Mines is expanding. This year alone, 200 more freshmen were admitted than the residence halls can handle, forcing triple rooms on every floor. Acceptance and enrollment rates will only continue to grow, but the school’s current capabilities and options likely won’t keep up. It will fall behind unless the school expands with its growing student body.
I don’t believe building more buildings, adding to ever-growing renovation lists, or charging outrageous rates for Mines Park is the solution students need. Change needs to come in the form of new options. Mines is a STEM school, where you’d expect to find majors ranging across the spectrum of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; we have engineering covered, but we have barely any other options for the other three.
Similar schools with similar reputations have those options.
Georgia Tech has separate schools for both business and economics, programs for design with architecture and music technology, applied sciences like biology, physiology, and neuroscience. They even have a separate liberal arts college that offers fourteen bachelor’s programs of its own.
MIT offers courses tied to science, technology, and society, and you can major in cognitive science, archaeology, and architecture alongside the school’s engineers.
Even South Dakota School of Mines offers biology and pre-law.
Compared to other major STEM-focused schools across the country, Mines doesn’t offer a whole lot for its students. Some might argue that’s a good thing. It keeps our school competitive, keeps our graduates in-demand for the industries they go into. Our reputation allows us to stay small and premier in both academia and industry. But I think that’s unsustainable.
What if students realize, halfway or more into their time here, that they’re just not passionate about engineering? Mines is incredibly specialized, and while that specialization produces spectacular engineers, scientists, and mathematicians it also causes imbalances in students’ abilities.
We’re so focused on engineering-oriented topics that it’s hard to transfer into anything other than engineering, during or after our college careers. Why not expand into new STEM fields, like offering majors in biology, architecture, and STS? Give students options in more fields of applied science and design. Who knows, it might bolster Mines’ reputation even more.
If Mines is keen on expanding its capabilities, it should begin expanding its choices for students.
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