Three Mineral Engineers Win National Awards

Three Mineral Engineers Win National Awards


SOCORRO, N.M. – Three New Mexico Tech students in the Mineral Engineering Department have won national scholarship awards from the Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME).


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John Asafo-Akowuah accepts his scholarship check from Dr. Navid Mojtabai of the Mineral Engineering Department.


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Franciszka Stopa accepts her scholarship check from Dr. Navid Mojtabai of the Mineral Engineering Department.


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Andrew Gabrysiak accepts his scholarship check from Dr. Navid Mojtabai of the Mineral Engineering Department.


Undergraduate Andrew Gabrysiak, and two grad students, John Asafo-Akowuah and Franciszka Stopa, won this highly-competitive national award. They were officially honored at the Mining and Exploration Division luncheon February 22 during the SME Annual Conference and Expo in Denver. They received their award checks in early March. The winners submitted essays and letters of recommendations, and were interviewed by the awards committee.


Asafo-Akowuah received the Stewart Wallace Memorial Scholarship, an award totaling $5,000, from the Mining & Exploration Division of SME. He presented a talk at the SME meeting, titled “The Characterization of Abandoned Uranium Mines in New Mexico.”


Asafo-Akowuah also received a NMGS scholarship last spring. His thesis is titled “Characterization and Comparison of Mine Wastes from Legacy Mines in N.M.” He examined the environmental effects and hazards of rock piles at an abandoned uranium mine in the Ladron Mountains and gold mines in Jicarilla. He earned his bachelor’s at the University of Ghana and plans on graduating from Tech in May 2017. He has received other research funding from the Bureau of Geology, the AML project and EPSCoR.

Andrew Gabrysiak, a senior in Mineral Engineering, is a non-traditional student from Middleton, Wis. He first earned a bachelor’s of business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a current Macey Scholar, Tech’s highest academic scholarship.

He came to New Mexico to do volunteer work for the Rio Grande Community Development Corp., assisting first-time entrepreneurs in developing their business and marketing plans. After developing an interest in mining and explosives, Gabrysiak enrolled at Tech and since then he has been an outstanding student.

Gabrysiak has taken leadership roles in campus clubs and organizations throughout his career at NMT. He has served as the president of both the Cooney Mining Club (Tech’s chapter of SME) and the International Society of Explosives Engineers campus chapter. He successfully secured funding for club members to attend the ISEE national conference and the SME conferences, as well as organizing guest speakers to talk at Tech.

He has also done two internships. First, he worked at the Peabody Coal Mine near Grants, N.M., during the summer of 2015. He worked at the BHP Billiton Navajo Mine near Farmington during the summer of 2016.

Gabrysiak has also won two other national competitive scholarships from SME and the Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute. He was also the first runner-up as Engineering Student of the Year in 2015.

Franciszka Stopa is a master’s student who also earned her bachelor’s at NMT. She is doing research on an abandoned mine site in Norway. The mine closed in 1991 after more than a century of operation. She is examining metal loading in a nearby lake, specifically copper contamination and other heavy metals.

Working with Tech professor Dr. Ingar Walder, she spent six weeks in Norway last year and will be returning to take more samples at the site in August. The site includes more than 20 deposits that were mined, as well as waste rock piles along the lake.

“I was relieved and excited to get this award,” she said. “Now I can use this scholarship to fund the tests I want to do with my research.”

– NMT –