News Releases

Engineering students gear up for service abroad during spring break
Release Date Friday, March 7, 2014

RAPID CITY, S.D. (March 7, 2014) – Two groups of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology students are heading abroad during the upcoming spring break vacation to lend their engineering expertise to projects that will improve the lives of others.

One group from the Mines chapter of Engineers and Scientists Abroad (ESA) will travel to Bogotá, Colombia, to begin design and installation of a rainwater harvesting system, as well as remediating a landslide-prone slope. The group, which leaves Saturday, March 8, and returns Friday, March 14, will collaborate with like-minded peers from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Irma and Richard Frank, whose past donations and future commitments to fund international experiences have played a pivotal role in ESA’s good deeds. Richard Frank is a 1963 mechanical engineering graduate from the School of Mines.

Because of the high level of annual precipitation in the Bogotá area, roughly 30-40 inches per year, rainwater harvesting is of particular interest. ESA’s plan is to create a simple, repeatable design based on materials common to the area and collect precipitation data, which can be implemented on a large scale for many local residents.

The Colombia team is comprised of Tony Kulesa, a graduate student from Rapid City; Cody Schellinger, a senior from Sheridan, Wyo.; Logon Vogt, a senior from Chadron, Neb.; and Michael Dollarhide, a senior from Pipestone, Minn., all civil and environmental engineering (CEE) students; Erik Walega, a geological engineering graduate student from Lafayette, Colo.; Elizabeth Woody, a junior mathematics and computer science major from Rapid City; and Kati Johnson, a senior chemical engineering major from Buffalo.

A second School of Mines ESA team will travel to Peru from Thursday, March 13, through Tuesday, March 18, to help improve conditions at the Wesfalia Orphanage in the hilly area of Cieneguilla, about 90 minutes from downtown Lima, Peru.

ESA members will design and construct new infrastructure to provide needed improvements to supply the orphanage with a permanent clean water source, new plumbing and solar energy to replace gas, as well as allowing the addition of a fruit orchard. Mines students made contact with Westfalia through family and mutual friends and plan to return for consecutive years to complete infrastructure improvements.

Westfalia is a non-government funded orphanage dedicated to helping about 100 children by providing housing, education and psychological assistance to children with serious emotional development problems.

The Peru team is comprised of Carl Holloman, a sophomore from Rapid City; Kevin Barry, a senior from Rapid City; Kylie Berger, a senior from Sioux Falls, and Tony Kulesa, a graduate student from Rapid City, all CEE majors. Two students from a similar organization in Colombia will join them. 


About SDSM&T

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,640 students from 45 states and 37 countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The average starting salary for graduates is $62,400 with a 98 percent placement rate. Find us online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at