Department of Mining & Minerals Engineering

About the Program

What is Mining & Minerals Engineering?

Mining and minerals engineering is a discipline involving the practice, theories and science of extracting and processing minerals which occur naturally in the environment.  Mining and minerals engineering is one of the oldest industries in human civilization and today is present in almost every facet of modern society—from the copper wires used in electronics, to materials needed in road and urban construction, to basic energy resources such as coal and natural gas. In fact, each American will use over three and half million tons of mining and minerals related products in his or her lifetime.

In order to meet the world'ss energy and mineral needs, mining engineers find themselves actively involved in a progressive field , using state of the art technologies backed by sound environmental practices. Our graduates have pursued careers in a wide range of specialties, including geological exploration, mineral economics, metallurgy, processing, facility engineering and design, and environmental development.  Mining engineering is also one of the most “hands on” and “outdoors oriented” of all the engineering fields, with opportunities to work in exciting locations around the globe.

Mining Engineering as a Career

With energy costs always on the rise, well-trained mining and minerals engineers are some of the most sought-after and best-paid professionals in the nation.  Virginia Tech’s Mining and Minerals Engineering department boasts an active job placement program, with industry recruiters hiring many of our students throughout the academic year for both summer internships and permanent positions. The result is one of the highest departmental job placement rates at the university.

Our alumni love what they do and maintain strong bonds with the department. Learn more about our program and a career in mining engineering through their own words.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

The department enjoys generous support from the industry and its alumni and is able to provide undergraduate scholarships and fellowships to many of its students. On average, over 60% of Mining & Minerals Engineering students qualify to receive funding of up to $3,000 per year.

Student Community

The department hosts several high-profile, professional organizations and chapters, making our student some of the most active on campus.

The Burkhart Mining Society is our student chapter for the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) and one of the oldest student chapters on campus. Student chapters for the International Society of Explosives Engineers (ISEE) and the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) attend prominent industry-sponsored conferences and exhibits each year. Members of our Mining Competition Team compete against other mining engineering schools in a variety of competitions based on old-time mining methods. Our students regularly participate in the NASA sponsored Robotic Mining Competition in which they design and build an autonomous robot capable of mining in space. The department's newly formed Mine Rescue Team gives students a chance to put their leadership, technical and physical skills to work at a competitive event aimed at saving miners' lives.

In addition, our students enjoy many extracurricular and social activites, to include intramural sports, Viriginia Tech's Big Event, and tailgates.

Department Facts

  • The first Virginia Tech engineering degree awarded to a student was the degree of “mining engineer” in 1885.
  • The university’s first official “Mining Engineering department” (The Virginia Tech School of Mines) opened its doors in the fall of 1908 under department head Otto C. Burkhart.  The departmentent celebrated its Centennial in 2008.
  • Since its founding the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering has developed into the nation’s top mining and minerals engineering program. In the last four years, undergraduate enrollment has grown by over 40%, and the number of students pursuing an M.S. or Ph.D. has increased by over 60%.
  • Starting salaries for our graduates rank among the highest for engineering graduates in the nation.
  • The department’s excellent student-faculty ratio offers plenty of personal attention.  Mining engineering students get to know their instructors.  And more importantly, instructors get to know the students.
  • The department is home to two internationally recognized research centers: the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research and the Center for Advanced Separation Technologies. In addition, pioneering research is conducted in a wide range of technologies including computer simulation, GPS applications, tomography, real-time geologic mapping, exhaust and jet-fan design, environmental engineering, clean coal technologies and mineral processing.

Interested in Mining Engineering?

If you are intrested in learning more about pursuing a degree in mining and minerals engineering at Virginia Tech, read more about the department's undergraduate program or visit the university's Undergraduate Admissions.