Mines News

Release Date Wednesday, December 12, 2018

SD Mines holds 178th commencement Dec. 15

The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology will hold its 178th commencement at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Theatre.

The South Dakota School of Mines & Technologywill hold its 178th commencement at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Theatre, awarding 198 degrees to students. To see list of graduates, click here.

Secretary of the US Air Force and past president of SD Mines, Heather Wilson, D.Phil., is the commencement speaker.  

Delivering the senior class representative’s message will be Katherine Giorgio, an applied biological sciences major and chemistry minor from Elk Point, SD. Giorgio has been active on the Mines campus serving as a resident assistant, president of the Future Health Sciences Professionals, secretary for both the American Chemical Society and the Newman Club, and is a member of the Mines Choir often volunteering as an accompanist. She has also been involved with the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) on a team developing a seed starter to support large-scale gardening and improve food sovereignty on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  Upon graduation, Giorgio will work as a clinical coordinator at the Center for Pediatric and Community Research at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls. She also plans to pursue a graduate degree in epidemiology.

President Jim Rankin. Ph.D., will present honorary doctorates in public service to Larry Pearson a 1972 mechanical engineering graduate and posthumously to Karen Swindler, who graduated in 1988 with a degree in chemical engineering. Swindler passed away in a tragic car accident in July of 2018. A posthumous bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering will also be awarded to Benjamin Authier, who was a junior at Mines when he passed away in August 2017.

Larry Simonson, Ph.D., Executive Director of the SD Mines Alumni Association, will present five Distinguished Alumni Awards to the following graduates who have made tremendous contributions to their professions and communities: Lynne Bukovic, Willie Chiang, Kevin Griese, Steve Pirner, and Auduth Timblo.

Mines students bring many different life experiences to campus that help them succeed as an engineer or scientist. Growing up on a ranch in eastern Montana, Dakotah Rusley learned what ingenuity was. Every ranch kid knows when equipment breaks down there isn’t always time to run to town for parts, so finding a creative solution is the difference between getting the job done or being a day behind. Rusley brought that kind of ingenuity to Mines. His work on the the Mines Moonrockers team is one example. The competition, hosted by NASA, challenges university teams from around the country to build the best off-world mining robot. “The team that got first place had a robot worth tens-of-thousands-of-dollars,” Rusley says. “One single component on their machine was basically worth more than our entire robot,” he adds. “We took second place, with $150 worth of components we bought off Amazon, and NASA officials were blown away at this,” he says. “But that’s what makes School of Mines graduates so valuable. We are used to an environment where you don’t have millions of dollars to solve a problem, you have to use your brain.”

That work ethic and persistence to problem-solving is what brought Rusley to Mines and it has paid off. “In my junior year I sent out 731 internship applications, and I got denied for all of them. I came close to quitting after that,” he says, “But I’m glad I didn’t.” He applied for the NASA Pathways Internship four times before finally landing a spot in 2017. The ten-day annual open window for the program sees about 150,000 applicants. Before completing this internship and a year and a half prior to graduation, Rusley was offered a full-time position with NASA. He will be leaving for the Goddard Space Flight Center just outside of Washington, DC, in a few weeks.

Rusley will be walking across the stage on Saturday to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering.

The 178th commencement will be livestreamed at www.sdsmt.edu/GradVideo.


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 2,475 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 97 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $66,150. For these reasons College Factual ranks South Dakota Mines, the #1 Engineering School for Return on Investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram and Snapchat.

Contact: Charles Michael Ray, 605-394-6082, Charles.Ray@sdsmt.edu

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