Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Chemical Engineering Lab Named for Alumnus & Retired Dow VP

Mines alumnus Gary Veurink talks with members of the media after a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony in the chemical engineering unit operations laboratory. After graduation in 1972, Veurink joined Dow Chemical and rose to the position of corporate vice president with direct responsibility for Dow’s global manufacturing and engineering operations and all new capital projects.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (Nov. 2, 2016) – The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology has named its unique industrial-scale chemical engineering teaching laboratory in honor of Gary Veurink, a prominent alumnus who, with his wife Ruth, has established an endowment to help prepare chemical engineering students for their careers. 

The Veurink Chemical Engineering Unit Operations Laboratory was dedicated during a ceremony this morning on the South Dakota School of Mines campus. The gift will provide monies for continuous upgrade of experiments and to infuse future innovative technologies into the 5,000-square-foot laboratory. It will also fund the prestigious Gary and Ruth Veurink Scholarship, which will cover at least half a student’s annual tuition and fees.

The lab features a two-story distillation column and other pilot-scale equipment similar to what chemical engineering students will use in industry after they graduate. It is one of the few pilot-scale unit operations laboratories on college campuses, as the trend has been to turn to table-top scale experiments to train students.

Veurink, a 1972 alumnus, joined Dow Chemical Co. and rose through the company to become a corporate vice president with direct responsibility for Dow’s global manufacturing and engineering operations and all new capital projects. This included a 23,000-employee organization with more than 150 manufacturing sites in 39 countries, as well as an annual $4 billion operations budget and a $2 billion plus new-projects budget. He retired after 35 years with Dow. Following his retirement he spent six years as chief operating officer at Washington, D.C.-based International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that works to protect the poor from violence.

The Veurinks attended the lab dedication in the Chemical & Biological Engineering/Chemistry Building.

“The Chemical Engineering program at Mines is exceptional, in part, because of the generous contribution by the Veurinks. This teaching lab and scholarships to help our students make a tremendous difference, and we appreciate their generosity,” said Heather Wilson, president of South Dakota Mines.

Married for 46 years, the Veurinks have three adult children and eight grandchildren. Ruth Veurink was a registered nurse by profession and spent the majority of her nursing career in the area of home care with The Visiting Nurse Association. She also served as a mentor through Bible Study Fellowship and her church.

Among the many ways the Veurinks have given back is working together for over 25 years with Young Life, as well as being involved in leadership roles with Junior Achievement and Boy Scouts. 

“We believe our career success, the goodness we have experienced in our marriage and family, the associated financial resources we have are all gifts from God, and we are intent on honoring him in our gifting. We also feel quite strongly that the SD School of Mines was a critical aspect of our lives and we want to express our gratitude in a tangible way to the institution and be active in highlighting that the institution was instrumental in our lives,” Veurink said.

The Veurinks now live in Holland, Mich. Gary Veurink continues to be active on several boards and mentors younger leaders, including those at the International Justice Mission.

During his time on campus today, Veurink visited with current students involved in Campus Ministries and the student government association, where he served as president during his senior year at Mines. 

While many other universities may have reduced the number of unit operations lab hours in their chemical engineering B.S. curriculum, the Chemical Engineering program at South Dakota Mines has not lowered its requirements over the years. More than 20 industrially relevant experiments are conducted in the laboratory. The laboratory was originally built in 1957 to aid the accreditation of the university’s chemical engineering program. It was completely renovated six years ago.

“Our choice is to have hands-on experiences from the freshman level to the senior level. That’s one of the undergraduate experiences that makes us unique. Experience working in a pilot-scale laboratory like this makes a difference in industry when companies are hiring,” said Robb Winter, Ph.D., head of the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering.

For the past five years, 100 chemical engineering graduates from South Dakota Mines have been hired into industry, with LyondellBasell, Cargill and Dow Chemical the top employers.

Companies hiring multiple Mines chemical engineering graduates between 2011 and 2015 include Baker Hughes, Applied Control Equipment, Freeport McMoRan, Archer Daniels Midland, 3M, POET, South Dakota Department of ENR, Nutra-Flo, Lafarge, Burns & McDonnell, Raven Industries and Tate & Lyle.



About SD Mines  

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 2,778 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $61,300. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat

Contact: Fran LeFort, (605) 394-6082, Fran.LeFort@sdsmt.edu

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