Supporting the next generation
School of Mine partnership inspires educators and students alike
For the past five years, Lewis Meyer has taught Deswik software at the Camborne School of Mines at the University of Exeter.
As Senior Lecturer in Mining Engineering, 257 students have graduated from Lewis’s Deswik course which consistently receives rave reviews from students. So much so, he has been shortlisted for the Best Lecturer Award twice!
This success story is part of Deswik’s education partnerships, a program which provides Deswik software licenses, training material, tutorial videos and on-site training to support universities with their curriculum.
Camborne’s students put theory into practice.
Lewis uses Deswik to give engineering students a practical understanding of mine design and scheduling. He uses the platform to lead his students through their first design and produce a functioning mine schedule for an underground mine with 180 stopes.
“I have developed modules in the undergraduate and postgraduate mining engineering degrees that simulates the experience of a junior engineer undertaking their first mine design,” Lewis said.
“I use the software learning experience to teach the mine design processes, and how key engineering and financial parameters affect the final mine design, drawing on my 20 years of consultancy experience.”
Lewis’s classes are highly interactive, providing a shared learning experience, and he said Deswik software was intuitive to use and learn.
“My students can quickly learn the basic CAD skills needed to develop their first underground mine design, and then start to investigate the more complex factors that influence the design process. It is a practical way to place the design process into the context material studied in their other modules.
“I have located the assignment’s fictitious orebody near the university campus, placing it in a familiar environment, this allows the students to consider access (shafts and declines) and waste tip locations,” Lewis explained.
“The undergraduate students additionally take a feasibility study module following their final exams, where groups of students evaluate a mining project including a design and schedule produced in Deswik suite of software. It is extremely satisfying watching the student groups present their study to an external panel of mining professionals at the end of the module and receiving positive feedback.”
From the classroom to real-world employment
Lewis said his students were focused on gaining skills needed for a career in the mining industry, enjoying the challenge of learning mining software and gaining the necessary engineering skills to complete a design.
“The students have requested more exposure to design, optimization and integrated technology software and this year we have introduced ‘Introduction to Deswik software’ as part of a second-year class,” Lewis said.
“A module has also been included in the fourth year of the Mining Engineering degree, where students complete two additional designs for an underground coal mine and open pit metal mine.”
Patrick Doig, Mining Engineer and original driving force behind Deswik’s education partnership program, said these skills enabled students to transition more easily from university into the workplace.
“These partnerships allow us to pass on knowledge to the next generation of engineers and provide students with a more realistic insight into what mining engineers do. Furthermore, teaching university students and lecturers helps our engineers to grow professionally and it provides us with the opportunity to employ some of the best graduates,” Patrick said.
According to Lewis, having a sound grounding in the use of an integrated CAD and scheduling mining package has increased his students’ employability and allowed graduates to proceed quickly into technical positions, such as drill and blast design, mine design and scheduling.
“A number of this year’s MSc students have undertaken internships with mining companies which use Deswik,” Lewis said. “They used the software skills gained in class to undertake scoping and pre-feasibility level designs and schedules, and have now found employment with these companies.”
Supporting the next generation of engineers
Deswik currently partners with almost 30 universities around the world to enable future mining engineers to gain the right software skills to succeed in the mining industry. According to Deswik’s Commercial Manager David Fell, these partnerships are a way for Deswik to contribute to the industry.
“Everyone here was a university student at some point, we couldn’t have gotten where we are without the facilities and opportunities provided in universities. Students need access to tools and materials which will give them the skills they need to get started in the mining industry,” David explained.
“There is only so much they can learn from books, they need hands-on practice on real-world tools before they graduate so they can hit the ground running.”
Lewis said the technical support he received from Deswik was “some of the best I have encountered from mining industry providers”, and rapid response times allowed him to support more complex thesis projects as a result.
“Deswik has supported our BEng and MSc Mining Engineering courses since 2015. The initial training provided by Deswik to the trainers was well-focused, and Deswik has supported my development of the mine design modules over the subsequent years as the complexity of the assignments has increased,” Lewis said.
Deswik’s support doesn’t end in the classroom, as the company supports a number of graduate initiatives such as the Austmine Women in STEM: METS Career Pathway Program and the International Mining Games.