LU takes first place at Canadian Mining Games

By Lianna Pisani

More than 100 mining engineering students from across Canada, representing 10 universities, gathered Feb. 23 to 26 to mark and compete in the twenty-second annual Canadian Mining Games competition, hosted by Laurentian University.

Laurentian’s 12-person team was comprised of engineering students from the Bharti School of Engineering; including seven members from last year’s team, as well as five new members.

“There were 20 challenges involved during the duration of the Canadian Mining Games,” President Dominic Giroux says. “Some were kind of textbook cases and materials, but others were actually hands-on, physical work and so-forth. That’s very prestigious,” comments President Dominic Giroux.

The Laurentian team received the highest scores for 12 of the 20 timed events and challenges.

Dusty Nerpin, a third-year mining engineering student, was voted the 2012 team captain after competing for Laurentian’s 2011 team.

“Since early September, I started planning and then I sent out applications to people… There were about 30 applicants this year, and only five students made the cut.”

Once the team was solidified in October, they decided who would partake in each of the events based on the general list of events and the skills of each individual team member.

“We see who’s most comfortable doing what, and then they study up on it as much as they can,” Nerpin explains. “You can’t really study up on certain events too much because it’s given by industry and sometimes it’s completely out of left field.”

Nerpin has been working as a miner for eight years, and brought his practical training and experience to the team. “I did most of the practical events, like machine handling, and the jackleg competition,” he says.

Sean Turcotte, a fourth-year mining engineering student, feels that Laurentian’s team was at an advantage, because many of the team members have practical experience from co-op placements they have completed during their undergraduate education. “A lot of the guys have done so much on the job. They can apply that to what was here. The stuff that would seem hard to other schools was just a normal activity through co-op.”

Nerpin adds: “We’re right in the mining capital of Canada and we have this opportunity for students to go out and actually experience industry while they’re in school.”

The team achieved first place in what is considered the most important event of the entire competition: Mine Design.

“You have eight hours to design an entire mine, including the economics, ventilation, the capital development, the access, the shaft… it’s probably one of the most hectic days I have ever had in my entire life,” Turcotte says.

This is the second consecutive year that Laurentian has placed first in the Mine Design event– the event which is weighted heaviest in overall scores. The team placed second in the Mine Rescue event, which is another highly regarded event of the competition.

Every event was judged by the attending industry representatives, unlike in previous years where judges were faculty of the hosting university. For Nerpin and Turcotte, this made taking first place an even bigger accomplishment.

“I jumped out of my chair,” Turcotte says.

President Giroux shares the excitement of the team, and Laurentian students. “I was thrilled, obviously, when I learned about the news Sunday… I started calling people around the country celebrating the success of our students. That’s great for them; it’s great for the university.”

“It brings a real prestige to our school,” Nerpin comments. “It really shows that our engineering program is growing. We’re proud to go to LU.”