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Mining and Mineral Engineering


The only major where the miner details are the most important.


When you hear the word "miner," you probably think of someone who should not be in a bar. Probably because mining is such dangerous work. That's how we're choosing to interpret it, anyway.

Digging things out of the ground feels like something that's massively outdated and could not possibly happen in the modern day. Turns out, this is still the best way to get at materials we need—not just gold either, but any number of metals, fuels, and sure, the occasional pirate treasure.

It's not all treasure hunting, though. Okay, it's barely treasure hunting. For the most part, this is about locating veins of something valuable, then getting a big enough—and stable enough—hole to pull it out without killing anyone. This is a big part of mining and mineral engineering: keeping the collapses to a bare minimum. Sure, we all love gold, but it's the rare person that wants to actually be buried in it.

So you'll be contributing to the safety of miners—and again, that's "miners," not "minors." If the miners are also minors, you should probably alert local law enforcement. A mine is no place for kids. Safety, though, is important regardless of age.

Anything from improving the structural integrity of the mine itself, to the protective clothing of the miners, to the kinds of safety equipment they have on hand, have the potential for some enterprising engineer to add to or improve upon.

Safety first, kids—er, legal working adults. But there's also the long-term safety of environmental effects. That's right, a lot of what we pull out of mines is potentially hazardous. It's the kind of stuff you don't want getting into the local water supply. When it does, bad things happen. Not "town full of mutants" bad, but still…not good. Mining engineers can work to make mining as green as it can possibly be.

Think of this as the practical side of geology. Maybe you have a deep and abiding love of rocks and aren't sure how to make a living at it. This is certainly a way to do that. You know where the good stuff is found and you know how to get to it. Don't look now, but you pretty much described what you would be doing with this degree.

It's also possible you are an old-timey prospector who time-traveled from the 1800s. If that's the case, welcome, and the demon in your home is a television. Stop hitting it with a pick.

So until we discover some incredible mineral-making technology, mining and mineral engineering is absolutely vital to the human race. There's no real sign of it slowing down. It might go offworld in the years to come, but there will always be a place for people who dig valuable rocks out of cheap rocks.

Famous People who majored in Mining and Mineral Engineering

  • George Hearst, who they call the Father of a Mining and Publishing Empire Compton I. White, Jr. (with business), two-time Idaho congressman.

  • John Hays Hammond, mining developer and special United States Ambassador in the early 20th century.

  • C. Montgomery Burns (with economics and nuclear engineering). Excellent.

Percentage of US students who major in Mining and Mineral Engineering:


Stats obtained from this source.