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TLA Startup of the Year Boosted by MGE Contributions

The MetOxs team accepts their I-Squared awardOn April 18, Tech Launch Arizona held its fourth annual I-Squared Expo & Awards, highlighting University of Arizona researchers whose inventions impact the quality of life of people in Tucson, across Arizona and throughout the world.

This year's event showcased eight UA startups, including MetOxs Solutions, which was honored as 2017 Startup of the Year.

MetOxs specializes in providing technology for more sustainable mining and energy production. Included in their portfolio are Hexopanel and Acrete, two products developed by MGE faculty.

Associate professor Moe Momayez developed the Hexopanel to slow water evaporation from mining tailings ponds and reservoirs while simultaneously generating solar energy. Acrete, invented by associate professor Jinhong Zhang, is a fly ash-based substitute for concrete for use in construction.

The MetOxs inventor team receives their I-Squared Award. From right to left: David Allen, Jinhong Zhang, Dominic Gervasio, Abe Jalbout, Moe Momayez and Kimberly Espy.

Getting Rocky at MGE Drilling Competition

A UA student uses a jackleg drill to bore holes in a giant rock outside Old Main during the 2014 competition.

On Friday, April 21, UA mining and geological engineering students will test their drill skills at an annual rock-drilling competition outside Old Main.

Each student has two minutes and a 130-pound jackleg drill to bore as deep a hole as possible in the 20-ton rock, and the lucky winner gets hosed down by their teammates or thrown into the Old Main fountain.

Curious? Watch the 2014 competitors in action.

The competition runs from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is open to the public.

Design Day 2017: The Next Big Thing, 100 Times Over

Student at Design DayEngineering affects virtually every aspect of our lives, and at the University of Arizona's Engineering Design Day on May 1, more than 500 students – including 20 seniors from the UA Department of Mining and Geological Engineering – inte​nd to prove it.

The public is invited to see the displays in the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom and on the UA Mall from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., and to attend the awards ceremony in the ballroom from 4 to 5:30 p.m., when industry sponsors will present more than $25,000 in cash prizes to project teams.

Download the UA Engineering Design app, available for iOS and Android! Find your favorite project and presenter, and then – new this year! – post to social media directly from the app.

Register Now for 2017 SME Barbecue

The University of Arizona student chapter of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration invites you to its annual Operators' Barbecue, on Saturday, April 22, at 11 a.m. Students and workers enter a mine

Come out and join UA SME at the San Xavier Mining Laboratory and celebrate the amazing mining community in Southern Arizona.

Entertainment will include:

  • Mine and facility tours
  • A P&H shovel simulator
  • Lawn games
  • Equipment demonstrations
  • ... and more!

The BBQ is free for UA SME chapter members, UA faculty and children under 12. All others pay just $5 at the door.

Space may be limited, so please RSVP online.

View or download the event flyer (PDF).

MGE Alumni Take 2nd in International Collegiate Mining Competition

Call it March Mining Madness. At the 39th International Collegiate Mining Competition in Kentucky, student and alumni teams from the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Brazil tested their skills in seven old-fashioned mining skills, including panning for gold, surveying land and laying railroad track.Teams compete in the 39th Annual International Collegiate Mining Competition

Seven alumni from the University of Arizona's mining and geological engineering program competed in the alumni division, coming in second place.

The competition commemorates the 91 miners who died in the 1972 Sunshine mine disaster and continues to honor all miners who have lost their lives while on the job. The rivalry is fierce, but the atmosphere is decidedly friendly with the focus on fun, teamwork, networking and paying respect to the industry's heritage.

The following alumni competed on behalf of the UA:

  • John Featherston BS/MGE 2011
  • Tim George BS/MGE 2007
  • Robert Tracy BS/MGE 2011
  • Cris Valenzuela BS/MGE 2008
  • David Vatterrodt BS/MGE 2004
  • Will Werner BS/MGE 2011.

Photo: A team competes in the 39th International Collegiate Mining Competition at the University of Kentucky.

From Byproduct to Buildings: Finding New Use for Fly Ash

Associate professor Jinhong Zhang has spent years researching construction materials created from waste, most recently fly ash.Jinhong Zhang shows off a sample of his concrete alternative material

A byproduct of coal-burning plants, fly ash – and more specifically, its extremely fine and easily inhaled particles – have been an environmental and medical concern for years. In some studies done in China, it was even linked to medical problems such as infertility.

Though regulated in the U.S., fly ash is still produced, but thanks to Zhang, it now has a new, environmentally friendly purpose as building material.

Zhang has launched a startup, Acrete, to produce the material – a concrete alternative that is three times the compressive strength of cement and twice the flexural strength. The company has since partnered with Tech Launch Arizona to patent the product and ultimately bring it to market.

Not only is using fly ash in the material a more sustainable use for the byproduct, it requires less energy to produce than traditional Portland cement.

"The initial idea was not to replace concrete, it was to reduce industrial waste by creating a construction material," Zhang said in a recent interview. "In the process of experimenting, we found that we could actually make a very strong material."

Zhang and Acrete have applied for a patent for the concrete alternative, and are already researching the use of other industrial byproducts, such as mine tailings, in other applications.

Photo courtesy of Courtney Kock/Cronkite News

Zhang Builds Startup to Produce Concrete Alternative

Jinhong Zhang, associate professor of mining and geological engineering, has launched a startup to develop and distribute a concrete substitute he invented.

A disc made of the new UA-invented Acrete material

Zhang created Acrete with the aid of entrepreneur Abraham Jalbout and Tech Launch Arizona, the UA office that commercializes inventions stemming from faculty and student research.

UANews covered Acrete's launch in a recent story, highlighting the concrete substitute's status as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional Portland cement. Its composition – three times as much fly ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants – triples the amount of waste converted into useful building material while having up to three times the compressive strength of cement and twice the flexural strength.

"Our vision is to look at how we can reutilize waste and underutilized materials that are being produced as byproducts of mining," says Jalbout, Acrete's CEO. "We want to find ways to use these materials for other applications."

 

Photo courtesy of Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona

Kemeny Discusses Benefits, Risks of Copper Slowdown

John Kemeny

A global slowdown in the production of copper may be a boon to the Arizona economy.

In a Feb. 14 interview with KJZZ, John Kemeny, department head and professor of mining and geological engineering at the University of Arizona, discussed how recent developments in countries including Brazil are impacting copper prices and boosting demand.

Greater demand and higher prices are beneficial for Arizona's mining industry, one of the leading producers of copper in the United States, Kemeny said. But he cautions that it likely means prices for certain consumer goods also will rise.

In Memoriam: James White

James WhiteThe department is sad to report the passing of James White, former professor at the UA College of Mines and recently retired co-founder of Tucson-based Modular Mining Systems, on Jan. 8.

A visionary inventor, great friend and dedicated mentor, White helped revolutionize the way mines operate in real time with the Dispatch Fleet Management System.

In recognition of his contributions to the field, he received the Medal of Merit from the Mining Foundation of the Southwest in 2003 and induction into the International Mining Technology Hall of Fame in 2015.

MGE Junior Is a 'Miner of Tomorrow'

Alex NatheWhat attracted Alex Nathe to a career in mining? The opportunity for travel, and the fact that it "will never go out of style."

Alex, an MGE junior with an emphasis in mineral processing, received a 2016 scholarship from Hexagon Mining.

Learn more about her ambitions – and dream dinner guests – in a recent interview for the Hexagon newsletter.

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