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#WomenInSTEM Put Safety First at Mines Innovation Challenge

Last month, teams from the Colorado School of Mines’ Mining Innovation Challenge presented prototype inventions to a panel of judges in the closing round of a three-month competition.

Students from all disciplines came together in January to design new ways to make the mine of the future safer, more profitable, energy efficient and environmentally sound. After three months of researching, testing and prototyping, 10 teams pitched their innovative designs on April 20th.

Newmont was proud to sponsor the competition in partnership with the Colorado School of Mines and the Mines Digital IDEA Hub.

Perry Eaton, Newmont’s Group Executive, Global Exploration Solutions, joined representatives from the school as a panel judge for the final round of competition. Each team was evaluated based on five criteria: presentation, prototype, innovation, marketability/business viability and impact/value.

Dean Kevin Moore presents a photo of the top 10 innovation challenge teams to Perry Eaton.

Dean Kevin Moore presents a photo of the top 10 innovation challenge teams to Perry Eaton.

Team Airband, an interdisciplinary all-women team, received the top prize of $20,000 for their air quality monitor.

Motivated by safety, Michelle Pedrezas, Arjuman Alvi, Mecaela Pedrezas and Daniela Machnik developed a prototype for a wearable air quality monitor that utilizes special sensors to detect the presence and levels of hazardous air pollutants. With portable, wireless data transmission, the Airband stood out as a viable alternative to existing air-monitoring systems, which can be resource intensive, static, and complex.

“Team Airband spent an average of five hours a week working on their idea since the end of January. Considering their course load and extracurricular commitments, that is not in any way insignificant,” said Perry Eaton.

School of Mines President Paul Johnson presents the winning team with their award.

School of Mines President Paul Johnson presents the winning team with their award.

Using the money earned from the competition, the winning team plans to continue the project by testing a more refined Airband moving forward.

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In addition to the top prize for best overall innovation, two competing teams were awarded $5,000 each for their innovations: Team Recon for a prototype deemed to be closest to commercialization and Team Low-cation for most innovative idea.

Congratulations to all the participants. For more on all the competitors, please visit the Mines Idea Hub website.

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