News Releases

Mines senior selected as prestigious George J. Mitchell Scholar
Release Date Sunday, November 24, 2013

RAPID CITY, S.D. (Nov. 24, 2013) – Travis Davis, a senior mechanical engineering major at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, has been selected as a George J. Mitchell Scholar.

Nearly 300 applicants nationwide sought the 12 scholarship positions for the Class of 2015. The US-Ireland Alliance selected and notified recipients on Saturday. Recipients will spend one year of postgraduate study in any discipline offered by institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Applicants are judged on three criteria – scholarship, leadership and a sustained commitment to community and public service.

Davis, of Camp Crook, will study bioengineering at Trinity College Dublin.

“Travis Davis is an exceptional young leader and scholar, and all of us at Mines are very happy for him,” said Heather Wilson, president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

The School of Mines has not had any applicants for the Rhodes, Marshall, Gates or Mitchell scholarships in many years. Wilson, a Rhodes Scholar who has served on the Rhodes selection committee in the Rocky Mountain region in the past, said, “Our best students can compete for these prestigious scholarships with students from any university in the country. Some of them needed to be encouraged to apply. We had three applicants this year for the Rhodes and Mitchell. All of them were very competitive, and Travis was fortunate to have earned the Mitchell. He will be a great role model for others.”

Early in his college career, Davis worked at John Deere as an engineering intern; at Caterpillar, ensuring diesel engines met EPA standards; and at NASA with four different internships. His mother, born without a hip joint, had undergone multiple surgeries, and when Davis began college, a recurrence of his mother’s health crisis worsened to the point that an amputation, a hemipelvectomy, was the only procedure that would save her life.

While at NASA, Davis designed cryogenic valves that were printed out of metal using a cutting-edge manufacturing process known as Direct Metal Laser Sintering. The process is also used to develop custom prosthetics. While completing his projects at NASA, Davis always linked the technologies he was working with to his mother’s struggles.

Growing up on a cattle and sheep ranch in one of the most rural parts of the United States, Davis is a volunteer firefighter, a pilot and a junior high basketball referee. He has helped his close-knit community, which supported his family by establishing a fundraiser to make their house disabled accessible, assisted with farm and ranch chores and in checking on his mother.

Despite being courted by NASA, Davis believes he must help others avoid the hardships his mother endured. He has an “unfaltering passion … driven by an intimate understanding of what is at stake.”

At Mines, Davis is a Delta Sigma Phi member.

“I am ecstatic to be considered a George J. Mitchell Scholar. Receiving support from my family, my community and SDSM&T made this dream a reality. Hopefully my success will help students to realize that when opportunities are offered, you should at least give it a shot,” Davis said.

The Mitchell Scholarship Program provides tuition, accommodations, a living expenses stipend and an international travel stipend.

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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 www.sdsmt.edu , on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sdsmt and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sdsmt .