Aaron Noble has been appointed associate professor in the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering at Virginia Tech. Noble joins Virginia Tech after having served as Assistant Professor of Mining Engineering at West Virginia University. Prior to joining the WVU faculty in 2013, he received three degrees in mining engineering from Virginia Tech: a BS in 2009, MS in 2012, and PhD in 2013.
Noble earned numerous undergraduate and graduate academic awards at Virginia Tech, with the most notable being the university’s First-in-Class designation given to the graduating senior with the highest overall GPA. In addition to coursework and research, he also served as an undergraduate instructor while pursuing his advanced degrees. In 2013, he received this department’s outstanding instructor award, a designation never previously given to a graduate student.
While at WVU, Noble obtained over $1.1 million in research grants and contracts and supported a research staff that included several M.S. students, PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, international exchange students, and undergraduate researchers. Noble’s teaching and research focus in the general areas mineral processing, techno-economic process analysis, and environmental pollution control. His specific interests include industrial waste recycling, critical material recovery, and off-earth mining systems development. In the past, he has received funding from the Department of Energy, NASA, and other private sources to support these endeavors.
Noble hopes to transfer much of this research activity to Virginia Tech and build upon the active programs in the department. “The mining and minerals engineering department at Virginia Tech has a rich tradition of scholarly activity, research commercialization, and instructional excellence,” Noble said. “I believe that my work will be a great fit here, and I look forward to maintaining and even building the department’s prestige and notoriety into the next generation.”
In addition to his research, Noble will be teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in mineral processing, process simulation, and economic evaluation of mineral deposits. Noble also plans to support other non-academic student activities related to professional development and industrial networking. He emphasizes the value of undergraduate research, and many of his prior students have had success in various national and state competitions. While at WVU, he served as the faculty advisor for several student groups and advised undergraduate research projects – activities he hopes to continue at Virginia Tech.
Noble currently serves as a Henry Krumb Lecturer for the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME), and has been the recipient of the Rossiter W. Raymon Award (2017) and Stefanko Best Paper Award (2014). He was awarded in 2015 an SME Academic Career Development Grant. Among his professional affiliations, he is a member of SME, the American Society for Engineering Education, the Coal Preparation Society of America and the Society of Mining Professors.
Noble expressed his excitement about returning to Virginia Tech but notes many of the changes over the last four years. “The department is a lot different now than when I left in 2013,” explained Noble. “No one, except Dr. Karfakis, is in the same office, and I see a lot of new faces. Nevertheless, I believe the mining faculty at Virginia Tech are among the best in the nation, and I consider it an honor to be a part of this group.”