GOLDEN, Colo. — Space mining sounds like something out of science fiction novels, but it's coming closer to reality for Colorado School of Mines students.
The university in Golden, which focuses on science and engineering, announced Monday that it will add one undergraduate degree program and three minors next fall, including a minor in space mining.
Engineers who specialize in space mining can help with the mining of raw materials found in space for manufacturing, fuels and other uses. This would be critical for future exploration missions in space, the university said in its announcement.
"Space exploration has long been an aspiration of various scientists and engineers, and success in deep space missions depends on our ability to utilize the resources in outer space," said Jamal Rostami, an associate professor in the Department of Mining Engineering, which will include the new program, thought to be the first of its kind.
The curriculum includes three core courses, according to Rostami. The first is Introduction to Mining Process to understand mining on Earth. The other two are Planetary Geology and Space Resource Planning. There will be a few elective courses from robotics to the economic, legal and policy issues surrounding planetary resources.
"Space exploration presents a lot of technical challenges that are new to us," said Rostami. "It definitely requires out of box thinking and using the enduring knowledge to solve these new problems that we've never had to deal with. Like working in zero gravity, extreme temperatures, working in a vacuum."
Rostami said he hopes this education will give undergraduates the knowledge to help humans survive in deep space in the future.
"These are the challenges that now we have to come up with some sort of solution," said Rostami. "And we better think of it now before we go out there and stuck with these problems."
The university also will offer two more new minors this fall. The first is in aerospace engineering, which is intended to support students who are interested in the field and majoring in another area, such as physics or mechanical or electrical engineering.
The other new minor is in teaching, to prepare students for a career in the classroom teaching the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.
The School of Mines will offer one new undergraduate degree program, as well -- a bachelor of science in quantitative biosciences and engineering -- that focuses on biomedical and biotech.
"Simply put, there is a need for graduates who can both use a micropipette in the laboratory and write code at the computer terminal," said Brian Trewyn, associate professor of chemistry, in the announcement.
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