Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, August 31, 2021

South Dakota Mines Offers New Avionics and Aerospace Engineering Minors

South Dakota Mines electrical engineering major, Adam Steinbrecher, uses a flight simulator to land the space shuttle with the assistance of instructor Scott Rausch. Mines students can now pick up a minor in Avionics in the university’s Department of Electrical Engineering.

South Dakota Mines has two new minors for students interested in working in the booming avionics or aerospace industries.

The new minors, offered through the mechanical and electrical engineering departments, give students a range of courses needed to excel in fast growing companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing, and Virgin Galactic. Mines graduates are also frequently employed by NASA, and these new minors empower students to quickly become in-demand leaders in any branch of the aerospace industry. 

Aerospace Engineering

Pierre Larochelle, Ph.D., the department head of mechanical engineering at Mines, helped build the new aerospace minor with specialized courses like aerospace structures, rockets and propulsion, and space flight mechanics.     

“It’s a very exciting time to be in aerospace,” says Larochelle. “Our nation’s aerospace companies are working with NASA to colonize the moon and Mars while also working to reduce the carbon footprint of commercial air travel here on earth. Mines graduates with the aerospace engineering minor will be well prepared to tackle these challenges and lead us into this exciting future. “

Mines’ mechanical engineering students who complete the aerospace engineering minor also immediately qualify for a second minor in systems engineering. This highly sought-after skillset enables engineers to understand and build very complex machines like spacecraft and passenger jets. 


Mines’ new avionics minor, offered though the Department of Electrical Engineering, gives students unique skills needed to succeed in the rapidly growing avionics branch of the aerospace industry. 

Scott Rausch, an instructor of electrical engineering, spent decades in the avionics industry and help designed the new curriculum with industry needs in mind. Course topics in the new minor include avionics systems and development, robotic control systems, and wireless communications.   

Part of the avionics minor employs the university’s fully-equipped flight simulator, which can mimic a wide range of military and civilian aircraft. Students have opportunity to build components for the flight simulator, such as collision avoidance software and aircraft detection systems. This kind of hands-on experience is valuable for industry. 

“We want students to use this minor to build into company internships and specialized senior design projects tailored directly to industry needs. This way the students can have that golden experience with a specific hands-on experience that no one else in the country has. This makes their resume stand out and this new engineer hits the ground running in their first job,” says Rausch.  

Both the avionics and aerospace engineering minors at South Dakota Mines are open to students of any major. The programs have generated a great deal of interest on campus with dozens of students are already enrolled, and many more are expected to join in the coming years.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Mike Ray, 605-394-6082, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, Sep. 26, 2023
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
King Center
Wednesday, Sep. 27, 2023
7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Campus Wide
Saturday, Sep. 30, 2023
7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Stadium Parking Lot and Rocker Trails
Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023
7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Crazy Horse