Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, February 8, 2022

South Dakota Mines Requests Building Purchase to Grow Innovation and Jobs

South Dakota Mines President Jim Rankin, Ph.D., P.E. has this op-ed on the need for the university to expand its research space on campus.

South Dakota Mines is well known in the state for graduating top-tier students and for turning out cutting-edge research that spins off into new companies and high-paying local jobs.

But our success has led to some growing pains. To put it simply, we’re out of research space on campus. The excellent work of our faculty and students has led to an increase in research funding from agencies like the US Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, Governor Noem’s office, and many others. Today, we need more space to continue advancing the frontier of innovation.

To address this problem, we’re asking state lawmakers to approve $5.25 million for purchase of the Ascent Innovation Building. Built on campus property in 2006, the 40,000-square-foot facility formerly housed Elevate Rapid City and its wildly successful tech business incubator. Purchasing this building would be a huge cost savings for the university compared to constructing a new facility. This building will provide critical space needed to expand research on campus and in turn spin off more start-up business success.

At Mines, we’re proud of our track record of turning the innovation generated by university research into new companies that are employing thousands of our graduates right here in the state. Companies started by research at Mines or by our professors and alumni include VRC Metal Systems, Nanopareil, Phase Technologies, Endlas, Property Meld, Scull Construction, RESPEC, Daktronics, RPM & Associates, and too many more to name here.

The exciting research already underway on campus that will have a new home in this facility includes cutting-edge manufacturing technologies like advanced 3D printing, medical research such as efforts to stop cancer and treat other diseases, agricultural research focusing on turning biproducts like corn stalks and tree branches into valuable biofuel and biodegradable plastics, and research to pioneer new battery technology that could revolutionize energy storage. The university will continue to create spin-off companies with these types of research, providing a fantastic return on investment.

One of the best parts about being a university president is getting to shake hands with smiling graduates as they walk across the stage at commencement. Our students are changing the world; they’re pioneering cutting-edge science and technology, creating start-up companies that shatter expectations, and finding innovative solutions to some of the most pressing problems society faces today. Thanks to decades of economic development efforts, we are now able to keep about 30% of Mines graduates in South Dakota. But in truth, many will leave the state because high-paying jobs in STEM fields are in short supply here. Expanding research space at Mines will open the door for the creation of more high-paying jobs in South Dakota, and in the end, keep more of our graduates right here at home.

I hope you will contact your local lawmaker and ask them to support Senate Bill 97 in the South Dakota Legislature to benefit the future of South Dakota Mines and the future economy of our state.

 - Jim Rankin, Ph.D., P.E., South Dakota Mines President



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