Mines News

Release Date Tuesday, April 30, 2024

South Dakota Mines Celebrates 189th Commencement

Fall Commencement 

South Dakota Mines 189th commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2024, in the Ice Arena at The Monument in Rapid City. Those who wish to view the ceremony online can find information here. No tickets are needed for commencement and there is not a limit on the number of guests per graduate.

This event includes a total of 362 graduates. This includes one associate, 289 baccalaureates, 67 master’s and five doctoral degrees. The names of all graduates and more detailed biographies for our honored guests can be found in the commencement program.

Members of the media are welcome to attend the ceremony and interview graduates and university officials after the event. Mines’ fall commencement is planned for Dec. 14, 2024.

This semester’s senior class speaker is Patrick Rust. Mines will also award an honorary doctorate during the ceremony to Qusi R. Al-Haj, who will serve as the keynote speaker.

The university will also recognize the 50-year graduates from the class of 1974, a number of whom will be in attendance at the commencement ceremony.

Senior Class Representative

Patrick Rust

Patrick Rust came to South Dakota Mines after graduating from Chadron High School in Chadron, NE. His parents are Katie and Jason Rust, and he has one sister, Megan Rust. Rust has been involved in various clubs and activities while at South Dakota Mines. He has served as a student senator, student mentor, residential advisor, and a member of Circle K International. He has been a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, serving

as scholastics chair in and vice president. He has been a member of the Vex U Robotics team, serving as vice president and treasurer. He received the Caring, Helping, Aspiring, and Development (C.H.A.D.) award last year and was inducted into the Leadership Hall of Fame this spring. He completed an internship with Dakota Panel and two internships with Lockheed Martin Space. After graduating with his Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering and engineering management, Rust will be working at Raytheon in Tucson, AZ.

Honorary Doctorate

Qusi R. Al-Haj

Mines alumnus Qusi R. Al-Haj will serve as the keynote speaker and receive an honorary doctorate. Al-Haj received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1983 and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Mines in 1991.

Al-Haj was born in Zaraqa, Jordan, in 1972 and traveled to the United States in 1979 to pursue his engineering education. Following required duty in the Jordanian Army, he returned to the US and married his wife, Jamie. They have been married for 37 years and have two accomplished daughters: 27-year-old Tara and 22-year-old Renna.

Al-Haj is the deputy state director and Air Force advisor for U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD) and is the former special assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force. He is the founder and former president of Micro Solutions, Inc. and is a former adjunct professor at Mines and South Dakota State University.

Al-Haj is noted for his community involvement, having served as the past chairman of the Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce, past vice chairman of Black Hills Works, past president of the Rapid City Rotary Club, past board member of the Black Hills Area Council of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, past chairman of the Pennington County Republican Party, Rapid City Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs committee, Ellsworth Task Force and Honorary Commander Program, charter board member of the Rapid City Community Development program, member of the Black Hills State University School of Business Advisory Board, member of the South Dakota Mines Foundation Audit Committee.

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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: Michelle Pawelski, 508-561-6212, Michelle.Pawelski@sdsmt.edu