The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT) has decided to include a new doctorate specialization in the Mining Engineering and Management Department that it believes will increase research opportunities and funding, and develop critical collaborations.

The department recommended the doctorate in mining engineering specialization in response to increased interest from students; an increased need within the industry and government for doctorate employees; and a desire for more federal research funding opportunities, the school said. The addition will also develop stronger collaborations between the earth systems programs at SDSMT — geology, geological engineering, petroleum systems and mining engineering, explained Lance Roberts, Ph.D., and head of the Department of Mining Engineering and Management.

“Working collaboratively with the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering allows us to efficiently leverage numerous resources and attract new students into a unique interdisciplinary program,” Roberts said. “Our goal is to graduate top-notch academics, engineers and researchers who are needed to solve the most complex minerals-related problems facing the United States and the world today.”

Roberts said the new specialization in mining engineering, in concert with the existing specialization in geology and geological engineering, will allow the departments to “incubate and nurture emerging programs” that could lead to additional specializations. Interdisciplinary specializations also make departments more competitive when vying for research funding, as many funders want research expertise in multiple areas. Roberts said one example is the development of strategic minerals, which are minerals critical to both the national defense of the United States and its industry. Currently, the United States must often import the minerals from less-than-friendly nations. “To ultimately solve this problem will involve the disciplines of multiple specialties,” Roberts said.

The addition of this doctorate specialization at SDSMT was approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents during the summer of 2017.