Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Engineers and Scientists in Critical Need for United States Infrastructure Improvements

Civil engineering students Haley Schroeder (right) and Eliza McCallum surveying at South Dakota Mines. STEM professionals are in high demand following the wave of infrastructure improvements and research authorized by congress.


The United States is undertaking a new era of infrastructure improvements that highlight a critical need for engineers and scientists. Universities like South Dakota Mines train the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals who are required to create innovative solutions to the multiple infrastructure challenges of the modern world.

Engineers are the backbone of the labor force that drives infrastructure improvements – from roads to water systems to the electric grid to cybersecurity and more. The latest wave of infrastructure investment in the United States requires creative and well-rounded problem solvers who can build the 21st century infrastructure needed to maintain America’s role in the global economy. Engineers are also critical for creating types of resilient structures that will survive the increasing number of extreme weather events. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicted a growing demand for engineers across the board before the latest wave of investments, a plan that will further increase the need for well-rounded engineers

“For America to remain globally competitive, we need resilient transportation, energy sources, communication networks, and other vital infrastructure. Mines scientists and engineers are proud to answer the call by seeking creative solutions to these pressing challenges,” says Mines President Jim Rankin.  

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the recent infrastructure improvements authorized by Congress includes $110 billion to upgrade roads, bridges, and major projects; $66 billion for passenger and freight rail improvements; $46 billion for resilience to help states and cities prepare for droughts, wildfires, and climate change; $39 billion for public transit improvements; and $17 billion to increase efficiency on ports and waterways.  

“Students at Mines are learning to build the infrastructure of tomorrow’s America,” says Jim Stone, Ph.D. head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Mines. “These critical infrastructure improvements require expertise from traditional infrastructure-focused disciplines such as Civil/Environmental Engineering along with Construction Engineering Management, as well as skillsets drawn from Mechanical, Electrical, Industrial, and Computer/Science Engineering disciplines. Obtaining an engineering degree from Mines ensures you’ll have a well-prepared ‘toolbox’ ready to deploy in the infrastructure workforce.”

Scientists at South Dakota Mines help lead cutting-edge research and development projects in healthcare, energy, transportation, communications, and more. Mines researchers have landed more than $63 million in research funding over the past four years from organizations like the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. Mines has a track record of turning research on campus into local start-up companies, which, in turn, are creating high-paying jobs.

“These numbers show that research is an industry. The funded research at Mines makes a big difference in the local economy, not only with a direct impact, but for years to come with spin-off companies we develop from research investments,” says Mines President Rankin.

The American Institute of Physics reports that congressional research funding includes a large range of focus areas, including clean energy, energy transmission and storage, critical minerals, cyber security, wildfire preparedness efforts, water and environmental protection, and much more. All of these focus areas have research components at South Dakota Mines. 


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, 605-721-7865, mike.ray@sdsmt.edu