Mines News

Release Date Thursday, May 12, 2016

Four Students Selected for Cargill, Nucor Mentor Scholars Program

Pictured from left to right: Crystal Ochoa, David Rohlf, Michael Asel and Nick Hutchinson

RAPID CITY, S.D. (MAY 12, 2016) – Four mechanical engineering students at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology received departmental mentor scholarships funded by industry partners Cargill and Nucor, longtime university supporters and drivers of the newly-formed Design for Manufacturing curriculum.

The new mentor program is supported by several key industry partners, including Cargill, Nucor and Caterpillar, who were already deeply involved at South Dakota Mines before the new hands-on lab design program became a formal curriculum.

Michael Asel, David Rohlf and Crystal Ochoa each received $1,500 Department of Mechanical Engineering scholarships during the spring semester from money donated from Cargill for their work in the machine shop. Junior Asel is from Katy, Texas, sophomore Rohlf from Belle Fourche and freshman Ochoa from Sioux City, Iowa.

Sophomore Nick Hutchinson of Gunnison, Colo., was named as a Nucor mentor scholar during the spring semester, also receiving a $1,500 stipend. He joined Spencer Johnson, Chandler Monk and Eric Holmgren, who were recognized as Nucor mentor scholars in the fall.

The new program recognizes student mentors with stipends and special training from industry professionals. The student mentors then serve as leaders within the laboratory, guiding other Mines students through projects.

“We always have six or seven people working as trainers/mentors in the shop. We created the mentor scholars program as a way to help students and the department while connecting future employees with our industry partners,” said Aaron Lalley, mechanical engineering instructor and lab coordinator. “The scholarship approach for the mentors recognizes student achievement as well as compensating them for their time.”

Students in the new program display their work at a Design for Manufacturing Fair at the end of each semester. Among the designs on display at last week’s fair: a domino clock in which dominoes were designed and manufactured with aluminum, wood and 3D materials; a variety of tools and toys; and a carbon fiber skateboard.

Mines alumni now at Cargill have provided input on course development to meet the needs of industry. Mike Rizor a 1990 graduate, is operations manager at Cargill in Minneapolis, and Brandon Anderson, a 1996 graduate, is production supervisor at Cargill in Sioux City, Iowa. In addition to input on course development, Anderson also delivers a presentation to every Mechanical Engineering 125 laboratory section on the role of the engineer in operations safety and recruitment at Cargill.

Cargill has also funded equipment improvement as well as provided safety glasses and personal protective gear for use in the mechanical engineering shop for several years.


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 is 96 percent, with an average starting salary of $62,929. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on Facebook and Twitter.


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