Penn State’s student mine rescue team trains students to respond to underground mining emergencies such as explosions, roof falls, and flooding. The team competes against other collegiate mine rescue teams across the eastern United States to see who can rescue disaster victims most efficiently.
The team was originally founded in 2011 by Ed Zeglen and Susan Bealko, two accomplished alumni of Penn State, in response to the nation’s growing need for professional mine rescue teams. Under the student leadership of the team’s first captain Drew Mason, the team traveled to the Colorado School of Mines Edgar Mine contest in Idaho Springs, Colorado. The team won first place in the Confined Space Maze Race and Exploration in Smoke competition, earning themselves first place overall in the team’s inception year.
The team joined the Eastern Collegiate Mine Rescue Organization (ECMRO) in 2016 and, under the leadership of Sam Baker, placed second in the organization’s inaugural contest, losing to the University of Kentucky by a lone point.
TJ Greene took over the team in 2017 during a rebuilding process. After losing four of six of the fall semester’s seniors, Greene and Chris Burge took to the task of recruitment and training. In the spring semester of 2018 the team fielded ten new members with no mine rescue contest experience. Greene and Burge named Joelson Alves and Kevin Toe the next team captains, who went on to win third place in their first contest.
After operating as a part of the university’s Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration since 2011, the team became an official RSO in 2018. With new leadership and advisor Dr. Sekhar Bhattacharrya, the team is looking to recruit members, build a strong club, and win mine rescue contests.
Penn State will be hosting its first Eastern Collegiate Mine Rescue Organization contest in the spring of 2019.
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