to combine geology with biology, physics, or even math.

As for community, it would be hard to find a closer group of students. “Because of the seminal experience of field camp, where we spend 24/7 camping with each other, we get to know each other and that way a student isn’t just a number or a final grade, we know the students well,” said Humphrey. “Most of us are on a first name basis.” When asked whether his experiences have served him well and if he truly feels part of a community, Tom Grummon, a senior in the exploration track of geological engineering summed it up concisely with a joyful “YES!”

Humphrey had a few heartfelt words about the program. “Number one, it is the best department on campus, and number two, it is the best major on campus,” he said smiling. You would be hard pressed to find a geological engineering student that would not feel the same way about their decision to be involved.

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