“Welcome to PSU on this beautiful spring-like day,” Dean William Easterling joked with a packed auditorium on a cold, snowy 16th of March, at the kick-off of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ (EMS) annual recruiting event. All students who are considering an EMS major are invited to attend the Earth and Mineral Sciences Exposition (EMEX). Over 425 prospective students and their families, from as far away as Hawaii, didn’t let the weather deter them from exploring the eleven bachelor degree options EMS offers.
“We’re one of the oldest colleges at Penn State, with an emphasis on mining at first, but growing to include diverse options in geography, geosciences, meteorology, materials sciences and engineering, and energy and mineral engineering—with all five programs ranked in the top ten nationally by any service you want to pick,” Easterling said. “And our students get jobs in their fields!”
Each EMS department provided opportunities to meet and discuss majors and careers with current students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Sessions on weather forecasting, natural disasters, fire ecology, advanced materials, and energy solutions for the future were available. “Hands-on” demonstrations and tours also engaged visitors. One of the most popular features of this year’s EMEX also speaks to the long history of EMS: a tour of the old ventilation laboratory.
Built in 1930 in the basement of the Steidle Building, it was considered a cutting edge research facility for its time. Advancements in effective mine ventilation practices, modeling of mine ventilation systems, as well as the control of diesel emissions and respirable dust in the underground mine environment were made possible by using this laboratory to recreate actual mine ventilation conditions.
But that was then. Now days you’re more likely to find mining and mineral process engineering students using computer applications and completing course work and research on innovative mining systems, geomechanics, rock mechanics, materials handling, mine management, health and safety, and other issues at the forefront of mining science and technology.
Not all the attention was on academics at EMEX either. The event is all student-led, and chairperson Devin Boyer (meteorology) and his co-chairs Ryan Belz (meteorology), Nick Philips (petroleum and natural gas engineering), Rob Englund (earth and mineral sciences) and Everleigh Stokes (geography) incorporated opportunities for prospective students to experience college life. Those arriving on March 15 could attend classes and shadow their student sponsors for the day. Residents of Irvin Hall, the Special Living Options for EMS, sponsored an evening of ice-breaking activities and plenty of time to talk about life at Penn State. While students socialized with their peers, parents and families were enjoying a dinner at the Atherton Hotel where they asked questions of the deans, faculty, staff, alumni, and EMS students.
“I love EMEX because it’s a chance to show off and share what we have here,” said Everleigh Stokes. “We have a small college and a really strong community.”
Dean Easterling echoed this sentiment. “We’re a small college within a large university. With 136 tenure line professors, you will get to know your professors. And they’re tackling the big challenges from glacier dynamics to new cancer delivery materials and much more. We don’t just have good textbooks here. We write the textbooks.”
The snow was still falling at the close of EMEX, but many didn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave. “I was worried that I would feel overwhelmed at Penn State,” said one high school senior from New Jersey. “But EMEX definitely helped me see what EMS is all about.”