Of the many mining companies that have a relationship with Virginia Tech’s mining and minerals engineering program, the Luck Stone Corporation is truly an outstanding partner. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, Luck Stone is one of the largest family-owned and operated producers of crushed stone, sand and gravel in the nation. Founded by Charles S. Luck Jr. in 1923, the company has thrived under the leadership of three generations of the Luck family. While Luck Stone is widely recognized for its generous financial support of Virginia Tech’s mining engineering students through scholarships, the company’s impact and support of the program is much wider reaching.
The relationship between Virginia Tech and Luck Stone had its start in the early 90s when then mining and minerals engineering department head, Dr. Michael Karmis, recognized a need for expanding the program from primarily coal to other mining commodities. Through a summer hire program with the company, several students were exposed to Luck Stone and soon sought careers in the aggregates industry. Luck Stone’s summer hiring of a student soon developed into an extensive Co-Op program, once that is unique in the industry today. Under this Co-Op program, the company selects and employs a student over the course of a summer and one academic year. Luck Stone exposes the student to the aggregate industry while also developing their leadership skills and hands-on management experience. Since the Co-Op’s inception, Luck Stone has hired and trained more than 25 Virginia Tech mining and minerals engineering students, with 20 becoming full time employees or associates of the company. In addition, the company continues to hire many sophomores and juniors for summer-only positions and currently has 7 Virginia Tech mining engineering students working for Luck Stone this summer.
While the Co-Op program and summer jobs are critical to the department’s success, Luck Stone has supported the department on campus in numerous ways. Company leaders Bryan Smith and Danny Perkins, both department alumni, have served on the department’s advisory board. Bryan Smith, who is a 1979 graduate of the program, currently serves as Luck Stone’s Mine Development and Blasting Manager. Over the past several years, Bryan has made frequent trips to Blacksburg in support of student activities and courses. In the fall of 2016 he gave a presentation to faculty and students on the significance and history of St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners of mining. This past spring, he and three Luck Stone associates visited campus as guest lecturers in the department’s Mining Engineering Leadership Seminar course, where they gave an informative presentation on social license and community engagement, focusing on topics such as community and political relationships, safety and regulation compliance, and interacting with neighbors and communities.
In addition to these activities, the company and the many “Hokie” alumni within its ranks have organized field trips and tours of Luck Stone facilities and have served as advisors to students on their senior design projects. Luck Stone frequently provides core samples for the Rock Mechanics Laboratory course. They also take an active interest in supporting many of the department’s student organizations, such as participating each year in the Burkhart Society’s Spring Golf Tournament held at Virginia Tech’s Pete Dye River Course.
Without question, Luck Stone, its leadership, and its team (both Hokie and non-Hokie) have made long-lasting contributions to the Mining and Minerals Engineering program at Virginia Tech, providing its students with both career and academic opportunities that have led to their successful careers throughout the mining industry.