Four CSM students – all serving on the executive team of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) student chapter – spent their fall break last semester at the Caterpillar Tinaja Hills Demonstration Center in Arizona, US, for the Caterpillar Student Leadership Experience Program.
Designed specifically for CSM, the leadership programme exposed students to the value of a servant leadership approach and leveraging their own individual strengths to motivate and lead others. Activities included a StrengthsFinder assessment, panel discussion on career experiences and lessons, and skill-building presentations on leadership styles, organisational climates and effective team building.
Students also toured Cat’s Tucson Proving Grounds and had the opportunity to operate equipment at the Tinaja Hills training facility. Sessions were led by some of the top managers and executives in Cat’s Surface Mining & Technology Division.
Tyler Rockley MS ‘17, who was SME treasurer prior to graduation and is now interning in the Denver office of a mining consulting company before he joins explosives company Orica this summer, said: “We learn a lot of the technical and the academic things at school, but this was a great chance to learn more about the people-based side of things – how I can communicate what I want most clearly and if I encounter someone who is very different from me, how I can communicate with them and work together as a team?”
SME secretary Kinsley Costner, a junior studying mining engineering, added that it was pretty fun to try their hands at operating backhoes, dozers and loaders at the training facility. She commented: “It reinvigorated the passion for why I chose mining. Their offices are right next to a mine – it was really cool to see people who get to make money with this degree. We also got to see innovations and what’s coming up. In a few years, we could be designing mines for autonomy.”
Also attending the programme were SME president Evan McCombs and vice president Roland Daniels.
Ben Cordani, SM&T lead HR manager at Caterpillar Global Mining, said: “Programmes like this are intended to demonstrate our commitment to investing in future leaders within the mining industry whether they choose to work for us or one of our customers someday. Colorado School of Mines has been a great partner and we look forward to continued engagement with both their students and faculty.”
Caterpillar plans to offer its Student Leadership Experience programme again this year in May for the next class of SME officers at CSM.
Hugh Miller, associate professor of mining engineering at CSM, accompanied the students on the trip and said one of the things that stood out to him was the programme’s emphasis on interactive discussions between students and Cat executives and management. He noted: “The three-day programme provided these students with a unique hands-on opportunity to develop professional and leadership skills intended to expand their abilities to leverage their own strengths to motivate and lead others, as well as positively influence individual and group performance. It was truly a tremendous experience for these students and we’re grateful to Cat for making this programme possible.”